David Horovitz speaks for a great many Israelis in this important editorial. The internal "Jewish wars" have blurred obvious truths and harmed Israel's standing in the world, as well as Israeli chances to win the diplomatic battle for peace.
Truly, an astounding speech on Sunday by Jimmy Carter. Remarks that left Israelis dumbfounded. A dramatic shift to the most unexpected positions.
Truly, an astounding speech on Sunday. Remarks that left Israelis dumbfounded. A dramatic shift to the most unexpected positions.
No, I'm not talking about the prime minister's Bar-Ilan University appearance - the landmark lecture in which Binyamin Netanyahu described a demilitarized Palestinian state as a central component of "my vision of peace, in this small land of ours."
I'm thinking of the brief address to reporters by Jimmy Carter earlier that same day. Having spent two hours chatting in the Neveh Daniel living room of Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein, with a small group of (evidently highly persuasive) local Jewish residents for company, the former president - he of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid notoriety - emerged to declare that the Etzion Bloc "settlement area is not one I ever envision being abandoned or changed over into Palestinian territory."
Was this April 1? Purim, perhaps? Surely it had to be one of them, for this was truly a world turned upside down. Isn't it the likes of Carter who are supposed to be trying to force Palestinian statehood upon wary Israelis in general and an implacably opposed Israeli Right in particular, and the likes of Netanyahu who are supposed to be making insistent speeches about the permanent retention of major settlements, and minor ones too for that matter, in Judea and Samaria?
And surely, were a Likud prime minister to suddenly veer away from the traditional policies at the heart of his party's platform, and start trumpeting the Labor manifesto "of two peoples" living "freely, side by side, in amity and mutual respect," each with "its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government," then the Likud Knesset faction and its rank-and-file supporters would rise as one in angered tumult and demand that leader's resignation?
But no, it was neither Purim nor April Fool's Day, just plain old June 14, and the coincidence of Netanyahu's and Carter's "reversed" positions says much about the failures of Israel's political leadership over recent years and the self-defeating superficiality of our partisan internal climate.
BICKERING AND sniping across party lines, sinking to political assassination at our lowest point, we have continually allowed our differences to skew our national interest, depriving ourselves of the capacity to find a consensus on the basic contours of the Jewish state we seek to maintain and the means to guarantee our long-term security.
Not so many years ago, Labor-led governments argued, incorrectly, that Israel could achieve a viable permanent accord with the Palestinians and still retain 10 percent, or perhaps even more, of our biblical, historic heartland in Judea and Samaria. And Likud-led oppositions lambasted those governments for sanctioning the very notion of Palestinian statehood at all. As we ripped ourselves to political pieces, and discredited ourselves internationally, the Palestinians exploited our differences and, at the moments of diplomatic truth, rejected our peace overtures and skillfully deflected blame onto us.
Increasingly desperate, Israeli leaders, heading collapsing coalitions, offered the Palestinians still more territory with fewer discernible security safeguards - culminating in what amounted to a 100% West Bank withdrawal under prime minister Ehud Olmert just months ago: relinquishing almost all of the territory, offering land-swaps for the remaining few percent, going so far as to reportedly sanction a limited influx of Palestinian refugees to Israel. Still, as Mahmoud Abbas confirmed to The Washington Post three weeks ago, the Palestinians said no.
So inadequately has Israel grappled with the question of where its territorial red lines really must run and what other protection a shrunken Israeli reality would require, so debilitating have been the domestic disputes, that we have now reached the dismal low where a former US president's endorsement of our right to maintain land that was privately purchased by Jews before the establishment of the state is received with surprise and pathetic gratitude.
Twenty years ago, even 10, few in Israel would have conceived that the international community would doubt our long-term claim to the Etzion Bloc. Yet today, after four decades in which we failed to reach a unified position on which settlement areas were vital and which were not, the current American president, Barack Obama, has essentially adopted a mirror image of our disinclination to differentiate. In his vision, all settlements must go.
Watching the street protests in Teheran this week, the vicious constraining of democracy there, one can only lament the negligent abuse of our ample democracy here - the self-interested fights and hypocrisies that have left government after government incapable of effectively representing the wider good of our state.
How much partisan vitriol was poured out down the years, and how much consequent damage done to us all, over the "crime" of endorsing the principle of Palestinian statehood, when our united focus should have been on formulating and articulating to a wearied, often uncomprehending watching world our essential needs, the dimensions of the Palestinians' rejectionism and the need for their reform as a vital condition for any accommodation?
And why, now, for that matter, the ongoing superfluous divisions? The Israeli electorate, in its utterly confused vote four months ago, gave no single party real political weight. It made a wide coalition a political necessity. It provided party leaders with the perfect framework within which to seek consensus. To date, they have failed us again.
BUT TODAY, now that Netanyahu has put aside the debating society arguments of recent weeks about "we won't say 'two states' because they won't say 'Jewish state'" and taken the pro-Palestinian-state-in-principle plunge, what's required is domestic cooperation and partnership. We need to galvanize the best minds, representing the widest proportion of the political mainstream, to ensure that the Israeli government's goals are carefully and competently formulated, and then are recognized as truly representing Israel - the better to try and realize them.
Netanyahu has internalized and given public expression to the fact that if we want to salvage Israel as at once an overwhelmingly Jewish and a firmly democratic state, we have to seek a path to separation from the Palestinians - for our sakes as much as, if not more than, for theirs. That separation, he has sensibly made plain, can only be achieved under terms that do not threaten our physical safety. Bloodied and battered by the terrorists who have thrived in Palestinian areas - and only too aware that endemic Arab hostility to Israel predated the 1967 war and the capture of the additional territory that the Arab world now claims lies at the root of our conflict - Israel dare take no chances with its security.
There was much for all Israelis to applaud in Netanyahu's speech - not least his emphatic response to Obama's false depiction of Israeli-Jewish sovereign legitimacy stemming from the Holocaust rather than from our historical connection to this land.
But there are also reasons for Israelis, from their differing perspectives, to feel misgivings about the new Netanyahu vision - skepticism that stems from those decades of bitter experience with Palestinian intransigence, concerns about the viability of mechanisms to ensure demilitarization, reservations about the prime minister's capacity to hold to his positions when pressed from all sides, questions as to whether this was expedient rhetoric or heartfelt strategy.
Those on the Right who criticize Netanyahu because they believe he capitulated to American pressure and sold out the Likud; those who would prefer to sacrifice our democracy rather than relinquish territory; those who believe that Israel should expand sovereignty across Judea and Samaria and seek to restrict the Palestinians to some form of autonomy - all have good reason to feel abandoned by their presumed champion, though few will have been surprised.
Those on the Right who enthusiastically applaud him are in murkier waters. Critics to the left can ask why it is that Palestinian statehood, a veritably treasonable conception when expressed by some of his predecessors, is now acceptable, uniquely, when endorsed by Netanyahu?
There are numerous ways to justify the shift - among them that Netanyahu is trying to make the best of an immensely complex situation, some of whose complexity is a direct consequence of poor policies and mishandled negotiations in years past. Then there is the fact that Netanyahu's attitude to the settlement enterprise remains markedly more supportive and empathetic than that of others who have filled his post. And, of course, there is the insistence on recognition of Jewish Israel and the military constraints he has made central conditions of Palestinian statehood - though quite how demilitarization could effectively be enforced is wide open to question.
Less credible are the claims by those who defend Netanyahu by arguing that there was less to his speech than met the eye - that the prime minister doesn't really mean what he says, that he was simply getting the Americans off his back, and that the Palestinians can be relied upon to doom any substantive negotiations anyway. This echoes the initial, rather desperate response of some of Ariel Sharon's supporters who tried to reconcile their support for Greater Israel with his abandonment of it.
Certainly, Netanyahu can be expected to take a more cautious negotiating stance than certain former prime ministers. Certainly, too, one of Netanyahu's imperatives was indeed to reduce tensions with the Obama White House in order to better work together against Iran's nuclear program. And certainly, the hysterical Palestinian dismissal of Netanyahu's new policies confirms the ongoing rejection by even the "moderate" Palestinian Authority of our most basic legitimacy here.
But the prime minister's Sunday speech was not a grudging, indeed deceptive, acceptance of Palestinian independence. It was not, if measured by his own words, the enunciation of a route he has absolutely no intention of following. It was, rather, an avowed delineation of a vision - a road, as he put it, to "reconciliation with our neighbors."
And even if Netanyahu believes it will lead nowhere, it is a road that the energized Obama can be relied upon to do his utmost to strong-arm both sides into traveling.
We might reasonably ask ourselves why we couldn't have unified around this goal - a cautious, consensual approach to a model for Palestinian statehood that does not threaten Israel - years earlier?
Better, though, to now unite behind a prime minister who is speaking to the mainstream, work together to forge consensual positions and revitalize the arduous process of coopting the international community to our legitimate cause. That way, the Palestinians are exposed in their abiding, resolute, benighted intransigence. Or, just possibly, slowly, insistently, they are pressured, in a partnership belatedly unifying Israel and the international community, to come to terms with the fact of our existence here and to gradually accept the terms of viable reconciliation, now espoused by Netanyahu, that would make all of our lives better and safer.
"These two realities - our connection to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it - have created deep divisions in Israeli society," the prime minister said on Sunday. "But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us. I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli society."
However belated, and however complex the road ahead, a heartfelt "Amen" to that.
SPME Physicians and Healthcare/Medical Scientists and Professionals, please sign and circulate to your physician colleagues a petition in support of Dr. Yoram Blachar, longstanding President of the Israeli Medical Association, who will become President of the World Medical Association. Derek Summerfield has again launched a campaign against Dr. Blachar and Israeli medicine as part of the "Medical Committee for Boycott of the Israeli Medical Association" (boycottima.org/ ). This organization seeks to "document the systematic torture of Palestinian people by agents of Israel."
Summerfield is an inveterate critic of Israel and often seeks to use medical platforms to delegitimize Israel. He plays extremely loose with facts. See the attached pdf document from the Israeli Medical Association.
While physician signatures are particularly welcome, I think it would be appropriate for any scientist or practitioner in the health fields to add his or her name, as I have done.
Steven M. Albert, PhD
Chair, SPME Task Force on Medical and Public Health Issues; Member, SPME Board of Directors Professor Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh A211 Crabtree Hall, 120 DeSoto Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15261 Phone: 412-383-8693 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
I can attest that Israel has very presentable wines, especially dry red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir among others. It has been producing great wines for many years, though Eastern European ones are often just as fine and much cheaper in the United States. The best of them are better than New York or California wines.
I have a bottle of the Flam Classico mentioned in this article, which is a mixture of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. We haven't opened it yet, but I think if God intended wines to be mixed, He would have grown mixed grapes, no? It is not clear if these grapes are grown in Israel or imported. The winery is located, according to the label, in "Yaar Hakdoshim," a JNF forest planted in memory of Holocaust victims. How could a winery be in a JNF forest?
Israel doesn't seem to have inexpensive wine regrettably. Even the "table wine" and "cooking wine" seems to cost almost as much as good wine
Kosher wines are mentioned in the article. They were made famous or infamous in the USA by Manischewitz ("Man o man o Manischewitz") and are more like sweetened grape juice than they are like vinegar. They are an entirely separate branch of Israel's wine industry, and are generally produced at small, super-observant wineries.
Inside a candlelit room at a west Houston Italian restaurant, the Israeli government sought to change Israel's international image with help from one of the world's oldest industries: wine — glasses and glasses of wine.
The government recently teamed up with its wine industry and U.S. importers to promote the beverages made from grapes grown on the land immortalized by biblical figures Noah, Samson, and David and Goliath.
These days, Israel is known more for conflict and tension than for its wines, local Israeli government officials said.
"Israeli wine can help rebrand Israel," said wine importer Richard Shaffer, who is working with the government by hosting wine-tasting parties.
Wine production began in Israel millennia ago, Shaffer said, peppering his wine dinner speech with biblical references.
In the last quarter-century, wine experts have rediscovered Israel, a promised land with less than two dozen wineries. Today more than 200 dot the nation's landscape, said Shaffer, the owner of the Chicago area's Israeli Wine Direct, which works with Israel's boutique wineries.
The government's promotional campaign that sponsors wine tastings across the nation may have already helped Israel's wine exports to the U.S. because they increased to 150,200 cases last year from 146,500 cases in 2007, according to De-partment of Commerce numbers.
That comes at a time when the global recession and a weakening of the U.S. dollar contributed to a 5 percent decrease in U.S. imports of all wines by volume last year, compared with 2007.
Israel sold $12 million worth of wine to the U.S. last year, up from $11 million in 2007, according to the Israeli government.
Touting the quality Educating consumers that quality wine can hail from Israel is an obstacle.
"It's just funny you had never heard of Israeli wines before," said Carol Hunton, who attended a four-course dinner paired with Israeli wines Tuesday at Carmelo's.
She described the Pelter Trio 2006 paired with the rigatoni with porcini mushrooms and veal ragu dish as rich and soft.
"We in the restaurant business are always looking for something new, something to bring to our customers," said the restaurant's owner, Carmelo Mauro, who hails from Sicily.
Local wine critic Denman Moody tried eight Israeli wines during a breakfast at Carmelo's.
"They were all surprisingly good," he said, describing a Pelter Sauvignon Blanc 2007 as not like drinking grapefruit juice, but more in between the flavors of tropical fruits and peaches.
Not all kosher Another obstacle Israel faces in growing the industry is convincing consumers and shopkeepers that not all Israeli wine is kosher.
Kosher wines must be made under the supervision of a rabbi, contain only kosher ingredients and processed using equipment certified by a rabbi.
No preservatives or artificial colors can be added to the wine, among other restrictions.
They are typically served during Jewish holidays but are snubbed by some wine aficionados.
"Some people even refer to it as vinegar," said Roee Madai, the consul for economic affairs at the Israeli government's Houston office.
Savvy wine drinkers are fatigued by yet another wine from California, Argentina or Chile, Madai said.
"Israel for them is something unique, niche, sexy," Madai said.
As Israeli wines become more popular, promoters hope retailers will showcase Israeli wines by country, much like Italian, French and South African wines have their own shelves at stores.
Roberto Fleischer, president of Houston's Fleischer International Trading, stopped by the The Tasting Room in Uptown Park recently to try Israeli wines. He's considering distribut- ing some of the wines lo-cally.
"I think it's a very good niche for us," he said.
Some good, some not Web designer Fred Sodergren was already familiar with some Israeli wines after a recent trip to Israel.
"I had some bad wines, and I had some very good wines," she said during the event at The Tasting Room.
One of the wines served at that event was the Flam Classico 2006 made by Gilad Flam and his brother, the second generation of their family to make wine.
"We are giving the world a different taste with our wine," said Flam, from his home winery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The ongoing furor in Iran over the disputed presidential election might appear to be a harbinger of imminent positive change in the tense and gloomy Middle East, but appearances are misleading. No matter how the conflict between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi is resolved, Iran will remain a theocracy in which ultimate power rests with a small group of secretive clerics.
This means that Iran will continue its provocative behaviour and dangerous ploys. Nuclear weapons research, materialsupport for terrorist organizations and a long-standing propensity for vicious anti-Israel and anti-Western rhetoric will roll on, undiminished, as they always have even when Iran's president was the reformist Muhammad Khatami.
The threat is very grave. Iran's ruling ayatollahs are perilously close to acquiring the nuclear weapons they have long coveted so Israel and its allies in North America and Europe will need to remain vigilant and prepared for potential conflict.
This will not be easy. Although the Iranian drama is presently captivating the world, attention will inevitably refocus on Israel. When it does, outside observers-- many with anti-Israel agendas --will continue urging Israel to make concessions, give up land and talk to its foes without preconditions. The same pressure will be renewed through the Jewish state's closest allies.
Bogging Israel down in fruitless discussions is exactly what the ayatollahs want. They have long backed Israel's most proximate enemies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and would like few things better than seeing their mortal enemy entangled by diplomatic red tape. Never mind that there is no one to talk to since Hamas won't renounced its goal of destroying Israel, while Fatah in the West Bank is corrupt and widely disliked by Palestinians.
However, manipulating the Israeli-Palestinian situation is only one of the ayatollahs'tools for deflecting the world's gaze from their attempt to develop weapons of mass destruction and place Iran in an unassailable position. The ayatollahs are masters of deception, using state machinery to manufacture opinions about their regime. They permit a facade of democracy with slates of reform candidates, carefully managed free speech and the occasional liberalizing measure to let Iranians vent and dampen foreign criticism. Such changes never touch Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, or the unelected advisory councils composed of religious scholars, nor do they alter Iran's aggressive message of religious zealotry.
Liberal democracies have long eschewed the closed fist in favour of reasoned negotiations but this will not work with Iran. The ruling regime is irrational, primarily concerned with theologically inspired expansionism and the destruction of Israel. Letting themselves be lulled by Iran's efforts at misdirection and its carefully crafted signals is the worst mistake Israel and other Western nations could make.
The following are supposedly the real Iran election figures that were suppressed, which came in a letter sent anonymously, purportedly an official IRI document with Islamic Republic of Iran Letterhead. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the claim. The total for Ahmadinejad looks to be too low, for example.
Total number of the votes 42,026,078 Mir Hosain Mosavi 19,075,623 Mehdi Karoobi 13,387,104 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 5,698,417
Israelis and supporters of Israel are angry over Barack Obama's treatment of Israel. A poll shows that only 6% of Jewish Israelis think that Obama is pro-Israel, about 50% think he is pro-Palestinian, and 36% think he is neutral.
Despite Obama's talk about the "unbreakable bond" between Israel and the United States, it appears to Israelis that he and his administration are going out of their way to snub Israel and to isolate Israel as an "obstacle to peace." Obama did not stop in Israel on his recent trip to the Middle East. Obama administration policies seem to exert pressure unilaterally on Israel. The administration offers no solution to the problem of Hamas domination in Gaza other than encouraging Palestinian unity and pressuring Israel to reward Hamas by opening Gaza to importation of cement and other materials that will allow them to rebuild their underground bunkers. Obama did not ask Palestinians to give up their demands for right of return, nor did he confront their refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination. Obama did not even try to bring off the symbolic gesture of getting Red Cross visitation rights for kidnapped soldier Gilead Schalit, let alone getting him freed.
All the pressure is on Israel, and it is exerted in often ugly and in-your-face ways by administration officials, especially the supposedly pro-Israel Hillary Clinton. If Barack Obama is trying to project an image of "even handedness" in order to win over Muslim and Arab opinion, he certainly succeeded in Israel. Whether or not he succeeded in the Arab and Muslim worlds remains to be seen. Is it likely Muslims will forgive American bombing of civilians in Afghanistan if Israel implements a settlement freeze, or that al-Qaeda will approve of democracy, gay marriage, teaching of evolution and Bikinis if Israel gives up Jerusalem?
The speech was a workmanlike and competent component that be the basis of a reasonable foreign policy. It served several very important purposes. The first was to return some of the "peace process" initiative to Israel, and to counter some of the extreme diplomatic isolation that Israel experienced following the installation of the Netanyahu government. The second was to pay the necessary debt to Barack Obama in his quest for Middle East peace. The third and most important was to provide a relatively clear policy statement and delineation of Israeli rights around three principles:
No 'return' of Palestinian refugees to Israel
No division of Jerusalem
Palestinians must recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination.
These three conditions form the core of the Israeli case, and efforts at justifying and explaining the case for Israeli peace should focus on them, and not be distracted by gimmicks and side issues such as settlement freezes and outposts. In a hundred years, it will not matter if there was or was not a settlement freeze. But the decision on every one of the above issues will matter for as long as there is a Jewish state and a Jewish people. Palestinians have understood this longer than we have. It is no accident that they have objected strenuously to all three conditions, because they are the heart of peace for Israel. The aim of pro-Palestinian propaganda in the west is to divert attention from the focus of the conflict, defined in those issues, where the Israeli case is strong, to the issue of settlement freeze, and to force a split between the United States and Israel. Regrettably, some of the pro-Israel reaction in recent days has served the Palestinians very well.
Continued - Israeli policy after Netanyahu's speech
Often, it's really hard to believe how biased and bad media coverage of Israel is. I've been watching this stuff for decades and it still amazes me. A subtle bias is one thing but when all caution or pretense of professionalism is abandoned--as it so often is--one can only gape in astonishment.
The Associated Press devoted more than 4000 words to reporting and analyzing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main policy speech and various reactions to it. President Obama welcomed it. ("Obama welcome's Israeli prime minister's speech, June 15, 2009); the European Union called it a step in the right direction (Robert Wielaard, "EU: Netanyahu speech step 'in right direction, June 16, 2009).
Predictably, members of his coalition government supported it (Amy Teibel, "Coalition heavyweights embrace Netanyahu speech," June 15, 2009. Yet even while reporting on Netanyahu's acceptance of a Palestinian state, the AP could not resist characterizing his government as "hawkish," supported by "hardliners." Of course, his coalition includes the Labor party and many people considered dovish but AP doesn't tell us about that.
The article also mistakenly refers to "Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the most powerful hard-liner in Netanyahu's government," which is just plain wrong. While Lieberman's style is very tough, he is not a hardliner as such, having no problem with accepting a Palestinian state or giving up territory for peace. Lieberman's reputation as a hardliner is due to his stand toward Arab citizens of Israel—and even here Lieberman has made no serious attempt to implement any new measures—not toward West Bank Palestinians. By making this statement, Teibel shows her ignorance of Israeli politics.
Similarly ignorant and biased was the AP's presentation of Palestinian reactions. The problem is not reporting what the Palestinians said—they didn't like it and this is legitimate to present—but the AP's own editorial remarks.
In Karin Laub and Amy Teibel, "Disappointed Palestinians ask for help to save talks," June 16 (as if anything any Israeli prime minister might have said could possibly have "pleased" them), the authors tell us that these leaders "stopped short of refusing to resume negotiations."
This is simply inaccurate. In fact, they have refused to resume negotiations without a freeze in settlement construction, as has been repeatedly stated by them. Strangely, even the article admits this: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not resume talks unless Israel honored previous pledges to halt construction."
Why then make the first statement except to make the Palestinian leaders sound more moderate than they are? And the phrasing of the second is totally misleading, too. Israel said it would freeze construction if the Palestinians kept their commitments, which hasn't happened. Notice AP never tells us about what Israel demands to meet its needs or what Palestinians do to break their previous commitments.
What is really outrageous is this statement by the authors:
"Laying out his Mideast policy Sunday, Netanyahu bent to U.S. pressure and softened decades of opposition to Palestinian statehood and sought renewed peace talks."
Since Netanyahu accepted Palestinian statehood as a potential outcome of talks in 1996—13 years ago—this is part of the consistent AP misrepresentation of his positions.
Then there is this confusing and untrue statement:
"However, he removed from the negotiating agenda the fate of Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel's 1948 creation and said Israel would retain sovereignty over all of Jerusalem - -two issues previous Israeli governments had agreed to negotiate."
On Jerusalem, Netanyahu restated what has almost always been Israel's position. And what about the fate of the refugees? In fact, he and Israel have always said they should be resettled in Palestine. Can't the AP even get that right?
Finally, how did the AP itself analyze the speech?
Badly. Steven Gutkin, "Analysis: Netanyahu's overture likely too little," June 15, gives it away with the headline. Too little for what? Rather than tell us what Netanyahu said and why, even how this was a serious and generous offer, we are told at the outset: No, not enough; insufficient. We're against him.
Gutkin tells us Netanyahu's endorsement of Palestinian independence is "grudging…couched in layers of stifling conditions, does not necessarily signal the hawk-to-moderate transformation that hard-line Israeli leaders before him have undergone."
Bad Netanyahu! Bad! Bad!
In fact, this article isn't just bad. It's stupid. For example:
"Netanyahu's major policy speech was as notable for what it did not say, as for what it did: No acceptance of previous peace strategies. No reference to any Muslim connection to the land. No talk of uprooting Jewish settlements to make room for a would-be Palestinian state.
And he pointedly avoided mentioning an Arab peace initiative that offers to trade normalized ties with the entire Arab world for a complete Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in 1967, a demand Israel rejects." Wow! Where to begin.
--It isn't Netanyahu's job to justify the other side's claim, is it?
--Can the author be aware that while Israeli leaders have made statements about the Palestinians that are sympathetic, no Palestinian leader has ever reciprocated. It is unimaginable that any Palestinian leader refer to any Jewish connection to the land. Quite the opposite is taught in Palestinian schools, mosque sermons, and leaders' statements. Yasir Arafat and others denied that there was even ever any Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Can Gutkin be serious?
--It isn't Netanyahu's job to offer even more unilateral concessions like removing Jewish settlements in a Palestinian state in his main policy speech.
--Once again, as so often happens, the Arab peace initiative is misrepresented, leaving out that little detail about taking a few million Palestinian Arab Muslims into Israel.
And so when the author states:
"Palestinians called Netanyahu's speech a nonstarter that will not serve as a basis for talks, and Arab leaders rejected it as disappointing and not conducive to peace."
After reading such misrepresentation can anyone blame them?
But wait? Does the author ever actually get to what Netanyahu did say? Not too much and only by making it clear that each point is terrible. In an article supposedly about analyzing Netanyahu's speech, the very clear strategy laid out in the speech is…never presented! Instead we hear what critics say more than what Netanyahu says:
"Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people , essentially giving up any right of return for Palestinian refugees, `scuttles the chances for peace,' Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Monday."
Here we see the AP school of falsification at work. The author can't even present what Netanyahu said objectively before bashing it. Nor does he give any sense of why Netanyahu said it.
"It's also unclear if Netanyahu uttered the words `Palestinian state' because he really believes in one, or because he is trying to get out of a tight spot with President Barack Obama…. It would certainly take a lot more than Netanyahu saying the words "Palestinian state," which one Israeli writer said were "uttered like a rotten tooth pulled from its socket without anesthesia."
This is truly disgusting. Netanyahu gave a clear explanation as to the context in which he accepted a Palestinian state. You know he's sincere because he explains what he will give and what he wants in exchange. Have you ever seen an AP story call a Palestinian or Arab leader insincere? And by the way, nobody in this story is quoted as supporting his position. Shouldn't at least one such quote be included to pretend this story is balanced?
Gutkin doesn't tell us how what Netanyahu said is a logical policy: In exchange for its being unmilitarized, accepts Israel as a Jewish state (the media coverage never tells us that the Palestinian Authority defines Palestine as an Arab and Muslim state), full peace, and an agreement not to make military alliances with countries hostile to itself, Israel will recognize a Palestinian state.
There! That isn't so hard to say, is it? But this article is typical: We can't be told straight out what Israeli leaders say, statements can only be mentioned if shown to be evil and countered by Arab statements in the same sentence, only Israelis can be quoted who bash mainstream positions from the left.
What's especially disconcerting is that of the three ways the AP could report in a biased manner. This is the worst, Option C:
Option A: Report Netanyahu's speech fairly in one analytical article, then bash him in three others.
Option B: Report Netanyahu's speech fairly in the first half of the article, then bash him in the second half.
Option C: Bash him in each sentence and never really report what he said.
Finally, wire service reporters were always supposed to be even more objective than correspondents. They had a lot of newspaper clients who wire-service editors didn't want to offend them. So wire-service writing was supposed to be particularly bland and down the middle. This kind of thing coming from AP is far more upsetting, therefore, if it were from a newspaper's correspondent, not to mention the fact that it will appear in hundreds of newspapers and not just one.
At any rate, this isn't reporting. It's propaganda. Can't the AP even give us a straight report on what Netanyahu said?
Israel should, in my opinion, take every reasonable step possible to promote peace. But what is reasonable?
The United States government has requested a "settlement freeze" in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) which it considers to be essential for peace, even though the Palestinians seem to have other concerns entirely, such as refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination. As everyone should know by now, Gush Etzion was settled by Jews beginning in 1927. The Gush Etzion bloc was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the Jordan Legion following a barbaric massacre in 1948, just as the state of Israel was created, during the Israel War of Independence, and was resettled by Jews, including some of the original settlers, in 1967. Even Jimmy Carter noted that Gush Etzion would probably never be given up by Israel. Does the US administration seriously intend that there will be no more houses built in Gush Etzion? No more babies born there? Should the babies be cast into the Nile or what?
Can we imagine, that Israel woud impose, as a condition for starting peace negotiations, that all the Arabs of Israel must stop having babies and stop building houses, or perhaps that only the illegal Palestinian settlers in the illegal Palestinian Arab settlement of Silwan, established after 1967, must stop having children?
Let's take this one step further. Ramat Eshkol is a neighborhood in Jerusalem. French Hill is another such neighborhood. The Jewish quarter of the Old City, Atarot and Neve Yaakov, the Hebrew University on Mt Scopus and the Jewish cemetery on Mt. Olives are all "Jewish" areas of Jerusalem, beyond the 1948 green line, which the United States consideres "settlements." In 1948, during the Israel War of Independence, the Jordan legion conquered Jerusalem, putting all these areas off limits to Jews. The Jewish community of the Old City that had existed for hundreds of years, was ethnically cleansed (sorry - there is no other name for it) by the British officered Jordan Legion. The Jews of Atarot and Neve Yaakov were evacuated and the Hebrew University was off limits, behind enemy lines. The Mt. Olives cemetery was desecrated. Does Israel now have to stop building new buildings for the Hebrew University or new houses in Neve Ya'akov or Ramat Eshkol. If a family in Ramat Eshkol wants to add an extension to their apartment, do they need a permit from Hillary Clinton? My ancestors are buried in the Mt. Olives cemetery. If more people from our family die and want to be buried there, do they need permission from Hillary Clinton to die or to be buried?
US President Barack Obama, while saying for a second time on Monday that there was "positive movement" in Netanyahu's speech, called once again at a press conference in the White House, alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, for a "cessation of settlements."
"And there is a tendency to try to parse exactly what this means," Obama said, "but I think the parties on the ground understand that if you have a continuation of settlements that, in past agreements, have been categorized as illegal, that's going to be an impediment to progress."
Leave aside for now the famously accomplished speaker Barack Obama's sudden inability to distinguish between nouns and verbs, first apparent in his Cairo speech where he said that "It is time for these settlements to stop" — stop doing what? — and yet again when he calls for a "cessation of settlements" and opposes a "continuation" of them.
Let's go from the abstract to the concrete and talk about settlements.
Kfar Etzion is a 'settlement': it is east of the 1949 armistice line which is also called the 'Green Line'. Here is an excerpt from something I wrote about it last December ("No room for Jews"):
One of the places that the Palestinians do not wish to compromise on is Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, south of Jerusalem. Part of the Palestine Mandate from 1917 to 1948, and the Ottoman empire before that, it was purchased from local Arabs and settled by Yemenite Jews in 1927. They lived there on and off (they were driven out several times by Arab riots) until 1948 when the invading Jordanian army overran it and executed all but four of its defenders. All of the West Bank and East Jerusalem were made Jew-free by the Jordanians, who illegally occupied the area until 1967, when the kibbutz was reestablished.
So what I am asking Obama to explain is exactly how is Kibbutz Kfar Etzion illegal?
The discussion of the American opinion poll is especially interesting, because VOA claimed the poll "proved" that the electios were honest. They also claimed falsely that demonstrations were confined to Tehran.
[TEHRAN BUREAU] Much has been said about the outcome of the Iranian presidential election, which took place last Friday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters claim that the vote counting was honest. The reformists' supporters hotly dispute that. Extra ammunition has been provided to those who believe that the President was the true victor by the results of a poll taken by the Center for Public Opinion and the New American Foundation between from May 11-20, 2009, asking 1001 Iranians living in Iran for whom they would vote.
According to the poll, 34% of the respondents said that they would vote for the President, while 14% said that they would vote for the main reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister.
So, who is right?
There is much evidence to support those who believe that the vote counting was fraudulent.
Let us begin with the American poll. According to the poll, 77% of the respondents said that they want the Supreme Leader to be elected directly by the people; 74% favor full inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities to ensure that it will not be used for non-peaceful purposes; 77% favor normal trade with, and full recognition by the United States; 68% favor Iran's government to help the U.S. in Iraq, and 52% favor recognition of Israel in return for U.S. recognition and open. trade. Who espouses such policies? The reformists, not President Ahmadinejad.
90% of the respondents thought that the economy should be the top priority of their government. How has Mr. Ahmadinejad's economic performance been (aside from distributing cash among the poor in the last month of the campaign)? Dismal! Unemployment, inflation, and the costs of housing, fuel, and food have all skyrocketed since 2005.
Then, why is it that, while agreeing overwhelmingly with what the reformists advocate, a plurality of the respondents said that they would vote for the President? The answer lies in the Iranian culture. Iranians are notoriously secretive about their political opinions when they talk to strangers, especially when they are called over the phone. In a country where social and political repression has increased dramatically under Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian people are terrified by the possible consequences of honest answers, especially with respect to their preferred candidate.
Moreover, the poll was finished on May 20, and that was just before the campaigns were taking off. There was a dramatic increase in the support for Mr. Mousavi (as well as Mr. Mahdi Karroubi, the 2nd reformist candidate) only in the last three weeks of the election.
Hot news for anti-semites. The Jew-Zionist conspiracy has realigned itself with the left. The nefarious Israel lobby has found a spokesperson in Judge Sotomayor, whose real name is Spinoza and who is descended from Spanish Converso stock. AIPAC and the agents of the Mossad have been ordered by the chief Jews of the Elders of Zion to support Sotomayor. As Judge, she has promised the Jews to order that gentiles give all their money to the UJA and all the males must undergo circumcision. Reports that she will legalize killing of Christian Children to bake Matzot (See blood libel) are probably exaggerated.
This is going to confuse the heck out of all those people who believed that "Jew" is synonymous with Neocon. Those who were confident that the election of Barack Obama would signal a new policy regarding the Jewish question, under the progressive and tolerant slogan "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas" are clearly going to be disappointed.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- White supremacists and anti-Semites are charging that Jewish control of the government is behind a Supreme Court nomination, the Anti-Defamation League said.
President Obama's pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor has unleashed an eruption of anti-Semitic and anti-Hispanic vitriol by white supremacists and racists angry at the nomination of the first Hispanic to the high court, the ADL said in a statement released Tuesday.
Hatemongers have flooded Internet sites with messages charging that the Sotomayor nomination is the result of "Jewish power" and conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the government and media. The level of hatred and numerous conspiracy theories generated by the choice is particularly intense, according to the ADL.
In their online writings, white supremacists argue that "Jewish power" was responsible for Sotomayor's nomination and her previous career success; that Sotomayor is herself Jewish, or a "cryptojew"; and that Sotomayor was handpicked by Jews because of her Latino heritage in an effort to "destroy the white race."
"While such sentiments are far from the mainstream, they come at a time where white supremacist groups are agitated over a number of domestic developments, including the election of the first African-American president, and eagerly looking for scapegoats," said Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director. "As we witnessed with the recent white supremacist shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, such views are dangerous and can have real world consequences."
Below are two reports relayed from eyewitnesses in Iran. There are additional reports that give the same picture essentially: Demonstrators shot, means of communications cut off, Police removing satellite dishes, arrests...
What you would expect from a crackdown in an authoritarian regime. But the crowds shouting "Allah o Akbar" do not suggest that this is a liberal revolution or that the demonstrators have any interest in changing the constitution of the Islamic Republic. Nor do the reports suggest that they have much chance of success.
As we speak, I can clearly hear gun shots in the streets and people shouting 'Allah o Akbar' and 'Death to this liar government'.
All mobile phones are off, sms has not been working for days, internet is extremely slow, some pages take over 20 minutes to load. Many sites have been filtered, France 24, Deutsche Welle, BBC Persian and BBC World Satellites are not working. VOA Persian just works every now and then, over 100 reformists have been arrested, and we have at least 7 confirmed dead!
The atmosphere up to the election day had been one of joy and happiness. All sides have demonstrated side by side, without violence and in friendship. I could go with Karoubi banners into an Ahmadi crowed and we could have friendly discussions.
The whole city of Tehran was generally in green. But the day before election when advertising was banned, no one, really no one was wearing green or advertising. This to me shows great respect for the law and how advanced our civil society is.
After the announcement of the results, all major squares were suddenly packed with anti riot police, basij, ansare hezbollah and gaurdaye yegan vije. I was stuck in Abbas Abad. It has been the most violent scenes I have every seen. Motorcycles were burning, buses were burning, the government forces were randomly attacking people and blocking both sides of the roads.
I have seen women and old people been beaten. These were people passing by. I was hiding in two garages with a friend. People would let us in so we wont get beaten up. But we later found out that basij would even storm houses and destro the dorrs.
Sunday Tehran seemed calmer. The University of Tehran dorms was fully isolated. There were at least 200 guards there. At night they attacked the dorms. In central Tehran ansare hezbollah and basij stormed the university building. There are rumours of deaths but nobody knows. In Tehran people were honing their cars and police was smashing cars.
There were apparently many riots in Sa adat abad and Shahrake Gharb but I was not there.
Yesterday we went to the mass rally. Many did not come because their were reports that there would be shootings. Still 1 to 2 million showed up.
I have never seen crowds this large and this peaceful. The main slogans were:
marg bar diktator. che shah bashe che doktor nasro menallah va fathon gharib, marg bar in dolate mardom farib haleye nooro dide raye mano nadide in 63 darsad ke migan koo? dooroogh goo, dooroogh goo ey dolate koodetah, estefa estefa na qaze na lobnan, faghat mellate iran mardom chera neshestin, iran shode felestin iraniye ba gheyrat, hemayat hemayat ta ahmadinejade, harooz hamin basate raye mano dozdide, dare bahash poz mide estefah estefah esteeeefaaah, begoo
From Enghelab square to Azadi and from Azadi square to Sadeghiye the streets were packed.
Unfortunately you all know what has happened at the end.
Today the atmosphere is even more tense.
But in central Tehran, any house we passed had green flags hanging from hanging from it.
Everyone you talk to voted for Mousavi.
I have no doubts the votes were rigged. Best,
I talked to two well-connected friends in Iran today; this is their analysis.
- In their opinion there is no doubt that there was fraud in the elections.
- Motivation: The leadership and conservative forces have decided once and for all that there is too much tension in the country, and they want to run the country with no more tensions (between them and the reformists/left). The plan is to immediately open up to the West/US, reduce tensions, focus 200% on the economy, and in the next 4 years reduce inflation and unemployment dramatically and improve people's economic lot significantly. So that in 4 years, they can press the reset button on elections, and the people, having seen 4 years of good economy, vote them into office. And from this point on, no reformist/leftist will ever be allowed to assume power in Iran. This is all well and good on paper - except that it does not include one factor: the people's will and desire! We're talking pseudo-Chinese style management with lip service to elections.
- Technicalities: there were about 48,000 ballot boxes. None of the candidates had representatives for all of them. Mousavi only had 5,000 approved representatives. Karrubi had even less than that. The Interior ministry did not issue the necessary documents for all those suggested as representatives. According to first hand reports, these election monitors witnessed only the counting process but they were not authorized to sign any document or approve anything. That means Mousavi and Karrubi do not have any "legal" documents to object to the results. The only hope that they may have is to reopen some boxes randomly and recount and see if there is a large meaningful difference between the outcome and what has been announced. Even in that case they may only be able to disqualify those particular boxes and not the whole election, unless that they can recount all boxes. Also there were at least 14,000 mobile boxes. There was no supervision on these boxes at all. Ahmadinejad and his team can easily manipulate those boxes according to their wishes.
- They therefore engineered this election. Ahmadinejad had to have much more votes than Khatami in past elections. Karroubi had to be destroyed with that ridiculously low number of votes. Rezaie's economic plans/use of experts/professionals was to be killed off since they have their own economic plans. And of course Mousavi had to go.
- In preparation for this, they foresaw some minor disturbances, put security forces on alert, and even warned the people against "agitation" (Khamenei's televised speech right after he cast his vote), but overall they thought the left are a bunch of sissies; shoot a few bullets in the air, intimidate, beat, and they go away. They have reason to believe this - over the past 20 years every time the system has come under some so called "threat" (e.g. via press freedom) or "expediency" (e.g. vetting of candidates) has been required, the left (e.g. Khatami) has backed down, to the point that the left has given up a lot and the right has advanced and gained a lot.
- As for the fraud itself, one said he has official data from the past elections (2005) which shows that Ahmadinejad's gains in 2009 were almost entirely in the big cities, and not in the small provincial villages/cities in which he didn't gain as much. This by itself points to fraud, and also is the cause for the immense level of discontent in the large cities. People see who votes in their neighborhood and city and when they see the announced results, they know it can't be possibly true (he mentioned seeing people in line who were voting for the 2nd time in their life: the first time was at the Islamic Republic Referendum in 1979!).
- Another point is that finally in this election, it became absolutely clear where the leader stands. In the past the reformists would go meet him, and seek his intervention, and he leaned this way and that. This time, he is firmly behind the takeover of power and this is clear to all. He has made his decision for the future.
- So now, what has gone wrong? a) the fact that Khatami is not leading the movement (who would have backed out by now for "expediency"), but rather it is Mousavi who told the leader point blank in their meeting that there has been fraud and it has to be dealt with (after being told by the leader to "let go"); and b) people's demonstrations which have surprised even the left. He said from Tuesday morning till 3 pm, the Tehran District and Provincial Heads, and Head of police were on TV one after another over and over, warning people that if they take part in any demonstrations, that will be it! People didn't listen and 1 million showed up.
- The reason you are not seeing foreign condemnation of this also is because the foreign countries are waiting for the government to finish its job. They foreign states will then recognize the President, and justify it saying the elections were fair and there are rioters everywhere in the world. The longer this recognition takes (the longer the government takes to "finish" things) the worse things will be; at some point they will have to make statements, do something, ... if there is killing and the problems continue they may be forced to recall ambassadors, downgrade relations, ... and that will be the kiss of death for the government who wanted to open up to the West and improve people's economic lot.
- Will the reformists give up this time too? Both think unlikely since the reformists/left now understand 100% that this is their last stance; if they give up now, they will never, ever, be able to hold any power in Iran in the future.
- This is confirmed by Ahmadinejad's three statements since the elections in which he has basically drawn out his sword and shown a no-compromise stance with respect to the reformists.
- Government is in a bind now. They didn't expect the large demonstrations. And they can't do anything when people go to work and on way back home every single car is honking horns in protest, and when after dinner they go to the balcony and chant Allah-o-Akbar. The people realize that they are out of the government's equation. This is the reason for the revolt.
- The only factor that can change the game is popular demonstrations by people, going on strike and with a high regret, some bloodshed. The amount of blood depends on the resistance of both sides. Only in that case the whole system will come under question and to retain legality they will need to do something, perhaps dramatic.
- The best thing the US and EU can do is to not recognize this government, and downgrade relations. Else they will be seen as co-conspirators by the Iranian people. One CIA led coup in Iran's history is enough.
The Polish people, as any Polish patriot will tell you, have a long history of relations with the Jews. Anyone who is not familiar with this history, can examine highlights in the entry Pogrom, You can get an idea of what sort of history we are talking about if you know what the word Pogrom means. Poles were enthusiastic participants in the solution of the Jewish problem from the time they got their independence, during the Russian Civil War, no less so than their Ukrainian and Russian neighbors. They were also participants, or rather leaders, in the work of the Gestapo in the Jedwabne Pogrom. They played their part in the Holocaust. Justice demands that we must mention that some Poles risked their lives to save Jews, but the record is mostly not good. Following World War II, some Poles were intent on finishing Hitler's work, as they showed in the Kielce pogrom. Anti-Semitism did not end with the end of the Communist regime. A portion of the Poles, including certain religious leaders, try to deny their role in the Jedwabne Pogrom and are most uninterested in remembering or memorializing the victims of the Kielce pogrom. These are considered to be pernicious Zhidy propaganda. The Poles who speak out for the Jews often find that it is wiser to move to the United States or somewhere else. Defending Jews in Poland may be hazardous to your health.
Lukasz Wrobel takes ironic aim at the latest anti-Semitic scandal in Poland - the accusation that the Mossad bought the Gdansk shipyard. His irony is so subtle that some may miss it.
June 1989 was an exceptional month. On June 3 in Teheran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died, one day after the Chinese army had slaughtered 5,000 protesting students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. After 50 years, the first free democratic elections took place in Poland. The communists suffered a total defeat. Europe and the world stopped breathing. Solidarity - the Polish trade union federation founded in 1980 at the Gdansk shipyard by Lech Walesa - achieved a dazzling success. All Polish shipyards celebrated a huge victory. The anti-communist opposition - the workers together with the intelligentsia, had began to create a free and democratic Poland.
Twenty years later, the new economic reality of the country has made it possible for the cradle of Solidarity - Gdansk's shipyard - to be sold to the Ukrainian Industrial Union of Donbass. It was hard for Polish people to reconcile themselves to the thought of such a landmark being sold. The government was accused of betraying national interests.
During the following years, the Polish government pumped millions of dollars into the other Polish shipyards - Gdynia and Szczecin - to protect them from following in the footsteps of Gdansk. Unfortunately, the bad uncle was the European Commission, which decided that state aid is against the rules of free competition in the EU and that the yards must be liquidated. In May 2009, during an open auction, a mysterious investor from the Netherlands Antilles - United International Trust (UIT) - paid the highest amount for the two shipyards (a total of $140 million).
The media launched an investigation - who would spend so much money, and why? This is our national treasure, the backbone of the Solidarity movement. And who is that mysterious someone who wants to overthrow the Polish government? Is it our long-standing bad neighbors - the Germans and Russians? Or perhaps even the European Union?
THE ANSWER, unfortunately, is much simpler - it's the Jews! For centuries, they were trying to control Poland and the Polish government. Therefore, it must be them. The Web portal niezalezna.pl found the plot. The new owner of the yard is a company that belongs to the Sapiens International Corporation NV. That company is owned by the consortium Emblaze Ltd. Who controls this company - a Jew, Nahum Admoni. Moreover he is not only a Jew, he is also a former head of the Mossad. The Poles discovered that this company is managed by a number of Israelis who formerly worked for the Prime Minister's Office as well as for the Defense Ministry and Treasury.
What about the Sapiens company? Its CEO Roni Al Dor "graduated from a prestigious university which belongs to the Israeli Air Force." Rami Doron, another official, is "an expert in electronics from the Israeli army," and Sagi Schliesser the "head of the computer training school in the Jewish armed forces."
Journalists, including those from the mainstream media, have found the issue riveting. The Polish media are seething with anger. The newspapers are full of headlines like: "Israeli soldier buys Polish shipyard" and "The Mossad takes over Polish shipyards" (this article with a photo of a praying Jew wearing tefillin and reading a Torah). The Internet is full of speculations. One of the most popular Polish radio stations askedTreasury Minister Aleksander Grad: "Is it true that the Polish shipyards were purchased by the Israeli secret services?"
On June 4, 1989, communism in Poland ended. In those days Poles burst with pride - we finally won freedom and democracy for the entire Eastern Bloc. We have free media. We are a democratic society. A shameful part of the history of our country has gone forever. Our former enemies from the West became our new friends.
Only one thing remained unchanged. In Poland we still have our own little whipping boy - the Jews. We need a little more time to deal with that. So please, gentleman from the Mossad, if you really bought those Polish shipyards try to build at least a few new ships. That will help us to heal our prejudices and phobias. But don't forget, if you finally build those ships, please do your best not to sink them somewhere in the sea. If you do so, we will face a new problem - with the Jews.
The author is a media specialist who also works as an independent journalist for the Polish media.
Surely it is ironic, that the Arabs and Muslims, who set out to conquer the entire Middle East, North Africa, parts of India and Europe from their original base in the Arabian peninsula, accuse Zionism of "Imperialism."
Jun. 17, 2009 eli kavon , THE JERUSALEM POST Yehuda Alkalai is one of Jewish history's remarkable figures. Fifty years before Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in 1897, Alkalai was agitating for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Alkalai, a rabbi who served the community in the capital of Serbia, was influenced by the events occurring around him. The Damascus Blood Libel in 1840 - the Muslim authorities framed, arrested and tortured the leaders of the Syrian Jewish community for ritually murdering a priest - convinced him that Jews needed a haven from anti-Semitism.
But there was another factor in Alkalai's Zionist quest that cannot be ignored: The Serbs were staging a national rebellion against their overlords, the Ottoman Empire. This fight against Islamic imperialism inspired him to ask why Jews were not engaged in a battle for their own national independence.
Delegates at the UN and professors on university campuses worldwide brand the State of Israel the creation of a racist and colonialist European imperialism. This libel of the Jewish state betrays an ignorance of the history of the Jews and the story of the Zionist movement. From the beginning, the Zionist movement has been a foe of imperialism. Rebellions of national independence against the Ottoman and Russian empires influenced precursors of the Zionist movement, such as Alkalai and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer. Moses Hess, a socialist, looked toward Garibaldi's Italy as his inspiration for a Jewish homeland in Israel.
Herzl's concept of a Jewish state was based on the 19th-century liberal European nation-state. Even Vladimir Jabotinksy, an admirer of Mussolini's fascist regime, always stressed the influence of democracy on his political ideology. No major Zionist leader or thinker ever claimed that Zionism's goals were the imperialist domination of any other people. The accusation made by enemies of Israel that the Jewish state is an imperialist outpost of the West in the Middle East is a lie.
If the Zionist founders of the State of Israel were, indeed, imperialists, what empire did they represent? The pioneers who founded the modern State of Israel were young men and women who were fleeing pogroms and poverty in the Russian Pale of Settlement. It is true that Zionist founders such as Herzl looked toward imperial powers such as Britain and the Ottomans to back the building of a Jewish state. It is true that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 committed British imperialists to the creation of a Jewish home in Palestine. In the end, however, the British Empire betrayed the Jews of Europe to curry favor with the Arab world. It shut the gates of Jewish immigration to Palestine, abandoning the Jews to their fate in Nazi-occupied Europe.
THOSE WHO claim the Zionists have always been imperialists are actually racists. They deny the fact that although Jews lived in Europe and resembled the white-skinned Europeans with whom they lived, the Christians of Europe never believed Jews could ever be true Germans or Frenchmen. For more than a millennium, Christians and Muslims persecuted Jews, branding them inferiors and social outcasts, not caring what the color of Jewish skin was. We forget that racism is not only an issue of color. The Nazi regime destroyed 6 million Jews based on vile and false theories of Aryan racial superiority.
Racist hatred is not just a matter of hating a people for the color of their skin. The Holocaust is the ultimate proof of that. Europe and the Muslim world were never a home for the Jews. The empires of the Christian and Muslim world could have cared one iota about Jewish survival and the Jewish future. The Zionist enterprise was desperate and lonely. If only the Jews had the power of an empire, perhaps millions of Jews could have been saved from genocide. "Zionist imperialism" is an absurd phrase, an oxymoron. It is an anti-Semitic canard. It denies the tragic realities of Jewish history.
JEWS WERE AS much the victims of European colonialism as people of color in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The European imperialists never colonized a Jewish homeland but they did denigrate Jewish religion and Jewish culture. The emancipation of the Jews - the granting of citizenship to Jews 200 years ago in France - robbed them of their national identity and their sense of being a people. The Europeans were not believers in "cultural pluralism." They viewed the granting of citizenship as the first step of the disappearance of Jewish identity through assimilation into their societies and then conversion to Christianity.
After France emancipated its Jews, the imperialist Napoleon demanded that the Jewish notables of the French nation prove their loyalty to that nation, not to the Jewish people. Emancipation was humiliating. Jews in Europe bent over backward to prove their loyalty to Germany, France and England by denigrating their own culture and religious heritage as inferior and in need of reform. They were forced to betray their ancient loyalty to the Jewish nation by rejecting traditional Jewish identity. There were benefits that came with citizenship. But the costs in terms of Jewish identity, pride and dignity were disastrous. The Zionist movement rejected this form of "cultural colonialism." The emancipators denigrated Jews in their own backyard in the same way that they did so to people of color abroad.
FINALLY, TO BRAND Zionism as imperialism is to deny the connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel that goes back 3,000 years. Jews were battling imperialists, whether they were Hellenists or Romans, long before the modern national movements of liberation. The British in India, as well as the French in Algeria, did not have an ancient connection to the lands they colonized. The Europeans exploited native populations for reasons of economics and jingoism. Not so the Jews. The Jewish pioneers settled in Palestine to find a place to live as free men and women, free of the domination of imperialists in the European and Islamic world.
That the Arabs of Palestine suffered a catastrophe in losing their homes to Jews in 1948 was not due to "ethnic cleansing" but to their refusal to accept partition and their hatred of Jews that had its origin in the Islamic call for jihad against Jewish infidels. Today, half the Jewish population of Israel is made up of Jews from Arab and Islamic lands. To label as imperialist a small nation of Jews that flourished despite the power of great empires is absurd. It is an attempt to rob Israel of its legitimacy. It is a lie.
The writer is on the faculty of Nova Southeastern University's LifelongLearning Institute in Davie, Florida.
An attempt to relaunch the controversial Islamist group Al-Muhajiroun ended in chaotic scenes after the management of the London venue that was to host the group's first meeting in five years cancelled proceedings, complaining "fundamentalist thugs" had tried to enforce the segregation of men and women.
Supporters of the group, which wants sharia law in Britain and has praised the 9/11 terrorists as the "Magnificent 19", were ordered to leave Conway Hall in Holborn on Wednesday night when it emerged that Al-Muhajiroun had placed bouncers on the doors and were not letting women into the main hall.
Speakers who had been invited to share a platform with Anjem Choudary, the group's leader, accused Al-Muhajiroun of inviting them under false pretences.
Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said the platform of the planned debate was "completely unacceptable". "I'm perfectly willing to debate Anjem Choudary and Al-Muhajiroun's ideas," he said. "His ideas are not difficult. They do not stand up. But it's very clear that this debate is not neutral. This was a segregated event, policed by Al-Muhajiroun's guards."
He said he had been invited to the event by a student society, Global Issues Society, but the Islamist group had hijacked proceedings.
I can't vouch for the truth of this, especially since no other sources that I know of confirm it, but it is not impossible. On the other hand, Hamas is anxious to discredit Fatah and the best way to do it is to claim that Americans do their work for them (or Israelis). Note that in this version, 3,000 Palestinian Authority troops could not take out 3 Hamas desperadados. Even the supposedly Americans required about 25 commandos to kill three Hamas fighters. .
RAMALLAH [MENL] -- The Palestinian Authority crackdown against Hamas's military infrastructure in the West Bank has been marred by disorganization, lack of equipment and poor intelligence.
Palestinian sources said PA security forces were determined to have been unprepared for the order to attack Hamas's military infrastructure in the West Bank city of Kalkilya in May 2009. They said the operation on May 31 went so poorly that foreign security advisers, believed to have been Americans, were summoned to direct the final assault.
"The forces were disorganized, unable to work or communicate with each other and there was a lack of basic equipment and specialized personnel," a source involved in the operation said.
The source said about 25 U.S. and other security advisers participated in the final assault on the Hamas safe house in Kalkilya on May 31. The assault ended a 10-hour standoff by 3,000 PA troops against a handful of Hamas fighters.
"It was an embarrassing experience," the source said.
In Kalkilya, the sources said, the PA deployed troops from virtually every security agency, including the National Security Forces, Presidential Guard, Preventive Security Apparatus, General Intelligence, Military Intelligence and police. They said the PA force fired about 5,000 rounds of ammunition into the Hamas stronghold.
"It was the first time troops from different PA security agencies were asked to work together," another Palestinian source said. "The situation was chaotic with everybody firing wildly."
The sources the PA force lacked snipers, body armor, negotiators and medical evacuation forces. They said two officers from PSA and one from NSF, injured in the initial assault, bled to death because their colleagues could not evacuate them under Hamas fire.
"The intelligence was poor," a PA officer recalled. "The assessment was that Hamas would surrender. They didn't. Instead, they were ready to die as martyrs."
The operation was supervised by U.S. security envoy Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, who was not seen in Kalkilya. The sources said as daylight approached on May 31, three vans with non-PA plates arrived in Kalkilya. About 25 black-clad men, wearing night-vision goggles and ear-pieces emerged. They did not greet any of the PA commanders.
At that point, a PA officer called on his bullhorn for the Palestinian force to withdraw about 10 meters to make room for the new squad. The black-clad men were said to have surveyed the Hamas safe house and ordered a reorganization of the PA frontline force.
The new arrivals then led an assault on the Hamas stronghold, barking orders in a non-Arabic language. Within minutes, the Hamas safe house was captured and three occupants, including the Hamas commander, were killed.
"They looked and acted like Americans," a witness said. "Their tactics were nothing that the Palestinians here had seen."
On June 4, PA security forces identified and raided another Hamas safe house in Kalkilya. The sources said the second operation, which resulted in three casualties, proceeded more smoothly than the May 31 raid.
Still, the Palestinian sources said morale within the PA plunged in wake of the bloody crackdown against Hamas in Kalkilya. They quoted parents of security recruits as saying that they had not realized that their sons were in mortal danger from Islamic insurgents.
"Many of those who joined the PA forces saw this as a means of prestige and the chance to walk around with a weapon," the PA officer said.
"They didn't imagine it would mean actually coming face-to-face with death."
The essence of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech a few hours ago, which you can read in full here, was simply this:
Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. The cause of the conflict remains, as it ever was, the Arabs' refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in their historic homeland of Israel, which (contrary to Obama's claim) predated the Nazi Holocaust by several thousand years. Those (like Obama) who think the cause is the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza are confusing cause and effect. The fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is therefore a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Far from Israel occupying Palestinian land in Judea and Samaria, it is the Palestinians who are living within the ancient Jewish homeland. Israel does not wish to rule them and they can have a state of their own, provided they accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and provided a Palestinian state is demilitarised so that it does not possess the means to destroy Israel.
To this statement of historical truth and the most elementary requirements of morality and justice, the Palestinians' reply was unequivocal. The BBC reports:
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Israeli leader's speech 'torpedoes all peace initiatives in the region'. Another Abbas aide, Yasser Abed Rabbo, told the AFP news agency that recognition of Israel's Jewish character was a demand for Palestinians 'to become part of the global Zionist movement'. The militant Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the speech reflected Mr Netanyahu's 'racist and extremist ideology'.
Well, all that rather seems to make Netanyahu's point for him. How can there be a 'two state solution' when the Palestinians refuse to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state? Quite obviously, such a solution is off the table as far as the Palestinians are concerned.
So now the situation is clear for even the most blinkered to see. It's not the wretched settlements but the very existence of a Jewish state that is total anathema to the Palestinians. Yet as far as Obama is concerned, it is not the Palestinians who are the problem but Israel, which must now be forced to surrender its security to them – even while the so-called moderates of Fatah threaten to resume open warfare because of Netanyahu's temerity in stating the truth of the Jews' right to their own land and with Jerusalem its historic and undivided capital.
Thus the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeeb Erekat, who said that Netanyahu
will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him with this feeble state...
instantly threatened a resumption of violence:
'President Obama, the ball is in your court tonight,' Erekat said. 'You have the choice tonight. You can treat Netanyahu as a prime minister above the law and ... close off the path of peace tonight and set the whole region on the path of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodletting.
As the Jerusalem Post noted, however, Netanyahu espoused the vision of a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel, and reaffirmed that Israel would build no new settlements and take control of no more West Bank land. Just as Obama wanted.
So now will Obama pick up that ball and ask the Palestinians very nicely if they could possibly accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state? After all, what could be more reasonable than that?
A senior Hamas official praised former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday, a day after he met with the group, but said he failed to persuade the Islamic rulers of Gaza to accept international demands, including recognizing Israel. ... "The people think this is a historic visit," Youssef told The Associated Press on Wednesday, describing Carter as somebody very knowledgeable about the conflict and very sincere in the way he understands the conflict.
But Youssef said Hamas turned down Carter's policy requests.
"The visit has not led to a significant change. Hamas finds the conditions unacceptable, he said. Recognizing Israel is completely unacceptable."
According to Hamas ideology, there is no room for a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East. The militant group has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, killing hundreds.
Even so, some Hamas officials have indicated they could support creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, implying a form of tacit acceptance of Israel.
Youssef said the other two international conditions - renouncing violence and accepting past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians - are irrelevant. He said Israel broke a cease-fire, killing many Palestinians, and the state outlined in the partial peace accords would have no substance, no borders and nothing that a real state is.
Why are Iranians questioning the validity of the election results? Well, consider the case of Kerman, a city of half a million located in the southeast part of the country. According to the election map published this morning in the NYT, Ahmadinejad won over 70% of the votes in Kerman province.
So what? you'd ask. Mousavi's influence is known to be limited to the big cities.
It is just that a few hours ago a video showing a very large pro Mousavi demonstration was posted on Youtube. Take thirty seconds to watch it.
Can such a demonstration have taken place in a genuine Ahmadinejad strong hold?
Now consider this piece of information found in Wikipedia:
Politics in Kerman are influenced by the former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, his brother and Vice President Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, and the Vice President Hossein Marashi, both from the nearby Rafsanjan.
Rafsanjani is, of course, a major supporter of Mousavi. What are the chances that Ahmadinejad won over 70% of the votes there?
It is well known Mousavi (of Moses) is a Jew and the demonstrations in Iran are the work of Mossad agent provocateurs. The ordinary people of Iran are peace loving and would not wish to threaten the Islamic revolution. The agitators are funded by international zionism and the Jew owned international media, in thrall to the zionist oppressors, are running alongside.
Midst the continuing Iranian crisis, the total silence of rights groups, the UN Human Rights Council and other such organizations concerning the brutal repression of human rights by the reactionary regime of the Mullahs is truly deafening. These demonstrators are not friends of the United State or Israel, but that doesn't mean they should be shot and hanged.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran in a fifth day of protests as the government intensified its crackdown on opposition figures with the arrest of hundreds of leading critics.
Mainly dressed in black and wearing green wristbands and headbands to show their support for the defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, crowds gathered in Tir square and streets around it. Most of the protesters were silent and making victory signs, according to Reuters news agency. Witnesses estimated that as many as half a million people joined the march.
The protests pose a further challenge to a regime that has tried to quash all signs of opposition. On Monday, similar numbers congregated in the same square to voice their anger over last week's elections, which saw the incumbent hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad win by a landslide.
Another potential flashpoint looms tomorrow after Mousavi urged supporters to stage peaceful protests or gather in mosques to mourn those killed in the mass demonstrations. At least seven people have been reported killed, and there are fears the number could be higher.
The incoming Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, said on Wednesday that he expected the ongoing dispute between the Israeli and American governments over West Bank settlement construction to be resolved soon.
"[U.S. President Barack] Obama welcomed [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's policy speech, but the settlement question is still on the table," he told Israel Radio. "But there has been some progress made on that front over the past few days. Both parties have expressed their determined will to put an end to this bone of contention, and some novel ideas have been proposed."
He said he was not authorized to elaborate on the nature of these "novel ideas."
"I don't foresee us clashing with the Americans," Oren told Israel Radio. "We overcame the crisis in 1956 [during the Sinai Campaign against Egypt] and the loan guarantee crisis of [President George H.W.] Bush with [then-Israeli prime minister Yitzhak] Shamir."
Oren also said that while Netanyahu is ready to negotiate without preconditions, the Palestinians, for the first time, demand a complete freeze of construction in the settlements as a precondition for peace talks.
"The Palestinians would have to give up on this condition, because it's a new one," he said. "If they do it, we'll the resumption of the peace talks very soon."
Oren said that Israel will not return to the 1967 borders, because they are indefensible.
"A clear majority of Israelis are against it, and the Americans understand it is not feasible," he continued. "The borders are indefensible, and that was one of the reasons the war started. And after the war ended, when the Americans formulated the language of UN Resolution 242, then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk explicitly wrote that one of the goals of the resolution is to prevent a return to the 1967 borders.
Bret Stephens is mistaken. There is no issue for the United States in the Iranian election. The Iranian people have not asked for American help. Mr Mousavi has the same opinions about the "great Satan" as did the Ayatolah Khomeini, as he is a follower of Khomeini. The dispute with Mr Ahmadinejad is about internal matters, corruption and finding the best strategy to destroy the great Satan.
The Iranian regime derives its internal "legitimacy" from gun barrels, but it derives but internal and external popular support from cultivating an image as a victim of US and "Zionist" aggression and colonialism, and a champion of "resistance" against them. Mr. Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial clowning has a loyal following in the Middle East, even if it is not always popular in Iran proper. Any challenge to the Iranian government that comes from the West or supporters of Israel will only be used to enhance the prestige of the regime, and will allow Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah Khameinei to label their opponents as "Zionists" which is something a bit worse than calling them dogs.
Obama's policy has not been repudiated. A policy that is not based on reality cannot be repudiated by events in the real world, any more than believe in ghosts and witchcraft can be disproved by scientific experiments.
Rarely in U.S. history has a foreign policy course been as thoroughly repudiated by events.
June 16, 2009
By Bret Stephens
On the one hand we have democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reputed hardliner, who on Sunday abandoned his own long-held position and, to the immense disappointment of much of his political base, spoke of his willingness to accept a Palestinian state — provided only that the Palestinians forswear military pursuits, resettle Palestinian refugees in their own territory, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, just as the U.N. did at the country's founding.
On the other hand there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Holocaust-denier and nuclear aspirant, who on Friday was declared the winner of an election so transparently rigged that the only serious question is whether the regime even bothered to stuff the ballot boxes. Since then, scores of reformist politicians have been arrested or intimidated, rallies have been banned, and the possibility of an Iranian Tiananmen hangs in the air.
Question: Toward which of these two leaders does President Obama intend to play the heavy?
Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi appears at an opposition demonstration in Tehran yesterday.
Not, apparently, with the Iranian. On Saturday, spokesman Robert Gibbs said the White House "was impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians." On Sunday, Joe Biden allowed that there "was some real doubt" about the election, but said the U.S. would continue its outreach to Iran anyway. It was only after 48 hours that the president finally echoed his spokesmen.
This is a strange turn of events. In Cairo two weeks ago, Mr. Obama trumpeted "my commitment . . . to governments that reflect the will of the people." He also lamented that "the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government." Yet here is his administration disavowing the first of these commitments while acquiescing in the overthrow — before it can even be installed — of another democratically elected Iranian government.
Now a presidency that's supposed to be all about hope is suddenly in cynical realpolitik mode — the only "hope" it means to keep alive being a "grand bargain" over Iran's nuclear program. This never had much chance of success, but at least until Friday's sham poll it wasn't flatly at odds with the interests of ordinary Iranians. Not anymore.
Here's a recent comment from one Iranian demonstrator posted on the Web site of the National Iranian American Council. "WE NEED HELP, WE NEED SUPPORT," this demonstrator wrote. "Time is not on our side. . . . The most essential need of young Iranians is to be recognized by US government. They need them not to accept the results and do not talk to government as an official, approved one."
Someday a future president may have to apologize to Iranians for Mr. Obama's nonfeasance, just as Mr. Obama apologized for the Eisenhower administration's meddling. But the better Eisenhower parallel is with Hungary in 1956. Then as now a popular uprising coalesced around a figure (Imre Nagy in Hungary; Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran), who had once been a creature of the system. Then as now it was buoyed by inspiring American rhetoric about freedom and democracy coming over Voice of America airwaves.
And then as now the administration effectively turned its back on the uprising when U.S. support could have made a difference. Hungary would spend the next 33 years in the Soviet embrace. One senses a similar fate for Iran, where Mr. Ahmadinejad's "victory" signals the ultimate ascendancy of the ultra-militants in the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the paramilitary Basij, intent on getting what they want and doing as they please even in defiance of their old clerical masters. Which means: Get ready for a second installment of the Iranian cultural revolution. Mr. Ahmadinejad signaled as much when he promised to go after the corrupt elements of the old regime, particularly the circle around former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who openly opposed the incumbent prior to Friday's poll.
As for the hope — expressed over the weekend by one unnamed senior U.S. administration official to the New York Times — that Mr. Ahmadinejad would moderate his course in foreign policy to allay concerns about his legitimacy, the president made his views plain on Sunday. "It's not true," he said. "I'm going to be more and more solid."
Those are words for Mr. Obama to ponder. Rarely in U.S. history has a foreign policy course been as thoroughly repudiated by events as his approach to Iran in his first months in office. Even Jimmy Carter drew roughly appropriate conclusions about the Iranian regime after the hostages were taken in 1979.
Maybe this president will now draw roughly appropriate conclusions, too. Or maybe he'll just turn his gaze from his nonstarting overture to Tehran to the Holy Land, whose pastures look ever-so slightly greener thanks to Mr. Netanyahu's attempt at reasonableness and conciliation. Israelis shouldn't count on Mr. Obama responding in kind.
One would be interested to know if this will be a big clumsy "gun" bomb, which requires much more material but is easier to make if less efficient, or a little implosion device that can fit in a suitcase or a warhead.
One would also be interested to know how certain this prediction is, and whether or not it is likely Iran can have a bomb before 2014 "ready to use" (just add delivery system and stir). Without such details, and without knowing the intelligence on which the prediction was based, it is difficult to evaluate it in an intelligence way.
Mossad chief Meir Dagan said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will have a nuclear bomb ready for use by 2014.
Speaking to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee several days after the disputed Iranian elections, Dagan said that "what matters is the position of the [supreme] leader and this has not changed. The riots take place only in Teheran and one more region, they won't last for long." Dagan said the riots won't become a full-fledged revolution.
The violence in the wake of the elections in Iran and allegations of vote rigging are not different from "any other democracy… the discussion within the Iranian elite… is an internal affair."
Dagan said Israel would in fact have an easier time explaining the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons to the world when the country is led by a hardline fanatic president [reelected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] than if Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is seen as a moderate, would win the election. "We mustn't forget Mousavi is the one who started the nuclear program."
Regarding the nuclear threat, Dagan said Iran was closely following US response to recent threats made by North Korean despot Kim Jong Il. "If they see that the American policy can't bend or break North Korea, this will certainly affect the Iranians in future talks with the US. The Americans decided to try soft power on the Iranians… Iran thinks the world will come towards it."
Iran, according to Dagan, "wants to be like Egypt was in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a lot of cooperation between Iran, North Korea and Syria. The notion of an Iranian nuclear weapon is an existential threat to Israel and has to be removed." This article can also be read at
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Prime Minister responded to President Obama's Cairo speech by endorsing a circumscribed Palestinian state. The conditions he imposed on acceptance of that state were those endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public, as well as, by the parties to the left of the Likud. In the short term, the speech represents a political success for Netanyahu, as he managed to improve relations with the U.S. while simultaneously keeping his governing coalition intact. However, relatively soon Netanyahu will have to make a decision regarding the actual dismantling of illegal outposts that will probably require him to make a choice between the stability of his government and the quality of Israel's relations with the United States. The most obvious way around this dilemma is the creation of a national unity government in Israel, which Netanyahu called for in his speech.
The Prime Minister opened his speech at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies last night by referring to the threat posed by a nuclear Iran, not only to Israel, but to the U.S. and its pragmatic Arab allies in the Middle East. As such, Netanyahu indicated clearly what Israel regards as the most important strategic issue in the region. However, he did not comment extensively on the issue, perhaps because Iran's newly re-elected extremist President, Ahmadinejad, might have used Netanyahu's statement to delegitimize the Iranian opposition's demonstrations against him.
Netanyahu's message to the Americans: I am Pragmatic
The Obama administration has been demanding from day one that Netanyahu accept a two-state solution. In his speech, Netanyahu formally endorsed this position. This was not an entirely new position. Netanyahu stated several times in the late 1990s that he would be willing to accept a Palestinian state under certain conditions, but this was the first time that he formally adopted this position. In response, the Obama administration welcomed the speech as positive and a step forward. As such, Netanyahu achieved a major objective ג€" avoiding a major crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations.
Between the lines, Netanyahu also sent three other important messages to the United States. First, the Prime Minister chose to speak at the Begin-Sadat Center and he referred in his speech to the first Israeli-Arab peace treaty forged by Likud leader Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In doing so he reminded the U.S., that the Likud can be a partner for peace.
Second, on settlements, Netanyahu indicated his desire to reach a quiet understanding with the Americans. In this vein, he not only reiterated his promise not to build new settlements or expropriate additional land for existing settlements, but more significantly he did not refer to the term "natural growth", which the Americans have rejected. Instead, he spoke about allowing the settlers to maintain a 'normal life'.
Third, Netanyahu clearly rejected the contention made by Obama in his Cairo speech that Israel's right to exist rests on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Instead, he emphasized that the Jewish people's right to a homeland rests on its deep historical connection to the land.
Simultaneously, the Prime Minster sent Obama a political message concerning American pressure on Israel. Obama has emphasized the issues of a Palestinian state and freezing settlements. These are issues on which his position is supported by the majority of Americans, the majority of Congress and over which American Jews are divided. However, American public opinion, American Jewry and Congress are overwhelming supportive of the two major conditions for Palestinian statehood that Netanyahu raised: recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Israel's security concerns. If the Palestinians do not indicate a willingness to ultimately acquiesce to these positions, Obama will find it harder to pressure the Netanyahu government.
Netanyahu's message to the Israeli public: I am a Centrist
The core positions Netanyahu adopted in the speech reflect the Israeli consensus. For many years now, Israeli public opinion has consistently been willing to accept a Palestinian state. At the same time, the public's core political value is the existence of Israel as Jewish state and its main demands from the Palestinians are security and opposition to the immigration of Palestinian refugees and their descendents into Israel. In emphasizing these particular conditions for Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu is adopting similar positions to the parties to the left of the Likud, most notably Kadima head Tzippi Livni who has also emphasized that the refugee issue must be resolved outside of Israel.
At the same time Netanyahu shored up his right flank by referring to the Palestinian population, not the Palestinian nation, by making positive comments about the character of the settler community, by not accepting the American demand for a full settlement freeze, and by not announcing any practical measures that require implementation, such as dismantling outposts.
Netanyahu's message to the Palestinians: Test me
Netanyahu's main message to the Palestinians was this: You may not like everything I said, but I am willing to make compromises. If you want a state, don't expect American pressure to deliver it for you, while you sit back passively. You too will have to make compromises - so why not test me out in negotiations.
Although Netanyahu put conditions on accepting Palestinian statehood, he did not put conditions on opening diplomatic negotiations. In fact, even while he called on Palestinians and Arab states to work together to help develop the economic foundations of peace, he emphasized that this was a complement to diplomatic talks not a substitute for them. The Prime Minister also sent a very subtle message to Abu Mazen. Netanyahu differentiated his absolute conditions for Palestinian statehood from his "well known positions" on permanent status issues, including a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. These positions differ from the more dovish stance of Kadima and Labor. By stating them clearly, he drew a very negative reaction from the Palestinians. However, it is worth noting that Netanyahu did not present these "well known positions" as absolute conditions.
In the short term, Netanyahu speech succeeded in securing its strategic objectives. The Americans expressed support, the coalition remained intact, and the Palestinians were forced to answer questions concerning their willingness to make compromises.
However, Netanyahu will not be able to avoid difficult choices for long. In order to retain credibility with the Americans and the Israeli center, Netanyahu will have to demonstrate in practice his willingness to compromise. This means not only entering negotiations but also fulfilling prior Israeli commitments ג€" most notably removing the illegal settlement outposts. But if he does this, there will be a crisis with the Israel right and his coalition may become destabilized.
The only way to shore up his position would then be to add Kadima (or part of Kadima) to the coalition. Against this background, it is significant that Netanyahu called again for a national unity government, while mentioning the word "unity" several other times as well. Without a national unity government it will prove difficult for Netanyahu to maintain the successful the balancing act embodied in his address at the Begin-Sadat Center.
Jonathan Rynhold is senior lecturer of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.
BESA Perspectives is published through the generosity of the Littauer Foundation.
Not everyone will agree with Fisk that Obama's life would have been made easier if Mousavi had been 'elected' (is that what it is called?), especially since, as he notes, Mousavi favored a return to the conservative values of the Ayatollah Khomeini, whose insistence on wiping out the Great Satan is well known. But the frank picture of Iranian 'democracy' at work is a real 'kick in the balls' coming from someone like Fisk.
A smash in the face, a kick in the balls – that's how police deal with protesters after Iran's poll kept the hardliners in power
First the cop screamed abuse at Mir Hossein Mousavi's supporter, a white-shirted youth with a straggling beard and unkempt hair. Then he smashed his baton into the young man's face. Then he kicked him viciously in the testicles. It was the same all the way down to Vali Asr Square. Riot police in black rubber body armour and black helmets and black riot sticks, most on foot but followed by a flying column of security men, all on brand new, bright red Honda motorcycles, tearing into the shrieking youths – hundreds of them, running for their lives. They did not accept the results of Iran's presidential elections. They did not believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won 62.6 per cent of the votes. And they paid the price.
"Death to the dictator," they were crying on Dr Fatimi Street, now thousands of them shouting abuse at the police. Were they to endure another four years of the smiling, avuncular, ever-so-humble President who swears by democracy while steadily thinning out human freedoms in the Islamic Republic? They were wrong, of course. Ahmadinejad really does love democracy. But he also loves dictatorial order. He is not a dictator. He is a Democrator.
Yesterday wasn't the time for the finer points of Iranian politics. That Mir Hossein Mousavi had been awarded a mere 33 per cent of the votes – by midday, the figure was humiliatingly brought down to 32.26 per cent – brought forth the inevitable claims of massive electoral fraud and vote-rigging. Or, as the crowd round Fatimi Square chorused as they danced in a circle in the street: "Zionist Ahmadinejad – cheating at exams." That's when I noticed that the police always treated the protesters in the same way. Head and testicles. It was an easy message to understand. A smash in the face, a kick in the balls and Long Live the Democrator.
Many of the protesters – some of them now wearing scarves over their faces, all coloured green, the colour of Mousavi's campaign – were trying to reach the Interior Ministry where the government's electoral council were busy counting (or miscounting, depending on your point of view) Friday's huge popular national vote. I descended into the basement of this fiercely ugly edifice – fittingly, it was once the headquarters of the Shah's party, complete with helipad on the roof – where cold chocolate lattes and strawberry fruitcake were on offer to journalists, and where were displayed the very latest poll results, put up at 10.56am Iranian time.
Eighty per cent of the votes had been counted and the results came up as Ahmadinejad 64.78 per cent; Mousavi 32.26 per cent; Mohsen Rezai (a former Revolutionary Guard commander) 2.08 per cent; and Mehdi Karoubi (a former parliament speaker) a miserable 0.89 per cent. How could this be, a man asked me on a scorching, dangerous street an hour later. Karoubi's party has at least 400,000 members. Were they all sleeping on Friday?
There were a few, sparse demonstrators out for the Democrator, all men, of course, and many of them draped in the Iranian flag because the Democrator – devout Muslim as he always displays himself – wrapped his election campaign in the national flag. Each of these burly individuals handed out free copies of the execrable four-page news-sheet Iran.
"Ahmadinejad," the headline read, "24 million votes. People vote for Success, Honesty and the Battle against Corruption." Not the obvious headline that comes to mind. But Mousavi's Green Word newspaper allegedly had its own headline dictated to it by the authorities – before they shut it down yesterday: "Happy Victory to the People." And you can't get more neutral than that.
Back on the streets, there were now worse scenes. The cops had dismounted from their bikes and were breaking up paving stones to hurl at the protesters, many of them now riding their own motorbikes between the rows of police. I saw one immensely tall man – dressed Batman-style in black rubber arm protectors and shin pads, smashing up paving stones with his baton, breaking them with his boots and chucking them pell mell at the Mousavi men. A middle-aged woman walked up to him – the women were braver in confronting the police than the men yesterday – and shouted an obvious question: "Why are you breaking up the pavements of our city?" The policeman raised his baton to strike the woman but an officer ran across the road and stood between them. "You must never hit a woman," he said. Praise where praise is due, even in a riot.
But the policemen went on breaking up stones, a crazy reverse version of France in May 1968. Then it was the young men who wanted revolution who threw stones. In Tehran – fearful of a green Mousavi revolution – it was the police who threw stones.
An interval here for lunch with a true and faithful friend of the Islamic Republic, a man I have known for many years who has risked his life and been imprisoned for Iran and who has never lied to me. We dined in an all-Iranian-food restaurant, along with his wife. He has often criticised the regime. A man unafraid. But I must repeat what he said. "The election figures are correct, Robert. Whatever you saw in Tehran, in the cities and in thousands of towns outside, they voted overwhelmingly for Ahmadinejad. Tabriz voted 80 per cent for Ahmadinejad. It was he who opened university courses there for the Azeri people to learn and win degrees in Azeri. In Mashad, the second city of Iran, there was a huge majority for Ahmadinejad after the imam of the great mosque attacked Rafsanjani of the Expediency Council who had started to ally himself with Mousavi. They knew what that meant: they had to vote for Ahmadinejad."
My guest and I drank dookh, the cool Iranian drinking yoghurt so popular here. The streets of Tehran were a thousand miles away. "You know why so many poorer women voted for Ahmadinejad? There are three million of them who make carpets in their homes. They had no insurance. When Ahmadinejad realised this, he immediately brought in a law to give them full insurance. Ahmadinejad's supporters were very shrewd. They got the people out in huge numbers to vote – and then presented this into their vote for Ahmadinejad."
But of course, the streets of Tehran were only a hundred metres away. And the police were now far more abusive to their adversaries. My own Persian translator was beaten three times on the back. The cops had brought their own photographers on to the pavements to take pictures of the protesters – hence the green scarves – and overfed plain-clothes men were now mixing with the Batmen. The Democrator was obviously displeased. One of the agents demanded to see my pass but when I showed my Iranian press card to him, he merely patted me on the shoulder and waved me through.
Thus did I arrive opposite the Interior Ministry as the police brought their prisoners back from the front line down the road. The first was a green-pullovered youth of perhaps 15 or 16 who was frog-marched by two uniformed paramilitary police to a van with a cage over the back. He was thrown on the steel floor, then one of the cops climbed in and set about him with his baton. Behind me, more than 20 policemen, sweating after a hard morning's work bruising the bones of their enemies, were sitting on the steps of a shop, munching through pre-packed luncheon boxes. One smiled and offered me a share. Politely declined, I need hardly add.
They watched – and I watched – as the next unfortunate was brought to the cage-van. In a shirt falling over his filthy trousers, he was beaten outside the vehicle, kicked in the balls, and then beaten on to a seat at the back of the vehicle. Another cop climbed in and began batoning him in the face. The man was howling with pain. Another cop came – and this, remember, was in front of dozens of other security men, in front of myself, an obvious Westerner, and many women in chadors who were walking on the opposite pavement, all staring in horror at the scene.
Now another policeman, in an army uniform, climbed into the vehicle, tied the man's hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, took out his baton and whacked him across the face. The prisoner was in tears but the blows kept coming; until more young men arrived for their torment. Then more police vans arrived and ever more prisoners to be beaten. All were taken in these caged trucks to the basement of the Interior Ministry. I saw them drive in.
A break now from these outrages, because this was about the moment that Mousavi's printed statement arrived at his campaign headquarters. I say "arrived", although the police had already closed his downtown office – Palestine Street, it was called, only fitting since the Iranian police were behaving in exactly the same way as the Israeli army when they turn into a rabble to confront Palestinian protesters – and Mousavi's men could only toss the sheets of paper over the wall.
It was strong stuff. "The results of these elections are shocking," he proclaimed. "People who stood in the voting lines, they know the situation, they know who they voted for. They are looking now with astonishment at this magic game of the authorities on the television and radio. What has happened has shaken the whole foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and now it is governing by lies and dictatorship. I recommend to the authorities to stop this at once and return to law and order, to care for the people's votes. The first message of our revolution is that people are intelligent and will not obey those who gain power by cheating. This whole land of Iran belongs to them and not to the cheaters."
Mousavi's head office in Qeitariyeh Street in north Tehran had already been besieged by the Democrator's loyal "Basiji" volunteers a few hours earlier. They had chucked tear gas at the windows. They were still smouldering when I arrived. "Please go or they will come back," one of his supporters pleaded to me. It was the same all over the city. The opposition either asked you to leave or invited you to watch them as they tormented the police. The Democrator's men, waving their Iranian flags, faced off Mousavi's men. Then, through their ranks, came the armed cops again, running towards the opposition. So whose side were the police really on? Rule number one: never ask stupid questions in Iran.
Last night, all SMS calls were blocked. The Iranian news agency announced that, since there would be no second round of elections, there would be no extension of visas for foreign journalists – one can well see why – and so many of the people who were praised by the government for their patriotism in voting on Friday were assaulted by their own government on Saturday.
Last night, the Democrator was still silent, but his ever-grinning face turned up on the posters of his supporters. There were more baton charges, ever greater crowds running from them. Thus was the courage of Friday's Iranian elections turned into fratricidal battles on the streets of Tehran. "Any rallies," announced the Tehran police chief, General Ahmad Reza Radan, "will be dealt with according to the law." Well, we all know what that means. So does the Democrator.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the blacksmith's son and former Revolutionary Guard, who, since his surprise victory four years ago, has seemingly gone out of his way to play bogeyman to the US. In his first term in office, Mr Ahmadinejad became known for his fierce rhetoric against America and Israel, his proud promotion of Iran's nuclear programme and persistent questioning of the Holocaust.
In Iran, he benefited from a surge in petrodollar revenues and has distributed loans, money and other help on his frequent provincial tours. But critics say his free spending fuelled inflation and wasted windfall oil revenues without reducing unemployment. Prices of basics have risen sharply, hitting more than 15 million Iranian families who live on less than $600 a month. He blamed the inflation, which officially stands at 15 per cent, on a global surge in food and fuel prices that peaked last year, and pursued unorthodox policies such as trying to curb prices while setting interest rates well below inflation.
During the campaign, in a series of bitter TV debates with his three rivals, he was repeatedly accused of lying about the extent of price rises. Mir Hossein Mousavi also accused Mr Ahmadinejad, 53, of undermining Iran's foreign relations with his fiery anti-Western speeches and said Iranians had been "humiliated around the globe" since he was first elected.
During Mr Ahmadinejad's first term, the UN Security Council imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects has military aims.
Mr Ahmadinejad, the first non-clerical president in more than 25 years, basks in the support of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on Iranians to vote for an anti-Western candidate. The Ayatollah ultimately calls the shots in Iran, where the president can only influence policy, not decide it.
Mir Hossein Mousavi
Life for President Barack Obama would be a great deal easier if Mir Hossein Mousavi had won Iran's election. The man who was prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s says he would seek detente with the West, ask Mr Obama to debate at the UN with him, and floated the idea of an international consortium overseeing uranium enrichment in Iran.
On the domestic front, the 67-year-old architect and painter urged a return to the "fundamental values" of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini...
Forced to convert in the Spanish Inquisition, these Conversos or Marranos often retained Jewish customs for generations. Sometimes they were burned at the stake in an "act of faith" for transgressions such as celebrating Passover, Today, there is is a movement in the Catholic Church that insists that the inquisition was a "myth." It never happened. These people, descendants of the conversos, are living proof that the inquisition was no myth.
In recent years, hundreds of Spanish Catholics have discovered that family customs have roots in hidden Jewish traditions from Inquisition days; many of these new-found 'bnei anousim' are taking part in efforts to improve Israel's image in Europe
Itamar Eichner Published: 06.15.09, 10:27 / Israel Jewish Scene
BARCELONA - It's been more than 500 years since the Spanish Inquisition, but it's still not the easiest thing being a Jew in Spain these days, and it's even harder being a Catholic and discovering one day that you have deep, Jewish roots. But this is what is happening to a number of Catholics in the Mediterranean country.
Many descendants of 15th century 'anousim' or 'Marranos' – Jews who were forced to outwardly convert during the Inquisition and camouflage their religious practices – are now trying to return to their roots.
The 'Shavei Israel' organization "holds out a hand" to "lost" Jews, those who for historical or geopolitical reasons were distanced from their faith over centuries and decades. Among them, they help interested bnei anousim (descendants) to connect with and even convert to Judaism.
In early June, 70 such bnei anousim arrived at the Barcelona Jewish community center for an unprecedented conference intended to enlist their help in advocacy efforts for Israel in Europe. Most participants came from Spain, with some from Portugal and Italy.
'Worried about speaking out' Prof. Philippe Farau, who had been lighting Friday evening candles his entire life but only entered a synagogue for the first time 22 years ago, described the hesitance of bnei anousim in the region of declaring their Jewish roots publicly. He noted that, after his first interview on the subject, his mother called him worried about the implications.
Unlike Prof. Farau, who gives interviews frequently and is writing a book about his personal experiences, another conference participant, Edouard, a doctor from Spain, refused to be photographed or even provide his full name.
In recent years, he has been receiving threats on his life after a Spanish-Muslim website published a fatwa calling for his death and that of a number of his friends who have written newspaper articles and blogs in support of Israel.
Edouard, who only found out six years ago about his Jewish background, has published over 1,600 pro-Israel articles to date but does so using a pseudonym. He and his wife converted, but discreetly, because of remaining anti-Semitism by a new name: "The new anti-Semitism is anti-Israelism, he says."
Indeed, the Foreign Ministry lists Spain as one of the European nations most hostile towards Israel. Founders of pro-Israeli websites, such as 64-year-old Michael Segura, have had their homes attacked and spray-painted with swastikas.
The enlisted of Bnei Anousim began in late 2008, after strident anti-Israeli sentiment rose in Spain following the inception of Operation Cast Lead. In one anti-Israel protest, some 2,000 participants attacked the Israeli embassy in Madrid and vandalized it.
A few days later, Shavei Israel director Michael Freund organized a pro-Israel counter-rally. Hundreds among the 4,000 participants were bnei anousim who came from all over the country.
According to Freund, an Israeli of American descent, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of bnei anousim living in the Iberian peninsula who are well aware of their heritage and have a connection with the Jewish people, even if they have not converted.
"The fact that many of the are taking the initiative and asking to volunteer as advocates for Israel is an exciting historical development," Freund said at the time. "This is an amazing advocacy army full of good-will ambassadors. We must build up a long-term relationship with them."
But recently, their enthusiasm appears to have receded. At the recent conference, attended by Einat Kranz-Nieger, the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Madrid, the atmosphere was tense because of fears of hostile public opinion in Spain.
Nonetheless, conference participants appeared willing to continue defending Israel even if, like their ancestors, circumstances force them to do so while hiding their identity.
Czech FM says PM's comments need more analysis, but 'acceptance of Palestinian state is there'; Swedish FM: Speech first small step
Associated Press Published: 06.15.09, 09:58 / Israel News
The European Union says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's endorsement of a Palestinian state is a "step in the right direction."
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Monday that while Netanyahu's comments on Sunday needed more analysis "the acceptance of a Palestinian state is there."
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, which will take over the EU presidency in July, called it "a small step forward".
"That's good but it's only a first step," he said ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. "A state can't be defined as anything...the fact that he uttered the word is a small first step."
Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, when asked if Netanyahu's move was sufficient for the EU to upgrade ties with Israel, said: "No".
The 27-nation European Union has linked an unfreezing of plans to upgrade links with Israel to Netanyahu committing to negotiate a two-state accord. Officials of the bloc were due to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Luxembourg later on Monday.
In a statement, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also called Netanyahu's speech a step forward. "But to secure peace means going well beyond that, without laying down any pre-conditions to negotiations," he said.
Kouchner said the two sides should define the outlines of a new state and tackle all the major issues, including the final status of Jerusalem and the question of refugees.
He said an atmosphere of trust needed to be restored between the two sides. "In this respect, France, along with its European partners, the United States and the whole international community, demands the immediate halt to colonisation and a reopening of the Gaza border," he said.
In his address, Netanyahu backed a Palestinian state beside Israel, reversing himself under US pressure but attaching conditions such as having no army. The Palestinians swiftly rejected that.
Netanyahu also said the Palestinian state would have to recognize Israel as the Jewish state _ essentially saying Palestinian refugees must give up the goal of returning to Israel.
Obama called Netanyahu's shift on Palestinian statehood an "important step forward" but aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the speech as "sabotaging" negotiations by restating Israel's refusal to share the city of Jerusalem or accept Palestinian refugees.
Jun. 14, 2009 Haviv Rettig Gur , THE JERUSALEM POST
A majority of Israeli Jews support equality for non-Orthodox religious streams, and two-thirds back government spending to help struggling overseas Jewish communities hurt by the economic crisis, according to a new study.
Fully 54 percent of those polled support granting equal status and funding to the liberal Jewish streams and their rabbinic leadership, according to the fourth annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes toward World Jewry, a poll of 500 Israeli Jews over 18 that was conducted early this month. Just 36% opposed giving equal status to the liberal streams.
Israelis still prefer, by a margin of 49% to 44%, to have conversions remain in the hands of the state's Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate, suggesting that some 10% support religious pluralism but want to maintain the Rabbinate's stricter conversion standards.
That support drops slightly once again on the question of patrilineal descent. Whereas Jewish law dictates that one must have a Jewish mother, or convert, to be a Jew (57% agreed with this), some 39% said Jewish identity could also come from the father.
The poll was commissioned by the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem and conducted by KEEVOON Research ahead of the 17th annual Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage for 2009, which will be awarded on Wednesday at the capital's Menachem Begin Heritage Center.
Israeli Jews showed a significant level of identification with Diaspora communities. Nearly 60% supported spending their tax money on "basic services like education, healthcare and food to Diaspora Jewish communities that are struggling in light of the recent global economic situation," the survey found. Just 36% were against this.
The support was much higher - 73% - among Israeli Jews aged 18 to 24, suggesting that the feeling of responsibility for the Diaspora may be strengthening among Israelis.
"Attitudes of Israelis toward the Jewish Diaspora are in constant flux and are impacted by events taking place in both communities," B'nai B'rith World Center director Alan Schneider said.
But, he added, "our survey revealed that the Israeli-Diaspora relationship is very important to Israelis. The concern shown by Israelis for the well-being of the Diaspora and their consideration for the opinions voiced by Diaspora Jewry is unique."
The respondents were also asked to reflect on the reported rift between Israel and the new US administration.
Forty-six percent said American Jewish groups were "not doing enough to bridge policy differences and ease the tensions between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government." Just 23% disagreed with this sentiment, perhaps suggesting that these organizations' work is not visible to average Israelis.
Half of Israelis believe Diaspora Jews should consider Israelis' opinions when deciding who to vote for in their local elections or which of their governments' policies to support.
Forty percent said Israelis should consider the opinions of Diaspora Jews when making similar decisions in Israel.
Interestingly, 32% of Israeli Jews said the pro-Israel lobby in the US was "free to openly oppose the policies of the current Israeli government" - a figure exactly equal to the number of Jewish-held Knesset seats not represented in the current governing coalition.
The highlight of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech this evening was support for a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state of Israel. Netanyahu insisted that the state would be demilitarized and could not form alliances with other states against Israel. That is no more and no less than has been Israeli policy in fact, at least since 2000. What Benjamin Netanyahu did not say could fill a book. He did not say what Israel is going to do about illegal outposts, and he didn't talk in detail about the situation in Gaza. He neither demanded directly that the Palestinians or the United States take steps to change the regime in Gaza or at least to bring about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, nor did he promise any humanitarian concessions in Gaza. The purpose of this speech was to give Barack Obama one of the concessions he demanded: Israeli support for a Palestinian state. Mission accomplished. Netanyahus concession has already stirred up a bit of a ruckus in the Likud party, where several MKs are contemplating a revolt. The White House welcomed the speech, while the Palestinians rejected it. They complained that Israel does not concede East Jerusalem, and that Netanyahu did not concede right of return for Palestinian refugees. But no Israeli government is going to allow the refugees to return, and it is unreasonable to expect any concessions from Israel regarding Jerusalem, as long as Palestinians refuse to even admit that Jerusalem was the capital of a Jewish state in ancient times. Israel has recognized the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own. It is only right that the Palestinians, after 60 years, should recongize the right of the Jews to a state of our own. Aluf Benn was correct when he wrote that Obama will decide how good Netanyahu's speech is, and apparently it is good enough. In the nature of things, Netanyahu having made a major concession, the Palestinians might be expected to follow suit, if the world is fair. The world, however, is not necessarily fair.
Peace was always the desire of our people. Our prophets had a vision of peace, we greet each other with peace, our prayers end with the word peace. This evening we are in the center named for two leaders who were groundbreakers for peace -Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat - and we share their vision.
Two and a half months ago, I was sworn in at the Knesset as the Prime Minister of Israel. I promised that I would establish a unity government, and did so. I believed, and still believe, that we need unity now more than ever before.
We are currently facing three tremendous challenges: The Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace.
The Iranian threat still is before us in full force, as it became quite clear yesterday. The greatest danger to Israel, to the Middle East, and to all of humanity, is the encounter between extremist Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this with President Obama on my visit to Washington, and will be discussing it next week on my visit with European leaders. I have been working tirelessly for many years to form an international front against Iran arming itself with nuclear armaments.
With the world financial crisis, we acted immediately to bring about stability to the Israeli economy. We passed a two-year budget in the government and will pass it through the Knesset very soon.
The second challenge, rather, the third, so very important challenge, facing us today, is promoting peace. I discussed this also with President Obama. I strongly support the idea of regional peace that he is advancing. I share the President of the U.S.A's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.
I discussed this in my meetings with President Mubarak in Egypt and with King Abdullah in Jordan to obtain the assistance of these leaders in the effort to expand the circle of peace in our region.
I appeal tonight to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: Let us meet. Let us talk about peace. Let us make peace. I am willing to meet at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut, and in Jerusalem as well. (Applause)
I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to join together with the Palestinians and with us to promote economic peace. Economic peace is not a substitute for peace, but it is a very important component in achieving it. Together we can advance projects that can overcome the problems facing our region. For example, water desalinization. And we can utilize the advantages of our region, such as maximizing the use of solar energy, or utilizing its geographical advantages to lay pipelines, pipelines to Africa and Europe.
Together we can realize the initiatives that I see in the Persian Gulf, which amaze the entire world, and also amaze me. I call upon the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world, to come and invest here, to assist the Palestinians and us, to give the economy a jump-start. Together we can develop industrial zones, we can create thousands of jobs, and foster tourism that will draw millions, people who want to walk in the footsteps of history, in Nazareth and Bethlehem, in the heights of Jericho and on the walls of Jerusalem, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and at the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is a huge potential for the development of tourism potential here. If you only agree to work together.
I appeal to you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions. Israel is committed to international agreements, and expects all sides to fulfill their obligations. I say to the Palestinians: We want to live with you in peace, quiet, and good neighborly relations. We want our children and your children to 'know war no more.'
We do not want parents and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to know the sorrow of bereavement. We want our children to dream of a better future for humankind. We want us and our neighbors to devote our efforts to 'plowshares and pruning hooks' and not to ?swords and spears?? I know the terror of war, I participated in battles, I lost good friends who fell [in battle], I lost a brother. I saw the pain of bereaved families from up close ? very many times. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. (Applause)
Let us join hands and work together in peace, together with our neighbors. There is no limit to the flourishing growth that we can achieve for both peoples - in the economy, in agriculture, in commerce, tourism, education - but, above all, in the ability to give our younger generation hope to live in a place that?s good to live in, a life of creative work, a peaceful life with much of interest, with opportunity and hope.
Friends, with the advantages of peace so clear, so obvious, we must ask ourselves why is peace still so far from us, even though our hands are extended for peace? Why has the conflict going on for over 60 years? To bring an end to it, there must be a sincere, genuine answer to the question: what is the root of the conflict? In his speech at the Zionist Congress in Basel, in speaking of his grand vision of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish People, Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel, said: This is so big, we must talk about it only in the simplest words possible.
I now am asking that when we speak of the huge challenge of peace, we must use the simplest words possible, using person to person terms. Even with our eyes on the horizon, we must have our feet on the ground, firmly rooted in truth. The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been ? and remains - the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.
In 1947 when the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the proposal, while the Jewish community accepted it with great rejoicing and dancing. The Arabs refused any Jewish state whatsoever, with any borders whatsoever.
Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.
To our joy, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of hostility. They signed peace agreements with us which ended their hostility to Israel. It brought about peace.
To our deep regret, this is not happening with the Palestinians. The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict.
A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.
We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.
We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter, we uprooted dozens of settlements and turned thousands of Israelis out of their homes. In exchange, what we received were missiles raining down on our cities, our towns and our children. The argument that withdrawal would bring peace closer did not stand up to the test of reality.
With Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, they keep on saying that they want to 'liberate' Ashkelon in the south and Haifa and Tiberias. Even the moderates among the Palestinians are not ready to say the most simplest things: The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish People and will remain so. (Applause)
Friends, in order to achieve peace, we need courage and integrity on the part of the leaders of both sides. I am speaking today with courage and honesty. We need courage and sincerity not only on the Israeli side: we need the Palestinian leadership to rise and say, simply "We have had enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish People to a state its own in this Land. We will live side by side in true peace." I am looking forward to this moment.
We want them to say the simplest things, to our people and to their people. This will then open the door to solving other problems, no matter how difficult. The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. (Applause)
For this to have practical meaning, we need a clear agreement to solve the Palestinian refugee problem outside of the borders of the State of Israel. For it is clear to all that the demand to settle the Palestinian refugees inside of Israel, contradicts the continued existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People. We must solve the problem of the Arab refugees. And I believe that it is possible to solve it. Because we have proven that we ourselves solved a similar problem. Tiny Israel took in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were uprooted from their homes.
Therefore, justice and logic dictates that the problem of the Palestinian refugees must be solved outside the borders of the State of Israel. There is broad national agreement on this. (Applause)
I believe that with good will and international investment of we can solve this humanitarian problem once and for all.
Friends, up to now, I have been talking about the need for the Palestinians to ecognize our rights. Now I will talk about the need for us to recognize their rights.
The connection of the Jewish People to the Land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah ? this is not a foreign land, this is the Land of our Forefathers. (Applause)
The right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel does not arise from the series of disasters that befell the Jewish People over 2,000 years -- persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, murders, which reached its climax in the Holocaust, an unprecedented tragedy in the history of nations. There are those who say that without the Holocaust the State would not have been established, but I say that if the State of Israel had been established in time, the Holocaust would not have taken place. (Applause) The tragedies that arose from the Jewish People?s helplessness show very sharply that we need a protective state. The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the Land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish People. (Applause)
As the first PM David Ben Gurion in the declaration of the State, the State of Israel was established here in Eretz Israel, where the People of Israel created the Book of Books, and gave it to the world.
But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor?s security and existence.
These two facts ? our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.
I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace. (Applause) And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.
This is why we are now asking our friends in the international community, headed by the USA, for what is necessary for our security, that in any peace agreement, the Palestinian area must be demilitarized. No army, no control of air space. Real effective measures to prevent arms coming in, not what?s going on now in Gaza. The Palestinians cannot make military treaties.
Without this, sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan. We can?t agree to this. Israel must govern its own fate and security. I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state. (Applause)
Whenever we discuss a permanent arrangement, Israel needs defensible borders with Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel. (Applause)
The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. (Applause)
Friends, unity among us is, to my view, vital, and unity will help with reconciliation with our neighbors. Reconciliation must begin now. A strong Palestinian government will strengthen peace. If they truly want peace, and educate their children for peace and stop incitement, we for our part will make every effort, allow them freedom of movement and accessibility, making their lives easier and this will help bring peace. But above all, they must decide: the Palestinians must decide between path of peace and path of Hamas. They must overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit down at conference table with terrorist who seek to destroy it. (Applause)
Hamas are not willing to even let the Red Cross visit our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit who has been in captivity three years, cut off from his family and his country. We want to bring him back whole and well.
With help of the international community, there is no reason why we can?t have peace. With help of USA, we can do we can do the unbelievable. In 61 years, with constant threats to our existence we have achieved so much. Our microchips power the worlds computers unbelievable, we have found cures for incurable diseases. Israeli drip irrigation waters barren lands throughout the world. Israeli researchers are making worldwide breakthroughs. If our neighbors only work for peace, we can achieve peace. (Applause)
I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let?s go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let?s go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more. Let us know war no more. Let us know peace
In his Bar Ilan University speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted President Obama's challenge of frank talk between allies. Before Mr. Netanyahu said yes to the possibility of a Palestinian state at the end of a realistic peace process, he spoke about the roots of the conflict and the narrative, and on these issues, more than anything other, he differed from Obama's Cairo University speech. The conflict, he reminded Washington (and Europe), did not result from the 1967 war, but rather from the intense, consistent and often violent Arab refusal to acknowledge Israel as the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, and to the Jewish right to self-determination in this homeland.
On this fundamental requirement for mutual acceptance, Palestinian leaders continue to maintain the old rejectionist stance. Netanyahu reminded Obama as well as his Israeli critics that even the most moderate Palestinians have been unwilling to acknowledge the Jewish historical roots in this land. Unless this obstacle is overcome, Netanyahu emphasized repeatedly, there was no realistic possibility for a stable and lasting peace agreement.
Similarly, in contrast to Obama's emphasis on Jewish suffering and the Holocaust, both in Cairo and then in Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel, Netanyahu replied that Israel was founded on the basis of historic and political rights, and not in response to antisemitism and suffering. The history of 2000 years of political powerlessness and persecution served to highlight the need for restoration of Jewish self-determination. In the strongest line of the speech, Netanyahu declared that had Israel come into existence earlier, the tragedy of the Holocaust would have been averted. What went unsaid was the degree to which Obama's misplaced emphasis reinforced the Arab narrative in which the creation of Israel resulted from European guilt.
As part of this frank talk, Netanyahu told his audience Israelis, Americans, and Arabs -- that in order to make progress towards a two state solution, the legitimacy of the Jewish state will have to explicitly recognized. In addition, everyone would need to recognize that the problem of Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 war would have to be solved outside of Israel's borders, in contrast to the continued effort to use them to change Israeli demography.
Just as Israel had absorbed mass of Jewish refugees from Arab lands their numbers were roughly equal to the Palestinian refugees and despite the economic difficulties of this process, the Arab states and the world would need to do the same. Without finding a solution to the refugee issue outside Israeli borders, there is no founding for a stable peace agreement.
Netanyahu also spoke frankly to his Israeli constituents the voters for Likud and the other coalition partners that recently returned him to the position of Prime Minister. The taboo on a Palestinian state in any form was broken the international (meaning primarily American) situation required recognition of this reality. The Palestinians ware entitled to their own flag, anthem, and country.
Thus, the issue which ostensibly led to the failure of post-election negotiations with Tzippi Livni and Kadima for a broad coalition government suddenly disappeared. And while Netanyahu called for American and international guarantees that a Palestinian state would be demilitarized, in practice, this will be difficult to ensure, as events in Gaza have demonstrated.
Overall, in this speech, the Prime Minister went somewhat further than both his critics and his supporters should have expected, including acceptance of a settlement freeze, at least with respect to additional territory. On Jerusalem, no new ground was broken, as Netanyahu declared that the city would not be divided, and that the members of all religions would continue to be able to pray at their holy sites. Obama's speech also treated Jerusalem carefully and without details, suggesting agreement (either tacit or explicit) that negotiations on this very complex issue should be left for later.
But this is only an opening position in what all sides recognize will be a difficult negotiation process, primarily between Obama and Netanyahu, and also between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. With the big speeches behind them, both leaders will now have to work on the much more difficult task of translating noble words into successful policies.
[TEHRAN BUREAU] Iran's Interior Ministry has declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of yesterday's election. This has been rejected by all the three opponents of Mr. Ahmadinejad, Messrs Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mahdi Karroubi, and Mohsen Rezaaee.
The best evidence for the validity of the arguments of the three opponents of the President for rejecting the results declared by the Interior Ministry is the data the Ministry itself has issued. In the chart below, compiled based on the data released by the Ministry and announced by Iran's national television, a perfect linear relation between the votes received by the President and Mir Hossein Mousavi has been maintained, and the President's vote is always half of the President's. The vertical axis (y) shows Mr. Mousavi's votes, and the horizontal (x) the President's. R^2 shows the correlation coefficient: the closer it is to 1.0, the more perfect is the fit, and it is 0.9995, as close to 1.0 as possible for any type of data.
Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election — and at all stages of vote counting. This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own. For example, in the present elections, Mr. Mousavi is an Azeri and speaks Turkish. The Azeries make up 1/4 of all the eligible voters in Iran and in his trips to Azerbaijan province, where most of the Azeri population lives, Mr. Mousavi had been greeted by huge rallies in support of his campaign. Likewise, Mr. Karroubi, the other reformist candidate, is a Lor. But according to the data released by Iran's Interior Ministry, in both cases, Mr. Ahmadinejad has far outdone both candidates in their own provinces of birth and among their own ethnic populations.
Al Qassemi suggests that the Gulf should have its own special peace envoy, in support of US President Obama's peace initiative. But it is not so clear what views this envoy would represent. The generality of opinion coming from the Gulf seems to be more uncompromising than some Palestinians, and insists that only total vanquishing of "Zionism" can settle the conflict.
* Last Updated: June 14. 2009 12:30AM UAE / June 13. 2009 8:30PM GMT
Around the Arab world, it is just known as the Obama speech. You don't need to mention in which venue or country it took place. People just know. Arabs and Muslims who have generally been ruled by autocrats have heard the US president Barack Obama speak directly to them twice in a period of six months. Mr Obama first addressed us in the Turkish Parliament this spring and then at Cairo University this summer. Twice is two times more than Arab leaders have addressed their own people in many instances.
But what must our reactions be? The core of the speech centred on the Palestinian issue. Remember the Palestinians? Yes, they are still suffering from occupation, an evil blockade and manipulation by some regimes and television stations in the region. In order for the Gulf states to move forward from paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, the first step is to meet Mr Obama half way. The Gulf Arabs can start by appointing a special envoy for the Palestinian cause who can travel to Egypt and the Levant to meet the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Hamas, Hizbollah and yes, even Israel.
Why? Because it is primarily in the interests of the Palestinians in the refugee camps and in the interest of the people of the region that six decades of injustice be corrected. Most of the Palestinians and Arabs who reject peace live comfortable lives in the region or in the West where they can easily pass judgement on how much longer the refugee camp Palestinians can continue to live in misery.
The Gulf states can also establish a fund of significant size – possibly in the billions of dollars – that can be part of the mandate of this special envoy. The envoy can release the funds depending on the advances made on the ground and provide them to the Palestinians. The envoy must personally oversee the disbursement of the funds so that they are not lost in Fatah's web of corruption or Hamas's propaganda war.
So far the US has appointed a Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process, George Mitchell. The ineffective Quartet (the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations) appointed Tony Blair, and even the Chinese appointed their own envoy, Sun Bigan. The Russian president went so far as appointing Alexander Saltanov, a deputy foreign minister as his special envoy for the Middle East and the Indian government appointed CR Gharekhan as Special Envoy for West Asia and the Middle East Peace Process. It seems that more than half of the world's population has taken the matter more seriously than the Arabs.
The closest the Arabs have to their own special envoy is Egypt's own intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, who has been actively brokering deals between rival Palestinian groups, now a full-time job, in addition to visiting the Israelis and Jordanians.
It is time for the Arabs, and especially those in the oil-rich Gulf, to appoint a consensus candidate who is a career diplomat and can represent us in the peace negotiations that Mr Obama is pushing for. The Gulf states cannot afford to waste more time by having others do their "dirty work". After all, the Middle East crisis will not solve itself, not peacefully at least. We must take a cue from the rest of the world by using our economic clout (we do control up to half the world's oil after all) and appoint an emissary whose full time job is to travel within the region and try to bring the position of the Arabs closer together.
The envoy can also visit China, Russia, India, Europe, the US and the UN to speak on our behalf. This envoy must have a great command of the English language, and perhaps others, and must be trained in the art of negotiation and diplomacy. Such an appointment would be a significant demonstration to the Obama administration and the rest of the world that we are serious about peace.
Lifting the embargo on Gaza should be the envoy's first mandate. This will prove to the world that peace is good for business and business is good for peace. Since the GCC can't seem to agree on much lately, it may also be easier to pick a consensus candidate from among the list of former GCC Secretary Generals who already have an established rapport with Gulf leaders.
There are many Arabs who will doubt Mr Obama's intention and capability in bringing peace to the region. Mr Obama isn't perfect; his naïveté was exposed when he called for Jerusalem to forever be the undivided capital of Israel at the last American Israel Public Affairs Committee congress to win support of the powerful Israeli lobby. No, Mr Obama isn't perfect, but he's the best shot we've got in the Middle East. The least we can do is meet him half way.
Sure, he isn't perfect, but who of us is?
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government
TEHRAN (AFP)--The clerical group of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami called on Saturday for a re-staging of the presidential vote which saw incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emerge victorious.
The Combatant Clerics' Assembly, whose members comprise reformist and moderate clerics, expressed concern at a "massive engineering of votes" in Friday's election - echoing comments by Ahmadinejad's main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.
"The assembly concludes that annulling this election and repeating the vote in a fairer and more logical atmosphere is the right way to retrieve public trust and sustain the national reconciliation with voting," it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the main mobile telephone network in Iran was cut in the capital Tehran Saturday evening while popular Internet Web sites Facebook and YouTube also appeared to be blocked, correspondents said.
The communication cuts came after Ahmadinejad won a landslide re-election victory, sparking rioting in the streets by opposition supporters who claimed the result had been rigged.
The mobile phone network stopped working at 1730 GMT, just before Ahmadinejad went on television to declare the election a "great victory" and even as baton- wielding police were clashing with protestors in the streets of Tehran, according to witnesses.
Iran has two national networks run by state-owned MCI (Telecommunication Company of Iran) and the private firm Irancell.
Several Iran-based users logging on via different Internet service providers, meanwhile, said they could reach neither Facebook nor YouTube - the two websites used effectively by young supporters of Ahmadinejad's moderate rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Today the world is witnessing the demonstrated anger of millions of Iranians against a regime that denies their most basic rights, including the right to choose leaders who could improve their abysmal condition.
There is no exit from this condition, so long as one man appropriates onto himself the "power of god" and controls the judiciary, the media, the security forces and, through direct and indirect appointees, the only candidates claiming to represent an impoverished and disenfranchised people.
Today I stand united with my fellow Iranians and call for the end of the Islamic Republic, or any other prefix in front of the name of my beloved Iran that indicates theocracy or any other form of disregard for democratic and human rights.
I caution the world that offering any incentives or "carrots" to the theocracy under these circumstances is an affront to the people of Iran. This is not a time for short-sighted, self-efeating tactical games. This is the time for the free world to stand true to its principals and support the people of Iran's quest for democracy and human rights.