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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Arab Jews

These five YouTube clips tell the story of the Ethnic Cleansing of nearly a million refugees in the Middle East because of racism. A solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict must include justice for the refugees. A shocking story that should stir the conscience of every progressive. But these Jews were not Palestinians. They were "Arab Jews."
The story is in five parts:
Here is the Second  part:

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Netanyahu welcomes Saudi Peace Intiiative

This should be important news, but somehow we know it will be completely ignored and the analysts will continue to insist that Israel rejected the Saudi peace initiative.
The story:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday called on the Arab world to negotiate with Israel on the Arab League's peace initiative, hinting that certain alterations in it would help to advance peace in the region.
Speaking at a reception marking an Egyptian national holiday at the Egyptian ambassador's home in Herzliya, Netanyahu said, "We appreciate the efforts by Arab states to advance the peace initiative. If these proposals are not final, they can create an atmosphere in which a comprehensive peace can be reached."
The initiative, backed by all 22 members of the Arab League, offers Israel full normalization in return for a withdrawal from territory conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War, a Palestinian state and an equitable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.
"We hope in the months ahead to forge peace with the Palestinians and to expand that into a vision of a broader regional peace," Netanyahu said.
In June, Egyptian sources said that Egypt and Saudi Arabia had been threatening to rescind the Arab peace initiative, and pressuring U.S. President Barack Obama to set a two-year deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
They said Egyptian officials told Obama that the initiative would crumble unless some real progress was made before the deadline.
The Foreign Ministry's director general is to leave for Cairo on Monday in a bid to end the Egyptian boycott on Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Unlike the American Independence Day reception, attended by few ministers and Knesset members earlier this month, President Shimon Peres and numerous politicians, especially from Likud, attended the reception yesterday.
"Begin and Sadat's handshake 30 years ago opened the way to a new future," Netanyahu said in his speech. He said Israel's peace with Egypt was "the cornerstone for advancing peace with all our neighbors."
In a comment aimed at Gulf state leaders, Netanyahu commended an article by Bahrain's Prince Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad al-Khalifa in the Washington Post last week. The prince wrote that Israel and the Arab states must make mutual gestures and that Arab states had not done enough to communicate directly with Israel.

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Hamas will benefit from Gaza aid

The headline of the article is an understatement. Hamas always benefits from Gaza aid, because money pumped into an economy anywhere helps that economy. Keynesian economics is only forgotten when it is a matter of aid to Palestinians. UN official Chris Gunness, mentioned below, is of course the same fellow who invented the fib about Israel shelling a UNRWA school.
Ami Isseroff
'Hamas may get claws into Gaza aid'
Jul. 24, 2009
Increasingly concerned that Hamas will steal money donated for Gaza's rehabilitation, the Defense Ministry distributed a document this week revealing that unions affiliated with the terrorist group have set up joint committees with UN agencies that dispense humanitarian aid.
The document was distributed to the Foreign Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Israeli intelligence community, and was also sent to the United States to warn it that the $900 million it has pledged to help rebuild the Gaza Strip could fall into Hamas hands.
"All humanitarian aid sent into the Gaza Strip today needs to receive Hamas clearance," a senior defense official told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "Hamas uses violence against international organizations, including UNRWA, if they do not cooperate."
Hamas recently published an ad in a Palestinian newspaper warning that "whoever does not follow its orders will be forced to leave Gaza."
The internal Defense Ministry document revealed that on July 12, a meeting was held between UNRWA, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Hamas officials who are in charge of the contractors and engineer unions in the Gaza Strip.
The objective was to establish a mechanism which will be responsible for distributing the billions of dollars pledged for the rehabilitation of the Strip by the US and European and Arab countries.
So far, Hamas has taken control of millions of dollars transferred monthly by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad to the UNDP and designated for Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Operation Cast Lead last winter.
At the meeting, Hamas officials told the UN representatives they wanted to be able to draw up the list of people who would receive the money, according to the Defense Ministry document. The sides decided to set up joint committees and to continue to meet in the future.
"This is an indication to us that there is no effective mechanism that can be established that will bypass Hamas and ensure the money goes straight to the Palestinian people," the senior defense official said.
Israeli government sources said it was "no secret" that UN officials in Gaza were having talks on a technical level with Hamas regarding the distribution of humanitarian aid there.
According to the officials, UNRWA and UNDP had "no choice" but to have some contact with Hamas officials in order for the assistance to be transferred. They added that Israel could live with that situation as long as the talks remained only at the technical level and did not become political in nature.
One official said efforts to develop a mechanism through which money for the rehabilitation of Gaza could be channeled into the region, without in any way strengthening or helping Hamas, is continuing. This effort has been going on since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January, and hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid that has been contributed for rebuilding the Gaza Strip is not being allowed in until such a mechanism is created.
In response to the report, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness released a statement saying: "UNRWA distributes its aid on basis of need. Humanitarian need dictates the way we distribute aid and nothing else."

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Onward Chistian Soldiers - fighting in the IDF!

The IDF already has Christian Arab as well as Druze and Muslim soldiers. What is so special about "Messianic Jews?"

Serving in the IDF, 'for the sake of God and Jesus'

Jul. 24, 2009

Jesus supports the IDF and he wants his believers to be the best soldiers they can be.

That was the message conveyed by members of the local Messianic Jewish community via sacred texts, prayer and talks, to a group of 18-year-olds who took part this week in a premilitary program called Netsor.

"I am a soldier of God," said Boris, an intense redhead accepted to an elite combat unit, who is one of the 28 young men and women who participated in Netsor.

"I will do my best during my service in the IDF to serve God spiritually and physically. Not for the sake of state authorities but for the sake of God and Jesus," added Boris, as we sat in the dining room of a guest house that overlooks Lake Kinneret on Wednesday.

Not far from here, according to Christian tradition, Jesus walked on water, healed the sick and preached. Now, nearly two millennia later, young "believers," as they call themselves, convinced they are walking in Jesus's footsteps, hope to become the next fighter pilots, reconnaissance soldiers, paratroopers, tank commanders and sailors.

Some 150 highly motivated believers will join the IDF this year. Many of them will serve in combat units. Some of them have been through Netsor's week of mental and spiritual preparation offered by the Messianic community. Netsor is a Hebrew word that means "to guard" or "to stand vigilant."

The return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel with the establishment of the State of Israel brought with it a small but growing group of Messianic Jews, numbering today between 10,000 and 15,000. These Christians celebrate their own version of Jewish holidays such as Pessah and Succot and set aside Friday night and Saturday as a day of rest.

But they also believe that Jesus is the messiah and that he is the only path to redemption. Messianic Jews, who distance themselves from the more in-your-face proselytizing tactics of Jews for Jesus, are nevertheless very open about their beliefs, including their conviction that traditional Jewish faith is not sufficient for redemption.

Due to their religious beliefs, Messianic Jews have been subjected over the years to physical attacks and discrimination, including in the IDF.

M., a platoon commander in an elite demolition unit who is one of the founders of Netsor, asked The Jerusalem Post to leave out identifiable personal details of individuals who agreed to be interviewed out of concern that they would be singled out and blackballed by antagonistic elements with connections in the army.

"In the end, we believe that God opens and closes doors," said M. "And if he does not want someone to advance in the IDF it won't happen. But we don't want to make any mistakes that will hurt someone's IDF career."

For Messianic Jews, military service in the IDF is not only a mandatory civil duty, it is a religious obligation. Lacking an exegetical tradition but serious about the sacredness and relevance of the biblical text, "believers" learn this obligation to serve in the army right out of the New Testament.

Romans (13:1-7) warns not to resist political authority, because it is "the ordinance of God."

Colossians (3:22,23) teaches that one must excel as a faithful servant of one's superiors, not for personal aggrandizement but to serve God.

The group's interpretation of these texts, combined with a strong religious faith, transform them into soldiers of God determined to do his will during their stint in the army of the Jewish state.

Other verses, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, 5-7), which some Christians interpret as Jesus's support for pacifism, are seen by Messianic Jews as an obligation to love one's enemies while fighting and killing them.

"I hate what Palestinian terrorists do, therefore I will do anything, including kill, if necessary, to stop them," said Tzvi, an educator and counselor at Netsor. "But I do not allow that to prevent me from loving them as human beings."

Many Messianic Jews see their obligation to serve in the IDF as no different from the obligation of other Christians in the US, Britain or even Jordan and Egypt to serve their respective countries.

"If I lived in Jordan I would have the same feelings for the Jordanian army," said Tzvi.

But for some, serving in the IDF has special theological meaning. Yoel, who was an officer in an IDF combat unit, believes the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is part of God's plans.

"The IDF is an instrument in the hands of God because it facilitates his plan," said Yoel. "But I would not call it a holy army or the army of God."

The Netsor program, which began three years ago, has quadrupled the number of students from seven in 2007 to 28 this year.

Yoel, one of Netsor's founders, hopes one day to create a premilitary academy for Messianic Jews modeled after existing academies for religious and secular Israelis.

"We pray that sometime in the future we will succeed in establishing a full-fledged premilitary academy that will offer a one-year program; with God's help."

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

UN: Hizbullah violated cease-fire with Israel

UN official confirms Hizbullah violated cease-fire with Israel

Jul. 24, 2009

Weapons exposed after a July 14 explosion in southern Lebanon were being actively maintained and indicate a violation of a UN-brokered resolution that ended hostilities between Lebanon and Israel in 2006, a senior UN diplomat said Thursday.

There is an "actively maintained" weapons cache in southern Lebanon, the UN's head of peacekeeping Alain Le Roy said during a briefing of the Security Council.

Following a briefing by Le Roy, carried out upon a request by the United States, US Ambassador Alejandro Wolff told reporters that the Under-Secretary-General confirmed the weapons in southern Lebanon were current and not only weapons brought there prior to 2006. Wolff also addressed the pelting of UN peacekeepers with stones following the explosion, which hampered the initial investigation.

Israeli officials have cited the incident as evidence that Hizbullah is rearming in the region.

On Wednesday a senior Hizbullah official said that the explosions were set off by old shells, not a secret arms cache.

Comments made by the organization's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem were the first on the nature of the explosion.

The explosions occurred in village an abandoned building in the village of Khirbat a-Silm, about 15 kilometers from Israel.

Israel's ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev called for "concrete" steps to confront a "new reality" in the region immediately after the incident, saying that it was a "flagrant" violation of the Security Council resolution. The series of explosions that rocked the area reflect "larger efforts by Hizbullah to rearm itself, in direct contravention of resolution 1701," Shalev wrote.


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Jerusalem - Holy City or national capital?

 I can't agree entirely with David Hazony who wrote:
Israel should have Jerusalem because it is more important to Jews than it is to Muslims (or Christians, or anyone else). This may sound vaguely discriminatory or religionist or unpopularly theological or just unfunny, but the fact is that there is a difference between the "most important" holy city and the "third most important" city that is far more than quantitative. This is the geographical heart of biblical Israel, the focus of its golden age of David and Solomon, the political-messianic-metahistorical dream focus of three millennia of Jewish prayer. This is the heart of everything, and that heart beats not on Herzl Boulevard or Jaffa Road by the Central Bus Station but in Eastern Jerusalem, at the site where the First and Second Temples stood for about a thousand years before the glorious Romans burned them down.
"Holy City" is not a reason to allocate sovereignty to anyone. It is an argument that opens Israel to criticism of all kinds, and excites anti-Semitism based on religious motives. Don't ever tell someone that your holy is more important than their holy. It will start a holy war and make a holy mess. Sovereignty has nothing to do with religious issues or prays or metahistorical anything. Jerusalem was the the national capital of the Jewish People and was acknowledged as such by the entire world. In all history, it has never been the capital of any state other than a Jewish state. That is a unique and unanswerable claim.
Hazony and Netanyahu claim there is consensus on this issue. It is not exactly so. There are quite a few Israeli Jews who belong to Peace Now for example, who do not agree. And there are others who support Jewish rights in Jerusalem without necessarily supporting annexation of the entire eastern half of the city with its Arab population and the Al-Aqsa mosque. How many people really think that that the Muslim world will agree to acknowledge Jewish sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa mosque?
Aside from that, Hazony makes many good points. But these are points in logic, which will not bring Israel any closer to getting the United States and the world to recognize Jewish rights in Jerusalem.
Ami Isseroff

Jerusalem Heartburn

David Hazony - 07.20.2009 - 4:32 PM

We knew it would come to this. Over the weekend, the Obama administration showed just how radical the shift in U.S. policy toward Israel has been. It has demanded that the Israeli government withdraw the municipal approval of a building project in the Eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The land that houses the old, run-down Shepherd Hotel, which is to be replaced by an apartment building, was lawfully purchased by Jews. No matter: That part of town is seen by Washington as a "settlement."

Today, U.S. officials made it even clearer when they reportedly told both sides that they see no difference between Eastern Jerusalem and rogue settler outposts in the middle of the West Bank. Understandably, the Israeli government has rejected the directive, and some reports suggest that the Israelis may have deliberately leaked the demand, for it plays to Netanyahu's image as standing tall against American pressure.

Washington has a longstanding tradition of doublespeak when dealing with Jerusalem. On the one hand, Obama himself couldn't help but declare his commitment (subsequently retracted) to a unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty while campaigning for office — and he even promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, which is not the capital by any definition of the term, to Jerusalem.

At the same time, he is not the first presidential candidate to make that promise, nor the first one to forget about it when in office, in the process ignoring the express will of Congress. It's those pesky State Department folks, you see, who keep advising successive presidents that now is not the right time. For 60 years, Israel's executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government have found their seat in Jerusalem, and Israel's "closest ally" still keeps its embassy by the beach. At least we Jerusalemites don't have to worry about all those diplomat vehicles taking our precious parking spots.

It gets weirder. As I have pointed outbefore, the United States does not appear to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem — West or East. A federal-court ruling earlier this month underscores the simple fact that any American citizen born in Jerusalem, regardless of where he lives, gets a U.S. passport with the country listed as simply "Jerusalem." U.S. citizens living in Jerusalem cannot get help at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv; they are directed to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which answers directly to Washington, rather than to the embassy.

Again, this stuff has been going on for a long time. It begins with a fundamental attitude on the part of successive American administrations, really dating back to the 1947 UN partition plan putting the city under "universal" governance. The point is, the reasoning goes, we don't fully see the logic in giving Israel full sovereignty of Jerusalem. It's not just about placating the Arabs, although that's a big part of it; it is, after all, a city of international importance. Why should only Israel have it?

So in the interest of fostering a constructive dialogue with an American diplomatic universe that seems to have no interest whatever in Israel's position on the subject, I'd like to toss out a few brief reminders.

1. Israel should have Jerusalem, first of all, because it already does. Jews have been a majority of the city consecutively since the middle of the 19th century. There is no issue here of occupation, of a Jewish minority displacing Palestinians in their land. Over the past century and a half, the city was divided for 19 years by an accident of war, split between Israel and Jordan, neither of which occupations having earned international recognition; and then it was reunited.

Thus was born the infamous and irrelevant "Green Line," something that today exists on maps only. The Jordanians cleansed the eastern city of its Jews and burned down its synagogues. Then the Jews came back in 1967 and gave the city a greater degree of not only economic success but also religious, cultural, and political freedom than it has ever enjoyed under any of the different Muslim, Christian, and pagan regimes that preceded them. Consider, by contrast, the treatment of Jewish holy sites under Palestinian rule: Joseph's Tomb, for example, was immediately set on fire, as were all the synagogues of the Gaza Strip. At the risk of "prejudicing" the outcome of negotiations through the employment of argument, why on earth should it not be Israel's?

2. Israel should have Jerusalem because it is more important to Jews than it is to Muslims (or Christians, or anyone else). This may sound vaguely discriminatory or religionist or unpopularly theological or just unfunny, but the fact is that there is a difference between the "most important" holy city and the "third most important" city that is far more than quantitative. This is the geographical heart of biblical Israel, the focus of its golden age of David and Solomon, the political-messianic-metahistorical dream focus of three millennia of Jewish prayer. This is the heart of everything, and that heart beats not on Herzl Boulevard or Jaffa Road by the Central Bus Station but in Eastern Jerusalem, at the site where the First and Second Temples stood for about a thousand years before the glorious Romans burned them down.

3. Israel should have Jerusalem because there is no practical way to divide the city that would satisfy both sides. Never mind the bizarre MTA-subway-style map that would ensue, intertwining all the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in the city. The real problem is that Israelis and Palestinians have totally irreconcilable views as to how such a division would work in practice — a difference so wide as to make the entire endeavor a pipe dream.

Israelis see any separation as similar to the one Israel has with Egypt and Jordan: a full border, with strict crossings and a fundamental divorce of economic life. This is essential to any deal — the entire idea of giving up land in exchange for peace comes with the heavy baggage of decades of terror attacks. But such a separation, we have been told repeatedly, is anathema to the Palestinians themselves, who rely heavily on Israeli jobs for their living and see any real separation a form of "siege" — turning their territory into a "prison." (If you don't believe this, ask yourself how the Gazans would react if Israel were to lift the sea and air restrictions on the Strip: Would they say "we are now free" or "we are still under siege"?) This problem is little discussed but will become a deal breaker the moment anyone starts talking seriously about borders or dividing the city.

Jerusalem is not just a consensus issue in Israel but also a deeply personal one. There is no erasing the thousands of years of yearning for Jerusalem in Jewish texts, nor the heart-wrenching failure of Jewish forces to capture East Jerusalem in 1948, nor the national catharsis of its reunification in the Six Day War, nor over four decades of astonishing development and construction and tourism and flourishing of religious life for all faiths since then. The idea that now, suddenly, a new American president, speaking of "settlements," will change this reality is not simply offensive and alienating to Israelis only but also to Jews the world over. Rather than recognize his failure in the Middle East so far, Obama is exacerbating it. Israelis do not like to be bullied, and this is far more likely to steel the Israeli public's resolve against American pressure than weaken it.

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Evil Jew Zionist Lobby meets with Democratic Senators to discuss what?

The Elders of Zion met with Democratic senators in the United States. No doubt they plotted how to stop the peace process and build more settlements, settlements, settlements, right?  No, that's not what happened exactly: 
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Jewish organizational leaders emphasized Iran, but also made time to discuss domestic issues including climate change and health care, when they met with Democratic U.S. senators.

Each of the four Jewish leaders tapped to make opening presentations to the senators Wednesday started by saying that Iran was the most critical issue for the Jewish community. They then moved on to other issues.

Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a public-policy coordinating body comprised of the synagogue movements, several national organizations and local Jewish communities across North America, focused on climate change and the environment. Ken Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League discussed hate-crimes legislation.

AIPAC's Howard Kohr talked more about Iran and praised the Obama administration for Gen. Keith Dayton's continued progress in building security in the West Bank. And David Harris of the American Jewish Committee criticized elements of President Obama's Cairo speech and talked about the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The senators then called on representatives of the 14 other groups invited, and they brought up health care and other matters.

...One participant said that Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told the group that their help was still needed to pass legislation expanding federal government involvement in investigating hate crimes. Both houses of Congress have passed the legislation, but it still faces a conference committee.


The last person to be called on was the director of the Washington office of American Friends of Lubavitch Washington, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who offered a d'var Torah with the message that "just as there is more than one way to be pro-Israel, there is more than one way to be pro-peace."

"Show me a Jew who is against peace and I would like to know what his Jewish source is," Shemtov said he told the group. "Show me a Jew who doesn't want a decent life for Palestinians," and he'll ask what his Jewish source is.

Shemtov said his remarks were not meant as a criticism of anyone but that he simply wanted to emphasize that "fundamentally, there does not need to be a conflict between people of the Jewish faith and people of the Muslim faith."

My! That sounds really sinister, all those neo-con Jew Zionist Israel Lobby leaders asking for peace and better health care and anti-hate-crime legislation.

Ami Isseroff  

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Breaking the silence - Allah testifies that they are lying

What is important is not so much the common sense message, but the source of the message.
English:A word of truth:

Al-Watan, Kuwait
19 July 2009

"Allah testifies that they are lying"

A non-governmental Israeli organization claims that the IDF that attacked Gaza and the ostracized Hamas used local civilians as human shields and opened fire indiscriminately. The report by "Breaking the Silence" says the IDF destroyed buildings, mosques and private homes, and includes testimonies by 30 soldiers who participated in the attack on Gaza (2008/12/27–18/1/2009), but without revealing their names or unit affiliation.

However these allegations are to be rejected because the IDF has proved that its troops follow international law and obey orders despite the stress of battle. These testimonies lack sourcing or corroboration, thus preventing any conclusions from being drawn... Furthermore, it was the ostracized Hamas that caused much grief when it fired dozens of Qassam missiles at innocent civilians in the southern towns and villages of Israel. The IDF had no choice but to fight back causing the deaths of 1400 Palestinians, half of them civilians used as human shields by Hamas, in addition to the 5,000 wounded. Israel lost just 10 soldiers and 3 civilians.

The IDF defended innocent Israeli civilians against Hamas attacks and did all it could to prevent harming any civilians, targeting just the Hamas men, to disarm them by aerial bombing, shelling, and the use of heavy tractors, while maintaining the humane principles of the IDF that seeks to win with minimal human cost to either side.

The report by "Breaking the Silence" was unfair, unbalanced, and lacking in proof, so one wonders where it was when Hamas used schools and homes for weapons storage or for missile launchers. Israeli pilots reported many secondary explosions after they hit Hamas targets. Where was that organization when Hamas smuggled tons of illicit weapons through a network of tunnels from Egypt?

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Israel's new consensus?

I'm not too sure about the durability of this consensus.

The Region: Israel's new national consensus

Jul. 19, 2009

This could be the most important article I write this year. Israel has entered a new era of thinking and policy in which old categories of Left or Right, hawk or dove are irrelevant under a national unity government bringing together the two main ruling parties.

How did this new paradigm arise? Between 1948 and 1992, the consensus was that the PLO and most Arab states want to destroy Israel. When - or if - the day comes that they're ready to negotiate seriously we'll see what happens.

Then came the Oslo agreement and a huge shift. The governing view was that maybe the Palestinians and Arab states learned the cost of their intransigence enough to make peace possible. The Left thought a deal could bring real peace; the Right thought it was a trick leading to another stage of conflict on terms less favorable to Israel. But both expected a deal to materialize.

The year 2000, the Camp David failure, the Syrian and Palestinian rejection of generous offers and the second intifada destroyed illusions.

Since then, the country has groped for a new paradigm. Prime minister Ariel Sharon offered unilateralism; prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni constantly offered more in exchange for nothing. But the more they did so, the more international abuse Israel received.

NOW A NEW approach has finally emerged capable of reversing this situation. It goes like this: Israel wants peace but doesn't hesitate to express not only what it wants and needs but also what's required to create a stable and better situation. To ensure that violence and instability really ceases requires:

  • Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Without this step, the aftermath of any "peace" agreement would be additional decades of Arab effort to destroy Israel in all but - temporarily - name.

  • Absolute clarity that a peace agreement ends the conflict and all claims on Israel. Otherwise, the Palestinian leadership and much of the Arab world would regard any "peace" agreement as a license for a new stage of battle, using Palestine as a base for renewed attacks and demands.

  • Strong security arrangements and serious international guarantees for them. Have no doubt, these will be tested by cross-border attacks from Palestine.

  • An unmilitarized Palestinian state (a better description than "demilitarized"), with the large security forces they already have, enough for internal security and legitimate defense but not aggression.

  • Palestinian refugees resettled in Palestine. The demand for a "right of return" is just a rationale for wiping Israel off the map through internal subversion and civil war.

    If Israel gets what it requires - and what successful peace requires - it will accept a two-state solution, a Palestinian Arab Muslim state (the Palestinian Authority's own definition) alongside a Jewish state, living in peace.

    PART OF the new thinking is to understand that precise borders and east Jerusalem's status, while important, are secondary to these basic issues. If those principles are resolved, all else can follow.

    This new posture is not one of desperately asserting Israel's yearning for peace but rather saying: We're serious, we're ready, we're not suckers but we're not unreasonable either. We want peace on real terms, not just more unilateral concessions and higher risk without reward. Not experimenting with our survival to please others. Not some illusory celebration of a two-state solution for a week and then watching it produce another century of violence.

    Is it really such a brilliant idea to rush into giving a state without serious conditions to a Palestinian regime which has failed to govern competently what it already has, daily broadcasts incitement to murder Israelis, is profoundly corrupt, has already lost half its patrimony to a rival whose goal is a new genocide but whose own most fervent wish is to merge with that rival, and whose program is merely for the world to pressure Israel into handing it everything? The best outcome would be if this program was met by Palestinian cooperation. If they are suffering so under alleged occupation, if so desperate for their own state, there's nothing in this offer they can't accept.

    IF, HOWEVER, they prefer rejectionism, exposing their claims as false, that too is acceptable. The truth would be known: The Palestinians and much of the Arab world can't make peace with Israel because they don't want peace with Israel. And that is because they don't want Israel to exist. Period.

    Around this program, Jews outside Israel should rally, putting aside old conflicts about who's more passionate about peace, who more concerned about security. The same applies to other countries and those well-intended who want to see a strategic situation more in accord with both their interests and humanitarian considerations.

    In this context, there is no more puerile and misleading notion than that Israel's government has put forth a program encompassing a two-state solution because of US demands or pressures. This is a plan that organically grew out of the country's situation, experience and a broad national consensus.

    A second notion this new paradigm rejects is the argument that either Israel is so strong that it can give without receiving or so weak that it must do so. Equally wrong is the notion that time is against Israel, a strong and vibrant society surrounded by weak and disorganized neighbors. The strategic situation has dramatically improved over the decades. It is a strong, confident society visibly meeting the challenge of the modern economic and technical environment.

    Finally, this new policy merges both the conservative approach - proper suspicions and demands for security and reciprocity - and the liberal approach - a proper readiness to compromise and desire for true peace - into one package.

    Both elements are now blended in the thinking of the overwhelming majority of Israelis. A new national consensus has emerged, strong and durable.


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    Fatah and the recognition of Israel

    Fatah's Big Meeting: No Recognition of Israel; No End to Armed Struggle and New Leaders, Too?

    By Barry Rubin

    On August 4, Fatah is scheduled to open its general assembly, the first since 1990 in Tunis, which I had the honor to attend as a journalist. Having followed Palestinian politics for 30 years and written three books on the subject, I'm always amazed by how few people recognize the importance o this topic.

    For them, it was enough for, say, Yasir Arafat to make a remark to some Western diplomat or politician or journalist in English. The fact that there were 100 contrary statements made by him and others in Arabic was of no interest whatsoever.

    Yet there can be no Israeli-Palestinian peace—which often seems as if it is the world's most important issue—without a position being taken by the PLO, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and let's not forget Hamas conducive to such an outcome.

    So the fact that PA "president" (incidentally a term which, typically, the Palestinian side agreed in the Oslo negotiations not to use but has nonetheless employed—one of many commitments broken) or the prime minister (a position which exists and a man who holds it only due to the pressure of Western donors) says something moderate in English seems to outweigh that statement being daily contradicted by everyone else, including these same two people, when speaking in Arabic.

    The problem with Fatah, the PA and PLO's ruling group, is it is far more concerned about preserving its radical image than developing a moderate one.

    One recent gimmick is to deny that Fatah has recognized Israel's right to exist, a statement made both by Rafik Natsheh, a Fatah Central Committee member, and Muhammad Dahlan, the PA's national security advisor. The claim actually rests on a technicality: the PLO and PA, whose leaders were all from Fatah, signed agreements recognizing Israel but not Fatah itself.

    Not only does Fatah not recognize Israel, they say, but isn't asking anyone else to do so. In other words, willingness to accept Israel's existence is not being required of Hamas as a condition for its joining the PA or allying again with Fatah.

    What message does this send to Israelis? There's no real partner for peace. What message should it send to Western observers? The same one.

    And what about dropping armed struggle against Israel from Fatah's Charter? Also, no. In Natsheh's words:

    "Let all the collaborators and those who are deluding themselves hear that this will never happen." In other words, anyone who favors declaring that Fatah will seek a state through only peaceful means is a collaborator. And since Natsheh is head of Fatah's internal disciplinary court, that's a threat. Being judged a collaborator is punishable by death.

    Continued: Fatah's Big Meeting: No Recognition of Israel; No End to Armed Struggle and New Leaders, Too?

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    Anti-Semitic Discourse in Great Britain

    CST has produced a Report on Anti-Semitic Discourse  in the UK that you can download here:
    The report paints a depressing picture that is already all too familiar to many of us: "Zionist" used as a euphemism for Jew, the baby-eating Sharon cartoon, which has seen a rebirth.recently, Holocaust Denial on the Web and on TV and all the rest. The report includes little statistical analysis, so it is not clear if the problem is getting worse or improviing. 
    The CST report spends much of its attention on talkbacks at Web sites. It is not clear what impact these talkbacks have and how many people read them.  Nonetheless, this is a valuable survey because of its in depth discussion of definitional problems, strategies of masked anti-semitism and some of the fairly shocking materials it shows us.l
    Ami Isseroff  

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Clinton on Iran: another take

    Barry Rubin has a different take on whether or not the US is willing to accept Iranian nuclear weapons. He doesn't agree with Dan Meridor that Hillary Clinton's statement about a nuclear umbrella implies that the U.S. has decided to live with Iran. Unfortunately, we have the example of North Korea, where the US is not doing much about their nuclear weapons, and Dan Meridor is within his rights in interpreting what she said in that way. Especially since his goal is not just analyizing the statement like a journalist, but trying to elicit from the United States a firmer commitment to prevent acquisition of nuclear weapons. If Dan Meridor is wrong, then what is the point of Clinton's statement. If the US is determined to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, then why talk about what happens if they do?  
    Ami Isseroff

    Understanding What Governments Say: Two Case Studies, Israel and Peace; America and a Nuclear Iran

    By Barry Rubin

    How to analyze statements by governments is an important task. In doing so, we should focus on context and not force-read extraneous ideas based on conceptions of their ideological orientation.

    An example of how not to do this task is the Western media coverage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's positions and the new Israeli peace plan. Assuming that Netanyahu is just a "hardliner" who "doesn't want" peace, there is a tendency to ignore what he actually says and does to the point of caricature.

    First, Netanyahu was criticized when he didn't say he wanted a two-state solution. Then when he did, this was simply dismissed as bowing to U.S. pressure and insincere. Yet the context was that he would accept this option as long as Israel's requirements were met. He then laid this out quite clearly.

    Let's take another example. Dan Meridor, Israel's minister for security agencies, told interviewers that a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implied a willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

    What Clinton said was:

    "We want Iran to calculate," that if it gets nuclear weapons, "the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region [and will] do even more to develop the military capacity of those (allies) in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer."

    In short, Meridor misunderstands Clinton; Clinton misunderstands the Middle East.

    What was Clinton obviously saying? Iran, don't bother to develop nuclear weapons because even if you do you will be no better off. We will counter that move by U.S. actions.

    Is she wrong? Yes, quite obviously so. Iran knows that it isn't going to launch nuclear weapons at, say, Saudi Arabia. Tehran will merely use possession of such weapons to intimidate Arab and European states into doing what it wants.

    Moreover, Iran's popularity in the Muslim and Arab world among the masses would soar, as it would be seen as an Islamic superpower that is going to flatten Israel, defy the West, and defeat the United States.

    And any Islamist regime in Tehran that would make an apocalyptic choice to use nuclear weapons on Israel--which is not so likely but chillingly possible--won't be deterred by a U.S. threat. After all, it knows that Israel already has nuclear weapons of its own.

    For their part, Arab states will not feel so secure with a promised U.S. nuclear umbrella. It will be cold comfort on them if America strikes back at Iran after they are all dead. And would you trust your life to a promise by Barack Obama to go to war on your behalf? As or the idea that America will strengthen Gulf Arab allies to the point that they can defeat Iran or even defend themselves against Iran's nuclear arsenal is laughable.

    Consequently, Arab states will rush to appease Tehran, and given America's self-inflicted weakness today who can blame them?

    In other words, Clinton is flatly wrong, quite distant from realities that millions of people in the Middle East understand. But being dangerously mistaken is not the same thing as desiring something bad to occur.

    Similarly, a State Department spokesman  responded to a question at a press briefing asking whether the U.S. government was considering putting financial pressure on Israel to get it to stop construction, he responded, "It's premature to talk about that." This was not a major new U.S. threat, it was simply an official without guidance on what to say, simply answering: No one is talking about that now.

    Then he added, "What we're trying to do...right now is to create an environment which makes it conducive for talks to go forward." But obviously U.S. sanctions on Israel would sabotage any such climate.

    It is imperative to comprehend what a given government is actually saying.

    If a government is acting on bad intentions--as the West often mistakenly thinks about Israel's leaders and many mistakenly think about the Obama administration--it is an enemy.

    And if a government is making huge mistakes and misreading the situation--like the current U.S. administration but decidely not like Israel--it should be persuaded.

    One also must watch as events show it to be wrong and point out the increasingly obvious gap between policy and reality.

    The irony is that Israel's analysis is demonstrably in accord with reality, so much so that to argue otherwise requires ignoring such things as the last 15 years of history, the nature of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, the ideology and structure of Iran or Syria, and so on down a long list of items.

    Good analysis, which should be followed by good policy, doesn't come from projecting motives or engaging in stereotypes but through real comprehension of what is going on

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    US promises on Iran receding into the distance

    In the past, US leaders, including the Obama administrations and Obama himself, had insisted that the United States would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Now it is clear that the United States has no plan to stop Iranian nuclear development, but instead would provide "protection." As reported in Ha'aretz:
    A key minister in the Israeli government criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement on Tuesday that Washington would provide "a defense umbrella" for its allies in the Middle East in the event that Iran develops nuclear weapons.
    Dan Meridor, Israel's minister for secret services, told Army Radio that the comments imply a willingness to reconcile with the eventuality of a nuclear-armed Iran.
    "I heard, unenthusiastically, the Americans' statement that they will defend their allies in the event that Iran arms itself with an atomic bomb, as if they have already reconciled with this possibility, and this is a mistake," Meridor told Army Radio. "Now, we don't need to deal with the assumption that Iran will attain nuclear weapons but to prevent this."
    Clinton said on Tuesday that the U.S. has a plan to prevent Iranian domination in the Middle East if it gets the nuclear bomb.
    "We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those (allies) in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer," Clinton said during a visit to Bangkok.
    Of course, this would put every state in the Middle East in the unenviable position of Taiwan and Japan, which must rely on the US to protect them from nuclear China, and more recently, from nuclear North Korea. Nuclear deterrence has worked until now, but Iran with a bomb would not be like USSR or China with a bomb. Who believes that an Iranian attack on Israel would necessarily result in US retaliation? It might, or it might not. They are promising, but they also primised that Iran would never get the bomb.
    Ami Isseroff

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Indian Peace-keepers are helping Hezbollah

    Israel has accused Indian troops, part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deployed along its border with the Lebanon, of not only doing nothing to prevent the infiltration of Hezbollah supporters into its territory, but also co-operating with them, reports say.
    The accusations came after 15 Lebanese civilians Friday crossed illegally into Israel, shouting and waving the Hezbollah flag. Israeli troops, who spotted the group, did not confront them, as they were reportedly unarmed and returned to their country minutes later without incident.
    In a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the U.N. Security Council Ruhakana Rugunda, Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Gabriela Shalev accused the Indian contingent of having done nothing to prevent the demonstrators from crossing the border and even co-operating with the group.
    "(The demonstrators) stood opposite the UNIFIL force, (which did nothing), and worse than that, according to statements made by the organizers of the demonstration, they even co-operated with them," she wrote.
    She also lambasted Hezbollah for its "serious violations of Resolution 1701," which included both the border breach, as well as an attack by Lebanese villagers on UNIFIL troops Saturday, while the latter were investigating an explosion last week in a suspected Hezbollah arms depot in southern Lebanon.
    Both incidents "demonstrate an escalation and a pattern of behavior in Lebanon, that must be confronted," she said.
    This is not the first time that Tel Aviv has accused Indian troops stationed in south Lebanon of having helped Hezbollah. In October 2000, Indian troops were blamed by the Jewish nation for not only "quietly watching" the abduction of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah but even "assisting them" after having accepted bribes.
    UNIFIL has a long and ugly history in this regard. The most egregious incident took place during a Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. UNIFIL troops filmed the incident, but did nothing to stop the kidnapping. There is also a strong suspicion that during the Second Lebanon War UNIFIL troops were giving Hezbollah information about Israeli movements and deployment.
    Note that the report states "This is not the first time that Tel Aviv has accused ..." Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Use of "Tel-Aviv" as a synonym for the Israeli government is typical of Arab propaganda, but this news item originated in the United States.  
    Ami Isseroff

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Sports: Inspiration and Zionist experiences at Maccabiah games

    The most touching testimony of the Maccabiah games was the competition of Josh Small, son of Greg Small, one of the victims of the terrible bridge accident twelve years ago at an earlier Maccabiah. He came to Israel all the way from Australia despite the tragic death of his father, or because of it:

    "He only started the journey, he never finished it so I want to finish what he began," Josh Small told Australian Associated Press on Thursday. "It's what has inspired me and driven me."

    Australia has competed at the Games since 1953 and will field a 400-person team this year for the 10-day games.

    Josh Small, who was only seven when his father died, took up bowling at the age of 14. He'll wear his dad's uniform when he begins competing in the Maccabiah event.

    "It's something I can't explain," he said. "When I bowl it feels like I have a bond with my father which drives me."

    His mother, Suzanne, who suffered serious injuries in the bridge collapse, arranged a coach for Josh -- the same person who coached Greg Small.

    "My mom rang him up. He usually doesn't take people under 16 but because of his relationship with dad he took me on when I was 14," Josh Small said.

    Even without such tragedies, the Zionist endeavor requires dedication and devotion. Zionist experiences are often physically unpleasant and not objectively rewarding.

    Daily News executive Brad Weiss visited Israel for the first time in his life (he's 35) as a participant in the Maccabiah games. He didn't win any medals. He was greeted by the infernal summer heat of Israel,  but he nonetheless found the trip inspiring. The experience you have, and how you or you  or anyone views Israel depends on what you bring with you. This is his story:

    Brad Weiss would like to have won a medal at the Maccabiah Games Tuesday in Israel. Unfortunately for the Senior Account Executive-New Business Development for the Daily News, Weiss did not win any hardware. Still, the runner didn't come away empty-handed.
    "The way I viewed this race coming in was that it was basically 'the cherry on top of the sundae' in terms of the whole Maccabiah experience," Weiss said in an e-mail last night. "I've made friends for a lifetime and would wholeheartedly recommend the experience to anyone that is given the opportunity to visit Israel."
    Weiss finished sixth overall (fourth for men under 40) in the open division for the half marathon at the Maccabiah Games yesterday. He was one of five men running for the United States in the open division and ran a team-best time of 1:21:27. The Maccabiah Games is an international competition for Jewish and Israeli athletes.
    "What an amazing experience to be here in Israel for the first time," Weiss said. "The race was one of the most difficult in terms of weather conditions that I've ever run in, not to mention the extremely hilly course."
    Weiss, 35, left for Israel July 2 and had a pre-camp workout in Shefayim for before heading to Jerusalem for more training. The half marathon was run in Netanya, Israel at 11:30 a.m. yesterday in temperatures that Weiss said were about 90 degrees.
    "Despite the difficulty of the race, I was able to turn to my teammate and good friend (seven miles into the race) to point out the amazing view that was straight ahead of us as the sun was setting over the sea," Weiss said. "It was a surreal moment that I just wanted to take in to soak it all up as I was realizing how lucky I am to have been blessed to be part of this whole experience."
    Perhaps Weiss did not win the race, but oerhaps Weiss and the Jewish won something much more important.
    Israel and Zionists all over the world need to say thank you to all the athletes who came here to participate and show their faith in Israel and the Zionist endeavor, and especially to the Australian contingent, who kept faith with Israel despite the tragedy of the bridge collapse.
    Ami Isseroff

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    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Incitement and Holocaust denial: Palestinian Authority TV: "In all of Europe There Weren't 6 Million Jews"

    Material such as this is a persistent and blatant violation of the Roadmap for peace, which was supposed to have eliminated incitement, at least from official Palestinian authority productions.

    Since "it is known that in all of Europe there weren't 6 million Jews," the Holocaust should be seen as one more example of Jews' exaggeration of their sufferings, according to a senior Palestinian religious official. This latest Palestinian Holocaust denial was expressed by Abd Al-Rahman Abbad, Secretary General of the [Palestinian] Organization of Clerics and Disseminators of Islam. This organization is headed by Ikrima Sabri, former Palestinian Authority Mufti under Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

    In another repugnant distortion of history, Abbad explained on official Palestinian Authority TV that Jews possess "an attitude of superiority towards others" and therefore Jewish "culture and religion obligate them to have contacts only among themselves." This, he explained, is the source of the historical Jewish isolation in ghettos: Jews were not placed in ghettos by others, but chose to build walls around themselves and live in ghettos to avoid associating with non-Jews.
    This attitude, which he called the Jewish "ghetto mentality," is not just one Jewish trait among many, but dominates: "The Jewish mindset [is] a mindset controlled by the [idea of the] ghetto."
    President Barak Obama sees a direct connection between Holocaust denial and Israel's security:
    "I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security. Not when there are still voices that deny the Holocaust. Not when there are terrorist groups and political leaders committed to Israel's destruction." [AIPAC Conference, June 4, 2008]
    The following is the transcript of the interview on PA TV:

    "[The Israeli separation fence is a symptom of] the Jewish mindset, a mindset controlled by the [idea of the] ghetto. The ghetto means living in an isolated neighborhood only for Jews. That's why they cannot live with other groups because they believe that their culture and religion obligate them to have contacts only among themselves, based on an attitude of superiority towards others. That's why they did not live, for example, in the West, in separate neighborhoods, but lived in what is called "a ghetto." The ghetto was not forced upon them, as is thought, rather, they were the ones who forced it upon themselves. This [separation] fence is not just one fence, there are many fences. Look at the [Israeli] city Lod, for example, or Ramle. There is no mixing between different population groups who are all Israeli citizens. There is separation. The reason for this is the Israeli mentality, the ghetto mentality, the mentality of rejection of 'the other', and refusal to coexist with him...
    [Jews] exaggerate every action that other [nations] do against any Jew in the world. In this context is the Holocaust issue, which the whole world still [deals with]. There is a place [in Israel] called "Memorial for Holocaust and Heroism," which tells of the killing of 6 million Jews, but it is known that in all of Europe there weren't 6 million Jews."
    [PATV (Fatah) July 17, 2009]

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Deja Vu all over again? Barry Rubin on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

    One problem with the analogy to Sirens is that the Sirens used only a carrot. The Europeans and Americans use the stick as well. A second problem is that peace is not a luxury or tempting song only. It is vital for Israel. If someone offers you water when you are dying of thirst in the desert, you will tend to accept it, even if you know it is just a mirage.

    2009: A Diplomatic Odyssey, On the Wine-Dark Sea of Middle Eastern Politics

    By Barry Rubin

    "'If anyone unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by….

    "'Come here,' they sang….`He who listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we…can tell you everything that is going to happen over the whole world.'" --The Odyssey, Book 12

    So sang the Sirens to Odysseus. They promised not material or carnal joy but wisdom, for they claimed to predict the future. And thus warble the two Sirens, those of America and those of Europe. And what do they sing to Israel?

    More! More! More concessions; take a risk; take a chance; prove you want peace. If you make a deal with Arafat; if you give control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip; if you offer to come down from all the Golan Heights; if you withdraw from south Lebanon, if you withdraw from the Gaza Strip, if you offer a state, then we will love you and help you and you will live in peace! We know the future and it will be a future of peace if you only heed us, you silly, stubborn people!

    Come the delegations, come the parliamentarians, come the journalists, to the shores and luxury hotels, and conference rooms. And those who comply are rewarded, for a short time, with honeyed words and nice media coverage. Blessed are those Israelis who make unilateral concessions for they are called "moderates." And cursed be those Israelis who don't make unilateral concessions, for they will be called "hawks" and "hardliners."

    But soon their bones, or rather those of their less fortunate countrymen, lay all around. And the Sirens reset and start all over again.

    We are only looking for your own good, they say. We want to help you. These are the lotus wholesalers.

    As Homer also wrote:

    "The Lotus-eaters did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return." –The Odyssey, Book Nine.

    For no sooner is a concession given, a risk taken, that it is forgotten by those who ate lotus at the diplomatic banquets, at the international conference buffets. And so is the promise of support.
    Remember the 1990s' version of the Sirens' song?

    Here's the plan: Create a Palestinian Authority, give them lots of money and guns. Let them bring in tens of thousands of Palestinians. Turn over more and more of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

    And by governing they will learn responsibility. And Yasir Arafat will become moderate, and a statesman. And there will be no more terrorism or incitement to terrorism. And there will be a two-state solution.

    And what about the 2006 song: Stop the war with Hizballah and the UN will establish a strong force to patrol south Lebanon. Hizballah will not be able to return or to build military installations. Arms smuggling will be halted. For we are the entire international community, almost 200 nations strong.

    And each time, the chorus goes: if this doesn't work out, we will support you. We will recognize the risks you have taken, and the concessions you have given, and the losses you have suffered. And the name of Israel will be exalted as a great peacemaker. And the media will say nice things about you.

    The above is written in what I hope to be an entertaining style. But it is deadly serious—as dead as hundreds of Israelis are as a consequence of Western advice and promises, along with hundreds of Palestinians whose deaths are also a direct result of these failures.

    That's what happened. And here we are at the end of that process as if none of it has happened.

    As if the concept of having a "reset" of policy is just a euphemism for short-term memory loss.

    If Israel's leaders and people believed that a freeze in settlement construction would actually bring benefits--either for real peace or for at least real and full Western support based on an understanding that the Palestinian leadership didn't want peace and that Arab states would do almost nothing to bring it about—it would happen despite all the political obstacles. But the Israeli public is, for good reasons, doubtful.

    If only, we were told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would accept a two-state solution, how we will appreciate you! And he did. And they didn't.

    How many weeks after the freeze, for example, would the Europeans find some new reason to stop advancing toward Israeli integration with the European Union?

    Knowing all this, we will follow the advice of Circe to Odysseus on how to deal with the Sirens:
    "Pass these Sirens by, and stop your men's ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you…and they must lash the rope's ends to the mast itself….If you beg and pray the men to unloose you, then they must bind you tighter."

    With all seriousness, the absolute refusal of American and European leaders and journalists even to acknowledge this history and their own behavior guarantees Israeli refusal to heed their Siren song.

    Repeatedly, without being tied to the mast, I have raised this issue in private conversations—What about your unfulfilled promises in the past? What about the risks we've taken unrewarded? What about all the other concessions that have backfired?--to Western political figures and diplomats. Not a single one responds.

    Let me emphasize that: they don't deny, they don't apologize, they don't even make a counter-argument. They simply go on without any reference to what I've just said. Not once have I ever heard an effort to address this issue from anyone in an official position. That's no exaggeration.

    They are the ones with wax in their ears. But if they refuse even to acknowledge the consequences of their past demands and advice, why should we listen to their latest versions of the same tune?

    Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to To see his blog,

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Misquoting Israeli soldiers in British Media

    Breaking the Silence material on Israeli misdeeds in Gaza was pretty bad, but BBC and Independent decided to make it a bit worse. Just Journalism caught some of the "improvements."
    The latest report about Israeli soldiers' conduct in Gaza released by Israeli group Breaking The Silence was consumed by the media predictably fast. But in the haste to 'get something out' about its contents, how closely did journalists actually read the report? Misquotes in The Independent's two-page spread and a BBC Online article raise concerns about the handling of this source material and whether audiences are being provided with the full facts. Because the report contains some contentious claims, it is vital that the media maintain high standards of accuracy when lifting quotations and reproducing them in their work.
    The Independent
    In Testimony 6, the interviewee said:
    ''Then I finally understood. Most of the time we were firing at launcher crews in open spaces, but it didn't take much to aim at schools, hospitals and such. So I see I'm firing literally into a built-up area.' (Our emphasis)
    By the time it reached The Independent's 'Israeli soldiers reveal the brutal truth of Gaza attack', it had been contracted to:
    'I finally understood. We were firing at launcher crews in open spaces. But it didn't take much to aim at schools, hospitals and such. So I see I'm firing literally into a built-up area.'
    The phrase 'Most of the time', which provided a significant degree of context, has been omitted from the heart of the quote. The word 'we' has been wrongly capitalised and placed at the beginning of the sentence.
    The BBC's 'Breaking silence on Gaza abuses' also contained an inaccurate quotation. On the subject of the rules of engagement in Testimony 7, an interviewee said:
    'Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad. The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. Also, it was still dark when we went in, we got there just before dawn. You see a house, a window, shoot at the window. You don't see a terrorist there? Fire at the window. It was real urban warfare. This is the difference between urban warfare and a limited confrontation. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.' (Our emphasis)
    The BBC omitted the sentences, 'Also, it was still dark when we went in, we got there just before dawn' and 'It was real urban warfare. This is the difference between urban warfare and a limited confrontation.' These sentences also provided some context to the nature of the fighting from the interviewee's perspective – in this case, that it was dark and that urban warfare is different from limited confrontations.
    These inaccuracies raise genuine questions about how this journalism is researched, compiled and checked. It is standard practice when omitting material from a direct quotation to uses an ellipsis to signify to readers that something is missing. The fact that this has not occurred is worrying.
    In both cases it is unclear who is responsible for the editing of quotations. Just Journalism has notified both The Independent and the BBC about these issues and is awaiting a response.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The end of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?

    The Israeli-Palestinian peace process may have been dead for a long time but nobody wants to recognize it. It may have been born dead. The Palestinian demand for return of refugees and their insistence on that Jews have no rights at all in the old city of Jerusalem are not compatible with any notion of peace. I wrote earlier that the Obama peace initiative is probably going to fail, and that the consequences would not be good for Israel. The critical moment may be coming sooner than we thought. The Palestinian Maannews agency reports:
    Jerusalem – Ma'an – Senior Hamas and Fatah officials stated their objections on Sunday to what they said were US suggestions that Palestinians accept a land swap with Israel and give up the right of return.

    The officials said that the US is pushing for a final status agreement with Israel that does not include the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, and maintains so-called Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank.

    Senior Fatah official Hatem Abdul Qader, who deals with Jerusalem issues, said "the United States is trying to deceive the Palestinians through these proposals, which they think are creative, but [exist] only in their imaginations." He called for the US to take concrete steps to stop Israel's expansion of illegal settlements as an alternative.

    The official said, "If the United States cannot take small steps in this direction, then how it can make these big leaps that will not be accepted by the Palestinians?"

    "The main challenge for this administration is to stop the settlements and land confiscation, particularly canceling the Israeli decision to confiscate 139,00 dunums [of land along the Dead Sea shores and to stop the settlement plans in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods in East Jerusalem."

    If the US takes these "basic steps," it could lead to "real peace," he said. He also said that Palestinians refugees cannot give up the right to return to their homes in what is now Israel, basing their claim on UN Resolution 194. "Going around [Resolution 194] will not lead to real peace between Palestinians and Israelis."

    Meanwhile Hamas senior official Salah Bardawil said that "the issue of land swap was proposed since the Camp David negotiations … President Yasser Arafat rejected this at the time then and paid his life as a price for this rejection."

    Bardawil also said "We cannot accept anything that is proposed by the Americans regarding this issue." He said "all Palestinian factions" believe that a resolution to the conflict should be based on an Israeli withdrawal from the land it occupied in 1967 (the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem), the creation of a Palestinian state, and the realization of the right of return.

    He also stated Hamas' "categorical rejection" of the alleged American proposals. "It's a waste of time for the US administration headed by [Barack] Obama to begin its political maneuvers with a rejected argument."

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Inspiration and ray of hope - Summer Camp for Palestinian and Israeli Youth

    Danny Shapiro, a friend who has started working at the Peres Peace Center wrote the following account.

    July 19 was the first day of a six day camp joining 32 Israeli kids, aged 12 – 14, from the poor southern towns of Yeruham and Sderot, and 28 Palestinian kids living in poverty and despair in the occupied territories.

    The camp, held at Kibbutz Galon, is organized by the Peres Center's Sports Department. And as much as I read about this kind of program, no article I could read, or video I could watch, could in any possible way match the almost incredulous sense of wonder and inspiration aroused by seeing these sixty kids playing in Galon's pool together, and enjoying a multi-lingual "Darbuka" session with a Palestinian madrich (leader).

    It was also fascinating and deeply impressive to speak at length with Issam, who works on a number of projects with the Peres Center. Issam grew up in Gaza and moved to Ramallah after Hamas came to power and he felt his life was in danger for his many years of reconciliation work. No doubt some of you know him.

    His story is amazing. He sat in Israeli prison and had a life-changing experience with an Israeli officer that put him on the path of working towards conciliation and peace. If I have the time I will write the story down and pass it along.

    Issam reminded me again and again that not only was this the first time most of the Palestinian children had met an Israeli who not either a soldier or a settler – but for the great majority of them, this was the first time in their lives outside of their town or certainly the territories; the first time they had eaten in a restaurant; the first time they experience what even the lowest social and economic classes in Israel take for granted.

    I have no illusions that the experience of these 60 kids, and that of the additional several hundred who will be treated to similar camps this summer, will make any serious dent in overall public opinion or attitudes, and certainly will not make the leaders on both sides more peace loving and conciliatory. But then, that (the latter, at least) is not the goal of the Peres Peace Center.

    But this type of program most certainly changes attitudes (this is based on professional evaluation following multiple years of experience), and, if nothing else, humanizes the conflict for those who are involved in it; and injects a few rays of hope into our battered and shattered hearts and minds

    That is what Peres Peace Center does. That is what the "peace" group Alternative Information Center finds objectionable. They published an article insisting that Palestinians must boycott Peres Peace Center. The article states:

    Shimon Peres is definitely an enemy of the Palestinian people, of human rights and of peace, and any kind of collaboration by a Palestinian organization with the Peres Center is scandalous.

    Is the summer camp "scandalous?" You decide. The directors of the Peres Peace Center, in any case, are Uri Savir and Ron Pundak, though Peres founded the Peres Peace Center.

    Ami Isseroff

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    Hezbollah defies UN Resolution 1701

    Hezbollah defies UN Resolution 1701
    By: Elias Bejjani*
    July 20/09

    The weird status of the Terrorist Iranian Hezbollah Militia in Lebanon has no precedent in the entire world, not in the contemporary era, nor at any time in the past. Presumably Lebanon is an independent democratic and multi-cultural country and an active founding member of both the United Nations and Arab league, while in reality and practicality it is not so due to the sad fact that its governing mechanism on all levels is mostly dictated and controlled by the Hezbollah leadership who run and dominate a mini Khomeini state inside the state of Lebanon with an army, financing capabilities, social services, educational body, organizational structure and weaponry arsenal that are all far stronger and far larger than those of the Lebanese state itself.  

    Hezbollah, the armed Iranian militia stationed in Lebanon, is totally affiliated to the Iranian notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Its leadership holds on solely to Lebanon's war-peace decision making process and imposes on the Lebanese and the country's institutions and officials by force and terrorism their Khomeini's denominational Islamic criteria with regard as to who is an enemy, who is an ally or friend, and who should be from the Lebanese tagged as a nationalist or a traitor.  

    On July 2006, Hezbollah instigated a deadly war with Israel that lasted for 34 days. The Lebanese legitimate authorities nor the people had any saying in the matter.  Because of this insane war, the whole country has suffered huge financial loses that has exceeded 50 billion dollars with more than 1500 citizens and army men dead and with thousands injured.  Hezbollah leadership came out of their underground dens and bunkers when the war stopped to declare a divine victory. A victory that in reality is a mere self deception and a sickening delusion according to all world-wide recognized scientific standards of military, loses, gains, reality and logic.  

    The war was ended in accordance to the UNSC Resolution 1701 that calls in its 8th clause for:Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
    Full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;
    Security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;
    Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state; No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;
    No sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;
    Provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession.

    Hezbollah did not abide by the UNSC 1701. Its Leadership did not put an end to its presence in the area that falls between the Blue Line and the Litani River. The Resolution stipulated that this area must be free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese Army and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the UNIFIL.  

    UNIFIL does not have the mandate to disarm Hezbollah nor to confiscate its weapons, while the field engagement rules that govern its military activities are limited to self defense only and when facing danger.  

    Meanwhile the Lebanese Army that was deployed in the South and whose higher command according to the Lebanese Constitution is the Lebanese government, was left in the cold with no orders to either disarm Hezbollah, engage with its men, limit their activities or to confiscate any weaponry of its depots located in the UNFIL working area.  

    Sadly the UNIFIL, Israel, Lebanese officials and politicians, United Nation, and all the countries whose troops are serving with the UNIFIL, have always been aware of this fact but hesitated, and failed, from taking any action to straighten out the matter and put the UNFIL troops under the UN Chapter Seven that gives the troops the power to carry enforcing and deterrent assignments that the Lebanese army is not allowed by the Lebanese government to implement.   

    UNIFIL troops have always been under the mercy of Hezbollah and were never able to carry out their assignments freely. In this context a series of  underground explosions took place on Tuesday July 14/09 in an abandoned building near Lebanon's tense border with Israel. They were the result of a huge fire in a Hezbollah underground weapons depot. There were no casualties in the blasts, though widespread panic was caused among residents, some of whom mistook it for an Israeli air raid. The depot in the village of Khirbet Silim, about 10 miles north of the border, was housed in an abandoned building and guarded by Hezbollah militia men around the clock.  

    Following this incident, the Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL stated in their official statements that they have closed off the area and launched a joint investigation into the cause of the explosions. But according to media reports and local residents, Hezbollah deployed heavily in the area following the blast, preventing not only civilians, but also the UNIFIL and Lebanese Army from entering, the area. 

    Hezbollah in its camouflaging and distraction maneuvering tactics in regards to the Khirbet Silim incident has carried two more violations to the 1701 and tried to fabricate justifications for its so called resistance against Israel:

    On July 17/09 a group of 15 Lebanese civilians, including children, crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel. The people were carrying Hezbollah and Lebanon flags. The group crossed the border at a spot where no fence exists, and walked to the Israeli side. IDF soldiers spotted them, but seeing they were unarmed, and had children with them, decided not to respond. Several minutes after crossing the border, the group turned back and returned to Lebanese territory.

    Earlier on the same day Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah alleged that Israel is still holding a Lebanese prisoner and the remains of others despite a prison exchange a year ago in which all were to be returned and claimed that the family of the Lebanese soldier Yehia Skaff, say their son is still being held in an Israeli prison. He also alleged that Israel is also holding the "remains of martyrs." There was no immediate comment from Israel, but the government has said in the past that they believe Skaff was killed during the Palestinian terror attack he carried out in 1978 that killed 35 Israelis.

    On July 18/09 fourteen UN peacekeepers were injured when Hezbollah civilians stopped by force a UNIFIL patrol
    that was trying to investigate into the Khirbet Silim arms cache explosion. During the confrontation around 100 Hezbollah civilians threw stones at the troops and damaged their vehicles. 

    The UNIFIL considered the Khirbet Silim incident a serious violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, notably the provision that there should be no presence of unauthorized assets or weapons in the area of operation between the Litani River and the Blue Line," UNIFIL spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane said in a press statement issued on 15/07/09. The statement noted that UNIFIL's Force Commander Claudio Graziano had met with Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and LAF Commander Jean Kahwaji to brief them on the situation, adding that a "deposit of ammunition" had been discovered. 

    Observers believe that the warehouse that blew up was filled with rockets, artillery shells, and machine guns and that it is one of dozens of ammunition depots in southern Lebanon that Hezbollah still fully controls. Obscuring the situation further, a security source told the English language Daily Star that the site was an "arms assembly plant." Local residents are fully aware that Hezbollah had turned hundreds of homes in the area into warehouses to store short- and medium-range Katyusha rockets, but are afraid to officially complain.

    Since the 2006 war ended and since the issuance of the 1701 Resolution, there has been no visible Hezbollah weapons in the UNFIL area, but at the same time there has been no confiscating of Hezbollah Arm depots, which clearly means that all its depots have remained intact where they were before the war. This fact becomes 
    credible when we Nasrallah, bragging publicly that his arsenal has doubled 10 times after July 2006.  The only thing that has changed is that Hezbollah fighters "Al Mujahedin" are not wearing any more their military attires, but instead civilian cloth. Otherwise they are still there, moving freely in all the South under the eyes of both the UNIFIL and Lebanese army  forces.

    The UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, through a series of reports on the implementation of the Resolution 1701, had expressed his dire concern about the indications of both the continued presence of arms and armed men in the south and the smugglings of weapons through the Syrian-Lebanese borders.  In his latest report issued last month he sated that the "Lebanese authorities have the primary responsibility to make sure there are no unauthorized armed elements and weapons in the region between the Litani River and the Blue Line, which serves as the border between Lebanon and Israel.

    In conclusion, Hezbollah is still in control of South Lebanon, and still maintains there all
    its weaponry depots and armed men in spite of the presence of the UNIFI and Lebanese army troops, and accordingly remains capable at any time to instigate a war with Israel on the instructions of its masters, the Iranian Mullahs. At the same still manipulating the Lebanese government and obstructing its control and authority. 

    There will be no end to the bizarre, volatile and fragile situation in South Lebanon unless Hezbollah militia is dismantled and disarmed, not only in South Lebanon, but in the whole country. To achieve this goal the UNIFIL force in South Lebanon must have a new engagement mandate under chapter seven of the United Nations' charter in a bid to be authorized jointly with the Lebanese Army force to implement the 1701 and 1559 UNSC Resolutions 

    By the end of the day, for Lebanon to enjoy a long-lasting stability and peace, its government must engage immediately with Israel into serious negotiations in a bid to end the war status between the two countries and sign a peace treaty as was the situation with both Jordan and Egypt, or otherwise, Hezbollah and other terrorist and Jihadist groups will continue to use South Lebanon as a battlefield for their Jihad wars (Holy Wars) against Israel.

    Elias Bejjani
    Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator

    Web sites &

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Jerusalem and the settlement freeze

    It was really a no-brainer to predict that the settlement freeze dispute with the United States would lead to a dispute over the status of Jerusalem (see Will Jerusalem be a frozen settlement?). It was a no-brainer, but it seems, predictably, that almost nobody saw it coming.

    Now the problem is upon us. The United States has tried to stop a planby Irving Moskowitz to renovate a hotel in East Jerusalem that had been property of the Israel government for many years and create a relatively small number of housing units. US protests were reportedly deliberately leaked by Israeli officials to the media, in order to announce limits to the settlement freeze and to reassert the Israeli position regarding Jerusalem. Israel has rejected the calls. Continued here: O! No! Jerusalem and the Settlement Freeze!

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    How many civilians were killed in Gaza?

    How many civilians were killed in Gaza?

    Ben-Dror Yemini

    Maariv 20.07.09 [translated]

    Every week new reports are published on the number of civilians killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Again and again, Israel is blamed for "disproportionate casualties among civilians." Here and there, claims of "war crimes" are raised. It must be said that, first, any civilian death is deplorable and everything possible must be done to prevent such deaths. Second, any reasonable allegation must be investigated. There is not an army in the world that has not made mistakes, and the IDF is no exception. But apparently there are many entities that are enamored of lies. Hamas claimed from the start that only a small number of those killed in Gaza were fighters. Many human rights organizations adopted the claims made by Hamas and other Palestinian organizations. So the time has come, if truth has any meaning whatsoever, to present the real story.

    Abdullah Abdel Hamid Muammar, a 22-year-old student from the village of el-Nassar north of Rafah, was killed in Operation Cast Lead. So we are told by the official report of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). This report contains details about the war casualties that purport to be accurate. The purpose is obvious: to prove to the whole world that most of the casualties were innocent civilians who were hurt by the bombing of the civilian population.

    Many human rights organizations, including Amnesty, B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch (HRW), relied, in whole or in part, on the PCHR data, which turned Muammar into an innocent victim. But there's a problem with that. According to a publication issued by the Press Department of the Al Qassam Brigades, Muamar was a member of Hamas, and he appears in a picture on an Arabic website in which he is carrying a Qassam missile. This is also the case with many other "innocent civilians." They were terrorists. It turns out that, to discover that lie - which was just one of many - meticulous investigations were required. Dr. Tal Pavel of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and Jonathan Dahoah-Halevy, a researcher at the Jerusalem Center, investigated each name on the list of casualties.

    The various organizations announced that between 1,200 and 1,400 were killed in Gaza. The number may have been inflated, as claimed, for example, by journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi, reporting from the Gaza Strip for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera about inflation of the numbers and the manipulations by Hamas. We should also mention the investigation conducted by the IDF which appears to be a bit more reliable and puts the number of killed at 1164, as well as the fact that Hamas issued explicit instructions to conceal and deceive.

    According to Pavel's research, 564 of the dead were members of Hamas. All of them were honored, as fallen fighters, on Hamas websites. In addition to them, according to IDF investigations, about 100 Islamic Jihad members were killed. Assuming that other terrorists were killed, for example those belonging to Fatah, then most of the dead were not innocent civilians. And that's just the beginning.

    The bombing of the Hamas Police Academy earned wall-to-wall condemnation because, according to international law, police are considered civilians. Here we will go into the results of the research conducted by Dahoah-Halevy. According to a name-based investigation of each of the "policemen", it turns out that 88.4% of them belong to the security - i.e., terrorism - mechanisms of Hamas. One of them, Muhammad el-Dasuqi, a member of the Resistance Committee, is suspected of being one of the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the American convoy in 2003.

    One of the most prominent events in the Gaza operation was the bombing of the UN school in the Jabalya refugee camp on January 6. All the media around the world publicized horrific pictures of "over 41 killed in the Al Fakhura school." The condemnation was worldwide, from the UN Secretary General, through the President of the United States, to the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

    Many long weeks passed before it was shown to be a libel. First, the three artillery shells did not hit the school at all. Second, Hamas people were firing from the area and the IDF aimed its fire at them. Third, the number of killed was far smaller than originally reported. Most of the media and human rights organizations that publicized the original news did not bother to publicize the information that was disclosed. Those who are infatuated with libel are not prepared to be confused by the facts.

    There were still many killed who are not identified as fighters. That is also worth investigating. If the IDF strike lacked discernment, the demographic breakdown of the casualties (erroneously called "uninvolved civilians") should have been identical to the demographic breakdown of the general population. However, a different picture emerges. A quarter of the population are adolescent girls. Actually, 8% of those killed were adolescent girls. A quarter of the population are adult women. Only 14% of those killed were women. The higher percentage of male casualties – much higher than their proportion of the population – proves that among them were a higher percentage of men involved in the fighting. In other words, the percentage of civilian casualties was dramatically smaller than the claims made against Israel. According to a more in-depth investigation by a team of researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center, between 900 and 1,070 of the casualties (63% - 75%) were killed because they were involved. If we add to that the fact that Hamas used civilians as human shields, or adolescent boys who were forced to participate in the fighting, the percentage of the casualties who were involved in the fighting only increases.

    It is interesting to note the behavior of the armies of western countries when they had to conduct a similar war. Let's assume that there is no comparison with the World War II Allied bombing of Tokyo and Dresden. We'll deal with something more similar and closer in time. In 1999, NATO forces conducted a similar war, mainly by aerial bombing, against Yugoslavia (Operation Allied Force). 462 soldiers, 114 policemen and 489-512 civilians were killed.

    Because there, the policemen were actually policemen, and in Gaza they are terrorists, the general balance shows that Israel hurt far fewer civilians than NATO did. And with regard to the demographic breakdown and the forced use of adolescent boys and civilians, the number of innocent casualties is apparently far lower.

    The Israeli media, which publicized the stories of soldiers from the pre-military preparatory course - which turned out to be rumors and outright fabrications - did not publish the results of the serious investigations below. On the contrary. An editorial by Ha'aretz stated that it involved the "criminal killing of dozens of policemen…knowing that these policemen were nothing but enforcers of civilian order." Hamas is snickering. They publicize pictures of the "policemen" armed with Qassams, and Ha'aretz calls them "enforcers of civil order." The West reads Ha'aretz in English, not Hamas in Arabic. So sometimes, when Ha'aretz is around, Hamas does not need a propaganda department.

    Even when this research was available, no one bothered to make corrections. On the contrary. The hara-kiri continues. The media, in Israel and around the world, are tainted with a peculiar selectivity. Any serious research that proves that there were no war crimes is rejected. Any fabrication that doesn't have a shred of basis in fact rates enormous headlines. That is what happened with the bombing of the Al Fakhura school in Jabalya, and in other cases as well.

    Prof. Arnold Toynbee, who was no friend of Israel, wrote in one of his books, "In the history of man's endeavors to develop culture, there has never been a society whose progress and cultural level were so advanced that in time of revolution or war, its members could be depended upon not to commit evil acts." That is true of Israel and it is true of every country that finds itself in a state of war. So I will reiterate that every deviation should be investigated. But by the same token, there is no need to hide the true picture: with regard to the fact that Gaza is controlled by an entity whose way is terrorism, whose platform is anti-Semitic, and whose official objective is the destruction of the State of Israel, the number of innocent casualties in the course of the operation was far smaller than the stories fabricated by Palestinian organizations, human rights organizations and newspapers in Israel and around the world, such as Ha'aretz, which feeds many news agencies worldwide. We can, and should, publicize serious claims of deviations. But we also can, and should, at least to the same extent, present the serious research.

    Ben-Dror Yemini is a researcher and a columnist in Maariv, daily newspaper


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    The Jews of Turkey, Israel, the "Jewish Lobby" and the Armenian Genocide

    The book and the article reveal an unmentioned factor in Israel's reluctance to condemn the Armenian Genocide - the hostage Turkish Jews and the cynical pressure that is put on them. But the article uses, perhaps unwittingly, the anti-Semitic "Jewish Lobby" phrase:
    Yet, it is important to note that Bali is by no means interested in justifying the Jewish lobby's vigorous efforts to please the Turkish authorities. While he puts forth a wealth of evidence of the huge pressure the Jewish community in Turkey is subjected to, that evidence does not prevent him from giving a critical account of how the Jewish leadership in Turkey has displayed an eagerness to advocate Turkish views and to support official Turkish policies. There are numerous accounts in the book of how the Turkish chief rabbinate confirmed the Jewish community's happiness and well-being in Turkey, opposing the promotion of the Armenian Genocide thesis, and how the Quincentennial Foundation, established by Turkish Jewish leaders in 1992 to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the arrival of the Jews to Ottoman lands, actively championed Turkish official theses.
    The "Jewish Lobby" generally refers to pro-Israel political activists in the United States, even though there are a lot of Jewish anti-Israel political activists there as well as non-Jewish Israel supporters. Jewish lobby is certainly not an appropriate term for the leaders of the Jewish community in Turkey.   
    The Jews of Turkey and the Armenian Genocide
    By Ayse Gunaysu on July 20, 2009

    A groundbreaking book by independent scholar and historian Rifat Bali was published recently in Turkey, unearthing facts and first-hand accounts that unmistakably illustrate how the Turkish establishment blackmailed the leaders of the Jewish community—and through them Jewish organizations in the United States—to secure their support of the Turkish position against the Armenians' campaign for genocide recognition. The title of the book, Devlet'in Ornek Yurttaslari –Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri 1950-2003, can be roughly translated into English as "The Model Citizens of the State–Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1950-2003." (I will refer to the book as "The Model Citizens" in this article.)

    The book is a product of the meticulous work Bali carried out for many years at around 15 archives worldwide, including the American Jewish Archives (Cincinatti, Ohio), B'nai B'rith International Archives (Washington, D.C.), National Archives and Records Administration (Maryland), Israeli National Archives (Jerusalem), Central Zionist Archives (Jerusalem), Turkish State Archives (Ankara), public archives in Tel Aviv, private archives (like that of Manajans Thomspson A.S., an advertising agency based in Istanbul), and his personal archives. He also researched hundreds of books, dissertations, and articles in Turkish and other languages, and interviewed numerous individuals.

    "The Model Citizens" is in fact the complementary volume of Bir Turklestirme Seruveni–Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri, 1923-1945 (A Story of Turkification–Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1923-1945), a reference book Bali published in 1999 that reveals the true picture of the relations of domination between the ruling elite and non-Muslims in general (and Jews, in particular) after the founding of the Turkish Republic.

    Rifat Bali's books are the richest sources of information for anyone looking to study the history of the non-Muslims in Turkey during the republican period. These books differ from others by their sheer wealth of archival references, details from daily life, and insights into the political, social, and cultural background. They are the result of arduous and untiring work carried out in both the public and private archives, in addition to a very detailed scanning of the daily press—which, apparent in both volumes of the history of the Jews of Turkey, significantly sheds light on how the "establishment" in Turkey, an organic system covering not only the state apparatus but also the representatives of the "civil society" from business organizations to the press, operated as a whole to treat the non-Muslims in Turkey as hostages and not as equal citizens. Although the history of the minorities in Turkey has become a topic of interest among the dissenting academia and a limited circle of intellectuals (especially after the turn of the millennium simultaneously with Turkey's prospective membership to the European Union), as far as I can see, none of the works in this field is supported by such a comprehensive press scan, which includes cartoons in addition to news items and articles.

    Turkish Jews lobbying against the Armenian Genocide

    In his 670-page book, Rifat Bali gives a detailed account of the Turkish government's efforts to mobilize its Jewish subjects to win the support of the Jewish lobby in the United States against the Armenian campaigners. At the same time, Bali shows, how the Turkish authorities played the Israeli government against U.S. policymakers for the same purpose, by making use of its strategic position in the Middle East, at times promising rewards (i.e., raising the level of diplomatic relations with Israel), at times overtly or covertly making threats (i.e., cutting off Israel's vital military logistical resources by hindering the use of U.S. bases in Turkey).

    The book also offers rich material about how Turkish diplomats and semi-official spokesmen of Turkish policies, while carrying out their lobbying activities, threatened both Israel and the U.S. by indicating that if the Jewish lobby failed to prevent Armenian initiatives abroad—Turkey might not be able to guarantee the security of Turkish Jews. Such Armenian initiatives included the screening of an Armenian Genocide documentary by an Israeli TV channel in 1978 and 1990; Armenian participation in an international conference in Israel in 1982; Armenian genocide bills up for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives, and so on. It has been a routine practice for Turkish authorities to invariably deny such threats. However, Bali's industrious work in the archives reveals first-hand accounts that confirm these allegations.

    But this is not all. Rifat Bali throughout his book unfolds the entire socio-political setting  of the process of making the Jewish community leaders active supporters of Turkish governments' struggle against the "Armenian claims" in the international arena.

    Now let us look at this background. From what Bali brings to our attention, we can see that there has always been a frantic, extremely vulgar anti-Semitism freely expressed by Islamic fundamentalists and racists, and openly tolerated by the government and judiciary. Such anti-Semitism—escalating at times with the rising tension between Israel and the Muslim countries of the Middle East—often went as far as warmly praising Hitler for doing the right thing and exterminating the Jews; declaring Jews the enemies of the entire human race; listing characteristics attributed to Jews as the worst that can be found in human beings; in one instance, putting up advertisements on walls in Jewish-populated neighborhoods in Istanbul; and in another case, sending letters to prominent members of the Jewish community threatening that if they didn't "get the hell out of Turkey" within one month, no one would be responsible for what happened to them.

    Whenever Jewish community leaders have approached the authorities for a determined stance against such open anti-Semitism, the answer has been the same: These are marginal voices that have no significant effect on the general public; and there is freedom of expression in Turkey.

    The eternal indebtedness of Jews to Turks

    An important fact about such violent anti-Semitism is that it goes hand in hand with the widespread official and public conception of the Jews as guests who are indebted to their hosts; it is a debt that cannot be paid no matter how hard the debtors tried. This view isn't only shared by extremist elements in Turkey, but by the entire society—from the elites to the average person. It is a conviction purposefully designed and maintained by the establishment. And it enables the perpetual, unending, and unrestricted generation and regeneration of the relations of domination in Turkey between the establishment and non-Muslims in general, and Jews in particular, manifested in the treatment of the latter as hostages.

    There are regular manifestations of this relationship. The most unbearable is the shameless, extremely offensive repetition by both top-ranking government officials and the mainstream media of how Turkey generously offered shelter to the Jews in 1492, when they were expelled from Spain, and how the Turkish people have always been so "kind" to treat the Jews with "tolerance" throughout history. This theme is repeated on every occasion but is voiced more loudly and more authoritatively whenever pressure on Turkey regarding the Armenian Genocide increases abroad. Another theme has been the obligation of the Jews to show material evidence of their gratitude to Turkey on account of the latter's welcoming of German Jewish scientists right after the Nazis' ascension to power. (Readers of Bali's first volume instantly will remember how Turkey declined thousands of asylum requests by German Jews; how 600 Czeckoslavakian Jews on board the vessel "Parita" were turned down; and how 768 passengers on the Romanian vessel "Struma," after being kept waiting off Istanbul for weeks in poverty and hunger, were sent to death in the Black Sea by Turkish authorities, with only one survivor in the winter of 1942.)

    An illustrative example is the story of the fury that broke out in Turkey in 1987 when the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council in Washington, D.C. decided to include the Armenian Genocide—as the first genocide of the 20th century— in the Memorial Museum that was going to be built.

    The mainstream media, and not only the ultra-nationalist extremists, started a campaign that would last for years. Melih Asik from Milliyet (which has always positioned itself as a liberal and democratic newspaper), in his article on Dec. 20, 1987, accused "Jews" for being "ungrateful." After observing the regular ritual of reminding the Jews of the Turks' generosity in 1492 and during World War II, he wrote: "We treated them with utmost kindness for many years and now these same Jews are preparing to present us to the world in the Holocaust museum as genociders. Before everything else this behavior should be exhibited in the museum of 'historical displays of ingratitude and disgrace.'"

    Melih Asik, as can be seen, is so confident that his readers would not question the use of the words "these same Jews," nor ridicule the identification of those Jews who sought shelter in the Ottoman Empire in 1492 with those sitting in the Holocaust Memorial Museum Council in 1987. He is that confident because he knows that such identification and essentialization is a regular, daily pattern internalized by the readers of the Turkish press.

    Another very liberal and democrat anchorman of Turkey, Mehmet Ali Birand, known as a taboo breaker in recent years, joined—and even surpassed—Asik in his Dec. 29, 1987 article that appeared in Milliyet. In it, he publicly called on the Jews of Turkey to fulfill their "duty of gratitude" and do their best to prevent the Armenians from including the Armenian Genocide in the museum. He added: "Isn't it our right to expect [such a display of gratitude] from every Turkish citizen?" There's hardly any need to mention that just before this call to duty, Birand paid tribute to the routine of mentioning the Turks' generosity towards the Jews back in 1492.

    Not an apologist at all

    Yet, it is important to note that Bali is by no means interested in justifying the Jewish lobby's vigorous efforts to please the Turkish authorities. While he puts forth a wealth of evidence of the huge pressure the Jewish community in Turkey is subjected to, that evidence does not prevent him from giving a critical account of how the Jewish leadership in Turkey has displayed an eagerness to advocate Turkish views and to support official Turkish policies. There are numerous accounts in the book of how the Turkish chief rabbinate confirmed the Jewish community's happiness and well-being in Turkey, opposing the promotion of the Armenian Genocide thesis, and how the Quincentennial Foundation, established by Turkish Jewish leaders in 1992 to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the arrival of the Jews to Ottoman lands, actively championed Turkish official theses.

    It is clear from the book that Bali does not like to make comments on the meaning of his findings; rather, he puts the facts together like a scientist, avoiding to make personal comments, draw conclusions, or speculate about the reasons or outcomes of certain facts and events. What he exposes is clear enough to make the picture complete in the eyes of the reader. It's up to the reader to acknowledge, for example, the fact that those who criticized Turkish Jews for their submissiveness had no right to expect bravery -- when none of them raised their voice against the rabid anti-Semitism freely displayed by fundamentalists, or against the innuendos from government officials, or against the quite obvious threats from opinion leaders who kept asking the Jews to prove their loyalty to the Turkish state or relinquish their right to be treated as equal citizens.

    A last word about Rifat Bali's book "Model Citizens." It should definitely be translated into English for those who are interested in the Jewish factor in Turkey's struggle against Armenian initiatives to recognize the genocide. It would be impossible for anyone either in Turkey or elsewhere to make a realistic, objective, and complete evaluation of Turkey's success in securing the support of Jewish leaders both in Turkey and abroad without reading this book. Not only that, but the "Model Citizens" is a guide to understanding how deeply rooted anti-Semitism still is in Turkey that claims to be a European country knocking on the door of the EU. It also shows how powerful it can be when mobilizing a country's human resources against its Jewish citizens—to make the leaders of the Jewish community act as they are told. Turning the pages of Bali's book, the reader is made to see that anti-Semitism has a historical context so horrifying and so vivid in the collective memory that it can be very instrumental in manipulating victims, and very successful in carving out "model citizens" as the voluntary executioners of government policies.


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Christians For Fair Witness Praises Episcopal Church for Refusing to Take Unbalanced Stand on Israel/Palestine

    Activism of moderate Christians on behalf of fair play for Israel has had at least some impact on the flood of divestment, boycott and other anti-Israel initiatives that are the fruit of pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic activism in mainline Protestant churches.

    July 20, 2009
    Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
    (212) 870-2320
    Christians For Fair Witness Praises Episcopal Church for Refusing to Take Unbalanced Stand on Israel/Palestine
    The 2009 Episcopal General Convention ("GC") made a strong statement on July 17th when the House of Bishops refused to pass the Israel/Palestine resolution which called for dismantling Israel's security barrier and ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip without demanding an end to Palestinian terrorism.  Several bishops who opposed the defeated resolution said they favored a more balanced approach.
    "Fair Witness was initially concerned because we were the only ones at the GC testifying at Legislative Committee hearings in opposition to the resolution," said Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P.  "But we were heartened by calls for balance coming from the House of Bishops."
     "Some statements coming from supporters of the resolution were reflective of  appropriate concern for Palestinian suffering, but also reflective of both a lack of similar concern for Israeli suffering and a serious misunderstanding of the factual realities in the region," said Fr. James Loughran, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute.  "One Bishop actually said that the 'wall' did not contribute to the lessening of suicide bombings.  The security barrier, problematic as it is for Palestinians, not only lessened suicide bombings coming from the West Bank – which had taken the lives of over one thousand Israelis --  it virtually eliminated them."
    Even more disturbing was the fact that some of the Bishops who spoke in support of the resolution said that balanced language was taken out specifically to get the attention of the Israeli community.
    "Integrity in the churches' approach to this conflict demands fairness and an understanding of all the facts on the ground," said Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit of Muhlenberg College.  "It requires the church to be an honest witness.  The House of Bishops made this choice for integrity when it refused to use misrepresentation to provoke a response from a nation state."
     "This is an historic moment," said Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.  "Prayerful discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit, prevented the Episcopal Church from passing unbalanced legislation on the Arab/Israeli conflict at this GC.  I am deeply gratified by the stand taken by the House of Bishops and proud of my church."

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Israel's Peace Plan Marks

    Barry Rubin is right that the principles announced by the Israeli government are important and they are backed by a consensus at least in Israel. A big problem with Rubin's thesis is that the Israel government did not announce a peace plan. It announced a few principles of what the final status agreement should look like, but not a comprehensive plan that is labeled as such. The "Arab peace plan" is not a plan either, because a plan of anything is a series of steps explaining how a goal will be achieved and what actions to take to get there. There is nothing in the Arab peace plan about how the Arabs are to implement their part of the bargain. It is not about peace either, since peace is the result of a negotiated agreement. The Arab peace plan does not allow for any negotiations.
    A second problem with the Israeli non-plan is that there doesn't seem to be any action by the government for emphasizing these principles rather than gimmicks like settlement freezes. The fact that there is no effective action is a natural consequence of the fact that there is no plan. Without a plan, you generally do not get very far.
    Ami Isseroff
    This could be the most important article I write this year. Israel has entered a new era of thinking and policy in which old categories of left or right, hawk or dove are irrelevant under a national unity government bringing together the two main ruling parties.
    How did this new paradigm arise?
    Between 1948 and 1992, the Israeli consensus was that the PLO and most Arab states want to destroy Israel. When—or if--the day comes that they're ready to negotiate seriously we'll see what happens.
    Then came the Oslo agreement and a huge shift. The governing view was that maybe the Palestinians and Arab states learned the cost of their intransigence enough to make peace possible. The left thought a deal could bring real peace; the right thought it was a trick leading to another stage of conflict on terms less favorable to Israel. But both expected a deal to materialize.
    The year 2000, the Camp David failure, the Syrian and Palestinian rejection of generous offers, and Second Intifada destroyed illusions in Israel.
    Since then, Israel has groped for a new paradigm. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered unilateralism; Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni constantly offered more in exchange for nothing. But the more they did so, the more international abuse Israel received.
    Now a new approach has finally emerged capable of reversing this situation. It goes like this: Israel wants peace but doesn't hesitate to express not only what it wants and needs but also what's required to create a stable and better situation. To ensure that violence and instability really ceases requires:
    --Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Without this step, the aftermath of any "peace" agreement would be additional decades of Arab effort to destroy Israel in all but—temporarily—name.
    --Absolute clarity that a peace agreement ends the conflict and all claims on Israel. Otherwise, the Palestinian leadership and much of the Arab world would regard any "peace" agreement as a license for a new stage of battle using Palestine as a base for renewed attacks and demands.
    --Strong security arrangements and serious international guarantees for them. Have no doubt; these will be tested by cross-border attacks from Palestine.
    --An unmilitarized Palestinian state (a better description than "demilitarized"), with the large security forces they already have: enough for internal security and legitimate defense but not aggression.
    --Palestinian refugees resettled in Palestine. The demand for a "Right of Return" is just a rationale for wiping Israel off the map through internal subversion and civil war.
    If Israel gets what it requires—and what successful peace requires—it will accept a two-state solution, a Palestinian Arab Muslim state (the Palestinian Authority's own definition) alongside a Jewish state, living in peace.

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    France Surrenders to Iran's Ahmadinejad

    Imani condemns French recognition of Mahmoud Amadinejad as reelected President of Iran. In reality, France can hardly be condemned for doing what the entire world will do, and the Iranian regime was just as evil and undemocratic before the elections as it is afterwards. The only difference is that now it is impossible to deny it. Why was it justified to recognize a regime that took American diplomats hostage through "students" - that blew up American and other troops and personnel in Lebanon in the 80s through the Hezbollah in Lebanon? Why? Because that's the way the international system works.
    Ami Isseroff

    France Surrenders to Ahmadinejad   
    Friday, 17 July 2009

    Amil Imani
    When one mentions the country France, what instantly pops into the mind are its fabulous wine and cheese and a taste for romance. But that's not all she is known for. France is also known for capitulating to the enemy in times of crises. France has never been a reliable partner, the sort of Western country you can count on in time of need. Even though France has been part of NATO, she has deviated from the pact on numerous occasions. France habitually has been unpredictable, unreliable and at times, very unethical.
    In WWI 1914-1918, the German army pounded the French - without the rescue mission of Uncle Sam, French people would be speaking German now. The sore-winner imposed a very harsh "Treaty of Versailles" to 'punish' the Germans, only resulting in the rise of an unknown Austrian "thug" by the name of Hitler.
    Many French, for one, never seem to miss an opportunity to berate and betray us. In WWII, Germany bullied France into letting them take more territory – France did not even fight - they adopted a policy of 'appeasement'. In 1940, France surrenders before Germany.  No sooner were the Nazis defeated, than the Soviets Communists annexed some of the continent and prepared to swallow the rest. Again, it was this "military-lovin'" American nation that paid the lion's share of the bill to defend you against the Soviets' menace while you greedily made money and provided a comfortable life for yourselves under the shield of the American forces. The Americans and the allies liberated France from the hands of the Nazis in what is known as "D-Day."
    Former president of France, Jacques Chirac, was a close friend of Saddam Hussein for thirty years or so. Chirac allowed the sale of nuclear facilities to Iraq that were destroyed just in time by Israel before Saddam could use it against the Iranians or the Israelis. He sold Iraq the planes that been used to gas thousands of Kurds as well as Iranian soldiers.
    France's sense of anti-Semitism is not a secret. Even during Sarkozi's government, French Jews have no sense of physical safety. Jews still get mugged, simply for being Jews. Almost nobody pays attention to it. The Jews are not the only victims of France's identification with radical Islam. In many French cities with a growing radical Islamist population, no teenage girl can go out in the evening, at least not without an Islamic hejab. If she does, it translates to: "she is for everybody." 
    There are about six to seven million Muslims living in France, at least ten per cent of them are radical Islamists poised on the edge of violence. And these radical Muslims have allies on both ends of the Left and the Right. France should not be considered a Western country any longer; it is now the leader of the Arab-Muslim world. France is an Islamicized country and whether one agrees or not, her actions speak louder than any words.
    France stood up against the United States and other allies, protesting liberating Iraq from the hands of one of the twentieth century's bloodthirsty dictators, Saddam Hussein. It is especially ironic for a country that was liberated twice by the Americans; one would think they would understand the value of freedom and liberty. Siding with Saddam was unconscionable. Well, that's why France is France.
    "France is sometime called America's oldest friend because of the role it played in the American Revolution. But the history of that period is not a simple story about Lafayette's heroics and French aid at Yorktown. Here's an exclusive excerpt from the new book by NR's John J. Miller and his co-author Mark Molesky."
    Hilmi Dawood, a Kurdish journalist, both a French-speaker and a Francophile, is also harshly critical. "I was utterly shocked by France's opposition to the war because, even if nobody likes Bush, either in Europe or Iraq, the essential thing was to liberate us from Saddam," she said. "I could not understand France's position. Not to mention the aftermath of the war when Iraqis need help in the face of security concerns and misery, and France is nowhere to be seen."
    By now, everyone in the world knows that Iran's last month presidential election was rigged. (Let's keep in mind Iran does not have a free election). However, after a fiery month-long campaign and unprecedented passions and tensions, the mass rallies, polished campaign slogans, savvy Internet outreach and worldwide televised debates, which revealed rampant corruption, ineptitude, and illegal and criminal activities of all four candidates, on June 12, 2009, 45 million Iranians went to the polls, challenging not only the incumbent president, Ahmadinejad, but the entire establishment of the Islamic regime. Mr. Mousavi overwhelmingly won the election, but the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, declared his boy, Ahmadinejad, the winner.
    Millions of Iranians, (both by their votes and in the streets) loud and clear have declared the Islamic Republic is illegitimate. In return, Ali Khamenei, the self-styled, supreme leader and representative of "Allah" on earth, said that he would crush anyone who dares to rise against his chosen candidate, the psychopathic killer, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also known as "the Monkey" by the Iranians.
    The life that God gives, no man should extinguish. The illegitimate government of "Allah," presently ruling Iran, blatantly violates this sacred covenant and has been shooting at a large number of peaceful demonstrators who are demanding nothing more than their God-given right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 
    People who went to get their sons' and daughters' bodies observed hundreds of dead bodies of the demonstrators in a morgue, (who were missing for 30 days) in the southern part of Tehran.  At least 6000 protesters have been wounded.  The mullahs and their mercenaries are wasting precious human life to maintain themselves in power through terrorizing the population.
    Millions of Iranians have warned the world not to recognize the illegitimate handpicked puppet, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as Iran's president. They have called upon the free governments of the world, as well as all other businesses, organizations and individuals to enlist in a non-violent campaign of ending the reign of terror of the belligerent clerical regime in Iran. They want the world to declare and treat the clerical regime as illegitimate. Keep in mind that revolution has not stopped in Iran. It has persisted for the past 35 days, and it will not be stopped until there is a free election.
    In 1978, the French government betrayed the Iranian people by allowing the Ayatollah Khomeini to relocate to France. As protests against the Shah of Iran swept across Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini was living in a cozy house in the Parisian suburb of Neauphle-le-Chateau, engineering an Islamic revolution that would soon shake the world. Under the watchful eye of the French government, Khomeini met regularly with journalists and actively campaigned for the shah's overthrow. He distributed cassettes to Iran inciting against democracy, peace in the Middle East, the Jews and Israelis. In fact, when Pahlavi finally fled his country in 1979, Khomeini was provided with a chartered Air France flight to Tehran, where he presided over one of the world's most repressive regimes until his death in 1989.
    Once again, the ever-conniving French government today announced that it recognizes Ahmadinejad's re-election. France's FM, Kouchner said, "Since Ahmadinejad has been proclaimed president, it would be 'useless and counterproductive' for France alone to reject this," reports AFP.
    The Iranian people strongly condemn France's position on surrendering to Islamofascists in Iran who are holding peaceful Iranians as hostage. This is clearly against all norms of human dignity. With this recognition, there comes a price. They will be facing a severe boycott (unless France changes its statement) on all French goods and products by the Iranians, inside and outside the country, and hopefully by all decent human beings whose hearts were broken by the assassination of Neda, by the instruments of the supreme Islamic leader, Ali Khamenei.

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Israel Boycotts are illegal - European court

    Score one for "international legitimacy" and 0 for boycott Israel initiatives - boycotts of Israel are illegal discrimination in Europe.
    European court: Israel boycotts are unlawful discrimination
    Jul. 20, 2009
    Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST
    Israel finally won one last week in an international human rights court.
    On Thursday, the Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one's freedom of expression.
    The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, has some 47 member states and is independent of the European Union. The court is made up of one judge from each member state, and the rulings of the court carry moral weight throughout Europe.
    On Thursday the court ruled by a vote of 6-1 that the French court did not violate the freedom of expression of the Communist mayor of the small French town of Seclin, Jean-Claude Fernand Willem, who in October 2002 announced at a town hall meeting that he intended to call on the municipality to boycott Israeli products.
    Jews in the region filed a complaint with the public prosecutor, who decided to prosecute Willem for "provoking discrimination on national, racial and religious grounds." Willem was first acquitted by the Lille Criminal Court, but that decision was overturned on appeal in September 2003 and he was fined €1,000.
    His appeal to a higher French court was unsuccessful, and as a result he petitioned the European Court of Human rights in March 2005, saying his call for a boycott of Israeli products was part of a legitimate political debate, and that his freedom of expression had been violated.
    The court, made up of judges from Denmark, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Macedonia and the Czech Republic ruled that interference with the former mayor's freedom of expression was needed to protect the rights of Israeli producers.
    According to a statement issued by the court on Thursday, the court held the view that Willem was not convicted for his political opinions, "but for inciting the commission of a discriminatory, and therefore punishable, act. The Court further noted that, under French law, the applicant was not entitled to take the place of the governmental authorities by declaring an embargo on products from a foreign country, and moreover that the penalty imposed on him had been relatively moderate."
    The one dissenting opinion was written by the Czech judge.
    Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor hailed the ruling Sunday, saying it provided important ammunition for those challenging on legal grounds calls frequently heard in Europe for a boycott of Israeli products, as well as calls for a boycott of Israeli academia.
    "It is now clear that in every country in Europe there is a precedent for calling boycotts of Israeli goods a violation of the law," Palmor said. "This is an important precedent, one that says very clearly that boycott calls are discriminatory. We hope this will help us push back against all the calls for boycotts of Israeli goods."
    This article can also be read at

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Martin Amis: Wishful thinking on the end of the Mullahs

    A very optimistic view of events in Iran. 

    Martin Amis: The end of Iran's ayatollahs?
    In 1979, the return to Iran of an exiled cleric marked the start of the Islamic Republic. The death in June of Neda Soltan may herald the long-overdue fall of this moribund regime
    Martin Amis
    The Guardian, Friday 17 July 2009 
    The writer Jason Elliot called his recent and resonant Iranian travelogue Mirrors of the Unseen; and I am aware of the usual dangers associated with writing about the future. But what we seem to be witnessing in Iran is the first spasm of the death agony of the Islamic Republic. In this process, which will be very long and very ugly, Mir Hossein Mousavi is likely to play a lesser role than Neda Agha Soltan, whose transformation (from youth, hope, and beauty, in a matter of seconds, to muddy death) unforgettably crystallised the core Iranian idea – the Shia tragedy and passion – of martyrdom in the face of barbaric injustice. Neda Soltan personified something else, too: the modern.
    Elliot's title should again be borne in mind as we consider the June Events, which are open to two interpretations. Quite possibly, things are more or less as they appear: the results of a fraudulent election were presented to the people with indecent haste and laughable incompetence (with, in other words, implicit contempt for democracy); civil unrest was then followed by the application of state violence. Now consider. If, after the usual interval, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had soberly announced a 51% win for President Ahmadinejad, then Iran, and the world, might well have bowed its head and moved on. Just as possibly (the Islamic Republic being what it is), the landslide was rigged, and ostentatiously vaunted, to bring on the terror and the crackdown.
    In 1997, the regime felt confident enough to sanction the surprise victory of President Muhammad Khatami, who won by the same landslide margin of 69% in a joyous election that no one disputed. Khatami, a cleric, had nonetheless far stronger liberal credentials than the technocrat Mousavi (who, during the Iran-Iraq war, was well to the right of Khamenei). Lovingly hailed as "Ayatollah Gorbachev", Khatami was soon talking about the "thoughtful dialogue" he hoped to open with America. It seemed possible that international isolation, which so parches and de-oxygenates the Iranian air, was about to be eased.
    Everyone understood that this process would take time. In June 2001, Khatami was re-elected with a majority of 78%. Seven months later came George W Bush's "axis of evil" speech (one of the most destructive in American history), and the Tehran Spring was at an end. In truth, Bush was heaven-sent for the Iranian right; he blindly enhanced its regional power (with the adventurist, indeed experimental, war with Iraq), while remaining adequately "arrogant" (the most detested of all attributes in the Shia-Iranian sensorium). Now, the mullahs are aware that Barack Obama is far cannier than that. Had Mousavi won, Obama would have rewarded Iran, and in a way palpable to all Iranians. Such a "linkage" – liberalisation equals benefits – would have fatal consequences for the mullahs. The earth has already stirred beneath them, with the pro-western, anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian election in Lebanon. This, together with certain historical forces, explains the current confusion and hysteria of the armed clerisy.
    For the mullahs now know that they are afloat on an ocean of illegitimacy. The great hawsers of the revolution of 1978-79 are all either snapped or fraying. Of the four foundational narratives, three are myths: the "Islamic Revolution" was not an Islamic revolution; the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), which destroyed a generation, was not the "Imposed War", as it is still called; and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was not a great man (Khomeini, as every inquisitive Iranian has long understood, was a world-historical monster). Perhaps most importantly of all, for now, the fourth narrative, or thread (anti-Americanism – "Westoxication", in the old battle cry), has been severed by the person of Obama. The Islamic Republic is also doomed by modernity (in the form of instant communications) and by demographic destiny. Persia, one of the oldest nations on earth, is getting younger and younger.
    "In the history of the Iranian plateau," writes Sandra Mackey, in her stylish and magisterial classic, The Iranians: Persia, Islam, and the Soul of a Nation, "the sun has risen and set on nearly a million days." But before we come to the Iranian soul, and the million days, let us examine the Three Lies about the Islamic Republic.
    The 1979 revolution wasn't an Islamic revolution until it was over. In its origins, it was a full-spectrum mass movement, an avalanche of demonstrations and riots, and strikes so relentless that they blacked out the Peacock's palace; the military, moreover, was sustaining a thousand defections per day. The June Events of 2009 constitute a mere whisper of demurral when set against the deafening crescendo of 1978. The noise was not made for clerical rule; the noise was made because a decadent monarchy had lost the farr – the inherent aura of kingship.
    It is instructive to compare the Iranian revolution with the two Russian revolutions of 1917: the February revolution, a popular revolt, and the October revolution, a Leninist coup (with an impotent Provisional Government in the interim). Trotsky said that the Bolsheviks found power lying in the street and "picked it up like a feather". And then, of course, the really warm work began – against the Whites, against the Greens (the peasantry), against the trade unions, against the church, and so on, until every alternative centre of power (and opinion) was eradicated, down to and including any gathering of three.
    On 16 January 1979, Muhammad Reza Shah flew out of Tehran – to exile in Cairo. On 1 February, Ayatollah Khomeini flew into Tehran – from exile in Paris (where one of his more regrettable neighbours, I feel obliged to mention, was Brigitte Bardot). Thus the political revolution was over; now the cultural revolution began. The Provisional Government was successively eroded by the komitehs (mosque-based militias, later the Basij), by the Revolutionary Guards (later the Pasdaran, or the Iranian army), and by the revolutionary tribunals (which dealt out rough justice to survivors of the old regime, and various other undesirables). On 4 November, a group of pious students spontaneously infiltrated the US embassy and seized the 53 hostages. Khomeini manipulated this V-sign directed at the Great Satan to such effect that in the imminent referendum on the new constitution "99.5%" of a turnout of 17 million gave their blessing to Islamic autocracy.
    But there was still that "0.5" to deal with. And Khomeini faced vigorous opposition from almost every quarter – most formidably from the Mujahedin-e Khalq. Established a decade and a half earlier, in opposition to the Shah, the Mujahedin (Marxist, left-Islamic, and committed to women's rights) had half a million adherents and could field a guerrilla army of 100,000 experienced fighters. When Khomeini excluded them from the new political order as "un-Islamic", they turned to terror. In 1981, if you recall, the Mujahedin were blowing up mullahs by the dozen (74 in a single strike in Tehran); and they went on to assassinate more than a thousand government officials in the latter months of that year. What followed was terroristic civil strife. By September, Khomeini's Revolutionary Guards were executing 50 people a day for "waging war against God" (the same crime, and the same punishment, now being invoked by the clerics of 2009). Fired by a zeal both revolutionary and religious, the mullahs bloodily prevailed.
    Revolutions, almost by definition, are fiercely anti-clerical. As late as 1922, to take the fiercest possible example, Lenin executed 4,500 priests and monks, plus 3,500 nuns. Contrarian Iran, however, swam upstream. By December 1982, Khomeini had more or less secured the monopoly of violence, and the Iranian people found themselves living under the world's only revolutionary theocracy. The Islamic Republic was Islamic, now, but it was no longer a republic. Iranians have since enjoyed only a shadow of popular sovereignty; and by 1982, besides, they had something else to think about – the meatgrinding confrontation with Iraq.
    The Iran-Iraq war can rightly be thought of as the Imposed War, but only if we understand that the war was imposed by Khomeini. It tests the historical imagination to get a sense of the horrified dismay engendered, throughout the region, by the advent of the meshuga ayatollah. Stalin, after a while, was content with "socialism in one country". Khomeini, proclaimedly, wanted Shia theocracy in every country on earth. Throughout the course of the Iran-Iraq war, Khomeini put himself about elsewhere, with bombings, assassination attempts, and armed subversion, in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. In Mecca, the hajj became the scene of annual agitation; in 1987, a clash between Iranian militiamen and Saudi riot police left more than 400 dead.
    And Iraq? In 1979 Saddam Hussein reached out a trembling hand of friendship to the new Iran, and was clearly hoping for the continuation of the detente he had established with the Shah. Iran responded by resuming support for the separatist Kurds (suspended since 1975) and for the Shia underground; there were assassination attempts on the deputy premier and the minister of information, and the successful murder of at least 20 prominent officials in April 1980 alone. Khomeini, meanwhile, withdrew his ambassador from Baghdad; in September, Iran shelled the border cities of Khanaqin and Mandali.
    In The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988, Efraim Karsh lists in his chronology eight Iraqi offers of ceasefires, the first on 5 October 1980, 12 days after the war began, the last on 13 July 1988, five weeks before it ended. Khomeini's war aim was the theocratisation, or de-Satanisation, of Iraq; thus the war became a (failed) test of Islam, and devolved, in Mackey's words, into "a daily enactment of Shia themes of sacrifice, dispossession, and mourning". So: 12-year-olds were attacking Iraqi machine gun emplacements on bicycles, and 750,000 Iranians filled the multi-acre cemeteries, and perhaps twice that number were left crippled in body or mind. Eleven months later, Khomeini himself joined the fallen in the land of the dead.
    What remains, then, you might wonder, as you deplane at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, and enter a city where no cab-driver will stop for a cleric – what remains of the legacy bequeathed by the Father of the Revolution, or alternatively by "that fucking asshole", as he is reflexively called, in English, by the youth of the cities of Iran? Khomeini's notion of the Velayat-e Faqih, or rule by the vice-regent of God (ie, the top mullah, ie, Khomeini), was so unhistorical that many of its angriest opponents came from the clergy. Political participation, in Shia theology, is seen as a contaminant. And with good reason: that power corrupts is not a metaphor; and absolute power, combined with absolute self-righteousness, defined the insane nightmare of Khomeini's rule.
    His moral imbecilities provide a rich field. I will confine myself to two examples. After President Carter's "fiasco in the desert", the failed Entebbe raid of April 1980, Khomeini announced that God had personally thrown sand into the helicopters' engines, to protect the nation of Islam. To hear this kind of talk from an eight-year-old is one thing; to hear it from a bellicose head of state, on public radio, is another. The second example comes from Mackey (the time is 1981):
    A film run on government-controlled television showed a mother denouncing her son as a Marxist. The son, sobbing and grabbing for his mother's hand, desperately tries to convince her that he has given up Marxist politics. The mother rejects his pleas saying, "You must repent in front of God and you will be executed." The picture fades to Ayatollah Khomeini telling the people of Iran, "I want to see more mothers turning in their children with such courage without shedding a tear. This is what Islam is."
    Well, it may or may not be what Islam is. But it is not what Iranians are.
    * * *
    Iran is one of the most venerable civilisations on earth: it makes China look like an adolescent, and America look like a stripling. And its 2,500-year history is sliced almost exactly in two by the rise of Islam. Accordingly, the Iranian heart is bipolar, divided between Xerxes and Muhammad, between Persepolis and Qom, between the imperially sensuous (with its luxury and poetry) and the unsmilingly pious. You will, I think, acknowledge that dividedness when I tell you that the author of this quietly beautiful quatrain –
    I am a supplicant for a goblet of wine
    From the hand of a sweetheart.
    In whom can I confide this secret of mine,
    Where can I take this sorrow?
    – is the Ayatollah Khomeini.
    Not Ferdowsi, not Rumi, not Hafez, not Omar Khayyam: Khomeini. It is perhaps the most beguiling single feature of Iranian life that its people go on pilgrimages, not only to the shrines of their martyrs and imams, but also to the shrines of their poets. The Iranian-Persian soul resembles the goddess Proserpina in Ted Hughes's masterly Tales from Ovid –
    Proserpina, who divides her year
    Between her husband in hell, among spectres,
    And her mother on earth, among flowers.
    Her nature, too, is divided. One moment
    Gloomy as hell's king, but the next
    Bright as the sun's mass, bursting from clouds.
    In 1935, Iranians found themselves living in a different country – not Persia but Iran, the specifically pre-Islamic "land of the Arians". This was the work of Reza Shah (the army strongman who seized the throne in 1925). Reza Shah was a modernist and seculariser – Iran's Ataturk or Nasser. He was also a friend of Nazi Germany (and was deposed by the Allies in 1941). In 1976, Iranians found themselves living in a different millennium, not 1355 (dated from the time of the Prophet) but 2535 (dated from the time of Cyrus the Great). This was the work of Reza Shah's son. Installed by the coup of 1953 (the west's very grave historical crime, whose disastrous consequences are still with us), Muhammad Reza Shah was a "miserable wretch", as Khomeini rightly called him; but he was quite closely attuned to Iran's divided self. Reza Shah beat women who wore the veil; Khomeini beat women who didn't; Muhammad Reza Shah beat neither.
    After 1979, Iran was subjected to militant and breakneck re-Islamisation. The Zoroastrian era was declared to be jahiliyyah, a benighted slum of ignorance and idolatry, and a dire embarrassment to all good Muslims. In the mid-1990s, for example, the historian Jahangir Tafazoli was put to death simply because he was the best-known specialist on ancient Iran. We would call this "killing the messenger", and we would call the entire tendency "delusional denial". The 30-year suppression of the mixed Iranian soul – which says yes to freedom and tolerance, yes to love and life and art, yes to Islam, and yes to modernity – provided the energy and courage of the June Events, and entrained the hideous murder of Neda Soltan.
    * * *
    So now we have another four years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will be more purple-gummed with insecurity than ever, and another four years of troubled dreams about the Iranian bomb. I find that the one thing Ahmadinejad mandates, with full legitimacy, is a tone of ridicule – because it is impossible to write solemnly about the man who, among other absurdities, clinched the 2005 election by the simple feat of not having a Jacuzzi. And you needn't reread that sentence: the "Jacuzzi moment", or the no-Jacuzzi moment, when the candidate revealed that yes, he had no Jacuzzi, was widely credited with securing his majority. This was enough, apparently, to make him shine out in the smog of pelf and hypocrisy that passes for the Islamic Republic.
    The American politician whom Ahmadinejad most closely resembles – in one vital respect – is Ronald Reagan. General similarities, I agree, are hard to spot. Ahmadinejad doesn't live on a ranch with a former starlet. Reagan didn't have a degree in traffic control. Ahmadinejad doesn't use Grecian 2000 (as his rapidly greying hair triumphantly attests). Reagan, as a young man, wasn't involved in the murder of political adversaries. And so on. But what they have in common is this: both figures are denizens of that stormlit plain where end-time theology meets nuclear weapons.
    Now we can return, for a while, to dissimilarities. Ahmadinejad is not checked and balanced by democratic institutions. Reagan did not actually spend public money on civic preparations for the Second Coming, and was not the product of a culture saturated in ecstatic fantasies of morbid torment. Ahmadinejad does not have a temperament in which "simple-minded idealism" (in Eric Hobsbawm's formulation) might lead him to recognise "the sinister absurdity" of the arms race. And Reagan was not answerable to some millenarian vicar in the holy city of, say, Baltimore. Finally, whereas Reagan wielded enough firepower to kill everyone on earth several times over, Ahmadinejad does not yet have his Button.
    Jesus Christ, according to both presidents, is due very shortly, but in Ahmadinejad's vision the Nazarene will merely form a part of the entourage of a much grander personage – the Hidden Imam. Who is the Hidden Imam? In the year 873, the bloodline of the Prophet came to an end when Hasan al-Askari (in Shiism, the 11th legitimate imam) died without an heir. At this point, among the believers, a classic circularity took hold. It was assumed that there must be an heir; there was no record of his existence, they reasoned, because extraordinary efforts had been made to conceal it; and extraordinary efforts had been made because this little boy was an extraordinary imam – the Mahdi, in fact, or the Lord of Time.
    In Shia eschatology the Mahdi will return during a period of great tribulation (during, say, a nuclear war), will deliver the faithful from injustice and oppression, and will then supervise the Day of Judgment. Not only Ahmadinejad but members of his cabinet have been giving the Hidden Imam "about four years" – well within the president's second term. And where has the Hidden Imam dwelt since the ninth century? In "occultation", wherever that may be. The Hidden Imam is at least intelligibly called the Lord of Time: he is 1,100 years old.
    Rule number one: no theocracy can ever deploy nuclear arms. And Iran, we respectfully suggest, is not yet ready for the force that drives the sun. We all know what Ahmadinejad thinks of Israel (and we remember his Islamists' conference, or his goons' rodeo, in Tehran, on the historicity of the Holocaust). Yet this is what Ali Rafsanjani thinks of Israel – Rafsanjani, the old, much-jailed revolutionary chancer, a pragmatist and reformer, hugely worldly, hugely venal: "The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything", whereas a counterstrike on Iran will merely "harm" the Islamic world; "it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality". Indeed, given the Shia commitment to martyrdom, mutual assured destruction, as one Israeli official put it, "is not a deterrent. It's an incentive."
    Nuclear weapons, it seems, were sent down here to furnish mankind with a succession of excruciating dilemmas. Until recently the mullahs' quest for the H-bomb seemed partly containable: the nuclear powers could give face to Tehran, and begin to scale back their arsenals towards the zero option. But now those powers include North Korea (already the land of the living dead); and the Islamic Republic, in any case, no longer seems appeasable. Equipped with weapons of fission or fusion, the supreme leader may delegate first use to Hezbollah, or to the Call of Islam, or to the Legion of the Pure. Or he may himself become the first suicide bomber to be gauged in megatons.
    * * *
    Meanwhile, the memory of the June Events, and of Neda Soltan, will do its work, and add weight to the mass of unendurable humiliations meted out to the Iranian people. Meanwhile, too, the senescent regime (I again warily predict) will reach beyond crackdownism for the supposedly unifying effects of war. Not a war against someone its own size, or someone bigger. Tiny Bahrain, which is 60% Shia, looks about right.
    As for apocalyptic Islamism, in all its forms, I cannot improve on the great Norman Cohn. This is from the 1995 foreword to Warrant for Genocide (1967), where the subject is the Tsarist fabrication The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and what Jewry calls the Shoa, or the Wind of Death:
    "There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics [notably the lower clergy] for the benefit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility. And it occasionally happens that this underworld becomes a political power and changes the course of history."
    •Martin Amis's novel The Pregnant Widow will be published by Cape next February

    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Iranian girl prisoners systematically raped before execution

    The Iranian practice of raping girl prisoners before execution has been reported previously, but perhaps never with such clear documentation. "Progressives" who support this regime should keep it in mind. It is unlikely that there will be any investigation by the UN or a human rights group. 
    Ami Isseroff   

    'I wed Iranian girls before execution'

    Jul. 19, 2009
    SABINA AMIDI, Special to The Jerusalem Post , THE JERUSALEM POST

    In a shocking and unprecedented interview, directly exposing the inhumanity of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's religious regime in Iran, a serving member of the paramilitary Basiji militia has told this reporter of his role in suppressing opposition street protests in recent weeks.

    He has also detailed aspects of his earlier service in the force, including his enforced participation in the rape of young Iranian girls prior to their execution.

    The interview took place by telephone, and on condition of anonymity. It was arranged by a reliable source whose identity can also not be revealed.

    Founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 as a "people's militia," the volunteer Basiji force is subordinate to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and intensely loyal to Khomeini's successor, Khamenei.

    The Basiji member, who is married with children, spoke soon after his release by the Iranian authorities from detention. He had been held for the "crime" of having set free two Iranian teenagers - a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl - who had been arrested during the disturbances that have followed the disputed June presidential elections.

    "There have been many other police and members of the security forces arrested because they have shown leniency toward the protesters out on the streets, or released them from custody without consulting our superiors," he said.

    He pinned the blame for much of the most ruthless violence employed by the Iranian security apparatus against opposition protesters on what he called "imported security forces" - recruits, as young as 14 and 15, he said, who have been brought from small villages into the bigger cities where the protests have been centered.

    "Fourteen and 15-year old boys are given so much power, which I am sorry to say they have abused," he said. "These kids do anything they please - forcing people to empty out their wallets, taking whatever they want from stores without paying, and touching young women inappropriately. The girls are so frightened that they remain quiet and let them do what they want."

    These youngsters, and other "plainclothes vigilantes," were committing most of the crimes in the names of the regime, he said.

    Asked about his own role in the brutal crackdowns on the protesters, whether he had been beaten demonstrators and whether he regretted his actions, he answered evasively.

    "I did not attack any of the rioters - and even if I had, it is my duty to follow orders," he began. "I don't have any regrets," he went on, "except for when I worked as a prison guard during my adolescence."

    Explaining how he had come to join the volunteer Basiji forces, he said his mother had taken him to them.

    When he was 16, "my mother took me to a Basiji station and begged them to take me under their wing because I had no one and nothing foreseeable in my future. My father was martyred during the war in Iraq and she did not want me to get hooked on drugs and become a street thug. I had no choice," he said.

    He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."

    In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."

    "I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.

    Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"

    "Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

    "I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."

    Returning to the events of the last few weeks, and his decision to set free the two teenage detainees, he said he "honestly" did not know why he had released them, a decision that led to his own arrest, "but I think it was because they were so young. They looked like children and I knew what would happen to them if they weren't released."

    He said that while a man is deemed "responsible for his own actions at 13, for a woman it is 9," and that it was freeing the 15-year-old girl that "really got me in trouble.

    "I was not mistreated or really interrogated while being detained," he said. "I was put in a tiny room and left alone. It was hard being isolated, so I spent most of my time praying and thinking about my wife and kids."


    Continued (Permanent Link)

    Anti-Islamism crusader Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury gets yet another day in court

    The Bangladesh "justice" system has dragged out out the "case" against Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury for 5 years. There is no case in fact that could be tried in a civilized country. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been deaf to appeals on his behalf, possibly because he is pro-Israel. Salah's saga began when he was arrested for the crime of trying to travel to Israel, a minor offence. But sedition charges were added to make it a capital offence.

    Ami Isseroff

    Reporter faces death for pro-Israel view

    Jul. 19, 2009
    Haviv Rettig Gur , THE JERUSALEM POST

    Since 2003, Bangladeshi journalist and peace activist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury has been investigated by Bangladeshi authorities on charges of sedition, treason and insulting religious belief.

    Choudhury, 44, has spent years opposing Muslim extremism through his writings, especially the Weekly Blitz which he started in 2003. He has called for interfaith dialogue and for normalizing relations between Muslim countries and Israel.

    On Wednesday, Choudhury returns to court. He is accused of insulting Islam and harming the state's reputation abroad, charges which, when couched as "sedition," carry a possible death penalty.

    "According to my lawyers in Bangladesh, the government is determined to conclude the trial as soon as possible," he wrote in a public letter over the weekend. "No one knows what will be the verdict. But, of course, seeing the past track record, we cannot hold any hope for a good [result] because the court is not applying its judicial mind, but trying to appease the Islamists."

    Choudhury's newspaper offices were bombed on July 6, 2006, after he expressed public sympathy for the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.

    On October 5, he was attacked in his office by a mob that included prominent members of the then-ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which historically has aligned itself with Islamist parties in the country, who accused him of being an Israeli agent. He was badly beaten.

    Choudhury was the subject of US House Resolution 64 of March 13, 2007, which objected to continued "harassment and intimidation" and his incarceration in 2004 for 17 months without legal recourse, during which he was placed in solitary confinement and "suffered harsh interrogation techniques and received no treatment for a debilitating case of glaucoma," according to the resolution.

    The House resolution called for the Bangladeshi government to "immediately drop all pending charges against Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury… and take steps to protect Mr. Choudhury."

    It noted that the "US Commission on International Religious Freedom visited with Mr. Choudhury on their trip to Bangladesh in February and March 2006... and identified Mr. Choudhury as one of those voices that should not be silenced."

    Choudhury's case has been taken up by human rights groups and activists including Canadian human rights expert and MP Irwin Cotler, Dr. Richard L. Benkin - like Choudhury, an advisory board member of the Islam-Israel Fellowship - the Committee to Protect Journalists, the American Jewish Committee and Reporters Without Borders.

    This article can also be read at

    Continued (Permanent Link)

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