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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Report: Fatah conference to radicalize confrontation with Israel

Jerusalem Post reports that the Fatah movement is, in essence, about to tear up the Oslo peace process documents and radicalize their struggle. It seems it is responding to European threats (promises, from their point of view) to impose a solution and to increasing isolation of Israel by the Obama administration, both of which are seen as opportunities. At the same time, it is trying to bring Fatah policy to the point where it is competitive with Hamas. The report:

The Palestinian Fatah movement will attempt to bring its platform up to date during a conference next week in Bethlehem - the first such conference in 20 years - according to Saudi paper Al Wattan.
The paper, claiming to have obtained details of the draft of the proposed platform, reports that Fatah aims to strengthen its struggle against West Bank Jewish settlements, the security barrier and the "Judaization of Jerusalem," using civil opposition and "limited violent means."
The draft would also reject recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
However, the draft also includes new clauses intended to set in motion negotiations with Israel, which are currently frozen. It reportedly supports the establishment of a united democratic Palestinian state and supports the option of unilaterally announcing sovereignty within the pre 1967 Six Day War borders, in case negotiations fail the new policy would also call on the UN to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in case the sides get stuck in a situation where no progress can be made.
The Palestinian refugee issue would be solved "according to UN Resolution 194." The resolution, dating back to December 1948. The resolution's 11th clause states: "that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
The resolution was never clear on specifics and both Israel and the Palestinians highlight different parts of it as justification for their claims. It is not clear how Fatah would by its own power force Israel to accept and implement its interpretation of Resolution 194.
The draft of Fatah's revised platform would also "insist on setting up a new timetable for peace negotiations and halting of all settlement construction as a precondition of resuming negotiations."
The platform would also call to "open a strategic channel with Iran" and exert international pressure on all relevant countries to "prevent normalization with Israel so long as the occupation continues."

The Jerusalem Post could not verify the accuracy of Al Wattan's report.
The Israeli government needs to take this report seriously. Even if it does not reflect reality in total, it probably is based on someone's strategic thinking. Israel needs to be prepared for the eventuality that a very unfriendsly solution will be imposed upon it by a hostile UN. It is no longer a question of "United Jerusalem" or some hilltops in the West Bank.  Would Israel have the support of the United States government in standing against a one state solution or right of return for Palestinian refugees? That is not at all as certain as it used to be.
Ami Isseroff

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Media watchdog Just Journalism: British press biased in coverage of Gaza war

It's hard to believe someone would go to the trouble of further slanting "Breaking the Silence" testimonies against Israel, but it seems that is what BBC and the Independent did.
 Just Journalism says major British media sources misquoted IDF soldiers' testimonies on Gaza offensive.
A U.K. media watchdog has called into question ongoing British press coverage of the Gaza conflict in January, accusing prominent members of the mainstream media of biased reporting.
The organization Just Journalism claims that the BBC website and the Independent newspaper misquoted controversial testimonies from Israeli soldiers who were involved in the Gaza offensive. Both organizations reportedly truncated quotes from soldiers, thereby altering the impact and context of their comments.
Decisions such as these, the group says, "raise concerns about the handling of this source material and whether audiences are being provided with the full facts." The group defines itself as "an independent research organization focused on how Israel and Middle East issues are reported in the U.K. media."
The soldiers' testimonies, released in Israel by the organization Breaking the Silence, include allegations that Israeli troops ordered local Gaza residents to go first into houses believed to contain armed Palestinian fighters. This practice, known in Israel as "neighbor procedure," was banned by Israel's High Court in 2005.
The watchdog also claims that the British press charged Israel with committing war crimes in Gaza twice as frequently as similar accusations were levelled against Sri Lankan troops in a conflict taking place at the same time halfway around the world.
"Across the five daily broadsheets, war crimes allegations in relation to Israel were addressed twice as often as war crimes allegations in relation to Sri Lanka," says a report by the group.
Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27, 2008, in an effort to halt ongoing rocket fire on its southern communities. The Palestinians say that more than 1,100 people were killed in the three-week offensive, among them at least 500 women and children.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

TULIP - Linking Israeli and Palestinian workers

Dialog is supposed to work for everyone, no? Then how come the advocates of engagement have not hailed the launching of TULIP - Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine. Anyoone who wants peace between Israel and Palestine has to support this initiative. It's been around for a few months now.

Unions move to overturn Israel boycott

Paul Howes, Michael Leahy and Stuart Appelbaum | May 21, 2009
Article from:  The Australian
LAST month, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress became the latest in a series of unions to call for a boycott of Israeli products. Support for boycotting, divesting from and sanctions against the Jewish state appears to be growing by leaps and bounds.
It has already won considerable support from trade unions in South Africa, Ireland, Britain and Norway. It seems unstoppable. But we intend to stop it.
TULIP - Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine - is a new global movement that believes in engaging with workers and their unions in Israel and Palestine, promoting co-operation and reconciliation.
We do not believe in boycotts, divestment and sanctions. We believe in peace and in a two-state solution to the conflict.
Our new global movement seeks allies in unions and non-governmental organisations everywhere who want to work together to demand respect for all Palestinians, Israelis and guest workers living in that region.
We believe we can take significant strides towards peace and reconciliation if we support those striving to improve the living standards of all working people in the region.
There are outstanding examples of co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian unions that need to be encouraged. For example, there's a remarkable initiative launched by the International Transport Workers Federation to make life much easier for Palestinian drivers.
This has been a small but ground-breaking union agreement encouraging dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli national trade union centres, as well as individual unions and their members on both sides of the divide. This agreement will help improve the livelihoods of hard-working union truckers and their families.
As we write this the ITF is organising to move this important project to a higher level with the co-operation of the Israel trade union congress Histadrut and the Palestinian transport workers union.
This model is a firm rejection of those in trade unions promoting an Israel boycott movement.
This model upholds the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind: bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and conciliation. It is a trade union tradition and role that we are particularly proud to uphold.
We also applaud the role of the International Trade Union Confederation, which has helped to broker co-operation agreements between the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.
It is unfortunate that in recent years a number of national unions and trade union centres have changed course and abandoned that role.
Instead, they have rallied behind those Palestinians who are opposed to the peace process. Some have gone so far as to deny Israel's right to exist and attacked the Histadrut.
In doing so, in backing the Hamas terrorists who deny Israel's right to exist, they have thrown their support behind Iran's power play in the region. And the Iranian regime is no friend of the trade union movement. Iran - and its Hamas puppets - have a long record of suppressing trade unions and human rights.
Those who support the boycott of Israel actually do nothing to promote peace, justice and reconciliation: in fact, they harm those who want to end the political hegemony of the extremists on both sides.
The boycott stance provides succour to the extremists in Israel and Palestine who refuse to accept the humanity of the other, who refuse to respect the right of all workers in the region to be able to build decent lives for themselves and their families in a peaceful, just and democratic climate.
In recent weeks and months a number of unions have called for boycotts and sanctions directed exclusively against Israel.
They are attempting to demonise the Jewish state, to deny it legitimacy, and to whip up hatred against it. Sometimes that hatred spills over into anti-Semitism.
Those unions are terribly wrong.
We believe the time has come for trade unionists across the world to join forces in support of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace with justice, based on a two-state solution with secure and recognised borders.
There are already unions and associated NGOs in a number of countries that support this goal. But they are fighting this battle alone, each in their own country. It is time we united our forces.
Today we are publicly launching this new global movement, TULIP.
At the moment, the opponents of a two-state solution are on the offensive, working hard to promote their destructive agenda of boycotts and sanctions targeting Israel. It's time for trade unionists in all countries to go on the offensive, to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hezbollah in the labour movement.
We have no illusions that this will be anything other than a long and difficult process. But we also know that we have no choice.
We cannot abandon the field to those whose goal is the destruction of any chance for a real Israeli-Palestinian peace.
We welcome trade unionists from all countries to join us.
Paul Howes is national secretary of the Australian Workers Union; Michael J. Leahy is general secretary of Britain's Community union; and Stuart Appelbaum is president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, representing workers in the US and Canada.
The solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is clear – and has been accepted in principle by both sides.  Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side, within secure and recognised borders, is the only workable solution to a conflict that has dragged on for decades.

Israel has already taken a number of steps towards this goal, most notably by agreeing to the Oslo Accords in 1993 and later by the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon and Gaza.  Palestinian moderates lead by Mahmoud Abbas support this process.

People of goodwill everywhere want a process to succeed delivering peace, justice and reconciliation.   Trade unions can play a positive role here, and often do.

The International Transport Workers Federation, for example, has done much to bridge the gap between transport workers unions in Israel and Palestine and to reach ground-breaking agreements.  The International Trade Union Confederation has encouraged dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian national trade union centres.  And individual unions in a number of countries have invited Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists to their conferences, helping to promote discussion and agreement.

This is the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind – bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and reconciliation.  It is a role we can be proud of.

And yet in recent years, a number of national unions and trade union centres have changed course and abandoned that role.  Instead, they have rallied behind those Palestinians who are opposed to the peace process.  Some have gone so far as to deny Israel's right to exist.

A number of those unions have called for boycotts and sanctions directed against Israel, and only against Israel.  They are attempting to demonise the Jewish state, to deny it legitimacy, and to whip up hatred against it.  Sometimes that hatred even spills over into anti-Semitism.

Those unions are wrong – terribly wrong.

We believe that the time has come for trade unionists around the world to join forces in support of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace with justice, based on a two-state solution with secure and recognised borders.

There are already unions and associated NGOs in a number of countries which support this goal.  But they are fighting this battle alone, each in their own country.  It is time we united our forces.

We are calling for the formation of a new global movement – TULIP, Trade Union Linking Israel and Palestine.

TULIP aims to do the following:

1. Unite those groups – unions and NGOs – which are already fighting within the labour movement against the boycott of Israel and for genuine peace, justice and reconciliation.
2. Produce a multilingual global website, print publications, and provide information and opportunities to begin the process of turning back the tide and encouraging unions to play a constructive role in the peace process.
3. Work together with Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and associated NGOs to find ways to provide practical on-the-ground assistance — rather than empty slogans.

At the moment, the opponents of a two-state solution are on the offensive, working hard to promote their destructive agenda of boycotts and sanctions targetting Israel.

It's time for trade unionists in all countries to go on the offensive ourselves, to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hizbollah in the labour movement.

We have no illusions that this will be anything other than a long and difficult process.  But we also know that we have no choice.  We cannot abandon the field to those whose goal is the destruction of any chance for a real Israeli-Palestinian peace.

We welcome trade unionists from all countries to join us.


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U.S. lays out Iran plan for Israel

The basic plan is escalating sanctions. By the time the Iranians have nuked Tel Aviv, the first of these sanctions, denying Iranians the opportunity to import cloth to make hijabs, might be in place. On the other hand, if the cloth comes from China or Russia, we're out of luck, and Iran will still be able to import this strategic material.
"In case of nuclear attack, bend down, put your head between your legs, and kiss your behind good bye."
Ami Isseroff
U.S. briefs Israel on new Iran nuke sanctions
By Barak Ravid
American officials briefed Israel this week on the administration's ideas for intensifying sanctions against Iran if it fails to respond to President Barack Obama's offer of dialogue.
U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones, who is now in Israel to discuss Iran's nuclear program, indicated that Tehran has until the UN General Assembly in the last week of September to respond. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivered a similar message during his visit here earlier this week. If no satisfactory answer is received, the Americans said, they would work to form an international coalition to impose harsh sanctions on Iran.
A senior source in Jerusalem said the American message to Israel in these talks was to "lower its profile" and refrain from "ranting and raving" about Iran in public until the international evaluation on Iran takes place at the end of September. "Until that date, we must give diplomacy a chance," the official said.
New sanctions would mainly aim to significantly curb Tehran's ability to import refined petroleum products. Despite its huge crude oil reserves, Iran has only limited refining capacity, so it imports large quantities of refined products such as gasoline.
Jones and his team reported that a bill by Senator Joe Lieberman to curb sales of refined oil products to Iran is almost complete, and 67 senators have already signed it.
The Americans are proposing financial sanctions such as banning insurance on trade deals with Tehran, which would make it difficult for Iran to trade with other countries. They also want to impose sanctions on any company that trades with Iran and use this to pressure other countries, mainly in Asia, to resist making deals with Iran.
In the next stage, the Americans will consider even harsher sanctions, such as banning Iranian ships from docking in Western ports and, as a next step, banning Iranian airplanes from landing in Western airports.
The talks were held Wednesday and Thursday. The Israeli team was headed by National Security Advisor Uzi Arad and included Mossad head Meir Dagan, Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Shaul Horev, and other defense and Foreign Ministry officials.
Jones and his team - including the president's special advisor Dennis Ross, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, and Gary Seymour, the White House official in charge of arms control and nonproliferation, who is a close friend of Arad's - also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
On Tuesday night, when Jones arrived, Arad held a reception for him at the David's Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.
Jones and his team presented the ideas that the administration is forging, together with France, Britain and Germany, on imposing additional sanctions on Iran via the UN Security Council if the dialogue fails. The Americans are also discussing this issue with Russia, which at this stage objects to further sanctions.
China, which has numerous interests in Iran, also objects to further sanctions. Jones told the Israelis that Obama will therefore go to China soon to try to enlist Beijing to join the coalition.

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Israeli allies fly with U.S. forces at Red Flag

Routine, or an air mail message to someone? The F-16i Sufa is equipped with conformal and wing fuel tanks that increase its flight radius by up to 70%.  Estimates of range differ:
There are conflicting reports concerning the F-16I combat radius, but the most reliable source reports a combat radius of 2,100 km, on par with the F-15I. The Israeli military would not disclose the exact range of the jet, but one senior air force officer said, "it can reach the capitals of all the countries in the region." One report says that "it has an 820 km non-refueling radius of operation, sufficient to reach both Libya and Iran" -- but a glance at a map reveals that 820 kilometers from Israel is short of Baghdad, and far short of the 1,500 kilometers need to reach Tehran. One report suggest that the F-16I has an unrefueled combat strike radius of 1,640 kilometers without refueling. Another report relates that the external fuel capacity in conformal fuel tanks increases the aircraft range to 800 miles (1,500 km). One published reports states that the external fuel tanks above the central fuselage, extend the range of the jet and the reach of the Israeli air force by 25 percent.
Ami Isseroff

Posted 7/22/2009   Updated 7/22/2009

by 2nd Lt. Emily Chilson
Red Flag Public Affairs
7/22/2009 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Flying at home station is necessary for training, but flying with other units, especially an allied unit like the Israeli Air Force, results in valuable experience and preparation for the fight.
A squadron of F-16Is from Ramon Air Base, Israel, is one of the nine units participating in Red Flag 09-4 through July 24 in Las Vegas.
Red Flag exercises present a unique experience for U.S. and allied units to fly together against red air, or 'enemy' aircraft provided by the Aggressor Squadrons at Nellis Air Force Base, in a realistic combat environment.
The Israeli Air Force's "Bats" squadron is made up of the F-16-I Storm, a multi-role, two-seater fighter jet capable of low flying, strike and offensive counter air.
Captain Gilad, a 25-year-old IAF pilot and Tel Aviv, Israel, native, experienced Red Flag for the first time this week.
"So far Red Flag has answered my expectations," he said. "It's very interesting. We can learn a lot from each other. We're learning new tactics and flight techniques, but there are a lot of similarities too."
Red Flag is an optimal venue for pilots from U.S. and allied units around the world to work together in a combat environment. The IAF pilots bring new procedures or methods for U.S. pilots, while the IAF pilots also learn from their U.S. counterparts.
"The reason anyone comes to Red Flag is to learn how to fight together," said Maj. Kate Lowe, Red Flag Air Boss. "So Just like U.S. forces from different squadrons or sister services come together to participate, we bring in allied forces to get to know both their fighting capabilities as well as the people themselves."
Israeli Air Force pilots speak to one another in Hebrew, and while language has the potential to be an obstacle, it's practically a non-issue at Red Flag.
"Language barriers are always a challenge, but their English is way better than my Hebrew," Major Lowe said.
It's not so much the language itself, as it is the technical terminology used in mission planning and briefings in the Red Flag building.
"Most of us know pretty good English," Captain Gilad said, referring to his comrades. "But it's the different acronyms, and aviation talk that is sometimes challenging."
When it comes to skill, Captain Gilad and his fellow IAF pilots came prepared for any challenge Red Flag 09-4 threw at them. The only thing new, he said, is the terrain, the base and training rules - which are a bit different from those in the IAF, but not too much.
For example, IAF F-16I pilots are allowed to coast at 100 feet off the ground, while U.S. F-16s have to stay at 500 feet unless they're strafing, a term related to ground attack.
"We learn a lot from U.S. pilots, like daily routines and how to give organized briefings, but flying here is one of the main goals that we want to experience," he said. "Flying in unknown terrain - it's very different than flying in our homeland where we know every rock and every corner."
Coming from a country that's only about 300 miles in length by 30 miles in width, Captain Gilad isn't kidding when he says he knows every rock and corner. And while the terrain presents the IAF with new challenges, the heat of Las Vegas, he said, isn't so much of a problem.
Another plus Red Flag offers U.S. and Israeli pilots alike, is the scale of the flying missions. Unlike home station flying, Red Flag missions encompass many different types of aircraft flying Large Force Employments, or LFEs.
"We do a lot more basics training in Israel," Captain Gilad said. "Flying here is more mission-oriented."
When he's in Israel, Captain Gilad serves in two squadrons. One squadron is operational, where pilots are on alert, and ready to respond to emergencies or threats. In the other squadron, he's an instructor pilot, teaching other pilots about combat - especially dogfights. Although his military commitment is up, Captain Gilad chooses to remain in the IAF.
"In Israel everyone has to be in the military," he said. "By testing, they choose if you go in the army, navy or air force."
Captain Gilad attended the Israeli Flight Academy for three years, but it took two additional years of training before he became operational, or ready to fight. Although the IAF is not involved in a fight right now, earlier this year, he fought in the Gaza Strip conflict.

"We have to be very cautious because it's so close to home," he said. "We attack very strategically. But right now it's mainly homeland defense and protecting our citizens."
Like the U.S., Israel recognizes the diplomatic and strategic need to maintain allied relationships.
"We have a great relationship with the U.S. Air Force," Capt Gilad said. "A relationship we want to keep and make better."
And the Air Force recognizes that America's strategic partnerships are more important than ever. Red Flag is vital in fostering and maintaining those relationships, capitalizing on the global community of like-minded Airmen while enhancing interoperability between allies and partners like Israel.
"It's not only the mentality and the way the U.S. and Israeli air forces approach planning and executing tactics, but also our systems," Major Lowe said. "Are our radios compatible? Are our weapons compatible? Can we hear each other? Better to know it now than when the bombs are dropping."
This may be Captain Gilad's first Red Flag, but it won't necessarily be his last. The IAF, according to Captain Gilad, tries to send pilots of all ages and experience levels to Red Flag.
"We could find ourselves here again," he said. "We always send someone who's been here before for better guidance. Coming to Red Flag is a big privilege, and everybody wants to come because it's very good experience for us."

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gush Shalom plans to fight tax exempt status of USA donations to Israel

Gush Shalom is starting by targeting  tax exemption for organizations that specialize in support for settlements. However, the intent is well beyond settlements. Gush Shalom is an anti-Zionist organization, and is going to fulfill the wet dream of every U.S. anti-Zionist and anti-Semite: to end tax exemption for all groups that support Israel:
Gush Shalom said that in the second stage of the campaign, it will focus on the financing mechanisms of mainstream organizations such as... the Jewish National Fund and the World Zionist Organization, which are also active in the West Bank.
Of course, the IDF is also "active in the West Bank" so it will no longer be possible to contribute to the IDF. In fact, almost any money that is given to Israel can be shown to be somehow connected with settlement activities, and that includes money to help support absorption of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants (some of them may settle in the West Bank) money to support universities (some of the students may come from the West Bank) and money to support hospitals like Hadassah (some of the patients come from the West Bank). Virtually every Israeli charily is "active in the West Bank."
Jul. 30, 2009

The left-wing organization Gush Shalom is launching a campaign against organizations soliciting donations in the United States, particularly those receiving US federal tax exemptions for settlements and illegal outposts, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The timing of the campaign has been stepped up from September to August because the Foreign Ministry recently launched its own campaign to block governments of foreign countries from donating money to human rights organizations in Israel.

One of the organizations singled out by Gush Shalom is called "Shuva Israel," which describes itself as "a US non-profit organization with 501c3 IRS tax deductible status."

The organization solicits money for a long list of West Bank settlements and illegal outposts including Havat Gilad and Havat Ya'ir, which are on the list of outposts Israel has promised the US to dismantle.

According to Gush Shalom, which refused to comment on this report, "while the public launch of the campaign, through publication of the first reports and legal actions, was originally planned for September of this year, recent events have prompted us to accelerate the timetable.

"The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Avigdor Lieberman, in a grossly undemocratic move and in close coordination with a number of purportedly independent organizations such as NGO Monitor, has decided to actively target the operations of Israeli human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories by pressuring the government of friendly nations to cease critical financial support for them."

According to Gush Shalom, in criticizing the Dutch embassy in Israel for giving a grant of almost €20,000 to Breaking the Silence for its controversial report on alleged IDF human rights and war crime violations during Operation Cast Lead, the government acknowledged that the organization's actions were legal and legitimate but allegedly said they were politically incorrect.

On the other hand, "many of the activities of the organizations targeted by our campaign are illegitimate and/or illegal under international, US and EU law." In the first phase of its campaign, Gush Shalom will pressure the US to halt tax exemptions to Israeli organizations and NGOs which "directly and openly support the development and operation of illegal outposts.

The organization referred to Shuva Israel as one of them. While it has an address in Austin, Texas, the organization is located in the West Bank settlement of Revava.

Asked about the Gush Shalom campaign, David Halevy, the head of Shuva Israel, said, "This is incredibly outrageous. They have the gall to do this after receiving so many millions of dollars from foreign governments supporting left-wing organizations that influence activity in Israel."

He said the money collected is used to subsidize schools, libraries, youth activity, women empowerment training and other projects in the settlements and outposts. Asked how much money his group collects per year, Halevy replied, "I wish we collected more than we do. If we could get 10 percent of what these left-wing organizations receive, we could do a great deal."

Gush Shalom said that in the second stage of the campaign, it will focus on the financing mechanisms of mainstream organizations such as Nefesh B'Nefesh, Christian Zionist philanthropies, the Jewish National Fund and the World Zionist Organization, which are also active in the West Bank.

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Strange omission: Obama fails to name anti-Semitism envoy

It seems that the Obama administration has failed to name an envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism around the world as mandated by US law since the previous ambassador was relieved of his duties at the start of the president's term. 
Failure to name a new envoy raises questions about the importance the Obama administration attaches to the fight against anti-Semitism, especially since the Democrats had fought to establish the post, which the Bush administration did not want.
throughout Europe, and when even the streets of Washington are not untouched by anti-Semitism's violent potential, that is the wrong message to send."
A White House spokesman referred queries to the State Department. A State Department official said  that upon the inauguration of a new president, ambassadors from the previous administration tender their resignations. Actually, we knew that.
The official said that as with all Ambassadorial and other senior positions, there is an appointment process, which is ongoing, that includes the president nominating a candidate followed by Senate confirmation.
Must be part of the "get tough on Israel" policy, right?

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Washington Post: Obama's get tough on Israel policy wrong

The Washingon Post explains why the Obama administration blundered in putting unilateral pressure on Israel for a settlement freeze.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
ONE OF THE MORE striking results of the Obama administration's first six months is that only one country has worse relations with the United States than it did in January: Israel. The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma. But for nearly three months it has been locked in a public confrontation with Israel over Jewish housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank. To a less visible extent, the two governments also have differed over policy toward Iran.
This week a parade of senior U.S. officials has been visiting Jerusalem to tackle the issues: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell, national security adviser James L. Jones and senior aide Dennis Ross. But the tensions persist, and public opinion is following: The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported last week that Israel was the only country among 25 surveyed where the public's image of the United States was getting worse rather than better.
In part the trouble was unavoidable: Taking office with a commitment to pursuing Middle East peace, Mr. Obama faced a new, right-wing Israeli government whose prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has refused to accept the goal of Palestinian statehood. In part it was tactical: By making plain his disagreements with Mr. Netanyahu on statehood and Jewish settlements, Mr. Obama hoped to force an Israeli retreat while building credibility with Arab governments -- two advances that he arguably needs to set the stage for a serious peace process.
But the administration also is guilty of missteps. Rather than pocketing Mr. Netanyahu's initial concessions -- he gave a speech on Palestinian statehood and suggested parameters for curtailing settlements accepted by previous U.S. administrations -- Mr. Obama chose to insist on an absolutist demand for a settlement "freeze." Palestinian and Arab leaders who had accepted previous compromises immediately hardened their positions; they also balked at delivering the "confidence-building" concessions to Israel that the administration seeks. Israeli public opinion, which normally leans against the settler movement, has rallied behind Mr. Netanyahu. And Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which were active during the Bush administration's final year, have yet to resume.
U.S. and Israeli officials are working on a compromise that would allow Israel to complete some housing now under construction while freezing new starts for a defined period. Arab states would be expected to take steps in return. Such a deal will expose Mr. Obama to criticism in the Arab world -- a public relations hit that he could have avoided had he not escalated the settlements dispute in the first place. At worst, the president may find himself diminished among both Israelis and Arabs before discussions even begin on the issues on which U.S. clout is most needed. If he is to be effective in brokering a peace deal, Mr. Obama will need to show both sides that they can trust him -- and he must be tough on more than one country.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Haim Harari on Obama administration policies: View from the Bazaar

The bottom line in Haim Harari's evaluation, reproduced in full below is his incisive commentary on Obama's strange policies in the Middle East:
...President Obama already visited Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and more than a dozen other countries, while pointedly avoiding Israel, and you see a consistent pattern, visible to anyone in the Middle East: "If you are a friend of the United States, expect to be abandoned. If you are a foe, expect to be courted"....
 At the time of this writing, if you are declared by the United States to be a terrorist organization, or if you fund such organizations or openly host their headquarters, prepare for an offensive of roses from the Obama administration. If you are an ally, prepare for daily leaked headlines about your conflicts and disagreements with the Obama administration. Any street vendor in a Middle Eastern bazaar knows how to read these signals. His merchandise is then priced accordingly.
It is not exactly true. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey are not foes of the United States. But it is true that the Obama administration, in its initial efforts in the Middle East, seemed to have signaled that it is "open season" on Israel. On the other hand, Iran and Syria, which certainly are foes of the United States, have been smothered with a lot of honeyed attention.
Ami Isseroff
View from the Bazaar

Haim Harari
July 2009
The Arab Nations of the Middle East and other Muslim countries in the region may not be leading the world in science, technology or human rights, but they are certainly far ahead of the Americans and Europeans in the art of bargaining and they can detect a knife aimed at somebody's back, faster than anyone else. Everyone in the Middle Eastern bazaar is now carefully watching the Obama administration and its signals. Lebanon, Iran and Egypt were the scenes of three baffling messages. "Does he mean what he says?" ask the street vendors.
Lebanon is in the midst of a dramatic battle between pro-western groups and the Iranian funded and Syrian supported Hizbullah terrorist army. The former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, was clearly murdered by elements of the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis, while futile international attempts to personally identify the culprits continue endlessly. The only hope for the more enlightened Lebanese, currently led by Mr. Hariri's son, is the support, moral and other, of the West. In the midst of a hotly contested election campaign in Lebanon, when the results are hanging in the balance and Syria plays its usual negative role, the Obama administration finds the "right moment" to return the American ambassador to Damascus. The ambassador was recalled earlier, as a result of the Syrian involvement in numerous acts of terror in the region, including Hariri's murder. The act of sending him back was a sharp knife thrust deep into the back of the young Mr. Hariri. The Obama administration may not have intended to achieve such a result, but everyone in the Middle East, friends and foes of America alike, noticed its significance.
The Shiite majority in Iraq rightfully hopes to rule the country, after the American withdrawal. Their biggest fear is Iran, a powerful neighbor who fought Iraq for years, meddles in its affairs now, and would clearly like to dominate it and control it. There are small, but powerful, Iranian supported Shiite groups in Iraq, just waiting for the American retreat. They will then undoubtedly try, with substantial military and financial Iranian support, to take over Iraq. The Iraqi army was dismantled by the US and the preliminary attempts to retrain it are in an embryonic stage. The secular Iraqi Shiite majority has been watching carefully, with great expectations, the popular revolt and the street demonstrations in Iran, a first serious challenge to the Ayatollahs regime. The fact that the Obama administration avoided taking a stand, regarding the events in Iran, sent a clear chilling message to the Iraqis, essentially saying: "When you fight the Iranian stooges, after the American withdrawal, no one is going to help you". This is a devastating message, sent at the wrong time, in the wrong way, probably without intending to do so. It also demoralized the Iranian opposition. The Obama administration could not have done much for them, but statements of sympathy, support and encouragement could have gone a long way. When you are a lonely street fighter against all odds, a powerful distant supporter is precious, even if he provides only words. This is especially true in a region of the world where words often replace reality. The American lack of comment was not lost on both Iraqis and Iranians. The Gulf States must have also been alerted to the implications, in view of Iran's explicit overtures to control Bahrain and its less overt attempts to undermine other Gulf States.
Obama's famous Cairo speech to the Arab world included several courageous statements. But he stumbled badly when, after discussing the Holocaust and denouncing its denial, he proceeded immediately to say that the Palestinians have "also" suffered. The fact is correct. They indeed suffer, predominantly thanks to their own Arab brothers, their own deeds and the U.N. which keeps them in refugee camps for three generations, while they continue to demand the destruction of Israel. These issues may be debated endlessly. What cannot be debated is the absolute insensitive comparison. One can logically and factually state that "The Atlantic Ocean is full of water. My bath tub is also full of water". But these two correct sentences, put together, create an absurd combination. Comparing the sufferings of the Palestinians to the sufferings of the Germans, who remained devastated as a result of the war which they started and lost, might perhaps be appropriate, although not politically wise. But comparing the biggest crime in human history to a conflict which, by the standards of the Muslim world, led to moderate casualties, sufferings and displaced persons, is an exact analog to our grotesque "ocean and bath" statement. In 100 years of the Arab Israeli conflict, including 10 rounds of bitter fighting, the number of Palestinian war casualties is one hundred times (!) smaller than the number of Jews intentionally murdered by the Nazis in a short period. More Egyptians were killed in these wars than Palestinians, but Egypt made peace with Israel while the Palestinian-Hizbullah axis still attempted terror attacks within Egypt, just before Obama's speech. The total number of all Palestinian refugees in a century is smaller than the number of Pakistani refugees caused by Islamic terror in the last few months alone. The damage suffered by the Palestinians in all these wars, is much smaller than the sufferings of Iraqis in the long war with Iran, and we did not even mention Darfur. One can argue back and forth about the Palestinians, but to imply that their suffering is somehow rated higher than that of Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Sudanese, Afghanis and Israelis is ludicrous. The inappropriately coupled twin statements of President Obama about the Holocaust and ("also") about Palestinian suffering, sent a clear signal of incitement to the radical Arab world and an extremely insensitive message to the Jewish world.   
Add to the above three items the simple fact that President Obama already visited Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and more than a dozen other countries, while pointedly avoiding Israel, and you see a consistent pattern, visible to anyone in the Middle East: "If you are a friend of the United States, expect to be abandoned. If you are a foe, expect to be courted". 
It is difficult to tell whether these moves are deliberate or they result from pure incompetence. In either case they will backfire. If the deliberate purpose is appeasement of terrorists and their supporters, at the expense of regional allies, it will only increase the appetite of the terrorists, who will not stop short of trying to destroy all friends of the West in the area. Israel can defend itself, but free Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain may not be able to do so. At some point, the appeasement will need to stop and the hatred to the US will grow stronger than ever, this time mixed with contempt. If this array of events is caused by sheer inexperience and incompetence, it is time for President Obama to start rethinking and listening. Praying is not enough.
At the time of this writing, if you are declared by the United States to be a terrorist organization, or if you fund such organizations or openly host their headquarters, prepare for an offensive of roses from the Obama administration. If you are an ally, prepare for daily leaked headlines about your conflicts and disagreements with the Obama administration. Any street vendor in a Middle Eastern bazaar knows how to read these signals. His merchandise is then priced accordingly.

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The right road to Middle East peace?

The Obama administrations' peace intitiative has, according to this report, moved off in a more positive and promising direction. Concessions by Israel will require concessions or at least some movement by Arab countries. If Israel is smart, they will put the Arabs on the defensive by offering meaningful concessions, conditional on specific Arab steps toward peace - meaningful steps such as ending the boycott, recognition of the right of the Jewish people to self determination and above all, an end to support for the Hamas which comes from Arab states as well as Iran and to support for Hezbollah by Syria and Lebanon.
Last update - 03:21 29/07/2009    
By Nathan Guttman 

WASHINGTON - Freezing the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank was once seen as a unilateral Israeli obligation. But the Obama administration is now treating this as part of a package that will require concessions from Arab states as well.
An intensified and more public focus on this idea appears to be one of the byproducts of U.S. President Barack Obama's July 13 pledge to American Jewish communal representatives to address perceptions that he is pressuring only Israel.
So far, the Arabs have been resistant. Still, in the wake of Obama's White House meeting with the Jewish delegation, Israeli, American and Arab leaders have, to varying degrees, shifted their rhetoric in ways that reflect acceptance of a new principle of reciprocity.

"The Americans now understand that if they get anything from us on the settlement issue, it will only be in the broader context of some kind of Arab return," said an Israeli diplomat, echoing other similar comments from Israeli officials recently. The official added that talks between U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have focused on components of a two-sided deal that will include both a settlement freeze and reciprocal steps by Arab countries.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to confirm this in a policy speech two days after Obama's White House meeting with the Jewish representatives.
"Progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States - or Israel - alone," Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations. "Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel's place in the region."
A U.S. State Department official told the Forward that steps by the Arab parties were fundamental to Mitchell's mission.
"Special envoy Mitchell continues to engage in constructive conversations with all parties, including Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, on steps they could take to help create a climate in which to re-launch negotiations," he said.
At least some Arab parties to the peace process also now appear to accept this.
"The price we pay will depend on what kind of a deal we get on the settlement issue," said an Arab diplomat in response to questions about Israel's stand. "In return for a symbolic compromise on the settlements, some Arab states will be willing to pay with some symbolic gestures."
But so far, the Obama administration appears stymied in its efforts to obtain a commitment to new concessions toward Israel by Arab states, even in the event of an Israeli commitment - nonexistent up to now, even conditionally - to a settlement freeze.
The administration has been frustrated in particular in its quest for flexibility from Saudi Arabia. According to experts and diplomats, tensions between Washington and Riyadh were building even prior to Obama's meeting with Jewish leaders, as a result of a June 3 meeting between Obama and King Abdullah in the Saudi capital. The meeting ended with a clear disagreement over the issue of Israel.
"Why should the king of Saudi Arabia, who is the leader of the Muslim world and the imam of his Muslim community, give something of this nature to the Israelis for free?" asked Jamal Khashoggi, editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan. "This is a new idea that was probably developed by Israel's friends in Washington."
Khashoggi said the Saudi monarch believes his 2002 peace initiative, supported by the entire Arab League, already offered concessions and showed the kingdom's wish for peace.
Israel never responded to the Saudi initiative. But in her speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton said that embracing the 2002 Arab peace plan is not enough, and that concrete initial steps are needed now.
The initiative, which Obama has cited as a helpful basis for discussion, commits the Arab world to an official peace agreement with Israel and normalized relations with it if Israel withdraws to its pre-1967 borders, accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state and resolves the issue of Palestinian refugees in accordance with United Nations resolutions.
Those U.N. resolutions, however, appear to require the refugees' return to homes in present-day Israel, constituting one of Israel's principal objections to the proposal.
No handshakes or visas
America's request for signs of normalization with Israel is now focused on symbolic steps. According to Arab and American diplomatic sources, Washington is now asking for the reopening of commercial interest offices of Oman, Qatar and Morocco in Israel and for permission for Israeli commercial airliners to fly over Gulf states, shortening flights from Israel to East Asia by several hours. Public overtures, such as a handshake with Israeli leaders, or providing tourist visas to Israelis seeking to visit Arab countries, are not on the table now, said an Arab diplomat with close knowledge of the talks. The diplomat stressed that such public gestures are viewed as being at the top of the scale of normalization and therefore will be kept for the final phase of the peace process.
"The Arab consensus is that normalization is the last card they have to play," the diplomat said.
Prior to the emerging emphasis on reciprocity, Israel's obligation to freeze the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank was understood to be an independent requirement of the so-called road map for Middle East peace. The 2002 road map, forged by the Bush administration with international partners, required Israel to "immediately" dismantle settlement outposts that even Israel classifies as unauthorized, and to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth.
The road map also requires the Palestinians to take concrete steps to halt terrorism and violence. But this, too, appears as an independent obligation, untied to any action by Israel...

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Mitchell lauds Israeli moves, but doesn't say if Jerusalem is a "settlement"

George Mitchell better not hold his breath until Arab states take any positive steps toward peace with Israel.
The "firm" and "unbreakable" commitment to Israel that Mr. Mitchell mentions is worthless as long as the United States will not recognize even one millimeter of earth in East or West Jerusalem alike as being under Israeli sovereingty.
Ami Isseroff
Mitchell lauds Israel's W. Bank steps
Jul. 27, 2009
Greer fay cashman, ap and staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
There has been movement on Israel's part to accommodate the Palestinians and this should be recognized, George Mitchell, America's special envoy to the Middle East said on Monday in Jerusalem.
Mitchell was speaking at Beit Hanassi prior to embarking on a working meeting with President Shimon Peres. "Israel has taken meaningful steps in the West Bank," said Mitchell, alluding to the dismantling of 25 checkpoints, thereby allowing the Palestinians greater freedom of movement and easier accessibility to various destinations.
Referring to his visits with other leaders in the region, Mitchell said that he had conveyed the message that steps must now be taken by Arab States to fulfill the promise of the Arab peace initiative.
Mindful that not all Israelis are happy about the tenor of US involvement in the peace process, Mitchell assured Peres that "the American commitment to Israel is firm, unshakable and will not change."
Any disagreements, he noted, were in the nature of "discussions among friends and not disputes among adversaries."
Mitchell emphasized that the US and Israel have a common purpose in their desire for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East with full normalization of relations between Israel and all the states in the region.
Anticipating the day when there would be "a state of Palestine" Mitchell envisaged that it would prove to be "a responsible neighbor to Israel."
However, he also told Peres that Israel could improve the climate now by "dealing with difficult issues like settlements and outposts."
Peres observed that there had been significant changes since Mitchell's previous visit, the most noteworthy being the declaration of a two-state solution by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"Some people think it's a step forward, but from Israel's point of view it's a leap forward - it's a major change" asserted Peres.
Contrary to much of public opinion in Israel, Peres expressed satisfaction with US involvement and that of other countries for the benefit of the Palestinians. "It looks like a concert that's playing well," he said.
With regard to Iran, Peres hinted that something revolutionary was in the air. Some thirty years ago he recalled, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, led a revolution against the Shah and now there seems to be a revolution against the current rule. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former mayor of Teheran, did not win the vote there in the recent national elections, Peres noted.
"Change is beginning," he said.
As for the Syrians, Peres welcomed Mitchell's positive report of his talks there but insisted that if the Syrians are genuinely interested in peace then they must engage in direct talks with Israel.
On the Palestinian issue, Peres cautioned Mitchell not to have any expectations prior to the Fatah Convention scheduled for August 4.
In recent weeks, Peres has several times expressed appreciation for the positions taken by Egypt and Jordan, and did so again in his conversation with Mitchell, stating that the positions of Egypt and Jordan were encouraging.
He was also favorably disposed to the Saudi initiative, but made the point that although the Saudis had been good on declarations, in order to gain credibility "they have to take steps to make those declarations meaningful in the eyes of skeptics."
Peres remained adamant that with the all the goodwill in the world directed towards the attainment of overall peace in the region, there should be no pre-conditions, no linkage "because linkage means giving a veto to one of the parties."
In discussions with US Security Coordinator for the Palestinian Authority and Israel General Keith Dayton, Peres said, Dayton had estimated that the Palestinians should be capable of self government by 2011.
Peres understood that US President Barack Obama has his own agenda calling for new facts on the ground at a somewhat quicker pace. But speaking with the hindsight of experience, Peres told Mitchell: "You need patience."
In talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier in the day, meanwhile, Mitchell said that Washington was not asking any Arab country to immediately achieve full normalization with Israel, but said this will come during the peace process.
This normalization, he noted, "will come further down the road in the process."
The envoy said he plans to meet many Arab leaders "to encourage them to take genuine steps toward normalization" of ties with Israel. He also asked Palestinians to "refrain" from "words or actions that might make meaningful and productive negotiations impossible."
Arab League chief Amr Moussa said after meeting with Mitchell "the Arabs will not take any step of normalization as a sacrifice for Israel."
"There will be no Arab steps before Israel stops its policy of settlement building," he said.
This article can also be read at

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Is Achmad a happy camper? He is reenacting the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit, thanks for your generosity

This is how the Palestinians are ready to comply with roadmap strictures against incitement. Who paid for those camp supplies brought in by UNRWA and who pays for UNRWA? Why you do. This is your American tax money at work.
Gaza campers stage 'Schalit abduction'
Jul. 27, 2009
Children in Hamas summer camps reenacted the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in the presence of top Hamas officials, according to pictures obtained by The Jerusalem Post.
According to Israeli defense officials, more than 120,000 Palestinian children are spending the summer in Hamas-run camps. In addition to religious studies, the children undergo semi-military training with toy guns.
At a recent summer camp graduation ceremony, the children put on a show reenacting the June 2006 abduction of Schalit. Present was Osama Mazini, a senior Hamas political leader, who is in charge of the Schalit negotiations with Israel on behalf of the terrorist group.
In one picture, obtained by the Post, Mazini is seen standing next to Ahmad Bahar, the acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, distributing Korans to camp counselors.
"This sends a message," one Israeli defense official said, regarding Mazini's participation at the ceremony. "This is Hamas's way of showing Palestinian children that kidnapping soldiers is the correct way of life."
In contrast to the Hamas summer camps, the United Nations has been running summer games throughout the Gaza Strip for 240,000 children. These games, run by UNRWA, are being held at over 150 locations. The participants are mostly between the ages of six and 15 and engage in sports, arts and crafts, swimming and other cultural activities.
Last week, senior Hamas official Dr. Younes al-Istal told Al-Arabiya TV the UNRWA summer camps were part of a plan to corrupt the younger generation and prepare it for normalization with Israel.
Ahead of the summer, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories allowed UNRWA to transfer truckloads of camp equipment - including inflatable swimming pools, toys, spray paint and musical instruments - into the Gaza Strip.

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Naim Ateek: An Anglican priest disgraces authentic Christianity

Naim Ateek and his Sabeel group are leaders in Christian Israel bashing efforts of mainline Protestant churches in the USA. Ateek and Sabell do not believe in a two state solution and is therefore sabotaging the peace process. If they were Jews with the same ideas, they would be called "ultranationalist" and obstacles to peace. But their one state solution is an Arab state in which the Jews will have no right to self determination. For what reason are they given a platform to legitimize their noxious views at countless churches in the USA?

In his article
e Anglican priest disgraces authentic Christianity, Dexter Van Zile asks what type of god inheres in the so-called peacemaking ministry of Anglican Priest Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, notes that Naim Ateek is drumming up support for his latest book, A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation (Orbis, 2008), in which he falsely accuses Israel of perpetrating a "slow and creeping genocide" against Palestinians — who have one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

Ateek has long been a fixture at "Christian" events of a certain kind. The book gives him an excuse to peddle a vile that repeats Christian anti-Semitic accusations and repackages them as
"theology." As Van Zile points out:

Apparently, leveling false accusations at the Jewish people and their homeland is not enough to get one barred from polite society in 21st century America.
He concludes:

The story Naim Ateek tells about the Arab-Israeli conflict, cloaked as it is in the language of Christian peacemaking, attests to the existence of a deaf, dumb and blind god who would use Muslim and Arab violence against Israel as a scourge against the Jewish people.

Such a god is not worthy of worship.

Ami Isseroff

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Eight US Congress members enter Gaza Strip

Eight US Congress members enter Gaza Strip
Published today (updated) 27/07/2009 15:23

Gaza – Ma'an – A delegation of eight US congressmen and women entered the
Gaza Strip on Monday morning through the Erez crossing point between Israel
and the northern Gaza Strip.

The head of the de facto governmental committee for hosting delegations,
Hamdi Sha'ath, confirmed that the group had entered.

Sha'ath asserted that the delegation would visit destroyed buildings in the
Strip and meet the director of UN operations in Gaza, John Ging, before they

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Why does Britain ignore antisemitism?

Why does Britain ignore antisemitism?
In today's Britain, to be against antisemitism is to invite scorn – despite the rising number of attacks on British Jews
Denis MacShane, Saturday 25 July 2009 11.00 BST
Here is a non-story. There were more than 600 attacks on British Jews in the first six months of the year. This is twice as many as the same period in 2008. Most consisted of verbal abuse – frightening enough for elderly Jews or Jewish schoolchildren – but 77 of the attacks were violent, including an attempt to kill a Jew by running him over.
So far, no British paper has reported this increase in antisemitic attacks. Why? There are six to seven times as many Muslims as Jews in Britain. If since January there had been – scaled up proportionately – 2,000 attacks on British Muslims, it would make headlines everywhere. Those whose language and discourse created an atmosphere that denied British Muslims their right to a peaceful life under law would be the object of investigation – journalistic and intellectual – and put under pressure.
But, in today's Britain, to be anti-antisemitic is to invite scorn, as if no problem existed. Those arguing that a broad antisemitic discourse is sadly not something of the past and is relevant today find themselves more likely to be criticised in the national media than those who promote language that belittles Jews.
Last year, two men, Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle, were convicted by a jury in Leeds crown court of posting violent anti-Jewish hate on the net and sending a pamphlet entitled "Tales of the Holohoax" to a synagogue and Jews. They jumped bail and fled to the US expecting that the American tradition of free speech enshrined in the first amendment to the American constitution would protect them. But a Los Angeles court decided to respect British law and extradited the two men. They are now serving prison sentences.
This story combines the problem of British Jew-hate and the currently tricky question of extradition. Yet, other than the estimable Yorkshire Post, this tale of rank antisemitism received no news coverage.
So the news blackout on the rise in antisemitic attacks this year comes as no surprise. Instead, there is a convoluted discussion on this site and in the Jewish Chronicle about an intellectually challenging essay discussing whether comparing Israeli Jews to Nazi killers is acceptable.
I think it is not. Criticism of Israel is not only healthy but necessary. Just read Ha'aretz or any number of Israeli writers and activists. But the portrayal of Israeli Jews as SS Nazis which is widespread in the cartoons published in the Arab press is not an attack on Israel as a state but an attempt to dehumanise its Jewish citizens – and Jews everywhere. There is a rich vocabulary of abuse, invective and denuniciation that can be used to attack Israel. But in using Nazi imagery the crudeness of the antisemitism is obvious.
Moreover, it is utterly counter-productive making those Jews critical of Israeli behaviour feel under attack as reason and normal political discourse go out the window. President Obama and Hilary Clinton are making major efforts to solve the Middle East conflict by asking Israel to make concessions. Their task is made much harder by, first, those who carry out antisemitic attacks without press exposure and condemnation. Second, by those who pretend that antisemitism is not a major problem with a range of state backers as well as ideological justification for positions hostile to Jews from the BNP or the Polish politician Michal Kaminski, who is a political group leader in the European parliament. Third, by those who think, like Silvio Berlusconi, that branding political opponents as Nazi camp guards is acceptable political insult.
Like Voltaire, I will defend the right to say what is wrong save where it leads to violence and hate against my fellow citizens for being what they cannot change. To call Jews Nazis is wrong. I think it is antisemitic. Others may disagree. But attacks on British Jews are a 21st-century reality and that should worry us. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

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The false cult of St Rachel Corrie of Gaza - Exposed

Rachel Corrie was an activist in the the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement. She died in Gaza when an Israeli bulldozer ran over her, apparently accidentally. She gave her life for the cause of the Hamas, which is genocide of the Jewish people and in defense of terrorism. Corrie has been turned into a plastic saint of the hate Israel movement and a cult object. A play and a movie have been produced that falsify the record and portray Corrie as the innocent victim of Zionist imperialism, killed intentionally while trying to stop the crimes of the evil Zionists. Perhaps a shrine will be erected in her name, and a pilgrimage instituted in Gaza. 
Regrettably, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival chose not only to present the film, but to invite Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother, to talk about the martyrdom of her daughter. This was inevitably going to attract the sort of audience who applauds the name of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and that's who showed up there. Of course, anyone has a right to express their opinions, but there is no reason to stage an anti-Semitic event at a Jewish Film Festival.
What next at Jewish Film Festivals? "The Eternal Jew" with commentary by David Duke? Too bad that none of the Jewish charities that fund the festival, some of whom protested the showing of the film, were willing to remove their support from the film festival organization. Jews shouldn't be financing their own destruction. It is also hard to believe that the meek and mild Friends Service Committee - the Quakers - have become involved with a cult that supports and justifies terrorism. They sent squads of people to cheer on the cause of the blessed martyr St. Rachel of Gaza.
Dr. Michael Harris of SF Voice for Israel led a grass roots protest against the decision to show the film and let Cindy Corrie speak. As a result he was invited to talk before the film, and amidst catcalls, jeers and maniacal laughter, managed to present a more balanced picture of the circumstances surrounding the "martyrdom" of "saint" Corrie, the patron saint of anti-ZIonists and terrorists. Here is one impression of the audience reaction. In his address, Harris reminded the audience that Israel has many real martyrs, totally innocent people who were murdered by terrorist attacks that intentionally targeted civilians. He reminded them that the attacks had killed about a thousand Israelis, and that the IDF was in Gaza to prevent the proliferation of weapons smuggling tunnels. Rachel Corrie and ISM was there to defend the terrorists. ISM founder George N. Rishmawi explained that the only way to call attention to his movement was to get one of its activists killed. Rachel Corrie was chosen as the "righteous victim," by fate or design.   
Is this film coming to a neighborhood theater near you? Know the facts, protest the film. Get the truth out and help expunge the vile cult of St. Rachel Corrie. Below is a part of Dr. Harris's account.  You can find the rest of it, including  a complete transcript of his address,  at his BlueTruth Web log.
Ami Isseroff
SF Jewish Film Festival Audience Jeers Pro-Israel Speaker but Cheers for Ahmedinejad
DrMike [Michael Harris MD]  

The controversy about the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's invitation to Cindy Corrie hit a fever pitch this week. An editorial in "j", our local community newspaper, endorsed the same opinion previously expressed here. In addition, the president of the SFJFF board resigned and two prominent local foundations issued a stinging criticism of the Film Festival's decision to invite Mrs. Corrie.

But things were to get even more interesting. I was personally invited by Peter Stein, the executive director of the SFJFF, to make a brief statement prior to the film to discuss why many of us objected to this program. While I knew that this would be a hostile audience, I didn't anticipate objections from many dedicated activists within the pro-Israel community who felt that this would let the Film Festival off the hook by allowing them to claim that they had "balanced" the program. However, StandWithUs fully supported this appearance, realizing that this was a unique opportunity to present our viewpoint, even knowing that the majority of the audience would be hostile.

And everything that happened yesterday was exactly as anticipated. Not only had the event's co-sponsors, Jewish Voice for Peace and American Friends Service Committee, send out appeals to their members to show up in force, but Cindy Corrie herself sent out a similar e-mail. So the crowd's reaction was no surprise, and you can see it for yourself here.

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This was their funniest hour: Palestinian teens stage bogus IDF raid

An absurdity out of "That 70s show." or "Seinfeld."
Only the most humorless fanatics will not appreciate this. If the Israeli Palestinian conflict lasts for a  thousand years, men  may  still say, "This was their funniest hour."
PA: Palestinian teens disguised as Israelis staged 'army raid'
Published yesterday (updated) 26/07/2009 20:45

Bethlehem – Ma'an – It appeared to be a routine army raid when Israeli soldiers invaded the West Bank village of Marah Rabah, ordering a curfew and
bursting into private homes late on Friday night.

Residents quickly discovered, however, that the "soldiers" were in fact five teenage Palestinian boys disguised in Israeli army uniforms.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces were then summoned to the village on the outskirts of Bethlehem to arrest the boys.

The Bethlehem Police Department said in a statement that the boys are between 15 and 17 years old and are residents of various unspecified Bethlehem-area towns.

Witnesses in the village said the boys tried to impose a curfew on the Thaher Ath-Thur neighborhood. The teens also broke into at least one house and "searched" it, they said.

Local residents managed to surround the troublemakers and block their escape before the police arrived.

PA intelligence services have opened an investigation into the incident.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Palestine Nakba 1948: Who created it?

Even more important than who is responsible for the Palestine Nakba - the Palestinian refugee problem, is the question of who is perpetuating it. Who is it that has refused to find new homes, for the last 61 years, for this unique population of "refugees," the only refugee community to persis for three generations? Who opposes breaking up the refugee camps and sending the refugees to permanent homes?  
Arab leaders are responsible for refugee problem 
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
July 23, 2009  
"The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: 'Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem].' And we said to ourselves, 'That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!' That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by." [PATV, July 7, 2009]

With these words an Arab resident of a refugee camp recounts the reason why his family left Israel in 1948, in an interview broadcast on PA TV this month.
In recent years, Palestinian leaders, writers and refugees have spoken out in the Palestinian media, blaming the Arab leadership for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. According to these accounts, and contrary to the Palestinian myth that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were deported by Israel in 1948, the vast majority of the Arab exodus from Israel was voluntary, and the result of orders by the Arab leadership.
Furthermore, the fact that this information has been openly discussed by public figures and refugees in the Palestinian Authority media itself suggests that awareness of this responsibility may be widespread - even though Palestinian leaders continue to blame Israel for "the expulsion" for propaganda purposes.
The following statements in the PA media shed significant light on the events of 1948 and counter the attempts by the Palestinian Authority to hide this part of history.
Click here to view the Palestinian testimonies
1. Arab resident of refugee camp:
"This picture was taken a week before we left Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem] in June 1948, in front of our house. The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: 'Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem.' And we said to ourselves, 'That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!' That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by."
[PATV, July 7, 2009]
2. Jawad Al-Bashiti, Palestinian journalist in Jordan:
"Remind me of one real cause from all the factors that have caused the 'Palestinian Catastrophe' [the establishment of Israel and the creation of the refugee problem], and I will remind you that it still exists... The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our Catastrophes today.
During the Little Catastrophe, meaning the Palestinian Catastrophe, the following happened: the first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the 'Arab Salvation Army' came and told the Palestinians: 'We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission (destroy Israel) in the best way and so you won't be hurt.' It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states (against Israel) was a big illusion. The Arabs fought as if intending to cause the 'Palestinian Catastrophe'."
[Al-Ayyam, May 13, 2008]
3. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Palestinian journalist in PA official daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:
"The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the 'Catastrophe' in 1948 that the duration of the exile would not be long, and that it would not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees would return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those "Orkubian" promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events..."
[The term "Orkubian" invokes Orkub, a figure from Arab tradition who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies.]
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 13, 2006]
4. Asmaa Jabir Balasimah, woman who fled Israel in 1948:
"We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the 'Catastrophe' [1948]. They [Arab leaders] told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [those who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours."
[Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006]
5. Ibrahim Sarsur, Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel:
An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father, saying that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Ibrahim Sarsur, now Arab Member of Israeli Parliament Knesset, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed those Arab leaders, thus acknowledging Israel's historical record.
Viewer: "Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]: I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the 'Catastrophe' [in 1948], our District Officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon - southern Israel] is a traitor, he is a traitor."
Ibrahim Sarsur, now MK, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel: "The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day."
[PA TV April 30, 1999]
6. Fuad Abu Hajla, senior Palestinian journalist:
Fuad Abu Hajla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, criticizing Arab leaders. One of the failures he cited, in the name of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders had "forced" them to leave Israel in 1948.
"I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab summit:
To the [Arab and Muslim] Kings and Presidents: Poverty is killing us, the symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians... So what will your summit do now?"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 19, 2001]

Continued (Permanent Link)

Documentary about Sderot Children planned

Let's hope this film gets made and proves to be a worthy competitor with films like "Rachel" and "Jenin Jenin."
Sderot Children Featured in First-Ever International Feature Film

By  • Anav Silverman  Thu Jul 23 2009 06:47:29
Sderot Media Center to make feature documentary with acclaimed US television executive
The first-ever feature length film about Sderot's trauma children is currently underway. Sderot Media Center's Noam Bedein has teamed up with acclaimed US Producer and Director Liane Thompson to create Missile City Kids, a film featuring the trauma-stricken children of Sderot following years of rocket fire.
Missile City Kids is a non-political project about children suffering from the terror-related post traumatic stress disorder that has engulfed the civilian population of Sderot, Israel. Sderot, an Israeli city located less than a mile away from Gaza, has been subject to 10,000 missile attacks in the past eight years.
Studies have revealed that 70-94% of Sderot's children suffer from PTSD. Many Sderot children find support at the local resilience center but due to budget cuts, the center will soon shut down.
"We want to use the power of a good film to create global awareness about terror-related PTSD in children worldwide," Liane Thompson told Sderot Media Center.
Thompson has received three-time Prime Time Emmy nominations and a public awareness award from the American Medical Association for her work as an executive producer on the #1 television program Trauma: Life in the ER. As an executive with New York Times Television, the TV unit of The New York Times, Thompson has delivered over 130 hours of programming to US broadcasters such as Viacom's Showtime Network, The National Geographic Channel, Discovery Communication, Inc., Discover Health, The Food Network and more.
Independently, Thompson created the anti-terror technology program, Outsmarting Terror, which aired to millions worldwide on National Geographic Television. "Outsmarting Terror was about how we fight terrorism, but as terrorism becomes a part of our daily psyche, Missile City Kids will focus on the psychological ramifications of living in a terror stricken world," said Thompson.
Many Sderot children find support at the local resilience center but due to budget cuts, the center will soon shut down. "We want to use the power of a good film to create global awareness about terror-related PTSD in children worldwide"
Missile City Kids will follow the lives of several children, portraying their day to day struggle with psychological trauma and the impact of rocket fire on their families. However, primary filming has yet to begin. The project is in the development stage seeking an executive producer or financial backing from an angel investor or donator. The producers have secured some company sponsorships including who has given the filmmakers a US toll free number to help with fund-raising (1-877-801-6099) and PLYmedia who has offered various language subtitling and other products once the film is complete.
Film completion is still a long ways off as raising money for a documentary is proving difficult in these hard economic times. But Thompson remains optimistic that potential investors will see the film's value as a product that not only creates worldwide awareness but also generates an economic return.
SMC's director Noam Bedein said that it was a pleasure to work with a professional like Thompson. "We just launched fund-raising efforts last month at the social media Twitter 140 Conference and at the US-Israeli Executive Summit held in New York City."
The Sderot Media Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising worldwide awareness to the plight of Sderot residents. SMC's mission is to convey the "human face behind the headlines" via the arts and media.
"We hope that Missile City Kids will bring the Sderot reality a little closer to home and shed some light to the devastating impact that rocket terror has had on the children of Sderot and the Negev," said Bedein.
Thompson plans to expand the project to other countries where children suffer from war related post trauma.
"While we are focusing on Sderot at the moment, we hope to get the budget to ultimately take the project global to include children suffering from PTSD from other countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and more," Thompson added. "This is a worldwide problem."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Activism - Help stop anti-Israel crusade at the Daily Planet.

Vile advertisements, anti-Semitic letters and anti-Israel articles at the Berkeley Daily Planet have inspired the petition below. Please join us in asking the Berkeley Daily Planet to change its ways - especially if you live in California. Sign the petition, blog about it and forward it.

We abhor the deliberate and willful publication of anti-Semitic and other hateful rhetoric and screeds by the Berkeley Daily Planet.

We stand with the free speech rights of those who would criticize the Berkeley Daily Planet for its obsessive and one-sided campaign against the State of Israel.

We join these people in insisting that the publisher and editor of the Daily Planet display integrity and responsibility to ensure that their pages are devoid of irresponsible misstatements of facts whose sole malicious intent is to besmirch Jews at large, the State of Israel, and individual citizens who decry the Daily Planet's practices.

We would like this petition to register a major show of public intolerance of the normalization and mainstreaming of extreme anti-Zionist rhetoric in local media.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Obama administration evidently understands it went too far: Jerusalem is not a settlement

The Obama administration may have begun to understand that it has gone too far with its pressure on Israel for a settlement freeze, and particularly, its insistence that Jerusalem is a "Settlement."
From the Israeli point of view, if Jerusalem is a "settlement" then Tel Aviv can also be considered an ("illegal") settlement, and the erosion of Israeli legitimacy has begun.
A black flag waving may have been the statement by Alan Solow and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Jewish organizations. Both are considered at least moderate, and Solow is a friend and backer of Obama. In the past, Malcolm Hoenlein was targetted by right wing Zionists for displaying what they considered insufficient zeal in the cause. Opposition by Solow and Hoenlein may have caused the administeration to reconsider. Here is the statement:


New York, July 21, 2009 … The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.  As such, we believe that legal construction by residents of the city should be allowed as long as it is in keeping with the standards and requirements of the municipality and the national government.  We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities. The area in question houses major Israeli governmental agencies, including the national police headquarters. The United States has in the past and recently raised objections to the removal of illegal structures built by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem even though they were built in violation of zoning and other requirements often on usurped land. In addition to the Jewish housing, the project called for apartment units for Arabs as well. 

It is particularly significant that the structure in question formerly was the house of the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseni who spent the war years in Berlin as a close ally of Hitler, aiding and abetting the Nazi extermination of Jews.  He was also linked to the 1929 massacre in Hebron and other acts of incitement that resulted in deaths and destruction in what was then Palestine. There has been an expressed desire by some Palestinians to preserve the building as a tribute to Husseini.

As a united city, Jerusalem's Jewish and Arab residents should be permitted to reside wherever legal and security requirements allow.  Hundreds of Arab families have moved into Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the same right should be accorded to Jewish residents in live where they choose in Jerusalem. To do otherwise would undermine and prejudge the status of the city.

No government of Israel has or can pursue a discriminatory policy that would prevent the legitimate presence of Jews in any area of its capital.

Debkafiles maintains that the US is trying to turn down the heat on Israel. This is borne out by reports that George Mitchell has moderated his tone and is downplaying the US-Israel rift. .  

Continued (Permanent Link)

Why Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives fail?

So near, yet so far! The elusive goal of peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors has become the alchemic quest of the twenty-first century. Is there a resolution, or is the game set up so that there can never be a resolution?
Two articles explore the issues:
Solutions may or may not suggest themsleves.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Clinton changes tune on Iran - again

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose earlier remarks seemed to indicate that the US would acquiesce in Iranian nuclear weapons development and follow a policy of containment, now seems to have changed her tune once again, insisting that the United States would not "let it happen."
July 26, 2009
JEURSALEM (JTA) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States is committed to protect Israel from an Iranian nuclear threat.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, the U.S. secretary of state told host David Gregory that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is "futile" and reiterated American support for the Jewish state.
"We are not going to let it happen," she said of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, adding that the Islamic Republic does have a right to develop nuclear power for civilian use.
"We have a long, durable relationship with Israel," she said. "We believe strongly that Israel's security must be protected."
Clinton said the diplomatic route to stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons is preferable. Other international powers are behind the effort, she added. 
"We will continue to work with all of our allies, most particularly Israel, to determine the best way forward to prevent Iran from being a nuclear weapons state," Clinton said.
Clinton said the several senior Obama administration officials visiting Israel this week are there to "brief the Israelis" and "to listen to the Israelis."

Continued (Permanent Link)

British plan: Enlist Hamas in its own destruction

The Mad Hatter is evidently running the British parliament. According to this VOA report:
British lawmakers have released a report urging the government to talk with moderates in the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The British Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said the current policy of not talking to Hamas is achieving little.
The report published Sunday reinforces a recommendation the committee made two years ago....
.. the British committee says the peace process the Quartet is seeking in order to undercut Hamas will be difficult to achieve without greater cooperation from Hamas itself.

"Look here all old chap. We've come to see you about your cooperation in undercutting yourself and putting your movement out of business. Surely you'll be agreeable to that." Does anyone see a problem with that idea? Why then, "Off with their heads!" said the red queen.
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

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