According to one report, Consternation in Gaza over war crimes allegations. Palestinians and UN officials have discovered that perhaps Palestinian resistance activities have been (unintentionally of course) harming civilians. Hey, it could really happen some day, no?
At a spiritual debriefing retreat for operators of rocket launchers and planners of suicide attacks, terrorists, Militants, resistance fighters revealed that not all targets hit by rocket attacks and suicide bombings involve only death and injury to Israeli military personnel. Furthermore, it was revealed that leaflets distributed by the organizations to their members, and signed by the prominent Imam, Nasrab Dam al Yahoud, did not caution the resistance fighters to take proper Islamic precautions to ensure the safety of women, children and other booty, as is prescribed in the Quran.
Evidently, nothing will disabuse Zbigniew Brzezinsky, Charles Freeman and Dennis Blair that the Iranian government is eager to solve all problems through dialogue with the USA. But they need to do a reality check. The attitude of Iran really is not just a figmanet of the imagination of the "Israel lobby."
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barak Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does not see any change in U.S. policy under its new administration.
Khamenei's comments were the first top level reaction to a video message Obama released Friday in which he reached out to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year.
Khamenei holds the last word on major policy decisions, and how Iran ultimately responds to any concrete U.S. effort to engage the country will depend largely on his say.
In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects for improved ties, Khamenei said there will be no change between the two countries unless the American president puts an end to U.S. hostility toward Iran and brings "real changes" in foreign policy.
"They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven't seen any change," Khamenei said in his speech, which was broadcast live on state television.
In his video message, Obama said the United States wants to engage Iran and improve decades of strained relations, but he also warned that a right place for Iran in the international community "cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
Speaking to tens of thousands of people in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, Khamenei asked how Obama could congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.
"As long as the U.S. government continues the same policies and directions of the previous 30 years, we will be the same nation of the past 30 years," Khamenei said. "The Iranian nation can't be deceived or threatened."
Khamenei said there has been no change even in Obama's language compared to that of his predecessor.
"He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed."
Khamenei enumerated a long list of Iranian grievances against the United States over the past 30 years and said the U.S. was still continuing its acts of interference in Iran's internal affairs now.
He mentioned U.S. sanctions against Iran, U.S. support for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980-88 war against Iran and the downing of an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988. He also accused the U.S. of provoking ethnic tension in Iran and said Washington's accusations that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons was evidence of U.S. hostility.
"Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged," Khamenei said.
Millions of people live in misery. It would be better if the world were at least indifferent to their fate. But the world, and in particular the Arab countries, are active in inflicting the misery deliberately and perpetuating the fate. The United Nations is a willing accomplice. Nonie Darwish explains how the Arab states perpetuated the Palestinian refugee problem:
It was in those years that the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel. Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country's passport. Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse's country. They must remain "Palestinian" even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.
And now, the Arab and Muslim states and the world are encouraging the growth of Hamas:
Hamas, an Iran proxy, has become a danger not only to Israel, but also to Palestinians as well as to neighboring Arab states, who fear the spread of radical Islam could destabilize their countries.
The logical conclusion:
the Arab world must end the Palestinians' refugee status and thereby their desire to harm Israel. It's time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life. It is time for the Arab world to truly help the Palestinians, not use them.
By NONIE DARWISH | FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE International donors pledged almost $4.5 billion in aid for Gaza earlier this month. It has been very painful for me to witness over the past few years the deteriorating humanitarian situation in that narrow strip where I lived as a child in the 1950s.
The media tend to attribute Gaza's decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem's root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people's status as stateless refugees in order to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.
.As a child in Gaza in the 1950s, I experienced the early results of this policy. Egypt, which then controlled the territory, conducted guerrilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza. My father commanded these operations, carried out by Palestinian fedayeen, Arabic for "self-sacrifice." Back then, Gaza was already the front line of the Arab jihad against Israel. My father was assassinated by Israeli forces in 1956.
It was in those years that the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel. Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country's passport. Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse's country. They must remain "Palestinian" even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.
This policy of forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp was designed to perpetuate and exacerbate the Palestinian refugee crisis.
So was the Arab policy of overpopulating Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, whose main political support comes from Arab countries, encourages high birth rates by rewarding families with many children. Yasser Arafat said the Palestinian woman's womb was his best weapon.
Arab countries always push for classifying as many Palestinians as possible as "refugees." As a result, about one-third of the Palestinians in Gaza still live in refugee camps. For 60 years, Palestinians have been used and abused by Arab regimes and Palestinian terrorists in their fight against Israel.
Now it is Hamas, an Islamist terror organization supported by Iran, which is using and abusing Palestinians for this purpose. While Hamas leaders hid in the well-stocked bunkers and tunnels they prepared before they provoked Israel into attacking them, Palestinian civilians were exposed and caught in the deadly crossfire between Hamas and Israeli soldiers.
As a result of 60 years of this Arab policy, Gaza has become a prison camp for 1.5 million Palestinians. Both Israel and Egypt are fearful of terrorist infiltration from Gaza -- all the more so since Hamas took over -- and have always maintained tight controls over their borders with Gaza. The Palestinians continue to endure hardships because Gaza continues to serve as the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Those attacks come in the form of Hamas missiles that indiscriminately target Israeli kindergartens, homes and businesses.
And Hamas continued these attacks more than two years after Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that this step would begin the process of building a Palestinian state, eventually leading to a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was no "cycle of violence" then, no justification for anything other than peace and prosperity. But instead, Hamas chose Islamic jihad. Gazans' and Israelis' hopes have been met with misery for Palestinians and missiles for Israelis.
Hamas, an Iran proxy, has become a danger not only to Israel, but also to Palestinians as well as to neighboring Arab states, who fear the spread of radical Islam could destabilize their countries.
Arabs claim they love the Palestinian people, but they seem more interested in sacrificing them. If they really loved their Palestinian brethren, they'd pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. In the longer term, the Arab world must end the Palestinians' refugee status and thereby their desire to harm Israel. It's time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life. It is time for the Arab world to truly help the Palestinians, not use them.
In my capacity as Chairman for the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC), and on behalf of the Lebanese-Canadian Community members who fully share our Council's peaceful aims and objectives, love for Canada, commitment for safeguarding and defending freedom and democracy, honoring of the rule of law, tolerance, diversity and the acceptance of others, I strongly hail and applaud, the courage, wisdom, and decisiveness that was exhibited by The Honorable Minister of Immigration Mr. Jason Kenney, in banning the British MP George Galloway from entering Canada
Thank you, Mr. Kenney, for declaring loudly and strongly Canada's firm stance against those individuals who encourage, adopt, advocate for, finance, or support by any means terrorists and terror organizations.
Thank you for saying a big NO to the British MP, George Galloway who openly and publicly expresses sympathy for the Taliban cause in Afghanistan, advocates for several terrorist groups, and who last week publicly called for a coup d'etat in Egypt, and the overthrow of the government there, while at the same time delivering aid and resources to Hamas, which is a banned illegal terrorist organization in Canada.
Thanks for saying clearly and loudly: "I believe folks that are supporting and promoting and helping terrorist organizations are not needed to visit Canada."
The LCCC greatly appreciates and strongly supports the Canadian government for its explicit stances and prompt actions it takes against individuals and organizations who glorify terrorism, and promote hatred like Mr. Galloway, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, we call on the Canadian government to amend its Anti-Terrorism Act and fix all the legal ambiguities that might allow for the open glorification of terrorism like posting, carrying and distributing terrorist groups' logos, flags or literature.
The LCCC extends its gratitude for the Canadian Government for its continuous, strong and effective support to the sovereignty, independence and freedom of Lebanon.
Jerusalem Police announced on Friday they would prevent the so-called Palestinian Culture Festival the Palestinian Authority plans to organize in the city on Saturday.
The PA is planning to fly a glider plane painted in the colors of the Palestinian national flag over the walls of the Old City as part of the festival, which is meant to declare the city to be "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009."
The police said that they were determined to enforce the law, whereby any event organized and funded by the PA is prohibited within Jerusalem's municipal jurisdiction.
The head of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Nachi Eyal, on Wednesday urged Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Police Commissioner David Cohen to thwart the staging of the event.
"To the best of my understanding, this is an attempt to demonstrate Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem in an illegal manner," said Eyal.
"The law...obligates the Palestinian Authority to respect the sovereignty of Israel within the boundaries of the State of Israel, including East Jerusalem."
Since early Friday morning, large police forces, including Border Police, have arrived at the city and are slated to deploy to East Jerusalem and the surrounding Arab villages on Saturday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, is slated to kick off the celebrations from his headquarters in Ramallah. Events are also due to be held in Gaza, Lebanon, Nazareth and Bethlehem.
India has recently purchased an advanced spy satellite from Israel in order to boost its surveillance capabilities, in the wake of the murderous terror attacks in Mumbai last year, the Indian NDTV news channel reported Friday.
In late November 2008, more than 10 coordinated shooting attacks and bombings rocked Mumbai's financial district killing dozens and leaving hundreds wounded.
The acquisition was fast-tracked after the Mumbai siege, perpetrated by 10 gunmen. India says the attackers came by boat from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to Mumbai, based on its investigations and the confession of the lone gunman captured alive after the 60-hour siege, in which 165 people were killed.
According to the report, the satellite can see through clouds and is capable of carrying out all-weather imaging during both day and night.
The 300 kilogram (650 pound) RISAT 2 will be launched by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket in the next few weeks, the report said.
The Indian security establishment has been seeking such a satellite, capable of monitoring events around the entire globe and especially in neighboring countries, for a long time.
NDTV said the new acquisition would also provide New Delhi with the capability to track incoming hostile ballistic missiles.
India's existing satellites are rendered "blind" by darkness and by changes in weather during the monsoon season.
During recent years, Israel has replaced France as Indian's second largest arms supplier, after Russia.
Thursday, 05 March 2009 Israel's response to thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza brought another wave of vituperous attacks, with more false claims of "war crimes," human rights violations and other spurious allegations of immorality.
The Durban strategy of demonization is moving at top speed, with trade union boycotts, university "apartheid weeks," and legal campaigns to bring Israeli officials to trial in kangaroo courts. In parallel, demonstrators chant slogans in support of Hamas and Hezbollah, which openly proclaim their genocidal goals.
In this rejectionist war that has continued for more than 60 years, a tiny group of anti-Zionist Jews and Israelis play central roles. They are given prominence as columnists and on television, claiming to present an "enlightened" and "independent" Jewish voice that's opposed to the evil "occupation" (erasing a history of genocidal goals and terrorism that began long before 1967) and other terrible Israeli actions. The group includes university professors, journalists and officials of human rights superpowers. Many have giant psychological chips on their shoulders and gain notoriety by being vocally anti-Israel.
These "independent voices" do not speak in my name. With the restoration of Jewish sovereignty, Israelis choose their own leaders, for better or worse, and engage in active policy debates. The age of Diaspora interlocutors and apologists selected by foreign powers is over.
The small number of "independent Jewish voices" speak for themselves and constitute a tiny fraction of the Jewish people. But in an atmosphere of anti-Semitism, they provide imagined shields against claims of anti-Semitism and justify the singling out of Israel. In many cases, this is their only "Jewish" activity – most are not active members in synagogues, play no role in other Jewish institutions and do not contribute to Jewish life or continuity.
A prominent example of this activity is provided by Antony Lerman, who briefly served as director of London's Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and now has a column in the influential Guardian newspaper – one of the leading platforms for the anti-Israel invective pervasive among leftist intellectuals in Britain.
On Feb. 13, in "An open letter on anti-Semitism," addressed to an official addressing a major conference on the topic taking place in the British Parliament. Assuming the ostrich position, Lerman wrote that the way to stop numerous anti-Semitic attacks in Britain was to be louder in criticizing Israel. Lerman also alleges that the anti-Israel obsession in which he participates is not a form of modern anti-Semitism – replacing all of the evidence with sentiment from his fantasy world. He also refers to concerns about this anti-Semitism as "exaggeration" and "hyperbole."
The main reason that Lerman's opinions receive any attention is that he is a prominent Jew and, therefore, useful in the demonization campaign. Lerman has been embraced by J-Street – a U.S.-based organization funded and founded by George Soros – another anti-Israel Diaspora-based "independent" Jewish voice.
Canada's "independent Jewish voices" are less articulate or influential than Lerman or Soros, and no more credible. In a letter to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenny, who is a world leader in the battle against anti-Semitism, this group sought to justify the activities of the Canadian Arab Federation, claiming that this controversial organization "has been a consistent and valued supporter of Canadian Jewish individuals and groups, including Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)." This is transparently self-serving propaganda, and nothing more.
Free speech gives all voices – including the most marginal – the right to state their opinions, but in the fee marketplace of ideas, the unjustified attention and vacuous claims can be exposed and countered. Jews can always be found for those seeking to justify "wiping Israel off the map," but they do not speak in my name.
In an article titled 'How the Arabs Appear to the Japanese,' the head of the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Art, and Literature, liberal columnist Muhammad Al-Rumayhi, reviewed the book 'The Arabs: A Japanese Point of View,' by Japanese researcher Nobuaki Notohara. The book, which was recently published in Arabic, included criticism of societal patterns, oppression, and the absence of self-criticism in the Arab world. In his review, Al-Rumayhi presents the book as required reading for anyone interested in reform in the Arab world. The following are excerpts from Al-Rumayhi's article: 
What Enabled the Japanese to Enter the New Cultural Age?
"Whenever some Arabs meet at a scientific convention and Japan is mentioned, the participants compare Japan's revival to the yearned-for Arab revival. They say that Japan succeeded in entering the new age while at the same time preserving its social culture. Apparently, this is the majority opinion among Arab observers. It appears that this is an apologetic view or justification aimed at saying, 'You can enter the age of modernization, globalization, and production without giving up your social heritage, the traditional political pattern, and the behavioral norms that are inappropriate for our time.'
"'And if they are told that the Japanese entered the new age because they changed the political patterns and social behavior to which they were accustomed and because they adopted new ideas, some Arabs respond to this with amazement and denial…'
"Now a Japanese man comes along who expresses, in excellent Arabic, the opposite of what certain Arabs think. This is what Nobuaki Notohara wrote in his book. As soon as I read the book, I thought it [worthy of being] a required book for every Arab statesman who believes that reform is still possible in our Arab region.
"The testimony of Notohara – who dwelled among the Arabs for some 40 years and saw both Bedouin and urban culture, who speaks Arabic like an Arab and who followed Arab literary works and translated them into Japanese – is to the best of my knowledge the first Japanese testimony written about Arabs in their own language…"
'Oppression is the Only Thing That Does Not Need to Be Proven in Arab Countries'
"The author points out the tension clearly apparent in the crowded Arab cities; [he] refers to the tension in the Arab street. He thinks that this tension stems from oppression. 'The people walk through the streets as if they were being followed, faces frozen and silent, and [there are] long queues. A person is harmed by oppression even in a taxi, as the driver chooses his passenger according to where he [i.e. the driver] wishes to go, and refuses to take someone he doesn't like.' The book concludes with a comment that 'the residents of the Arab cities are unhappy and dissatisfied. The people are silent and do not speak, but out of this suffocating silence we hear a cry!'
"Notohara believes that the reason for this atmosphere lies in the absence of social justice, and adds that he has the right to say something to the Arabs after all these years of living among them: 'The absence of justice means the absence of the fundamental basis for human relations. Thus, people in the Arab countries say time and again that [in the Arab world] everything is possible because the laws that exist are not implemented and not honored.'
"The law does not protect the people from oppression because it is violated, and Notohara cites many examples and adds: 'Oppression is the only thing that does not need to be proven in Arab countries.'"
In the Arab World, 'The Ruler Rules For His Entire Life'
"One of the phenomena of oppression that surprise modern Japanese is that 'the ruler rules for his entire life, while the Japanese prime minister's term lasts no more than a few years. In every [Arab] country there is a ban on some newspapers, and authors and publications are subject to censorship.'
"A Japanese individual does not expect to see such phenomena. '… Anyone visiting Japan sees cars with loudspeakers in the streets [verbally] attacking the prime minister and the ruling party without anyone harassing them… But in the Arab countries the regime and the ruler are one. In most Arab countries, the only criteria for respecting a citizen and for the extent of his patriotism is the degree of his loyalty to the ruler. All these are alien to us Japanese of the modern age…'
"The author is aware of the fact that Japan was in the past subject to oppression. But the Japanese freed themselves from it, and it became history. [The author] says: 'I think that oppression is an incurable disease in Arab society, and therefore any author or researcher who speaks of the Arab society without being aware of this simple and obvious fact is not a serious researcher.'
"'As a result of oppression, the people try to be conformist in their opinions, dress, and homes, and under such circumstances the individual's independence disappears. Similarly, the phenomenon of public responsibility is absent. Oppression engenders fear and creates spurious respect [for the government].'"
No Justice - No Public Responsibility
"'Due to the absence of justice, there is no public responsibility. This is why Arab residents destroy parks, streets, public drinking fountains, and public transportation, thinking that they are destroying government property, not their own. Similarly, responsibility for… political prisoners [meaning those fighting for civil and human rights] who sacrificed themselves for society is lacking; society itself has abandoned these courageous people. People in Arab countries see the problems of political prisoners as a private problem of the family of each prisoner.'
"The Japanese individual wonders: 'I can understand that the regimes [fight] prominent individuals, thinkers, authors, politicians, scientists, and artists, but why does the people itself abandon them?'
"According to the author, 'the Arab adopts his ideas from outside, while the Japanese shapes his ideas on concrete events in Japan that he experiences every day. In Japan, new facts are added every day, while the Arab makes do with reconstructing events from the distant past…'"
'People Need Domestic and External Criticism'
"The author compares Japan to the Arabs: 'The Japanese had to deal with the bitter and difficult experience of the Japanese military taking control of the emperor, the government, and the people and leading the country to war… But we recognized our mistake and decided to correct it. We expelled the military and decided to rebuild what was destroyed by the military oppression. We learned that oppression leads to destruction of national resources and the murder of innocents... Self-criticism is a great value in the life of every people, and people need domestic and external criticism.'"
Why Don't the Japanese Hate America (While the Arabs Do)?
"The author says that several times his Arab friends have asked him: 'The U.S. destroyed you by dropping two nuclear bombs on your cities. Why don't you hate America?' He answers: 'We must admit our mistakes. We were imperialist and we conquered peoples and destroyed many lands – China, Korea, and Oceania. We must criticize ourselves and then correct our mistakes. As to feelings, this is a limited personal matter that does not build the future.'
"Notahara insists that awareness of problems is the right approach to correcting them… The Japanese does not expect coming to a bank to withdraw money and having the teller give him less than the amount coming to him, or coming to the museum and having the museum director offer to sell him archeological exhibits…
"In his book, Notohara describes many instances; once he saw a nun in religious garb who paid a bribe. Why? Because in her institution, she could not get any attention without it. The author shows that the Arab value system contains many flaws that do not comply with the progress for which the [Arabs] yearn."
'I Think We All Need to Read This Book With Open Eyes and Hearts'
"I have tried to present in brief this book, which opens the eyes of anyone who wants to see. It presents two matters: Japan freed itself of many of its old values … in order to enter the modern age, [and] the Arab value system requires revision…
"I think that we all need to read this book with open eyes and hearts."
 Al-Quds (Palestinian Authority), January 8, 2004.
Where are the international organizations who should be protecting children? Will they step in and pay the costs of medical care? Will they protest against this cruel policy? Where are the donor countries who subsidize the Palestinian authority? It is easy for them to deduct the cost of the health treatment from payments to the Palestinian Authority. For that matter, where is the Israeli government, which could deduct the needed sums from the money paid Israel to the Palestinian Authority for return of VAT payments.
(IsraelNN.com) A decision by the Palestinian Authority Health Minister to cut off medical benefits at Israeli hospitals has cost the life of at least one little girl, and it is not clear how many more will follow.
Following the recent counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead against Gaza terrorists, PA minister Fathi Abu Moughli decided in January to stop covering Israeli hospital expenses of PA residents who cross the security barrier to receive treatment.
As a result, strokes have gone untreated and life-saving chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow transplants for cancer patients have been put off indefinitely.
Six-year-old Asil Manasra died. The Palestinian Authority child had for eight months been receiving intensive treatment at an Israeli hospital for complications arising from tuberculosis. One week after the PA Health Ministry forced her family to stop the visits, the little girl struggled for breath no more.
Asil first became ill after receiving a TB vaccination as a six-month-old infant. During the following four years, her father, Jamal Manasra told the Associated Press that said she was subsequently misdiagnosed by two PA hospitals. The child became sicker and sicker with severe stiffness, high fever, and then acquiring liver and lung infections. Only as a five-year-old did Asil win a referral to Hadassah, where the race for time began, as the disease had overwhelmed most of her body, necessitating intensive, constant treatments.
The PA Health Ministry decision ended the race in February, cutting off payments for the life-saving treatments. The little girl spent the last week of her life in a hospital in Bethlehem, where medication was administered per the advice of her doctor at Hadassah.
"I blame everyone. Should children die because of political decisions?" Asil's father asked the AP reporter in anguish. "How can you stop treatment? When a child is so sick that she is going to die, is there something more important than that?"
Mahmoud Manasra of Wadi Fukeen near Jerusalem, fears he will be next. The 23-year-old was forced last month to stop the life-saving chemotherapy treatment for leukemia he had received for the past year at Hadassah Medical Center. "God knows how much I worry, my situation is getting worse," he said. "We are waiting for mercy to come down from the sky."
Manasra's mother Aaliya agonizes over the situation: "My son is in danger — each day I die with him a hundred deaths," she said.
Sharp Drop in Referrals Initially, Abu Moughli restricted the reversal to Gazans who were wounded during Operation Cast Lead, saying those who were injured were transferred to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morocco and other Arab countries "so that they would not have to be treated by the same country that harmed them."
But the PA minister told the AP that the policy change aimed not only to cut costs, but "to rid Palestinians of their need for Israeli medicine and deny the Jewish State a 'propaganda' campaign that improves its world image while the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority foots the bill."
"We are trying to free our health system from dependence," he said.
The Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan has reported a 60 percent drop in PA referrals since Operation Cast Lead ended on Jan. 18. Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem said it has only received several dozen referrals of Arab patients in February, compared with an average of 1,600 per month (!) last year.
'Treat Them for Free' The leftist Physicians for Human Rights-Israel group, meanwhile has blamed the Jewish State in part for the situation due to the cost of treatment. The group contends that the way to solve the problem is that Israeli hospitals should agree to treat the PA patients for free.
A Hadassah official responded that the hospital has, in fact, treated some "special cases" for free, but added: "You can't run a hospital if you treat everyone for free."
Abu Moughli maintained that the PA's health system has greatly improved and that there is no need to send patients to Israel. Moreover, it is expensive. Instead, the patients that cannot be treated in the PA are now referred to Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere, thus saving some $17 million, and avoiding what the minister said was a cost of up to four times that of medical care in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Asil's father Jamal claims, however, that it was the PA hospitals that made his daughter sick to begin with. "They lacked experience," Asil's father said of the many PA doctors who treated her. "If they knew what the problem was, she wouldn't have gotten worse."
A top-ranked Iranian defector told the United States that Iran was financing North Korean moves to make Syria into a nuclear weapons power, leading to the Israeli air strike that allegedly destroyed a secret reactor, a report said Thursday.
The article in the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung goes into detail about an Iranian connection and fills in gaps about Israel's September 6, 2007, raid that knocked out Syria's nearly completed al-Kabir reactor in the country's eastern desert.
Ali Reza Asghari, a retired general in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and a former deputy defense minister, changed sides in February 2007 and provided considerable information to the West on Iran's own nuclear program, said the article, written by Hans Ruehle, former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense Ministry.
The biggest surprise, however, was his assertion that Iran was financing a secret nuclear project of Syria and North Korea, he said. No one in the American intelligence scene had heard anything of it. And the Israelis who were immediately informed also were completely unaware.
Ruehle, who did not identify the sources of his information, publishes and comments on security and nuclear proliferation in different European newspapers and broadcasts and has held prominent roles in German and NATO institutions.
U.S. intelligence had detected North Korean ship deliveries of construction supplies to Syria that started in 2002, and American satellites spotted the construction as early as 2003, but regarded the work as nothing unusual, in part because the Syrians had banned radio and telephones from the site and handled communications solely by messengers - medieval but effective, Ruehle said.
Intensive investigation followed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence services until Israel sent a 12-man commando unit in two helicopters to the site in August 2007 to take photographs and soil samples, he said.
"The analysis was conclusive that it was a North Korean-type reactor, a gas graphite model," Ruehle said.
Other sources have suggested that the reactor might have been large enough to make about one nuclear weapon's worth of plutonium a year.
Just before the Israeli commando raid, a North Korean ship was intercepted en route to Syria with nuclear fuel rods, underscoring the need for fast action, he said.
On the morning of September 6, 2007, seven Israeli F-15 fighter bombers took off to the north. They flew along the Mediterranean coast, brushed past Turkey and pressed on into Syria. Fifty kilometers (30 miles) from their target they fired 22 rockets at the three identified objects inside the Kibar complex.
"The Syrians were completely surprised. By the time their air defense systems were ready, the Israeli planes were well out of range. The mission was successful, the reactor destroyed," Ruehle said.
"Israel estimates that Iran had paid North Korea between $1 billion and $2 billion for the project," Ruehle said.
Israel has refused from the beginning to comment on, confirm or deny the strike, but after a delay of several months Washington presented intelligence purporting to show the target was a reactor being built with North Korean help.
Iranian officials were not available for comment because of a national holiday. In general, Iran has been silent about the Syrian facility bombed by Israel. Syrian officials could not be reached for comment. But Syria has denied the facility was a nuclear plant, saying it was an unused military building. It has also denied any nuclear cooperation with North Korea or Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this year said United Nations inspectors had found processed uranium traces in samples taken from the site.
Syria has suggested the traces came from Israeli ordnance used to hit the site, but the IAEA said the composition of the uranium made that unlikely. Israel has denied it was the source of the uranium.
Syria has told diplomats that it built a missile facility over the ruins of the site.
In May 2008, Pakistan's tribal province of Orakzai was in the news. The majority Muslims did not allow the Hindus to cremate their dead at the place that had been the designated crematorium for over a century.
The next month, the Pakistan government signed a peace treaty with the Taliban. It was among many other such treaties and not much was made of it, especially since the latter agreed that it would recognise the writ of the government.
But in the next couple of months, the few Hindu families began facing the heat.
"It was like the smoke before the fire. The Taliban's presence was not very evident in the following two months. But things were becoming obvious. A group of locals who supported the Taliban gave us the distinct feeling that we were not wanted there," says Jagdish Lal Sharma, who says he is a Pandit from the region.
Though there were no direct threats, the Hindu families were never left in any doubt about their minority status. Sometimes it would be a warning not to stare at Muslim women for long, at other times, it would be the subtle coercion of the local administrators to sell their land when the situation was still normal. The families were weighing their options until October when they were asked to wear a red patch in their pagadis (turban).
"We were told Hindus are not supposed to wish a Muslim even inadvertently and that is why, in order to make it obvious for a passing Muslim that we were Hindus, we ought to have some element of red in our headgear," Hardwari Lal, who is now in Amritsar with his family of 13, says.
In Amrtisar, they found Surinder Kumar Billa, a local religious leader at the Durgaina temple in Amritsar, who has promised to help them get Indian citizenship.
'Your temple is a threat to our religion'
March 16, 2009
Jagdish Lal Sharma fled with his wife and five kids: I am a Pandit and also did some hakeemi on the side with natural medicines. There was no problem in our village till very recently. I had a very small temple near my home. One day, some other villagers came and said the presence of your temple is a threat to our religion. It should not be there. I pleaded with them to spare the temple but had no other option but to take the idols inside the house.
On October 2, we got a visa to India and I had a cousin in Amritsar. But the procedure is such that, I had to first go to Delhi -- where I knew no one -- and get my papers to come to Amritsar. You know very well how it is getting work done with the government. By the time I got the required papers to come to Amritsar, most of the money I had with me was spent.
It is a good feeling having at last come to Amritsar. The Punjab region is more or less the same on both sides. But we do not know how long we are going to be here. That is one issue we are worried about. The other is what we are going to do about our children. They do not know Punjabi and hence cannot get admitted to a school here. We have to find a way.
Our forefathers thought that staying back in Pakistan was a good idea. Now, we are thinking about our children and want them to grow up here in India.
Image: Jagdish Lal Sharma with his family
'Our neighbours are behaving differently today'
March 16, 2009
Hardwari Lal, 13 family members: I had a general store in my village. I live in a region where the Hindus have slowly disappeared. By the time I left, there was only one other family (which has also moved to India.) I have four sisters. My main concern is to find a match for them. I want to marry them to Hindus.
Apart from this, my main worry is the land I lost. My family owned a considerable amount of land worth several lakhs. As things started getting worse, there was a lot of pressure on me to sell the land to the locals.
The government was helpless. The central authorities in Peshawar could not do anything to help me. It was the local authorities who called the shots.
The local tehsildar (revenue officer) struck the deal like he was supporting me, but finalised it for 10 per cent of the original price. I had no other go but to concede. The local authorities are nothing but political agents for the radicals in these regions.
They used to come knocking and say no photos, no pictures, no idols. We were forced to remove all the family photos and idols of gods though it was inside our house. That is when I realised how different these same people were earlier. Samay ka prabhaav padta hi hain? (Time takes its toll)
It is not like the liberals have disappeared and radicals have moved in. It is the same neighbours who used to be pillars of strength in the past year who are behaving differently today. That is what pains me the most. The only Hindus who are better off are those in the Shia-dominated areas. There Shias protect the Hindus like their own against the Sunni fundamentalists. One thing I observed is that the Sikh people are somehow getting along. I admire them for that.
'I never got wind of what is coming'
March 16, 2009
Avtari Lal Sharma: I am also a medical practitioner. Unlike these people, I moved to Peshawar about two years ago. I never got wind of what is coming when I was there.
These people (he is Hardwari Lal's cousin) then started telling me how the situation was getting worse in Orakzai. So, when they decided to leave the country, I also decided to go with them. I wondered whether I did the right thing then, but now I am convinced it was the right thing to do.
As I sit here talking with you, I hear that they have reached Peshawar and signed a pact there too. Peshawar is about 250 km from Orakzai. Only now I realise... what is 250 km in these days and times. I am thankful I am here.
There are still many people who are there and want to leave. Most of them do not have relatives in Delhi. They do not have the money to go to Delhi first and pay a lot to get a permit to visit Punjab, where most of their relatives are. The best thing the government can do to us is to give a Punjab visa so that we can directly come here.
Another reason why most people hesitate is the money. They don't have much to start with, and then the Rs 10 they have becomes Rs 5 in India. So people really do not want to take the risk of losing everything. They are waiting to see if things will go back to normal.
So, if India is really interested in the welfare of the Hindus, they should issue Punjab visas. That is the only way those who are not well off can escape to safety.
Image: Avtari Lal Sharma with his family.
'There has always been shadow of the Taliban'
March 16, 2009
Gulzari Lal Sharma: I had a small shop. Things began getting worse before our eyes. I got really scared when they began enforcing the pagadi rule. They asked us to have some sort of red patch in our headgear. I do not know what purpose it would have served. All our neighbours knew we were Hindus. And we hardly left the village. It was really scary.
There has always been the shadow of the Taliban in the recent times in my place. In October it got really worse. The women in the family were harassed a lot. I had a little land and sold it for a decent price when I decided to leave the place.
The one thing I considered was the future of my children and when I thought about it, it was clear to me that they can't grow up in that environment. As we left, we were really worried about reaching Peshawar. Not just because we were Hindus, but that stretch was generally such a dangerous one and totally in control of the militants, even normal Pakistanis were scared to take that road.
We somehow made that distance of 250 km and reached Peshawar. From there we went to Lahore where we waited for our visas. The moment we got it, we left on the Samjhauta Express. Our permits are till 2010. Some have it till 2011.
These things are all in the hands of local authorities. All I hope for now is that we are not harassed when the duration lapses. We are pleading the Indian government for a right to stay here and hope we get it.
Let's hope it is a real investigation, and that both punitive and proactive measure are taken for once. Covering up human rights violations is not "patriotic" or "Zionist" - it is stupid and evil. And the people who perptetrate these misdeeds in the name of Israel are at best negligent or ignorant. They are hurting the state of Israel and the Zionist cause. Those who do it intentionally must be punished effectively, and those who do it out of ignorance must be educated. Those who are responsible, up to the highest levels, must be sought out and rooted out. I is nonsnsical to state "The chief education officer also described "the actions taken before during and after the operation to inculcate the soldiers and commanders with the moral aspects of the fighting" after the whole world was shown the shameful booklets of racist incitement that were created by extremist rabbis and distributed to the soldiers "by accident."
It is also unforgivable for the IDF to claim:
The IDF has no supporting or prior information about these events.
It was very easy to get such information and very hard to ignore it. It required a conscious effort. The IDF had no knowledge? In their own communique they had admitted that the daughers of Dr. Izzedin Abuelaish were killed by negligent firing of tank shells. Everyone saw the vandalism in Palestinian houses and the racist graffiti on the walls. But the IDF "had no knowledge." Those who attempt to cover up these senseless deeds are doing it only for their own benefit - not for the benefit of Israel or the IDF.
The only good thing we can say is that Hamas or Fateh wold never order such a probe, nor would they consider it a problem if a thousand Jewish civilians were murdered. Imagine the headline, "Hamas orders probe into civilian deaths after suicide bombing" - you will never see it of course.
Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit instructed the Military Police Investigation unit to launch the probe after soldiers were quoted as telling a military cadet academy that combat troops in Gaza fired at unarmed Palestinian civilians and vandalized property during Operation Cast Lead.
The head of the pe-military course, Danny Zamir, told Haaretz on Wednesday that he did not know in advance what the soldiers would say at the gathering, and what they said "shocked us." He said that after hearing the soldiers, he told IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi about his fears of a serious moral failure in the IDF.
The chief of staff's bureau requested a copy of the transcript of the discussion, and Zamir provided it. This week Zamir met with the IDF's chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, to discuss the matter. Zamir said he believed the army would take the matter seriously. "They do not intend to avoid responsibility," he said.
The IDF Spokesman's Office said: "As a result of the request of the head of the Rabin pre-military course, Mr. Danny Zamir, to the chief of staff's bureau, a meeting was held between Zamir and the chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister. The chief education officer described to the head of the preparatory course the processes of the operational and ethical inquiries being conducted by the IDF and the chief education officer's staff at all levels."
The chief education officer also described "the actions taken before during and after the operation to inculcate the soldiers and commanders with the moral aspects of the fighting."
The spokesman said that "Brig. Gen. Shermeister also made it clear that the IDF is now conducting intensive and comprehensive inquiries, and that commanders are encouraging discussion of these matters. The IDF has no supporting or prior information about these events. The IDF will check their veracity and investigate as required. The head of the preparatory course was also asked to pass on to the IDF any information he has so we can deal with it and investigate it in depth."
If there had been a prominent feature since the early 1980s until now and probably tomorrow, it is that the Arabs have brought unto themselves the problems and misfortunes they have always faced. Was Ibn Khaldoun right by saying that we are a barbaric nation with no ruling traditions whatsoever? He said that the clannish spirit is what characterizes Arabs, and that it is strong among Bedouins and weak among urbanites. Since people are of different types, some are predisposed to rule whereas others are not. In the same vein, Ibn Khaldoun exposes the Arabs and makes his harsh famous judgment on them. Thus, they are in his eyes "a barbaric nation as the traditions and causes of barbarity are so deeply rooted in them that they have come to constitute their nature. They enjoy rebellion and the non-observance of politics, which are inconsistent with and in contradiction to civilization." For this reason, the author of Al-Mukaddima sees that the Arabs are "the farthest from the politics of ruling." I claim that the Arabs have changed since Ibn Khaldoun's times. In fact, they have been tamed and defeated. They accept good governance, which is a rare instance, and vicious governance, which is the prevailing pattern. At the same time, they blame America and Israel for their own mistakes and sins, and nap in the afternoon.
They have been deemed liable to be violated, and as a result it is only the Arabs and Muslims who are killed these days. If no enemy kills them, they kill each other and then deny that terror has emerged from their ranks.
Death is a fact. I am not referring to an individual loss, but I am rather thinking of innocent people, of whom thousands or millions have been killed as a result of the ignorance on the part of leaders who do not know that preserving life is the first condition of the social contract following the departure from the jungle.
We have left the jungle, but the law of the jungle still prevails.
At least, BBC draws the line somewhere. The revolting play "Seven Jewish Children" is essentially a resuscitation of the ancient blood libel. Considering that Palestinian mothers are constantly praising the suicide missions of their sons, the play portrays an inverted version of reality.
Mar. 18, 2009 JONNY PAUL, Jerusalem Post correspondent, London , THE JERUSALEM POST The BBC has refused to broadcast a radio version of a highly controversial play that critics have labelled anti-Semitic, stating that airing the drama would compromise its impartiality.
Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza caused a storm last month while it was being performed at the Royal Court Theater in west London. Jewish community leaders dubbed it anti-Semitic for its portrayal of Israelis, which they said reinforced false stereotypes and included incorrect information.
Written by British playwright Caryl Churchill, a pro-Palestinian activist and patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the play was produced to raise funds for Gaza.
The 10-minute drama describes seven world events through the eyes of Jewish parents and grandparents who are determining how best to explain Jewish history to their children - Nazi Germany, the aftermath of World War II, the journey to Israel, the social anxiety apparent before The War of Independence, the consequences of the Six Day War, the first Intifada and finally today - post-Operation Cast Lead.
This excerpt describes a parent's emotional response to events in Gaza: "Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I'm not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we're the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can't talk suffering to us. Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her we won't stop killing them till we're safe."
According to The Guardian newspaper, BBC Radio Four rejected the script, deciding they could not use it on the grounds of impartiality.
BBC Radio Four's commissioning editor Jeremy Howe said: "It is a no, I am afraid - both Mark Damazer [Radio Four controller] and I think it is a brilliant piece, but after discussing it with editorial policy, we have decided we cannot run with it on the grounds of impartiality. I think it would be nearly impossible to run a drama that counters Caryl Churchill's view. Having debated long and hard we have decided we can't do Seven Jewish Children."
However, a statement made by the BBC added: "This play was not commissioned and no indication was given it would be broadcast. After due consideration, we felt it would not work for our audience."
Last month, over 60 prominent Jewish community members - including actors, rabbis and leaders - opposed the theater's decision to stage the play in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
"It portrays Israeli parents as inhuman triumphalists who care little about anything except their children's feelings and who teach them that Arabs are sub-human and must be hated," stated the letter.
The play was described as "a 10-minute history of Israel, ending with the bombing of Gaza," and the letter's signatories questioned the historical facts contained within it.
Seven Jewish Children has also roused strong reactions from the general public. A letter published in The Irish Times on Monday said: "I'm going to write a short play, and the title will be Seven Muslim Children. It's going to be a 10-minute history of Islam and will consist of a series of short dialogues in which Muslim parents, teachers and clerics teach their children to hate. They teach them to hate the West, to hate Jews, to hate globalization, to hate democracy, to hate everything except Islam. No entrance fee will be charged, but viewers should make a donation to a charity for children orphaned by 9/11."
As the tensions around the Gaza conflict begin to subside and another round of the intellectually bankrupt "Israeli Apartheid Weeks" passes by, Jewish students have a chance to step back and take stock. These last few months have certainly been a challenge for the entire community and, as is so often the case, Jewish students were on the front line. In difficult times you learn more about people and this academic term has been the proof of that. No one can deny that the challenges facing Jewish students are great but once again the Union of Jewish Students' (UJS) long-term strategy to tackle them has proved successful.
The steadfast support of the National Union of Students (NUS) and political groups like Labor Students has shown that long-term relationship building, built on a foundation of shared progressive values, works. During the height of the conflict the national chairperson of Labor Students wrote to UJS and stated that "Labor Students has never flinched from speaking out and standing with Jewish students to denounce anti-Semitism and racism of any kind, and I want you to know that that has not and will not change." At a time when condemning Israel and ignoring anti-Semitism seemed to be the easy way out, our real friends didn't let us down.
THE RESPONSE from universities was not always so positive and those institutions who failed to stand up against hatred and support their students against some of the intimidation and harassment we witnessed will be held to account. The new government-led group to tackle campus anti-Semitism, launched by Minister for Higher Education David Lammy, will give UJS the opportunity to challenge the authorities head on and work with them to find solutions and models of best practice. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also received a letter from Jewish students urging her to ensure that Hizbullah's communications head Ibrahim Moussawi was not given a visa to add to the already rising levels of hate speech we witness on UK campuses, and he was in fact barred from entering.
We also learned about the expediency of anti-Semitism to so many on the supposedly anti-racist far left. Minorities engaged in the usual vitriolic demonization of Israel showed disregard for anti-Semitism and the usual lack of rational thinking around the Middle East. Token gestures toward racism are not good enough when dealing with any other form of discrimination and we won't accept them for anti-Semitism either.
Mar. 17, 2009 ERAN TZIDKIYAHU , THE JERUSALEM POST
In recent years, a media revolution has been taking place in the Arab world, so that the media now reflect to a great extent the atmosphere of the Arab street as well as the consensus in the Arab regimes. Criticism against the crimes committed by the Zionist occupier in Palestine receives substantial resonance, whereas other horrors that take place in the region get little coverage, especially when they are the work of local players and not of Europeans, Americans or Jews. The regional condemnation of Israel doesn't reflect global humanitarian standards but is reserved especially for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The criticism against Israel, by its volume and severity, overshadows the coverage of the ongoing conflict in Darfur, for example, which in the past few years has already claimed a quarter of a million victims and created millions of refugees. The ethnic cleansing taking place in Darfur is far worse than any other regional crisis and cannot be compared to the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict, neither in volume nor in essence.
The silence of the Arab media regarding the humanitarian side of the conflict in Darfur is reinforced by the fact that Sudan is an active member of the Arab League. Moreover, some voices in the local press claim that the Western coverage of the Darfur crisis is part of a Zionist-Western conspiracy to divert attention from Iraq and Palestine and bring foreign involvement to Sudan to take control of its natural resources.
In 2007 THE INTERNATIONAL Crisis Group and the American University in Cairo held a workshop on media coverage of the Darfur crisis. The participants - leading journalists and academics from the Arab world - claimed that Arab media do not give enough attention to the humanitarian disaster in Darfur, compared both to Western media and to the attention that Arab media dedicate to other conflicts in the Middle East. Their report argues that due to lack of resources, but also lack of interest and racism, political aspects of the Darfur crisis are generally given priority over humanitarian ones, their coverage being shallow and inaccurate.
Criticism of Israel from the likes of Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Syria appears loaded with hypocrisy when all of these countries oppress minorities and bluntly violate human rights.
In Sudan, the Arab Janjaweed tribal militia is backed by president Omar al-Bashir, himself accused by the International Criminal Court of genocide. Immediately after his indictment by the ICC in July 2008, the Arab League, many of whose members accuse Israel of war crimes, issued a statement in support of the Sudanese president. Still, some voices in the Arab world backed the ICC decision and condemned the Arab League statements, among them that of Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, director-general of Al-Arabiya TV and former Al-Sharq al-Awsat editor.
THE ARAB WORLD was silent in the 1960s when Egypt used mustard gas in northern Yemen, in the '70s when Jordan killed Palestinians, in the '80s when Syria massacred tens of thousands of its own citizens who were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and in the '90s when Saddam Hussein slaughtered Kurds in the north and Shi'ites in the south of Iraq. Severe discrimination is being practiced against ethnic and religious minorities in countries throughout the Middle East.
Since Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked of on camera at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Turkey has become the flag-carrier for criticism against Israel in the Middle East. Turkey, while accusing Israel of war crimes, cannot confront its own past regarding the Armenian genocide and pressures academic and diplomatic bodies to prevent any serious public debate on the subject. Today, Turkey uses cultural and military oppression to deny the right of the Kurdish minority to self-determination.
According to Reporters without Boundaries, the biggest challenge to the freedom of press in the Middle East is the self-censorship that reporters exert on sensitive issues. Due to these restrictions, the Arab reporters channel their criticism toward Israel, which remains the regional punching bag and the target of Arab and Muslim rage against every illness in the world. Arab countries would certainly benefit more from looking inward to their own societies' problems.
ALL THESE EXAMPLES do not acquit Israel from criticism. Whether Israel is conceived as a country fighting for its existence or as an aggressive occupier, external criticism is a necessary factor in balancing the conflict. An advanced dialogue is already taking place within Israel itself, and many organizations enjoy their freedom to harshly criticize the state. Similarly, crimes taking place in other countries do not exempt the IDF from its obligation to seriously investigate the reasons for the high number of civilian casualties during the last operation in Gaza.
Nonetheless, the regional media should report proportionally, since one-dimensional coverage of the conflict is misleading, demonizing and creates intense hate toward Israel and the Jews in the Arab street. This atmosphere will in turn make it difficult for the moderate Arab states to explain to their people the peace initiatives that they promote. While Arabs widely cover any Western or Israeli aggression against Arabs or Muslims around the world, they ignore Arabs or Muslims hurting other Arabs, Muslims or Africans. This gap in coverage suggests that Arabs require much higher moral standards from Israel and the West than from themselves.
Regional criticism against Israel must be made within international relationships of proportional political and international interests. Higher questions of morality and justice must be left to philosophers, or to a just and balanced media that is ready to criticize all sides without bias and in accordance to global humanitarian standards.
The writer is a Legacy Heritage Fellow working on Jerusalem and a MA student in the Middle East and Islamic studies department at the Hebrew University.
Over the years, some of my wildest critics seem to have assumed I am Jewish. At the same time, some of my closest friends wish I were.
So let me set the record straight: I live in New York. I have a wife who craves Chinese food. And people I trust tell me I practically invented the word "chutzpah."
Ladies and gentleman, I am humbled by the honor you have given me - because this award speaks more to your good work than it does to mine.
The American Jewish Committee started in response to the persecution of Jews in czarist Russia. And your response took a very American form: an organization that would speak up for those who could not speak for themselves.
In the century since your founding, the American Jewish Committee has become one of the world's most influential organizations. Yet though your concerns begin with the safety and welfare of Jews, these concerns are anything but parochial. The reason for this is clear: You know that the best guarantee of the security of Jews anywhere is the freedom of people everywhere.
Your good work has helped bring real and lasting changes to our world. Unfortunately, while some threats have been defeated, new ones have taken their place. And these new threats remind us the AJC's work is more vital than ever.
In Europe, men and woman who bear the tattoos of concentration camps today look out on a continent where Jewish lives and Jewish property are under attack - and public debate is poisoned by an anti-Semitism we thought had been dispatched to history's dustbin.
In Iran, we see a regime that backs Hizbullah and Hamas now on course to acquire a nuclear weapon.
In India, we see Islamic terrorists single out the Mumbai Jewish Center in a well-planned and well-coordinated attack that looks like it could be a test run for similar attacks in similar cities around the world.
MOST FUNDAMENTALLY, we see a growing assault on both the legitimacy and security of the State of Israel.
This assault comes from people who make clear they have no intention of ever living side-by-side in peace with a Jewish state - no matter how many concessions Israel might make. The reason for this is also clear: These are men who cannot abide the idea of freedom, tolerance and democracy. They hate Israel for the same reasons they hate us.
As I speak, the flashpoint is Gaza. For months now, Hamas has been raining down rockets on Israeli civilians. Like all terrorist attacks, the aim is to spread fear within free societies, and to paralyze its leaders. This Israel cannot afford. I do not need to tell anyone in this room that no sovereign nation can sit by while its civilian population is attacked.
Hamas knows this better than we do. And Hamas understands something else as well: In the 21st century, when democratic states respond to terrorist attacks, they face two terrible handicaps.
THE FIRST HANDICAP is military. It's true that Israel's conventional superiority means it could flatten Gaza if it wanted. But the Israel Defense Forces - unlike Hamas - are accountable to a democratically chosen government.
No matter which party is in the majority, every Israeli government knows it will be held accountable by its people and by the world for the lives that are lost because of its decisions. That's true for lives of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire. And it's also true for the Israeli soldiers who may lose their lives defending their people.
In this kind of war, Hamas does not need to defeat Israel militarily to win a big victory. In fact, Hamas knows that in some ways, dead Palestinians serve its purposes even better than dead Israelis.
In the West we look at this and say, "It makes no sense." But it does make sense.
If you are committed to Israel's destruction, and if you believe that dead Palestinians help you score a propaganda victory, you do things like launch rockets from a Palestinian schoolyard. This ensures that when the Israelis do respond, it will likely lead to the death of an innocent Palestinian - no matter how many precautions Israeli soldiers take.
Hamas gets away with this, moreover, because it does not rule Gaza by the consent of those it claims to represent. It rules by fear and intimidation. It is accountable to no one but itself.
This is the chilling logic of Gaza. And it helps explain why even a strong military power like Israel can find itself at a disadvantage on the ground.
THE SECOND HANDICAP for Israel is the global media war. For Hamas, the images of Palestinian suffering - of people losing their homes, of parents mourning their dead children, of tanks rolling through the streets - create sympathy for its cause.
In a battle marked by street to street fighting, the death of innocents is all but inevitable. That is also true of Gaza. And these deaths have led some to call for Israel to be charged with war crimes by an international tribunal.
But I am curious: Why do we never hear calls for Hamas leaders to be charged with war crimes?
Why, for example, do we hear no calls for human rights investigations into Hamas gunmen using Palestinian children as human shields? Why so few stories on the reports of Hamas assassins going to hospitals to hunt down their fellow Palestinians? And where are the international human rights groups demanding that Hamas stop blurring the most fundamental line in warfare: the distinction between civilian and combatant?
I suspect the answer has to do with the same grim logic that leads Hamas to provoke a military battle it knows it cannot win. Whether Israel is ever found guilty of any war crime hardly matters. Hamas gets a propaganda win simply by having the charge made often and loudly enough.
In this, Israel finds itself in much the same position the United States found itself in Iraq before the surge. There, al-Qaida realized that it was in its interests to provoke sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni - no matter what the cost to innocent Iraqis. That is the nature of terror. And what we are seeing in Gaza is just one front in this much larger war.
IN THE WEST, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. Tonight I say to you: Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel.
In this new century, the "West" is no longer a matter of geography. The West is defined by societies committed to freedom and democracy. That at least is how the terrorists see it. And if we are serious about meeting this challenge, we would expand the only military alliance committed to the defense of the West to include those on the front lines of this war. That means bringing countries such as Israel into NATO.
My friends, I do not pretend to have all the answers to Gaza this evening. But I do know this: The free world makes a terrible mistake if we deceive ourselves into thinking this is not our fight.
In the end, the Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace, who reject freedom and who rule by the suicide vest, the car bomb and the human shield.
Against such an enemy, I will not second-guess the decisions of a free Israel defending her citizens. And I would ask all those who support peace and freedom to do the same.
Adapted from a March 4 speech to the American Jewish Committee by the chairman and CEO of News Corporation on receiving its National Human Relations Award.
The Jewish Agency is furious that the American UJC plans to evacuate 110 Jews from Yemen, evidently to be hijacked into the arms of the anti-Zionist Satmar ultraorthodox fanatics. But the Jewish Agency has only itself to blame, for sitting on its hands and watching the persecution of Jews in Yemen. If the Yemenite Jews were refused visas to Yemen, the way was still open to arrange visas to a neutral country such as Austria or Italy, as was done with USSR Jews. But nobody really bothered it seems.
Mar. 18, 2009 Haviv Rettig Gur , THE JERUSALEM POST
Fearing a spate of killings following threats to the Yemenite Jewish community, the umbrella body of North American Jewish federations will evacuate almost half of Yemen's Jewish community to the US over the next two weeks, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The United Jewish Communities is working with the US State Department, local federations and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to implement the evacuation and help finance the $800,000 expense of absorbing the 110 Yemenite Jews, who represent more than a third of the roughly 280-strong community.
"The funding would go toward such resettlement costs as housing, food and social-service programs," the the UJC said in a statement on Tuesday.
Jewish Agency officials blasted the move.
Jews "should not immigrate to the United States. The place of Jews is in their homeland, the Land of Israel, and like all the Jews of the world, the Jews of Yemen have to make aliya to Israel. That is their destiny," a senior agency official told the Post.
The agency is particularly upset because the extraction of the Yemenite Jews comes at the behest of New York's Satmar hassidic community, which opposes political Zionism and funds Jewish education institutions in Yemen.
Though the vast majority of Yemenite Jews now live in Israel, descendants of the large-scale aliya in the late 19th century and in the first years after the state's founding, the Satmars have campaigned for decades to prevent those remaining in Yemen from making the move.
In January, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, head of the Satmar hassidim in Kiryas Yoel in New York, called on US Jewry and the Obama administration to "save" the remaining Yemenite Jews, whom he said faced growing verbal and physical attacks,
Apparently in the wake of this request, the US Embassy in Sana'a has been interviewing Jewish families to grant them visas and refugee status in the United States.
Similar efforts by the Israeli government have been unsuccessful because Yemen has refused to approve passports for Jews wishing to leave for Israel... .
The "right wing bloc" that supposedly supported Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have been a myth. (see The myth of the right wing bloc). The real reason Netanyahu is so avid to form a unity govenment is not patriotism, but political reality. It is not possible to fit the square pegs of the ultraorthodox parties who oppose civil marriage, into the round hole of a coalition with Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, which insists on civil marriage.
Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu will have no choice but to ask President Shimon Peres for two more weeks to form a government, after he renewed his effort to bring Labor into his coalition on Wednesday.
Following consultations with Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, Beit Hanassi officially set midnight Sunday as the final deadline for Netanyahu to form a government.
But that deadline became irrelevant when Labor secretary-general Eitan Cabel announced that the convention that would decide whether the party joins the government would not be held until Tuesday.
Between now and then, Barak will work to persuade Labor MKs and activists that joining Netanyahu's government is in the best interests of both the country and the party. He had already begun to do so in a meeting with key political allies Wednesday night.
Barak officially declared his support for Labor joining the government Wednesday evening in a press release.
The statement was issued three weeks after he had announced at Jerusalem's King David Hotel that Labor would be a "responsible and serious opposition" due to the verdict of the voters that brought Labor down from 19 seats to 13 in the February 10 election.
"The good of the country, in light of all the challenges facing us - diplomatic, economic and social issues - requires Labor to seriously consider joining the government, and a decision will be made in the party's institutions," Barak said.
"We are all emissaries of the party and no one is above it. Most of the country's citizens and most Labor voters want to see the party be a partner to the country's leadership."
Barak's press statement came eight hours after Netanyahu issued a statement of his own, calling upon Labor to join the government.
"The Labor Party has many leading figures who are experienced and have much to contribute on security, diplomatic, economic and social issues," Netanyahu said.
"Their presence in the government would greatly strengthen the country's leadership at this juncture, and would significantly enhance Israel's efforts to successfully meet great challenges standing in its path."
Netanyahu has offered Labor five portfolios including defense, two deputy ministers and a Knesset committee chairmanship, even though it is possible there won't even be eight Labor MKs who would support the government if Barak's proposal to join it passes at the convention.
Labor MKs Ophir Paz-Pines, Eitan Cabel, Amir Peretz, Shelly Yacimovich and Yuli Tamir fiercely attacked Barak's effort to bring the party into the government and vowed to defeat his proposal at the convention.
Besides those five legislators, Social Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog and MKs Avishay Braverman, Orit Noked, and Daniel Ben-Simon have also expressed opposition to joining the coalition, but Barak's associates believe they will end up supporting the proposal.
The Labor Youth organization began efforts to pass a proposal that would start the process of toppling Barak at the convention.
"Barak's attempt to crawl into the government is killing Labor," Tamir said. "He has abandoned his faith in Labor's path, so he shouldn't be allowed to decide its future."
Sources close to Barak expressed confidence that he could pass the proposal, albeit by a small margin. Histadrut Labor Federation chief Ofer Eini will lead Barak's effort to pass the proposal, stressing the need for Labor to be in the coalition to deal with the economic crisis.
Likud MKs criticized Netanyahu in closed conversations for offering so many portfolios to a fraction of a party.
Someone should fly the Israeli flag in Umm el Fahm. Can't it be someone who does it in the name of cooperation and brotherhood, rather than Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir? Is this who we want to represent Zionism?
Has anyone in Israel asked how Gideon Levy got it all so very wrong? By Ilya Meyer, Sweden
Gideon Levy asks "Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us?" His article is a textbook example of how journalists sometimes get just about everything wrong.
Levy presupposes everyone's incompetence. He explains that "(Swedish tennis player) Johansson and his angry fans saw real pictures from Gaza; (Israeli tennis player) Ram and his complacent fans never did." It never occurred to Levy that perhaps Andy Ram and his fans actually pay their Internet subscriptions and were able to see exactly the same images from the Gaza Strip as everyone else in the world was able to see. The arrogance of assumption apparently knows no bounds.
I do not know if Levy spoke to Ram, and I do not know how much Levy understands about Sweden – the psyche, the politics, the demographic construct and the language. I did speak to Ram, I have lived in Sweden for 25 years and I am fluent in Swedish – both the nation and the language.
Like all Israelis, Andy Ram knew what was happening in Gaza. Apparently unlike Gideon Levy, Ram also knew what pre-empted Israel's response: 2920 days of merciless missile barrages from Gaza into civilian communities in southern Israel. I'll stick my neck out here and make an assumption: Gideon Levy does not live in Sderot. Let me stick my neck out further and hazard a guess that Levy lives in or very near Tel Aviv. Well out of the reach of the 10,000 missiles with which Gazans have pounded southern Israel. Levy quite rightly feels very strongly on behalf of the Palestinian Arab civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty anywhere signifies the utter failure of mature human beings to resolve their differences responsibly.
But Gideon Levy suggests it is most important to protect civilian Palestinian Arabs from the consequences of their own choices after they freely elect a government openly dedicated to war on Israel's civilian population. Levy puts a higher premium on the lives of a neighbor at war with his own country, than on the lives of his own fellow-citizens. In a time of war – which is how Hamas constantly defines its relations with Israel – that is high treason.
Levy makes sweeping statements without any basis in fact. While Gideon Levy was in his apartment in Tel Aviv, far from the Islamist violence in Sderot and Malmö, I was at the tennis match in Malmö, dodging missiles and trying not to get lynched. I interviewed players, officials, police officers, civilian security staff, passersby, fans of both the Israeli and the Swedish teams. Not one single interviewee suggested that the melee in Malmö had anything to do with Israel's actions in Gaza, opining instead that it had everything to do with a determined Swedish extremist Left-wing political drive to demonize Israel.
Here is what Malmö in Sweden is really like, in the eyes of the city's police oficers and its hard-pressed ambulance and fire rescue services.
Levy suggests that "the Swedes hate us". I have news for Levy and for Haaretz's readers. They don't. Swedes by and large admire Israel. They also occasionally criticize Israel. On occasion they also criticize Britain over her handling of Ireland, France over her treatment of former colonies, the USA over her policies in the Middle East, Australia over her sometimes staunch refusal to allow in more refugees. They very often criticize their own country, Sweden, for all sorts of issues ranging from high taxation and an increasingly burdened health-care system, to the failure of immigration, asylum and integration policies.
Having said that, the small yet vocal and violent minority of Swedes who have kidnapped the media and taken over the public discourse do not criticize Russia over its decimation of Chechnya, China over its rape of Tibet, Myanmar over the disgraceful treatment of its own citizens, Zimbabwe over its treatment of political rivals, Sudan and Congo over the genocide taking place with official sanction. This vocal and violent minority do not demand the destruction of any of these countries. That is a demand they reserve solely for Israel.
In Sweden, western democracies receive harsh criticism because it is safe to criticize them, while dictatorships rarely merit a attention. This is because, over the years, a small but highly motivated cadre of media-savvy extremist Left-wingers have stormed the Swedish media scene and taken it hostage through infiltration, indoctrination and subjugation.
Unlike Gideon Levy, I was in Malmö. I heard the 7000-strong crowd of mostly Muslim rioters waving Hamas banners while chanting "Khaiber, Khaiber ya yahud, ya'ish Muhammad saufa ya'ud" (which roughly translates into Khaiber, Khaiber, Oh Jews, Mohammed's army will return to finish you off) – a blood-curdling racist battle-cry recalling the Muslim slaughter of Jews about 1300 years ago in the oasis of Khaiber in the Arabian peninsula for their refusal to convert to Islam. The marchers were led by leaders and other prominent figures of the Socialist (nee Communist) Party, the Labour Party and the Green Party. And yes, Gideon Levy is right, they were Swedes.
From Sweden on the weekend of 7-8 March 2009 when the slaughter of Jews was being celebrated on the streets of Malmö:
And yet no, they weren't Swedes. Most people in this country do not go around threatening the slaughter of their fellow-citizens. "The Swedes" most emphatically do not hate Jews or Israelis. Only some Swedes do: those on the extreme Left and their staunch supporters among the recent extremist Islamist imports to this country.
While marching under a Hamas banner, Swedish Socialist Party leader Lars Ohly wears a keffiyah depicting all of Israel replaced by a single Islamic state called Palestine.
Of course, it would take a knowledgeable eye to discern these nuances. Not always easy when commenting on northern Scandinavia while sitting in a trendy café on a Tel Aviv beachfront.
Has anyone in Israel asked how Gideon Levy got it all so very wrong?
The Israeli ethos of "not leaving anyone" behind is embedded in our national psyche. In his 1956 Diary of the Sinai Campaign, Moshe Dayan expressed his admiration for troops who risked their lives to bring back wounded and dead comrades, and opined that this sometimes irrational devotion was nonetheless necessary to maintain the espirit de corps of the IDF. But after the Suez Campaign, Israeli POWs had to suffer patiently until honorable prisoner exchanges were arranged. And most regrettably, the prisoners of the Lavon affair were not released.
* CNN Jerusalem producer's shocking public outburst against Israel (see video below) * Revealed: UNRWA spokesman who lied about Israel's shelling of a school previously worked at the BBC with Jeremy Bowen * Emmy and Golden Globe award winner Roseanne Barr, a bitter critic of Israel, writes on her website that Israeli forces are firing rockets from Gaza into Israel as a trick to make people think they are being fired by Palestinians
THIS IS WHOM CNN EMPLOYS
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
Earlier this month, I attended a debate for journalists in Jerusalem between two members of the Israeli Knesset: Danny Ayalon (Israel's former ambassador to Washington) and Jamal Zahlaka, a Knesset member for Balad, an Arab nationalist party, who before entering politics, qualified as a medical doctor at Israel's Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Both Ayalon and Zahlaka were professional, courteous and generally reasonable in what they had to say. So were the journalists present who asked the questions, including Ethan Bronner, The New York Times's senior Jerusalem correspondent.
But one journalist, sitting in the row in front of me, was far from courteous and I have today posted on YouTube a video of her extraordinary tirade against Danny Ayalon, in which she harangues and berates him, uses expletives and calls him "fascist, fascist."
You can watch it here:
The journalist in question is Nidal Rafa, who for some years has been one of CNN's senior producers in Jerusalem, during which time she has been as partisan as she continues to be now.
None of the other four dozen journalists present witnessing the episode, including Ethan Bronner of The New York Times, seem to have mentioned Rafa's outburst in their reports.
A FAIR-MINDED REPORTER?
Rafa is an Israeli Arab, born in the Haifa area, and is well-known around town not only as a CNN producer but also as an extremely vocal critic of Israel. For example, she engaged in another anti-Israeli outburst at an IPCRI (Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information) event in Jerusalem in February.
On other occasions in 2007 and 2008, while employed by CNN, she has publicly called for Israel to cease to exist as a Jewish state. Several years ago, in an article on how Western reporters interview Palestinians about their views on terrorism, Israel's leading liberal paper Ha'aretz noted that "Nidal Rafa [then working for another American TV network] decides what to translate [from Arabic for the American correspondent] and what to leave untranslated."
"The person who finally decided what the news channel would broadcast from Bartaa was Nidal Rafa," observed Ha'aretz.
In the past, Rafa has also worked on programs for the BBC and NPR.
I spoke with Kevin Flower, the Jerusalem Bureau chief for CNN, and he says Rafa's contract with CNN has been discontinued though he declined to provide a specific reason.
Despite this, Rafa handed out her CNN business card to several people, including myself, after her outburst against Danny Ayalon, and said she was still working for CNN. Even if she no longer works there, the question is why CNN employed someone like this for at least the last two years?
BERLIN (Reuters) - Roughly one in twenty 15-year-old German males is a member of a neo-Nazi group, a higher proportion than are involved in mainstream politics, according to a study released on Tuesday.
Many politicians fear a resurgence of right-wing extremism as unemployment creeps higher in Germany, which is facing its deepest recession since World War Two. Government figures have shown anti-Semitic crimes rose at the end of last year.
"It is shocking that right-wing groups have more success recruiting male youths than the established political parties," said Christian Pfeiffer, author of the report issued by Lower Saxony's criminal research instute.
Pfeiffer said fewer than 2 percent of young men were active in mainstream politics, compared to the 5 percent involved in far-right groups.
The study, conducted in 2007 and 2008, also revealed that neo Nazi-symbols -- in either rock music, stickers or special clothing -- were used by one in 10 of the youths surveyed. The swastika and other Nazi symbols are banned in Germany.
The highest proportion of neo-Nazis was in former communist eastern Germany, where almost one in eight youths were in such groups. More than 14 percent of those questioned were described as racist, and anti-Semitism was rife.
More than 14 percent of those asked were inclined to brush off the Holocaust as "not awful" while a similar number tended to believe that Jews, through their behaviour, were not entirely blameless for their persecution.
Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's interior minister, said at the presentation of the state-sponsored report he would push for the creation of more sports clubs in regions with social problems.
Late last year, a violent attack on Bavarian police chief Alois Mannichl, who had taken a stand against far-right supporters, stoked a debate over the rise of neo-Nazis.
Earlier this month, an EU agency reported that peaks in anti-Semitism in Europe tracked tensions in the Middle East.
Mar. 18, 2009 JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Israel's insistence that 90 of the released Palestinian prisoners be expelled from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 30 more moved to the West Bank was the reason why negotiations to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit failed, Hamas's military commander Ahmed Ja'abri told the London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat.
"So long as Israel doesn't consent to Hamas's conditions, I have no problem holding on to Schalit for another full year," Ja'abri was quoted as saying in a report published on Wednesday.
Ja'abri is believed to be one of the few Hamas operatives to know the whereabouts of the kidnapped soldier. He is also considered by many in Israel to be more extreme in his demands, which led some officials in Jerusalem to point to his sudden arrival at the negotiations in Cairo as the reason for the collapse of the talks.
While the Hamas commander clearly placed the blame for the current status of the talks on Israel, he went on to say that the negotiations were not over, and that he was willing to continue contacts even after Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu takes office.
"I don't discern between [Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] and Netanyahu," he said. "What matters to us is that our demands are met."
The paper further quoted other Hamas officials as accusing Israel of employing pressure tactics in order to force the Islamic group into giving up the soldier.
"[Olmert] is trying to pressurize Hamas by saying that if a deal is not achieved, the matter will be moved into the hands of a right-wing Netanyahu government," the paper quoted the officials as saying.
On Tuesday, the government decided during a special three-hour cabinet session that a new committee of ministers would be charged with brainstorming ways to impose additional "sanctions" on Hamas in order to force the group to be more flexible in negotiations for the release of Schalit.
According to reports, methods to be considered by the committee would include bringing the treatment of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails more in line with the treatment currently being received by the kidnapped soldier. Such a change would most likely put an end to family visits, which are currently permitted.
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann has been appointed the chairman of the committee, which is expected to submit its recommendations on Sunday during the next cabinet meeting.
In the interview, Dahlan was asked about reports that Fatah was demanding that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist as a precondition for the establishment of a Palestinian "unity government." He called the reports "misleading" and said Hamas was "putting words in our mouths."
Dahlan added: "They say that Fatah has asked them to recognize Israel's right to exist and this is a big deception. For the one thousandth time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist."
He explained that it was the PLO, and not Fatah, which recognized Israel's right to exist when the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
How did Zionist activist Dan Kliman meet a violent death in an elevator shaft? Was it really an accident? What brought him to a building closed for business on Thanksgiving? What caused him to use an elevator that was supposed marked "Out of Order?" How did he pry open elevator doors with a purple pen or a pen of any other color?
That's the story the San Francisco cops want us to believe. One would like to suggest to SF police that they try to reconstruct the crime, and open closed elevator doors with a pen. They can choose their favorite color.
Dan should be remembered as a pioneer of grass roots Israel advocacy in the US.
SF Weekly has obtained a copy of the Medical Examiner's final report for Dr. Dan Kliman, the pro-Israel activist who fell to his death in an elevator shaft at 55 New Montgomery in November of last year. The ruling: Death by blunt-force trauma, accidental. Also, "multiple defects" were detected in the door of the elevator Kliman tumbled out of.
We will deliver an update as soon as possible with details from the report.
UPDATE, 3:45 P.M.: In an 18-page report released today, the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office determined that Dr. Dan Kliman died of blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen following a fall from an elevator believed stuck between the fourth and fifth floors at 55 New Montgomery. While how Kliman ended up in the bottom of the elevator shaft is not spelled out with exact certainty, the report does note "multiple deficiencies" in the elevator car that he fell from.
Kliman, 38, was a fiery pro-Israel activist and co-founder of S.F. Voice for Israel. The strange circumstances surrounding his demise -- combined with recent, well-publicized failures from the San Francisco Police Department -- led many in the Jewish community to assume that Kliman was the victim of a cabal of anti-Zionist extremists.
These whisperings led Inspector Matt Krimsky to assure SF Weekly that the police had "physical evidence" that Kliman forced his way out of the elevator: "We've got forensic evidence pointing toward a tragic accident. There is no evidence of foul play whatsoever. Underscore that, bold it and print it with an exclamation point," said the inspector.
Naturally, Krimsky was soon removed from the case by the SFPD and replaced with a "task force" led by a homicide investigator. All further media inquiries were directed to the Public Information Office -- who, while pleasant, did not answer any questions. Nothing more was said of the case -- until now.
The report theorizes that Kliman may have pried his way out of the elevator's inner door with a purple pen found clutched in his left hand (this "was possible") notes the report, written by investigator Graham Cowley.
Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Ellen Moffatt, writing in a March 11 communique included within the report, notes "In a previous discussion with SFPD Lt. Spillane, OSHA [the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration] found that the latch keeping the elevator door closed was faulty."
Writing again on March 16, Moffatt added this telling paragraph:
Spoke with Jennifer Stafford of the OSHA Elevator Unit who states that the report is not yet done, but that so far multiple defects were found with the functioning of the door, and one of these defects involved the latch mechanism of the door to keep the inner door closed. When the inner door was forced open, then the outer door could be easily opened.The elevator, according to their investigation, was stuck between the fourth and fifth floors.
Because of the age of the elevator, there is no way to determine why the elevator became stuck (there are no computer chips or memory etc.) She is also pursuing violations concerning not checking the elevator shaft before attempting to operate the elevator, not only because Mr. Kliman may have been found sooner (or perhaps injured further by the elevator) but because someone else who may have been in the shaft later to repair the elevator may have been injured.
Phone calls to the SFPD's Public Information Office asking if the department is ready to make any statements about just how Kliman may have managed to pry his way out of the elevator before ending up at the bottom of the shaft have not yet been returned.
Again, you can read all of SF Weekly's coverage of this story here.
Frantzman has discovered a great truth: The Israel-Palestinian conflict is fueled by hatred generated by foreign extremist ideologues. But Franzman missed two essential ingredients in this scenario. The first is that the "Hate Israel" scenario in the United States is led primarily by anti-Zionist Jews in organizations like the so-called Jewish Voice for Peace. Even in Europe, where there are hardly any Jews, the greatest ideologues of the hate Israel movement like Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Hayim Beresheet and Gilad Atzmon are ofren Jews and even former Israelis. We need to pay a lot more attention to that.
The second is that on the other hand, among "Israel advocates" abroad, there is a large contingent of fierce, sometimes racist and violent right wing Zionists, whose intransigent attitude makes Avigdor Lieberman look like a left-wing dove.
It is also true that a lot of the "anti-Israel" sentiment is old fashioned Anti-Semitism of the type that existed 200 years ago, and using the same stereotypes.
The world has become used to seeing scenes of terrorist carnage. From Bali to Mumbai and by way of Madrid and London, few terrorist attacks truly shock people. Most pale in comparison to that of 9/11. Whereas once they spoke of "Black Friday" in Mumbai in regard to the 1993 bombings, they can hardly have so many black days for all the terrorism.
Similarly in this country people became "used to" terrorism and rockets in Sderot. Now Israel and its supporters and enemies have gotten used to the violent outburst of protesters in Europe. Few people more than winced at the "Stop the Holocaust in Gaza" placards churned out during Operation Cast Lead. It was expected. Israel apartheid week? Durban II? Its been done before. The riots in Malmo, Sweden, over the appearance of something as innocent as an Israeli tennis team came and went.
The hatred and vitriol and extreme violence has become routine. While organizations still monitor anti-Semitic incidents such as synagogue bombings and assaults on Jewish institutions and persons, there is a great deal of normalcy to the entire spectrum of extremism that issues forth from Western protesters and their allies. But there is a need to challenge the hatred and to be surprised by it. Getting used to terrorism and allowing it to be part of "life as usual" may seem like not letting it affect us. But it also excuses it through silence and allows it to creep into everyday life until people cannot recall a time when it was not there. It is like so many ills in society, such as domestic abuse or public displays of racism. A few too many and it is just "normal." This is the way the extreme outbursts against Israel have become.
A RECENT COMMENT I received from an American after posting photos from Wadi Kelt on Facebook: "By your look I see your people were European peasants that converted to Judaism during the time of Genghis Khan - not part of any mass exodus out of 'biblical' Israel. The Europeans didn't know what to do with all the Jews from the camps coming back into Europe, so they loaded them onto ships and gave them Palestine, a country that was never theirs... They [the Jews] learned very well from the Nazis."
The poster described herself as a "good human being" who was "standing up" for "grievous wrongs wherever Israel is a terrorist state." She claimed "we will never be silent." But the last statement struck home: "Free Palestine from the river to the sea."
Consider the numerous claims being sandwiched together by this critic of Israel. First there is a little racism about "your looks" and then there is a claim about Jews not being the same as the biblical Jews. Then there is some false history of the Holocaust about Jews "coming back to Europe." The Jews are then compared to Nazis. But it supposedly all comes in the spirit of doing good and "standing up" for the oppressed. But standing up for the weak doesn't end with calls for self-determination, it ends with calls for the destruction of Israel.
THIS WAS ONE of a number of recent incidents I have witnessed. Another one involved a British keffiyeh-clad student studying in Cairo who asked a local Palestinian, "Why do you speak Hebrew, the language of your enemy?" I'll never forget another student who lectured a secular Palestinian about the Koran and the connection of Arabs to the Temple Mount. In one experience after another I witnessed Western tourists in the Holy Land encouraging Palestinians to adhere to extreme interpretations of history and shaming Palestinians that they were not patriotic enough.
The extremism that grows year by year on college campuses in the West, among Western volunteers in the Middle East and among Western "activists" in Europe is not something that should be accepted and ignored. It is a dangerous development because the extremism of the protests today exceeds the extremism of the Palestinians themselves. The support for "Palestine free from the river to the sea" is more expansionist than the feelings of the Palestinian public.
This means that in the near future, barring an attempt to stop the anger and hatred, the main engine of Palestinian irredentism and intransigency may well be foreign voices, not local ones. Many Palestinians have grown tired of the fight and the cycles of violence. Prominent voices and moderates are prepared for some form of coexistence, not peace, but acceptance of the situation and the existence of the other. Foreign voices, who do not experience the terror and do not have to live in the area, have not tired. They grow more angry by the day, funneling their paucity of causes at home into adherence and conversion to support of causes abroad.
The writer, a PhD student in geography at the Hebrew University, runs the Terra Incognita blog. email@example.com
Up until now, Hamas has adroitly enlisted Israeli public opinion in getting the best possible deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.
On Tuesday, the government decided to fight back.
By deciding for the first time to release the names of some of the terrorists Hamas has demanded in return for Schalit, the government - which for so long has adamantly refused to release any of these details - decided to enter the public opinion ring.
While many Israelis may have difficulty understanding why the government would not release 450 generic "prisoners" for Schalit, when they hear the names of a few of those prisoners - some of whom make Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who was exchanged for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, look like a choir boy in comparison - the debate takes on a bit of a different tenor.
The names Bahij Badar, Abdullah Barghouti, Ibrahim Hamed and Abbas a-Sayid may not say a lot to a lot of people. However, the Israeli public remembers all too well, and with great pain, the attacks for which they were responsible: the worst attacks of the second intifada, from the bombing at the Sbarro pizza parlor in Jerusalem, to the Seder night massacre in Netanya, to the atrocity at the Hebrew University cafeteria. Seeing these names on the list Hamas demanded, the government reasoned, would put the whole debate over Schalit in a somewhat different perspective.
And with the release of the names of prisoners Israel would not release, the government also publicized some of those it would be willing to free, including those with "blood on their hands" - those responsible for killing Israelis.
The release of that list was also a play for public opinion, since it showed the length the government was willing to go to win the freedom of Schalit.
Three of the four professionals who spoke at Tuesday's cabinet meeting - the prime minister's point man on the prisoner issue, Ofer Dekel; Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin; and OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin - all said that Hamas had reneged on previous agreements and toughened its position because of the belief that Israeli public opinion would eventually force the government's hand.
The feeling of the security professionals was that Hamas believed that no government could stand up to the protests and full-court media press and pleas by the Schalit family. Hamas banked on the government caving in to the public pressure.
On Tuesday, however, the government tried to turn the tables on Hamas.
Release the names, the rationale seemed to be, and the public pressure would be lessened - or, at the very least there would be more understanding as to why the government felt unable to give in to Hamas's demands.
It is difficult to say how close the sides were to a deal in Cairo on Sunday and Monday, because - as Dekel and Diskin told the cabinet - when they got there, Hamas had already backtracked.
According to government sources, Israel had agreed to release 450 prisoners, and had also agreed to release some 320 of the prisoners from a list Hamas had submitted. The disagreement was about the other 130, and Hamas was unwilling to submit different names. Hamas apparently thought time was on its side, and with just a little more public pressure the government would cave in.
But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the nation Tuesday night in his televised statement that Israel was neither beaten nor defeated, and there were red lines that could not be crossed - even in the face of a public opinion blitz.
Public opinion, the government also somewhat belatedly seemed to realize, does not have to be a one-way street. It seems that through its decision Sunday to set up a committee to consider toughening the conditions for the Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails, it was trying to impact Palestinian public opinion.
Among the suggestions the committee will reportedly deal with is the possibility of revoking visitation rights for the Palestinian prisoners, taking away phone privileges, newspaper and television access, and perhaps depriving them of electricity at night - moves that would approximate in some small way the conditions Schalit is believed to be facing.
If relatives cannot visit, or the prisoners can't call home, then perhaps there will be public pressure on Hamas to show some flexibility.
It's a long shot, but the message from the government Tuesday was that since Israel was not willing to give in to Hamas's demands, the search for that one button that would move the organization on the Schalit issue would continue.
A former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman has faced questions over the past two weeks about financial ties between members of the Saudi royal family and the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a Washington think tank he heads that has been critical of U.S. support for Israeli government policies. But Pelosi's objections reportedly focused on Freeman's ties to China. A well-placed Democratic source said Pelosi, a strong supporter of the Chinese human-rights movement, was incensed about public remarks that Freeman once made that seemed to justify the violent 1989 Chinese government crackdown on democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. The source, who asked not to be identified, said Pelosi thought Freeman's views were "indefensible" and complained directly to President Obama about his selection.
And sources tell POLITICO that the speaker objected to Chas Freeman's appointment to head the National Intelligence Council, in part because she wasn't confident of his support for dissenters in Tibet and China at large.
Pelosi herself had this to say following the Newsweek article:
"I saw in the paper this morning my name quoted in association with this. I never made a public statement about Chas Freeman's nomination," Pelosi said in response to a question from the Huffington Post. "The conversation I had that was quoted in the paper was in a classified setting which I would never quote, nor should anyone else have."
Back to The New York Times... the paper seems to base its thesis on Sen. Chuck Schumer's claiming credit -- yet Freeman has ridiculed such claims by the New York lawmaker. Which, now that I think about it not only raises questions about the Times unambiguous assertion, but also Freeman's.
In other words... it may or may not be true that pro-Israel pundits and advocates were responsible for highlighting comments made by Freeman regarding China and Saudi Arabia -- but if it was those snippets that caught people's attention, then it would seem to poke a gigantic hole in the argument that merely to say something critical about Israel is enough to block you from getting a D.C. job.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Clashes are inevitable between the idealist and pragmatic proclivities of the new Obama administration in foreign affairs. In fashioning Middle East policy, especially with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iran, Obama's idealism will face harsh realities that limit his policy options. Obama and Netanyahu may subscribe to different values and principles, but they are both pragmatic leaders capable of adjusting to realities; and thus can be expected to make efforts to avoid a major confrontation.
US President Obama wants to fix the international system and to effectively combat global terrorism, and he wants to accomplish these goals by means opposite those utilized by his predecessor. He wants to replace Bush's exclusionary foreign policy, unilateralism, use of force and reliance on preventive war, with multilateral diplomacy, close cooperation with allies and international organizations (including the UN), negotiations with adversaries such as Iran and Syria, and conflict resolution in international hotspots such as the Palestinian-Israeli arena. Obama also has placed the wider Middle East at the top of his foreign policy agenda.
Every new American administration, especially one that wishes to completely overhaul foreign policy, begins the formulation of a new approach by probing foreign leaders and gathering information about conditions on the ground. The main purpose of this initial effort is to discover whether visions can be translated into concrete policies and actions. Indeed, a plethora of American officials and politicians, including the new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, already have visited the Middle East seeking first-hand information and have consulted with local leaders. Obama is expected to soon announce a new American strategy for the region.
Idealism and good intentions often meet harsh realities. An early case of such a clash can be seen in Obama's emerging policy towards China. The idealistic approach calls for criticism of China's abuses of human rights at home and its anti-American policies abroad. China cooperates with Iran and has undermined American and European attempts to stop the Iranian nuclear program via harsher and more effective UN sanctions. The US also opposes Chinese threats against Taiwan, its fierce crackdown in Tibet, and Chinese support for the rogue regimes in Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Yet, during her first visit to China, Clinton ignored these issues and concentrated mostly on the global financial and economic crisis. China, which has foreign exchange reserves worth around $2 trillion, is the world's largest holder of US government debt. Apparently, the White House thought that criticism of China at this juncture would be counterproductive to the economic recovery effort.
Another example of a collision between idealism and reality can be seen in Obama's policy towards the second UN conference against racism ("Durban II") that is scheduled for next month in Geneva. The 2001 Durban conference in South Africa was hijacked by Arabs and Muslims who adopted extreme anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic resolutions. In response, the US withdrew from the conference. Obama had planned to participate in the second 2009 conference as part of his desire to alter the US policy towards the UN.
The problem was that "champions of human rights" such as Iran, Libya, Cuba and Russia led the preparations for the second conference, and prepared extreme draft resolutions that again single out Israel for demonization and delegitimization. The resolutions were also very critical of the US and the West.
Obama sent officials to the UN to examine whether these draft resolutions could be modified. The American officials returned empty handed and Obama determined that under these conditions the US would not participate.
Good intentions are likely to meet harsh realities also in the Middle East.
Obama has described Israel as the most important US ally in the Middle East, but also has made clear his concern for the plight of Palestinians. Like all American presidents, Obama wants to facilitate Arab-Israeli peace. Several officials in his government even think that such a peace is a prerequisite for building an effective Arab coalition against Iranian hegemonic ambitions and Iran's nuclear weapons program. Some also believe that Israeli-Palestinian peace will erase decades of Arab and Muslim hostility towards the US and the West.
However, hostility towards the US is deeply rooted in the Middle East and only partially linked to US-Israeli relations. Furthermore, the Arab-Israeli arena is not ripe for peacemaking. The Iranian threat has to be removed before Israel can be expected to consider withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and to countenance emergence of a Palestinian state in these areas. In the current situation, with Iran still on the rise, such a state would quickly become another "Hamastan."
Superpower mediation in protracted and difficult international conflicts has a better chance to succeed in situations of opportunity or extreme threat. Often wars create opportunities for resolution. Yet contrary to popular belief, the two recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza have not created opportunities for conflict resolution.
Even if the next government in Israel will be based on a center-right coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu, it will not be the main obstacle for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, despite the reluctance of Netanyahu to adhere to the two-state formula. Clinton's reaffirmation of the US commitment to the two-state formula and promise to implement it, led commentators to conclude that the gap on this issue will inevitably lead to a confrontation between Obama and Netanyahu. Similarly, the declared US intention to begin official negotiations with Iran and Syria could be a source of conflict between Washington and Jerusalem.
Yet, the outgoing government negotiated with the Palestinian Authority for over a year and even invented with Condoleezza Rice the innovative but hollow concept of the "shelf agreement." Thus far, all negotiation efforts have failed. Unfortunately, Hamas ג€" which has power, is not interested in peace and accommodation; while the PA ג€" which says it is interested in peace, is impotent.
Certainly, Iran is the key factor in the region. The US, Israel, and many states, even Arab and Muslim, agree that nuclear Iran represents the major threat to security and stability in the world. Obama stated on several occasions that Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, but his approach to the problem is based on a false assumption. In theory, it is pragmatic to negotiate with enemies. The problem with Iran however, has never been the lack of negotiations. For several years, with American blessing and support, the UK, Germany and France (the EU3) conducted intensive negotiations with Iran aiming at halting the Iranian nuclear arms program. These negotiations have failed because Iran is determined to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Iran wants negotiations with the US for three reasons: to earn more time to complete its nuclear arms project, to acquire legitimacy for its Islamic fundamentalist regime, especially in a presidential election year, and to prevent a potential American or Israeli military strike. Israel calls for much wider and tougher sanctions against Iran and on a moral basis opposes negotiations with a regime that has repeatedly called for its destruction. Israel has suggested that if Obama begins negotiations, he should set a short deadline, and in case of failure take harsh actions such as sanctions and military blockade of the Persian Gulf.
Netanyahu has demonstrated that he can be a pragmatic leader. During his first term as Prime Minister (1996-1999), Netanyahu transferred control over Hebron to the PA. In October 1998, he signed the Wye River memorandum, which required Israeli transfer of additional territory in the West Bank to the PA. He even secretly negotiated with Syria. While serving as Minister of Finance in the Ariel Sharon Government (2001-2005) he first voted for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and only later changed his mind. More recently he stated that he would honor all previous agreements Israel signed with the Palestinians.
The US and Israel have developed a "special relationship" that is independent of the specific leaders serving at specific periods in Washington and Jerusalem. The special relationship is based on similar history and values, similar strategic interests and strong and continuing support for Israel in American public opinion. American support for Israel is a critical component in policy deliberations held in both countries.
In general, and more so in recent years, Democratic administrations have cooperated better with Left-led governments in Israel, and Republican administrations preferred Right-led governments. Obama and Netanyahu may subscribe to different values and ideological preferences, but they are nevertheless both pragmatic leaders capable of adjusting beliefs to realities. Thus, they can be expected to make every effort to coordinate policies and to avoid a major confrontation.
Eytan Gilboa is a senior research associate at the BESA Center and a professor of political science and international communications at Bar-Ilan University. Recently, he co-edited with Efraim Inbar, US-Israeli Relations in a New Era: Issues and Challenges after 9/11 (London: Routledge, 2009).
BESA Perspectives is published through the generosity of the Littauer Foundation.
The new draft Durban conference document, while removing some of the obnoxious language about Israel directly, reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA), which was a tirade against Israel, according to this report: .
Crucially, the revised text still begins by reaffirming the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA), the document adopted at the U.N.'s first world racism conference in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
When the State Department announced late last month that the U.S. would not attend the Durban Review Conference ("Durban II") in Geneva, it left the door open to reverse that decision.
For the U.S. to attend, it said, the 2009 document would have to meet specific criteria, including that it must "not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action," and that "it must not single out any one country or conflict."
A key point of contention in the DDPA is its singling out of Israel: While references to other country-specific situations were avoided, the "Palestinian people under foreign occupation" were identified as "victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
The U.S. and Israel walked out of the 2001 conference in protest. In the run up to Durban II, Canada and Israel said they would not attend, and the U.S., Italy and Australia said they too would not take part unless the wording of the text was altered significantly.
Russian news agencies say a top defense official has confirmed that Russia has signed a contract to sell S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran but that none of the weapons have been delivered.
Russian officials have consistently denied claims that it already has provided some of the powerful missiles to Iran and had not clarified whether a contract existed.
The state-run ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies and the independent Interfax quoted an unnamed top official in the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service as saying Wednesday the contract had been signed two years ago.
Service spokesman Andrei Tarabrin told The Associated Press he could not immediately comment.
Supplying the S-300s to Iran would markedly change the military balance in the Middle East.
The problem with Charles Freeman's views is that he doesn't like the USA or the government he was supposed to work for. Remember that Freeman was supposed to be vetting intelligence in the service of the USA. It may be hard to keep that in mind. As pointed out in this article in the Washington Post, Freeman said in a 2006 speech to the United States Information Agency Alumni Association, that both American political parties are "xenophobic, Islamophobic, Arabophobic, and anti-immigrant." The United States, he opined, had become "the planet's most despised nation, with its most hateful policies."
Anti-Israel demonstration in front of the consulate in San Francisco on Montgomery Street between Sacramento and California, at 4 PM, Monday March 16th.
As usual we were outnumbered. Less than thirty of us on the pro-Israel side, around three hundred on the anti-Israel side. I may be severely overestimating our numbers and under-counting theirs. In which case, let me apologize - I do not mean to misrepresent the facts. Sorry.
I also wish to apologize to the gentleman who asserted that he would kill me, f*&cking kill me - yes, mister, you are ugly and stupid, and probably have body-odour issues, but none of that is your fault! I shouldn't have called you a moron. The truth hurts, and sometimes it is best to diplomatically gloss over it. That you screamed "I will f*&cking kill you" in my face was likely in lieu of more standard small talk, and I shouldn't have reacted as I did. Your problems are not your responsibility. Maybe nature, maybe nurture, I shan't speculate. Sorry.
The progressives over at Jewish Peace news have the hots for the wife beating, gay bashing, self-exploding, genocidal Hamas - the wave of the future according to them. But they aren't so happy about the IDF or Israel's defense industry.
Israel's defense industry is known for innovative design and advanced electronics and software, making up in brains for the muscle advantage of much larger countries like Europe, China, Russia and the USA. Almost every product of Israel's defense industries can be marketed with the ubiquitous slogan, "battle tested." But people get bored with that sort of grim copy, so Rafael produced a series of catchy films that appeal to local culture of potential clients. Their pitch to India includes a cute Bollywood type film (embedded below - click the link if you can't see it). Nobody likes armaments, really.. But even the most scatterbrained progressives of Jewish Peace News can remember the recent Mumbai terror attacks, and some might be intelligent enough to grasp the possibility that India's not too friendly neighbor, Pakistan,
The film expresses a truth - Israel loves India, and we hope India will love us. And it is a bit of a joke, because tiny Israel can benefit from huge India much more than India can benefit from Israel of course.
Indians love Bollywood of course, but that sort of "proud to be a woman" culture may not be viewed in quite the same light by uptight progressives in San Francisco it seems.
Exercizing a good deal of imagination (lying actually) and cultural imperialism, Jewish Peace News's Rela Mazali launched into a rant about the evil male chauvinist Zionist warmongers, who have sexualized military matters. Actually, Rela doesn't know or forgot that Zionists have been at this pernicious game for a long time. Back in 1950, those awful neocon Likudnik Zionists, the Weavers (with Pete Seeger and Ronnie Gilbert among others), popularized the smash hit song Tzena, Tzena, Tzena - calling on the gals to come out and see the soldiers in the settlement. A Zionist male chauvinist imperialist colonialist warmonger song if ever there was one!
JPN's Mazali treats us to her fantasies about sexual harassment of women by officers in the IDF. She forgets to tell her readers that politician Haim Ramon lost his cabinet post because he kissed a female soldier. A visit by the Israeli naval commander to a striptease joint caused an uproar about male chauvinism in the Israeli press, and the officer was reprimanded. Mazali makes a big issue out of this incident. It is doubtful that such a visit would even be the subject for comment in most countries, and certainly not in any Middle Eastern country other than Israel. Mazali rants:
Paradoxically, while [IDF] reform efforts have achieved, and may continue to achieve, a limited degree of improvement, this very improvement meanwhile works to conceal the central, structural role of sexist-racist beliefs and practices in maintaining the world view vital to the consistently militarized agenda of the Jewish state.
The Hamas insists on teaching kids to blow themselves up in order to "liberate" Jerusalem, but according to JPN, Israel has a "militarized agenda." Jewish Peace News would never write about the "militarized agenda" of the Muslim state (Islamic Republic of Iran) or the "militarized agenda" of the "Syrian State." Only Israel, of all countries has a "consistently militariezed agenda" according to the JPN airheads.
No matter what the IDF will do, it is no good because it is Zionist and racist, while no matter what the Hamas or the Syrian or Iranian army does, they are always going to be progressive, pacifist and above criticism. JPN and Reli Mazali perhaps don't know that Israeli soldiers stationed in the Golan Heights used to watch (and maybe they still do) the busloads of whores brought to the Syrian army bases, and JPN doesn't know about the UNIFIL soldiers who come to Nahariya looking for whores, and JPN never heard of the whorehouses run by the US military in Vietnam either. One the consistently militarized Israelis are sex fiends.
JPN wasn't the only one who didn't like that movie. On Wired's Danger Room blog, Noah Shachtman wrote that the advertisement is "the most atrocious defense video of all time." DEW Line blog called it a "catastrophic collision of Bollywood and the arms industry. Stephen Trimble dared his readers to watch the video "and, if you're able, immediately erase the awful tune from your brain."
Shachtman would have us think he watched every defense video that was ever made before coming to his considered opinion, right? I think not. Hey Noah, how's this for an atrocious defense video? And how about this? There are dozens more like those, much worse. Noah Shachtman must lead a very sheltered life. I dare you, Shachtman and Trimble, to watch those videos, and if you're able, immediately erase those awful tunes from your brain. Assuming you have a brain.
The truth is, that nobody would think twice about that Rafael video if it was made by the defense industry of any other country. Nobody would write about the "militarized agenda" of the peace loving Iranians or Chinese or Russians, and nobody would complain about the sex habits of say, the Russian army (ask Austrians of a certain age about that). It doesn't matter what Israel does or says, the Shachtmans and the Mazalis and all the other anti-Zionists are out there waiting for us, and they will turn whatever we do into something to do with the "militarized agenda of the Jewish state." a lot of Israel's "image" problem is due to the poor eyesight of some of the people watching it.
But the Indians liked the film. "India and Israel 4ever.". Eat your heart out, Mazali and JPN.
Muslim-backed references to 'defamation of religion' and Israel have been dropped from a draft being prepared for next month's world racism meeting, United Nations officials said on Tuesday.
The draft now speaks only of concern about the "negative stereotyping of religions" and does not single out Israel for criticism.
Muslim countries had demanded free speech be limited to prevent criticism of Islam and other faiths. They also wanted to take Israel to task for its treatment of Palestinians.
Israel and Canada have said that they will boycott the April 20-25 meeting in Geneva. The United States and Italy said that they would not attend unless countries committed to a balanced declaration. The European Union warned it may stay away unless Muslim countries back down.
The passion play was a staple of European anti-Semitism. Every year at Easter, Christians would "re-enact" the alleged role of the Jews in the crucifixion of Jesus. The plays, in different versions, served as a cultural vehicle for perpetuating anti-Semitism, especially the one performed every ten years in Oberammargau, Germany. This quaint hate tradition has been mostly cleansed of its racist content, but a new vehicle has sprung up for vilifying the Jews. The play, Seven Jewish Children, is a vile and evil blood libel against Jewish parents and Jewish children who never said or did the things attributed to them.
Seven Jewish Children- Dr. Denis MacEoin's letter to The Abbey Theatre Dublin
Email sent to Sally Anne Tye, Director of Public Affairs, Abbey Theatre, Dublin
Dear Ms Tye,
Barry Williams has kindly shared with me your e-mail to him, in response to his concerns about the Caryl Churchill play, Seven Jewish Children. I don't disagree with you, but I think there are two issues that really aren't being examined by anybody who is mounting the play. Gaza is, undoubtedly, a story that deserves dramatization. I'm a novelist (I write under another name), most of whose novels tell a story that enables the telling of political concerns. I am also a political liberal, and I can understand why many people have strong feelings about Gaza and the Gazan people.
However, what is being lost is the simple fact that there are two stories about Gaza. It is not a one-sided tale of Israeli aggression or revenge. Hamas bear enormous blame for what happened. Eight years of 8000 rockets falling relentlessly into Israeli towns (and still falling, despite the current ceasefire) are a different story, and one that is mostly about severely traumatized Jewish children. A constant spate of suicide bombings in cafés, school buses, university cafeterias is another story, and one that involves a huge number of children torn to pieces in Haifa, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. These are narratives that don't receive much of an outing, in part because Jews do not make much public show of their private grief. There is also another important side to the recent Gaza war: that the Israeli forces took immense care to avoid civilian casualties, that most of the buildings damaged were hit because Hamas had boobytrapped them, and that Hamas used the Palestinian population as human shields, firing from among them, from schools and hospitals and private homes. There was no 'Holocaust' in Gaza, the Israelis are as far from being Nazis as the Irish are, and many, many stories of Israel wrongdoing are, quite simply, fiction.
That is one thing. Another is that Ms Churchill's play is a lie. I say that flatly. In truth, no Jewish or Israeli parent would dream of saying such things to their children. Jews everywhere have been outraged by this deliberate attempt to put words into their mouths, and to use this fiction (like those many Palestinian fictions) as an Aunt Sally with which to berate the Jews — at a time when anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks have been rising to their highest level in decades several countries, including Ireland. Ms Churchill is manipulating her audiences. Her play is a dishonest play, not because drama cannot be fiction, but because she locates her statements about Jewish children to a real place (Gaza) and a real event (in the minds of her audiences), the recent war there. But pretending that Jewish parents say things to their children that they never actually say, she crosses certain boundaries that should not be crossed. Her play has already worked to incense people and to inflame an already burning situation, making Jews the sole transgressors in a situation where the greatest evil has been done by others.
More than that, we know quite genuinely that Palestinian textbooks for schools, children's theatre, children's television and more are filled with statements (what Palestinian adults say to their children) that would shake you. Palestinian children are dressed in suicide belts, taught to fire rifles, and led to believe that the greatest purpose of life is to die as a suicide martyr. That is what Palestinians really do say to their children. If Caryl Churchill can find anything remotely like that in Israeli society, she should make it plain for us. But she won't find it, because Jewish parents don't teach their children things like that. Do you see why I'm incensed by her skulduggery, by her lack of innocence?
I think that mounting this production of a dishonest play demeans the Abbey. I honestly do. I can remember many happy evenings at the Abbey when I lived in Dublin. The Phoenix was the only theatre outside Belfast's Lyric where I watched some of the Yeats cycle. I'm sure the Abbey has remained true to that tradition of honest playmaking. That's why I feel so disturbed that, quite unwittingly, you have been lured into presenting a piece that is, in the end, nothing but a slice of pro-Palestinian propaganda. Propaganda for a terrorist group like Hamas, whose member trawled their own hospitals after the war in order to shoot wounded members of Fatah. The truth about Gaza is ugly, and has little to do with the travesty presented by its many Western supporters.
I don't honestly know what to suggest. You may feel committed to the production, though in your position I would think a lot harder about what it would say about the theatre. Some friends and I have talked about writing a piece in response, to show what real Jews tell their real children. You thoughts on that would be interesting.
I'm sorry to have written at such great length and to have taken so much of your time. If you would like to reply, that would be great; but if you are too hard-pressed (as are we all), please at least give thought to all this. Thank you.
Is this the right way to get Shalit released? Continuing the blockade only serves as a propaganda prop for the Hamas, which can rant about the Gaza siege. The proper place to put pressure is on international institutions such as the ICRC, the UN and human rights groups, which are not going anything to get Shalit released. (see here for example )
Israel will not ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip until abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is freed by the enclave's Hamas Islamist rulers, an Israeli political source said on Tuesday after talks with Hamas stalled.
"The crossings ... are operating at a minimum to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza," the source said following a special cabinet briefing to dicuss the negotiations. "And they [the crossings] will remain so until Gilad Shalit is released."
The Egyptian-brokered talks hit an impasse over Israel's refusal to free all 450 long-serving Palestinian prisoners sought by Hamas in exchange for Shalit, seized by Palestinian militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip in 2006.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed to free more than 320 of the 450 prisoners on the Hamas list, Israeli political sources said.
But Olmert balked at releasing those who orchestrated the deadliest bus and cafe bombings that have killed scores of Israelis since the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in 2000, the sources said... .
Israel's ability to attack Iran using missiles depends on the capabilities of the Jericho III missile. Actually, the Jericho III has an unknown range and its operational status is unknown. Likewise, the number of such missiles in the posession of the IDF are not known. See here and here. But the existence of this capability would certainly put a different perspective on matters, especially if coupled with a fully deployed missile defense system. The report below probably exaggerates the capabilities of the Jericho III, which was last reported to have a range of around 4,000 KM when used with a heavy conventional warhead. For underground facilities that may exist at known or clandestine locations, it is doubtful that such attacks would be adequate. Bunker buster bombs, delivered from aircraft, would probably have a better chance of doing the job. But an attack with aircraft would probably require permission to overfly Iraq, and that permission is not forthcoming.
If Israel chose to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, it might opt not to send IAF jets on a mission but rather use its arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles, a report published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said Tuesday.
The Jericho III, Israel's most advanced version of its custom-designed ballistic missile, is capable of carrying a 1,000-1,300 kilogram conventional payload or a 750kg nuclear warhead over a distance of up to 7,000 kilometers. With a smaller 350kg nuclear warhead, the missle's range can be extended even further.
According to the NCIS report, 42 missiles would be enough to "severely damage or demolish" Iran's core nuclear sites at Natanz, Esfahan and Arak.
"If the Jericho III is fully developed and its accuracy is quite high then this scenario could look much more feasible than using combat aircraft," the NCIS report said.
The report also predicted that a Jericho salvo on Iran might draw an Iranian counter-attack with its own Shihab ballistic missiles. The Islamic republic might also take action against Europe and other countries, by choking off oil exports, hitting US assets in the Gulf, or ordering proxy groups like Hizbullah to attack Jewish targets outside Israel.
With regard to regional Arab states, the report claims such countries would not condone any attack on Iran, even though a nuclear Iran threatens them as well. However Israel's reported arsenal of some 200-300 nuclear weapons would make it hard for the Jewish State to label Iran as an existential threat.
Israel's presence in the Golan Heights and the West Bank, perceived as an occupation, would also make it hard for Arab states to side with Israel in any regional conflict, according to the report.
Iran's determination to acquire nuclear weapons, the NCIS report said, is correlated to the degree to which it sees Israel as a threat to the survival of the regime there. The report assessed that Iran would withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty based on the argument that it needs to acquire nuclear weapons to protect it from aggression by Israel and the US.
The IDF chief told Ross that Israel would not tolerate a nuclear Iran. He said that a diplomatic approach to Iran's contentious nuclear program must be taken first, but said Israel must also prepare for other possibilities.
It would really be better if there was less public talk about this, as every such utterance is echoed by anti-Israel forces in the US who think the major problem of US diplomacy is how to preventIIsrael from attacking Iran. It is doubtful that Israel has a concrete plan for an effective attack.
While in New York, Ashkenazi attended an event sponsored by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and attended by some 1,500 donors.
The dinner mentioned in this report was supposedly cancelled because of Ashkenazi's early return.
The European Union said Monday it could boycott a United Nations conference on racism next month unless Muslim nations end attempts to strongly criticize Israel in the meeting's final document.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU presidency, said EU nations were very skeptical over the direction of negotiations on a declaration being drafted for the so-called Durban II conference. He adds the 27-nation bloc will attempt to push for changes but there is a strong call to withdraw if they are not successful.
Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said earlier this month his country would not attend the April 20-25 meeting in Geneva unless radical changes were made to the draft text, which includes what he has called aggressive and anti-Semitic statements.
United States, Canada and Israel have also said they fear the UN talks will be marred by attempts to attack Israel and shield Islamic countries from criticism over their records. Washington has imposed conditions similar to EU nations' and Israel and Canada have already announced they will boycott.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned the Geneva meeting might be abused to produce one-sided statements about the Middle East peace process and European and American policy in the Muslim and Arab world.
"I am in favor of canceling participation in the conference, unless the documents are changed substantially within the next hours and days," said Steinmeier.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said a draft backed by the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference limits itself to Israel-bashing, anti-Semitism, limiting freedom of speech and other dubious texts.
The Islamic group of countries, many angry over cartoons and films attacking Muslims, has been campaigning for wording that would equate criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights.
"They were also pushing to equate Zionism with racism and banning the possibility of anyone to change his or her religion," Verhagen said.
The Geneva talks are meant to review progress in fighting racism since the previous summit in South Africa. That meeting was marred by harsh criticism of Israel and anti-Israel demonstrations at a parallel conference of non-governmental organizations.
Bradley Burston is currently doing an Israel advocacy tour in the USA. This is not quite the sort of "my country right or wrong" advocacy you are used to, but we can guarantee he is worth hearing. Why, oh why did (some) Israelis vote for Avigdor Lieberman? A better question to ask might be "Why did so many Palestinians vote for the Hamas and reject peace?"
LOS ANGELES - I was determined to duck it. I was resolved to fly to the States, speak about the situation in Israel, and reply with nothing more than a half-smile and a "next question, please," to the well-read and otherwise openhearted people who ask questions of the tenor of "Between you and me, what is wrong with these people, your friends, the Israelis?"
Subtextual Translation of the question: What is with these blights on the backside of humanity? A vast war machine pretending to be a tiny country, a mobilized citizenry sterilized of morality, drained of compassion, bereft of conscience, bestial in war, imperial in ambition, Goliathized in its marriage of high tech and high explosive; incorrigibly bigoted bullying simpletons, little more than racists who vote for racists, fascists who fall for fascists, an embarrassment to the West, an embarrassment to the Jews, an embarrassment, at root, to the progressive individual who asks the question.
I was all set to say nothing. On the plane coming over, however, I read an essay about Israel and Israelis that changed my mind. I have the extraordinary novelist Anne Roiphe to thank for writing the piece, which made my blood boil, and, in the process, forced me to say what I honestly thought.
Ms. Roiphe, it must be said, is a compelling, wonderfully compassionate writer, who clearly cares about Israelis and knows just about everything about them, except for the first, most basic thing.
"I couldn't feel worse," Ms. Roiphe begins her essay about the recent Israeli election, and especially about the Israeli Jews who voted for Avigdor Lieberman, whom she accurately terms dangerously demagogic and deeply unkind. "I feel as if my spouse had cheated on me with Mussolini."
Perhaps as a consequence, it develops that Ms. Roiphe has begun to see Israel, and Israelis, with the kind of tunnel vision that allows no light at its end. She suggests that the import of the election was a vote against peace.
"I would call it pathological that Israel is listening to leaders who don't understand that the entire West Bank cannot belong to Israel without making it a pariah nation, without violating the spirit of the Torah, and the scared memory of the Jewish people."
With a smirk and a slap, she lets us know that she gets us. "I understand peace has been so long in coming and that Palestinians have done stupid things: electing Hamas, tossing rockets into Israel, mocking those of us who thought that leaving Gaza might be a fine first step. I understand the despair and the frustration and the need to jump around waving one's sword in the air, slicing up whatever clouds appear in the sky."
May Ms. Roiphe pardon me, but she does not understand. I'm not sure that, at a distance of thousands of miles, anyone could. Examine the results of the election closely, and you'll find that a clear majority voted for parties who have gone on record as favoring an eventual Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and less than six percent voted for parties who categorically reject that solution.
What, then, explains the incomprehensible behavior of these people, my friends? What common denominator, other than evil intention, can explain the continued occupation of the West Bank, the risk of demographic disaster, the ill-understood rage of a people cast as the sole perpetrator of and, if at times the victim, then certainly the deserving victim of, wrongdoing?
You won't like the answer. But in all the blindingly complex bazaar of the Middle East equation, it really comes down to one word: rockets.
It was Saddam Hussein's rockets in 1991 that got us into this peace process, and it is Palestinian rockets right now, day after day after day, that sent that peace to its grave and which cover it with a little more silt and rubble every few hours.
It was fundamentally rockets and not racism that put Avigdor Lieberman where he is today. And it is rockets, more than any other single factor, that explains what happened to the Israeli left, to Meretz, and, in particular, to the Labor Party.
When Saddam Hussein fired 39 ballistic missiles into Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dimona, he radically changed the way Israelis viewed the importance of holding on to the territories. Overnight the threat was coming from 1500 kilometers away, so what good was it to hang onto and permanently settle the hills of Samaria in the West Bank, or the sand dunes of northern Gaza? It was this, as much as any other factor, that paved the way for the opening of what we've come to know as the peace process, beginning at the Madrid conference in 1991.
In 2005, less than a day after Israeli forces removed every last Jew from Gaza, Palestinians set up rocket launchers on the ruins of settlements that had been just been evacuated. They took aim not only at Sderot, but at some of the very kibbutzim who had most strongly championed the cause of an independent Palestine alongside Israel.
This act, and the thousands of rockets that followed, utterly changed Israelis again. It put a sudden end to the idea of land for peace, because no one, even some of the most ardent advocates of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, was about to agree to leave Ben-Gurion airport, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem within range of the rockets. Suddenly there was a consensus again. And the peace process, the peace movement, and with it Labor and Meretz, were kicked to the curb.
Ten years ago, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon, electrified radical Islam and particularly the Palestinians, when he said that Israel was as fearsome and as fragile as a spider's web.
Push Israel with suicide terrorists, he indicated, and the whole web will tear and collapse. It didn't work. Suicide terror, in fact, acted to strengthen and unify Israel. In the eyes of the post-9/11 world, suicide terror changed Israelis from villains to victims, and Palestinians from an image of the valiant David to a creepy, loathsome version of Goliath.
The best way to destroy Israel
But now, Hamas is beginning to see something else. At this point, the best way to destroy Israel, is to leave it exactly as it is.
Titrate, adjust the flow of rockets fired at Israeli civilians to a level which is thoroughly acceptable to the rest of the world, but which is also entirely unbearable to Israelis.
Then, sit back and watch demographics and despair work their magic. No wonder Hamas officials who are seen as moderates urge a 50-year truce. By that time, Israeli Arabs will be able to simply vote the Jewish state off the map.
A clear majority of Israeli Jews know this as well. But I have yet to meet one Israeli, Meretz voters included, who is willing to hand over the West Bank while Ashkelon is even now in the gunners' sights, and rockets fly unabated.
I have long believed that in terms of their destructive effects on peace prospects, the settlements are the Qassams of the Jews. What I failed to recognize at first, was that the effect of Qassams is to enshrine West Bank settlements, and, more than any other single factor, protect them from eviction.
In the main, the world has no idea - nor does it particularly care - that when a rocket up to nine feet long rocket flies up to 25 miles traveling at half a mile per second and lands with up to 44 pounds of explosives packed into its warhead - the human consequence could easily be carnage.
As far as the world knows, that rocket will fall without a sound. A house may be destroyed, childrens' nerves shot to shreds, perhaps for life. Entire communities, whole cities, suffer from post-traumatic stress. But unless 10 Israelis are killed, or 20, that rocket never existed. 10,000 rockets, fired at civilian areas, unprotected by anything - I am truly ashamed to acknowledge - other than miracles.
It is these miracles, these barely averted catastrophes, literally thousands of them, which have become the central fact of Israeli life. That, and an anger which no one outside Israel can know or fully comprehend, an aching, soul-deep frustration, an always humming fear, a sickness and fever over the nearness of true disaster, as well as a sense of abandonment by those abroad who cannot be expected to know what these people, my friends, are going through or why.
It is not the world's fault if it believes that Israelis do not have a right to their anger. The world is really not at all to blame if it prefers to view Israelis as ferocious without provocation, hateful without just cause.
The world only knows what we in the media choose to reveal. For a decade, we have dismissed the rockets as little more than toylike, backroom-cobbled nuisances, convenient pretexts for military onslaughts by Israeli politicians keen to evade graft raps.
The fact, however, remains. Day in and day out, Palestinian rockets target and, at times, demolish, homes, day care centers, health clinics, synagogues, kibbutz dining halls, town squares, factories, elementary schools, high schools, apartment houses. For years now, by some miracle, an enormous number of Israeli lives have been spared. These are people trying to live their everyday lives under fire, and who have no other defense, no protection whatsoever, except the intercession of some form or another of poorly understood providence.
On the weekend that Ms. Roiphe's article appeared, I wonder how many of her fellow New Yorkers heard at all that a Katyusha rocket had crashed into a empty schoolroom in Ashkelon, close to where worshippers were gathered in a synagogue, and, soon thereafter, another landed 600 feet from that city's Barzilai Hospital and its thousands of patients and staff. No one killed = Nothing happened.
The world long ago grew tired of its Israelis and their whining. The world could not care a whit less about the miracles that save them. The world has even had time to grow tired of its Palestinians as well.
But the world should know this: No matter how progressive the government in Israel, no matter how grave the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza, without an end to the rockets, there will be no peace process and certainly no peace. While the rockets are flying, nothing else moves.
Nothing that Israel has tried, neither diplomacy nor brutality, has been able to stop the rockets. Only Hamas can do that. The world and Washington could have made the rockets a priority years ago, and perhaps brought this to resolution. But the world has other things to think about, and Washington as well.
Back in New York, Anne Roiphe seems to have given up on her brethren in Israel. "Under the present conditions, it is vitally important that American Jews, liberal, decent, democratic, continue to play a major role. We may have to be the ones to carry the Jewish nation forward, in all its intelligent moral purposes."
I wish a had as much faith as she in her fellow American Jews, my direct people of origin.
As it is, I have next to nothing in common with my direct neighbors, Russian Jewish immigrants to Israel, other than the fact that, in a sense, I am one of them. I guess destiny will out. Had my family stayed in Russia before the war and not emigrated to Los Angeles, had they survived the Holocaust and Stalin, had I been one of the million former Soviet Jews who moved to Israel 20 years ago, I might well have found myself a proud voter for Avigdor Lieberman, angry with my fellow Israelis who disdain them me non-Israeli, angrier with the Arabs that toss rockets, furious with Israeli Arabs who support the tossing of rockets, and finally, contemptuous of - even as I uselessly blare my loyalty to - a place which is contemptuous of me.
Ours are dreadful times. Ours are ugly choices. You want to see peace, Ms. Roiphe? Pray for a miracle. But more so, pray for the event that no one expects, the shocking occurrence that no one could have foreseen - a journey by Netanyahu or Lieberman that resembles those of Begin and Sadat, Rabin and Sharon - the event that jars everyone from their accustomed outlook and despair, and forces them to reconsider the possibility that the humans of the Holy Land might still someday have a common future.
Judea Pearl wrote an interesting article about anti-Zionism versus anti-Semitism, but I am not sure I agree with all of it. The truth is, that it is often hard to distinguish anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. A "leftist" British "anti-Zionist" advocate linked an article at the racist David Duke Web site because in fact, there is no consistent difference between the rhetoric of anti-Zionists and anti-Semites and no way to draw the line. Sometimes the only distinction is that a Jew is talking and therefore it is harder to imagine that the rhetoric is anti-Semitism, though Jews have written anti-Semitic materials. The Jewwatch.com Web site rants about "Zionism" though it clearly means "Jews." It claims, for example, that Leon Trotsky was a "Zionist." That idea would certainly surprise a lot of Trotskyites. The Hamas Charter blames the French revolution on "Zionists" and Freemasons, though of course there were no ZIonists at the time of the French revolution. As Judea Pearl notes, anti-Zionism denies Jews the right to self-determination. That in itself is a racist idea, because it implies that Jews are somehow different from other groups with a common history, culture and language. But anti-Zionism, as he notes also has its own peculiar hate ideology.
I don't buy Pearl's argument that anti-Zionism is more dangerous than anti-Semitism. I think Judea Pearl is being somewhat overoptimistic here:
Secondly, modern society has developed antibodies against anti-Semitism but not against anti-Zionism. Today, anti-Semitic stereotypes evoke revulsion in most people of conscience, while anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in certain extreme yet vocal circles of U.S. academia and media elite. Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.
There are plenty of old fashioned anti-Semitic groups and Web sites that, for example, spread the blood libel - including both "anti-Zionist" and ordinary anti-Semitic ones. I do not think that anti-Zionist arguments would get such a wide hearing in the West were it not for its appeal to anti-Semitism. The massacre libels (see Lying about Israel) coming out of Gaza would not get so much credence were it not for the cultural predisposition to believe diabolical stories about Jews
Is anti-Zionism hate? http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-oe-pearl15-2009mar15,0,2362924.story Yes. It is more dangerous than anti-Semitism, threatening lives and peace in the Middle East. By Judea Pearl March 15, 2009 In January, at a symposium at UCLA (choreographed by the Center for Near East Studies), four longtime Israel bashers were invited to analyze the human rights conditions in Gaza, and used the stage to attack the legitimacy of Zionism and its vision of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.
They criminalized Israel's existence, distorted its motives and maligned its character, its birth, even its conception. At one point, the excited audience reportedly chanted "Zionism is Nazism" and worse.
Jewish leaders condemned this hate-fest as a dangerous invitation to anti-Semitic hysteria, and pointed to the chilling effect it had on UCLA students and faculty on a campus known for its open and civil atmosphere. The organizers, some of them Jewish, took refuge in "academic freedom" and the argument that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.
I fully support this mantra, not because it exonerates anti-Zionists from charges of anti-Semitism but because the distinction helps us focus attention on the discriminatory, immoral and more dangerous character of anti-Zionism.
Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation -- a collective bonded by a common history -- and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.
Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character by denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.
Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations.
Are Jews a nation? Some philosophers would argue Jews are a nation first and religion second. Indeed, the narrative of Exodus and the vision of the impending journey to the land of Canaan were etched in the minds of the Jewish people before they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. But, philosophy aside, the unshaken conviction in their eventual repatriation to the birthplace of their history has been the engine behind Jewish endurance and hopes throughout their turbulent journey that started with the Roman expulsion in AD 70.
More important, shared history, not religion, is today the primary uniting force behind the secular, multiethnic society of Israel. The majority of its members do not practice religious laws and do not believe in divine supervision or the afterlife. The same applies to American Jewry, which is likewise largely secular. Identification with a common historical ethos, culminating in the reestablishment of the state of Israel, is the central bond of Jewish collectivity in America.
There are of course Jews who are non-Zionists and even anti-Zionists. The ultra-Orthodox cult of Neturei Karta and the leftist cult of Noam Chomsky are notable examples. The former rejects any earthly attempt to interfere with God's messianic plan, while the latter abhors all forms of nationalism, especially successful ones.
There are also Jews who find it difficult to defend their identity against the growing viciousness of anti-Israel propaganda, and eventually hide, disown or denounce their historical roots in favor of social acceptance and other expediencies.
But these are marginal minorities at best; the vital tissues of Jewish identity today feed on Jewish history and its natural derivatives -- the state of Israel, its struggle for survival, its cultural and scientific achievements and its relentless drive for peace.
Given this understanding of Jewish nationhood, anti-Zionism is in many ways more dangerous than anti-Semitism.
First, anti-Zionism targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish population of Israel, whose physical safety and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel's sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns 5 1/2 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal defenselessness in a region where genocidal designs are not uncommon.
Secondly, modern society has developed antibodies against anti-Semitism but not against anti-Zionism. Today, anti-Semitic stereotypes evoke revulsion in most people of conscience, while anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in certain extreme yet vocal circles of U.S. academia and media elite. Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.
Finally, anti-Zionist rhetoric is a stab in the back to the Israeli peace camp, which overwhelmingly stands for a two-state solution. It also gives credence to enemies of coexistence who claim that the eventual elimination of Israel is the hidden agenda of every Palestinian.
It is anti-Zionism, then, not anti-Semitism that poses a more dangerous threat to lives, historical justice and the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
Judea Pearl is a professor at UCLA and the president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation
The question is how to lie properly. As the article states:
The language is sensitive because Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, is wary of wording that could convey an implicit recognition of Israel.
The phrasing of "respects past agreements" was intended to be vague enough so it could mean anything. But the real issue is whether Hamas will use the unity government as a platform for ousting the Fatah from the West Bank.
An official in the Palestinian Authority said Sunday that the creation of a national unity government depends on Hamas' willingness to agree to past agreements with Israel.
The talks are aimed at ending divisions going back to the militant Hamas group's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, which left the more moderate Fatah movement in charge only of the West Bank. A deal would also lay the groundwork for presidential and legislative elections.
Samir Ghosheh, a member of the executive committee of the Fatah-led PLO, said the talks hinged on whether Hamas had to commit itself to past PLO agreements with Israel.
The language is sensitive because Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, is wary of wording that could convey an implicit recognition of Israel.
"The essential case here is the government program, and there are two opinions here, one that states the necessity on being committed to PLO obligations, and the other vision ... that is to respect the PLO's obligations," Ghosheh said....
Two Israeli police officers died Sunday evening from gunshots wounds sustained while on patrol near the settlement of Masu'a, in the northern West Bank. p)
Both victims were found in their vehicle suffering from critical gunshot wounds. One was pronounced dead by medics shortly after discovered, and the other succumbed to his wounds following resuscitation efforts.
Police and rescue services were notified shortly after 8 P.M. of an apparent car accident near the Masu'a settlement and of a shooting attack in the same area. Officers who arrived on the scene found the overturned patrol car and the victims inside.
An Israel Police spokesman said the circumstances of the incident were still being investigated, although the main line of inquiry being pursued was that the two had been shot by one or more Palestinian gunmen.
According to an initial investigation, militants opened fire on the patrol car at close-range, causing the officers to lose control of the vehicle.
"The two had been killed by gunshots and the main suspicion points to a nationalistic motive," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the shooting.
Masu'a is located in the Jordan Valley, just southeast of Nablus and near the major West Bank settlement of Ariel...
The Arab press has once again jumped on the bandwagon of those who yell "Israel Lobby." Charles Freeman was not "rejected." His nomination was questioned and Senators and Congresspersons called for an investigation. Freeman, who evidently had something to hid, withdrew, writing a scathing condemnation of imaginary foreign agents who supposedly forced his withdrawal. Accusing US Senators and congresspersons of being "foreign agents" takes cheek.
Freeman's embarrassing parting letter shows that he has no grace under fire, and should never have been nominated for the post in the first place. While Arab governments can justifiably claim the right to rule in their own countries, they do not have the right to determine who will run the American government and its intelligence apparatus.
Mideast Press Questions Obama Top Intelligence Pick's Pullout Blamed on 'Pro-Israel Hawks' By Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, March 15, 2009; Page A08
The Middle East press has questioned President Obama's authority over Arab-Israeli issues since Charles W. Freeman Jr.'s withdrawal from his appointment to a senior intelligence position.
A commentary in Abu Dhabi's the National, a newspaper owned by an investment fund controlled by the government, said Freeman's decision Tuesday to withdraw as chairman of the National Intelligence Council "threw the Obama administration into the heart of a long-running controversy over the alleged supremacy of pro-Israel hawks in determining U.S. foreign policy after having taken a cautious approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so far consistent with previous administrations."
The Daily Star in Beirut went further, saying Freeman's action "is likely to be viewed as a significant victory for hardliners within the so-called 'Israeli lobby,' who led the movement to scuttle his appointment, and a blow to hopes for a new approach to Israel-Palestine issues under the Obama administration."
An analyst in the National pointed out that the Israel lobby may have had a Pyrrhic victory. Noting that vocal Freeman opponent Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) had publicly said, "I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing," the analyst wrote, "A lobby that has thrived through its covert operations can claim another victory in reversing Freeman's appointment, but this time its workings may have been too transparent for its own good."
Other Arab publications echoed that analysis, while at least one Israeli commentator questioned the views of Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, who made the appointment and supported it after questions were raised about Freeman's previous critical statements about Israel.
Meanwhile, Obama has not discussed the matter, and press secretary Robert Gibbs has repeatedly dodged questions about it. On Friday, when asked about Obama's "standing mute" before Freeman's withdrawal, Gibbs said: "He's somebody who served the country greatly but asked that his nomination not proceed, and the Director of National Intelligence accepted that."
A statement by Freeman accusing the Israel lobby of being behind his withdrawal became big news in the United States and the Middle East.
Asked Friday whether the Israel lobby had influenced the White House, Gibbs responded as he had a week earlier, saying: "I've watched with great interest how people perceive different things about our policy and during the campaign, about whether we were too close to one group or too close to the other. So I don't give a lot of thought to those." When a reporter asked "for straight answers," Gibbs said, "I gave you as straight of one as I can get."
The Jeddah Arab News online (in English) ran a commentary saying that observers in Saudi Arabia called the former ambassador's announcement utterly disappointing. An editorial described his withdrawal as "a great victory for Washington 's powerful Israel lobby and a grave defeat for US foreign policy."
But it also carried this statement by senior political analyst Khaled Batarfi: "President Barack Obama . . . would have faced similar problems if his choice of Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell had gone through U.S. Congress."
A Syrian paper, al-Thawrah, said Freeman pulled out when he realized "no one is safe from the evils" of the Israel lobby.
Caroline Glick, a columnist in the Jerusalem Post specializing in national security issues, had a different take. She described what she called "disturbing things about the climate in Washington these days." The foremost was that Blair's choice of Freeman, despite what she said were the latter's known "extreme views on Israel and American Jews," may indicate something about the DNI. She said Blair's testimony last week to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Iran's nuclear program showed that "America's top intelligence officer is willing to take Iran's word on everything," and, "On the other hand, he isn't willing to take Israel's word on anything."