Einstein's theory of Zionist relativity
By Glenn C. Altschuler, The Forward
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Saturday, July 18, 2009
Another take on Einstein and ZIonism, not necessarily true to history. When ordinary people try to understand the ethical and political positions of Einstein, we can only see him through our own horizons and the sort of questions we are likely to ask, which may be limited or irrelevant from his point of view. Einstein and Martin Buber both wanted an Israel that could not possibly exist. But the Zionist movement was done waiting for the impossible and settled for the less than perfect. How could there be an Israel without borders in the real world? Marc Ellis who wrote the second book is a virulent anti-Zionist.
Einstein's theory of Zionist relativity
By Glenn C. Altschuler, The Forward
"The Arabs have attacked us unexpectedly, wanted to destroy our settlement work, have murdered and plundered," Chaim Weizmann wrote in 1929. Although until now, the Jews "have given everything" to Arab leaders who "want only one thing, to chase us into the Mediterranean," he added, "we are now pressed from all sides to conclude a pact with them." Weizmann vowed to accept nothing less than a society in Palestine, "as Jewish as England is English and America is American."
As the two books under review remind us, these views were controversial then, among Jews as well as non-Jews, and they remain controversial now. They demonstrate, as well, how often supporters and critics of Israel talk past one another, shedding more heat than light.
A collection of letters, articles and interviews, some published and some unpublished, with commentary by journalist Fred Jerome, "Einstein on Israel and Zionism" seeks to explode as a myth the claim that the great scientist was a champion of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Einstein's writings underscore that he was not a systematic political thinker. His idealism, moreover, often crossed the border into naiveté. His views on a Jewish state, however, were rather consistent. Alarmed by the rising tide of antisemitism in Eastern Europe at the end of World War I, Einstein declared himself a human being, a Jew, an opponent of nationalism and a Zionist.
Militantly secular, he maintained that the bond uniting his people was "the democratic ideal of social justice, coupled with the ideal of mutual tolerance among all men." Einstein?s Zionism used the "fact" of Jewish nationality to promote self-knowledge, self-esteem and solidarity. But it was "immune from the folly of power" and "the obsession with race" that dominated Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
Einstein supported a "homeland" for Jews in Palestine, but he opposed a Jewish state "with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power." Since two-thirds of the population of Palestine consisted of Arabs, he preferred bi-national status with "continuously functioning, mixed, administrative, economic, and social organizations." Only cooperation with Arabs, led by "educated, spiritually alert" Jewish workers, he wrote, "can create a dignified and safe life?. What saddens me is less the fact that the Jews are not smart enough to understand this, but rather, that they are not just smart enough to want it."
So great was Einstein?s prestige that he was offered the presidency of Israel in 1948, after the death of Weizmann. If he accepted, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion confessed, "we are in for trouble." Nonetheless, the offer suggests that among many Israelis, his views were not entirely beyond the pale.
Einstein said no - and continued to give voice to fears "for the soul of Israel." He acknowledged that "there is no turning back anymore." A few months before his death, however, he remembered his "great hopes that Israel might be better than other nations," only to conclude that "it is no better."
"Judaism Does Not Equal Israel" is a sharper - and shriller - version of Einstein's critique of the Jewish state. A "post-Holocaust" theology, according to Marc Ellis, professor of Jewish studies and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University, has conflated Jewish identity with allegiance to Israel, justified the "ethnic cleansing of more than seven hundred thousand Palestinians,? and muzzled "even mainstream, moderate critics" as "self-hating Jews."
Einstein, Ellis points out, was by no means the only Jewish intellectual troubled by policies to ensure the security of Jews "at the expense of another people." Proposing a spiritual renewal rooted in community, Martin Buber wanted Jews to live in the Holy Land without a Jewish state to define that presence. And, writing in 1948, Hannah Arendt predicted that dispossession and the quashing of dissent would accompany the creation of a Jewish state.
Although Ellis sometimes asks questions worth asking, his all-out assault on Israel, alas, is not likely to result in the dialogue he seeks. Palestinians, Ellis maintains, "have a right to see Israel and Jews [italics added] as colonialists and racists. The occupation has never been benign. Jews are not innocent." Although he deems comparisons between the behavior of Nazis and Israelis "difficult to fathom," he explains that the "Nazi reference is a plea to end a madness that was visited upon Jews for millennia, which they now visit upon another people [that they] have tortured, expelled, and murdered."
Ellis insists that the equation of Israeli and Palestinians "sins" and "rights" distorts "the historical reality." In 1948, he claims, the Israelis were the aggressors, but it is they who now hold a monopoly on power. To restore their precious ethical traditions, "Israelis and their Jewish enablers in America" must confess their sins against the Palestinian people. He hopes, as well, for an admission that the two-state solution "is a fraud." Ellis advocates one state (with Arabs and Jews living together), and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and villages in pre-1967 Israel.
Acknowledging that Israel is not likely "to reverse its expansionist course," Ellis ends with mourning - and a warning. No state, he writes, apocalyptically, can exercise power over others indefinitely. As the day of reckoning nears, the children of Israel "will encounter such hollowness at the core of Jewish identity that their distance from things Jewish will increase until, incrementally, the core disappears" and Jewish affiliation dwindles "to the point of no return."
Mourning can be a sign of hope, in which God returns or doesn't, Ellis emphasizes, rather abstractly. And "too late can be right on time - when the time is right." For now, though, he?s a self-proclaimed prophet in exile. His book is often over the top, but Ellis's concerns about the ethical obligations of the State of Israel are, at times, worth listening to, even by those with a powerful urge to doubt, dismiss or destroy him
Meir Amit was one of those who served in the shadows. He might have been a publically acknowledged "great leader" in other circumstances. As it was, he was was one of the leaders who made Israel great in its finest hours. As head of the Mossad, he was able to deliver the information Israel needed to win the Six day war as well as ensuring that the United States would not stand in the war of an Israeli preemptive strike.
Jul. 17, 2009
jpost.com staff and ap , THE JERUSALEM POST
Former Mossad chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Meir Amit passed away on Friday at the age of 88 after a long illness.
Amit also served as Golani Brigade Commander, OC Southern Command, OC Central Command and headed the IDF's Intelligence Corps.
Amit was Mossad chief between 1963 and 1968. Under his leadership, the agency provided crucial intelligence that led to Israel's victory in the Six-Day-War.
Amit, who was born Meir Slutzki, grew up in a kibbutz in northern Israel before enlisting in the Haganah.
Following his military service, Amit briefly entered politics and served as minister of transportation and minister of communications.
"Generations of Israelis, entire generations of children owe Meir Amit a debt of gratitude for his immense contribution - a large part which remains secret - in building the strength and deterrence of Israel," President Shimon Peres said in a statement. "He was a natural leader, whom people trusted, and at the same time he was a visionary for the state."
The date for his funeral has yet to be set.
Despite government bans on demonstrations, Iranians continue to protest what they claim is a fraudulent election result that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "President." Increasingly, it is becoming a battle between rival Ayatollahs, religious leaders who are the real powers behind the Iranian government. It is not clear if Rafsanjani, who is leading the protests, is a Hojetoleslam as he is titled here, or an Ayatollah (see here) , the higher designation for a religious authority.
Rafsanjani is sometimes mistaken for a moderate. The following quote from Rafsanjani will give a better appreciation of his views and of the nature of the internal split in Iran, which should not be misunderstood as a battle between forces of light and darkness:
July 18, 2009
Rafsanjani defies Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as protesters turn out in force
pro-government militiamen firing tear gas at the opposition demonstrators
Tens of thousands of Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran yesterday to hear the country's most influential powerbroker pronounce the Islamic Republic in crisis and as he called for the release of those arrested in recent pro-democracy demonstrations.
In a devastating attack on the regime, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a leading cleric and former President, told a crowd at Tehran University that the Government had lost the people's trust. Referring to the handling of last month's disputed election, which President Ahmadinejad claims to have won, he said that the custodians of the Islamic Revolution had undermined its basic principles.
Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani condemned the brutal suppression of protests and called for the release of those detained during the post-election crackdown. The crowd acclaimed his address by chanting: "Death to the dictator" and "Leaders, give us arms".
Police and pro-government Basij militiamen responded by firing teargas and using truncheons to break up the crowd, the largest street gathering in weeks. Mehdi Karoubi, one of the presidential candidates who claims that his votes were stolen last month, was assaulted by plainclothes militia.
At least 15 people were arrested, including the leading women's rights campaigner and lawyer Shadi Sadr, who was beaten and dragged into a car in front of a crowd of her friends. "Shadi called me from an unknown location and said she was arrested by plainclothes officials who forcefully got her into a car," her husband, Hossein Nilchian, said.
Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani's sermon at the university, the cradle of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, came as a crucial opportunity to galvanise the embattled opposition, who believe that the election was stolen from the moderate challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Mr Mousavi's attendance at yesterday's sermon was his first official public appearance in weeks. He has been under virtual house arrest, his communications monitored, closest aides arrested and news outlets closed.
Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani, a key Mousavi sponsor, who heads the clerical council with the authority to remove the Supreme Leader, has spent the past few weeks canvassing the religious establishment in Qom to make such a move against him.
Only a month ago at the same venue, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, declared that the election debate was over and warned of consequences for those who questioned the victory of Mr Ahmadinejad, the conservative incumbent. Many within the clerical establishment saw his backing of one candidate as a betrayal of his position.
Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani couched his sermon yesterday with calls for unity but his challenge to the regime was unmistakable. "Today is a bitter day," he said. "I hope with this sermon we can pass through this period of hardships that can be called a crisis."
He warned Iran's leaders not to ignore the will of the people — a key tenet of the revolution. "If the Islamic and Republican aspects of the revolution are not preserved, it means we have forgotten the principles of the revolution," he said. "Our key issue is to return the trust which the people had and now to some extent is broken."
Reminding worshippers of his close relationship with the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, he condemned the use of iron-fisted security forces to crush protests. "We knew what Imam Khomeini wanted. He didn't want the use of terror or arms," he said. Iran puts the official death toll at 20, although human rights activists believe that hundreds may have been killed during the protests.
Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani drew thunderous applause as, blinking back tears, he demanded the release of demonstrators. "It is not necessary that in this situation people be jailed. Let them join their families. We should not allow enemies to rebuke and ridicule us because of detentions. We should tolerate each other," he said.
Outside the prayer hall protesters carrying green banners — the colour of Mr Mousavi's election campaign — called on President Ahmadinejad to resign. Some evoked the slain martyrs of the protest movement, chanting:
"Sohrab is not dead, it is the Government that is finished" and "We are all one voice, we are all Neda".
The regime had banned public rallies, which had largely died out since security forces launched the crackdown on the streets last month, making Friday prayers one of the few opportunities left to gather.
Friday, July 17, 2009
This analysis busts a lot of stereotypes:
Jul. 17, 2009
YAAKOV KATZ and HERB KEINON , THE JERUSALEM POST
A day after releasing a damning report on Operation Cast Lead, and amid accusations that it is operating without transparency, the group Breaking the Silence on Thursday presented The Jerusalem Post with its donor list for the year 2008, which included several European governments.
On Wednesday, Breaking the Silence released a report including testimonies from 26 unnamed soldiers who participated in the campaign and which claimed that the IDF used Gazans as human shields, improperly fired incendiary white phosphorous shells over civilian areas and used overwhelming firepower that caused needless deaths and destruction.
On Thursday, military sources and NGO Monitor - a Jerusalem-based research organization - raised suspicions regarding Breaking the Silence's setup as a nonprofit limited company and not an amuta, or nonprofit organization. The difference is that an amuta is required by law to publicly declare the identity of its donors. A limited company is not always required to do so.
"From our work, going through the files of dozens of Israeli nonprofits, we feel that groups like this that are not listed [as an amuta] raises a lot of red flags," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor.
In response to the claims, Breaking the Silence presented the Post with its donor list for 2008. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv gave the organization NIS 226,589; the Dutch Embassy donated €19,999; and the European Union gave Breaking the Silence €43,514.
The NGO also received funding from the New Israel Fund amounting to NIS 229,949.
In 2007, Breaking the Silence received a total of NIS 500,000, and in 2008 it managed to raise NIS 1.5 million.
"We have nothing to hide," said Yehuda Shaul, one of the heads of Breaking the Silence. "We are open to complete transparency and are prepared to share this information with the public."
The 110-page report, which included videotaped testimonies in which soldiers' faces were blurred out, did not represent a cross-section of the army. Rather, they were troops who had approached the group or were reached through acquaintances of NGO members. Two were junior officers and the rest were enlisted personnel.
Many questioned the overwhelming use of force. One soldier said the army used weapons such as mortars and white phosphorous "to show off its strength."
Another soldier said white phosphorus artillery shells were used to ignite a house suspected of housing munitions. "The house went up in flames," he said.
In response to the IDF Spokesman's assertion that Breaking the Silence did not submit the report prior to its publication, Shaul said he sent the report to the IDF via e-mail 24 hours before it was published.
A senior IDF officer responded that even if the report was sent 24 hours before publication that would not have been enough time to properly investigate the findings.
"It appears to us that the organization's real motive was to slander the IDF and not to initiate a thorough investigation," the officer said. "If it had wanted to allow for a real investigation it would have given us the identities of the soldiers, the location where the alleged crimes took place and other identifying parameters."
Shaul rejected this assertion as well and said the report included unit names as well as most of the locations.
One senior security official noted the Breaking the Silence report came fast on the heels of highly critical reports issued earlier this month by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross, giving the impression that the groups were coordinating the timing of their reports to "magnify their impact."
The Breaking the Silence report was for the most part based on hearsay and rumor, and not facts, the senior security official said.
Meanwhile, reports that Human Rights Watch used its work against Israel, and its withstanding "pro-Israel pressure groups" as a selling point to solicit funds in Saudi Arabia, are creating waves in the blogosphere, with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic monthly asking HRW's executive director Ken Roth in an e-mail exchange if this was indeed what the group did in Riyadh in May.
"Did your staff person attempt to raise funds in Saudi Arabia by advertising your organization's opposition to the pro-Israel lobby?" Goldberg asked Roth, in the exchange that he posted on his blog Wednesday.
"That's certainly part of the story," Roth responded. "We report on Israel.
"Its supporters fight back with lies and deception. It wasn't a pitch against the Israel lobby per se. Our standard shpiel is to describe our work in the region. Telling the Israel story - part of that pitch - is in part telling about the lies and obfuscation that are inevitably thrown our way."
According to an article that appeared in May in the Saudi English-language newspaper The Arab News, a delegation of senior members of HRW were in Saudi Arabia and were commended at a dinner attended by prominent members of Saudi society, human rights activists and dignitaries, for work on Gaza and the Middle East as a whole.
According to the newspaper, HRW presented a documentary and spoke on the report it had compiled "on Israel violating human rights and international law" during the Gaza operation.
"Human Rights Watch provided the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets. Pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations have strongly resisted the report and tried to discredit it," Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, was quoted in the Saudi paper as saying.
Roth admitted to Goldberg that the dinner included people connected to the government, including "a guy from the national human rights commission," which is a government body, and "someone from the Shura Council."
The Shura Council is Saudi Arabia's state-appointed religious leadership, a council which, as Goldberg pointed out, oversees, on behalf of the monarchy, the imposition in the kingdom of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said in response that "Human Rights Watch has admitted conducting a fund-raiser in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi elite, with representatives of different branches of the Saudi government in the room. They also admitted that they have used their criticism of Israel as a fund-raising tool in dealing with Arab audiences.
"Surely this fundamentally undermines the objectivity and the credibility that all too many in the past have attached to their reports."
Regev's comments come two days after the Prime Minister's Office said Jerusalem would begin waging a more aggressive battle against NGOs it deems biased against Israel.
This article can also be read at
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The logic of this escapes me. The Obama administration could not get the Arab states to meet their demands, so now they are going to unveil (wrong word for Middle East?) a binding timetable? What if the sides cannot agree, then the US decides?
Last update - 09:19 16/07/2009
Obama to set binding timetable for Israel-PA talks
By Barak Ravid
Tags: Two-state solution
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce a diplomatic plan soon for renewal of the Middle East peace process.
A central feature of the plan, which will be presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a binding timetable for negotiations on the core issues involved in a final resolution of the conflict.
It may also be precluded by an easing of pressure for a building freeze in the settlements on the part of the Unites States.
A senior Western diplomat closely involved in current contacts involving the U.S., Israel, the PA and moderate Arab states noted that the American administration is currently developing the diplomatic plan but is only interested in pursuing it after the settlement issue and the matter of pro-Israel gestures from the Arab states are resolved.
The American plan will essentially restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians which have been deadlocked for over six months. The plan will not deal with all of the specific details of the negotiations and will not provide parameters for the resolution of core issues. Rather it will provide a framework for negotiations, how they will be conducted, follow-up mechanisms and especially the timetable for negotiations.
The senior diplomat said Obama is interested in bringing talks to a conclusion "on time" as a way of obligating the parties to make progress.
The diplomat also noted that the U.S. is now interested in reaching a compromise with Israel on the settlement issue as a prelude to presentation of the American plan, as the Americans have understood that Israel cannot agree to an absolute freeze in construction in the settlements.
The change in the American view on the issue was the result of the fact that about 2,500 homes in the settlements are in various advanced stages of construction which cannot be halted.
U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is therefore attempting to find a formula by which Israel will go as far as it can to stop settlement building.
The shift in the American position is also the product of the refusal on the part of the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, to make significant normalization gestures toward Israel. In all probability, when the Americans understood that in any event they would not obtain substantial gestures from the Arabs, they decided to reach a compromise with Israel.
The compromise will also include an agreement on a joint database between Israel and the U.S. which will permit close tracking of settlement construction and verification that it is being kept to a minimum.
The plan, according to the senior diplomat, would also include other Israeli confidence-building measures toward the Palestinians. The diplomatic source cautioned that the Arab world's total lack of trust in Netanyahu remained a major problem.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Regard if you please, the below confidential communication, which I, and a select group of maybe 20,000 other people have received. This is definitely "inside dope." I am about to share this precious secret with you, and expose yet another conspiracy of internal Jew Zionism. Here is what it is about. The virtuous and truth telling democratic Ismalic Republic of Iran is fresh from having conducted impeccable democratic elections in the best traditions and with total transparency. The glorious Basij warriors triumphed over the Mossad inspired plots of evil people like Neda Soltan, who wanted to introduce foreign and corrupting concepts into Iran such as women's rights, as well as degenerate and evil culture such as the Zionist Mickey Mouse. But Iran is a victim of a plot and a libel by the international Jew Zionism conspiracy that is operated from that den of iniquity, Tel-Aviv.
The Iranians, who have the second largest gas reserves and the sixth largest petroleum reserves in the world, as well as a puny industrial capacity, explain that they have an urgent need of nuclear power to generate electricity, as well to satisfy the intellectual curiosity of the forward looking Mullahs, who were commanded by Allah in the Quran to seek out the secrets of the world, hidden from all men and Jinn except for the wisest and most virtuous. That is the only explanation for why they are refining uranium, and for why they built secret centrifuge factories and a secret heavy water reactor, and why they are investing a huge part of the budget of their poor country in nuclear gadgetry and solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles. Perhaps the missiles will be used to solve the traffic jam problem in Tehran.
The Zionists, for reasons all their own, decided arbitrarily that Iran, which never harmed a hair on anyone's head, is trying to create nuclear weapons. If the Iranians do not stop their peaceful and innocent nuclear program, not to mention their peaceful and innocent crash solid state ICBM development program, also needed for peaceful purposes, the greedy and evil Zionists propose to attack the centrifuges and other development sites. At least that is what the letter below claims. As the astute author and analyst Sam Vaknin notes:
And Vaknin goes on to tell in detail of the pernicious Zionist plot, designed to torpedo the Obama program of engagement with the nice Iranians. He tells us that preparations are almost complete. To his excellent and imaginative report, which is based on information that is available only to a select group of about two billion people who have the rare qualification of being literate, we can add that the Zionist government has passed both submarines and warships through the Suez Canal, which analysts of about the same caliber of Vaknin have claimed is a sure signal to Iran by Israel. All this, as noted is supposedly meant to torpedo the Obama policy and launch an attack on Iran in a few short months. Only Vaknin forgot that Obama has said repeatedly that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, and that Obama has vowed to get tough with Iran if it doesn't respond to diplomacy in a few months.
Vaknin has joined the honorable ranks of the Iran attack prognosticators. The most prominent of them are Sy Hersh of the New Yorker and Uzi Mahnaimi of the Sunday Times. Every few months these two earned their keep by predicted an Israeli or American attack on Iran in just a few weeks or months. No attack ever materialized, but the two clowns went on predicting, based on "leaked" "information" from "reliable" sources. Like the medieval Jewish prognosticators of the Ketz - the end of days - based on the false "science" of numerology, they were never deterred by the fact that the cataclysmic event did not occur. There was always a good excuse: their leaks had exposed the vicious Zionist-neoconservative conspiracy of Dick Cheney, the Likud and other malefactors.
Vaknin himself is the best judge of his own character and motivations. After all, as he tells us that he is author of a book called, "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited."
What is wrong with Vaknin's prediction that an Israeli attack is imminent? A few things. Firstly, in the surprise attacks it has carried out in the past, Israel never ever leaked any details of the planned operation beforehand. This was true of the attack on the Iraqi reactor, Operation Focus that began the Six day war, the attack on the reactor that was being built by North Korea in Syria, the attack on Tunis, and the sinking of Arafat's "refugee boat" in Cyprus, among others. Leaked "plans" are almost surely disinformation. A great analyst like Vaknin must know that. (Surely he is a great analyst, as he says so himelf). Second, the timing is wrong. Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad said that Iran will not have a bomb before 2014, so what is the hurry? Third, the timing of the attack is wrong. Israel hasn't got its missile defenses in place, and will not have an operation anti-missile system for all the relevant ranges for a while. Fourth, Israel and the US agreed to go for sanctions in the autumn if Iran doesn't negotiate seriously. An Israeli attack would make some Americans pretty angry, unless it is really part of the plan. Fifth, Vaknin claims that Israel will attack only two targets. This seems to be worthless, since any attack must strike at least the nuclear research center at Isfahan, the Arak reactor that can produce plutonium, and the Natanz facilities for manufacturing centrifuges. Probably there are other vital targets. Israel would have to hit a number of them in order to really set back Iran's "electricity generation" program.
But who am I to question Vaknin? Vaknin seems to be no amateur. He is an "analyst" - he tells people in Macedonia all about Israeli policy. He has Web sites about Global research etc. Nobody in Macedonia or Micronesia or anywhere else asks fools like me to explain Israeli policy. So how could this astute sleuth have missed all this signs that only a child could miss? As he notes, Israel has planted many leaks, and one could be quick to conclude that Vaknin himself is a devious agent of the sly Zionist conspiracy, trying to confuse and panic the ever virtuous and stout hearted Iranian government.
The truth may be simpler. By his own accounts, Vaknin (see samvak.tripod.com/cv.html) has a Phd from a third rate American university in philosophy and dabbled in computers and business administration. While he was in jail(!) (see healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/my-story/menu-id-1470/) for unspecified reasons, he wrote an amateur book about psychology, and then he evidently graduated to amateur geopolitical analysis. All this information is from his own CV and autobiographical summary. I could not find anywhere where he had studied or worked in anything related to international relations, security, military affairs etc.
Assuming that I didn't miss anything (you are invited to check) and that it is not a cover provided by a sinister intelligence agency (you know which one) the conclusion is that his ideas are no better and no worse than yours or mine. The difference is that we don't usually pretend to know with absolute certainty when or if Israel is going to attack anyone, or whom they will attack. If he can make a living from it, then good for him. We should not begrudge anyone a living, but it should not come at the expense of endangering the peace and spreading unfounded rumors about Israel.
The letter follows below.
Preparations for Attack on Iran Almost Complete
By: Sam Vaknin
July 10, 2009
Late last year, Israel embarked on a coordinated campaign of leaks to the press regarding its determination to take out Iran's nuclear facilities if Obama's then-new administration fails to sway the Iranians diplomatically. Israel is unwilling to accept a nuclear Iran: "It is not an option", say its senior intelligence and military leadership.
On January 20, 2009, I appeared as a guest in the most popular political affairs program in Macedonia ("Glasot na Narodot", or The Voice of the People). I warned that Israel is willing to wait 6 to 8 months for Obama's "diplomacy" with regards to Iran's nuclear capability to show some progress. If Iran remains recalcitrant, Israel plans to bomb two facilities in Iran as it did in Iraq in 1981, I said. Refueling won't be a problem, I assured the program's host, Slobodan Tomic: both Egypt and Saudi-Arabia offered to help.
Israel has decided to go ahead. Taking into account political, geopolitical, military preparedness, and climatic conditions, there are two windows: between July 21 and 24 and between August 6 and 8. Advance teams comprised of Mossad agents and military personnel are already on the ground in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq (including in the Kurdish lands, adjacent to Turkey).
A mock has been erected not far from Eilat (near the Red Sea, opposite Aqaba). A defunct airbase in Biq'at Ha'Yareach (Moon Vale) has been resurrected to accommodate Air Wing 10. In a country as small and intimate as Israel, it is amazing that this has been kept a secret: hundreds of recruits and reservists - from mechanics and pilots to cooks and administrators - have been re-stationed there in the last few months.
A mysterious facility also sprouted up not far from Dimona's nuclear reactor, next to a university town called Sde Boker. It is not known what is its role, though speculation is that it is intended to shield the sensitive facility from an Iranian counter-attack. Several batteries of aged Patriot missiles have been recently replaced with brand new anti-missile rockets developed by Israel.
Citizens are reporting dry runs in the skies of the Negev, Israel's traditional air force training grounds and a desert with some resemblance to Iranian conditions. Piecing these scant testimonies together, it seems that the Israelis are concentrating their effort on midair refueling and surgical strikes on multiple targets.
Finally, HAGA (Hagana Ezrakhit), the Civilian Defense Force, a part of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), has been instructed to begin preparations for a possible Iranian counter-strike with long-range conventional missiles. At this stage, Israel is not contemplating chemical or biological warfare (though the distribution of gas masks does seem to be part of the drill).
No one knows for sure where will Israel strike. Wiping off all the widely distributed and impregnable components of Iran's capability to enrich uranium is close to impossible. The after-effects of even a limited air attack may be devastating and not necessarily short-term, as the Israelis are convinced. The price of oil is likely to spike and radicals and extremists throughout the benighted region are bound to leverage the attack to smear and taunt Israel and its allies but, then, what else is new. The Arab countries are likely to breathe a sigh of relief that the Iranian bully has been humbled.
The big question mark is how will the Obama administration react to such a fait accompli that flies in the face of the new President's stated policies. Will Obama try to make an example out of Israel and harshly punish it - or will he merely verbally lash it and proceed with business as usual? Time will tell. Soon.
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. (E-mail : email@example.com, Mobile/Cell: +38970-565488)
Associate Editor, Global Politician and Founding Analyst, International Analyst Network
This is not the best simile:
It is not a good simile because the two are too precisely the same. It is like saying, "a rose in springtime is like, well, a rose in springtime."
But the general idea is certainly right.
This is precious:
Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, responded by telling The Jerusalem Post that there was a need to distinguish between a government and its people, and to conflate the two was "misguided at best."
Isn't Whitson aware that it is the "private" people of Saudi Arabia who fund the extremist Salafi movements and the Madrassahs that educate al-Qaeda troups? Doesn't she know that the wealth of Saudi Arabia is distributed among the princes of the Saudi royal family, who are synonymous with "the government?" The "people" include the Bin Laden family, which is not more liberal than the government.
Jul. 15, 2009
Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST
In the opening shot of a battle Jerusalem has decided to wage with NGOs it deems biased against Israel, the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday slammed a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) fundraising delegation to Saudi Arabia as evidence the organization has lost its "moral compass."
"A human rights organization raising money in Saudi Arabia is like a women's rights group asking the Taliban for a donation," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said Monday.
"If you can fundraise in Saudi Arabia, why not move on to Somalia, Libya and North Korea?" he said. "For an organization that claims to offer moral direction, it appears that Human Rights Watch has seriously lost its moral compass."
Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, responded by telling The Jerusalem Post that there was a need to distinguish between a government and its people, and to conflate the two was "misguided at best."
"Certainly not everyone is tainted by the misconduct of their government," she said, stressing that her organization did not take money from any governments around the world, but did solicit funds from individuals and foundations worldwide.
"There are private individuals in Saudi Arabia who are not part of the ruling government," she said.
Regev's comments came two weeks after Israel was ripped for alleged misconduct during Operation Cast Lead in reports issued by HRW and Amnesty International, two of the highest-profile human rights NGOs. Israel has decided to take a much more aggressive stance toward future reports issued by these organizations, the Post has learned.
"We will make a greater effort in the future to go through their reports with a fine-tooth comb, expose the inconsistencies and their problematic use of questionable data," one senior official said.
"We discovered during the Gaza operation and the Second Lebanon War that these organizations come in with a very strong agenda, and because they claim to have some kind of halo around them, they receive a status that they don't deserve," he said.
The Foreign Ministry is currently considering how best to expand its focus and deal more systematically with this issue, and it is assumed this will be done together with the Prime Minister's Office, the Post has learned.
At a press conference last week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Foreign Ministry was currently involved in a reform that would place a much greater emphasis on dealing with NGOs, which Lieberman said were replacing diplomats as the engine for setting the international community's agenda.
Regev's comments on HRW were triggered by an op-ed that appeared Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal's online edition, reporting that a delegation from the organization recently visited Saudi Arabia to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting the group's activities against Israel.
This op-ed, written by David Bernstein - a law professor at Virginia's George Mason University - was based on a report issued by NGO Monitor two months ago, which itself was based on an article on the visit that appeared in the Saudi English-language newspaper Arab News.
According to the Arab News story from May, a delegation of senior members of HRW were in Saudi Arabia and commended at a dinner attended by prominent members of Saudi society, human rights activists and dignitaries for work on Gaza and the Middle East as a whole.
According to the report, HRW presented a documentary and spoke on the report they had compiled "on Israel violating human rights and international law" during the Gaza operation.
"Human Rights Watch provided the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets. Pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations have strongly resisted the report and tried to discredit it," Whitson was quoted in the paper as saying.
Whitson, according to the Arab News report, pointed out that the group had managed to testify about Israeli abuses to the US Congress on three occasions.
"US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel and the Hamas authorities in Gaza to cooperate with the United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations of serious Israeli violations during the war on Gaza," she was quoted as saying.
Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, which monitors humanitarian NGOs working in or compiling reports about Israel, called Saudi Arabia one of the world's greatest human rights violators and said that for a human rights organization to go there looking for funds was "grossly immoral."
Steinberg said that HRW had turned to the Arab world for funds since some of its major Jewish donors had stopped contributing to the organization because of its stance on Israel.
He added that it was disingenuous for Whitson to say the organization was soliciting individuals in Saudi Arabia, not the government, since the wealth that the organization was soliciting in Saudi Arabia "can only be part of the Saudi elite," and the elite were an integral part of a regime and system notorious for human rights violations.
Whitson slammed both NGO Monitor and Bernstein for not calling her to check their facts, and said that if they had done so they would have been informed that - contrary to the impressions left by their reports - HRW did discuss Saudi human rights violations during the delegation's visit.
She dismissed NGO Monitor as a "propaganda organization."
Steinberg said that e-mail queries his organization had left with Whitson and HRW executive-director Kenneth Roth on the matter had gone unanswered.
Whitson dismissed the impression left in the Arab News report that the organization's sales pitch in Saudi Arabia had been based on its work slamming Israel, saying there was Saudi press censorship, and it was clear that HRW's work in Gaza was the angle that the authorities in Riyadh would want to highlight.
Whitson said that while in Saudi Arabia, HRW had met with the government's human rights commission and had private dinners, "just as we have private dinners in Tel Aviv, London and New Delhi."
She said the group had Saudi donors, but - citing her organization's policy - would not identify them or say how much money had been raised on the recent visit to the Saudi kingdom.
Sigmund Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. He didn't say, but could have said, that sometimes a missile frigate in the Suez Canal is just a missile frigate in the Suez Canal. We don't know if this is one of those times.
The idea of course, is that the boats carried a message for Iran. It could be so. Actually, it seems very likely that Israel might embark on such a maneuver for the benefit of the non-aligned delegates. Egypt has to support President Obama's demands for Arab cooperation with Israel. If Egypt doesn't lead in this effort, what other Arab state would do it?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Palestinian Authority negotiator Erekat: No Jews in Palestinian state, Israel will keep making concessionshttp://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/07/palestinian-authority-negotiator-erekat.html
The remarks of Saeb Erekat are not a good omen for peace, to say the least.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Morton A. Klein
Phone 1: 212-481-1500
Palestinian Authority (PA) senior official and head of its negotiations department, Saeb Erekat, has said in a detailed interview with an Arabic newspaper that no Jews should be permitted to stay in a Palestinian state, that Palestinians have an "absolute right" to the eastern half of Jerusalem and that, as Israel's negotiating positions have weakened and been concessionary over the years, the Palestinians should agree to nothing now and allow Israel to concede still more.
Erekat's remarks in an interview with Jordanian daily, Al-Dustour:
· "[Likewise], nobody should agree to Israeli settlers remaining in the Palestinian [state]. We must not compare a Palestinian [whose family] lived in Palestine [long] before Netanyahu or his forefathers arrived, and who is still living there, to a settler who is living on Palestinian soil [and maintaining his presence there through] coercion, oppression and unacceptable [use of] force. We must not talk of land swap before we establish our sovereignty in practice...
·"We have an absolute right to east Jerusalem. We cannot not listen to the voices that ask who will run Al-Aqsa. We revere and sanctify the Al-Aqsa mosque, as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, but they are no different from Rafah, Jericho, and the refugee camp of Aqbat Jabr. All these places were occupied by Israel, and I must not distinguish between them. No one should say that Al-Aqsa must be managed by a 'Muslim' or 'Arab,' [rather than by a Palestinian].
· "Many people say that the [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations of the last 10 or 15 years were useless and yielded nothing, but [that is not true]. In 1994 [i.e. during the Oslo negotiations] the Palestinian side could have capitulated and gained an achievement within one month. [That is,] we could have agreed to undertake the management of the education and health [systems] in the West Bank. [Likewise] Yasser Arafat could have accepted what was offered him at Camp David [in 2000], instead of [letting himself] be besieged in the Muqata'a and then murdered for no reason. President Mahmoud 'Abbas could have accepted [Olmert's] December 2008 proposal, [but he preferred to wait] ... [Some ask] where the negotiations with the Israeli side have brought us. First [the Israelis] said we would [only have the right to] run our own schools and hospitals. Then they consented to give us 66% [of the occupied territories]. "At Camp David they offered 90%, and [recently] they offered 100%. So why should we hurry, after the all the injustice we have suffered? The agreement will not be stable anyway, unless it is based on international law and on justice."
· "We do not see Iran as posing a threat to us. Iran is a country in the region with whom we [sometimes] disagree and [sometimes] agree. I want Iran to stand by the Palestinians and support the Palestinian cause without favoring one side [i.e. Hamas] over the other [i.e. the PLO/Fatah]. But Iran does not pose a threat to the region; that is an invention used by
· "Obama must launch his initiative for reviving the peace [process] as soon as possible, for otherwise the region will be driven into an abyss of violence, chaos, and extremism, and that is a serious problem that must be addressed..." ('MEMRI: Saeb Ereqat: Over the Years, Israel Has Gradually Withdrawn from Its Positions; Therefore, We Have No Reason to Hurry,' Middle East media Research Institute (MEMRI), July 13, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, "Saeb Erekat has demonstrated in detail that the PA remains opposed to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He has provided further proof –though none is needed – to show that the PA demand that Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem become judenrein is official Palestinian policy. Conversely, he has shown that the PA's Salaam Fayyad's recent words in English to an American audience which implied that Jews would be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state were fraudulent.
"If Palestinians cannot accept a Jewish presence in a future Palestinian state, then that fact itself is indication enough that they are not prepared to live in peace with Israel. Who is prepared to argue that a people that resolutely insists on throwing all Jews out of their country, that criminalizes the sale of land to Jews and that lynches those deemed guilty of "collaborating" with Israel by having sold land to Jews is actually ready to live in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel?
"Erekat also shows that the PA is accustomed to getting Israeli concessions over time without having to give anything in return. His candid words on this subject underscore the great harm Israel has done itself by pursuing a course of concessions –especially unilateral ones – with the Palestinians before demanding that they adhere to their own signed commitments under the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in their controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed terrorism.
"In all other respects – demanding a so-called 'right of return' for Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war and their millions of descendants; demanding that the heart of the Jewish people and Judaism – Jerusalem – be torn out and given to a Palestinian regime that has never ruled the city or had its own capital there; pretending that Iran poses no threat to Israel, the region or the united States even giving voice to the incendiary falsehood that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat – Erekat provides several indications of the continuing Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state and to seek pretexts and strategies to vilify her."
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Top Jewish organizational leaders expressed support for President Obama's Middle East peace strategies at a White House meeting but said the president must do a better job of showing he expects hard work from all sides, not just Israel.
Obama's meeting Monday afternoon with 16 Jewish leaders from 14 groups comes after weeks of tense exchanges between the Obama administration and Israel's government over freezing Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, prompting expressions of "concern" from some U.S. Jewish organizational leaders.
"The view was expressed among the organizations at a minimum there was concern about an imbalance in pressures placed on Israel as opposed to on the Palestinians and Arab states," Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JTA. "The president indicated he had a sensitivity to the perception of that imbalance and had to work harder to correct that perception."
One participant quoted the president as saying that "there's not a lot of courage among the Arab states; not a lot of leadership among the Palestinians."
The consensus was that on substance, Obama had the support of the room when it came to his peacemaking strategies -- or, at least, he did not face opposition.
The meeting comes as Obama faces sharp criticism from Jewish conservatives in the media who claim the president is bent on scaling back U.S. support for Israel. In particular, critics have cited the Obama administration's repeated calls for an Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank.
At least two of the leaders of centrist organizations who attended the White House meeting -- Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations -- have said they are increasingly hearing from people who are worried about Obama's intentions, including some who voted for him.
Liberal groups are rejecting such claims, saying that the president and his approach to advancing Israeli-Palestinian talks enjoy the support of most American Jews.
The two representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, president David Victor and president-elect Lee Rosenberg, asked non-confrontational questions about Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively, and did not press the settlements issue.
Rosenberg and Solow, who are both from the Chicago area, were major fund-raisers for Obama's presidential run.
Some of Obama's most ardent critics -- including the Zionist Organization of America and the National Council of Young Israel -- were among the notable absences from the list of those invited to the White House.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of Reform Judaism, delivered a ringing endorsement of Obama's demands for a settlement freeze, saying that settlement expansion was not in Israel's interest.
Such pronouncements are likely to reinforce the growing perception in the Israeli government that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to garner significant support among U.S. Jews should the disagreement with Obama over a settlement freeze escalate into a full-scale confrontation.
Top officials close to Netanyahu are debating how to treat the reluctance among U.S. Jews to back what they now call "normal living" conditions in the settlements -- a euphemism for natural growth. Some Netanyahu advisers suggest writing off much of the U.S. Jewish community in the short term, maintaining relations only with those groups sympathetic to Netanyahu. Others suggest intensive outreach to left-leaning Jews.
Concerns about a potential confrontation may be moot. The United States and Israel reportedly are close to agreeing to a formula that would allow Israel to finish about 2,500 "almost complete" units now under construction in the West Bank. That would allow Israel to claim settlement growth was continuing while the Obama administration would describe it as an effective freeze.
The only signs of contention -- from Foxman, the ADL's national director, and Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference -- had to do with how Obama was handling his demand for a settlements freeze, not with its substance.
Hoenlein said that peace progress was likelier when there was "no daylight" between Israel and the United States. Obama agreed that it must always be clear that Israel has unalloyed U.S. support but added that for the past eight years, referring to the Bush administration, there was "no daylight and no progress."
"There was a lot of appreciation by the broad spectrum of the Jewish community of the president's clarity on Israel and the absolute alliance between Israel and the United States," said Nancy Ratzan, the president of the National Council of Jewish Women.
It was Foxman who raised the concern of a perception that Obama was leaning harder on Israel than on the Palestinians and Arab states.
Obama conceded the point -- to a degree -- saying it was the result of "man-bites-dog" coverage of a relatively unusual circumstance: a U.S. president pressuring Israel. He said he would make it clear that he expected the Palestinians to contain violence and end incitement, and that Arab nations should make gestures toward Israel commensurate with Israel's concessions.
"If you really read everything he's written and said, it is clear there are multiple parties that have obligations and steps," said Jeremy Ben Ami, director of J Street, a left-wing pro-Israel group.
"He's going to call out the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Arab nations."
On the issue of Iran, Obama said his strategy of outreach as a means of persuading the Islamic Republic to end its nuclear weapons program was still in place, although he recognized that the Iranian government was entrenching itself in the wake of riots triggered by June 12 elections denounced by many Iranians and westerners as rigged.
Obama said progress had been made in persuading other nations, especially Russia, to sign on to his carrots-and-sticks strategy on Iran -- offering incentives and threatening a harder line.
The emphasis was on foreign policy, but Obama fielded questions on domestic issues, including his efforts to introduce universal health care and end hunger among American children.
Also present at the meeting were representatives of Americans for Peace Now, the Orthodox Union, the United Jewish Communities, Hadassah, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the American Jewish Committee.
Participants said the meeting, at a round table in the White House's Roosevelt Room, was relaxed and friendly.
"The comfort level was magnificent; there were no notes," said Ira Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Obama teased Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, and David Axelrod, his top political adviser, both of whom attended the meeting and are Jewish.
"If Axelrod or Rahm ignore you, don't blame me," he said.
Ha'aretz published a story last week in which it claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu had privately referred to both Obama aides as self-hating Jews. A Netanyahu spokesman, Mark Regev, was later quoted by The Plum Line blog as denying the claim, saying "I've never heard the prime minister use such language."
Meanwhile, one of Obama's most prominent Jewish backers, Alan Dershowitz, has received harsh criticism from some Jewish conservatives for writing an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal defending the president.
The critics are accusing Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor with a long track record of fighting anti-Israel efforts on campus, of essentially abandoning Israel out of loyalty to the Democratic Party.
In response, Dershowitz wrote a piece in FrontPageMagazine.com saying he believes 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," Dershowitz wrote, "I gave, and continued to give, President Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt in his dealings with Israel."
Unbelievable, but true. Human Rights Watch is reduced to seeking funds from Saudi Arabia! Of course, everyone is feeling the financial pitch, but this move, if the report is true, shows an absurd lack of judgement.The article claims:
What pro-Israel groups can anyone find in the United Nations? What could she mean? Has Libya been pressuring HRW to go easy on Israel?
Presumably, HRW was not funded by the Zionist conspiracy or Hadassah. So the pressure HRW is talking about is individual donors expressing their outrage at HRW's unfair policies. That's the privilege of Americans who donate money to an organization. If HRW is violating its 501c(3) charter mission and has become a mouthpiece of the Hamas, it's up to the donors and the regulators to step in. If human rights groups are taken over by advocates of Sharia law, then we will find HRW advocating the "right" to wife beating, the "right" to polygamy and the "right" to stone adultresses and hang homosexuals.
Human Rights Watch Goes to Saudi Arabia
Seeking Saudi Money to Counterbalance "Pro-Israel Pressure Groups"
BY DAVID BERNSTEIN The Wall Steet Journal JULY 13, 2009, 10:19 P.M. ET
A delegation from Human Rights Watch was recently in Saudi Arabia. To investigate the mistreatment of women under Saudi Law? To campaign for the rights of homosexuals, subject to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia? To protest the lack of religious freedom in the Saudi Kingdom? To issue a report on Saudi political prisoners?
No, no, no, and no. The delegation arrived to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting HRW's demonization of Israel. An HRW spokesperson, Sarah Leah Whitson, highlighted HRW's battles with "pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations." (Was Ms. Whitson required to wear a burkha, or are exceptions made for visiting anti-Israel "human rights" activists"? Driving a car, no doubt, was out of the question.)
Apparently, Ms. Whitson found no time to criticize Saudi Arabia's abysmal human rights record. But never fear, HRW "recently called on the Kingdom to do more to protect the human rights of domestic workers.
There is nothing wrong with a human rights organization worrying about maltreatment of domestic workers. But there is something wrong when a human rights organization goes to one of the worst countries in the world for human rights to raise money to wage lawfare against Israel, and says not a word during the trip about the status of human rights in that country. In fact, it's a virtual certainty that everyone in Whitson's audience employs domestic servants, giving her a perfect, untaken opportunity to boast about HRW's work in improving the servants' status. But Whitson wasn't raising money for human rights, she was raising money for HRW's propaganda campaign against Israel.
Someone who claims to have worked for HRW wrote to me, "I can tell you that the people on the research and policy side of the organization have little, if any, contacts with people on the donor side." If that's true, apparently this is yet another exception HRW makes for Israel: Ms. Whitson, who gave the presentation to potential Saudi donors, is director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division.
Also, as a Nathan Wagner comments at OpinionJuris: "Surely there is a moral difference between raising funds in free nations through appeals to ideals of universal human rights and raising money in repressive nations through appeals highlighting pressure brought against their enemies. [Moreover], the former type of fundraising does not imperil the organization's mission, but fundraising Bernstein highlights does, since any significant reliance on such funds will necessarily mute criticism of the repressive government."
Finally, some would defend HRW by pointing it that it has criticized Saudi Arabia's human rights record rather severely in the past. The point of my post, though, is not that HRW is pro-Saudi, but that it is maniacally anti-Israel. The most recent manifestation is that its officers see nothing unseemly about raising funds among the elite of one of the most totalitarian nations on earth, with a pitch about how the money is needed to fight "pro-Israel forces," without the felt need to discuss any of the Saudis' manifold human rights violations, and without apparent concern that becoming dependent on funds emanating from a brutal dictatorship leaves you vulnerable to that brutal dictatorship later cutting off the flow of funds, if you don't "behave."
Certain people have charged that President Obama met only with left-wing Jewish groups or excluded all right wing groups. Below is the list of attendees. It is true that, for example, ZOA is notable by its absence, but it seems that Ameinu, Brit Tzedek Veshalom and some others on the left were not invited either. It could have been worse. Obama could have invited Jewish Voice for Peace for example. JCPA, Orthodox Union, AIPAC, ADL and and Hadassah are not exactly PLO supporters. The President wanted to consolidate support among the mainstream leaders of American Jewish and Zionist organizations. A big problem of course is that there is no really active Zionist organization that speaks for mainstream ZIonism in the United States. The American ZIonist Movement (AZM) exists, but it is quieter than a mouse regarding political issues.
The following is a list of participants at the meeting (Source):
Media reports (here here) indicate that Obama got a reasonable amount of negative feedback at this meeting, but he isn't having any. He just pushed back. The pressure on Israel will continue. The purpose of the meeting was not to get feedback, but to try to organize Jewish support for this policies. Therefore, it would not have made a diffrence if other organizations, those that are opposed to a two state solution, had been invited.
It seems to me that the important questions to ask about Obama's Middle East policy, in each case, is what is plan B? It is conceivable that some of these strategies will work, but what happens if they do not work? If Obama cannot get sanctions against Iran, is he just going to say, "Well, too bad, we'll have to live with nuclear Iran?" What did the U.S. do about North Korea? And that is a Bush era legacy. If North Korea is allowed to have nuclear weapons, what message does it send to Tehran?
If the Palestinians do not accept the most reasonable possible Israeli offer, what happens next? Does Israel have to accept right of return for Palestinian refugees? And what will the status of Israel be at that time? Will it still be a respected ally, or will everyone in the US view it as something like the government of South Vietnam, putting up "obstacles to peace" for no reason??
By Barry Rubin
A clear, consistent, and carefully formulated U.S. strategy is emerging in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it's a badly flawed one that won't work. Probably, the Obama administration will spend the next six months finding out what I've just told you. Hopefully, it will learn and change as a result.
Let's consider the interrelated U.S. policy regarding Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. On Iran, the U.S. plans to build sanctions against Iran, going slowly to keep Europeans on board and to win assent from Moscow.
The other arm of this policy has been a careful effort to avoid friction with Tehran. Some in the administration think that engagement might work but probably more and more view it simply as a way to show the world that America has tried and that Iran is intransigent (something the world should already know).
At any rate, starting in September the administration intends to spring its trap! Everything will be ready: allies coordinated, rationale laid. Tougher sanctions will be raised against Iran; stronger warnings will be made.
Yet if one puts aside all the atmospherics and personalities, doesn't this put the Obama administration in October 2009 about where the Bush administration was regarding Iran in October 2008? In other words, U.S. policy will not be noticeably more likely to affect Iranian behavior now than it was then.
The big difference is supposedly that Obama's popularity and the fact that he tried engagement with Iran will translate into strong European support for sanctions.
But even with their liking Obama, how much more will Europeans do? Moreover, Obama is neither wildly popular nor has he made progress with the two biggest barriers to strong sanctions: Russia and China.
Foreign support for getting tough with Iran is not just a function of disliking former President George Bush or thinking Iran hasn't been given enough chance to repent. Europeans have spent years at engaging Iran.
No, their motive is:
--Economic self-interest. There are big profits to be made from trade and investment.
--Desire to avoid confrontations with Iran, a country that has a lot of money and which kills people who oppose it.
--Belief that a nuclear-armed Iran can be managed.
As for Russia, it views Iran as an asset. Tehran buys its nuclear equipment, weapons, and helps subvert U.S. policies. In China's case, aside from the profit motive, is fear of setting a precedent with sanctions which some day might be used against itself over human rights, or Taiwan, or Tibet.
True, Obama has a plan for winning over Russia. It just isn't a good one. His advisor on nuclear issues, an able, decent expert (but not on international politics) named Gary Samore says, "I think the effort to reset the relationship with Russia... can have the effect of making it more likely that Russia will cooperate with us in dealing with Iran."
More likely, "very slightly less likely" rather than "more likely," but it still won't happen in any meaningful way.
"That strategy of working on a new START treaty in parallel with efforts to improve our coordination on Iran seems to be working and we'll find out later this year whether that ends up being successful."
But is Russia going to trade, as the Obama team hints, a nuclear treaty in exchange for serious cooperation over Iran? No. Reducing America's nuclear arsenal, which is not a desperate need for Russia any way, would already be paid for by Russia's reducing its own arsenal!
[Update: I was right! Russia rejects this deal completely:
In other words, no matter how charming Obama is, no matter how many concessions he makes to the Europeans and Russia, no matter how much he proves himself willing to be friends with Tehran, it won't change that much.
Furthermore, just how tough will be the sanctions Obama will request, much less get? They are not likely to be "killers" to start with and then will get watered down further to win broad support. And then after being announced they will be watered down even more in order to ensure adaption. And then after being agreed to they might well not be completely enforced.
In short, Tehran isn't trembling.
But let's take the best-case outcome. Suppose everyone is ready to agree to tougher sanctions. These would still be far too low to force Iran to give in. Moreover, the new Iranian government is tougher than ever and less inclined not only to compromising away the nuclear weapons' drive but even to slowing it down. Having crushed demonstrations in Tehran these aren't leaders to be cowed by finger-wagging from diplomats in suits more expensive than the average Iranian makes in a year.
Meanwhile, Obama's general rhetoric and overall approach to international affairs convinces Tehran that the West is weak. Ignore it, say the mullahs. Full speed ahead! Then when we have nukes, who cares what the West says, If it even dares complain.
So this Iran policy, though it seems brilliant to its creators, is hopeless.
THE ARAB-ISRAELI COMPONENT
Now, let's turn to Arab-Israeli conflict policy. Alexander Pope wrote: "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."
In other words, the Obama administration has learned part of the truth but this has made things worse.
What it understands correctly is that most Arab regimes (excluding Iran's little buddy, Syria) are more worried about Iran and radical Islamist groups than about Israel.
In light of this correct insight, the administration has devised a brilliant—in its own mind—plan.
This policy is not a repeat of the old panacea--bash Israel and get peace—is a mistake. It is a more updated, softer (but not necessarily more sophisticated) strategy which can be summarized as: get Israel to make one concession and everything will fall into place.
Here's the grand plan: The United States will force Israel to freeze construction on Jewish settlements on the West Bank, then using this proof of evenhandedness, will go to Arab regimes and say: You see we're ready to push Israel, now your job is to push the Palestinians toward compromise, convince Israel of your own readiness for peace, and stand with us more vigorously in containing Iran.
Arab rulers will reply—indeed, the Saudis, Egyptians, and Jordanians have already done so—"not by the hairs on your chinny-chin-chin," as the three pink mammals, whose species cannot be mentioned in these Politically Correct times, put it in the nursery rhyme. Or in more scientific language, "You get bupkis!"
They'd probably say this any way but can do so more easily knowing that Obama is not going to huff, and puff, and blow their houses down. At the same time, they know that the Iranian regime and their own people are far scarier than Barack Obama.
And so this strategy, too, will fail.
I certainly agree that forming an alliance of the West, Israel, and most Arab states is the central task in the Middle East today, but Obama and his colleagues hugely underestimates the difficulty in doing so.
It wasn't just mean old George Bush that prevented the Arab-Israeli conflict from being solved but Palestinian and Syrian intransigence plus Arab state passivity.
It wasn't just mean old unpopular George Bush that prevented Arab states from doing more to help U.S. policy to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran. It was the self-interest of those regimes that did so.
At best, while most Arab regimes agree that the main danger is Iran and radical Islamism, they aren't going to stick their necks out, especially now that the United States seems weak and uncertain about providing real leadership. And they are still content to let America do all the work.
If this analysis were a cartoon, then, the caption would be: "Smithers, it is a carefully composed, comprehensive, detailed, and internally logical plan. Congratulations. Unfortunately, it is a very bad plan and it won't work."
Think of how an alternative might look. Last May 27 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:
"With respect to settlements, the President was very clear....He wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions....That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly...And we intend to press that point."
What would this approach would sound like if applied to Iran's regime:
"With respect to nuclear weapons and sponsorship of terrorism, the President was very clear....He wants to see a stop to nuclear weapons--not some nuclear weapons, not just the warheads, not just the missiles....That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly....And we intend to press that point."
Or how about Syria's regime?
"With respect to Syrian sponsorship of terrorism, the President was very clear....He wants to see a stop to Syrian sponsorship of terrorism–not just training terrorists, not just financing terrorists, not just ordering them to attack, not just giving them safe passage across the border, not just against Lebanon, not just against Syria, not just against Israel....That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly....And we intend to press that point."
But of course such a policy would require some real toughness against enemies on real big issues, not just gigantic posturing against an ally on a really small issue. U.S. policy neither intends nor in the end will sell out Israel. The problem is much worse from an American standpoint: it is dangerously subverting its own interests.
There's a problem when any serious and well-informed observer should be able to see six months ahead of time that U.S. policy isn't going to work.
There's an even bigger problem when administration officials and the media are so busy congratulating the genius of the current administration that no one notices the train is speeding toward a chasm without a bridge.
So, Mr. President, save this column and read it again in six months. It will make more sense to you.
Hamas claimed that Israeli intelligence operatives transferred gum to Gaza that increases female sex drive. A Ynet article reports:
This report is yummy, though unfortunately, there is no detailed description of the "dubious side effects." Who says Israel is not allowing humanitarian supplies into Gaza? An obvious question that many of us will be asking (without admitting it of course) is: "Where can we get this gum?"
Evidently Israel has a complete plan, since we also, according to Palestinians, infected Palestinians with AIDS. The motivation of Israel to increase the libido of Palestinians is obvious, since we are inteterested in population increase in Gaza, aren't we?
Without a doubt, this latest example of Israeli human rights violations should be added to the equally credible reports of Israeli war crimes already being considered by the Goldstone commission, and the UN Security Council should once again censure Israel for violating the riots of the hapless Gaza victims. Isn't that funny? Too bad this is reality, and not a joke, though.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The explanation for the silence is perhaps the fear that protests will only endanger those minorities even more. Evidently the time when Western governments will take up the cudgels for embattled coreligiionists is passed. .
On July 12, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad with 14 people being killed, many of them while attending religious services.
Christians in Muslim-majority areas are constantly being targeted by radical Islamists, especially in the Gaza Strip (where they've largely been driven out altogether), Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria. There is also tremendous pressure against the Christians (Copts) of Egypt. Hundreds of specific incidents of murder, kidnapping, expulsion, threats, and the destruction of churches have been documented.
In other places--notably Syria and the Palestinian Authority's territories, and of course in Israel--Christians are protected and able to practice their religion freely. In other countries, like Saudi Arabia, the practice of Christianity by foreign workers is tightly restricted.
It is a mystery to me why Western Christian churches and organizations have been so indifferent to the persecution and murder of their co-religionists. This story is rarely covered in the mainstream media. There are no protests and little aid being rendered to imperiled Christian communities.
Indeed, when it is mentioned--as in the recent special issue of National Geographic magazine--the only country blamed is Israel. Yet my direct contacts with West Bank Palestinian Christians leaves no doubt that the cause of emigration is Hamas and such elements, either through threats or fear that Islamists will come to power in future.
Since Muslim-majority states or areas are the only places in the world today where Christians face real persecution, the silence on this issue is both inexplicable and despicable.
For once, the government has put the emphasis in the right place, though it was not always reported as such. See also - This is what is right with a Jewish State
PM: Recognition of Jewish state is key
Jul. 12, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Palestinian recognition of the Jewish nature of Israel is an essential condition to peace, as well as their willingness to relinquish the demand that the descendents of Palestinian refugees be allowed to resettle in the Jewish state, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
The key to peace lies in explicit and unequivocal recognition of Israel as the Jewish state on the part of the Palestinians. They must once and for all give up the demand to resettle inside of Israel the descendents of the refugees," Netanyahu said during a Jerusalem memorial ceremony marking 105 years since the death of Theodor Herzl.
According to Netanyahu, the leaders of the Palestinians must say, "We have had enough of this conflict; we recognize Israel as Jewish; we will live alongside you in true peace.
"As soon as that is stated," Netanyahu continued, "a huge window to peace will be opened."
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him as soon as possible in order to renew peace talks.
"Let's make peace - both diplomatic peace and economic peace," Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting in Beersheba that was held there as an act of solidarity with the Negev capital. "There is no reason why we can't meet, the Palestinian Authority president and I, anywhere in Israel, and since we are in Beersheba, I say, let's meet here.
"The Palestinian population living alongside us has a basic right to live in peace, security and prosperity," he stressed. "In recent weeks, we have made great efforts to ease their lives. We've removed many roadblocks, we have decided to increase the operating hours of the Allenby Bridge for more goods, and I've decided to advance a series of projects with the Palestinians to promote peace. But all these efforts can only bring us to a certain point, and the results will be multiplied by the dozen if there is cooperation from the other side."
Reaching out to Arab countries, as well as to Palestinian leaders, he said, "Let's meet, let's cooperate… We have the ability to bring many players on board."
During the meeting, the prime minister announced the resumption of the project to construct a train line between Eilat and central Israel. He said the line would be a "trade route between Asia and Europe and will open the entire South for [Israeli] travelers."
See also - Sex in Egypt - Adult Breastfeeding Setback.
The ridicule of the Palestinian intellectuals of course, comes from leftist and secular sources. They would oppose Mickey Mouse not on religious grounds, but rather because, as the Iranians observe, he is a tool of the Zionists.
May 27, 2009 No. 2374
Palestinian Intellectuals Protest against Fatwas that Harm Islam
Some fatwas issued recently by jurisprudents in the Muslim world have aroused criticism and derision on the part of Palestinian academics, columnists and newspaper editors. One writer condemned jurisprudents for issuing arbitrary fatwas that serve their own personal interests, or the political interests of some body or faction - sometimes even for a fee. He also criticized their hypocrisy, saying that although they try to monopolize the faith and impose their opinion on others, they do not practice what they preach. Other articles focused on ridiculous and demeaning fatwas issued against women, such as the decree that they must wear a veil revealing only one eye.
Following are excerpts from the articles:
The Jurisprudents Issue Fatwas out of Hypocrisy, Greed, and Personal or Factional Interests
Hafez Al-Barghouti, editor of the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, responded to a fatwa issued by Algerian Salafi sheikh Muhammad 'Ali Farkous (known as Abi 'Abd Al-Mu'izz), who prohibited the eating of a traditional pastry called zulabiyya.
"Every zulabiyya is a forbidden innovation; every innovation is a departure from the path of righteousness; and every such departure [leads straight to the fires of] Hell - though zulabiyya is fried in oil over a fire to begin with, and does not need a fatwa [to send it there].
"[I say that] it is not zulabiyya that is the forbidden innovation here, but the fatwa issued by Algerian sheikh [Muhammad] Farkous, who pronounced zulabiyya a forbidden innovation for no good [religious] reason...
"This inexplicable arbitrariness is the hallmark of many contemporary fatwas, for nearly every [cleric now claims] the authority to issue fatwas on every [conceivable] issue - economic, social, religious or political - just by virtue of being a cleric, though Islam does not [even recognize] the clerics' [authority to impose their opinions on others]...
"[Perhaps] Sheikh Farkous has connections to some pastry restaurant, and issued this fatwa [to harm the business of] a competing restaurant that serves zulabiyya. There have been many cases of financial investment firms enlisting senior clerics to issue fatwas legitimizing their activities. These fatwas, it transpires, were paid for in advance out of the investors' money, [and the investors themselves] woke up [one day] to find that the firm owners had stolen their savings and fled to Egypt or some other country.
"One [Hamas] sheikh banned participation in the 1995 Palestinian elections - but [reversed his decision] in 1996, when he [decided to] run for the Legislative Council. There are also Hamas sheikhs who, a few years ago, sanctioned the resistance and treated anyone who tried to thwart it as a collaborator and traitor - but after Hamas approved the tahdiah with Israel, they issued fatwas stating that anyone who fires [rockets] from Gaza into the occupiers' [territory] is a traitor and infidel.
"Some time ago, I read about a German who converted to Islam during World War I, and explained his decision as follows: 'I found that, in Islam, there is an unmediated [relationship] between man and God. The relationship between them is direct, and this is what persuaded me to convert.'
"[But] the [aforementioned] fatwas reveal that in today's Muslim [world], a sector of priests is emerging, which is monopolizing the faith, interpreting it, and applying ijtihad [i.e. personal judgment] in a way that harms the religion and demeans the tenets [of Islam].
"I know of a sheikh who banned the use of satellite dishes, and attacked people who purchased [them] - but later installed one on the roof of his own home. Asked to explain his conduct, he replied that he likes to watch [TV] programs in order to comment on them... Later, he lambasted the [Turkish TV soap opera] Muhannad and Nour. Asked why he watched it, he answered that his daughter is handicapped, and that if he forbade her to watch it she would set herself on fire..."
Most Fatwas Are Anti-Women
Al-Barghouti pointed out that most of the fatwas harmed women most of all. "Among the 'made-to-order' fatwas, there are some that permit all sorts of marriages, with various names, that are more like prostitution [than marriage]. There are also fatwas that generate dissent rather than unity, and incite to civil war - as if what we need is to follow primitive and ignorant [clerics] who, in the name of religion and devoutness, accuse others of heresy and of straying from the right path...
"An Egyptian cleric issued a fatwa that permits a working woman to breastfeed her [male] co-worker, which makes it religiously permissible for them to be alone in a room together.  He did not, however, tell us what would happen if that co-worker got greedy and asked for more and more [breastfeeding] every day..." 
"Do Women Need the Luxury of Seeing Out of Both Eyes?"
Dr. Khaled Al-Haroub, a Palestinian researcher at Cambridge University, wrote in a satirical piece published in the PA daily Al-Ayyam: "The nations are in a race to improve the level of education and employment for women, who constitute 50% of society, and the world is working to promote equality in job opportunities between men and women. Our sheikhs, on the other hand, regard women as a tempting piece of flesh that takes up space in the workplace for no good reason.
"In order to suppress the childish Freudian notions racing through their minds, they have come up with an innovation that puts the solutions offered by the other nations to shame. In their opinion, the solution [to the problem of women in the workplace] is for the woman to breastfeed her co-worker...
"Were it not for our sharp-witted sheikhs, we would have been afraid [to let] our women go to the market, where [danger] lies in wait for them day and night. Only our sheikhs - with their fatwas that penetrate the women's organs in order to protect them - [were astute enough] to realize that a veil with a slit for both eyes can cause civil war and corrupt youth, and thus to decree that [a woman must wear] a veil exposing only one eye. After all, do they need more than one eye to see their way around and examine the produce at the market? Do they [really] need the luxury of seeing out of both eyes? One is enough.
"[Our sheikhs] also had the perceptiveness to realize that women who wear eyeshadow are, [and always have been,] a grave [danger] to millions of young men throughout the ages, who collapse like a house of cards whenever they spy a woman's eye powdered in blue. [A veil] revealing only one eye will protect them against this terrible threat of beauty...
"I must say that a one-eyed veil has a certain modernistic [appeal]. Picture the right eye open, and the left hidden by a black veil [worn] over a black robe. Isn't that a captivating artistic image that even Salvador Dali, king of surrealists, could not have come up with? Moreover, we must remember that our honorable jurisprudents have granted women a great deal of freedom - which reflects the tremendous respect they have for them and for their liberty - by allowing them to choose, with complete independence, which eye to use and which eye to hide. Why, they can even switch between the right eye and the left! Does a Muslim Arab woman need more freedom than that?
"In the opinion of our great jurisprudents, women are a [source of] disaster. They are the root of all evil in the universe, and their every thought is devoted to tempting innocent men and leading them to hell. Therefore, the best [solution] is to marry them off at a tender age, as one of our genius jurisprudents recently decreed. This means marrying them off at the age of nine. The honorable sheikh justified this by saying that he sees many nine-year-old girls who display signs of [sexual] maturity and are ripe for marriage.
"Oh sheikh, you deserve the highest medal of honor for backwardness and atrophied [thinking]. If we had a shred of civil [responsibility], we would have sent you and many others of your ilk straight to jail, and left all of you to spend the rest of your lives there."
"If Not For [the Sheikhs], We Would Have Continued... Letting [Our Children Laugh and Chortle in the Company of That Scoundrel, Mickey Mouse"
"Imagine what a disaster it would be if we had no jurisprudents, clerics, or sheikhs to ward off the conspiracies hatched against us day and night by the infidel West, the atheist East, the sinful North and the pagan South. Every morning we wake up to a conspiracy, and every night we go to bed after nipping yet another plot in the bud.
"During the afternoon and the evening, we are [surrounded by] conspiracies, and we breathe them, read about them, see them flickering on the screen and hear about them on the radio. We find conspiracies in the elegant containers of women's beauty parlors, and conspiracies in sardine cans and tuna cans. We ordinary folk cannot [even] grasp the multitude of conspiracies that lie in wait for innocent men [in the form of] promiscuous women, or those that lie in wait for the innocent women [in the form of] wolf-like men, not to mention the conspiracies threatening our children...
"What would happen if we stopped the mouths of these honorable sheikhs with wax and shut them up in a lunatic asylum? Imagine the terrible catastrophe and the mental vacuum [that would ensue]... If not for them, we would never rest easy, [knowing that] they protect our borders and our border cities. If not for them, we would have continued to horribly neglect our children by letting them laugh and chortle in the company of that scoundrel, Mickey Mouse. In our ignorance, we though him an ordinary mouse until our sheikhs exposed him, Allah preserve them so that they [continue to] support us and [protect us] from our profound backwardness. [Thanks to them], we now see [Mickey Mouse] in all his hideousness: a minion of the cursed devil in the guise of an innocent mouse, [waiting] to inflict deadly damage on the minds of our children." 
In another Al-Ayyam article, Palestinian columnist 'Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar wrote about a recent fatwa permitting a woman to beat her husband: "The ultra-modern sheikh [who issued this fatwa] presented it as a shield that allows the woman to defend herself if [her husband] beats her up. The day after [it was issued], a heated debate broke out among the Al-Azhar scholars, who argued about the validity of such fatwas.
"We ask: Why involve religion in these issues and [thus] turn [religion] into a [symbol of] backwardness? Why issue fatwas permitting beatings and violence? Why shouldn't religion focus on the call for love, peace, and tranquility, instead of on the call to beat people and teach women karate?" 
 This fatwa argued that the breastfeeding creates a bond of kinship between the man and the women, making it permissible for them to be together in private. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 355, "Al-Azhar Lecturer Suspended after Issuing Controversial Fatwa Recommending Breastfeeding of Men by Women in the Workplace," May 25, 2008, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA35507.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), October 21, 2008.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), September 29, 2008.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), November 11, 2008.
12 July 2009
Israel's self-powering superhighway could build a road to a greener future.
BY DOMINIC WAGHORN
Scientists in Israel say they have invented a way of turning traffic into electricity.
The bright sparks at the country's Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a road that generates power when vehicles pass over it.
And they hope the technology will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
In a university car park, Haim Abramovich and his team run a heavy truck repeatedly over a special stretch of tarmac.
"The name of the game is harvesting," he told Sky News. "Harvesting means energy which is available but is going to waste.
"So what I want to is to harvest part of that energy and make it useful. This is the name of the game and this is my dream."
Making his dream come true are hundreds of rugged metallic crystals. When put under pressure they generate electricity.
So lined up in special pads buried under the tarmac, they create power. It is called 'piezo' electricity. It has been around a while, but never used like this before.
One truck can generate 2,000 volts, but to create useful electricity you need a lot of amps too and that requires many pads over hundreds of metres and a high percentage of traffic, preferably moving quickly.
The team is pioneering the idea on a 30 metre strip of highway near Tel Aviv.
It could be used to power traffic lights or street lamps already, but with sufficient progress the technology may one day generate enough electricity to send power to the national grid.
A company called Innowattech is working with the team to develop the technology.
It estimates a kilometre of 'electric road' could generate enough power for 40 houses.
There are also plans to put the crystal generators in railways, where trains can be guaranteed to apply pressure in the same place over and over again.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
It's not the first time Palestinian officials or Fateh officials have said frankly that they have no intention of keeping a peace agreement, and probably it won't be the last. According to Palestinian Media Watch, Fateh activist Kifah Radaydeh said, The survey asked about people's hopes for a future political solution to the conflict with Israel...: Two states (35 %; Fatah supporters 47 % versus Hamas supporters 21 %) One Islamic state (33 %; Fatah supporters 17 % versus Hamas supporters 58 %) One state with equal rights for all (20 %; Fatah followers 22 % versus Hamas followers 12 %) Only 35% of Palestinians supported a two state solution, while 53% supported one state solutions. 9% "didn't know." Is it really surprising that Israeli leaders are skeptical about the prospects for peace? Is it possible for even the most sincere advocates of peace, even for pro-Palestinian analysts, to believe that perhaps Palestinians do not want a state, or want a state that Israel could never accept? Evidently it is, as Sever Plocker points out. Can we understand that it is legitimate, in these circumstances, and in view of the experience of the Second Intifada, to be at least somewhat skeptical about the possibility of achieving peace with the Palestinians? Can we admit that not every Israeli politician who is not eager for peace negotiations and optimistic about the outcome, and who is not willing to put their political career on the line in order to back another round of disastrous negotiations, is necessarily a "right wing ultranationalist extremist?" From his point of view, US President Barack Obama needs to take into account the possibility that if the Palestinians don't want a two state solution, they will never agree to any peace proposals. He will have forced numerous concessions from Israel but still will not get peace in the Middle East. The Arabs will blame the United States and Israel, and the usual people in the United States will blame Israel. That does not mean that we should not try. Let the failure be blamed on the Palestinians if there is to be a failure. But let's keep our eyes open. Ami Isseroff
The survey asked about people's hopes for a future political solution to the conflict with Israel...:
Two states (35 %; Fatah supporters 47 % versus Hamas supporters 21 %)
One Islamic state (33 %; Fatah supporters 17 % versus Hamas supporters 58 %)
One state with equal rights for all (20 %; Fatah followers 22 % versus Hamas followers 12 %)
Only 35% of Palestinians supported a two state solution, while 53% supported one state solutions. 9% "didn't know."
Is it really surprising that Israeli leaders are skeptical about the prospects for peace? Is it possible for even the most sincere advocates of peace, even for pro-Palestinian analysts, to believe that perhaps Palestinians do not want a state, or want a state that Israel could never accept? Evidently it is, as Sever Plocker points out.
Can we understand that it is legitimate, in these circumstances, and in view of the experience of the Second Intifada, to be at least somewhat skeptical about the possibility of achieving peace with the Palestinians? Can we admit that not every Israeli politician who is not eager for peace negotiations and optimistic about the outcome, and who is not willing to put their political career on the line in order to back another round of disastrous negotiations, is necessarily a "right wing ultranationalist extremist?"
From his point of view, US President Barack Obama needs to take into account the possibility that if the Palestinians don't want a two state solution, they will never agree to any peace proposals. He will have forced numerous concessions from Israel but still will not get peace in the Middle East. The Arabs will blame the United States and Israel, and the usual people in the United States will blame Israel.
That does not mean that we should not try. Let the failure be blamed on the Palestinians if there is to be a failure. But let's keep our eyes open.
The Palestinians won't compromise on their demange for a settlement freeze:
But when it is a matter of incitement or terror that's quite a different story. Try this out:
Why is that less reasonable?
Palestinians reject any Israel-U.S. settlement deal
Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:35am EDT
By Ali Sawafta
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinians reject any deal between Israel and the United States that would allow even limited Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, a top Palestinian negotiator said on Sunday.
"There are no middle-ground solutions for the settlement issue: either settlement activity stops or it doesn't stop," Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio.
Erekat said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed that message in a letter on Saturday to U.S. President Barack Obama.
Erekat was responding to reports that Israel and the United States were discussing a compromise that would allow some building in existing settlements under what Israel terms "natural growth" to accommodate expanding families.
A U.S. official denied on Wednesday a report in the Israeli daily Maariv that the Obama administration agreed work could continue on 2,500 housing units whose construction had begun, despite its call for a total freeze to spur peace efforts.
The report followed talks in London last week between George Mitchell, Obama's special Middle East envoy, and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak aimed at healing a rift over continued settlement activity.
The U.S. State Department said Mitchell was expected in the region "soon" for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Barak has been seeking a deal with the United States that would include initial steps by Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in return for limiting settlement activity.
Palestinians have said they would not revive stalled peace talks with Israel unless its settlement activities stopped.
"If settlement continues Israel will be allowed to build one thousand units here and two thousand units there, which will lead Arabs and Palestinians to believe that the American administration is incapable of swaying Israel to halt its settlement activities," Erekat said.
"The message is clear: settlements should stop immediately."
Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Palestinians say Jewish settlements, deemed illegal by the World Court, would deny them a viable and contiguous state.
Western officials said the United States was moving in the direction of making allowances so Israel could finish off at least some existing projects which are close to completion or bound by private contracts that cannot be broken.
Israel estimates that 2,500 units are in the process of being built and cannot be stopped under Israeli law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under U.S. pressure, has pledged not to build new settlements in the West Bank.
(Writing by Joseph Nasr, Editing by Myra MacDonald)
The tradegy of Jews from Arab and Muslim lands is too often forgotten.
Publicizing story of Jewish refugees could facilitate genuine peace process
Ada Aharoni Published: 07.10.09, 00:02 / Israel Opinion
One of the main causes of the modern wave of anti-Semitism currently sweeping through Europe is the Palestinian propaganda campaign, which created an anti-Jewish climate. In order to counter this basic element, we must present the truth about the expulsion of the Jews from Arab states.
The world only heard about the injustice causes to the Palestinian refugees, but there is almost nothing out there about the disaster suffered by the Jews expelled from Arab states, and especially from Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. A comparison between the events reveals that while the number of Palestinian refugees in 1948 totaled 650,000 people, the number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries was higher, and stood at 900,000 people (according to UNWRA.)
The property which the Jews were forced to leave behind in Arab states – both private and communal assets – was of much greater value than what the Palestinians left behind in Israel, as documented by the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
In fact, the Jews suffered "ethnic cleansing" in Arab states. Only a few Jews live there today. Egypt's Jewish community, for example, comprised 90,000 Jews in 1948. Today, only 38 Jews live there. On the other hand, the Arabs (who prefer to call themselves Palestinians) who live in Israel today constitute 20% of the population.
Explaining these facts would be very beneficial and allow for change, shifting from prejudice to fairness, justice, and truth. Once the Palestinians realize they were not the only ones who suffered, their sense of victimization and rejectionism will decline. Moreover, if the Jews from Arab states, who along with their descendents constitute almost half of Israel's population today, will see that their history and their "Nakba" is being considered an integral part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, they may be willing to offer concessions for genuine peace.
Matter of dignity
During a course I taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the head of the Palestinian student group, Fouad, said with amazement: We're surprised that you, the Jews, who are known as smart people, did not publicize this important historical affair - the Nakba of Jews in Arab states. Why do you leave it tucked away in your drawers for 60 years?
I asked him: Why do you want Israel to publicize it? And He replied: Because the Nakba narrative of Jews in Arab states salvages my dignity and that of my people! It makes us realize we are not the only ones who suffered in the conflict. Familiarity with the historical facts allows us to hold up our heads and opens up reconciliation opportunities.
Fouad added: For us, reconciliation means erasing all the hatred and ill feelings. Yet the condition for it is that the side that did the harm pay the aggrieved side for the reconciliation. The research in this course taught us that Jews from Arab states today comprise about half the Jewish people in Israel. We didn't know that. So Israel already paid for the reconciliation, with half its population losing all its property in Arab states. People were forced to leave the countries they were born in, just like us Palestinians, and they too spread worldwide. It is so clear to us now that we are not the only refugees who suffered from this tragic conflict.
Fouad noted that should the Israeli government present this issue properly, both peoples would be able to advance towards a process of real peace. We, the Palestinians, will feel that our dignity has been salvaged, and as you know dignity is the most important thing for us, he said. I was thinking to myself: My students were able to understand what all Israeli governments have failed to grasp thus far.
Prof. Ada Aharoni is the chairman of The World Congress of the Jews from Egypt
This is the Israel News and Commentary Weblog of Zionism-Israel Center. Contact: info(at)Zionism-Israel.com
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