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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Qur'an - Israel belongs to the Jews

What the Koran says about the land of Israel tells us that according to a respected Muslim Imam, and according to the accepted commentator Al Tabari, Israel belongs to the Jews:
"What happens during his [Muhammad's] lifetime is what God wants to happen for the Muslim community. His prophecy and his objective was the reclamation of the Islamic holy site which is Makka. If God had decreed that His Prophet should have Jerusalem, then it would have been something that he would have been preoccupied with during his lifetime and he conquered the whole of the Arabian peninsula.
"It was never the case during the early period of Islam…that there was any kind of sacerdotal attachment to Jerusalem as a territorial claim. Jerusalem is holy but Mount Sinai is more holy. Sinai is mentioned far more often, and Jerusalem isn't actually mentioned by name." (Jerusalem is alluded to in the phrase "the further mosque").
Al-Tabari's commentary also notes that the word "decreed" --  kataba in Arabic, related to katav, "written", in Hebrew -- has the connotations of "ordered": in other words, settling the land was regarded as a mitzvah for the children of Israel. Al-Tabari also observes that the decree is confirmed in al-lawh al-mahfuz, the eternally preserved tablet" --  a reference to the Islamic idea that in heaven exists a sacred blueprint from which the Muslim, Christian and Jewish scriptures emanate, hence the covenant with the Jewish people over Israel is everlasting.
Dr Al-Husseini— who stresses his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — points out that other contemporary Muslim scholars draw attention to this tradition, such as Professor Khaleel Mohammed in San Diego and Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi in Rome.

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At least three Israeli air strikes in Sudan

According to the report below there were three air strikes on Sudan. The first was in "mid January." This report adds a strike on January 27 and February 11. But as I noted previously, a Sudanese minister had noted an attack on February 11, and one a week before, which would be aound February 4. I asked, "Were there three [Sudan] attacks?"  If so that would make four strikes.  
March 27, 2009 7:47 PM
ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: Israel has conducted three military strikes against targets in Sudan since January in an effort to prevent what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments from reaching Hamas in the Gaza Strip, ABC News has learned.
Earlier this week, was the first to report that Israel had conducted an airstrike in January against a convoy carrying weapons north into Egypt to be smuggled into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
But actually, since January, Israel has conducted a total of three military strikes against smugglers transporting what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments  destined  for Gaza, a U.S. official told ABC News.
The information matches recent reports from Sudanese officials of two airstrikes in the desert of eastern Sudan and the sinking of a ship in the Red Sea carrying weapons.
Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, would only say, "No comment," when contacted by ABC News on the matter.
Sudanese officials initially said this week that 39 people riding in 17 trucks were killed in a mid-January airstrike conducted by an unidentified aircraft  in a desert area north of the Red Sea port of  Port Sudan.
Today, a Sudanese Foreign Ministry representative said there were two separate bombing raids against smugglers in January and February.  The Sudanese minister for highways was more specific, saying the airstrikes took place Jan. 27 and Feb. 11.
Arabic broadcaster Al-Jazeera also reported today a Sudanese official's claim that Israel had sunk a ship carrying weapons.
Israeli officials continue to refuse to confirm or deny the reports of airstrikes, but Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "Israel hits every place it can in order to stop terror, near and far."
In January, the United States signed an agreement with Israel to stop arms smuggling into Gaza.  At the time, Israel was conducting a military operation in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas' firing of  rockets on Israeli towns.  
Shortly after the agreement was signed, the U.S. Navy twice boarded a Cypriot ship in the Red Sea that was traveling  from Iran to Syria and believed to be carrying Iranian weapons bound for Hamas.
After the boardings were inconclusive, the United States asked Egypt and Cyprus to search the vessel when it made ports of call.  Cypriot authorities ultimately found material that could be used to manufacture munitions, which they described as a violation of the U.N. ban on Iranian arms exports.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Washington TImes: Hezbollah working with Mexican drug smugglers

Hezbollah in America - but this is not a particularly new story. It is ignored, because it is alarming and inconvenient.
Hezbollah is using the same southern narcotics routes that Mexican drug kingpins do to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, reaping money to finance its operations and threatening U.S. national security, current and former U.S. law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism officials say.
The Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America's tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S.
Hezbollah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," said Michael Braun, who just retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
"They work together," said Mr. Braun. "They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected.
"They'll leverage those relationships to their benefit, to smuggle contraband and humans into the U.S.; in fact, they already are [smuggling]."
His comments were confirmed by six U.S. officials, including law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism specialists. They spoke on the condition that they not be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.
While Hezbollah appears to view the U.S. primarily as a source of cash - and there have been no confirmed Hezbollah attacks within the U.S. - the group's growing ties with Mexican drug cartels are particularly worrisome at a time when a war against and among Mexican narco-traffickers has killed 7,000 people in the past year and is destabilizing Mexico along the U.S. border.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Mexico on Thursday to discuss U.S. aid. Other U.S. Cabinet officials and President Obama are slated to visit in the coming weeks.
Hezbollah is based in Lebanon. Since its inception after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, it has grown into a major political, military and social welfare organization serving Lebanon's large Shi'ite Muslim community.
In 2006, it fought a 34-day war against Israel, which remains its primary adversary. To finance its operations, it relies in part on funding from a large Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim diaspora that stretches from the Middle East to Africa and Latin America. Some of the funding comes from criminal enterprises.
Although there have been no confirmed cases of Hezbollah moving terrorists across the Mexico border to carry out attacks in the United States, Hezbollah members and supporters have entered the country this way.
Last year, Salim Boughader Mucharrafille was sentenced to 60 years in prison by Mexican authorities on charges of organized crime and immigrant smuggling. Mucharrafille, a Mexican of Lebanese descent, owned a cafe in the city of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego. He was arrested in 2002 for smuggling 200 people, said to include Hezbollah supporters, into the U.S.
In 2001, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani crossed the border from Mexico in a car and traveled to Dearborn, Mich. Kourani was later charged with and convicted of providing "material support and resources ... to Hezbollah," according to a 2003 indictment.
A U.S. official with knowledge of U.S. law enforcement operations in Latin America said, "we noted the same trends as Mr. Braun" and that Hezbollah has used Mexican transit routes to smuggle contraband and people into the U.S.
Two U.S. law enforcement officers, familiar with counterterrorism operations in the U.S. and Latin America, said that "it was no surprise" that Hezbollah members have entered the U.S. border through drug cartel transit routes.
"The Mexican cartels have no loyalty to anyone," one of the officials told The Washington Times. "They will willingly or unknowingly aid other nefarious groups into the U.S. through the routes they control. It has already happened. That's why the border is such a serious national security issue."
One U.S. counterterrorism official said that while "there's reason to believe that [Hezbollah members] have looked at the southern border to enter the U.S. ... to date their success has been extremely limited."
However, another U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed that the U.S. is watching closely the links between Hezbollah and drug cartels and said it is "not a good picture."
A senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing operations in Latin America, warned that al Qaeda also could use trafficking routes to infiltrate operatives into the U.S.
"If I have the money to do it - I want to get somebody across the border - that's a way to do it," the defense official said. "Especially foot soldiers. Somebody who's willing to come and blow themselves up. That's sort of hard to do that kind of recruiting, training and development in Kansas City."
Adm. James G. Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command and the nominee to head NATO troops as Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week that the nexus between illicit drug trafficking - "including routes, profits, and corruptive influence" and "Islamic radical terrorism" is a growing threat to the U.S.
He noted that in August, "U.S. Southern Command supported a Drug Enforcement Administration operation, in coordination with host countries, which targeted a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking organization in the Tri-Border Area."
In October, another interagency operation led to the arrests of several dozen people in Colombia associated with a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking and a money-laundering ring. Hezbollah uses these operations to generate millions of dollars to finance Hezbollah operations in Lebanon and other areas of the world, he said.
"Identifying, monitoring and dismantling the financial, logistical, and communication linkages between illicit trafficking groups and terrorist sponsors are critical to not only ensuring early indications and warnings of potential terrorist attacks directed at the United States and our partners, but also in generating a global appreciation and acceptance of this tremendous threat to security," he said.
Mr. Braun, who spent 33 years with the DEA and still works with the organization as a consultant, said that members of the elite Quds, or Jerusalem, force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards also are showing up in Latin America.
"Quite frankly, I'm not opposed to the belief that they could be commanding and controlling Hezbollah's criminal enterprises from there," Mr. Braun said.
The DEA thinks that 60 percent of terrorist organizations have some ties with the illegal narcotics trade, said agency spokesman Garrison Courtney.
South American drug cartels were forced into developing stronger alliances with Mexican syndicates when the U.S. closed off access from the Caribbean 15 years ago, Mr. Braun said.
Mexico's transit routes now account for more than 90 percent of the cocaine entering the U.S., he said. The emphasis on Mexico intensified after the Sept. 11 attacks, when beefed-up U.S. security measures greatly reduced access to the U.S. by air and water, he said.
The shift put Mexico's drug cartels in the lead and helped them amass billions of dollars and an estimated 100,000 foot soldiers, according to U.S. defense officials.
Hezbollah shifted its trade routes along with the drug cartels, using Lebanese Shi'ite expatriates to negotiate contracts with Mexican crime bosses, Mr. Braun said.
The World Trade Bridge between Nuevo Laredo and its sister city, Laredo, as well as Interstate 35 and Highways 59, 359 and 83, are like veins feeding the Mexican syndicates, running from southern Texas to cities across the U.S. and as far north as Canada, U.S. officials say. In addition, access routes from El Paso, Texas, to San Diego are also high-value entry points.
Ben Conery contributed to this report.

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Reports: Israel struck at least twice in Sudan

Sudan and Egypt are claiming that the convoys carried "immigrants" rather than arms:

A new Egyptian newspaper, Al-Shurooq, was the first to report Tuesday on Saleem saying two convoys trying to cross into Egypt were bombed by American jets. It said there were suspicions that the convoys carried weapons for Gaza.

According to Saleem, the first strike hit 16 vehicles carrying 200 people from various African countries being smuggled across the border. It also carried some "light weapons" such as Kalashnikovs for protection, he said.

In the second attack on February 11, he said 18 vehicles were hit and they were only carrying immigrants, not weapons. He claimed several hundred people were killed in each bombing and said the first strike was about a week before the February 11 attack, but did not give a date.

A week before the February 11 attack would not correspond to the January attack of course. Were there three attacks? A Maariv report (Hebrew) claims that Sudanese officials confirmed that the convoy carried weapons.

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EU, UNRWA, USA aid to Palestinians: Where is the money going?

This article confuses UNRWA funding with EU and American and Arab funding, but it makes important points. A Belgian newspaper has proposed stopping the aid as a way of punishing Israel - Israel would then have to pay to support the Palestinian territories. The problem with the punishment is that if Israel administers the territories as it did before 1994, they will be mostly self-supporting, and there would be no need for the subsidies, which go to Swiss bank accounts, training of "militants" and arms purchases.
In the past three years, billions of dollars have poured into the PA and UNRWA
In recent years, billions of dollars have poured into Gaza from hundreds of countries and international organizations. How much of that money has actually reached Palestinian civilians, effectively improving their quality of life and economy, has yet to be completely determined thanks to vague audits and on-line information.
Only recently, with a relatively silent international press, have there been questions from top political leaders, primarily from US, about the way in which the donor money will be transferred into Gaza.
At an Egyptian donor's conference organized by Norway and Egypt in early March, more than 75 international donors and organizations met to announce their financial support of the reconstruction in Gaza. Over $5.2 billion were pledged at the conference, surprising the Palestinian Authority who originally called for $2.8 billion needed to build-up Gaza.
In light of the US pledge of $900 million, the second largest following Saudi Arabia's $1 billion at the conference, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated that no US funds earmarked for Gaza would end up in the "wrong hands."
By wrong hands, Clinton meant Hamas, the militant Islamist Palestinian party in complete control of the Gaza Strip. Over $300 million dollars of the US pledge money will be going to Gaza reconstruction, while the rest of the $600 million has been earmarked to Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas.
However, there is another set of "wrong hands" in this scenario through which the transfer of funds may very well pass through, hands that are not considered a neutral player in the Arab-Israeli conflict. US State department spokesman, Gordon Duguid stated that Gaza support would be provided through USAID, in coordination with UN agencies that will most likely include UNRWA.
UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency, established in 1949 to aid Palestinian refugees, has shown dangerous partiality to Hamas terrorists.
In 2004, former UNRWA commissioner-General Peter Hansen revealed to the Canadian Broadcasting Company that UNRWA may very well employ Hamas members. "I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as crime," Hansen infamously stated. He further added, that "We do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another."
UNRWA has employed several high profile terrorists which include top Islamic Jihad rocket maker, Awad Al-Qiq who was killed in an Israeli air strike last May 2008. Al-Qiq was the headmaster and science instructor at an UNRWA school in Rafah, Gaza. Another terrorist, Hamas's interior minister and head of the Executive Force, Said Siyam, was a teacher for over two decades in UNRWA schools.
Fox News recently reported that UNRWA does not ask its employees whether they are members of, or affiliated with, a terrorist organization such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. UNRWA also offers no formal screening to ensure that its employees are not affiliated with terrorist organizations.
During Operation Cast Lead, UNRWA officials accused Israel of firing into an UNRWA school, killing dozens of Palestinian civilians seeking refuge. Israel maintained that Palestinian rocket launchers locate next to the school had fired mortars on IDF soldiers, which prompted the army's response. Later, UN official Maxwell Gaylord, reversed the UN's stance stating that the shelling and fatalities had actually taken place outside of the school. But the media damage to Israel had already been done.
Jonathan Halevi, a former IDF intelligence officer who specializes in Palestinian terrorist organizations, recently told Fox News that he estimates that 60 percent of homicide bombers are educated in UNRWA schools. Past UNRWA textbooks blatantly deny the Jewish connection to Israel and are filled with anti-Semitic remarks.
In any case, the United States remains UNRWA's largest sponsor, providing the organization with over 75% of its initial budget according to UNRWA's former senior legal advisor, James Lindsay. Lindsay, who served as an attorney for the US Justice Department for two decades asserts in his publication for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which came out on January 29 that UNRWA is providing services to those who are actually not in need of them.
Almost the 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan have Jordanian citizenship and are fully eligible for government services, but are continuing to receive UNRWA assistance as the agency regards them as refugees, according to Lindsay's report.
Michael Danby, a longstanding legislator in the Australian Parliament has also accused UNRWA of being "notoriously corrupt. " Since 2007, Australia has provided $30 million in funding for the Palestinians through the UNRWA agency, which Danby accused of diverting funds to "arms purchase, terrorist operations, and anti-Israel incitement as well as into the pockets of the PA leadership."
"It is a betrayal of that generosity [by Australians] for this money to be wasted, stolen, or misspent on rockets, guns, and terrorism," Danby said one month ago to the Australian Federal Parliament on February 26.
Other countries actively fundraising for Gaza include France, who hosted a Paris donors conference for Palestinian Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2007. The conference raised over 7.4 billion dollars in Palestinian aid (for a three year period: 2008-2010) from over 90 countries and international organizations that attended. During 2008, over 3 billion dollars pledged at the conference were distributed through the PA.
But that's not all. By mid-January 2009, TV stations across the Arab world collected over half a billion dollars in a telethon for Gaza, according to Johan Eriksson, a spokesperson for the U.N.
As the Gaza Strip soon teems with money, world donors and leaders must ask the following question: Who will monitor the transfer of these funds and account that they are indeed effectively used for Gaza reconstruction and not for restoring the Hamas terrorist infrastructure?

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Subversion: The real Iranian threat

This very important article points out that Iranian subversion is just as important -- or more important -- than the Iranian nuclear project. It is less dramatic. However it Hezbollah and the Al Quds brigades are facts and their operations are real, whereas the Iranian nuclear weapon is, after all, hypothetical, and its use is only a nightmare, not a reality. The nuclear capability would most likely be used only to provide an umbrella for bigger and better subversion.   

By William Wunderle and Gabriel Lajeunesse

As the new American administration completes its review of strategy vis-a-vis Iran, policymakers would be advised not to fixate on a nuclear threat that all agree is one to five years away from realization. President Barack Obama's recent attempt to reach out to Iran is part of a correct push for engagement; yet if Iran does not change its behavior, robust action will be needed. This should include significant and simultaneous actions to address the other Iranian threat that could drag the world into regional conflagration in the Middle East at any moment - what we call "Iranian malign influence."

Nowhere is the threat of strategic miscalculation spurred by Iranian-sponsored terror as great as it is in the Levant - in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egyptian Sinai, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. The Al-Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah each year, along with arms, including medium-range rockets and surface-to-air missiles. These transfers violate UN Security Council Resolution 1747, which prohibited Iran from transporting arms or related material, in light of Iranian proliferation concerns. Iran transports this lethal aid overland through neighboring countries, such as Turkey, or by sea, as seen in the recent case of the Cypriot-flagged ship the Monchegorsk.

Iranian aid allowed Hezbollah to carry out rocket attacks on Israel that provoked armed conflict in 2006. It also strengthened Hezbollah's position at home, facilitating the organization's "coup" in Beirut last May, when Hezbollah gunmen gained power after taking to Beirut's streets following a showdown with the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. With elections set for Lebanon this June, the country is a powder keg waiting to explode under the weight of Iranian pressure and manipulation.

Similarly, Hamas leaders have attributed their improving rocket technology and general military prowess to training by the Al-Quds Force. Iran's incitement in Gaza led to catastrophic results earlier this year, as Israeli forces conducted operations in the Strip intended to destroy the sanctuary of Hamas rocket-launching teams.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran's adventurism puts hopes of regional stability at risk. Information extracted from captured terrorist leaders, Lebanese Hezbollah operatives, Iranian Al-Quds Force officers, and analysis of arms caches reveal a pattern of Iranian proxy warfare under way against the U.S. in both countries. Iranian support has also fueled sectarian violence in Iraq.

The Al-Quds Force has provided lethal support to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shi'ite militants in Iraq, in the form of weapons, training, funding and direction. For example, it is now known that such Hezbollah operatives as Ali Mussa Daqduq were dispatched to Iraq to assist the Al-Quds Force develop terror cells there, modeled on those of the Lebanese group. In addition to Iran's support to the Taliban, information declassified in the recent January 16 U.S. Treasury financial designations of Al-Qaida leaders reveals that Iran has had a clandestine relationship with Al-Qaida dating back to the 1990s, and that it continues to harbor prominent members of that organization.

Iran's malign interference in regional affairs is not limited to the Levant, Iraq and Afghanistan, but has extended at various times to support for terrorists and militants involved in destabilizing Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sudan and the Gulf states. This capacity for asymmetric warfare breeds an exaggerated confidence among Iranian leaders, who believe that the days of a renewed Persian empire are imminent.

Yet Iran is not inviolable. In fact, its reliance on human intelligence and covert operations is a critical vulnerability that is susceptible to direct and indirect influence. To exploit this vulnerability, however, the international community - and Middle East leaders in particular - must acknowledge the threat posed by Iranian agents, dedicate the proper resources to the problem, and then work together to identify and neutralize Al-Quds Forces and operations. While the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco have been ratcheting up pressure on Iranian networks, far more multilateral cooperation and intelligence sharing is needed. Regional law-enforcement and intelligence officers, for example, must pay careful attention to Al-Quds Force officers working out of Iranian diplomatic establishments, commercial entities and other establishments that provide non-official cover. Front companies can be identified and closed, finances seized, diplomats declared personae non gratae, and officers in non-official cover positions arrested or detained.

The international community must be diligent, and work with regional leaders to press Iran to renounce its interventionist methods, and to neutralize Al-Quds Force and its proxies. Without increased international pressure, Iran will continue to provide support to terrorists, revolutionaries and insurgents, and will use violence and the threat of violence as a means of bullying its neighbors.

Iran's current course needs serious correction. This effort cannot wait and must occur in concert with the effort to deal with Iran's nuclear aspirations. Members of the international community must work together to stand up to Iranian malign influence and aggression before Iran drags the world into additional conflict in the Middle East.

William Wunderle and Gabriel Lajeunesse are visiting associates at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

AFP performs sex change on Israeli comptroller

The news service was anxious to discredit Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system any way it could. After all, this is an advanced defense against short range missiles. AFP would not risk saying anything good about Israel, would it? . Like any new system, it has had a bumpy development phase and it has some drawbacks but evidently it works. AFP would never have used this quote:
Earlier this month, Danny Gold, Head of Research and Development for the Ministry of Defense's Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry, said work on the Iron Dome had reached its "final stage," and was running "ahead of schedule."
"This system can be developed in a fifth of the time it would take to develop other systems, and at a tenth of the cost," Gold said. "It is the cheapest system in the world."
That's the good news. AFP would not mention that. Instead, the AFP report noted:
"Huge sums have been wasted because of hazardous decisions for the development of an anti-rocket defence system over the past eight years," State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus said in her annual report, which paints a picture of bureaucratic waste and irregularities.
All decisions about new weapons systems are hazardous and all weapons systems development is wasteful. In fact, war is a total waste, but defense is necessary. But please note that AP wrote: "Micha Lindenstraus (sic) said in her (sic) annual report."
The photo below shows Micha Lindenstrauss (correct spelling and gender).  

AFP - Reliable, authoritative news you can trust, right? ...

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Iron Dome missile defense almost works

One problem with this system is that each rocket is very expensive, whereas those fired by the enemy are very cheap. For the last four years, this system was going to be operational in 18 months...
The Iron Dome anti-rocket shield passed a critical test in the past 48 hours, the Ministry of Defense said on Thursday evening, in a message that will be welcomed by residents of Israel's rocket-battered communities of the western Negev.
During the test, a number of rockets "of the same type that were fired in recent years at Israel" were fired, and the Iron Dome system responded "accordingly," the Defense Ministry said, in a message indicating a successful interception of the projectiles.
The Iron Dome system is slated to defend southern and northern Israel from rocket attacks by Hamas and Hizbullah, and is set to become a key component in a multi-layered missile defense system, which includes the Arrow anti-ballistic missile shield.
Iron Dome is being developed by the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry in conjunction with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
Sources in the ministry expressed satisfaction with the results of the test, describing it as a "milestone" and adding that the trial verified simulations and research work carried out beforehand.
Pinchas Buchris, Director-General of the Defense Ministry, congratulated Iron Dome engineers on the successful test, adding that hastened work on the system would enable its installation in the near future.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the development of a multi-layered missile defense system was a "national mission aimed at reaching the stage in which a clear majority of missiles do not reach their targets."
Earlier this month, Danny Gold, Head of Research and Development for the Ministry of Defense's Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry, said work on the Iron Dome had reached its "final stage," and was running "ahead of schedule."
"This system can be developed in a fifth of the time it would take to develop other systems, and at a tenth of the cost," Gold said. "It is the cheapest system in the world."

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Good news from Israel... Come & Visit

Israel is a great place to visit. We've known this for a long time, but it's one of those secrets that is written in secret Jew code so nobody else will find out.

 Why Israel isn't just for religious pilgrims and history nerds

by Aaron Hotfelder   Mar 26th 2009 @ 10:00AM

For previous posts from our new "Heathen in the Holy Land" series, go here and here.

Visiting Jerusalem's Western Wall, the last remaining part of the Holy Temple and one of Judaism's most sacred sites, is a sobering, thought-provoking, and almost otherworldly experience. But I wouldn't call it fun.

Sadly, many who haven't visited Israel think that all Israel's attractions are like this: important historically or religiously and certainly enriching to visit, but a little too much like the tourist's equivalent of having to eat all your vegetables and not getting dessert.

So in this post we're going to steer away from the religious and historical aspects of Israel-- as much as it's possible to do that in a country so dominated by religion and history-- and instead focus on what makes Israel fun.

Whether it's ATV riding through verdant green valleys near the Israel-Lebanon border, horseback riding overlooking the Sea of Galilee (where Jesus famously showed off), or floating in the super-bouyant Dead Sea, Israel has plenty of activities to challenge everyone from out-of-shape, potential Biggest Loser contestants to Bear Grylls wannabes.

Check out the following slide show to see what I mean. [Captions of admittedly uneven levels of hilarity provided free of charge.]

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Jews for Hamas

My plan for peace in the Middle East: Israel should recognize Hamas. After we recognise Hamas, Avigdor Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu should hurry to get their photos taken kissing  Hamas leaders on both cheeks. Within a week, all Hamas leaders will be politically (and maybe biologically) dead. Hey, it worked for Mahmoud Abbas, didn't it? And Salem Fayad is a political dead man after getting the kiss of death from the USA, no?
But here's another view:

Roger Cohen has devoted yet another of his New York Times columns to seeking to undermine the Jewish state's existence. This time, he and Henry Siegman are seeking to incentivize the 'moderates' in Hamas to go into a 'Palestinian national unity' government without accepting Israel's 'right to exist' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). More: Roger Cohen and Henry Siegman look for the 'moderates' in Hamas

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The truth about Gaza is beginning to come out

The truth about Gaza is beginning to come out, but the damage is already done. The Palestinian fabrications were used unquestioningly by human rights groups and the UN. What this report does not say is that some of the "children" listed in Palestinian reports are really adult Hamas terrorists according to the IDF. It also doesn't say that the Hamas "police" have the hobbies of throwing Fatah rivals off roofs and assisting in "resistance." .   

Israel's Gaza toll far lower than Palestinian tally

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel says far more armed fighters and far fewer Palestinian civilians were killed during its 22-day offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in January than reported in widely-used Palestinian figures.

In the first Israeli death tally to appear in an official publication since the Dec 26-Jan 18 war, it said a total of 1,166 Palestinians were killed, not 1,417 as reported by Palestinian human rights activists.

The figures were contained in a briefing paper issued by the public affairs department of the Israeli embassy in London on Wednesday (http://london/mfa/gov/il).

It says 295 civilians lost their lives -- about a third of the figure of 926 reported by Gaza's Palestinian Center for Human Rights (, which published a full list of names earlier this month.

The document said at least 709 of the dead in Gaza were armed militants, not 236 as reported by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian group said "255 police and 236 fighters" died in Israeli bombing and shelling -- a total of 491.

Israel has made clear it regards police under the control of the Islamist Hamas ruler of Gaza as the equivalent of armed fighters.

The Israeli paper said the "degree of involvement" in the armed conflict of a further 162 killed in its offensive was "still under investigation."

It did not say how the figures were obtained.

The central aim of the embassy briefing paper was to reject charges of war crimes by Israeli forces in Gaza from human rights groups.

It said there was so far no adequate ethical code of war "to regulate the war on terror" in which "amoral" adversaries flouted the rules of war and used human shields with total indifference to human suffering.

All Western armies currently face the same dilemma, it said.

(Writing by Douglas Hamilton; editing by Philippa Fletcher)


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More revelations about evil ZIonist war crimes in Gaza

You will also want to see our totally tasteless collection of Macho IDF commando T-Shirts: IDF Commando T-Shirts. More about this latest Jew Zionist conspiracy here: IDF T-Shirts - Deadly weapons of the Elders of Zion 

More on the Israeli war crimes in Gaza

In a way the rise of this subject was as inevitable as the next sunrise. After eight years of Qassam bombardment and the callous (and documented) use of Gazan population as one formidable human shield during the Cast Lead operation, Hamas propagandists have desperately looked for a way to raise some stink. With willing assistance of many Western media outfits and, of course, the Arab media hungrily lapping up any soundbite, the Hamas propaganda machine went into overdrive, producing numerous "documented reports" on IDF atrocities.

There is no special finesse to the process. To take
one example:

The report said a working group had documented and verified reports of violations "too numerous to list." For example, on January 15, in a town southwest of Gaza City, Israel Defense Forces soldiers ordered an 11-year-old boy to open Palestinians' packages, presumably so that the soldiers would not be hurt if they turned out to contain explosives, the 43-page report said.
Yep. The violations are "too numerous to list" - so why bother, let's give a (verbal) example that is just a mirror copy of a video clip of Hamas "freedom fighters" using a kid to move around under the eyes of IDF soldiers. The only difference is that there is no video recording in this case... Crude, but everything goes when you have an eager audience clamoring for more.

Of course, there is a legal side to the issue as well, and who better to judge IDF than a Jooish "UN rapporteur"
Richard Falk (the 911 troofer, not to forget)?..  More on the Israeli war crimes in Gaza

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London Israel embassy questions Guardian's agenda

It will be remembered that the Guardian openly exposed their agenda by soliciting blog links to their anti-Israel propaganda films: Unbelievable: Guardian Marketing Pallywood Gaza propaganda, So it is scarcely surprising that their coverage is not "balanced." But the Israeli authorities certainly helped them out by refusing to comment on the issues.
London embassy questions Guardian's agenda
Mar. 25, 2009
JONNY PAUL, Jerusalem Post correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST
The Israeli Embassy in London has questioned the methodology and agenda of The Guardian newspaper after it carried three stories and an editorial over two days attacking Israel and accusing it of committing "war crimes."
On Monday, the paper accused Israel of deliberately firing on Palestinian medical staff and indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians with unmanned aerial vehicles. Then, on Tuesday, it devoted an editorial and another article to accusations the IDF had used civilians as human shields.
Embassy spokesman Lior Ben-Dor told The Jerusalem Post he had been called for comment last Friday by Julian Borger, one of the authors of Tuesday's story, but had felt from the conversation it was a fait accompli as the story was already complete, its conclusions drawn. He said he felt he was being called to "create a fake sense of balance." Borger told Ben-Dor he had already called the IDF spokesman in Jerusalem, but was told they would not comment as the issues raised were still under investigation.
"The general feeling was that the story was already done, and they wanted a sentence or two from the Israeli side," he said.  He also questioned the Guardian's methodology and agenda.   "The problem with [their] methodology is that they are not going to Gaza with open mind," he said. "The agenda was to build [a] case against Israel - they knew they wanted to build the accusation of war crimes, and wanted to back it up with evidence juxtaposed with sound-bites from Amnesty and other human rights groups."   He added that any evidence the paper presented should be looked upon with suspicion as Gaza residents could not speak freely without risking their lives.
"We know of many cases of people who spoke against Hamas were denied charity aid, tortured or even killed," he said.  "People in Gaza cannot speak freely, out of fear of intimidation, violence, and in some cases murder. Clancy Chassay [the Guardian journalist who wrote the stories] will go home to London the next day, but the Gazans will have to face Hamas."
Citing the editorial in Tuesday's Guardian, Ben-Dor said the paper admitted that firing rockets at Israel was also a war crime.  "None of this is to deny that a case also exists against Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza.  Firing unaimable rockets at civilians in southern Israel is also a war crime," read Tuesday's editorial.
"The editorial stated this," said Ben-Dor, "so why didn't they build a case to show that indeed the firing of rockets and mortars at civilian population centers is a war crime?  They could have gone to Ashkelon or Beersheba to collect evidence from civilians targeted by Hamas. They could have devoted a paragraph to Hamas war crimes, instead of only a sentence in an editorial in which they try to create an atmosphere of balance but fool no one.
"They could have collected evidence from Gazans, who could have told them how their houses were used as launch pads, or how Gaza residents were used as human shields, as Lorenzo Cremonesi [a reporter from the Italian Corriere Della Sera newspaper] did after Operation Cast Lead."
Ben Dor said the Guardian would have to do more to be considered credible and balanced.
"It's not because of laziness, it is because of a clear and embedded anti-Israel agenda: to vilify Israel whenever possible," he said.

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Egyptian journal 'celebrates' 30 years of peace by insulting Israel

The semi-official Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram celebrated the anniversary of thirty years of peace with Israel in the same way it always celebrates peace with Israel - with a vitriolic editorial about the blood-sucking Jew-Zionists. How can Egypt insist on enjoying the benefits of peace with Israell (to the tune of $2 billion in US Aid)  when it continues a non-stop campaign of nti-Semitic incitement, including articles and films about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, sales of Mein Kampf, Holocaust denial and slanders of the Talmud, as well as articles "predicting" the end of Zionism? The only thing that the peace treaty really changed, is that the word "Israel" is used in place of "Zionist Entity." The latest fashion is the  blood libel surrounding  Operation Cast Lead. But the Egyptian government knows that Hamas is a direct threat to... the Egyptian government.

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anti-Semitic Stereotyping in Oliphant cartoon

Is there really no good way to criticize Israel without resorting to the images and shibboleths of Anti-Semitism? Can't we do without the International Jew and the star that drips blood and all the other trappings of racism?

U.S. Jewish group slams 'hideously anti-Semitic' cartoon
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
Jewish organizations denounced a Pat Oliphant political cartoon as anti-Semitic, comparing it to the cartoons in the 1930s that led up to the Holocaust.
The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labeled "Gaza."
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, says the cartoon denigrates and demonizes Israel and mimics the Nazi propaganda.
It called on The New York Times and other media groups to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.
"Pat Oliphant's outlandish and offensive use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery is hideously anti-Semitic," Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman said.
A message was left Wednesday night with Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant's cartoons. Oliphant won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967.

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Israel Comptroller comiling report on Israeli efforts to free Jonathan Pollard

I suspect that the real report on Israeli efforts to free Jonathan Pollard might compete for the title of thinnest book in the world. Is Jonathan Pollard all that different from Gilad Shalit, or from the Jews arrested in the Lavon Affair? Like the unfortunates of the Lavon affair, Pollard is the victim of a cockamamie maverick espionage plot, which abused the love of Zion of innocents abroad. Like the victims in Cairo, Pollard is a foreigner who owed Israel nothing and helped us out of idealism - or so he believed. He owed Israel nothing. Stupid people in Israel abused his trust. Shalit, on the other hand, is an Israeli soldier who was doing his duty.
Shouldn't Israel be making every effort to get him out of prison? The opposition of the CIA and FBI that is mentioned below could not, in the end, be impervious to a concerted public relations campaign, analogous to the huge effort that has been invested in the release of Gilad Shalit in Israel. After all this time, there cannot really be any secrets that Jonathan Pollard knows that could harm the United States, though he might know a few that would hurt CIA and FBI agents or embarrass them. 
It is not true, by the way, as the article claims, that the small group of activists, mostly right-wing, have been very quiet. In the last days of the Bush administration they staged a concerted campaign for pardonign Jonathan Pollard. It fell on deaf ears.  .
Last update - 06:06 26/03/2009       
What has Israel done for Jonathan Pollard lately?
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
Even George W. Bush did not take pity on Jonathan Pollard, who has been rotting in jail for 24 years now. The end of a president's term always raises the hopes of those who wish to see Pollard free, hopes that are repeatedly dashed. Thus it was at the end of Bush senior's term, Bill Clinton's and now George W. Bush's. Israeli public opinion has ignored the matter. Even the small group of activists, most of whom are known for their vociferousness, have been quiet, as if they have given up.
But help may be on the way from State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. The comptroller is now completing a secret report, most of whose details will obviously not be released - for reasons of state security and foreign relations - about the conduct of the government and its intelligence community in the last few years of this sad affair. The report was written by the security division of the State Comptroller's Office, headed by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov "Mendi" Orr.
The probe does not involve Pollard's welfare. On that end, Pollard has been treated more than reasonably. All his legal and other expenses have been financed by the state of Israel.
The investigation focuses on actions that were done, or not done, by the government and various bodies that were aware of Pollard's activities, or enjoyed the fruit of his espionage labors, particularly the Mossad and Military Intelligence. The comptroller is looking into whether prime ministers, defense ministers and other ministers and intelligence chiefs raised the issue with their American counterparts, what exactly they told them, how frequently and how insistent they were. It also asks to what extent they made efforts to come up with original ideas that might have persuaded the administration, law enforcement authorities and the American intelligence services.
As much as can be gleaned from the sources contacted by the state comptroller's office, the conclusion is not unequivocal. It seems that the comptroller did not find evidence of serious neglect by the governments of Israel, although between the lines it may be concluded that these bodies didn't go out of their way to bring about Pollard's release either. In other words, the report gives Israel's governments a barely passing grade.
In any case, it is not at all clear whether more effort would have made any difference. The main obstacle to an early release of Pollard, who was sentenced to life imprisonment (which means at least 30 years), is the powerful and uncompromising opposition of the CIA, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department toward any such proposal. Even if presidents like Clinton and George W. Bush leaned toward granting Israel's request for a presidential pardon for Pollard, this opposition took the wind out of their sails.

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Kibbutz volunteers - still in fashion!?

Kibbutz volunteering, begun after the Six day war, is still in fashion (a bit) and even having a revival. Remember that one of those volunteers was killed by a Palestinian sniper. Anyhow, here is a happier story...
Around 150 kibbutz volunteers will party Thursday night at Kibbutz Ein Gev on the shores of Lake Kinneret, drinking beer and barbecuing with all the youthful flair of adolescents far from their parents' home. But before the party begins, the volunteers will participate in a workshop on Israel's traditions and holidays, as part of a program organizers hope will give them a broader view of Israel than they get between the kibbutz orchards and pub.
"Volunteers need something extra, an experience beyond what they get at the kibbutz - work and partying," says Rina Keren, coordinator of the kibbutz movement's volunteer program. "They need some kind of content as well."
The initiative, run by Shitim, the Kibbutz Institute for Holidays and Jewish Culture, targets volunteers from abroad who intend to spend three to six months in Israel.

The workshop at Ein Gev will focus on Passover and the seder meal, including both the holiday's traditional narrative and its relevance to modern issues. Keren sees the volunteers as "unofficial ambassadors of the State of Israel, who I want to know a little more about us."
She says some volunteers learned about Israel and Judaism before arriving, while others know little to nothing. Many come seeking adventure, like the Israeli youngsters who flock to South America and the Far East after their army service. The low price for volunteers (free accommodation at the kibbutzim) also strikes a chord.
Smadar Karsan, who leads the volunteer program at Ein Gev, has lectured for the past eight years on issues ranging from Judaism to kibbutz life. "Once the volunteers themselves asked for the lectures," she says. "Nowadays they take less of an interest - maybe that's a worldwide trend, that young people today are less curious. Or maybe it's because the kibbutz today isn't what it once was, and is less fascinating as a society and way of life."
The volunteer phenomenon began during the 1967 Six-Day War, as idealistic, motivated youngsters streamed in to offer their help as kibbutz members rushed off to war, leaving the communities in urgent need of manpower. Since then, the kibbutzim have had a total of 360,000 volunteers.
Despite the wave of privatization, and the diminished role of the kibbutz in molding the national ethos, the volunteer program is alive and kicking.
Last year, 1,500 individuals volunteered at 35 participating kibbutzim. This year saw a spike in demand following the military operation in Gaza, drawing volunteers from the United States, England, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa and Sweden, among other places....

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Report: IAF strike in Sudan hit Gaza-bound weapons convoy

The news was broken by CBS.

Somebody attacked the convoy in Sudan, but it is not so clear that Israel did it: Thus far, public international efforts to curb arms deliveries to the genocidal Hamas, with the exception of our courageous friends in Cyprus, have been somewhat anemic. A European agreement calls for searching ships, but only if the ships agree to be searched. Here is the report
The Israel Air Force carried out an attack last January against a convoy of trucks in Sudan carrying arms for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the American network CBS.
The strike "killed Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians, and injured others," Saleem added. [Here comes an HRW report blaming Israel for attacking civilians, right?]
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin broke the story. He says that Israeli intelligence learned of plans to move weapons through Sudan, north toward Egypt and then via the Sinai into the Gaza Strip.
According to Martin, Israel and the U.S. had signed an agreement for closer international efforts to block smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip.
During the final days of the Israeli offensive against Hamas, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her American counterpart Condoleezza Rice signed a security-intelligence memorandum on intensifying cooperation in a joint effort to block the smuggling of arms from Iran to Hamas via Sudan.
The Sudanese news site said the attack took place "in a desert area northwest of Port Sudan city, near Mount al-Sha'anun."
According to, the airstrike was an "embarrassment" to Sudan's government, and it discussed the matter with Egypt's government "to gather more information to formulate a response."
On the basis of the report from Sudan, American reporters sought confirmation from U.S. administration officials, which led them to the conclusion that the air strike did take place but that the U.S. Air Force was not involved and that the aircraft were Israeli.
CBS correspondent Dan Raviv said that "if Israeli airplanes carried out the attack in Sudan, it would suggest that there is a shadow against Hamas and its weapons sources that is wider than the Israeli or U.S. government has revealed."
In the original Sudanese report, an unidentified Egyptian official was quoted as saying that the planes that carried out the attack were based out of many countries in the region, and some observers guessed that he meant Djibouti, but there is no such confirmation.
Meanwhile, Israel defense sources refused to comment on the report of an air strike in Sudan or on the role that Israel may have played in that attack.
Defense sources have reiterated on a number of occasions that Iran embarked on an intensive effort to supply Hamas with weapons and ammunition during Operation Cast Lead.
The Israeli security sources said that an international network has been set in place in which smugglers move arms caches from Iran through the Persian Gulf to Yemen, on to Sudan and then to Egypt and Sinai where they are brought into the Gaza Strip through tunnels.
Israeli intelligence has warned that the deliveries include anti-tank missiles, small arms, and military grade high explosives, as well as missiles.
Meanwhile, in May, an international conference is scheduled to take place in Ottawa, the third of its kind since the end of Operation Cast Lead, which will discuss how to prevent arms smuggling from Iran to the Gaza Strip.
In addition to host Canada, Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Denmark, the U.S. and Israel will also take part.
Immediately after the conference a "war game" is scheduled to take place in Washington, with the participation of security officials and diplomats from the countries involved. The "war game" will practice a scenario of foiling arms smuggling from Iran to the Gaza Strip.
The most recent conference took place in London a week ago and the countries cooperating in blocking the arms smuggling from Iran formulated a joint plan of operations. The plan includes the signing of a series of bilateral agreements with countries situated along the path of the smugglers, as well as countries whose commercial fleets carry cargo from Iran elsewhere.

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Shalit talks resume

With Ehud Barak as Defense Minister of the new government, it is probable that Israel will not abandon the talks to swap Shalit. Haaretz (Avi Issacharoff) reports:

Hamas resumed indirect negotiations with Israel aimed at exchanging abducted Israel Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails, Hamas official Ali Barakeh said Wednesday.
Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June, 2006. Efforts to secure his release in a prisoner exchange with Hamas have so far yielded no results.
Barakeh said that a delegation from Hamas is in Cairo to pursue a deal.
Also, Palestinian sources reported that Egytian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman had sent an envoy to Israel, and that he had spent the last two days here. The sources said that the Egyptian official was sent to Israel in order to revive talks geared at securing Shalit's release....
Prisoner exchange talks broke down ten days ago, after the negotiations, mediated by Egypt, got bogged down. The Israeli side accused Hamas of sabotaging the deal by toughening its stance, while Egypt and Hamas maintained that it was Israel that was unyielding and unwilling to compromise, while Hamas' demands remained as they had always been.
According to Israeli sources, the talks got stuck Israel's refusal to release 125 of the 450 prisoners on Hamas' list. Another point of contention deals with the deportation of Palestinian prisoners from Gaza. Israel demands that 140 of the prisoners it will release from Israeli jails not be allowed to return to Gaza. Hamas is willing to agree to the deportation of only a handful of Palestinians.
It appears that now, both sides will focus solely on completing the deal before the end of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's term and the swearing in of the new government, led by Likud Chairman Benjamin Netnayahu. However, it is not clear whether the gaps between the two sides can be bridged within this time frame. It is also unclear whether Hamas has handed Israel a revised prisoner list.

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Australian Imam stages DIY hate crime

Imam commits hate crime against himself
Tuesday, 24th March 2009
Melanie Phillips
The Australian reports:
Australia's most controversial sheik, Taj Din al-Hilali, has been caught on videotape kicking in a door at his own mosque before calling police to report an act of vandalism.The head imam at the Lakemba mosque, who caused outrage in 2006 by comparing scantily clad women to uncovered meat, was shown on a CCTV security tape kicking open the door just minutes before reporting the incident. The Nine Network's A Current Affair last night broadcast the videotape from March 9, showing the incident, which Sheik Hilali initially denied. 'There is a trick in this camera. There is a trick in this film,' he told ACA.

...The footage shows four young men locking the door behind them at 10.28pm. Nine minutes later, Sheik Hilali checks the lock and pushes on the top of the door, bending it on its hinges. After checking the corridor, he disappears from view before rushing towards it and kicking it open at 10.46pm. It is understood the name of the suspected culprit was put forward to NSW police, but it is not known if he was interviewed by the authorities.
One trusts he received condign punishment for Islamophobia.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IDF investigation of white phosphorus allegations by Human Rights Watch

IDF Spokesperson March 25th, 2009

IDF Response Regarding Human Rights Watch Report

At the conclusion of operation Cast Lead, the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, instructed that a number of investigations be conducted at the General Staff level, each lead by an officer of the rank of colonel. The investigations are intended to evaluate different aspects of the fighting during the operation, in addition to the operational investigations being conducted at the different command levels. The IDF spokesperson announced during the operation Cast Lead that an investigative committee headed by a colonel would investigate allegations with regard to the use of ammunition containing elements of phosphorous.

This particular investigation is dealing with the use of ammunition containing elements of phosphorous, including, amongst others, the 155mm smoke shells which were referred to in the Human Rights Watch report. This type of ammunition disperses in the atmosphere and creates an effective smoke screen. It is used by many western armies.

The investigation is close to conclusion, and based on the findings at this stage, it is already possible to conclude that the IDF's use of smoke shells was in accordance with international law. These shells were used for specific operational needs only and in accord with international humanitarian law. The claim that smoke shells were used indiscriminately, or to threaten the civilian population, is baseless.

It should be noted that contrary to the claims in the report, smoke shells are not an incendiary weapon.  The third protocol of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) - which defines particular limitations on incendiary weapons - makes it clear that weapons intended for screening are not classed as incendiary weapons. The State of Israel is not a signatory of the third protocol, however, in any, case, as noted this protocol does not ban the use of smoke shells for the purpose of screening.

This announcement is an intermediate response. At the conclusion of the investigation by the Chief of Staff, the main findings will be presented to the public

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Lebanon Controversy over Starbucks boycott

Shultz is definitely a "Zionist" since he has a Zionist name, right? And it says Starbucks supports Zionism right there in Ziopedia. And Ziopedia wouldn't lie, right? Just like the Protocols of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a real document, just as it says in Ziopedia, right? Jew Zionist Shultz is suspected of the Zionist crime of supporting a hospital charity. He denies it, but surely the inquisitors can get him to confess!
The truth and the rumors behind the targeting of the lattes
Maya Khourchid, NOW Staff , March 25, 2009
Starbucks has become a worldwide cause célèbre for protestors who object to its globalised ubiquity. But in Lebanon Starbucks has been the focus of protests for other reasons entirely. The coffee chain has, especially since the conflict in Gaza, been singled out by anti-Israeli activists for protests which have seen gruesome posters waved, Stars of David taped to the windows and sometimes the café itself shut for the day.  The Starbucks in Beirut's Hamra district, near several universities, has been targeted often, most recently last week.
So, do the protestors have a point? Of all the international companies in Lebanon, Starbucks has come in for the most flak recently. Do the protestors have a legitimate grievance with a company that gives money to a country with which Lebanon is at war? Or are they picking on an easy target, already unpopular with left-leaning, anti-globalisation types? Answering this question reveals Zionist links to the company's founder, a grey area between the the company and its CEO and many unverified rumors.
What exactly is the protestors' problem with Starbucks? "It is the funds that they send to the Zionist state," says Bahaa Al Kayyali, a 21 year-old political science student at AUB involved with the grassroots Lebanese Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel. "And the support of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)," he goes on, adding that, "most of the people who protest outside Starbucks believe it gives money to the Israeli state, and IDF, for sure."
However, Starbucks denies this, outright. Its 'Facts about Starbucks in the Middle East' section on its website denies providing financial support to the Israeli government and the IDF, although support to Israeli charities is not specifically denied.
But there are protestors who, even if they do not accuse the company of funding Israel directly, have a grievance with the company through its director. "Our boycott is in general, not only to Starbucks, in general to the companies we find out are in a direct or indirect way supporting the state of Israel…Starbucks itself because the director and co-owner Howard Schultz [is] a known Zionist and open speaker in support of the state of Israel" says Arabi Al-Andari, a member of the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth, who have protested Starbucks recently, since 1997.
Howard Schultz, the Jewish 55-year-old founder and CEO, of Starbucks has been called a Zionist by protest groups and boycott campaigns in Lebanon and globally. As with many ideological battles, the internet has been a breeding ground for debate and accusations on both sides. It can be difficult to tell justifiable grievance from fabrication.
A fake letter that first appeared on anti-Israeli website Ziopedia in July 2006, in which Schultz thanks Starbucks customers without whom he "wouldn't be able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks and keep reminding every Jew in America, to defend Israel at any cost," is often quoted. In the first month the letter went up, it was read by over 100,000 people on the Ziopedia site alone. 
But the letter was widely misunderstood; it had been written as a satirical piece by Ziopedia editor Andrew Winkler. "However all the statements I made in that letter about donations, sponsorships, political views etc. – are based on factual Howard Schultz actions and quotes as a half hour of 'Googling' will easily confirm to anyone interested," said a note added later by Winkler.
But although Googling turns up many reasons to boycott the company, few are verifiable.  The Innovative Minds website's 'Boycott Israel Campaign' asserts that Starbucks sponsored the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem's annual 'Bowl 4 Israel' fundraiser in 2002 and 2003. But the Committee maintains no 'Bowl 4 Israel' events were held in those years.... 

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'Guardian' slammed for 'Hamas propaganda'

The Zionation article they refer to is Unbelievable: Guardian Marketing Pallywood Gaza propaganda. But the big problem with the Guardian's crusade against the Jewish state is not that they are biased, but that they presented as news a series of films that were in fact part of an activist campaign to initiate an international Kangaroo court against Israel. :They used the films and other materials to solicit blog links for the Guardian's campaign. Where does commercial and professional journalism end and political propaganda begin?  

If we are lucky after the lynch mob has done its work - a few months after, Guardian will issue a very small print retraction, as media did after the "Jenin Massacre" hoax.

Ami Isseroff


'Guardian' slammed for 'Hamas propaganda'

Mar. 25, 2009
JONNY PAUL, Jerusalem Post correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST

Jewish groups have accused the Guardian newspaper of marketing Hamas propaganda and constructing falsehoods, after three stories over two days accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

In an article in Tuesday's Guardian, entitled "'Guardian' investigation uncovers evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza," the newspaper claimed to have evidence that Israel had committed war crimes during the 22-day operation. The newspaper's Web site showed a video clip with file photos from 2007 depicting Israeli forces using human shields, and had three Gazan teenagers recounting how they had allegedly been used as human shields by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.

"This is the newspaper that reported the massacre at Jenin, which turned out to be false, and said also that Israel was high in an international league table for its murder of journalists and then failed to properly correct this patent falsehood," said Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chairman of the Zionist Federation of the UK. "It is the paper that tolerates anti-Semitic content in its blog 'Comment Is Free,' and indeed encourages it by its choice of contributors."

Of course, he added, "the IDF will carefully investigate this outrageous claim, and by the time it issues the denial, people will only remember the original allegation, and the Guardian will have moved on to the next carefully constructed falsehood. It's a pas de deux of truth versus mendacity, with apparently no end."

Hoffman questioned the clip's citation of an IDF magazine found in Gaza that allegedly showed Israeli forces using human shields.

"Now we are supposed to believe... that the IDF has an 'internal' magazine which all soldiers get, but which none of them must divulge, but which was left behind by a careless soldier in Gaza," he said.

The pro-Israel Web site ZioNation accused the newspaper of "marketing Pallywood propaganda."

"The Guardian has regrettably thrown all professional journalistic ethics and pretensions to balance and objectivity to the four winds, and has gleefully annexed itself to the cause of Hamas," said Ami Isseroff, chief editor of ZioNation.

In two articles on Monday, the Guardian accused Israel of deliberately firing on Palestinian medical staff and indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians with unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Medical staff and ambulance drivers who attempted to assist casualties of the Israeli invasion of Gaza have told the Guardian that they were attacked by Israeli forces while trying to carry out their job," the article said.

The story included a video clip in which Palestinian medical staff recounted their experiences. The clip noted that Israel was a "pioneer in precision weapons and a world leader in advanced optics," then asked why 38 medical workers were killed or wounded by Israeli forces during the Gaza conflict "when they had the technology to see exactly who they were hitting."

The second article said that Israeli drones killed a family of six, a group of girls in an empty street, two children in a field and "many others." It also claimed that an investigation the paper had carried out revealed that Israel had used a variety of weapons in "illegal ways."

"Indiscriminate munitions, including shells packed with white phosphorus, were fired into densely populated areas, while precision missiles and tank shells were fired into civilian homes. But it is the use of drones in the killing of at least 48 civilians that appears most reprehensible," the article said.

The reports were written by Clancy Chassay, a Guardian correspondent in Beirut. Chassay has produced eight video reports this month accusing Israel of war crimes.

The film clips were produced by Guardian Films, which says its aim is to "produce the kind of unique work that other broadcasters no longer have the network or resources to do."

In a letter the paper sent out to blog and Web site owners, calling for them to support its work, the Guardian said the Gaza film clips were meant to "add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead, which was aimed at Hamas, but which left over 1,400 Palestinians dead - around 300 known to be children."

Guardian Films then asked the bloggers to link to their "Gaza War Crimes" page.

"Whatever happened in Gaza, it ought not to be the business of the Guardian to appoint itself judge and juror and promote itself in this way," Isseroff said.

In response, the newspaper said that "we robustly reject the suggestion that the Guardian is being used as a mouthpiece for Hamas. Indeed, anyone who reads our front page story and our leader today will see that we make it clear that a case exists against them."

Regarding Chassay's report, the paper said he had "spent weeks on his investigation, and in the interests of fair reporting we gave the IDF every opportunity to reject these claims, and at the conclusion of the video we reported in full the written the statement they supplied."

The Israeli Embassy in London said it would issue a response on Wednesday.

This article can also be read at

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What happened in Gaza

Harel and Ha'aretz have yet to even admit directly that their charges about civilian killings were contradicted by a preliminary IDF investigation (see  IDF Investigation Refutes the Testimonies About Gaza Killings). In fact, this story is mentioned nowhere in the English language media.
At least, Haaretz has noted the IDF's side of the casualty story now. But where, oh where is this IDF list, and why does it get so little mention?
More than 600 of the Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza have been identified as militants, while another 309 were innocent civilians, according to an updated list of Palestinian losses issued by the Israel Defense Forces.
The list, prepared by the IDF's Coordination and Liaison Authority for the Gaza Strip, is significantly different from the one the Palestinians use.
The Israeli document lists 1,370 fatalities, whereas different Palestinian lists range from 1,324 to 1,434. The IDF claims to have identified 1,249 of those on its list.

According to the IDF, more than 600 of the dead have been identified as members of a militant organization. This includes the police officers who were killed in an attack on their academy's graduation parade on December 27, the first day of the operation.
A total of 309 are described as "uninvolved," meaning they have been confirmed as innocent civilians. Another 320 are described as "unaffiliated," which means the IDF has not yet determined whether they have any affiliation with a militant group. Finally, 14 fatalities were members of Fatah whom Hamas executed during the fighting.
Of the 309 innocent civilians killed, 189 were children under the age of 15. Palestinians describe anyone under 18 as a child.
This group also includes 91 women, 21 elderly men who were not involved in the fighting, six UNRWA workers and two medical workers.
Efforts to identify the remaining dead are continuing.
The fatality list presented by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has numerous inaccuracies and contradictions, the IDF says. For example, Tawfiq Ja'abari, the commander of the Hamas police, and Mohammed Shakshak, a personal assistant to the head of Hamas' military wing, Ahmed Ja'abari, are both described as dead children on the Palestinian list 

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IDF Investigation Refutes the Testimonies About Gaza Killings.

Maariv in (Hebrew)
[Complete translation by Israel News ]
Today, Sunday, an IDF officer whose troops fought in Gaza will present the conclusions of his personal investigation in the wake of testimony of soldiers in his brigade about incidents of killing of Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead. The investigation reveals that in at least two of the incidents mentioned in the testimony, which raised a storm of public controversy, no Palestinian women were killed as had been claimed.
Two central incidents that were brought to light in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. Today the brigade's commander will present the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few day to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division,, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.

Light Finger on the trigger

Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander's investigation cites the sniper: "I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ?Why did you shoot at them.' I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots."

Officers from the brigade suspect that fighters who remained in the lower story of the Palestinian house thought that he hit the the women, and from there the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.

Regarding the second incident, in which it was claimed that soldiers went up to the roof to entertain themselves with firing and killed an elderly Palestinian woman, the brigade commander investigation found that there was no such incident.

According to one of the officers, "The number of terrorists killed and the extent of arrests in "Operation Cast Lead" varied from brigade to brigade because the troops fought in different areas, and as part of the tradition there is always competition to show that your brigade is more combat ready. Nonetheless, the official evaluation has not yet begun and among field commanders there is a fear that troops will bring to light additional incidents that took place during the fighting.

An officer of an elite unit that fought deep in Palestinian territory in Operation Cast Lead told NRG Maariv, "There was a light trigger finger during operation Cast Lead without a doubt, and non-combatant ("uninvolved") civilians were killed without doubt. But there was no deliberate harm done to innocent civilians. I am fully convinced that there was no soldier who shot for no reason out of a desire for revenge. I don't know of any such cases.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Israel War crimes allegations

Every so often every independent analyst, blogger and pundit needs to remind themselves and their readers that we are volunteers. We write what we write because we believe that it is true. None of us will benefit in any way either from exaggerating non-existent faults or covering up real ones. There is no gain for Israel or for me in covering up the malfeasance, negligence, or imperfections of any Israeli Colonel Blimp or Bomber Harris or any scoundrel who tries to protect his job by taking refuge behind patriotism.

Israel is a country like any other and Jews are a people like any other. We have neither horns nor halos. We have our saints and we also have our Baruch Goldsteins and our Ami Poppers. In a properly run society, there must be mechanisms - including journalistic criticism and courts and investigations and regulations that discover problems and control negligence and malfeasance. Of course, this becomes a real problem in the context of the media war being waged against Israel.

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America's apprentice ersatz Arabs and their take on Israel - evaluated by a real Arab

On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians' Real Agenda

During a recent visit to several university campuses in the U.S., I discovered that there is more sympathy for Hamas there than there is in Ramallah.

Listening to some students and professors on these campuses, for a moment I thought I was sitting opposite a Hamas spokesman or a would-be-suicide bomber.

I was told, for instance, that Israel has no right to exist, that Israel's "apartheid system" is worse than the one that existed in South Africa and that Operation Cast Lead was launched only because Hamas was beginning to show signs that it was interested in making peace and not because of the rockets that the Islamic movement was launching at Israeli communities.

I was also told that top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for masterminding terror attacks against Israeli civilians, was thrown behind bars simply because he was trying to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Furthermore, I was told that all the talk about financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority was "Zionist propaganda" and that Yasser Arafat had done wonderful things for his people, including the establishment of schools, hospitals and universities.

The good news is that these remarks were made only by a minority of people on the campuses who describe themselves as "pro-Palestinian," although the overwhelming majority of them are not Palestinians or even Arabs or Muslims.

The bad news is that these groups of hard-line activists/thugs are trying to intimidate anyone who dares to say something that they don't like to hear.

When the self-designated "pro-Palestinian" lobbyists are unable to challenge the facts presented by a speaker, they resort to verbal abuse.

On one campus, for example, I was condemned as an "idiot" because I said that a majority of Palestinians voted for Hamas in the January 2006 election because they were fed up with financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority.

On another campus, I was dubbed as a "mouthpiece for the Zionists" because I said that Israel has a free media. There was another campus where someone told me that I was a 'liar" because I said that Barghouti was sentenced to five life terms because of his role in terrorism.

And then there was the campus (in Chicago) where I was "greeted" with swastikas that were painted over posters promoting my talk. The perpetrators, of course, never showed up at my event because they would not be able to challenge someone who has been working in the field for nearly 30 years.

What struck me more than anything else was the fact that many of the people I met on the campuses supported Hamas and believed that it had the right to "resist the occupation" even if that meant blowing up children and women on a bus in downtown Jerusalem.

I never imagined that I would need police protection while speaking at a university in the U.S. I have been on many Palestinian campuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and I cannot recall one case where I felt intimidated or where someone shouted abuse at me.

Ironically, many of the Arabs and Muslims I met on the campuses were much more understanding and even welcomed my "even-handed analysis" of the Israeli-Arab conflict. After all, the views I voiced were not much different than those made by the leaderships both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. These views include support for the two-state solution and the idea of coexistence between Jews and Arabs in this part of the world.

The so-called pro-Palestinian "junta" on the campuses has nothing to offer other than hatred and de-legitimization of Israel. If these folks really cared about the Palestinians, they would be campaigning for good government and for the promotion of values of democracy and freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Their hatred for Israel and what it stands for has blinded them to a point where they no longer care about the real interests of the Palestinians, namely the need to end the anarchy and lawlessness, and to dismantle all the armed gangs that are responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians over the past few years.

The majority of these activists openly admit that they have never visited Israel or the Palestinian territories. They don't know -and don't want to know - that Jews and Arabs here are still doing business together and studying together and meeting with each other on a daily basis because they are destined to live together in this part of the world. They don't want to hear that despite all the problems life continues and that ordinary Arab and Jewish parents who wake up in the morning just want to send their children to school and go to work before returning home safely and happily.

What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the "occupation" as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel.

Many of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials I talk to in the context of my work as a journalist sound much more pragmatic than most of the anti-Israel, "pro-Palestinian" folks on the campuses.

Over the past 15 years, much has been written and said about the fact that Palestinian school textbooks don't promote peace and coexistence and that the Palestinian media often publishes anti-Israel material.

While this may be true, there is no ignoring the fact that the anti-Israel campaign on U.S. campuses is not less dangerous. What is happening on these campuses is not in the frame of freedom of speech. Instead, it is the freedom to disseminate hatred and violence. As such, we should not be surprised if the next generation of jihadists comes not from the Gaza Strip or the mountains and mosques of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from university campuses across the U.S.


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Palestinian war crimes continue: Rocket blitz on Ashkelon revived

A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Ashkelon area Tuesday afternoon, after ten days of quiet.
No injuries or damage were reported.
The last rockets to explode inside Israel hit the western Negev on March 14. No one was injured in the strike.
The Qassam fire continued this month even though Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, recently condemned the Qassam fire from the Strip, saying that though it has fired thousands of rockets in the past, it was not behind recent attacks, and that the group was actively investigating who was responsible.

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Israeli Police find home made Palestinian armored vehicle

Last update - 21:07 24/03/2009       
Police uncover makeshift Palestinian armored vehicle
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent
Police discovered a makeshift armored vehicle and a weapons cache in the Hebron area Monday night during a search for stolen vehicles.
Officers from the Etgar police unit, which combats car theft, and the Lahav unit, which fights organized crime, uncovered the cache, which included a sniper rifle.
Police conducted the search of the village of Yata based on intelligence information they had received.
During the course of the operation, police found a large container on which heavy stones had been placed. The stones were removed with the help of a tractor and an armored Isuzu van was discovered inside the container.
Steel planks, measuring five centimeters (two inches) in thickness had been welded to the vehicle and small slits had been cut in the planks to allow a weapon to be fired from within the vehicle.
In addition to the armored vehicle, police found a 7.62 caliber sniper rifle as well as hundreds of 7.62 caliber bullets, two boxes of 5.56 caliber ammunition and a telescopic scope.

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Bowing to the inevitable: Israel Labor Party Joins the Government

Ehud Barak was barely able to speak, having toiled sleeplessly for three days to put this deal together. The Israel Labor party may have gotten a disproportionate number of seats and government platform goodies, but this achievement should be put in perspective: It became apparent to  Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party that the great "right wing bloc" was an illusion (see Netanyahu's right wing bloc block and Barak's labor of love (of power?)). The religious parties are "right wing" but are not Zionist, and worry more about Yeshiva subsidies than Iranian nuclear weapons. . Israel faces enormous security, foreign policy and economic challenges. Polls indicated that a solid majority of Likud and Israel Labor party voters wanted a unity government. However, it remains to be seen if either the Likud or the Israel Labor party can achieve a creditable record in the next few years.   
Labor votes in favor of joining Likud coalition
By Mazal Mualem, Haaretz Correspondent
The Labor Party Central Committee voted on Tuesday in favor of joining Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, despite vocal opposition from within the party.
Netanyahu reached the preliminary agreement with Barak early Tuesday. Labor Party activists gathered later in the afternoon to vote on the deal, which calls on the government to pursue peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak drafted the deal with Netanyahu. But half of the party's lawmakers objected to teaming up with Netanyahu because of his long-standing opposition to peace efforts.
680 of the central committee members voted in favor of joining the coalition, while 570 voted against. The voter turnout stood at 78 percent of the committee members.
Ahead of the vote, Barak took the stand and in an impassioned speech said "we are responsible for the Labor Party, but we also have a responsibility to the state of Israel, to peace, to security. We don't have a back-up country, Yitzhak Rabin said that, and it is still true."
"Labor voters want to see us in the government, they want to see us there because we don't have a spare country," Barak added.
Addressing the opposition among some of his fellow party members to his move to join the coalition, and consequent criticism of him and his supporters, the Labor chairman went on to say that "there is no one here that is doing nothing more than holding on to a chair, and there's also no one here who epitomizes nothing but pure ideology - we're all friends. I reject with all my might the unfair and ludicrous attacks against [Labor MK] Shalom Simhon, against [Labor MK] Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and against me? Anyone who thinks that it is wiser to build the Labor Party as a fifth wheel in the opposition and not as a counter-force to the right-wing elements in the government doesn't know what he's talking about."
"I am not afraid of Benjamin Netanyahu. I won't serve as a fig leaf to anyone, and I won't be anyone's dead weight. We will be the counter-force that will prevent the formation of a narrow right-wing government, and ensure the establishment of a real government that will take care of the Israeli people," Barak continued.
The Labor leader rejected claims that he was motivated by selfish interests, saying that his only priority is the welfare of the country. "I am not chasing after any position," he said, "and I've manned almost all the positions, I was prime minister, defense minister, chief of staff, GOC and commander of the elite forces unit Syeret Matkal. I don't need any more positions. Anyone who thinks that I am concerned with personal survival, I urge him to listen to the criticism hurled at us and understand the price one pays when going against the grain, against the trend, toward what is truly right for Israel...."
Obviously, not everyone in the Labor party was happy about the Likud-Labor deal, but probably the overriding consideration was to avert a split, which would effectively have spelled the end of the road for the Israel Labor party.

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Lawfare: Abuse of international law as a weapon

Warfare through Misuse of International Law

Elizabeth Samson

BESA Center Perspectives Papers No. 73, March 23, 2009

Defining "Lawfare"

There is a new kind of warfare being waged across the globe. The antagonists in the struggle are employing the weapon of their adversaries – the rule of law – in a strategy called "Lawfare" which involves the misuse of the law to achieve objectives that cannot be achieved militarily. Lawfare can be undertaken by any group of actors of any nationality or religion, but presently Lawfare is being pursued largely by Islamic ideologues, their supporters, and their financiers who sympathize with the actions of Islamic militants.

Lawfare is exponentially effective because one lawsuit can silence thousands who have neither the time nor the financial resources to challenge well-funded terror financiers or the vast machine of the international judicial system. The potential for a "chilling effect" on both speech and conduct are limitless and the consequence can have a devastating effect on public safety and international security.

Categories of Lawfare

There are three primary categories of Lawfare. The first category is the initiation of lawsuits before courts in the international system. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) serve complementary but different purposes. The ICJ, established in 1945, resolves disputes between states and renders advisory opinions on legal issues submitted by international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly. As the ICJ solves disputes in cases that states bring before it, there is rarely a question about whether the court has jurisdiction in those matters.  In contrast, the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court established the ICC as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  UN member states had to decide whether to submit to its jurisdiction and allow their citizens to be prosecuted.

The United States and Israel had an intuitive understanding that this presented a potential for abuse in the absence of a system of checks and balances. They rejected participating in the ICC because they feared that hostile nations would initiate politically motivated lawsuits against their soldiers or political leaders and that the impartiality of the court would be compromised. The ICC is only permitted to try nations that are party to the Rome Statute, unless the United Nations Security Council permits otherwise by vote.  For now, the United States and Israel are safe from prosecution by the ICC, but it is not an absolute certainty.

In the second category, the misuse of legal terminology to manipulate international institutions and the public is an underhanded mode of Lawfare because it relies on the relative inexperience of laypeople to advance ideas.  United Nations resolutions, for example, are used to gain sympathy for the cause of Lawfare combatants and to intimidate their opposition.  However, just as ICJ Advisory Opinions are non-binding, UN Resolutions also do not have the force of law and are simply an expression of sentiment and are often precursors to the establishment of authoritative international law by way of a UN Convention.  This gives reason to worry, particularly with respect to a resolution that will be at the top of the agenda of the upcoming anti-racism conference in Geneva this April, familiarly known as Durban II.

Every year since 1999, at the request and direction of the 57-state Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations has passed a resolution on Combating Defamation of Religions. The resolution has two major intrinsic flaws and is merely a political attempt by the OIC to stifle free speech and criticism of Islam.  The first flaw is that it singles out Islam as a victim and makes no mention of any other religion. The second flaw is that "defamation of religions" is a legal impossibility.

Defamation involves the publication of a false statement about a person, business, group or government, all of which are tangible entities. A religion cannot be defamed because it is only a set of beliefs and, therefore, cannot sue in its own name. Even if, hypothetically, a defamation case were brought, the falsehood of a statement about a religion can never be established, because religious beliefs are subjectively determined. Furthermore, it is not possible for a judge to render a decision on a matter the very nature of which is inconclusive. By supporting this resolution, the OIC is taking advantage of the public's general lack of knowledge about defamation, which does not include a religion as a protected category.

The third and arguably most threatening category of Lawfare relates to the prosecution of foreign nationals in domestic courts for military and civilian action. With respect to military cases, there is the recent example of the prosecution of Israeli officials by a Spanish Court at the instigation of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, an NGO based in Gaza City. The organization requested that two Israeli officials, National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz be investigated for alleged crimes against humanity for their involvement in the assassination of a Hamas operative in 2002. Invoking the controversial international legal principle of "universal jurisdiction," the Justice of the Spanish Court granted the Palestinian petition.

As distinguished from the criminal jurisdiction of an international tribunal which is exercised by an international organization such as the ICC or the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, universal jurisdiction is exercised by states who feel that it is within their moral obligation to mankind to prosecute individuals who allegedly committed crimes outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of any relation of the person with that state. The claim is premised on the notion that each state has the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Henry Kissinger denounced universal jurisdiction as a breach of state sovereignty and said it creates the risk of universal tyranny by judges.  Despite his objections and by others in the international community, universal jurisdiction persists as evidenced by the prosecution in the Spanish Court.

Prosecutions like the one in Spain pose two dangers. They undermine international sympathy for the plight of the Israeli people, as well as other global citizens, in dealing with terrorism.  But even more significantly, a defeat creates a dangerous precedent for future losses because the standard it sets can be incorporated into mainstream international law by way of customary international law – which is comprised of state practice – the repetition of similar acts by other states over time, and opinio juris – the sense of obligation of all states to act in the same manner.  This would have disastrous consequences for any state in carrying out military actions and would essentially imprison the defendants in their home countries out of concern for being arrested once they step beyond their own borders. This is exemplified in the case of the attempted arrest of Israeli Major General Doron Almog at Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom in September 2005, over accusations by Palestinian groups that he ordered the destruction of more than 50 homes in Gaza in 2002.

In cases against civilian (as opposed to military) personnel, Lawfare in both Western and non-Western domestic courts has also been attempted by Islamic groups with the goal of suppressing the free speech of their critics. To combat anti-Islamic rhetoric in the West, Islamic organizations and individuals have stepped up a legal campaign to silence criticism of Islam through attempts at civil litigation and criminal prosecution of private citizens.

A growing phenomenon called "libel tourism" has gained international notoriety as one of the most broadly threatening means of Lawfare.  Libel tourism is a form of international forum shopping whereby plaintiffs bring defamation lawsuits in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. The United Kingdom, infamously known as the "libel capital of the Western world," has been home to nearly all the libel tourism cases in recent years. What makes British courts so appealing is that libel plaintiffs need not prove the guilt of the accused, but rather the accused must prove their own innocence – the exact opposite of the system in the United States – and often at great cost to themselves and over lengthy periods of time.  In the process, the defendants are also barred from reporting about the subject matter of the ongoing litigation, which often takes years.

In a libel tourism case, free speech is shut down, posing a threat to international security when writers can no longer report about suspicious activity or the sources of terror financing. One of the plaintiffs on the libel circuit is a Saudi citizen named Sheikh Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz who has initiated roughly 40 libel cases in British courts. Two of his cases stand out which exemplify the problem of libel tourism. The first involves the publication of a book called "Alms for Jihad" in which Mahfouz is accused of funding Al-Qaeda. Cambridge University Press, the publisher, removed the book from circulation and destroyed existing copies in order to end the lawsuit that Mahfouz brought against them.

The second is the case of Rachel Ehrenfeld who Mahfouz sued over allegations that he funded terrorist groups in her book entitled "Funding Evil."  As distinguished from the first case which related to a British publication, Ehrenfeld's book was neither published nor distributed in the UK, but the court granted jurisdiction because Mahfouz was able to buy 20 copies of "Funding Evil" on and ship them to England.  Ehrenfeld lost her case in the British Court and was ruled in contempt of court for not submitting to the judgment, putting herself at risk of arrest if she travels to Britain.  However, she appealed to the federal and state courts in New York to protect her from Mahfouz enforcing the judgment in the US, arguing the injustice of being prosecuted under a harsher standard than American law allowed.

In early January 2008, the New York State Assembly introduced the "Libel Terrorism Protection Act" to ensure that foreign judgments that are at odds with American law and public policy will not be enforceable in New York. The Act, signed by the Governor of New York on 30 April 2008, served as the prototype for federal legislation entitled the "Freedom of Speech Protection Act" now under review by the US Congress.  Despite the American attempts to protect its citizens at home, they cannot change British laws. Therefore, libel tourism remains a threat to free speech and consequently to international security.

With regard to domestic criminal prosecutions, Jordan charged 12 Europeans in 2008 with blasphemy, demeaning Islam and Muslim feelings, and slandering and insulting the prophet Muhammad in violation of the Jordanian Penal Code. Eleven of the defendants were Danish journalists involved in publishing a cartoon of Muhammad, and the twelfth was the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders.  Jordan requested that Interpol apprehend the defendants and bring them to trial. The case is pending, but the effect of such prosecutions, if recognized in the West, are self-evident. Countries that do not respect free speech, and whose laws are informed by their religious beliefs, oftentimes antithetical to the values that promote free expression, will be encouraged to follow Jordan's example.  Essentially no one will be safe from being sued abroad in a domestic court.


We cannot ignore Lawfare tactics or downgrade them as benign methods simply because they do not cause physical injury. Lawfare is a serious assault on the ability of free nations and their citizens to exercise their legal rights under both international and domestic law and to live, speak, travel and defend themselves.

Lawfare has developed to combat the terrorists' most enigmatic enemy.  They are not fighting an occupier or challenging a military incursion – they are fighting the forces of freedom, they are fighting the voice of reason, and they are attacking those who have the liberty to speak and act openly. And the weapon that the enemy is using was created by our own hands – that is the rule of law, a weapon designed to subdue dictators and tyrants is now being misused to empower the very same, and being manipulated to subvert real justice and indisputable truth. That is not the purpose the law is designed to serve.

Elizabeth Samson is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute. She is an attorney specializing in international law and constitutional law. This paper is based on her lecture at the BESA Center on February 25, 2009.

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Lieberman: Israel - Russia Strategic Partnership

This Interfax interview may represent more wishful thinking than reality. Would Israel be comfortable in the bear hug of Russia? Of course, it is always good for a would-be bridge to encourage many suitors. It is part of the art of alliances.

Avigdor Lieberman: Russia-Israel relations must rise to strategic partnership level

Relations between Russia and Israel must and can rise to a level of strategic partnership, said Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Israel is Our Home party and a future member of Israel's new coalition government in an interview with Interfax.

        "I've been saying all along that relations between Israel and Russia must rise to a level of strategic partnership. This is even more relevant today, then previously," Lieberman said.

        The Israel is Our Home party won the third largest number of votes in the parliamentary elections and it is involved in the talks on the formation of Israel's new government.

        "However paradoxical it may seem, the global economic crisis gives Israel new opportunities to reach the Russian market, after many of the Western companies abandoned it," the Israeli politician said.

        Lieberman, who co-chaired the Russian-Israeli intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation in 2003-04, said that, the two countries have accomplished "a real breakthrough" in this area, but the potential is far from being exhausted.

        The same refers to military-technical cooperation between Israel and Russia, he said.

        "Israel has quite a few things to offer Russia in this sector - from the electronic stuffing for fighter jets to drones," Lieberman said.

        He told that Israel would attend an international conference on the Middle East in Moscow.

        "Definitely, Israel must and will attend this conference,"  Lieberman said.

        Lieberman is a leader of the party, involved in the talks on the formation of Israel's new government.

        "Any dialogue would only be welcome, especially when this dialogue is within the framework of the Quartet [of international mediators in the settlement] - Russia, the United States, UN and the European Union," Lieberman said.

        "We hope the agenda will be negotiated in advance and we'll try to draw the positions nearer in advance. We see Russia as a very important factor, especially in the Middle East," the Israeli politician said.

        Moscow will host an international conference on the Middle East in the first half of 2009 in continuation of the Middle East conference in Annapolis, U.S., held in November 2007.

        Israeli party leader sees Russia's contacts with Hamas as legitimization of terror.

        Russia must cut short contacts with the Palestinian group Hamas, said the leader of the Israel Is Our Home.

        "It appears to me that Russia must assume a far more balanced position. Clearly, its dialogue with Hamas is unacceptable to us," Lieberman said.

        Lieberman is leader of a party, which came in third in Israel's latest parliamentary polls and which is involved in the talks on the formation of a new government.

        "In my opinion, the highest-level reception at the Russian Foreign Ministry, granted to Hamas representatives in Moscow, is tantamount to legitimizing terror," Lieberman said.

        "Hamas is a flagrant specimen of a terror organization. Hamas has said 'No' to all of the Quartet's demands - to recognize Israel as a state, to recognize all the previous accords between Palestine and Israel, and to repudiate terror," the party leader said. "I therefore think that the invitation and the very presence of the Hamas chiefs in Moscow is a big mistake," he said.

Lieberman stated also that Russia's cooperation with Iran in the nuclear energy sector will not bring any benefits either to Russia, or to Israel, said  Lieberman.

        "Iran is a problem facing the world, not Israel, like North Korea is and Libya was at one time. The moment Iran gains access to nuclear weapons, an insane unconventional arms race will begin in the Middle East. The situation will just get out of control then. This must not be allowed to happen," Lieberman said .

        "Efforts must be made to get the Iranian nuclear program frozen by tightening the sanctions and putting more massive pressure on Iran, using both economic and political methods," he said

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Israel should investigate war crimes allegations

Alan Baker, former Forein Ministry legal adviser got it right:'Israel should preempt war crime charges'. If Israel undertakes a serious investigation, the results will likely not be challenged by the international courts:  

Baker said Israel should investigate the most recent allegations by Physicians for Human Rights, including that Israel "impeded emergency medical evacuation of the sick and wounded" during the Gaza operation...

Baker said that Israel's legal system was widely respected abroad, and that its say on the matter would be respected overseas.

He said, for instance, that the International Criminal Court in The Hague only gets involved in war-crimes cases if the feeling is that the country allegedly responsible was not looking into the matter on its own.

If it appears that Israel is not investigating, other countries and international bodies may feel the need to get involved, he said.

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Guardian becomes Palestinian PR mouthpiece

Well OK, you know it before, but it was not official. They didn't come right out and say it. The Guardian newspaper has been unabashedly anti-Israel for a long time, but until now they pretended to be professional journalists.
All that has changed, because the Guardian has started a campaign to "investigate" Israeli "war crimes" which it is promoting with its own propaganda footage.
Ami Isseroff

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Who is ready to fight anti-Semitism?

 The situation is excellent. Go to any agency, or individual, and they you will find that they are all in unanimous agreement about fighting anti-Semitism. They all agree on two things:
1- It is very urgent that someone should fight anti-Semitism.
2- Someone else should do it.
Who is supposed to come up with the plan to fight anti-Semitism? Someone else should do it - the Jewish agency or the Israeli government.perhaps, or maybe Barack Obama.
Last update - 20:14 16/03/2009

JEWISH WORLD / A plea to Jews everywhere, unprepared to fight anti-Semitism

By Avrum Rosensweig

I have always felt that decency will prevail and that anti-Semitism, racism and hatred wherever they stand will ultimately be contained.

This is the Jewish way. I have faith that evil will eventually scatter and run, and goodness and tolerance will prevail. I have not been shaken from these beliefs, but I am shaken.

Over the last little while, there has been an abundance of news showing anti-Semitism is on the rise in my country, Canada.

A court ruling finding a Native 'elder' accused of spreading hatred against the Jewish people has been overturned. Hooliganism against Jews and Israel Apartheid Week is on our university campuses, and a resolution was passed by an Ontario public employees union barring Israeli academics from speaking and lecturing in our universities.

There is cause for concern and this is Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I can only imagine how the Jews of France must feel.

Of equal concern is the fact that Jewish communities everywhere are once again unprepared to fight anti-Semitism effectively and our leadership has failed, so far, in developing a community mobilization plan.

There are no voices emanating from Israel, the Jewish federations, B'nai Briths or synagogue pulpits letting us know that someone somewhere is working on a collective long term strategy to fight anti-Semitism, protect Israel's reputation, and counter the virulent and aggressive language and activities of news bureaus, online bloggers and website authors.

Simply put, after years of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Holocaust education and buildings memorializing our 'kedoshim', the six million who died, we seemed to have learned very little. We are still far too comfortable and fooled by the success we have discovered; still too reliant on others to protect us, and still blind to the reality that the Jewish world has the ability to create a worldwide community mobilization plan that could stymie much of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel filth emanating from dozens of corners and crannies around the globe, from the Vatican to Venezuela.

So, I call on you, Jewish community members to demand of our leadership a community mobilization plan. Call up your Israel Consular General, Rabbis, leaders of the UJA/Federations, B'nai Briths and other such organizations and ask them where and when you can meet to determine your participation in a plan that will strengthen and protecting the Jewish people.

Ask them what resources are required to make such a plan a reality.

Ask them how we can all work together to create a force, composed of Jews of every denomination, together with our non-Jewish friends, to defend ourselves against the upside-down world that sees us as responsible for the economic downturn, the depression of the Muslim world and any other 'flavor of the month' issue.

Tell them you have some ideas such as: launching a campaign to raise $100 million worldwide to finance this plan ? something we are good at; using the currently available Birthright and March of the Living participants to spearhead a team of young people to counter their anti-Israel and anti-Semitic counterparts; creating a local, national and international team of Jewish bloggers who can counter anti-Semitism online; befriending non-Jews who can aid and assist in our struggle; creating community workshops to meet those people in our community and around the world who are sitting on the anti-Semite fence, or even those who speak negatively about us but can be convinced.

Historically, the Diaspora Jewish communities have never been well prepared to fight anti-Semitism. Israel has been of little help. This is a sad reality and the results have been dismal. But we live in a different world now, one in which battles can be fought over the internet and education of the masses happens through a push of a few buttons.

We have many friends in the Christian, Muslim, Bahia, Buddhist and Hindu world after years of defending them against human rights abuses. We have colleagues in Aboriginal communities and neighbors who respect us for our safe streets.

Our friends are everywhere, from Hungary to New Haven. It is time we call on them for a favor, help and support.

It is time we tap into the available philanthropic funds and no-how that has been built up in every major metropolitan centre in the world, to create a fundraising campaign that will underwrite this plan. Despite recent financial woes and the fifty billion actions of a destructive member of our community, funds are still available and a Community Mobilization emergency campaign will prove that.

If you think this is hyperbole than go to Israel Apartheid Week happening on 42 campuses around the world, and sit in on a lecture or film. Listen closely to the words the speakers will use. You will know the words because they have been spoken before. They are words that marginalize and syllables that when pieced together, stigmatize. They are words that are not foreign to Holocaust survivors.

Call your Jewish leaders and demand a plan. I beg you to do so. Tell them that we need a responsible and aggressive strategy that includes every man, woman and child - one that will fend off fists that try to beat us, shut the mouths that try to break us, and transform hatred into goodness where we are able.

Now is the time, to take action. Your children are expecting you to fight, and every Jew who ever suffered or died at the hands of an anti-Semite is calling out to us.

We will not fail ourselves! We can not. We know too much and are far too talented and resourceful. I believe times have changed. So should you.

I have not been shaken from my beliefs that people are still good, but I am shaken.

Avrum Rosensweig is the founding director of Canada's 'Ve'Ahavta' Jewish humanitarian organization. He can be reached at

Continued (Permanent Link)

Purity of arms - Counterclaims about 'war crimes'

Purity of arms

Mar. 22, 2009

Had the car containing 40 kilograms of explosives detonated shortly after 9:20 p.m. Saturday at the outdoor car park adjacent to Haifa's Lev Hamifratz mall, the death toll would have been shockingly high - the equivalent, the bomb squad said, of seven or eight suicide bombers. Fortunately, the device malfunctioned and was discovered before Palestinian terrorists could turn a night at the mall into a murder-filled nightmare.

The incident reminds us Israelis of what we are up against: an enemy whose main modus operandi is anti-civilian warfare, necessitating that we guard everything from schools and supermarkets to cinemas and hospitals.

Many observers are fascinated by how a largely tolerant Western society, the epicenter of Jewish civilization, manages to function in an environment of relentless belligerency. When those outsiders combine empathy with insight, they tend to judge Israel as a work-in-progress worthy of encouragement despite its multitude of imperfections.

But starry-eyed idealists - at home and abroad - hold Israel to a different standard: Do we conduct ourselves 24/7 as paragons of virtue unhindered by the character flaws that burden ordinary mortals? And when - surprise, surprise - we fall short of this yardstick, they denigrate us as being no better than our enemies.

HOW ELSE to evaluate the so-called testimonies of troops who served in Gaza, solicited and disseminated by Dani Zamir, founder of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College outside Haifa? They allege that due to "loose rules of engagement" several Palestinian civilians were needlessly killed during Operation Cast Lead.

In one of the two most egregious cases, an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. A soldier in Zamir's discussion group, however, felt the sharpshooter hadn't felt "too bad about it." In the second case, a Palestinian woman described as "elderly" was shot at 100 meters as she approached an IDF position (Was she suspected of being a suicide bomber? Zamir's testimonies don't say).

These "revelations" received three consecutive days of page 1 coverage in Haaretz, and were also featured in Friday's Ma'ariv, even though Zamir was disinclined to reveal the identities of his "witnesses." And whether the men who took part in his discussion session were aware their remarks would be publish as "testimony" is unclear.

Zamir's secular young people appeared perturbed by the presence of IDF chaplains in the field, and by the esprit de corps of the religiously observant soldiers.

While the BBC gave scant coverage to the attempted attack in Haifa, it played up Zamir's claims: "Israel troops admit Gaza abuses... including cold-blooded murder."

The International Herald Tribune led its Friday paper with "Grim testimony on Israeli assault: Soldiers report killing of unarmed civilians in Gaza." And London's matchless Independent splashed its entire front page with "Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza."

AS Post diplomatic reporter Herb Keinon noted in the Friday paper - alongside our own coverage of the allegations - Zamir is a man with an agenda. He was sentenced to 28 days in a military lock-up for refusing to protect West Bank settlers. Should the Kibbutz Movement deem him a worthy exemplar to prepare its youngsters for induction into the IDF?

Zamir's "witnesses" see themselves as virtuous upholders of liberal values, and the comrades-in-arms they criticize as religious fanatics, bloodthirsty and fascist.

More "revelations" are coming to light. Channel 10 unearthed a company commander who instructed his men as they were about to go into battle: "I want aggressiveness - if there's someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house, we'll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we'll take it down…If it is us or them, it will be them."

Gosh! How would Zamir have reacted to Gen. George S. Patton's famous line: "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his…."

Zamir's uncorroborated claims help blur the distinction between "us and them." But we don't set out to kill innocents - and if we do, our society feels anguish. They set out to kill civilians - and when they fail, they're disappointed.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

The Ha'aretz blood libel

The Ha'aretz blood libel

Sunday, 22nd March 2009
Melanie Phillips
On his eponymous BBC TV show this morning, I listened open-mouthed as Andrew Marr invited Tory foreign affairs spokesman William Hague to express his views about the
pretty appalling looking reports coming out of Israel where members of the Israeli Defence Force who were involved in the Gaza operation have talked about effectively being told to shoot at civilians.
Hague replied:
Well those are absolutely appalling stories. There is no question about that. We don't yet know the truth of them. I think it's very important to say that. This is evidence that now has to be looked at, of course, by Israel's military investigations unit; and it is a good thing that Israel does have provision for that, for investigating these things and for bringing to book any who were responsible for behaving in such a way. But we will expect… I think across the world, we will expect Israel to deal decisively with anybody who committed such crimes. It will be very important for Israel to do that if it is to keep any moral authority in these situations in the future. So we're all appalled by that and we hope that it will be dealt with.
Of course Hague was careful to say the truth of this evidence was not yet known. But there is no evidence.  So far, there is simply nothing to prove or disprove from these reports of the soldiers' discussion carried in Ha'aretz last week, here and here -- just innuendo, rumour and hearsay, demonstrably (read the second account) wrenched out of context and refracted through the patent prejudice of the soldiers' instructor Danny Zamir, an ultra-leftist who had previously been jailed for refusing to guard settlers at a religious ceremony and who said of the soldiers who spoke at the meeting in question that they  reflected an atmosphere inside the army of 'contempt for, and forcefulness against, the Palestinians.'
So what are these
pretty appalling looking reports
absolutely appalling stories?
There are precisely two charges of gratuitous killing of Palestinian civilians under allegedly explicit orders to do so. One is what even Ha'aretz made clear was an accidental killing, when two women misunderstood the evacuation route the Israeli soldiers had given them and walked into a sniper's gunsights as a result. Moreover, the soldier who said this has subsequently admitted he didn't see this incident – he wasn't even in Gaza at the time – and had merely reported rumour and hearsay.
The second charge is based on a supposedly real incident in which, when an elderly woman came close to an IDF unit, an officer ordered that they shoot her because she was approaching the line and might have been a suicide bomber. The soldier relating this story did not say whether or not the woman in this story actually was shot. Indeed, since he says 'from the description of what happened' it would appear this was merely hearsay once again. And his interpretation was disputed by another soldier who said:
She wasn't supposed to be there, because there were announcements and there were bombings. Logic says she shouldn't be there. The way you describe it, as murder in cold blood, that isn't right.
So two non-atrocity atrocities, then. What else?
Soldiers mouthing off -- in conversations of near-impenetrable incoherence – that instructions to kill everyone who remained in buildings designated as terrorist targets after the IDF had warned everyone inside to get out amounted to instructions to murder in cold blood. There cannot be an army in the world which would not issue precisely such instructions in such circumstances, where Hamas had boasted it had booby-trapped the entire area. 
Gloating graffiti left in the houses of presumed terrorists.
Tasteless T-shirts emblazoned with motifs crowing about killing, condemned immediately by the IDF.
Rabbis distributing to soldiers psalms and religious opinions about the conflict.
That's it. Not one single verifiable actual incident of intentional killing of civilians. No evidence whatever of any such rogue incidents -- let alone any order by the IDF to tear up its actual rules of engagement which forbade the deliberate targeting of civilians. Talk by one soldier about the IAF having killed a lot of people before the soldiers went in contradicted by another who said:
They dropped leaflets over Gaza and would sometimes fire a missile from a helicopter into the corner of some house, just to shake up the house a bit so everyone inside would flee. These things worked. The families came out, and really people [i.e., soldiers] did enter houses that were pretty empty, at least of innocent civilians. [my emphasis]
Funny sort of unethical military behaviour, that goes to some lengths to empty houses of civilians before storming them. Indeed, the soldiers' discussion contains more such material totally contradicting the impression of gross violations of ethics. Such as this:
'I am a platoon sergeant in an operations company of the Paratroops Brigade. We were in a house and discovered a family inside that wasn't supposed to be there. We assembled them all in the basement, posted two guards at all times and made sure they didn't make any trouble. Gradually, the emotional distance between us broke down - we had cigarettes with them, we drank coffee with them, we talked about the meaning of life and the fighting in Gaza. After very many conversations the owner of the house, a man of 70-plus, was saying it's good we are in Gaza and it's good that the IDF is doing what it is doing.
The next day we sent the owner of the house and his son, a man of 40 or 50, for questioning. The day after that, we received an answer: We found out that both are political activists in Hamas. That was a little annoying - that they tell you how fine it is that you're here and good for you and blah-blah-blah, and then you find out that they were lying to your face the whole time.
What annoyed me was that in the end, after we understood that the members of this family weren't exactly our good friends and they pretty much deserved to be forcibly ejected from there, my platoon commander suggested that when we left the house, we should clean up all the stuff, pick up and collect all the garbage in bags, sweep and wash the floor, fold up the blankets we used, make a pile of the mattresses and put them back on the beds.
... 'There was one day when a Katyusha, a Grad, landed in Be'er Sheva and a mother and her baby were moderately to seriously injured. They were neighbors of one of my soldiers. We heard the whole story on the radio, and he didn't take it lightly - that his neighbors were seriously hurt. So the guy was a bit antsy, and you can understand him. To tell a person like that, 'Come on, let's wash the floor of the house of a political activist in Hamas, who has just fired a Katyusha at your neighbors that has amputated one of their legs' - this isn't easy to do, especially if you don't agree with it at all. When my platoon commander said, 'Okay, tell everyone to fold up blankets and pile up mattresses,' it wasn't easy for me to take. There was lot of shouting. In the end I was convinced and realized it really was the right thing to do. Today I appreciate and even admire him, the platoon commander, for what happened there. In the end I don't think that any army, the Syrian army, the Afghani army, would wash the floor of its enemy's houses, and it certainly wouldn't fold blankets and put them back in the closets.'
This is what instructor Danny Zamir described as
'contempt for, and forcefulness against, the Palestinians.'
No mention of any of that in the world's media, is there? Do you think Andrew Marr or William Hague read those bits? Do me the proverbial. All they've picked up and run with is the lazy and malicious boilerplate carefully spun by Ha'aretz: rumour and hearsay about two incidents related by two soldiers (one of whom wasn't even in Gaza) -- one an accidental killing, the other maybe not a killing at all -- plus some wild mouthing-off by soldiers, some unpleasant graffiti, ditto T-shirts, plus some leaflets by unidentified rabbis making statements that carry no weight with the IDF or reflect Israeli policy whatsoever. 
On that basis, however, it's proof positive for the likes of Andrew Marr, William Hague, the New York Times, Guardian, Independent, BBC and Uncle Tom Israelbasher and all, that yes!! Israel is now shown (unless specifically disproved -- and how do you disprove something for which  no evidence is offered whatever?) to have been committing atrocities after all in Gaza; and so has now forfeit what remains of its moral authority, which was already hanging by a thread as a result of all the previous blood libels, and almost certainly its right to exist at all.
This is not just bigotry. It is medieval witch-hunt territory. And it's global.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Is the Middle East Ready for Democracy?

It seems to me that there is some confusion here between promoting democracy, which is a good thing, and promoting anti-democratic extremists. Agreed that open elections are probably a really bad idea in Egypt at the moment and in some other places such as Syria. If they held elections in medieval France, they would've voted to murder the Jews and burn the Witches. But the real question is whether or not the US should pursue policies that help make the countries of the Middle East ready for democracy.   Rubin asks:
But why should the United States pursue a policy that we have every reason to believe will be catastrophic: namely, pushing for a situation in which radical Islamists are more likely to take over.
The US should not push for such a policy. But US failure to pressure the Shah to institute reforms resulted in disaster in Iran, and US failure to insist on transparency and good government in the Fatah resulted in another failure and helped bring the Hamas  to power. Since they took over the government by force, it is probable they would have done so eventually even without the ill-fated elections. Talking to Hamas  and Hezbollah will not promote democracy or help the people of the Middle East, but not requiring minmal democratic reforms in places like Egypt and Afghanistan is helping to bring extremists to power. The latter policies result from too much "realism:" :" We can work with this guy. He is our SOB."
Ami Isseroff
By Barry Rubin
  Democracy is a great idea; open elections are ideally the best way to choose governments; dialogue with everyone is wonderful in theory. But in the Middle East, unfortunately, as a policy this would be a disaster.

It is not Western policy but local conditions which are going to determine whether there will be democracy in the Arabic-speaking world. In my book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), I analyze both the debate and the existing groups. The assessment must be pessimistic.

Would we like to see liberal democracy and moderation prevail with rising living standards and more freedom? Of course, but the real question is what effect certain policies would have.
The Western debate gets stranger and stranger. Among the policymaking classes, there's a prevailing view that the Bush administration was a disaster. The rather misleading description for those who advocated a US policy of promoting democracy and overthrowing dictators — "neo-conservative" — has become among such people a curse word implying stupid and evil.

Why, then, does the debate seem to be between those who now run most Western governments and want to engage with the worst, most dangerous extremists and those who want to promote democracy by opening up the political process to the... worst, most dangerous extremists?
WHATEVER BECAME of good old-fashioned realism, the breakfast of champions in diplomacy for centuries? Realism, a term that has been hijacked lately far more than Islam, means to base a policy on the actually existing situation rather than one's wish-list, building alliances on the basis of common interests. It does not mean embracing your worst enemies while kicking those with common interests in the groin. Nor does it mean acting like the nerdy kid groveling in the hope that it will make the popular guys like him. And it also doesn't mean ignoring adversaries' ideologies and goals.

Is it really so hard to understand that US policy should be based on working closely with Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon (moderates, not Iranian-Syrian agents), Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf emirates? Is it really so hard to understand that US policy should also be based on combating Iran, Syria, Sudan, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhoods, as well as al-Qaida?

We saw what happened in Iran after experts predicted in 1978 that anything would be better than the shah and that moderates would inevitably prevail.

We saw what happened with the Palestinian elections, for while Fatah was no prize, Hamas is far worse and eager for bloodshed. We are about to see what will happen with Lebanese elections which are nominally democratic but influenced by Iranian-Syrian money and intimidation, as a government emerges likely to lead Lebanon into the Iranian bloc.

In Turkey, the several-times-elected AK regime, although still presented internationally as a model moderate Muslim government, is engaged in systematically Islamizing institutions and taking the country down a road leading closer to Teheran than to Washington.
I DO NOT LIKE saying this because I know many courageous liberal dissidents and would like them to win. US and Western policy should always press for their rights, against their imprisonment.

But why should the United States pursue a policy that we have every reason to believe will be catastrophic: namely, pushing for a situation in which radical Islamists are more likely to take over.

Examples have been given of people who might be expected to be liberal preferring to back Islamist parties. But Egypt is virtually the only place this seems to be happening. Elsewhere, people who might be expected to be liberal are supporting the existing regimes out of fear of Islamists. I think that Egypt is a misleading case for that reason. And in Egypt, the leading "liberal" group has now been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood and spouts a very radical anti-American line.

Do we really want to contribute to subverting the Egyptian regime, with all its faults, and making the Brotherhood more powerful? The reaction is arrogance on the part of the radicals and despair among the moderates. The liberals conclude, you hear this all the time in Turkey, that America wants the Islamists to win.

I don't prefer this situation. I don't like it. But in a world where Islamists seek to overthrow nationalists, in which an Iranian-Syrian led alliance is trying to gain hegemony in much of the region, I feel that Western policy needs to back the regimes against the revolutionaries.

There are some ethnic or religious communities which have an interest in supporting a moderate democratic approach. At present, this includes Iraqi Kurds and Shi'ites; Lebanese Sunni Arabs, Christians and Druse; and the Berbers of the Maghreb. These are, however, special cases.

There are also very systematic campaigns to fool well-intentioned, gullible Westerners. These are often carried out by having moderate statements in English directed to a foreign audience and revolutionary extremist ones in Arabic directed at one's own society. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has created a very nicely done English-language Web site that would make it seem the organization is something between the Democratic Party and the March of Dimes.

If the West engages with Hamas, Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhoods, while working to create a situation in which these groups can compete for power more effectively, the results will be disastrous both for the West and for the Arabs who become victims of the resulting Islamist regimes. No argument, no matter how sincerely heartfelt or superficially clever, alters that fact. That is a tragedy, but in policy terms it is also a necessity to deal with the reality of Middle East polities and societies.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Meh-meh, Boom Boom: Egypt seizes TNT, sheep on way to Gaza

Egypt seizes TNT, sheep on way to Gaza

Mar. 23, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST

Egyptian police seized five tons of cement and found a half ton cache of TNT hidden near the Gazan border, a security official said Monday.

In addition, police grabbed a flock of 560 sheep set to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels.

The flock was discovered on Sunday night, near the entrances to six tunnels in the Salah el-Din district north of the Rafah border crossing, the official said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Four out of the six tunnels were at comparatively large at three-meters in diameter, the official added.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran targets the US

Iran targets the US

Mar. 22, 2009
yoram ettinger , THE JERUSALEM POST

The prevention of a nuclear Iran constitutes a top US national security priority. It sheds light on a special aspect of US-Israel relationship: defiance of mutual threats.

Iran pursues nuclear capabilities to advance strategic goals, which are led by the super-goal: hegemony over the Persian Gulf and its natural resources. Those who undermine the super-goal are considered super-enemies, targeted by super-capabilities. Hence, Teheran would use its nuclear power/threat, first and foremost, to force the US and NATO out of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. It would then turn it against Iraq - its arch rival since the seventh century - and against Saudi Arabia, which is considered an apostate regime. All Gulf states are perceived by Iran as a key prize, required in order to control the flow and the price of oil and to bankroll its megalomaniac regional and global aspirations (e.g. leading Islam's drive to dominate the globe).

The Jewish state constitutes a non-Gulf basin target for Iran, not a primary target. Moreover, Israel is expected to retaliate in a traumatic manner, which would paralyze much of Iran's military and civilian infrastructure. Therefore, Iran would not sacrifice its super-goal (forcing the US out of the Gulf and subjugating the Gulf states) on the altar of a secondary-goal (obliterating the Jewish state).

FOR THE US AND ISRAEL, the preferred option against Iran is preemption rather than retaliation. Recent precedents suggest that the two countries benefit from leveraging each other's unique experience, as well as from bold unilateral military action against rogue threats.

In September 2007, the IAF destroyed a Syrian-North Korean nuclear plant, extending the US's strategic arm. It provided the US with vital information on Russian air defense systems, which are also employed by Iran. It bolstered the US posture of deterrence and refuted the claim that US-Israel relations have been shaped by political expediency.

In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor, providing the US with a conventional option in 1991 and 2003, preventing a mega-billion dollar, mega-casualty nuclear war. In 1970, while the US was bogged down in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Israel forced the rollback of a pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of pro-US Jordan. It prevented a pro-Soviet "domino effect" into the Persian Gulf, which would have shattered US economy.

In 2009, Israel shares with the US its battle-tested experience in combating Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorism, which are the role model of anti-US Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. US GIs benefit from Israel's battle tactics against car bombs, improvised explosive devices and homicide bombing. An Israel-like ally in the Persian Gulf would have spared the need to dispatch US troops to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE and NATO commander Alexander Haig refers to the Jewish state as the largest cost-effective, combat-experienced US aircraft carrier that does not require US personnel, cannot be sunk and is located in a most critical region for US national security interests.

While the US has been Israel's indispensable ally, Israel's battle experience has been integrated into the US defense industry. For example, the F-16 includes more than 600 Israeli modifications, sparing the US a mega-billion dollar and a multi-year research and development budget. A litany of state-of-the-art US military systems have been upgraded in a similar manner, enhancing US national and homeland security and expanding US employment and exports.

Iran's nuclear threat is a symptom of endemic Middle East violent unpredictability and Muslim hostility toward Western democracies. It calls for an upgraded US-Israel win-win relationship, which requires a strong Israel as a national security producer. A weak Israel, pushed into a nine-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, pressured to concede the mountain ridges of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, relying on foreign troops and guarantees, would become a national security consumer. It would be a burden rather than an asset to the US in a bad neighborhood, which is crucial for vital US interests.

Iran would benefit from an ineffective Israel. However, the US would have to deploy to the eastern flank of the Mediterranean real aircraft carriers and tens of thousands of US servicemen, costing scores of billions of dollars annually, denied the benefits of Israel - the largest US aircraft carrier, which does not require a single US sailor.

The writer is chairman of special projects at the Ariel Center for Policy Research.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Unpleasant truths about the peace process

This two part analysis really hurts, as truth often does. It should not be an occasion for gloating by right wing Zionists, but an occasion for thought. Granted that the peace process is all process and no peace, what other options are there? Is it up to Israel or to  the US to say "OK guys, let's get serious?" And if we say it, or the US says it, will it do any good? Can the Palestinians say in return, likewise, "Let's get serious?"
Failure of Israeli-Palestinian talks due in large part to Western dishonesty

Moshe Elad
Published:  03.21.09, 16:24 / Israel Opinion
Part 1 of analysis
As a new government prepares to take office in Israel, and on the verge of a new Western campaign for realizing the notion of a "two-state solution," it would be proper to look into the adoption of new negotiations patterns that may be able to end the dead-end.

In their current format, the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been fully exhausted, mostly as result of the absence of frankness and openness, as well as the unsuccessful attempts to circumvent the truth behind the difficulties. For example, there are several misguided terms that must be removed from the peace process lexicon.

Enjoying the 'process' too much
The first one is the statement that "the most important thing is that we're talking." For years, the United States and international Quartet have viewed the "peace process" as an achievement in and of itself while pressing to continue with it.
 There are quite a few people on both sides who truly fell in love with this futile "process." No doubt, it serves to neutralize pressures on the West on the part of Arab states while curbing pressures within "moderate" Arab states on the part of pro-Islamic elements.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians enjoy their attachment to the "process" in the form of monetary rewards, prisoner releases, and the various concessions offered on occasion. Israel is forced into a futile and pointless "process" in its current format, and it mostly finds itself on the side that gives and pays.
Israel should enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, but only after several pre-conditions are met, one of them being that the "process" is not the essence.

No negotiation without representation
The second statement that raises question marks over the honesty and frankness of the negotiators is that "Mahmoud Abbas represents the Palestinian people."
 Indeed, he represents the Palestinians just as much as the Persian Shah represented the Iranians in the wake of the Khomeini revolution. The Shah was indeed convenient for the West, but the Iranian people held different views.
Again, the West is looking for the convenient option, while we, as its submissive slaves, accept the "moderate suit-wearing leader" as the ultimate dialogue partner.
 Why does the West believe that Israel can trust a Palestinian leader who does not at all control his own people and who does not at all represent them? After all, signing an agreement with him would be problematic to begin with. Why not put Abbas' level of control to the test, and only after that view him as a legitimate dialogue partner?

Being honest about issues
The third statement borders on a failure to tell the truth: "The sides are discussing the issue of the right of return." Come on. The Palestinians never compromised on their major demand to bring back the refugees to the Land of Israel, including the areas within the "Green Line."
 By doing so, they have neutralized any possibility of a genuine peace process and prevented any chance of ending the conflict and reaching a historic compromise.
Any attempt to elicit a message of compromise or flexibility from the Palestinians on the subject is always undertaken on Israel's initiative, and the Palestinian side always denies it quickly.
Those deeply familiar with the status of and part played by the "right of return" within the Palestinian heritage realizes that no Palestinian human being would dare make any concessions on the matter, so why be deceptive and make false statements?
Therefore, the West, which fears that the "process" will end right at its outset, guided both sides to postpone discussions on the issue of the "right of return" to the end, and meanwhile both sides can amuse themselves in dealing with easier matters such as Jerusalem, the future of the settlements, and the borders…however, on those issues too, no substantive agreement has been reached thus far.
Europe, US urging Israel to embark on failed moves as part of 'peace process'
Moshe Elad
Published:  03.22.09, 11:19 / Israel Opinion
Part 2 of analysis
Recently, we have been hearing a demand to "bring Hamas into the political framework." Unsurprisingly, we were told that Hamas is about to comply with Fatah's request to join a Palestinian national unity government.

If President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the international Quartet indeed desire a real peace process, they must refresh the framework of the negotiations so that the notion of "talks not at any price" would be no less important that falling in love with a futile process. Presenting conditions for talks would point to seriousness and practicality.
For that reason, when it comes to the main hardcore issue, the "right of return," discussions on the subject must be undertaken at the start of the process, even before Israel makes the first concession. The West must remove the "return mask" from the Palestinians' face and force them to compromise on this issue (something that has not happened to this day) as a pre-condition for any further moves.

Western representatives should also look into the implications of signing a future agreement with Abbas, as the West may be greatly embarrassed to discover that Abbas may leave to a safe house in exile hours after signing a peace treaty.

The West must also be honest with itself in respect to Hamas' genuine intentions. The Palestinians taught us that not everyone who is interested in peace is able to also take the responsibility of implementing it. Meanwhile, Europe showed us how to postpone the addition of backward and unprepared states to the European Union, yet it forces us to accept such state as a partner for peace dialogue.
Elsewhere, the United States, which has failed in "taming Iraq" as result of a patronizing and anachronistic approach, is urging us to move quickly in order to fail similarly. And all of this is taking place under the guise of the "peace process."

Colonel (res.) Moshe Elad served as the head of the security coordination mechanism with the Palestinian Authority in the Oslo Accord period. Today he is a lecturer at the Western Galilee Academic College

Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran Has Started a Middle East Nuclear Arms Race

Iran did not start the Middle East arms race, but they certainly have started a nuclear arms race. The complacency of the US in the face of this development is amazing. The fact that Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, may become a Taliban state, is equally (or more?) frightening. Nobody seems to be very worried.
Iran Has Started a Mideast Arms Race
States throughout the region are looking to establish nuclear programs.

In the capitals of Western nations, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man regarded as the father of the Pakistani atom bomb, is regarded as a maverick with a criminal past. In addition to his well-documented role in developing a nuclear device for Pakistan, he helped Iran and North Korea with their nuclear programs.
But since his release from house arrest a month ago, Mr. Khan has entertained a string of official visitors from across the Middle East. All come with messages of sympathy; and some governments in that region are looking to him for the knowledge and advice they need to fast track their own illicit nuclear projects.
Make no mistake: The Middle East may be on the verge of a nuclear arms race triggered by the inability of the West to stop Iran's quest for a bomb. Since Tehran's nuclear ambitions hit the headlines five years ago, 25 countries -- 10 of them in the greater Middle East -- have announced plans to build nuclear power plants for the first time.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Oman) set up a nuclear exploratory commission in 2007 to prepare a "strategic report" for submission to the alliance's summit later this year. But Saudi Arabia is not waiting for the report. It opened negotiations with the U.S. in 2008 to obtain "a nuclear capacity," ostensibly for "peaceful purposes."
Egypt also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement, with France, last year. Egyptian leaders make no secret of the fact that the decision to invest in a costly nuclear industry was prompted by fears of Iran. "A nuclear armed Iran with hegemonic ambitions is the greatest threat to Arab nations today," President Hosni Mubarak told the Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.
Last November, France concluded a similar nuclear cooperation accord with the UAE, promising to offer these oil-rich lands "a complete nuclear industry." According to the foreign ministry in Paris, the French are building a military base close to Abu Dhabi ostensibly to protect the nuclear installations against "hostile action," including the possibility of "sensitive material" being stolen by terrorist groups or smuggled to Iran.
The UAE, to be sure, has signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. forswearing the right to enrich uranium or produce plutonium in exchange for American nuclear technology and fuel. The problem is that the UAE's commercial hub, the sheikhdom of Dubai, has been the nerve center of illicit trade with Iran for decades, according to Western and Arab intelligence. Through Dubai, stolen U.S. technology and spent fuel needed for producing raw material for nuclear weapons could be smuggled to Iran.
Qatar, the smallest GCC member by population, is also toying with the idea of creating a nuclear capability. According to the Qatari media, it is shopping around in the U.S., France, Germany and China.
Newly liberated Iraq has not been spared by the new nuclear fever. Recall the history. With help from France, Iraq developed a nuclear capacity in the late 1970s to counterbalance its demographic inferiority vis-à-vis Iran. In 1980, Israel destroyed Osirak, the French-built nuclear center close to Baghdad, but Saddam Hussein restored part of that capacity between 1988 and 1991. What he rebuilt was dismantled by the United Nations' inspectors between 1992 and 2003. But with Saddam dead and buried, some Iraqis are calling for a revival of the nation's nuclear program as a means of deterring "bullying and blackmail from the mullahs in Tehran," as parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq has put it.
"A single tactical nuclear attack on Basra and Baghdad could wipe out a third of our population," a senior Iraqi official told me, on condition of anonymity. Since almost 90% of Iraqis live within 90 miles of the Iranian border, the "fear is felt in every town and village," he says.
Tehran, meanwhile, is playing an active part in proliferation. So far, Syria and Sudan have shown interest in its nuclear technology, setting up joint scientific committees with Iran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Iranian media reports say Tehran is also setting up joint programs with a number of anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, notably Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, bringing proliferation to America's backyard.
According to official reports in Tehran, in 2006 and 2007 the Islamic Republic also initialed agreements with China to build 20 nuclear-power stations in Iran. The first of these stations is already under construction at Dar-Khuwayn, in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan close to the Iraqi border.
There is no doubt that the current nuclear race in the Middle East is largely prompted by the fear of a revolutionary Iran using an arsenal as a means of establishing hegemony in the region. Iran's rivals for regional leadership, especially Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are aware of the propaganda appeal of the Islamic Republic's claim of being " the first Muslim superpower" capable of defying the West and rivaling it in scientific and technological fields. In that context, Tehran's development of long-range missiles and the Muslim world's first space satellite are considered political coups.
Mohamed al Quwaihis, a member of Saudi Arabia's appointed parliament, the Shura Council, warns of Iran's growing influence. Addressing the Shura Council earlier this month, he described Iranian interferences in Arab affairs as "overt," and claimed that Iran is "endeavoring to seduce the Gulf States, and recruit some of the citizens of these countries to work for its interests."
The Shura devoted a recent session to "the Iranian threat," insisting that unless Tehran abandoned its nuclear program, Saudi Arabia should lead the Arabs in developing their own "nuclear response." The debate came just days after the foreign ministry in Riyadh issued a report identifying the Islamic Republic's nuclear program as the "principal security threat to Arab nations."
A four-nation Arab summit held in the Saudi capital on March 11 endorsed that analysis, giving the green light for a pan-Arab quest for "a complete nuclear industry." Such a project would draw support from Pakistan, whose nuclear industry was built with Arab money. Mr. Khan and his colleagues have an opportunity to repay that debt by helping Arabs step on a ladder that could lead them to the coveted "threshold" to becoming nuclear powers in a few years' time.
Earlier this month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the retiring head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has become a blunt instrument in preventing a nuclear arms race. Meanwhile, the U.S., France, Russia and China are competing for nuclear contracts without developing safeguards to ensure that projects which start as peaceful undertakings are not used as cover for clandestine military activities.
The Obama administration should take the growing threat of nuclear proliferation seriously. It should try to provide leadership in forging a united response by the major powers to what could become the world's No. 1 security concern within the next few years.
Mr. Taheri's new book, "The Persian Night: Iran Under The Khomeinist Revolution," is published by Encounter Books.

Continued (Permanent Link)

PA: Haifa car bomb attempt was Iranian payback for Moughnieh hit

It seems that every mysterious terrorist blast is going to be connected with Moughnieh now. An argument that Iran was behind the attempted bombing, "The planning was very sophisticated." An argument that Iran was NOT behind the bombing, however, is that both bombs fizzled. When Iranians or Hezbollah bomb something, it stays bombed.  
A senior source in the Palestinian Authority told Haaretz Sunday that he suspects Hezbollah or another organization with links to Iran was behind the attempted bombing of the Lev Hamifratz shopping mall in Haifa on Saturday night.
According to the source, the PA holds definitive intelligence that Hezbollah has been trying for some time to recruit members of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in an attempt to get operatives of those terror groups to carry out an attack in Israel.
The aim of the Lebanese Shi'ite group is to carry out a massive terrorist attack that would avenge the assassination of its mastermind terrorist, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus in February 2008, the Palestinian source said. Hezbollah blames Israel for Mughniyeh's death.
Last week, two police officers were killed in the Jordan Valley, and an anonymous caller claimed responsibility in the name of the Mughniyeh Units.
In recent weeks there has been a slight increase in the number of attempted attacks on both sides of the Green Line, leading security forces to examine the possibility that some of the events may be linked. All the same, a Shin Bet security service official said there was nothing to suggest an overall upsurge of terror.
"During the past months there have been warnings for pending attacks," the source said yesterday. "But we do not identify an unusual trend suggesting a renewed wave of terrorism."
The investigation of the attempted bombing, some details of which are still under a gag order, suggests that it was an unusually sophisticated plan, and officials suspect the know-how came from abroad.
The terror attack was thwarted when police sappers disarmed a bomb weighing dozens of kilograms in a car outside the mall Saturday night. An organization calling itself the Galilee Freedom Fighters claimed responsibility Saturday, but security officials said they doubted the veracity of the claim.
The bomb had the potential to cause enormous destruction, said Yossi Malka, a police sapper involved in defusing the bomb.
"We can compare the potential blast to 15 suicide bombers exploding at once," he said.
As a result of the bombing attempt, security at malls and public institutions throughout the city was stepped up Sunday.
Police are trying to locate a woman who reported to a mall security guard that a sedan had exploded in the unguarded parking lot near the mall and that its trunk had popped open. The guard, who had seen the car entering the lot at high speed a few minutes earlier, called the police.
Sappers said one part of the device had gone off prematurely and another had failed to detonate.
Eli Gatnio, the first sapper to reach the car bomb, said there were dozens of kilograms of explosives and metal balls in a bag, which "were packed into various packages that included all the components of a bomb." He identified the car as containing a "live bomb," rather than merely a vehicle that aroused suspicion, and got into the car to disable the explosive immediately. He was joined by three other sappers several minutes later.
"The immediate urgency of dismantling the bomb and the presence of so many people in the area meant that we had to feel and smell the explosive, physically deal with the components rather than doing it from a distance, with a robot," said Gatnio. "Most of the bomb was dismantled by hand."
The entire operation lasted about half an hour, though the lab analysis of the evidence and the search for suspects in the area took longer.
"During the incident we are focused and think of nothing else, not children, or family," Malka said, attributing his officers' skill to their training.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that a "miracle" had prevented a huge terror attack from taking place in Haifa. The prime minister also said Hamas was seeking to establish itself in the West Bank and use it as a base for terror attacks against Israel.
"We are treating the attempted attack in Haifa with great gravity," Olmert said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "A huge disaster was prevented by a miracle."
"We shouldn't delude ourselves - attempts at terror attacks have continued and will continue," he said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Zionists 'wear the label proudly'

To anyone who knows the history of Bnai Brith, this letter is rather extraordinary. It shows how far this organization has come since its foundation.
"Kol Hakavod."
National Post  Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Re: CAF Chief Alleges 'Zionist Campaign,' March 9.
Canadian Arab Federation president Khaled Mouammar has accused B'nai Brith Canada of waging a "Zionist campaign" to silence Arab Canadians. His claim that Jewish groups have co-opted media outlets, such as the National Post, and even the government, to do their bidding smacks of age-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
B'nai Brith Canada continues to urge all concerned Canadians to speak out against Islamist terrorism perpetrated by such groups as Hamas and Hezbollah, which deliberately target Israeli civilians. We especially encourage Arab Canadians -- who know firsthand the realities of the Middle East and understand only too well how populations can be held hostage by the warped agenda of Islamist terrorists -- to voice their opposition to these destructive forces.
Yes, Mr. Mouammar, we are Zionists who wear the label proudly. We will continue to oppose each and every effort that seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state and its supporters. We will denounce those voices promoting hate, whether emanating from Canadian universities, unions or from the head of an Arab organization whose mandate to settle newcomers to this country has been seriously put into question.
Frank Dimant, executive vice-president, B'nai Brith Canada, Toronto.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New American Intelligence Assessmen on Iranian Nuclear Weapons

The new NIE regarding Iran was prepared by Dennis Blair, who will be remembered for trying to hire Charles Freeman. Freeman made no attempt to hide the fact that he and Blar intended to use the intelligence arm to force a revolution in US Middle East strategy. In this way, intelligence reports become meaningless reflections of the preconceptions of those who prepared them, rather than factual reports.
America's Intelligence Assessment on the Iranian Nuclear Issue
 INSS Insight No. 98, March 19, 2009
Kam, Ephraim

In February 2009, the American intelligence community published the unclassified portion of the intelligence assessment regarding threats directed against the United States.[1] The intelligence report, signed by Admiral Dennis Blair, the new Director of National Intelligence, includes a section on the Iranian nuclear issue. The new intelligence assessment does not differ in essence from the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian issue, which sparked much criticism in Israel and the United States for downplaying the nuclear question. However, the emphases of the new report differ in part from those of the preceding one.

The new intelligence report is in part similar to the 2007 estimate:

1.      The new assessment repeats the previous finding that in 2003 Iran froze its military nuclear program, which included attempts at converting fissile materials into weapons, clandestine uranium conversions, and other activities connected to the process of enriching uranium. The new report determines that this freeze lasted at least until the middle of 2007, and that there is no information indicating that the program was resumed. American intelligence does not have enough information to determine with certainty if Iran is prepared to continue the freeze on its military nuclear program.

The new assessment also allows a measure of doubt as to whether Iran has made a final decision on producing nuclear weapons. Thus, it determines that the American intelligence community does not know if Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons, and notes twice that "Iran could develop nuclear weapons" should it decide to do so.
Similar to the 2007 report, the new assessment also notes that Iran retains the option to develop nuclear weapons, and that it possesses the technological infrastructure that would allow it to develop nuclear weapons.

The timetable involved in Iran obtaining nuclear weapons has not changed. According to the assessment, Iran will be able to produce high quality enriched uranium in quantities sufficient for nuclear weapons between 2010 and 2015 (though according to assessment of the US State Department research units, not before 2013).
Nevertheless, the new report treats the risk of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons with greater gravity than the previous report in two ways:
The new assessment particularly emphasizes that Iran is making significant progress in at least two of the areas relevant to producing nuclear weapons: enriching uranium, which would allow the production of fissile material to produce nuclear weapons, and manufacturing and improving ballistic missiles as launching vehicles capable of carrying a nuclear payload. Whereas the 2007 report placed its emphasis on the freezing of the Iranian program, the new assessment focuses on the progress made in these two areas.

The new report estimates that Iran seems to have succeeded in importing some fissile material, though not in quantities sufficient to produce nuclear weapons. The report does not rule out the possibility that Iran has either already obtained or will at some future point obtain nuclear weapons or fissile material in sufficient quantities for nuclear weapons from abroad. However, according to the American intelligence assessment, Iran today does not have nuclear weapons, and to date has not obtained fissile material in quantities sufficient to produce nuclear weapons. In this sense, the assessment does not support the statement by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, who at the end of February claimed that Iran has enough fissile material to produce a bomb.

The new intelligence assessment also refers to the possibility of stopping Iran before it attains nuclear weapons. According to the assessment, only a political decision on the part of Iran's leadership to renounce the goal of attaining nuclear weapons will stop Iran's quest for this type of weapon. However, convincing Iranian leaders to renounce this goal will be difficult because of the connection Iran sees between possessing nuclear weapons and its own national security and because of the efforts Iran has already invested in realizing this goal. The report adds that there is a possibility that a composite of threats and pressures, together with the creation of alternative ways for Iran to advance its national security, may motivate Iran to stop striving for nuclear weapons, but that it is very difficult to say what such a composite would be.
The new American intelligence estimate has thus far not received the kind of special attention as did the intelligence estimate of December 2007. Still the new estimate is of great significance because this is the first intelligence assessment placed on President Obama's desk, and specifically on the Iranian nuclear situation. It is expected to guide him in the near future as he determines his policy towards Iran, including his attempt to develop a meaningful dialogue with it.

The message emerging from this estimate is not unequivocal. On the one hand, it points to Iran's significant progress towards nuclear weapons in at least two of the three areas contributing to their development – but not in all three. The conclusion regarding the third – converting fissile material into weapons – remains open. The estimate even raises the possibility that Iran might leap ahead in its pursuit of nuclear weapons should it manage to obtain fissile material in sufficient quantities to make a bomb from abroad, or might even obtain the bomb itself. On the other side, the estimate does not convey a sense of urgency, and more important, it casts doubt on Iran's having made the final decision to go ahead with the production of nuclear weapons, even though it continues to keep the option on the table and has the technological capability of fulfilling to do so.
Furthermore, the conclusion of the American intelligence community about stopping Iran before it obtains nuclear weapons is also equivocal. It feels that it may be possible to stop Iran by a combination of pressures and enticements. The fact that Iran froze its military nuclear program in 2003 supports that point, yet it would nonetheless be difficult to achieve because Iran views its nuclear program as a vital national project. It is also not clear what precise combination of pressures and enticements would be able to convince Iran to renounce the goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.

Essentially, the American intelligence community still clings to the basis of its December 2007 estimate, with a change of emphases and formulation. The previous estimate of the American intelligence community of February 2008 – written just two months after the December 2007 estimate and in light of the criticism leveled against that report – deleted the doubts about Iran's intention of developing nuclear weapons.[2] In the new estimate of February 2009, these doubts are revived.

In the absence of information, it is hard to assess how the Obama administration will relate to the new intelligence assessment. In mid-March 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that in light of the failure of intelligence with regard to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, any American president would be "very, very careful" when it comes to relying on intelligence.[3] In the meantime, after the publication of the estimate, President Obama characterized Iran as an extraordinary threat against the security of the United States, and extended American sanctions against Iran. However, if a dialogue of substance develops between the American administration and Iran, the intelligence estimate may serve to create a feeling within the administration that time is not of the essence, and that at this stage there is no need to limit the time period of the dialogue if it seems that this option can be productive.

[1] Dennis Blair, Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, D.C., February 12, 2009.
[2] Michael McConnell, Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, D.C., February 7. 2008.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Taleban kill Swat valley teacher because of trouser length

According to Times of India of Jan 24, 2009:
ISLAMABAD: A teacher who once fought as a mujahideen against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan as been gunned down by the Taliban in Pakistan's troubled Swat valley for not hiking up his 'salwar' or trousers above his ankles.

Though the Pakistani Taliban have not issued any edict for the salwar to be worn in this manner, there have been reports of the militants threatening men for not hiking up their trousers.

The militants say hiking up the trousers is essential for offering prayers. Former mujahideen Amjad Islam, who was working as a teacher in a private school in Swat, was gunned down yesterday for not hiking his salwar above his ankles. The militants then went to Islam's house and gunned down his father, Ghani Akbar, a lawyer by profession.

Islam's body was later hung by the militants from a pole in the College Square in Matta town and locals were warned not to touch it till Friday. The body was taken down and moved to Islam's house after a local jirga intervened.

Local residents said the militants had asked Islam to hitch his salwar above his ankles last morning. The teacher told them he was a former mujahideen and knew everything about Islam. He also said nobody could be forced to pull up his salwar above the ankles, the News daily reported.

Islam said he had also seen the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which had not forced men to wear their salwar in this manner. His arguments angered the militants and led to a scuffle.

The teacher, who had a pistol, fired at the militants and killed a Taliban fighter and wounded two more. He then tried to flee but the militants shot and stabbed him, killing him instantly. Locals also said Islam's father was a religious and humble man who was well respected in the area.

Large tracts of the Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province are now controlled by local Taliban fighters led by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah despite a major anti-militancy operation launched in the area by the Pakistan army in October 2007.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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