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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tennis: Israel reach Davis Cup semi-finals for first time

Something good happened!
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel reached the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time on Saturday when they defeated 2002 and 2006 champions Russia in their quarter-final.
Doubles pair Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram clinched the crucial point beating Igor Kunitsyn and Marat Safin 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 4-6, 6-4 to open up an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Israel will face either defending champions Spain or Germany in September's semi-finals.

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Report: Hamas arrests Islamic Jihad terrorists firing at Israeli troops

Hamas seems to have a much greater interest in keeping the peace since Operation Cast Lead.
GAZA, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Hamas security forces on Saturday arrested two operatives who opened fire at Israeli troops in northeast Gaza city, sources said.
    The sources said the two militants were members of the Islamic Jihad's military wing and one of them is wanted by Israel and had survived two attempted assassinations by the Israeli army.
    "The arrests were conducted as the Islamic Jihad elements were firing mortar shells at Israeli forces that rolled near the border," the sources added.
    There has been no reaction from Hamas' administration which controls the Gaza Strip. According to the sources, Hamas' security officers informed the two men that a ceasefire is underway and so they should not attack the Israeli forces.
    A ceasefire between Hamas and Israel has not been officially announced though the two sides maintain a level of calmness since Israel ended its military operation in Gaza last January.

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Israel and US lead Davis cup quarterfinals

Last update - 22:15 10/07/2009    
Israel takes surprise lead over Russia in Davis Cup quarters
By The Associated Press
Israel took a surprising 2-0 lead over Russia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals Friday after Dudi Sela rallied to beat Mikhai Youzhny in the second singles match.
Sela won 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 after Harel Levy beat Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, putting Israel one win away from its first semifinal appearance.
"I felt a lot of pressure when I took the court after Harel's win, because I knew I could put the team at 2-0," said Sela, who moved up 13 places to No. 33 in the world rankings after reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon last week. "I am happy that I stood up to this."
Israel can wrap up the best-of-five series in Saturday's doubles match when Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich are set to take on Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn.
Russia has won the Davis Cup twice - in 2002 and 2007 - and made it to the semifinals in each of the past five years.
Israel has only reached the quarterfinals once before, losing to India in New Delhi in 1987.
Youzhyny said he was very disappointed.
"I began very well, but after I took the first set, my luck fell away," he said. "I hope that this tie is still not lost."

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Israel orders 1st stealth F-35 squadron

This deal has been on again and off again. The F-35 is rumored to be not that great a plane - underpowered and expensive.

Israel orders 1st stealth F-35 squadron

Jul. 9, 2009

Israel moved a step closer to receiving its first stealth fighter jets this week after the Israel Air Force submitted an official Letter of Request (LOR) to the Pentagon to purchase its first squadron of 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the F-35 will be one of the most-advanced fighter jets in the world and will enable Israel to phase out some of its older F-15 and F-16 models. The JSF is manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

Defense officials said that while the LOR was submitted this week, negotiations regarding the final price of the plane - estimated at around $100 million - as well as the integration of Israeli systems would continue.

The LOR will be followed by the signing of a contract in the beginning of 2010. The first aircraft are scheduled to arrive in Israel in 2014.

The first stage of the deal will be the purchase of 25 aircraft, which will compromise the first Israeli F-35 squadron. In a later stage, the IAF plans to purchase an additional 50 aircraft, some of them with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

According to senior IDF officers, the Defense Ministry and the Pentagon have reached understandings on most of the major issues that have been at the core of disagreement between the sides.

Israeli demands have focused on three issues - the integration of Israeli-made electronic warfare systems into the plane, the integration of Israeli communication systems and the ability to independently maintain the plane in the event of a technical or structural problem.


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Religion and National Issues in the constitutions of Arab and European states

The Palestinians and Arab states, including and especially Egypt, have bitterly opposed Israel's requirement that peace must include recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. They insist alternately that a state of the Jewish people would necessarily discriminate against minorities and would be "racist," or pretending that "Jewish State" refers to a religion, they insist that no modern state can be based on religion. A survey of national constitutions in the Arab world and Europe reveals however, that many countries establish a nationality, a religion or both as the basis of their state either explicitly or by implication. In particular, Arab states declare themselves openly to be Arab and Islamic for the most part. In both Egypt and the Palestinian authority Islam is to be the basis of legislation. In Iraq, with an American inspired constitution, "Arab" is omitted in favor of the Kurds and other minorities, but Islam is the religion.
Greece is the mother of democracy as everyone knows. The Greek constitution declares:
In the name of the Holy and Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity
Article 3
1. The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ.
Ami Isseroff

Constitution of The Arab Republic of Egypt

Article 1
The Arab Republic of Egypt is a democratic state based on citizenship. The Egyptian people are part of the Arab nation and work for the realization of its comprehensive unity.

Article 2
Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language. Principles of Islamic law ( Shari'a) are the principal source of

Palestinian Basic Law

Article (1)

Palestine is part of the large Arab World, and the Palestinian People are part of the Arab Nation. Arab Unity is an objective which the Palestinian People shall work to achieve.


Article (4)

1. Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions shall be maintained.

2. The principles of Islamic Shari'a shall be the main source of legislation.

3. Arabic shall be the official language.

Article 1 The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an independent sovereign Arab State. It is indivisible and inalienable and no part of it may be ceded. The people of Jordan form a part of the Arab Nation, and its system of government is parliamentary with a hereditary monarchy.
Article 2 Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language.


Chapter 1 Basic Principles

Part 1 Political Principles

Article 1 [Arab Nation, Socialist Republic]

(1) The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic, popular, socialist, and sovereign state. No part of its territory can be ceded. Syria is a member of the Union of the Arab Republics.
(2) The Syrian Arab region is a part of the Arab homeland.
(3) The people in the Syrian Arab region are a part of the Arab nation. They work and struggle to achieve the Arab nation's comprehensive unity.


Article 3 [Islam]

(1) The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam.
(2) Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation.

Article 4 [Language, Capital]
The Arab language is the official language. The capital is Damascus.


Article 2:

First: Islam is the official religion of the State and is a foundation source of


A. No law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam


Saudi Arabia

Article 1
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion; God's Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, God's prayers and peace be upon him, are its constitution, Arabic is its language and Riyadh is its capital.

French Constitution - Preamble:


The French people solemnly proclaim their attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and complemented by the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946, and to the rights and duties as defined in the Charter for the Environment of 2004.



An Islamic and fully sovereign state whose official language is Arabic, the Kingdom of Morocco constitutes a part of the Great Arab Maghreb.

Article 6: Islam shall be the state religion. The state shall guarantee freedom of worship for all.


In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

We, the people of Éire,

Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,


Article 1.

The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.

The Spanish Nation, desiring to establish justice, liberty, and security, and to promote the well-being of all its members, in the exercise of its sovereignty....
In the name of the Holy and Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity
Article 3
1. The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head, is inseparably united in doctrine with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and with every other Church of Christ of the same doctrine, observing unwaveringly, as they do, the holy apostolic and syn- odal canons and sacred traditions. It is autocephalous and is administered by the Holy Synod of serving Bishops and the Permanent Holy Synod originating thereof and assembled as specified by the Statutory Charter of the Church in compliance with the provisions of the Patriarchal Tome of June 29, 1850 and the Synodal Act of September 4, 1928.
2. The ecclesiastical regime existing in certain districts of the State shall not be deemed contrary to the provisions of the preceding paragraph.
3. The text of the Holy Scripture shall be maintained unaltered. Official translation of the text into any other form of language, without prior sanction by the Autocephalous Church of Greece and the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, is prohibited.

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Osama Bin Laden's son says dad is evil because he gasses dogs

Like wow! Osama Bin Laden gasses dogs. Is that the worst thing he ever did? I guess he's not dead after all. His son would know.
BY James Gordon Meek
Friday, July 10th 2009, 4:00 AM
OSAMA BIN LADEN'S son Omar first realized the depth of his father's evil when his beloved dogs were taken away and gassed in a chemical warfare experiment, he says in a new memoir.
Omar also confirms what U.S. officials have long believed - that his father was tipped off to a 1998 U.S. attempt to kill him.
He writes that Bin Laden got a secret communication and fled his Afghan camp two hours before cruise missiles struck it.
He does not identify the source of the tip, which the U.S. suspects was Pakistani intelligence.
Omar's book, "Growing Up Bin Laden," written with his mother, Najwa - the Al Qaeda leader's first wife - describes the ultimate dysfunctional family.
The Bin Ladens lived austerely as their father staked his horrific claim as the world's most wanted man. His son eventually concluded Bin Laden hated his enemies more than he loved his family.
Omar, 28, describes weeping as a teenager when told that Al Qaeda needed his pets to conduct chemical warfare tests.
"After I learned the truth about the puppies, I turned even further away from my father," whose jihad led only to death, Omar writes in the book set for release by St. Martin's Press later this year.
It has been widely reported that Bin Laden's goons tested nerve agents at the Derunta camp in Afghanistan. In 2002, CNN obtained and showed video of dogs - fully grown - being gassed by visible toxic fumes.
Bin Laden's fourth son admits he knew in advance of plots against targets like the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, where 224 perished.
He called the 9/11 attacks "horrific." They occurred after he was told by his best friend - Al Qaeda operative Abu al-Haadi - that a "new mission" would be much bigger than the embassy bombings. Omar mourned al-Haadi's death in the resulting U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

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Obama and Iran

In the New Republic, Leon Wiesltier opines: 
On a rainy day in 1993, I sat with my parents at the opening ceremonies of the Holocaust Museum and heard President Clinton, who was doing nothing to stop the genocide in Bosnia, suggest that the genocide in Bosnia must be stopped, because never again can we allow genocide to occur. My mother laconically whispered that "he talks about Bosnia as if he is somebody else." I was reminded of her distinction between the president and the rest of us when I read a piece on this magazine's website by my haver Michael Walzer, who made the same distinction but for the opposite end. He wished to exonerate the president. His subject was President Obama's stony reluctance to condemn the Iranian regime's theft of the election and its repression in the streets. "What Obama says must be guided by what he has to do," Walzer wrote, referring to the challenge of the nuclearization of Iran. "The rest of us are much freer." And so "we need to be clear about who we are and what we stand for and why we oppose the religious zealots and tyrants who have ruled Iran for the last decades." But the president need express, or teach, no such clarity. "Heads of state," who can "defend political principles" if they wish, "have other things to do." This was the stirring slogan of Walzer's exemption of the president from moral leadership in the midst of one of the greatest explosions of democratic energy in our time: "For liberals and leftists--opposition and nothing else; for state diplomats--handshakes and negotiations."


With their defense of Obama's dilatoriness about the revolt in Tehran, American liberals compromised themselves. They succumbed to the Council on Foreign Relations view of the world. So it is important to be clear that the strong articulation of American principles by the American president when those principles are being bravely upheld by a people in revolt against a dictator--this is not only a statement of emotion, it is also an element of strategy. It emboldens the right side. It allies the United States with peoples against regimes, which is almost always the surest foundation for the American position. (I am not an Iran expert, unlike almost everyone I meet, but I find it hard to imagine that the young men and women suffering the blows of the Basij would not welcome our support, that they are in the streets with angry thoughts of Mossadegh. If these events have shown anything, it is that their enemy and our enemy are the same.) There is nothing more sweepingly in the interest of the United States in the Middle East than the withering away of the theocracy in Iran. Every blow struck against the structure of state power in Iran is a blow struck against Hezbollah and Hamas; and a blow has at last been struck. This is one of those instances in which our planners may have some use for our principles. I understand the urgency of the nuclear issue, of course. I doubt that those centrifuges will be negotiated away; but if there is any hope for diplomacy, it lies in a political transformation in Tehran.

I do not agree that Obama's diffidence about liberation and human rights is owed entirely to a fear of nuclear proliferation. He has another commitment. He is determined to be the un-ugly American. This excites him. He is consecrated to an engagement with the Muslim world, which is not entirely consistent with a consecration to democracy. Even as the brutality of the ayatollahs was increasing, Obama made a point of referring graciously to "the Islamic Republic of Iran," as if it would be a slander against Islam or Iran to refer to the regime in a less legitimating manner. (The commentators are declaring a "crisis of legitimacy" in Iran, but there can be no crisis of legitimacy where there is no legitimacy.) Why does Obama care so much for Khamenei's good opinion? Khamenei will blame the West whatever the West does, because he believes that the West is forever to blame. Khamenei responded to Obama's rapture in Cairo with this. And soon, if he is to act according to his plan, Obama will have to sit down with Ahmadinejad. Perhaps he will shake his hand. Perhaps he will he wear a green tie. There are many ways for an American to be ugly or un-ugly. The hearts of millions are about to be broken. They will look to the president of the United States. Will his mincing cease? Will the realist get real? In recent days Obama has begun--not under pressure, of course--to "condemn" and to "deplore." The oppressed people of Iran may now endure what other oppressed peoples have endured: the learning curve of an American president. It is the insult that history adds to their injury.

Yes and no. No Republican has explained why the Bush administration didn't do anything about genocide in Darfur. OK, so I will explain. In the 17th century there was a great war that lasted 30 years. Appropriately enough, it was called the 30 years war. Nobody was sure why the war was fought, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Germany lost Alsace and got trampled over by several different countries and private armies. At the end of 30 years everyone was tired of the whole thing and made the  Peace of Westphalia, which is called that because it was made in two treaties in Osnabruck and Munster It was decided that each state could have its own religion according to its own king or government. Thus was born the modern system of states. The Westphalian system enshrined what had long been a tradition in international relations - since ancient times, and what is still a tradition today: no interference in internal affairs of other countries. As a person, Barack Obama may have the greatest sentiments regarding shooting of demonstrators in Tehran or Tienanmen or genocide in Sudan. As President of the United States he cannot interfere in the internal affairs of another country. That's true whether he is a Democrat or a Republican in the USA or a Monarchist. in Belgium.

Ami Isseroff

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Assault against Israel began a long time ago

The assault against Israel actually began a long time ago, when the UN institutions that turn out anti-Israel resolutions and "investigations" were created. It has been building up steam at a new level since the start of the violence in 2000. Too bad that most Israelis are only becoming vaguely aware of it now.

Comment: Political, legal assault against Israel is just beginning

Jul. 5, 2009

Almost six months after the combat ended in Gaza, the political and legal assault against Israel is just beginning.

Last week, three superpowers - the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International - published reports condemning Israel for "war crimes" and for the suffering of Gaza's population. In parallel, Richard Goldstone's UN inquiry was in Gaza taking testimony from anti-Israel NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and from Palestinian "victims."

The outcome is clear, and there is no reason to expect it to change if Israel decided to cooperate with an inherently biased process.

This onslaught highlights the difficulties that Israel faces in responding to efforts to criminalize legitimate defense in asymmetric warfare. In contrast, the answers provided by government officials are generally vague and defensive. The IDF, the Foreign and Defense ministries and the Prime Minister's Office still have not developed a coherent strategy or allocated the resources necessary to defeat this attack.

Examination of these NGO publications highlights the façade of research without any substance. While frequently invoking the language of human rights and international law, reports by Amnesty and HRW demonstrate the absence of research expertise in this area.

These international NGOs were founded in the 1970s to campaign for the release of political prisoners, and have gone far beyond their mandates and capabilities, particularly when dealing with Israel. Instead, they cut and paste civilian casualty claims from biased sources such as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR.)

The three reports published and publicized last week, like dozens that have come before, combine pseudo-legal rhetoric, technical allegations regarding Israel's defense against terror attacks, automatic sympathy for Palestinian victims, and condemnation of Israel. The images and the titles reflect these biases - Amnesty's is headlined: "Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction."

Researchers led by Donatella Rovera claim they could not find evidence of the use of human shields by Hamas. In fact, the entire population of Gaza was one massive human shield, with weapons stored and fired from schools, mosques, hospitals and similar civilian structures (in one infamous case, during a live video broadcast widely viewed on Youtube.)

Similarly, the 10-page ICRC publication ("Gaza: 1.5 Million People Trapped in Despair") consists largely of pictures of Palestinians and none of Israelis in Sderot - the rights of Israelis are irrelevant, as they are in the case of the UN and the Goldstone commission.

Gilad Schalit has also been erased (Amnesty buried him in a footnote referring to Israeli policy.) The kidnapped Israeli soldier is also the missing man what has been referred to as Goldstone's "kangaroo court." Such sins of omission belie the moral claims that are the foundation of international law.

In addition to the moral facade, HRW's report ("Precisely Wrong") uses hi-tech language to attack the IDF's use of advanced drones. Here, the "war crimes" charges are based on six carefully chosen cases. The "evidence" comes from Palestinian claims of having heard and seen the arrival of these tiny and soundless weapons - a superhuman feat.

HRW's "military analyst" Marc Garlasco added dubious assumptions regarding the "impact mark of the missile and the fragmentation pattern" consistent with Spike missiles. Although a few reporters were professional enough to investigate the details, check with independent experts, and expose the dubious claims, most reports copied Garlasco's mix of fact and fiction without question. (They also omit mention of HRW fund-raising in Saudi Arabia that cites their anti-Israel campaigns.)

These events, as well as the ongoing Goldstone inquiry, are part of the broader strategy of demonization adopted at the NGO Forum at the 2001 UN Durban Conference. The goal is to brand and isolate Israel as the new "apartheid" state.

This strategy was applied in 2002 in the "Jenin massacre" myth, in 2006 in the wake of the Lebanon War, in the attempt to portray the "apartheid wall" as a violation of international law, and now in Gaza. In addition, numerous "lawfare" cases are being launched against Israelis by the same NGOs, and although one case in Spain was dismissed, hundreds of others will follow.

In each wave, the UN's Human Rights Council, in which Iran and Libya play a central role, established biased "inquiries" providing NGOs with additional platforms.

In Goldstone's inquiry, a statement submitted by seven Israeli groups (ACRI, Gisha, PCATI, HaMoked, Yesh Din, Adalah, and PHR-I) funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund, also invoked rhetoric like "collective punishment used against the civilian population," and "a disproportionate military assault."

In contrast, Israeli leaders have belittled the exploitation of human rights and international law in this way. Few resources have been devoted to finding an effective response. But as in other forms of warfare, a counter-strategy will only succeed if it cuts off the resources and inflicts a cost on the perpetrators.

The writer is chairman of the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University and executive director of NGO Monitor.


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Iran can have an A-bomb in as little as a year - or not

A somewhat educated guess says that the A-bomb Iran could have within a year would be a big heavy bomb that uses a "gun" type detonation mechanism and might use relatively low grade uranium. Iran has about 1000 KG of 5% uranium, enough for critical mass probably.  Such a device might certainly explode, but it would be difficult to mount it in a missile and "deliver" it. Iran will presumably wait until it can have a number of bombs using highly enriched uranium and a sophisticated implosion device for detonation, as well as a missile system that can "deliver" that bomb to Israel or to Western Europe - or to Saudi Arabia or Egypt for that matter.  
That is the reason for the discrepancy in estimates. However, given the huge propaganda value of having any sort of bomb, we should not underestimate the possibility that Iran will have made a bomb within a year.
Ami Isseroff

'Iran could, but probably won't build a bomb within a year'

Jul. 9, 2009

Both the US and Israel believe Iran has the technical capacity to build one nuclear bomb within a year if it decides to do so, but both countries also believe the chances that Teheran will indeed make that decision are slim, according to assessments made known to The Jerusalem Post.

According to these Israeli assessments, there is not much difference now between the US and Israel regarding a timeline for a "worst case scenario" on Iran's development of a bomb. At the same time, both Jerusalem and Washington currently believe that "worst case scenario is not likely to materialize."

The assessments come in the wake of comments made Sunday by US Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the effect that Iran could be as little as a year away from completing a nuclear bomb, while Mossad head Meir Dagan recently surprised many by saying Iran won't have a nuclear weapon until 2014.

"I would be careful about all the declarations on this matter," said one senior government official who deals with the issue, adding that a decision by Teheran to go full throttle toward the building of a bomb was dependent on numerous different decisions the government would have to make, and which it had simply not yet made.

In the meantime, the official said, the Iranians have decided to continue to enrich as much low grade uranium as they can, and to also continue development in the field of ballistic missiles at a level that would not make their situation with the international community much worse than it already is.

Some American and Israeli experts have long argued that, rather than pushing for a bomb the moment they can, the Iranians may want to gain the potential capacity, over a longer period, to build an entire nuclear arsenal - and then stay weeks or months away from final bomb-making but ready to make the ultimate push should they so choose.

The international community, meanwhile, signaled on Thursday that it was still keeping its eye on the nuclear issue, with the G-8 leaders giving Iran until late September to accept negotiations over the issue.

The US is still waiting for an Iranian answer to President Barack Obama's offer of engagement on the nuclear issue.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the situation would be reviewed at a G-20 meeting of developed and developing countries in Pittsburgh on September 24, and that "if there is no progress by then, we will have to take decisions."

A unilateral attack by Israel on Iran to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions would be an "absolute catastrophe," Sarkozy was quoted by AFP as saying on Thursday after the G-8 summit in Italy.

From an Israeli perspective, the senior government official explained, the G-8 deadline included both positive and negative aspects.

On the positive side, there has been a degree of concern in Jerusalem since the events that followed the June elections in Iran that the international community would try to push back the timetable on the nuclear issue until the dust cleared in Teheran.

The G-8 statement, the official said, strengthened the sense in Jerusalem that the international community was sending a message that "time is of the essence," and that international stocktaking of Iran's position on the issue would take place regardless of Iran's internal situation.

On the negative side of the ledger from an Israel perspective, however, was that the G-8 deadline was also a sign the international community was sill locked into "engagement" mode, dashing any thinly held hope in Jerusalem that the Iranian regime's brutal repression of the protests there would lead toward immediate sanctions.

According to the senior government official, under the current timetable Iran had until September to give a decision on engagement. If the talks began, then by the end of the year - as Obama said in May during his meeting in Washington with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - there would be a reassessment of the situation, and a determination whether to continue dialogue or take more serious sanctions.

Regarding the contradictory messages that came out of Washington this week as to whether the US was giving Israel a green light for military action, with Vice President Joe Biden implying that a green light was being given, and Obama categorically denying that, the official said that Obama has been consistent in speaking against an Israeli military action.

What needed to be explained, the official said, were Biden's comments.

"Biden's comments seem to have come out of the blue," he said. "There has been no discussion with the US over the last few months about the possibility of an attack."

The official said it was also not clear how the recent events on the ground in Iran would impact on the nuclear issue.

On the one hand, he said, the protests have highlighted the vulnerability of the regime, which now appears significantly weaker than it was before the elections and their aftermath.

On the other hand, the official said, many believe that Iran's foreign policy and its policy on the nuclear issue will only become more intransigent as a result of the developments.

"There is a contradiction," the official said. "While the regime is more vulnerable than in the past to pressure from the international community, this may lead in the early stages to a hardening of its positions."

"When you are weak domestically, you can't show that you are weak externally as well. The opposite is true," he said. "You have to take a tougher stand with the world so they don't conclude that because you are under domestic pressure, you will fold under external pressure."

According to this logic, if the Iranians were willing to absorb the harsh international criticism that came with cutting down the reformers, then they would also be willing to absorb international censure in going forward with the nuclear program.

The international community, however, is now more prepared to impose serious sanctions on Iran than it was before the recent events, the official added.

If just a few months ago the assessment in Jerusalem was that European governments were ready to impose significant sanctions on the Iranians, but that European public opinion was not supportive, now the situation has changed dramatically and public opinion favors sanctions.

In the past the European public seemed "completely apathetic as to what was happening inside Iran," the senior government official said, adding that pictures broadcast from Teheran, and the brutal manner in which the government put down the reform movement, has significantly altered the public mood in Europe.•

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Iran protests have started again

The bravery of the demonstrators is admirable. It is really unknown whether they are friends of the United States or "Zionists" - it is not relevant in fact. They are demonstrating for freedom and that is what is important, and they have not been cowed by the regime.
The regime of course, is foolish. the elections were faked, it was done to help one internal faction against another. Mir Hossain Mousavi is not a big liberal, and nothing would have happened to the Islamist government had he been elected. If  It would certainly have been wiser to simply redo the elections.
Thousands protest in Iran, defying crackdown vow
By The Associated Press
Thousands of protesters streamed down avenues of the Iranian capital Thursday, chanting "death to the dictator" and defying security forces who fired tear gas and charged with batons, witnesses said.
The first opposition foray into the streets in 11 days aimed to revive mass demonstrations that were crushed in Iran's postelection turmoil.
Iranian authorities had promised tough action to prevent the marches, which supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have been planning for days in Internet messages. Heavy police forces deployed at key points in the city ahead of the marches, and Tehran's governor vowed to smash anyone who heeded the demonstration calls.
In some places, police struck hard. Security forces chased after protesters, beating them with clubs on Valiasr Street, Tehran's biggest north-south avenue, witnesses said.
Women in headscarves and young men dashed away, rubbing their eyes as police fired tear gas, in footage aired on state-run Press TV. In a photo from Thursday's events in Tehran obtained by The Associated Press outside Iran, a woman with her black headscarf looped over her face raised a fist in front of a garbage bin that had been set on fire.
But the clampdown was not total. At Tehran University, a line of police blocked a crowd from reaching the gates of the campus, but then did not move to disperse them as the protesters chanted "Mir Hossein" and "death to the dictator" and waved their hands in the air, witnesses said. The crowd grew to nearly 1,000 people, the witnesses said.
"Police, protect us," some of the demonstrators chanted, asking the forces not to move against them.
The protesters appeared to reach several thousand, but their full numbers were difficult to determine, since marches took place in several parts of the city at once and mingled with passers-by. There was no immediate word on arrests or injuries.
It did not compare to the hundreds of thousands who joined the marches that erupted after the June 12 presidential election, protesting what the opposition said were fraudulent results. But it was a show of determination despite a crackdown that has cowed protesters for nearly two weeks.
Onlookers and pedestrians often gave their support. In side streets near the university, police were chasing young activists, and when they caught one, passers-by chanted "let him go, let him go," until the policemen released him. Elsewhere, residents let fleeing demonstrators slip into their homes to elude police, witnesses said.
All witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. Iranian authorities have imposed restrictions that ban reporters from leaving their offices to cover demonstrations.
Many of the marchers were young men and women, some wearing green surgical masks, the color of Mousavi's movement, but older people joined them in some places. Vehicles caught in traffic honked their horns in support of the marchers, witnesses said. Police were seen with a pile of license plates, apparently pried off honking cars in order to investigate the drivers later, the witnesses said.
Soon after the confrontations began, mobile phone service was cut off in central Tehran, a step that was also taken during the height of the post-election protests to cut off communications. Mobile phone messaging has been off for the past three days, apparently to disrupt attempts at planning.
The calls for a new march have been circulating for days on social networking Web sites and pro-opposition Web sites. Opposition supporters planned the marches to coincide with the anniversary Thursday of a 1999 attack by Basij on a Tehran University dorm to stop protests in which one student was killed.
Demonstrators dispersed by nightfall. But after sunset, shouts of "death to the dictator" could be heard from rooftops around the city - a half-hour nightly ritual by Mousavi supporters that has continued even since the previous crackdown.
Mousavi and his pro-reform supporters say he won the election, which official results showed as a landslide victory for incumbent hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Days of massive demonstrations erupted, until supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the results valid and warned that unrest would not be tolerated.
In what followed, at least 20 protesters and seven Basijis were killed, according to police.
Police have said 1,000 people were arrested and that most have since been released. But prosecutor-general Qorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi said Wednesday that 2,500 people were arrested and that 500 of them could face trial, the state-run English language news network Press TV quoted. The remainder, he said, have been released.
Arrests have continued over the past week, with police rounding up dozens of activists, journalists and bloggers.
In the latest detentions, a prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was taken away by security forces from his office Wednesday along with his daughter and three other members of his staff, the pro-opposition news Web site Norouz reported. A former deputy commerce minister in a previous pro-reform government, Feizollah Arab-Sorkhi, was also arrested at his Tehran home, the site reported.
A large number of top figures in Iran's reform movement, including a former vice president and former Cabinet members, have been held for weeks since the election.
Iranian authorities have depicted the post-election turmoil as instigated by enemy nations aiming to thwart Ahmadinejad's re-election, and officials say some of those detained confessed to fomenting the unrest. Opposition supporters say the confessions were forced under duress.
Ahead of the protests, Tehran's governor Morteza Tamaddon accused foreign counterrevolutionary networks of plotting new marches.
"If some individuals plan to carry out any anti-security actions by listening to (protest) calls... they will be smashed under the feet of our aware people," he said late Wednesday, according to the state news agency IRNA.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where did this phrase come from?

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Why Alan Dershowitz remains a Democrat

By  • Alan M. Dershowitz
Published in: The Jerusalem Post Blog  July 9, 2009
Melanie Phillips has written a critique of me because I remain a Democrat and continue to support President Barack Obama, despite his recent statements regarding expansion of Israeli settlements and other matters relating to the Middle East conflict. Other conservative supporters of Israel have joined her in attacking me as well. See e.g., Jonathan Tobin. This is how she put it:
"But just like the majority of American Jews, getting on for 80 per cent of whom voted for Obama, he is a Democrat supporter who is incapable of acknowledging the truth about this President. For most American Jews, the horror of even entertaining the hypothetical possibility that they might ever in a million years have to vote for a Republican is so great they simply cannot see what is staring them in the face -- that this Democratic President is lethal for both Israel and the free world."
She accuses me of being "blind" and says "he doesn't get it ."
Oh, I get it alright. I just fundamentally disagree with her approach, especially when it comes to the United States.
Phillips, for all her good work in Great Britain on behalf of Israel, has absolutely no understanding of American politics. She would turn Israel into a wedge issue, in which Republicans were seen as the supporters of Israel and Democrats as its enemy. This is precisely what has happened, with disastrous results, throughout much of Europe. In most European countries, the left-wing political parties are anti-Israel, often virulently so. The right-wing political parties are generally more supportive of Israel, though not nearly as supportive as they should be in many instances. Because young people tend to be more liberal than their elders, support for Israel throughout Europe, has also become a generational wedge issue, with younger people opposing Israel far more than older people.
This is precisely the situation American supporters of Israel want to avoid. We do not want to replicate the horrible situation that currently exists in Phillips' Great Britain. We want Israel to remain a bipartisan issue and an issue that does not divide generations. During the Bush administration, Republican support for Israel - which they linked to their failed Iraq policy - alienated many younger and more liberal voters who despised Bush, Cheney and their policies.
Among the reasons that I supported Obama, having first supported Hillary Clinton, is because I believed, and continue to believe, that a young, extremely popular African American President who supports Israel, even if he disagrees with its policies regarding settlement expansion, would be far more influential with mainstream Americans and with people throughout the world than an old conservative republican, who also supported Israel. That is why I gave, and continued to give, President Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt in his dealings with Israel. I take him at his word that he seeks to bring about peace, by means of a two state solution pursuant to which all the Arab states recognize Israel's right to thrive as a Jewish democracy, while agreeing that any Palestinian state must be demilitarized and incapable of waging war or terrorist attacks against Israel.
I also take him at his word when he says that the United States will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran, and I believe that he has a better chance of achieving that goal through diplomacy - including sanctions if necessary - than would a tough talking and non-negotiating Republican administration.
I believe that although a military attack on Iran could have disastrous and far reaching consequences, a nuclear armed Iran would have far graver consequences. I do not know whether the Obama administration would, as a last resort, use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Nor do I know whether a Republican administration would have engaged in military action against Iran, especially in light of its failed war in Iraq. Neither do I know whether the Obama administration would try to prevent Israel from defending its civilians against an Iranian nuclear bomb by preventively attacking its nuclear facilities, as Israel did to Iraq in 1981. In a recent statement Vice President Biden strongly suggested that he believes that Israel should have the right to take military action to protect its citizens, if all other options fail. I believe that Dennis Ross holds similar views. The Bush administration, on the other hand, refused to supply Israel with weapons necessary to implement a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, and according to press reports, it was reluctant to give Israel the green light to attack on its own.
No one knows precisely what any administration would do under varying and unpredictable scenarios. As I have previously written, I would strongly oppose a United States policy of learning to live with an Iranian nuclear bomb, regardless of which administration supported such a dangerous approach.
Recall that it was the Bush administration that for the first time announced its support for a Palestinian state - a position with which I agree, so long as it is completely demilitarized and incapable of aggression against Israel. Recall as well that it was the Bush administration that insisted on a freeze on Israel settlements in the West Bank - a position with which I also agree, subject to humanitarian and pragmatic considerations. (This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my writings, since I have opposed Israel's civilian settlement policy since 1973. You can strongly support Israel's right to defend itself without supporting its settlement policy.)
Let me say as well that there were parts of President Obama's Cairo speech with which I disagreed, but there have also been parts of Republican speeches with which I have disagreed. I judge administrations by their actions more than by their words, though I wish President Obama had chosen some of his words more carefully.
The major difference between Melanie Phillips and me is that I want Jews to remain Democrats - if they support, as I do, liberal principles such as a women's right to choose abortion, the rights of gays and lesbians to equal justice, and other progressive policies. I also strongly support the separation of church and state, a constitutional principle that has allowed American Jews to be first class citizens and to reach greater heights in this wonderful country than they ever have achieved in Europe or anywhere else in the world except for Israel. Republicans, in general, seek to lower the wall of separation which would endanger the status of Jews in this country.
I also want Jews who disagree with my liberal politics to remain Republicans, if they choose, and to exercise influence within the Republican Party. I want all supporters of Israel, whether they are Democrats or Republicans to pressure their party and their government to protect Israel's security and defend its right to continue to thrive as a Jewish democracy.
It was clear to all perceptive Americans that Obama was going to win this past election in a landslide victory. The vast majority of Jews were on the winning side, and that is good for Israel. Recall the Republican Secretary of State James Baker's infamous remark: "F...the Jews. They don't vote for us anyway." Recall as well that among Israel's most virulent opponents are right wingers such as Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak.
Let me conclude by saying that because American Jews voted Democrat by and large and because the Democrats won, we have far more influence with this administration than we would if the majority of American Jews followed Melanie Phillips advice and voted Republican. When it comes to American politics, it is she who truly "doesn't get it." She should not be trying to influence the voting patterns of American Jews. We have done quite well, thank you, in maintaining widespread American support for Israel, because we understand the dynamics of the American political system.
Instead, she should be trying to change the terrible situation in Great Britain, where support for Israel has never been lower - in part because support for Israel has become a liberal versus conservative wedge issue. I wish there were more liberal supporters of Israel in Great Britain as there are among liberal political figures in the United States. So please stop lecturing us from your perch in Great Britain on who to vote for in the United States. We apparently "get it" over here a lot better than you do over there! The reality is we each have our problems and they must be addressed somewhat differently in different places.
So I will continue to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, but if he does anything to weaken Israel's security, I will do everything in my power to change his attitude and to use whatever influence we have in Congress and among the public to make sure that American never weakens its commitment to Israel's security. That is my line in the sand - not the settlements.

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Yet another Israel Apartheid book with fake "Zionist quotes"

This review is important not only for the specific review of the Ben White book, but for its review of the industry in fake "Zionist quotes" (see Zionist Quotes ). Yours truly is quoted below regarding the transfer mythology. This mythology was created both by Kahanites and by Benny Morris. The myth is that "Transfer was always a part of Zionist ideology." The truth is that voluntary transfer was one of the solutions that was reluctantly contemplated beginning in the 1930s when it became evident that there could be no reconciliation with the Arabs of Palestine. The myth was created by right wing Zionists in order to justify their advocacy of not so voluntary transfer, and by Benny Morris, who stretched the truth. There were one or two people in the Zionist leadership like Joseph Weitz who had an obsession about this idea, but his recommendations were never carried out. Most of Morris's "juicy" transfer quotes, if they are authentic, were from the 1937 session of the Zionist executive which was considering a British offer to transfer Arabs out of a small part of Palestine in order to create a tiny Jewish state - the Peel Plan. Far from being part of the Zionist ideology, transfer was introduced by the British. At the time it was respectable, and presumably would have only been carried out voluntarily. 
When the time came in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs left Palestine without any compensation, usually not under duress, and became refugees, because they refused to live under Jewish rule. It is doubtful if voluntary transfer would have been a less moral solution.   
Lies, Damn Lies and the Apartheid Analogy
Ben Cohen
on July 8, 2009
Ben Cohen writes: What follows is an in-depth article by Jonathan Hoffman unraveling the tissue of lies that is �Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner�s Guide,�  by the anti-Zionist propagandist Ben White. Z Word readers should note that Jonathan has been banned from attending a launch for White�s screed hosted by sham British �charity� War on Want.
In November 2008, Z Word published an important article by Anthony Julius. Entitled �False Confessions: How Anti-Zionists Incriminate Zionism�,  it points out that doctored quotations are rife in the Israel bashing world: �We are now in the fifth stage. Incriminatory quotations are a staple of anti-Zionism. These quotations are partly the old ones, mostly updated by substituting �Zionist� for �Jew,� and partly new ones. They are a mix of fabricated quotations (including fictitious endorsements from prominent figures such as Nelson Mandela), and genuine quotations that are given undue weight. These quotations serve as substitutes for reasoned argument.� It seems that Julius had had a preview (premonition, more accurately) of this book.
The claim that Israel is an �apartheid state� has a long history. In December 2004, for example, there was a Conference at SOAS (London University) on this subject.  It is an especially attractive comparison for the unreconstructed Left. Since the collapse of Communism twenty years ago, it has been bereft of causes. �If pressure from anti-racists such as us brought down South African apartheid� goes their argument �then we can do the same in the case of Israel.�
That�s where Ben White is coming from, with some anti-colonialism mixed in for good unreconstructed socialist measure. And maybe something else - this is the fellow who said �I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are� and who tried to contextualise comments of Ahmadinejad denote a disbelief in the Holocaust.
Of course the whole book is a Big Lie. Far from being a racist state, Israel was born from centuries of racism committed AGAINST  Jews. Had Israel existed ten years sooner than 1948, hundreds of thousands of lives of those murdered in the Nazi death camps might have been saved.
Israel�s 20 percent non-Jewish minority has always had equal voting and other political rights. Arab Israelis were elected to the first Knesset in 1949 and have won as many as
12 Knesset seats in a single election. Some hold important positions in the government, court system, Ministries and the IDF. There has been an Arab Vice Consul (in San Francisco) and an Arab Minister.  Contrast that with the position of blacks in South Africa under apartheid.
As in all countries there remain valid concerns about the treatment on minorities but Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have acknowledged the protection afforded them under the law, for example:
�Israel has proved that for fifty years its real power is in its democracy, guarding the rights of its citizens, applying laws [equally] to the rich and poor, the big and small.�
- Dr. Talal Al-Shareef, Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, May 27, 1999
Israel rescued tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and welcomed them. Israel also rescued boat people from Vietnam and has been saving the lives of thousands of Sudanese refugees, including Darfuris, who escaped from Sudan through Egypt. What other Middle Eastern country has given refuge to Darfur refugees? Certainly not Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, or Saudi Arabia. Israel is the lone oasis of safety for those who are persecuted in the Middle East. 77 percent of Israeli Arabs say they prefer living in Israel to any other country in the world (Ha�aretz, 23 June 2008).
The rights of Arab citizens of Israel have been vigorously upheld in the Israeli Courts. A clear demonstration was in January 2003, with the decision of the Israeli High Court in favour of two Israeli Arab politicians, Ahmed Tibi and Azmi Bishara, who challenged the ruling of Israel�s Central Election Committee (CEC) disqualifying them from running in the Israeli general election. Such an episode could never have happened in an �apartheid state�.  And Israel has a Communist Party whereas the Nationalists in South Africa banned it.  Arabs in Israeli society get all the opportunities of Israelis. Take healthcare - the standard of healthcare available to all in Israel is far higher than in the neighbouring Arab States, and Arab life expectancy is considerably higher.
White�s book comes from the same genus as Walt and Mearsheimer�s �The Israel Lobby�. Like that book, everything  is meticulously referenced but that enables the reader to see the circularity in the sources. Many are from known Israel bashers: Pappe, Uri Davis, Charles D Smith, Tom Segev, Tanya Reinhart, Jeff Halper, Hussein and McKay, and Maxime Rodinson. Colin Chapman features three times: He is the author of �Whose Promised Land� which revives the ancient Christian canard of �supercessionism� -  the belief that because the Jews denied the divinity of Christ, God transferred His favours to the Christians while the Jews were cast out as the party of the Devil. This doctrine lay behind centuries of Christian anti-Jewish hatred until the Holocaust drove it underground.
If the conclusions are a Big Lie, it follows that the arguments used to draw it must be, too. And so it proves.  The rot starts early. The Foreword to the book was written by John Dugard, the South African lawyer who made the apartheid analogy, as a result of which Israel refused to allow him to conduct a UN-mandated fact-finding mission on its Gaza offensive in 2006.
The rot continues in the endorsements. Desmond Tutu - whom Alan Dershowitz called a �racist and a bigot� - says �This book deals rationally and cogently with a topic that almost always generates heat��  Stephen Sizer says �If you really care about peace in the Middle East, read this book.�  Sizer has given interviews to, endorsed or forwarded material from American white supremacists and Holocaust deniers. He has also applauded Ahmadinejad for having �looked forward to the day when Zionism ceased to exist�.
In the rest of this article I go through the book, cataloguing the omissions, inconsistencies and incorrect facts.
Part One takes only one paragraph to get to �ethnic cleansing� (a phrase repeated on average every 12 pages in the book). It then quotes Jabotinsky out of context: �Zionist colonisation, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population�. Jabotinsky (writing in 1923) also said �I understand as well as anybody that we have got to find a modus vivendi with the Arabs; they will always live in the country, and all around the country, and we cannot afford a perpetuation of strife�. But White does not quote that passage (of course).  As we will see, �doctored� quotes (that is, partial quotes or quotes taken out of context or isolated from important supporting quotes) permeate this book.
White admits that Israeli Arabs have full voting rights - how can he not? But of course he sees an ulterior motive: had it been otherwise, he says, �outside support would surely have been jeopardised.�
But then White claims that the Israeli government planned the genocide of the Israeli Arabs. Why was it not worried about �outside support� now? It simply does not add up. (The claim of the intention of genocide is sourced from Moshe Machover, the Israeli Communist who now lives in the UK).
The tone of Chapter Two - on the history of Zionism - is set by the doctored quote with which it opens. As anyone who reads Guardian: Comment Is Free knows, a whole new industry of manufacturing false quotes has been set up by the Israel bashers. White has chosen probably the most common one to open Chapter Two. David Ben-Gurion never said �We must expel Arabs and take their places!� He said the opposite: �We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places.�
The second quote at the head of Chapter Two is from Benny Morris: �Ben Gurion was right � Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish State would not have arisen here�. First, that was not what Ben Gurion believed. Second, the quote refers to �transfer policy�, a policy which was never advocated by more than a tiny minority of Israelis - for example the followers of the fanatic Rabbi Kahane. As Ami Iseroff has written, beginning with �Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1948″ (published in 1987) Morris has written several books and articles about the creation of the refugee problem in 1948 and related issues. In them, he carefully documented expulsions of Palestinians and massacres. He claimed that these were part of an unwritten policy. Yet later Morris notes the action of the Mayor of Haifa, Shabtai Levy, who on 22 April 1948 begged the Arabs to stay. In other words, Morris has been inconsistent. As Iseroff says �If �transfer� had been in the air, someone would remember it. Veterans of 1948 with whom I have spoken remember no such atmosphere of transfer. Transfer was always part of the ideology of revisionist Zionists and some Labour party activists. However, it was not part of the official ideology of the Labour-aligned political movements that supported the Haganah and the Palmach�.
Another false quote from the �Israel Bashers� Greatest Hits� is �A Land Without A People, For A People Without A Land� (pages 16 and 22). But even White resists the temptation to attribute it to an early Zionist (it was �coined and propagated by nineteenth-century Christian writers�). For a more thorough scholarly analysis, see Diana Muir, Middle East Quarterly,, Spring 2008.
Back to �transfer policy�. Instead of explaining that this was only the view of the fanatic Kahanists, White suggests it was the general policy of the Zionists. On page 17 we get �� it is important to realise just how central the ideas of �transfer� was to Zionist thinking and strategising. The need to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its native Arabs was understood at all levels of the Zionist leadership, starting with Ben-Gurion himself.� On page 19 there follows an alleged Ben Gurion quote at the 20th Zionist Congress, sourced from Benny Morris: �the growing Jewish power in the country will increase our possibilities to carry out a large transfer�. There are two problems with this alleged quote. The first is that it is from Ben Gurion�s private diary - it never appeared in the pubic domain.  The second - entirely omitted by White, for obvious reasons  - is that the 20th Zionist Congress was convened in Zurich a month after the July 1937 publication of the Peel Report and was convened specifically to consider that Report. And what do we find in the Report? A recommendation for a transfer of land and population: �[s]ooner or later there should be a transfer of land and, as far as possible, an exchange of population�.
To recap: Britain, the mandatory power in Palestine, had commissioned a Report, the recommendations of which were approved by the government in principle. That Report recommended that �[s]ooner or later there should be a transfer of land and, as far as possible, an exchange of population�. One month later the Zionist Congress meets, specifically to consider the Peel Report. Is it so surprising then that it should discuss the Report�s recommendation of �a transfer of land and � an exchange of population?� (In October 1938 the Woodhead Commission effectively killed off the Peel proposals which were rejected by the Arabs and which split Jewish opinion).
On page 22, White is at pains to tell us how superior the Israeli military forces were to carry out the �forced �transfer� they knew was necessary for the old propaganda slogan of �a land without a people� to become a darkly self-fulfilling prophecy�. Avi Shlaim is his source for his assertion that Jewish forces significantly outnumbered Arab forces throughout the 1948 War of Independence. What a shame White ignored this passage from the same source:
�It is true that the Yishuv numbered merely 650,000 souls, compared with 1.2 million Palestine Arabs and nearly 40 million Arabs in the surrounding states. It is true that the senior military advisers told the political leadership on 12 May 1948 that the Haganah had only a �fifty-fifty� chance of withstanding the imminent Arab attack. It is true that the sense of weakness and vulnerability in the Jewish population was as acute as it was pervasive and that some segments of this population were gripped by a feeling of gloom and doom. And it is true that during three critical weeks, from the invasion of Palestine by the regular armies of the Arab states on 15 May until the start of the first truce on 11 June, this community had to struggle for its very survival.�
Pages 22-29 deal with the so-called �Naqba�. White opens with a quote from Henry Siegman (New York Review of Books, February 2004): �the dismantling of Palestinian society, the destruction of Palestinian towns and villages, and the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians � was a deliberate and planned operation intended to �cleanse� (the term used in the declassified documents those parts of Palestine assigned to the Jews as a necessary pre-condition for the emergence of a Jewish state).�
Again, White omits to tell us crucial information about the quote. In Siegman�s article, the quote is said to come from a Benny Morris interview in Ha�aretz (January 9, 2004). But here is what Morris said in response to Siegman�s NYRB article:
�In his article, Siegman repeatedly �cited� things I had said-with a consistency of distortion that is truly mind-boggling. Just to give one key example: I most emphatically never stated anywhere that �the dismantling of Palestinian society�and the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians [were] a deliberate and planned operation intended to �cleanse��those parts of Palestine assigned to the Jews.� Quite the opposite. Had Siegman bothered to read my books, he would have discovered that mainstream (Haganah-JewishAgency) Zionist policy, until the end of March 1948-meaning during the first four months of the war-was to protect the Arab minority in the Jewish areas and to try to maintain peaceful coexistence. Intentions changed only in April, when the Yishuv was with its back to the wall, losing the battle for the roads and facing potentially politicidal and genocidal pan-Arab invasion. And even then, no systematic policy of expulsion was ever adopted or implemented (hence Israel�s one-million-strong Arab minority today). The Arabs have only themselves to blame for the (unexpected) results of the war that they launched with the aim of �ethnically cleansing� Palestine of the Jews.�
White�s account of the so-called Naqba is par for the course from an anti-Zionist.  Of course there were isolated but regrettable atrocities committed by the Jewish forces, as atrocities occur in most wars: Deir Yassin (though that was irregulars), and some of what happened at Lydda and Ramle (following Arab attacks on Jewish traffic on roads near the strategically important cities throughout 1947). But there was no �ethnic cleansing� and Plan Dalet was not a masterplan to achieve this non-aim, as White contends. As Benny Morris has written, �There was no Zionist �plan� or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of �ethnic cleansing�. Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications), was the master plan of the Haganah - the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) - to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state. That�s what it explicitly states and that�s what it was. �
- Irish Times, 21 February 2008
Deir Yassin was followed a few days later by the conveniently forgotten massacre of 70 academics, doctors and nurses travelling to Mt. Scopus carried out by Arabs in revenge. The remains of their convoy line the road to Jerusalem to this day as a memorial.
Part Two of this catalogue of falsehoods purports to describe the methods by which Israeli �apartheid� has been maintained. The fact-twisting starts in the third paragraph: �Israel is not a State for all of its citizens � but rather a State for some of its citizens: Jews�. Such an assertion writes off the Declaration of Independence:
�[Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.�
and writes off all the �checks and balances� in a thriving democracy  which are there to protect minorities - as in all thriving democracies. To support his argument White (p42) reprints a quote from Shamir (�the Jewish state cannot exist without a special ideological content. We cannot exist for long like any other state whose main interest is to insure the welfare of its citizens�) without revealing (a) that it was said when Shamir was in opposition and (b) that the quote was nothing to do with suppressing minority rights and everything to do with criticising his successor, Rabin, for failing in his inaugural speech to refer to Israel�s Biblical status as the promised land.
The next �fraud on the reader� (to quote from Anthony Julius, op cit) is a 1972 quote from Yeshayahu Ben-Porat (p44): �One certain truth is that there is no Zionist settlement and there is no Jewish State without confiscating lands and fencing them off.� First, this was not said about Arab citizens of Israel, it was said about the West Bank and Gaza; second it was not an �ex-cathedra� pronouncement by a politician but merely a call by a journalist to the government to recognise the implications of the occupied territories.
On page 45, White suggests that the Absentee Property Law (1950) allows land of absentee Arabs to be seized �if the owner was absent for even just one day�. This is pure sophistry. The text of the Law makes it clear that it applied only to long-term absentees. Moreover absentees that had left Israel were compensated financially. And decisions under the Law are subject to judicial review (as is the case with all administrative decision-making). For example, in an opinion of 1 February 2005, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz held that the Ministerial Committee and the Israeli Cabinet had exceeded their powers under the Law.
Now White moves the focus to Gaza and the West Bank. Nowhere in this section does he mention that Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 (indeed  in places (eg page 60) it is as if this had not happened) and nowhere does he mention the Khartoum Conference (August 29 to September 1, 1967) where eight heads of Arab countries responded to Israel�s offer to give back the lands with Three No�s: �No Peace, No Recognition of Israel, No Negotiations�. Instead we get �land theft� assertions: �the main characteristic of Israel�s rule in the OPT since 1967 has been land theft.� While there may be some cases of land acquired without compensation (see the recent Spiegel Report) the situation is far more nuanced than White suggests. First a final peace settlement will see the restitution of most of the land under Israel control in the West Bank. The exceptions will be compensated by �land swaps� which has already been agreed with the Palestinian negotiators. Second Israel�s right to control the use of public land (in the so-called Area C, amounting to 72 percent) was accepted by the Palestinians at Oslo.
White repeats the untruth that the settlements are illegal (p62). The United States for example has not considered them illegal since the time of Professor Eugene Rostow, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, 1966-9. Article 49(6) of the 4th Geneva Convention does not prohibit the voluntary movement of Israelis who wish to live in Jerusalem or the West Bank, since this does not constitute a deportation or transfer within the meaning of that provision, which mentions the word �forcible� (��individual or mass forcible transfers�.�)
Much the same applies to White�s assertion that the separation fence is illegal. It is not. The ICJ declared it so - but the ICJ has no legal standing. It is the judicial body of the United Nations. Its opinions are advisory only. On occasion White lapses into pure invective eg p73: �The logic of the wall is to grab as much land as possible, with as few Palestinians as possible�. Wrong - the logic of the fence is to save the lives of Israelis - all Israelis - from suicide bombers and in pursuit of that aim it has been highly successful. Many countries have similar fences to protect their citizens.
The book ends with some FAQs, mostly a rehash of earlier material. However we do get White�s view (or rather, Charles D Smith�s view) of the Camp David negotiations in 2000: �Israel never offered the Palestinians 95 percent of the West Bank as reports indicated at the time. The �generous offer� was just another incarnation of previous Israeli plans to annex huge swathes of the OPT, retaining major settlement blocs �that effectively cut the West Bank into three sections with full Israeli control from Jerusalem to the Jordan River� �.
Dennis Ross was at Camp David in the US negotiating team. If you go to Dennis Ross�s book �The Missing Peace� you will learn that the Palestinians turned down an offer of 91 percent of the West Bank in contiguous territory plus an additional 1 percent in land swaps (there was to be a continued Israeli security presence along 15 percent of the border with Jordan). Contiguous - not cut �into three sections�.
In April 2000 Nelson Mandela came to London and spoke to the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He spoke of the need for Israel to leave the lands taken in 1967 but not unless there was first recognition of the Jewish State by the Arab States: �I added a second position, that Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the Arab territories which she legitimately conquered when the Arab States wanted to whip her out of the map of the world.� No mention of �apartheid� in Israel - from a man who spent 27 years as a prisoner of the loathsome apartheid regime in South Africa.
There can be no better answer to Ben White than that.
This artless, crude piece of Israel-bashing will no doubt be welcomed in all the usual circles but anyone with a modicum of independent critical faculty will soon see it for the tired piece of intellectually bankrupt propaganda that it is. What a waste of a Cambridge English degree.
Stephen Sizer said , �If you really care about peace in the Middle East, read this book.�
This reviewer says �don�t bother�.

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Amnesty Internatonal bias against Israel regarding Gaza

This letter makes a good point. Here are some additional resources regarding humanitarian issues in the Gaza campaign,
July 9, 2009

A Bias Against Israel

To the Editor

Amnesty International's report on the conflict in Gaza is fundamentally biased against Israel ("Report Accuses Israel and Hamas of War Crimes in Gaza," news article, July 3). Nothing illustrates this more starkly than when the report deals with the issue of Gaza civilians caught up in the conflict.

When assessing Israeli efforts to warn civilians of an impending attack, whether by telephone or by leaflet, the report says that all such warnings did was create panic because the civilians had nowhere to flee.

On the other hand, when the report looked at Hamas's placing military infrastructure in the heart of civilian areas, it minimized the effect by arguing that Hamas did not force people to stay in their homes so civilians could flee attacks.

In other words, Amnesty adjusted its version of the facts to suit its a priori assumptions that Israel was the main party responsible for civilian deaths.

In fact, in a complicated situation, Israel did all it could to avoid civilian casualties. The main violator of human rights was Hamas; its eight-year rocketing of Israeli civilians and its deliberate placing of its military in civilian buildings, homes, schools, hospitals and mosques were major violations of international law. One would barely know this from the Amnesty "investigation."

Kenneth Jacobson
Deputy National Director
Anti-Defamation League
New York, July 5, 2009

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Someone else finally noticed the double standard

Mona Elthaway got it almost right, but not quite. If the Uighurs were Buddhist they would be in the same sinkhole as a the Tibetans, whom she mistakenly enviews - their land occupied since 1949 with no recourse and no international backing, not UN Department of Tibetan Rights, no Tibet Day, no "Chinesism is Racism" resolution, no Boycott China and Divest from China (are you kidding?) movements. 
If only the Palestinians were Uighurs and Israel was China. Or if only Israel was Sudan and the Palestinians were Darfurians. Or if only the Palestinians were Basques and Israel was Spain, or if only the Palestinians were native Americans and Israel was the United States...  
NEW YORK - Pity the Uighurs - the wrong kind of minority, the wrong kind of Muslims, fighting the wrong kind of enemy.
For years, Uighurs - a Turkic people who are largely Muslim - complained of economic, cultural and religious discrimination under the harsh fist of Beijing. The latter made sure the Uighurs were outnumbered in the western Xinxiang province by Han Chinese migrants.
In the worst ethnic unrest in China in years, Uighurs took to the streets of the provincial capital Urumqi on Sunday, apparently after a protest at government handling of a June clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in southern China, where two Uighurs died.
At least 156 people died in weekend riots.
The Chinese government quickly blamed exiled separatists and Muslim militant groups, arrested dozens and tried to curb information by stifling the internet. On Tuesday, Han Chinese armed with iron bars and machetes went looking for revenge on Uighurs.
Following the news that did make it out of Xinxiang, I thought if only the Uighurs were Buddhists like the Tibetans with whom the Uighurs share almost mirror grievances against Beijing.
If they were Buddhists, Bjork, Sting, Bono and all those other one-named saviors of the world's poor and oppressed would have held "Free Xinxiang" concerts already. But the West continues to largely ignore the Uighurs. Maybe they're not as cuddly as the Tibetans or their leader the Dalai Lama.
Perhaps the U.S. State Department would issue stronger words in their defense if only the Uighurs weren't the wrong kind of minority in a country that produces half the goods we use and which currently lends the wobbly global economy enough money to keep it just this side of total collapse.
The Uighurs aren't Buddhists but are instead Muslims and us Muslims don't get much love these days. You'd think the U.S. at least would be paying a bit more attention to Uighurs after locking up four of their brethren at the prison camp at Guantanamo without charge for seven years. They were released earlier this year to Bermuda.
If the West seems deaf to Uighur complaints, then where are their fellow Muslims? Surely this is a chance for Muslims across the world to march in protest at the stranglehold the godless Communist Chinese keep over the Uighurs?
Think again.
The Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas put it bluntly on the micro-blogging site Twitter - where thousands follow him - when he asked why no one was paying attention to the Uighur "intifada", the Arabic word for uprising that is usually associated with Palestinians fighting back against Israeli occupation.
That's precisely the problem - the Uighurs are no Palestinians and the Chinese are not Israel. Many Muslims - Arab Muslims especially - pay attention only when the U.S. and Israel are behaving badly. Palestine followed by Iraq always take precedence leaving little room for other Muslim grievances.
Look at Darfur, where the suffering goes ignored because those who are creating the misery are neither Americans nor Israelis but instead fellow Arab Muslim Sudanese.
China is coincidentally one of Sudan's biggest trade partners and sells Khartoum plenty of weapons which Darfuris complain are used against them. So it's unlikely Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who declared himself the guardian of Islam in 2007 by putting on trial a British teacher for insulting Muslims when she named a class teddy bear "Mohammed", will condemn Chinese oppression of Uighurs.
Perhaps Israel can save the day and invade Xinxiang.
Xinxiang and its Muslim inhabitants are almost complete unknowns in the Arab world, much to China's relief, I'm sure. During a visit in 1995 to attend the United Nations conference on women in Beijing, I tried to visit Xinxiang. But not a singly airline office would sell a ticket to a "radical lesbians", as conference attendees were seen. No "restive regions" for us.
Further afield from the Arab world, Shaaz Mahboob, a British Muslim friend of Pakistani descent, wondered on Facebook "Where are the Pakistani emotions which rage whenever there is an issue to do with Muslims anywhere on this planet (thank God there aren't Muslims being persecuted on the Moon or Mars - yet!)?"
He asked Imran Khan, the former Pakistani cricket superstar, and other Pakistanis who have supported militant groups why "they would not even support the militant Uighur groups who have allegedly initiated this chain of violence?
"They remain mysteriously silent over the plight of Chinese fellow Muslim.. Or is it that the "friendship" with China takes precedence over helping fellow Muslims this time?"
As I said - wrong enemy.
The Chinese government quickly boosted security to crush Sunday's Uighur uprising and arrested dozens of men, leaving many women to demonstrate on Tuesday, waving their the identity cards of male relatives they say were arbitrarily detained.
Those women just might be the Uighurs' best hope of getting the world's attention. Or at least one of them and no, I don't mean Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur businesswoman and activist whom Beijing blames for orchestrating the violence from her home in the U.S.
Reuters' photographer David Gray took a picture of a lone Uighur woman in a headscarf leaning on a crutch and facing off with two Chinese security vehicles behind which stood dozens of security personnel.
It was reminiscent both of the picture of the lone Chinese student facing off with the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and of the ubiquitous images of Iranian women from that country's recent demonstrations,
So now they have an iconic image, here's hoping the Uighurs start to register on our radar.
Follow Mona Eltahawy

Continued (Permanent Link)

Dennis Ross debunks the Saunders doctrine: Solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not bring eternal bliss

If this were a policy statement, it would be earth shaking. Keep in mind that Dennis Ross is now in a fairly senior position in the U.S. National Security Council. In this book excerpt, Ross is denouncing the dogma that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will inevitably and magically entrain an end to all problems in the Middle East. The centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Middle East peace and stability has been the holy cow of United States policy in the Middle East since 1975, when Harold Saunders enunciated the doctrine. American officials have since been convinced that upon solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is equivalent to the second coming, and will solve all earthly problems in the Middle East. Surprisingly, Ross doesn't mention Sauders.

A declaration like this in a serving U.S. official, would be equivalent to an important rabbi declaring that ham is kosher after all. Of course, this excerpt was written a while ago, and ideas change once you get into office. The fact that Ross is quite correct will make no difference. The doctrine, otherwise known in shorthand as "it's all the fault of the Jews" has an intuitive attractiveness and convenience that make it irresistable. U.S. officials will not be disabused of this notion unless Israel is finally vanquished. Then they will be quite surprised to learn that Arab economies remain backward, that Muslims frown on sexual equality and that the Middle East has no more water than it did before. At present, many US officials are evidently convinced, along with their Arab friends, that all the water in the Middle East is siphoned into West Bank Settlements, where hundreds of thousands of Jews (all from Brooklyn) use it to water their lawns, and that Al-Qaeda is really only angry at the US because of the tiny territory occupied by Israel

July 8, 2009


'Myths, Illusions, and Peace'


Linkage: The Mother of all Myths

Of all the policy myths that have kept us from making real progress in the Middle East, one stands out for its impact and longevity: the idea that if only the Palestinian conflict were solved, all the other Middle East conflicts would melt away. This is the argument of "linkage." Neoconservatives have always rejected it, given their skepticism about Arab intentions and their related belief that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved. While realists have been the most determined purveyors, this myth transcends all others and has had amazing staying power here, internationally, and in the Middle East. In fact, few ideas have been as consistently and forcefully promoted – by laymen, policymakers, and leaders alike.

One need not look too far for examples of linkage's pervasiveness. Note the words of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in early 2008 when, standing next to George W. Bush at a joint press conference following their talks in the Sinai resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, he recounted their conversation: "I emphasize that the Palestinian question, of course, is the core of problems and conflict in the Middle East, and it is the entry to contain the crisis and tension in the region, and the best means to face what's going on in the world, our region – I mean by that, the escalation of violence, extremism and terrorism."

King Abdullah of Jordan made much the same argument during an interview with an American television network in 2006: "I keep saying Palestine is the core. It is linked to the extent of what's going on in Iraq. It is linked to what's going on in Lebanon."

Not only Middle Eastern leaders see the Palestinian issue at the heart of all other regional problems. Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, echoed this basic point of view in an essay published in early 2007:

A Vigorously renewed effort to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict could fundamentally change both the dynamics in the region and the strategic calculus of key leaders. Real progress would push Iran into a more defensive posture. Hezbollah and Hamas would lose their rallying principle. American allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states would be liberated to assist in stabilizing Iraq. And Iraq would finally be seen by all as a key country that had to be set right in the pursuit of regional security.

Similarly, the Iraq Study Group, cochaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, placed special emphasis on the idea of linkage: "To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East – the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism – are inextricably linked.

Such bold statements are rarely qualified. In effect, they are guided by a central premise: that ending the Arab-Israeli conflict is prerequisite to addressing the maladies of the Middle East. Solve it, and in doing so conclude all other conflicts. Fail, and instability – even war – will engulf the entire region.

The major problem with this premise is that it is not true. There have been dozens of conflicts and countless coups in the Middle East since Israel's birth in 1948, and most were completely unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, the Iraqi coup of 1958, the Lebanon crisis of 1958, the Yemini civil war of 1962-68 (including subsequent civil wars in the 1980s and '90s), the Iraqi Kurdish revolt of 1974, the Egyptian-Libyan Border War of 1977, the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 (including Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi Shiite revolts of the same year), the Yemeni-Eritrean and Saudi-Yemeni border conflicts of the mid-1990s, and the US-Iraq War, begun in 2003.

Many of these conflicts were long, bloody, and very costly. The Iran-Iraq War along lasted eight and a half years, cost in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and took between six hundred thousand and one million lives. Yet this conflict, like the others listed above, would have taken place even if the Arab-Israeli conflict had been resolved.

Since the origins of so many regional tensions and rivalries are not connected to the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is hard to see how resolving it would unlock other regional stalemates or sources of instability. Iran, for example, is not pursuing its nuclear ambitions because there is an Arab-Israeli conflict. Sectarian groups in Iraq would not suddenly put aside their internal struggles if the Palestinian issue were resolved. Like so many conflicts in the region, these struggles have their own dynamic.

In addition, as tragic as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has become, it has not spilled over to destabilize the Middle East. There have been two Palestinian Intifadas, or uprisings, including one that lasted from 2000 to 2005 and claimed the lives of 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis – but not a single Arab leader had been toppled or a single regime destabilized as a result. It has remained a local conflict, contained in a small geographical area. Yet the argument of linkage endures to this day, and with powerful promoters. Why does it persist? And why has it been accepted among top policymakers as if it is factually correct?

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from "Myths, Illusions, and Peace" by Dennis Ross and David Makovsky. Copyright © 2009 by Dennis Ross and David Makovsky. 

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This is what is right with a Jewish State

The official goal of Zionism at its foundation was to achieve a national home for the Jewish people, guaranteed in international law. In the mind of the Jewish masses, that goal was embodied in the title of the book by Theodor Herzl, "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State). The exigencies of history proved that the state was the only meaningful implementation of the national home. The mind of the common man was proven right.
The fundamental idea behind a Jewish State or Jewish national home, as it was understood by most American Zionists, and especially by the American Zionist leader, Justice Louis Brandeis, was that it would be both a cultural and national center of the Jewish people, and most urgently a place of refuge for unfortunate Jews who needed it.  
The idea of implementing such a state became an element of almost universal Zionist consensus following the  Biltmore Conference, because it had become apparent that only a state would guarantee to the Jewish people the fundamental right to succor its own brethren when they were faced with mortal danger. The right of the Jewish people to self determination and the validity of the Jewish state received the approval of the world in UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. 
Not everyone agreed, and not everyone recognized the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Arabs and anti-Zionists insisted that there is no Jewish people, that Jews are only members of a religion. That is why the Israel War of Independence broke out in 1948, and that is why the Arab states did not make peace with Israel after the war.

With quite a different intent, the Cultural ZionistAchad Haam wrote "Jewish State and Jewish Problem" after the first Zionist congress. He argued that the land would have to be settled gradually, for economic reasons, and that therefore it would take many centuries, and perhaps forever, before a majority of Jews would live in the Jewish state. He wrote:

Dr. Herzl, wishing to demonstrate the superiority of his State idea over the method of Palestinian settlement adopted hitherto, calculated that by the latter method it would take nine hundred years before all the Jews could be settled in their land. The members of the Congress applauded this as a conclusive argument. But it was a cheap victory. The Jewish State itself, do what it will, cannot make a more favorable calculation.
Achad Haam, like all Zionist functionaries, was somewhat of a hypocrite. In his case, the hypocrisy was expressed in that after carefully explaining why Jewish settlement in the land of Israel was an impractical project, and impressing on everyone the urgency of staying in the Diaspora to bring about a cultural revival of the Jewish people there, Achad Ha'am ignored his own prescription and settled in Tel Aviv, where he died. He was quite right that all the Jews would never settle in the Jewish state, for within about two generations of his essay the Jews of Europe were for the most part dead. Instead of Palestine, they were sent to Auschwitz and Maidanek and Ravensbruck and Dachau and other such places. Achad Ha'am's concept was wrong. He didn't understand that a time would come when Jews would have migrated en masse to a Jewish State, if only they had been able to do so, regardless of economics, because the only alternative was death. 
In the extreme case, a Jewish State is an existential necessity if the Jewish people are to ensure their survival. This was foreseen and understood in 1937, when the Zionist executive accepted the pitiful offer of the  Peel Partition Plan. Even a tiny and virtually powerless Jewish state would have been able to save hundreds of thousands of Jews before the gates of their prisons slammed shut on them. The Jewish people paid a terrible tuition to learn what is right about a Jewish State, and why it is needed, but unfortunately it is being forgotten.
The Arab refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination in the land of Israel has been at the core of the Israeli-Arab conflict at least since the 1930s. The Arabs, of course, rejected the Peel Partition Plan. They would not agree even to a Jewish state on 25% of the land west of the Jordan river, called "Palestine" since 1918 when it was conquered by the British. Palestine east of the Jordan river came to be called Transjordan and then Jordan, but in the Arab world, Palestine west of the Jordan remained Palestine. Israel did not exist.
The demand that in any peace settlement, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or the state of the Jewish people, was quite correctly, if belatedly, introduced by the Olmert government during the Annapolis negotiations. The Palestinians for their part, do not accept the demand, claiming that it is "racist," though they themselves want to have a "Palestinian Arab state." They insist that "Jewish State" will be a green light for persecution and expulsion of Israel's Arab minority. It is a strange thesis, since the French Republic that was proclaimed on September 22, 1792 did not begin to expel any national minorities. On the contrary, they emancipated the Jews of France. The Czechoslovak Republic proclaimed after World War I did not expel or persecute any minorities either, until the Sudeten's German minority betrayed it and helped the Nazis to destroy it, an event which might suggest a parallel.  On the other hand, a racist government bent on ethnic cleansing does not require a national ethnic state framework to do so. Stalin had no problems wiping out entire nationalities in the USSR as well as persecuting the Jews. He didn't need a "Russian State." It was not also not necessary for there to be a Palestinian Arab state in order for the British officered Jordan Legion to ethnically cleanse Gush Etzion after massacring many of its defenders in 1948, or to ethnically cleanse the  Jews of the old city of  Jerusalem in 1948. A government bent on genocide can call itself a Workers and Peasants Democratic Peoples Republic.
The Palestinian Arabs, for their part, insist on the "right of return" for the third and fourth generation of Palestinian Arab refugees to Israel, which they claim must be part of any peace settlement. No refugees anywhere in the world carried this status for more than one generation, and no "right of return" was granted in numerous cases of exchanges of population in history. The right of self-determination, on the other hand, is Jus Cogens, strong law, that overrides other rights (see Palestinian Right of Return ). A massive influx of Palestinian refugees, their (often foreign) spouses and offspring, would destroy the Jewish right to self determination. It would also put an end to the Law of Return. Israel would cease to be a Jewish State in fact, whatever it was called. Palestinians insist that they would end the "racist" Law of Return. As this vicious and racist article by Columbia professor Joseph Massad explains:
With few exceptions, prominent Zionist leaders since the inception of colonial Zionism have desired to establish peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs whose lands they slated for colonization and settlement....
Israel is willing to do anything to convince Palestinians and other Arabs of why it needs and deserves to have the right to be racist. Even at the level of theory, and before it began to realise itself on the ground, the Zionist colonial project sought different means by which it could convince the people whose lands it wanted to steal and against whom it wanted to discriminate to accept as understandable its need to be racist. All it required was that the Palestinians "recognize its right to exist" as a racist state.
...After all, Israeli racism only manifests in its flag, its national anthem, and a bunch of laws that are necessary to safeguard Jewish privilege, including the Law of Return (1950)...
Of course, all states have flags with national symbols and all states have national anthems, and many other states have similar immigration laws that favor their own ethnic expatriates abroad and nobody considers them "racist" (see  Israeli Law of Return).  The Palestinians understand perfectly why they oppose a "Jewish State" and what is wrong with a Jewish state from their point of view. Once they agree to such a state, they must abandon the idea of flooding Israel with "refugees" and repealing the law of return. One wonders what Professor Massad thinks of Palestinian law, which prescribes the death penalty for anyone who sells land to Jews, or to Jordanian law or Saudi Arabian law, which forbids Jewish citizenship entirely. They must be learning interesting things in Columbia.  
For once however, there is good news for supporters of Israel. Americans may be divided on issues such as a settlement freeze, but a recent Rasmussen survey found that 81% of American voters answered "Yes" to the following proposition: "As part of a Middle Eastern peace agreement, should Palestinian leaders be required to acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state?" This was evidently misreported elsewhere by Rasmussen as "Palestinian leaders must recognize Israel's right to exist as part of a Middle Eastern peace agreement," and an important scoop was missed.
Israel has a winning point here - the main element of Zionism, rejected by the Arab states, is accepted by the international community and wins almost solid support in the United States, if the survey results are correct. So why has the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state been put on a back burner, while Israel gets bogged down in counterproductive bickering over details? The first reason, is that Israel is still playing the negotiations game by the American rules - bottom up instead of top down. This favors the Palestinians, since they have nothing to concede but matters of principle while Israel can only offer territorial concessions and tinkering with the conditions of Palestinian statehood. Therefore, negotiations consist of endless Israeli concessions while the Palestinians repeat the mantra of right of return, 1967 borders, no Jews in East Jerusalem and no recognition of a Jewish state.
The second reason, is that it turns out that not everyone in Israel understands why we must have a Jewish state and what it implies. They forgot the costly lessons of the past. The "Jewish State" phrase that should protect the Jewish right to national self determination has been abused for other purposes. Orthodox Jewish extremists use this slogan to try to enact a constitution that would turn Israel into a Halachah-based theocratic Jewish state. Anti-democratic politicians may use it to try to enact laws that really do discriminate against Israeli Arab citizens. In the context of internal Israeli politics, the "Jewish state" became problematic and confused people. And so well meaning people who forgot what it is all about, object to the insistence on a Jewish state or a State of the Jewish people. In "This is what is wrong with a Jewish State" Bradley Burston opines:
There is no little irony in the circumstance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose Palestinian recognition of Israel as "the national state of the Jewish People" as a central tool in efforts to stave off peace talks and deflect demands for a settlement freeze. .
Perhaps it is only being used as a "tactic," but it is a "tactic" that is a legitimate and central condition for peace. The requirement is a necessary condition for the fulfillment of Zionist aims. If the other side will not make peace with a Jewish state, there's no point in any peace talks. The Palestinian Arabs would not be expected to accept "peace" in which Israel recognized Palestine as a state of the Jewish people, or as a "secular democratic state" that allows unlimited Jewish immigration.
In his attack on the "tactic" of the Jewish State, Burston goes on to enumerate a host of ills, some of which, such as ultraorthodox riots on the Sabbath, have been with us since the inception of the state. All of them it seems, are in his view the result of having a "Jewish State." If you want to understand what is right with a Jewish state, try to get an immigration visa to Saudi Arabia or Jordan, or visit Auschwitz.
If Israel is to remain intact and have a future, whether the current peace process is real or a sham, we must draw together and build a national consensus regarding our minimal rights, and what they mean. If we do not know what we want, we can hardly expect others to give us our rights.
The cardinal condition for any peace agreement must be recognition of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in this land - a Jewish state. That is what we have been fighting for all these years. It has very little to do with the internal policies of the state, with whether or not there are racists in Israel, or how ultraorthodox rioters should be treated. Those are internal issues - decisions to be made by a sovereign people, not decided by a racist and hate mongering professor in Columbia University, or the reactionary ruler of Saudi Arabia.  It has everything to do with the goal of providing a national home for the Jewish people, without which Zionism is utterly pointless. If we cannot explain that to an intelligent, supposedly Zionist journalist, we have truly forgotten what Zionism is all about.
Ami Isseroff

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Israel gas reserves larger than expected

Tamar gas reserve bigger than expected Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 8, 2009

The natural gas reserve discovered off the shores of Haifa is approximately 25 to 30 percent richer than previously assessed, US oil operator Noble
Energy Inc., said after drilling to verify the find.

The site, previously assessed to hold more than 142 billion cubic meters (BCM) of natural gas, may in fact hold as much as 180 BCM.

The potential revenue from selling gas from the offshore reserve may reach $30-35 billion.

At the end of April, drilling to verify the size of the reserve was conducted at a site dubbed Tamar 2, north of Tamar 1. Over the last few days, electronic testing suggested that the amounts of gas at the Tamar reserve were higher than initially expected.

In related news, a site called Dalit, west of the coast of Hadera, was assessed to hold some 14 BCM of natural gas.

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USA talking a bit tougher on Iran

Both the carrot and the stick were always present in the US diplomatic policy regarding Iran. At different times, it is deemed desirable to push the carrot forward and hide the stick or to push the stick forward and hide the carrot. The "stick" of variable composition - ranging from sanctions to a military strike. 
At present, the stick seems to be getting a bit more action.
The real news here is that perhaps for the first time under the Obama administration, the military option is not off the table:
Mullen pointedly said "the strike option" - is one possible outcome. He suggested that a strike, meaning missile or other attacks to blow up Iran's known nuclear facilities, is a last resort. It would be "very destabilizing," Mullen said.
This will no doubt cause the usual suspects to insist that the Zionist controlled US government is about to attack Iran, but there no truth in such claims.
To understand the time scale that might be involved - the US conducted talks with North Vietnam for several years before the Vietnamese would agree to make believe they will abide by US terms. Then they concluded an agreement, which the North Vietnamese quickly violated while the US stood by and did nothing. In the case of Iran, the negotiations have not even begun. They are not even talking about talking.
Ami isseroff
Last update - 12:50 08/07/2009       
Clinton: U.S. to call for more Iran sanctions if outreach fails
By News Agencies
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington would call for more sanctions against Iran if the White House policy of engagement with Tehran failed.
Clinton said U.S. outreach to Iran may not work given the country's recent repression of protests after a disputed election.
"It may not be possible, in which case we would ask the world to join us in imposing even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime," Clinton said in an interview with Venezuelan television station Globovision, broadcast late on Tuesday.
"We have seen in the last weeks that Iran has not respected its own democracy," she said.
In May, Clinton said more multilateral sanctions could be a way to curb the nuclear ambitions of Iran, which the United States says is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.
The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday that a military strike to thwart Iran's nuclear weapons capability remains on the table but could have grave consequences and would be "very destabilizing."
"I worry a great deal about the response of a country that gets struck," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "It is a really important place to not go, if we can not go there in any way, shape or form."
Iran is perhaps one to three years away from getting the bomb, leaving a small and shrinking opening for diplomacy to avert what he said could be a dangerous nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Mullen said.
"I think the time window is closing."
Mullen said President Barack Obama's diplomatic outreach to Iran holds promise, despite political upheaval and deadly protests following Iran's disputed presidential election.
Obama told The Associated Press last week that persuading Iran to forgo nuclear weapons has been made more difficult by the Iranian government's handling of claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole re-election.
Mullen pointedly said "the strike option" - is one possible outcome. He suggested that a strike, meaning missile or other attacks to blow up Iran's known nuclear facilities, is a last resort. It would be "very destabilizing," Mullen said.
Mullen was referring to Iran's response should it be attacked by either the United States or Israel, although he was careful to say that Israel can speak and choose for itself. His remarks made clear that the Obama administration wants to avoid a strike by either country.
Mullen, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it is critical to find a solution "before Iran gets a nuclear capability, or that anyone ... would take action to strike."
On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden had suggested that the new U.S. administration would not stand in the way of an Israeli strike. That is not the message U.S. officials have been trying to deliver in public and private, but spokesmen insisted Biden was not speaking out of turn.
The United States would join European nations, Russia and China in negotiations over Iran's disputed nuclear program, if Iran agreed to terms for beginning the talks. Obama has also said he would hold direct talks with Iran's leadership if it would help.
The leaders of Group of Eight countries, set to meet in Italy, have yet to forge a common position on Iran's violent crackdown on post-electoral protests, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday on the eve of the summit.
Berlusconi, who chairs the gathering of world leaders opening Wednesday, noted that some countries, such as France, were calling for tougher action against Tehran, while others, such as Russia, favored a softer stance to keep dialogue open.
Iran claims its fast-track nuclear development project is intended only for the peaceful production of electricity. Mullen, like other U.S. officials, said he is sure Iran intends to develop weapons and is working hard and fast to do so.

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas was not expelled from Palestine in 1948

The fact that the family of   Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority was never expelled from Safed or Palestine must be obvious, though it is interesting that he admits it. It must be true because during the Israel War of Independence, when Safed was captured by the Haganah on the night of May 10, 1948, all the Arabs fled, and none were there when the Haganah forces entered in the morning. The Arabs of Safed had harbored soldiers of the Arab Liberation Army of Fawzi el Kaukji, and had a long history of pogroms against the Jews, dating back to 1834. (see Safed Plunder -1834, Palestine riots and Massacres of 1929 , Arab Uprising). Of course, that does not mean he was not a refugee. Sudetens Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1945 for their role in the German conquest of Czechoslovakia were also "refugees." But belligerents who are expelled for belligerent activities do not have much of a claim as refugees.

by Hillel Fendel
( Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas says the Arabs of the Galilee city of Tzfat left in 1948 not because they were driven out, but on their own volition.
Many biographies of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas imply that his family became "refugees" because of the War of Independence in 1948. For instance, a BBC profile on Abbas when he succeeded Yasser Arafat as PLO chairman in 2005 writes, "In the light of his origins in Safed in Galilee - in what is now northern Israel - he is said to hold strong views about the right of return of Palestinian refugees." states, "As a result of the Arab-Israel War of 1948, he became a refugee." Wikipedia articles on the topic say the same – all giving the impression that the Abbas family was driven out and became homeless.
It is notable that the Abbas family moved back to Damascus, as that is likely the place where it had originated less than 90 years earlier.
However, Abbas himself – co-founder of Fatah with Arafat, and known as Abu Mazen - now tells a different story. Speaking with Al-Palestinia TV on Monday, Abbas admitted that his family was not expelled or driven out, but rather left for fear that the Jews might take revenge for the slaughter of 20 Jews in the city during the Arab pogroms of 19 years earlier.
In the words of Abbas:
"I am among those who were born in the city of Tzfat (Safed). We were a family of means. I studied in elementary school, and then came the naqba [calamity, namely, the founding of the State of Israel – ed.]. At night, we left by foot from Tzfat, to the Jordan River, where we remained for a month. Then we went to Damascus, and then to our relatives in Jordan, and then we settled in Damascus.
"My father had money, and he spent his money systematically, and after a year, the money ran out and we began to work.
"The people's basic motives brought them to run away for their lives and with their property. These [motives] were very important, for they feared the violence of the Zionist terrorist organizations – and especially those of us from Tzfat felt that there was an old desire for revenge from the rebellion of 1929, and this was in the memory of our families and parents."
The "rebellion" Abbas referred to was a series of brutal Arab attacks on Jewish towns in the summer of 1929. Nearly 70 Jews were slaughtered in their homes in Hevron, 20 in Tzfat, 17 in Jerusalem, and others were murdered in Motza, Kfar Uriah and Tel Aviv.
The memory of the slaughter, Abbas said, "brought [our families] to understand that the military balance had changed, and that [we] no longer had military forces in their real meaning. There were only young people who fought, and there was an initial action. They felt that the balance of power had collapsed and they therefore decided to leave. The entire city was abandoned based on this thought – the thought of their property and saving themselves."

Return to Roots - in Damascus
It is notable that the Abbas family moved back to Damascus, as that is likely the place where it had originated less than 90 years earlier. Joan Peters, in her scholarly work "From Time Immemorial" on the Arab population of Israel, writes that in 1860, "Algerian tribes moved from Damascus en masse to Safed." She notes that the Muslims in the city were mostly descended from Moorish settlers and from Kurds – more evidence negating the claim that the Arabs in the Land of Israel had been there "from time immemorial."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Obama "reverses" Biden: No green light for Israel to attack Iran.

As I noted (What did Biden really say about Israel and Iran? ) the US has not really changed its policy. US Vice President Biden did not say that the US would support an Israeli attack on Iran. What he was really saying was closer to what Lyndon Johnson said in 1967: "If you decide to attack first, you are on your own." That can be interpreted in many ways too. Of course, Biden had to say that that Israel is a sovereign country. He could hardly have said anything else. That's part of diplomatic hypocrisy.
Today there is the inevitable clarification (or further obfuscation) by US President Barack Obama, as reported by CNN below. What everyone would really like to get from Obama, but will never get of course, is a listing of what the US will do and will not do if Israel attacks Iran: The following lists some of the options.
  • Allow Israeli overflight of Iraq officially
  • Make believe it doesn't know about Israeli overflight of Iraq
  • Support Israel in the UN,
  • Vote against Israel in the UN
  • Provide needed military equipment  
  • Provide military intelligence and other support.
  • Stop US military aid to Israel.
All the rest is just banter, diplomatic obfuscation and "signals."  What I understand is that the US is trying to leave all options open. At the same time the US wants to use the prospect of an Israeli attack as a threat to Iran and an incentive to engage seriously. What I sense is that if the time is right and Israel explains to the US that the time has run out on diplomatic pressure, the US will say something noncommital like, "We understand, but we can't be responsible for the consequences if you attack."  or "I didn't hear you say that, and this conversation never happened."  
Ami isseroff
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- The United States is "absolutely not" giving Israel a green light to attack Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama told CNN Tuesday.
"We have said directly to the Israelis that it is important to try and resolve this in an international setting in a way that does not create major conflict in the Middle East," Obama said, referring to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Obama has been in Moscow for a summit aimed at trying to reset the U.S.-Russian relationship.
On Sunday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appeared to leave the door open for Israel to attack Iran if it saw fit.
"Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else," Biden said on ABC's "This Week."
Obama said Tuesday that Biden had simply been stating a fact, not sending a signal.
"I think Vice President Biden stated a categorical fact, which is we can't dictate to other countries what their security interests are. What is also true is that it is the policy of the United States to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear capabilities in a peaceful way through diplomatic channels," he said.
The State Department took a similar line on Monday.
"Our goal here is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. When I say 'our' it is just not the United States -- it is the international community," spokesman Ian Kelly said. "Israel is a sovereign country. We are not going to dictate its actions. We also are committed to Israel's security and we share Israel's deep concerns about Iran's nuclear program."
Asked if this could be interpreted as the United States flashing a green light for Israel to attack Iran's nuclear sites, Kelly said, "I certainly would not want to give a green light to any kind of military action."
The Israeli government considers Iran's nuclear program to be the dominant threat facing the country.
CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry contributed to this report

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, July 6, 2009

What did Biden really say about Israel and Iran?

Joe Biden's wording concerning a potential Israeli attack on Iran was very carefully crafted. He did not say that Israel has permission to overfly Iraq or that the US would aid Israel in attacking Iran. He said that Israel has to make its own decisions and the United States has to make its own decisions. This can be interpreted in many different ways. Of course, he had to say that Israel is a sovereign nation, but that doesn't mean that the US has to support it.
Aluf Benn wrote:
The person who returned Iran to center stage is John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who has become the Republican Party's leading spokesman on foreign affairs. In an article published in The Washington Post last week, Bolton said an Israeli attack is now the only way to halt Iran's nuclear program.
Actually, the person who returned Iran to center stage was Mir Hossein Moussavi. The election fraud and the drama of the protests took the spotlight off Israel, and the Netanyahu government was wise enough to signal compromise over the settlements issue, which became uninteresting. Then Michael Jackson died, and everyone forgot about the Middle East entirely.
Ami Isseroff
Iran's nuclear program has been restored to prominence on the American-Israeli diplomatic agenda. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the "two states for two peoples" formula on the Palestinian issue, American recompense came in the form of Vice President Joe Biden's statement that Israel, as a "sovereign nation," will decide for itself how to deal with Iran.
George Stephanopoulos, the ABC television presenter to whom Biden made this remark, thrice asked him how the U.S. would respond if Netanyahu took independent action on Iran. Biden did not hesitate. The U.S., he said, "cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do" if they feel threatened by another country.
That is almost exactly what Condoleezza Rice, former president George W. Bush's secretary of state, said when asked the same question a year ago. However, Biden declined to say whether the U.S. would allow Israel to overfly Iraq en route to Iran.
Biden's words should not be understood as American permission for Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. Rather, they were a veiled warning to Iran that if it does not embark on a serious dialogue with President Barack Obama's administration, it is liable to be attacked.
An Israeli government source said Biden's statement was not coordinated with Israel. But it clearly serves Netanyahu, who sees halting Iran's nuclear program as a historic mission.
In recent weeks, Israel's diplomatic attention has been diverted from Iran to Washington's demand for a settlement freeze. The person who returned Iran to center stage is John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who has become the Republican Party's leading spokesman on foreign affairs. In an article published in The Washington Post last week, Bolton said an Israeli attack is now the only way to halt Iran's nuclear program.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Nefesh Benefesh's first charter Aliya (immigration to Israel) flight of 2009 - July 7.

This is the first charter flight of new immigrants to come on Aliya to Israel in 2009. Contrary to Daily Kos assertions, Nefesh beNefesh is NOT funded by US taxpayers. New immigrants do not get free housing paid for by US taxpayers.  
It is not clear if Nefesh Benefesh has sent immigrants to Israel by regular flights in 2009, or how many were sent.  
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver and newly appointed Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky will welcome 232 Olim this Tuesday at Ben Gurion
WHO:          232 North American Olim, including Yehuda and Aviva Zuller of Staten Island, NY, who named their son Gilad in solidarity with Gilad Shalit who was captured one week prior to the baby's birth. Little Gilad Zuller just celebrated his 3rd birthday.
WHAT:        First of 3,000 Olim from North America and the UK arriving this summer on 15 Aliyah flights organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh and The Jewish Agency.
Family and friends around the world will be able to watch a live feed of the Olim landing in Israel and follow the welcome ceremony on a dedicated online webcast, at:
WHEN:        Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
7:00 AM (Registration required)
Photographer entrance to the tarmac is by advance registration only
WHERE:       Ben Gurion Airport, Terminal 1 (Gate 8, near the old arrivals hall). Plenty of parking available. Press will then proceed to the tarmac for the flight arrival. PLEASE NOTE that latecomers will NOT have access to the tarmac.
ALIYAH FLIGHTS:   Q  August 4th Q  August 19th  Q  September 8th
 Dena Wimpfheimer 054-659-7796 /
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B'Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B'Nefesh to its 20,000 newcomers, has ensured that 98% of its Olim have remained in Israel.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Conference of Iranian Jews from the Mashhad region

The following announces a conference of Iranian Jews from the Mashhad region of Iran, to take place July 6 in Jerusalem.
As Iran Faces Renewed Turmoil, First- Ever Conference of the Global Mashadi Jewish Federation To Take Place in Jerusalem
Members from Mashadi Jewish Communities Around the World to Participate in one day event
For Immediate Release:
On July 6th, the newly formed Global Mashadi Jewish Federation will officially be launched at their first ever conference in Jerusalem.  The mission of the federation, founded by Mr. Bahman Kamali, is to ensure the survival of the Mashadi heritage and preserve it in all locations where Mashadis live. Mashad is Iran's second largest city and capital of an important province in the northeast region of the country.
With the establishment of the State of Israel, many Mashadi Jews emigrated to the Jewish State, and today the majority of the them, nearly 15,000, live in Israel.  Additional communities were established in New York, Hamburg, London and Milan.
"By strengthening our global ties, we are working towards promoting the survival of our Mashadi heritage as well as Judaism overall.  This is a group with a particularly unique history and series of traditions that we are proud to embrace and this gathering will give us the chance to so here in Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish world," said Bahman Kamali. 
The full day conference being held at the Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza hotel from 9am till 4pm being attended by leaders and individuals from the Mashadi Jewish communities worldwide will cover topics such as the alarming assimilation of the Iranian Jewish Community in the United States and Italy, a reaffirmation of the Mashadi traditions and the creation a Mashadi archive museum documenting the history, books and artifacts from the Mashad region.
Participation contact:
Bahman Kamali: 052-778-9250
Press contact:
Dena Wimpfheimer
DJW Consulting
U.S. Phone: 201-645-4134
Israeli Mobile: 054-659-7796


Continued (Permanent Link)

Fiction about Jewish aliyah to Israel at Daily Kos

A person named Jane Stillwater has posted a fictional rant about Aliya  to Israel entitled "New foreclosure remedy: Become Jewish & move to Israel!" The article alleges that American taxpayers pay for the grant that is given by Nefesh beNefesh for new immigrants from North America, that Americans pay for their housing, which is supposedly all in the settlements ("East Jerusalem high rises" and that it is easy to become a Jew and go to Israel at the expense of the American taxpayer. Here's a sample of this wicked concoction:

Our American government is currently financing and maintaining a fabulous all-comprehensive housing program that can provide you with modern newly-constructed state-of-the-art housing at either subsidized prices -- or free!  And talk about location location location.  This wonderful model housing program isn't located in undesirable places like the grungy old Boston inner city or shabby run-down parts of L.A.  And, unlike those tacky bankrupt schools in California and Mississippi, this place has outstanding schools too.  And its healthcare services, shopping centers and freeways are also top-of-the-line.

   These fabulous new housing programs are located in a place that is sunny, modern, upscale and family-friendly -- Israel!

    According to USA Today, "Nefesh B'Nefesh, a non-profit organization, provides grants of $3,000 to $10,000 as an incentive for Jews to move [to Israel].  Nefesh B'Nefesh, which means 'Soul to Soul,' also helps arrange housing, jobs and schools for immigrants' children."

    "But what do I have to do to be eligible for all this wonderful subsidized housing?" you might ask.  That's easy.  Just become Jewish.  And apply.  It's your birthright.  You're in!

   "But if America is sponsoring a housing program that is available to only one religious group, isn't that against our Constitution and civil rights?  Doesn't this program have to be available to ALL Americans to be legal?  And doesn't it go against the separation of church and state?"  Nah.  Not a problem.  There are no churches involved.


None of the allegations are true. The United States does not pay for or subsidize housing in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. The United States underwrites loan guarantees for Israel, but it deducts the sum it estimates that Israel spends on settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The U.S. tax payer does not pay for the loans, just the guarantees, which make it possible for Israel to get money at lower interest rates.  The United States government does not pay for Nefesh Benefesh, which is financed by the Israeli government, individual private donors and a foundation. It is rather difficult, as everyone knows to undergo the orthodox conversion that is needed in order to be recognized as a Jew by the orthodox establishment.. This bizarre rant has to be seen to be believed. It shows what happens when the hysteria over settlements is carried to an absurd extreme.  
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Bar Rafaeli Nude Film provokes racist and illiiterate YouTube Comments

Art is in the eye of the beholder. The beholders of Bar Rafaeli's nude black and white video ( do not seem to be too cultured. The video was made to promote an art exhibit ("Beauty City") sponsored by a drugstore chain. The comments run from racist and illiterate to just illiterate or just racist and back again
An example:
She doesn't look like a typical Jew.

You know... the big nosed, curly haired, stingy money grabbing retarded f**ks who have Palestinian blood on their hands and steal people's property.
Who says Anti-Zionism is related to Anti-Semitism? No way, right? Who says Neanderthal man is extinct?
Here's another Israeli supermodel, Esti Mamo.
That's more like your idea of a Jew, right? (see here for more about Esti Mamo)
As for art and nudes, as one of my favorite love poets, E.E. Cummings wrote:
mr youse needn't be so spry
concernin questions arty

each has his tastes but as for i
i likes a certain party

gimme the he-man's solid bliss
for youse ideas i'll match youse

a pretty girl who naked is
is worth a million statues
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Is Gilad Shalit Still Alive?

The deal for swapping Gilad Shalit may have failed because Hamas either doesn't know where Shalit is being kept, or else knows that he is dead. An article in a Brazilian journal explains

The insane war in Gaza destroyed everything, so do not know where Shalit is alive or dead," Osama al-Muzaini, a Hamas official authorized to speak about the case, told teld the press.

Muzaini said that in any case, Israel should continue with negotiations to exchange Shalit for Palestinian prisoners and other Arabs.

"The Zionist enemy should follow the negotiations without any sign that confirms or denies if he is alive or dead," he concluded.

Israel may be negotiating for a dead body, or nothing at all.

A Haare'tz article, ignoring this report, commented on the failure of the recent negotiations:

In recent weeks, the media proposed that an imminent agreement between Fatah and Hamas, along an Egyptian outline, will lead to the release of Gilad Shalit. But last week another round of talks in Cairo ended in failure, and the hope ought to be that the negotiations being conducted by Israeli coordinator Haggai Hadas for Shalit's release have been separated from Egypt's ambitions to obtain an inter-Palestinian accord.
The sixth round of talks in Cairo began with much fanfare last Sunday, with a higher level of expectations than in the past - for several reasons. There was the sense of historic moment and expectation of change created by U.S. President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo; the Egyptian ultimatum to the parties, naming July 7 as the signing date for a reconciliation agreement; the new, positive tone of statements from Hamas officials regarding the United States; and also America's decision to return its ambassador to Damascus, suggesting Syria, too, would pressure the Hamas leadership to agree to the Egyptian compromise.
There was another reason for the high hopes: Egypt's marketing efforts, joined by European and American interlocutors, implied that a resolution to the Fatah-Hamas conflict would quickly bring about a "mega-truce" (tahadiyeh): the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, Shalit's release, early elections in the territories - perhaps to be followed by a new era in which Hamas would no longer in power. The United Nations, the European Union, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and officials in the current American administration responded enthusiastically.

The bigger the hopes
As usual, the grand schemers did not give sufficient consideration to the detailed positions of Hamas and Fatah, and especially to what is going on within the Islamic organization. Fatah and Hamas officials are much more skeptical than the West about a dialogue's chances of success. Last Wednesday, a Fatah official explained to Haaretz that he was not disappointed. "Disappointment is for those who harbor great hopes for such an event. I didn't have any expectations," he said.
Hamas clearly saw the difficulties inherent in the Egyptian proposal. Hamas was not being asked to consent to the establishment of a unity government that would recognize Israel, or to cede its control in Gaza. However, the special committee that the Egyptians sought to manage the funds designated for the rehabilitation of Gaza would sooner or later have stolen authority away from the Hamas government. And the plan to establish a joint Hamas-Fatah security force was intended to weaken the organization's military grip on Gaza. The heads of Hamas' military wing were not prepared to consider the entry of an Arab force into Gaza. General elections also might not have served Hamas well, given its weak showing in recent polls (18.8 percent support versus 38.5 percent for Fatah).
But Hamas did not object to any of these points outright. In fact, it agreed to almost all of them. Its insistence on the release of all its prisoners held by the Palestinian Authority prior to the signing of any accord begs the suspicion it viewed this as an excellent pretext to torpedo the emerging agreement and thus avoid discussion of all the other sections it found troubling.
The radicals in Hamas ultimately proved decisive in the refusal to sign an agreement with Fatah, at least for now. A good number of Hamas officials, in Gaza and Damascus, are interested in reconciliation now. However, it appears the military wing in Gaza, headed by Ahmed al-Ja'abari, is not prepared at present to consider any concession lessening its control in Gaza, with backing from Hamas officials abroad, such as Imad al-Ilmi, who is known for his close ties with the regime in Iran.
Well of course, there might be the minor matter of having to resurrect the dead. But hope springs eternal. Ha'aretz writes:
A breakthrough may yet occur in the next round of talks, set for July 25. But given the disappointment of both sides, the "war of arrests" between the organizations is likely to resume, with Hamas arresting Fatah people in Gaza and Fatah returning the favor in the West Bank. If that happens, a further round of talks may not get off the ground.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

U.S. forces Israel out of competition for Indian war plane.

According to the Jerusalem Post,  Israel Aircraft Industries has been forced out of a hurge  Indian fighter jet bid. The excuse was that the deal might transfer western technology to India. However, both Boeing and Lockeed Martin are competing for the same bid.  The incident illustrates the fact that Israel's dependence on the United States has become crippling.

Jul. 5, 2009

Under pressure from the Pentagon, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been forced to back out of a joint partnership with a Swedish aerospace company to compete in a multi-billion dollar tender to sell new multi-role fighter jets to the Indian Air Force.

The deal, estimated at a whopping $12 billion for over 120 new aircraft, is being fought over by Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing's F-18/Hornet, Russia's MiG-35 and BAE's Eurofighter. IAI was asked by Saab, manufacturer of the Gripen, to jointly develop an advanced model which would compete for the deal.

The Defense Ministry ordered IAI to back out of the deal after the Pentagon expressed concern that American technology, used by Israel, would be integrated into the Gripen offered to the Indians.

"The stated concern was that Western technology in Israeli hands would make its way to the Indians," one Israeli official said.

What was strange with the American request was that Boeing and Lockheed Martin - the two largest US defense contractors - are also competing for the Indian deal. For this reason, Israeli officials said it was more likely that the Americans were concerned that if IAI competed for the deal with Saab, it would force the American companies to lower their prices.

A multi-role fighter, the Gripen is in service in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa. IAI was supposed to provide the electronic systems - radar, communications and electronic-warfare - for the plane.

This is not the first time that an Israeli company has been forced out of a deal due to concerns that competing with American companies would endanger Israeli-US relations.

Last summer, the MoD ordered Israel Military Industries (IMI) to back down from submitting a bid for a half-a-billion dollar deal to develop and manufacture a new tank for the Turkish Armed Forces.

At the time, Turkey had informed the MoD of its interest in developing a new tank and asked if IMI would want to submit a bid. SIBAT - the MOD's Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization - decided not to submit an Israeli offer so not to compete with the Americans and endanger Israeli-US defense relations.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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