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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Syrian official newspaper takes credit for Iraq bombings

Rather interesting that Syria more or less admits responsibility for bombings in Iraq.

MEMRI September 4, 2009
No. 2519

Following August 19 Baghdad Bombings, Syrian Daily Teshreen Warns Obama: The Syria-Iran Alliance, Which Is Cultivating the Resistance, Has Won a Great Victory– And Will Not Wait Until Hesitant Obama Reaches a Decision

In an August 22, 2009 article in the Syrian government daily Teshreen, Nasser Qandil, a former Lebanese MP who is close to Syria, wrote that some in Washington were acting to worsen the security situation in Iraq. Their aim, he said, is to extend the U.S. military presence in the country, which will harm U.S. President Barack Obama in his next election campaign; to promote the Biden Plan to partition Iraq into three regions; and to sabotage the relations among Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Qandil warned that although Syria and Iran had shown openness to the possibility of dialogue with the U.S., this was in now at risk due to the hesitancy that characterizes the Obama administration.

Following are excerpts from his article:

The Violence in Iraq Is Meant to Prevent U.S. Withdrawal, Harm President Obama

"The escalation of violence and bloodshed in Iraq in recent days came as the Americans were beginning to prepare for their 2011 troop withdrawal, and as the commanders of the U.S. forces tried to draw up understandings with the countries neighboring [Iraq], particularly Syria, to increase coordination at the border...

"Anyone who is following conditions in Iraq knows that the bloody operations against Iraqi civilians are designed to [reinforce] the call for U.S. forces to remain [in Iraq], and perhaps even redeploy in the cities that they have already left. The excuse given is that if the forces withdraw according to the timetable, the security situation could explode...

"These attacks took place just as many articles and studies were being published by the American and Israeli press, and by several institutes researching the Middle East, about the need to extend the U.S. forces' presence for another four years - or at least until after the next U.S. presidential election in 2012 - so that Obama will not be able to use the withdrawal as a card in his election campaign, and will not be able to claim that he kept his promises from his [first] campaign.

"Other studies link the demand to keep [U.S.] forces [in Iraq] to what they call 'the requirements for negotiating with Iran and guaranteeing Israel's security' prior to the U.S. military pullout. Still other studies hint at the possibility of a war on Iran or of an Israeli war on Lebanon - which, according to this approach, requires U.S. willingness to give Israel this opportunity prior to the [U.S.] troop withdrawal [from Iraq]...

"American research institutes are saying that the safest option for Iraq is a return to the three regions theory, presented by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden when he headed the [U.S. Senate] Committee on Foreign Relations. According to this model, encouragement of this track will help provide the safety net required for a troop withdrawal, [by keeping] Iraq stable."

"This Reveals Two Opposing Lines Among the Influential Circles in Washington"

"It was against the backdrop of this American political and media atmosphere that the recent attacks in Iraq took place. This reveals two opposing lines among the influential circles in Washington. While the president's team is acting slowly and hesitatingly on the negotiations track, and opening a window to cooperation with the countries neighboring Iraq - as he started to do with Syria and is about to start with Iran - there are those who are acting to worsen the Iraq security situation, so as to reopen the door to an extension of the [U.S.] troop presence in Iraq, and also to encourage the option of partitioning the country."

The August 19 Attacks Were Aimed at Sabotaging Assad's Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian Cooperation Plan

"...It seems that the [August 19] attacks were aimed at [sabotaging] Syria-U.S. contacts by fomenting suspicion between the allies Syria and Iran; at stopping the progress that had been made in Syria-Iraq relations on the security and economic level when the Iraqi prime minister visited Damascus; and at complicating the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian cooperation plan, proposed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as a future strategic plan, to which he is devoting much attention, time, and effort...

"Those engaged in escalating regional conflicts - those who lose by, and are harmed by, the American openness to the new reality - are racking up achievements against the Obama administration - because it is hesitant, slow, and irresolute in translating this openness into making the required bold decisions, and because it continues to give the Israeli leadership the right of veto in security and political resolutions regarding the region.

"Further hesitation by the Obama administration would mean another blow to the hopes for change that were pinned on it following the U.S. presidential election... Indeed, there could be Israeli war adventurism, or increased bloodletting in Iraq. But the biggest loser of an escalation in the destruction and blood[shed] would first and foremost be President Obama - they [i.e. those who act against him] want him to end his first term exhausted, without the confidence of the voters or of any of those with whom he promised to turn over a new leaf."

"The Syrian-Iranian Alliance... Will Not Wait Until Those Who Hesitate Reach a Decision"

"The region can tolerate no more experiments with the blood of its sons. Thus, the Syrian-Iranian message was clear and resolute, when President Assad visited Iran - that many, from near and far, must read well the meaning of what is happening in the region. The meaning is that the Syrian-Iranian alliance, which is cultivating the resistance movements, has won an historic, significant victory. Despite its openness to the dialogue option, this alliance will not wait until those who hesitate reach a decision."

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Will Tel-Aviv become an "illegal settlement"?

They are after Tel Aviv now. It was inevitable.

First they went after Jerusalem. UN resolutions "internationalized" Jerusalem. The "international" status of the city was ignored as long as Jordan illegally occupied the old city and east Jerusalem, but vigorous protests were issued when Israel conquered Jerusalem in the Six day war. Even the United States does not recognize any Jewish claims to Jerusalem, does not recognize any part of Jerusalem as part of Israel in violation of United States law, the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. The US Consulate in Jerusalem insists that it is a mission to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians have long insisted that Jews had no historical connection with Jerusalem. The most recent statement to that effect was issued by the Muslim Chief Justice, Taysir Tamimi, denying Jewish historical rights in Jerusalem. He claimed it was never inhabited by Jews. The first temple is erased from history as well as the second temple, as well as the long habitation of Jews in Jerusalem prior to 1948, when Jerusalem was ethnically cleansed by the Jordan Legion.

The Arab and Muslim "narrative," given academic credentials by such people as Nadia Abu el-Hajj of Barnard University, is that Jerusalem was always an Arab city. Never mind the Menorah in the Arch of Titus. Never mind the description of the siege of Jerusalem by Josephus Flavius. Never mind the inscription from the time of Hezekiah, which describes the tunnel built to divert water from Shiloach during the siege - precisely as recorded in the Old Testament. The Palestinians have a different "narrative." The Beit al Maqdes (temple) was built by Suleiman the Muslim. Muhammad secured Jerusalem for the Muslims by flying to Jerusalem in one night on his horse (pretty good horse!) al-buraq, and tying it up at the Wailing wall, which ensures that the wailing wall is Muslim too. So much for "Zionist Myths. Jerusalem is Arab and "Arab East Jerusalem" now belongs to the Muslims.

But now they are going after Tel Aviv as well. According to the old "Zionist narrative," apparently incorrect, Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, originally to be called "Achuzt Bayit." It was built on empty land purchased from Arabs. But a film festival in Toronto celebrating Tel-Aviv's Centennial is being boycotted, on the grounds that Tel-Aviv was stolen from the Arabs! No doubt, soon it will be discovered that Muhammad visited Tel Aviv too, and tied his horse up in Dizengoff Center. Such luminaries as Jane Fonda are boycotting the film festival:

Jane Fonda, Danny Glover and Eve Ensler have joined the growing list of artists who are boycotting the Toronto film festival over a program honoring Tel Aviv's 100th anniversary, gossip blogger Perez Hilton reported on Friday.

The three have added their names to a letter aimed at festival officials claiming that Tel Aviv was built on violence, ignoring the "suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants," Hilton reported.

Well yes, there was a war here. We didn't start it. Remember? There were also a few wars between Germany and France. Alsace is also "built on violence, ignoring the 'suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants.'" What about "former residents" of Washington DC or for that matter Toronto? Or former Jewish residents of Cairo and Baghdad? Is that a reason to boycott these cities? Will Jane Fonda and her friends leave any corner of Israel that may be claimed by Jews as our birthright?

If Tel Aviv does not belong to the Jewish people by right, then surely Beersheba, an Arab town from 640 C.E. until 1948 is Arab by right, and Neve Gordon, the boycott advocate, should not be living and teaching there. Even the most obtuse boycotters can now understand that the boycott movement is not aimed at ending the occupation, but at ending Israel.

Ami Isseroff

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Arabs Moving Into Jewish Areas of Jerusalem

Here is the truth about the "Judaization" of Jerusalem: Arabs are moving into Jewish neighborhoods. It's called "integration," but it is being done with a nationalist motivation:
Yousef Majlaton moved into the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev for such comforts as proper running water and regular garbage pickup. But he represents a potentially volatile twist in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the holy city.
The hillside sprawl of townhouses and apartment blocks was built for Jews, and Majlaton is a Palestinian.
Pisgat Zeev is part of Israel's effort to fortify its presence in Jerusalem's eastern half which it captured in the 1967 war.
But Majlaton, his wife and three kids are among thousands who have crossed the housing lines to Pisgat Zeev and neighborhoods like it in a migration that is raising tempers among some Jewish residents.
In 2007, the latest year with available statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev's 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, population 7,000, nearly one-sixth are Arabs, among them students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, had 600 Arabs, according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies, a respected think tank.
Majlaton and his wife are both Hebrew-speaking Christians. He said his new neighbors cold-shouldered them when they arrived in 2002, but gradually became friendlier.
He said he has since helped about 30 Arab families to move in and gets calls from prospective renters almost every day.
While his primary motivation was quality of life, he says living in Pisgat Zeev is "a nationalistic act" — a way to cement Arab presence in the city of his birth.
He said Palestinian leaders should follow his lead.
"They should bring all the Arabs to Pisgat Zeev," he said. "I'll help them find homes one by one."
The article repeats the following fallacy, which was evidently first publicized by Chris McGreal in the Guardian:
Netanyahu says Arabs have the right to live anywhere in the city, and so should Jews, though the Old City's Jewish Quarter is closed to Arabs.
There is no limitation preventing Arabs from living in the Jewish quarter.
Ami Isseroff

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AP anti-Israel bias

It is about time someone noticed the bias in AP and Reuters despatches. Some other tricks. AP routinely writes that the Arab Peace Initiative would give Israel peace in return for withdrawal to 1967 borders. Sounds like a good deal, right? End the occupation, get peace. AP neglects some details. The Arab peace initiative calls for Israel to withdraw completely from East Jerusalem, including the Jewish parts, and it seems to require Israel to accept the return of Palestinian Arab refugees, which would end Jewish self determination in the only Jewish country in the world. So the deal look more like "Give up your capital and your country, and we'll give you 'peace.'" What sort of peace is that? But it is worse than that, since Arab League spokespeople routinely protest that the Arab peace initiative is a recommendation, and that no Arab country would be bound to recognize Israel. So the deal is, "Give up your capital and your country, and maybe some of us will give you 'peace.'" Another trick is the unprofessional use of adjectives. News agency dispatches routinely characterize Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah of Jordan and King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia, as well as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and other Arab leaders as "moderate" but refer to Avigdor Lieberman as the "ultranationalist" Foreign Minister of the "Right leaning" government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Lieberman was elected in democratic elections, unlike leaders of Arab countries. He only proposed to make loyalty a condition of citizenship. Egypt kicked out all its Jews without asking if they are loyal or not, and Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not allow any Jews to become citizens. The "Moderate" government of Mahmoud Abbas teaches Palestinian children that Haifa is the largest port in **PALESTINE.**

Analyzing the AP anti-Israel bias

Meryl Yourish @ 1:30 pm

The subtleties of the AP anti-Israel bias are always in evidence, no matter who the writer, no matter what the subject. Witness:

The gist of the article is a debate between Israeli president and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. But before we get to all that, we have to have the set-up. First, tar Netanyahu as the one preventing peace because—wait for it—he refuses to stop building settlements.

The difficulty has been compounded by the fact that in March a right-leaning government replaced the previous more moderate one in Israel.

Several months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to accept the principle of a Palestinian state – a position his predecessors had already adopted but his Likud party has not – but said it would have to have limits on its rights to have a military or control its airspace.

Next, give Moussa a chance to respond to the above, but don't have Peres respond to it. Have Peres talk about a completely different topic.

Then, slam Peres and compliment Moussa, almost in the same breath (but while allowing Moussa to accuse the Israelis of duplicity):

Peres – pushing the boundaries on a role that is meant to be ceremonial and somewhat above the political and diplomatic fray – argued that even the borders initially delineated for the Palestinian state could be considered provisional and ultimately expanded.

"You want us to believe that?" thundered the urbane Moussa. "Another one of the tricks!"

Another way of telling which way the article is biased: There are ten paragraphs that contain quotes or paraphrases by Moussa. There are only six containing Peres' quotes or paraphrases—and the article is titled "Peres: Palestinian state first, full peace later."

I think, though, the thing that really got me is describing Moussa as "urbane" right after implying that Peres isn't acting in his government's best interest. In point of fact, nobody in Israel is complaining that Peres is overstepping his bounds, or if they have, I haven't seen it. But don't let the facts get in the way of a good anti-Israel slap.

The Associated Press: the anti-Israel Energizer bunny. They just never stop.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Sorting out truth and lies in the Middle East

How to Tell Who's Lying and Who's Telling the Truth in the Middle East

By Barry Rubin

A reader wrote me about one of the latest (and innumerable) sensationalist stories in the Middle East. Namely, in this case, that Hizballah has allegedly deployed chemical and biological weapons. This is absurd but it reminds us of the care that must be taken in analyzing developments in this region.

In this case, the source is a Kuwaiti newspaper. One must first ask: how does a Kuwaiti newspaper with no foreign bureaus and surely no inside sources in Hizballah (or Syria or Israeli intelligence) know this big secret? So the first question you must always ask is: Is it credible that the news outlet or other source knows what it/he/she claims to know?

The second question is the more specific identity of the source. There are sources that are literally always wrong (Debka, al-Quds al-Arabi, the Syrian state press, etc) and should be remembered as such. In this case, the newspaper is al-Siyassa, a courageous newspaper in its stance against Syria and radical Islamists and which is also pro-Saudi. Clearly, as in the past, al-Siyassa wants a sensationalist story and also to make the Syrians (and their client, Hizballah) look bad.

The third question is the rule of rationality: There have been no credible previous reports of Hizballah having these weapons. And if they did, Israeli sources would be talking about it a lot.

Consider another recent story, the claim that Israel hijacked a Russian ship carrying arms to Hamas. Russia is a very important country for Israel. Aside from trade and other issues, Israel doesn't want Moscow to sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, just in case Israel decides one day to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. Would Israel take the risk of creating a virtual war scenario with the Russian government? Not credible.

In the past there were mythical lands, or at least lands about which myths could be told. People remember that Marco Polo described the court of the emperor of China but not that Polo also speaks of lands along the way where he insisted he saw men with two heads.

The Middle East has become the part of the world onto which fantasies are projected. But there's a problem. Due to Political Correctness and other dubious blessings of contemporary life, one cannot even speak honestly about what goes on in Iran or Arabic-speaking lands. The old cliché that, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," has seemingly been enshrined on the intellectual temples of our era.

Consequently, a growing proportion of the mythology settles on the place about which it is permissible to say anything: Israel.

For example, if I were to assert that the proportion of deliberate and credibly believed lying in public life, media, and universities in the Arabic-speaking world is far higher than in the West (not to deny that there is plenty of that in the West also, enhanced by some current trends), that would be considered shocking.

Can I prove this? Certainly, just look at the record of past statements which have been proven accurate or inaccurate.

Combine that with the lack of institutional controls. If something outrageous is asserted—the Holocaust never happened, America is behind all the terrorism in Iraq, Israel murders Palestinians to steal their organs, the Mossad or CIA was behind September 11, ad infinitum—there are few voices that will say: That's nonsense! In short, not only are the lies, slanders, and conspiracy theories not countered, alternative views are endangered species.

In this context, a natural Western impulse to say that "the truth must be halfway in between" or "we're just hearing two equally credible discourses" is crippling.

Yet without understanding these realities, it is impossible to comprehend the area's political life or to set policies toward the Middle East.

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), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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Norway: Israel is a friend despite Elbit divestment

Dear friends in Norway - Love Israel, Love our security fence. It saves lives. You cannot be friends of Israel and oppose measures that promote the safety of Israeli citizens and stop terror.

Norway FM to Barak: Israel is a friend despite Elbit divestment
By Barak Ravid and Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondents
Investments Norway divested from the Israeli arms firm Elbit were part of a private fund and did not represent the country's policy, the country's minister of foreign affairs told Defense Minster Ehud Barak on Friday.
Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre told Barak, who had called to protested Norway's decision to withdraw funds from Elbit on account of its involvement with the West Bank separation fence, that the investment fund in question was private, one which the government had no control over.
The Norwegian minister also pointed out that Norway recently increased its investments in Israel and that it considered Israel its friend.
On Thursday, Norway's ambassador to Israel Jakken Bjorn Lian said that Norway's decision to pull all of its investments from the Israeli arms firm Elbit does not amount to a boycott of Jerusalem.
According to Lian, the same measures could have been taken against any other country, including neighboring Sweden.
The Foreign Ministry opted for a low-key response on Thursday after Norway announced its divestment, in order to avoid a crisis in relations with Oslo.
Though the ministry originally planned a harsh response, it ultimately issued a statement saying merely that "Israel will consider further protest measures in the future."
Foreign Ministry Director General Yossi Gal held telephone consultations yesterday with Israel's ambassador to Oslo, Michael Eligal, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently in Ethiopia.
Later, Gal met with Lian to voice Israel's vehement objection to the decision to divest from the electronics firm.
The Foreign Ministry's decision not to adopt a more strident tone stemmed from the Norwegian ambassador's explanations of the divestment decision, as well as a decision by Lieberman to avoid opening a second diplomatic front in Europe in view of the ongoing crisis in ties with Sweden.
Lieberman has said that the Swedish government's refusal to condemn the content of an article in Aftonbladet, a Swedish tabloid, that accused Israeli soldiers of harvesting the organs of Palestinians they shot and killed "is like Sweden's stance during World War II."
The latest crisis began when Norway's finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, announced at a press conference in Oslo that the country had decided to divest from Elbit Systems due to its role in supplying technology for the separation fence.
The decision followed a recommendation issued by the Ethics Committee, whose role is to ensure that the government's investments abroad are in line with its ethical guidelines. The finance minister said Norway is not interested in funding a company so "blatantly involved in violating international humanitarian law."

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An idiotic initiative: Jews inform on Jews

The Jewish Agency and the Israel Prime Minister's Office(!) has unbelievably launched a clumsy campaign to "rescue" Jews from intermarriage. It invites people to "inform" on friends who might, HEAVEN FORFEND, be intending to marry a non-Jew:
A day after mounting a scare-tactic campaign to prevent the assimilation of Diaspora Jews, the Prime Minister's Office and Jewish Agency received some 200 calls, most of them reporting names of Jews living abroad.
However, many callers also blasted the campaign - which describes assimilation as a "strategic national threat."
The campaign, which launched on Wednesday, urges Israelis to report the particulars of acquaintances living abroad so that these people, who are "in danger" of marrying non-Jews, can be persuaded to come to Israel.
The 10-day Hebrew-language campaign has been mounted by MASA, a partnership between the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government that helps finance and market Israel programs for Diaspora Jews.
"We wanted to raise a public debate, even if it arouses argument and emotions," MASA's CEO Ayelet Shiloh-Tamir said Thursday.
"More than 50 percent of young Jews assimilate," the TV commercial informs viewers through the voice of Ayala Hasson, a top reporter for Channel 1. "We are losing them," she adds, as soft, melancholy music is played on a flute in the background.
The 33-second clip features images of missing-person posters hanging in locales in Europe and North America. The posters, in English, French and Russian, are of young people with Jewish-sounding names.
The ad then asks anyone who "knows a young Jew living abroad" to call MASA. "Together, we will strengthen his or her bond to Israel, so that we don't lose them," the announcer concludes.
We can hear the phone calls now, "I saw my nephew Sheldon with a blonde girl last week. She didn't look Jewish at all. You need to investigate, " "My niece is dating a Schwartzer! (black person). A Shandeh! (shame), Better come quick before it is too late."
What a way to render the image of Jews and of Israel totally absurd! Ziopedia and Stormfront could not have thought up something this ridiculous. How will they follow up on the leads? Will Zionist morality police bring trained dogs to go sniffing about in people's bedrooms? Are we supposed to report only those who are in danger of marrying non-Jews, or also those who are "in danger" of marrying reform Jews?
There is good news too in this report. Evidently, the Israeli economy is doing fine, our relations with the United States are excellent, the Iranian threat is under control, peace with the Palestinians is just around the corner, and Israel's image in the world has never been better. That is the only explanation for why the Prime Minister's office is worried about who Morris from Waukegan and Rachel from Manchester are dating next Friday.
In the old days, Woody Allen could have made a great movie out of this. He is out with the girl of his dreams (played by the latest version of Annie Hall). He is meeting her parents and their friends in a garden party. Suddenly a helicopter lands on the lawn. A squad of IDF soldiers steps out and sweep him off to Israel. Or, in the fantasy version, a pious devotee of the Kabbalah writes the holy name on his forehead and instantly turns him into a Hassidic Jew with ear locks and fine fur hat. The marriage, obviously, is off.
Ami Isseroff

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Madonna visits Safed grave of Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria

It seems to me strange that of all the accomplishments of the Jews, the Kabbalah should be the one to attract so much positive attention.  

Last update - 08:46 04/09/2009       
Mystical Madonna visits Safed tomb of kabbalistic great
By Eli Ashkenazi
Pop music icon Madonna, who took Israel by storm earlier this week with two back-to-back concerts in Tel Aviv, wrapped up her tour with a visit Thursday night to the Safed tomb of a kabbalistic great.
Rabbi Isaac Luri - or the Ari - was one of the founders of kabbalism, a tradition Madonna has embraced over the last few years.
Pilgrims flock year round to his grave and the neighboring ritual bath at the foot of the ancient northern city.
Madonna was accompanied in her visit by Rabbi Michael Berg, her own rabbi's brother, as well as her partner Jesus. At the site, she sang the Sabbath song "Lecha Dodi," ringing in with a kabbalistic tune.
During her visit, the material girl has paid tribute to Jerusalem's Old City, where she toured an ancient tunnel near the Western Wall - the holiest site where Jews can pray.
Madonna isn't Jewish, but she's a follower of Jewish mysticism and has even taken the Hebrew name Esther.
She arrived early Sunday for a pair of concerts in Tel Aviv this week. It was be her first performance in Israel since 1993, though she came on private pilgrimages in 2004 and 2007.
Madonna is also set to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

In Egypt: Building churches is a sin against God

No comment is needed here, is it?
Egyptian Muslim leaders are caught in a storm of controversy after a human rights group confronted them about a fatwa (Islamic edict) that stated the building of a church is "a sin against God."
Tue, Sep. 01, 2009 Posted: 05:15 PM EDT
Egyptian Muslim leaders are caught in a storm of controversy after a human rights group confronted them about a fatwa (Islamic edict) that stated the building of a church is "a sin against God."
Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the highest official of religious law in Egypt, and the justice minister have issued an investigation of the jurists who issued the fatwa, according to Assyrian International News Agency.
The controversy began when the president of the Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization, Dr. Naguib Gabraeel, asked the Fatwa Council about a statement found in a textbook at Cairo University on inheritance and execution of wills.
Students, both Muslims and Christians, were taught "it is forbidden for a person to donate money for what would lead to sin, such as donating in his will money towards build[ing] a church, a nightclub, a gambling casino, towards promoting the alcohol industry or for building a barn for rearing pigs, cats or dogs."
Gabraeel asked the council what the sharia (Islamic law) position on the statement found in the textbook is. He asked if it is forbidden for a Muslim to donate money to build a church or a monk's quarters even if it is in the name of God and Christianity, which is recognized by the country's constitution. The Egyptian constitution claims to respect religious freedom. He also noted that wealthy Coptic Christian businessmen have donated towards the building of mosques.
The council replied by affirming the law found in the textbook and issuing a fatwa on it.
Included in the fatwa is an explanation on why it is a "sin" to build a church. According to the fatwa, Christians believe salvation is achieved through belief in Jesus as Lord while Muslims don't. Muslims believe that Issa [Jesus in Arabic] "is a slave of Allah and His Messenger, and that Allah is one."
The Islamic edict said God did not have a son and that Christianity deviated from absolute monotheism. Therefore, a Muslim is forbidden to donate funds towards a building that does not worship Allah alone.
The author of the textbook, Mohammed el-Maghrabbi, said it is sinful for even a Christian to devote money in his will towards building a church because it would be considered in Islam as separation from God.
In other words, it is illegal for even non-Muslims to offer money in their will towards building a church or synagogue.
The fatwa has upset many people, especially Coptic Christians, for categorizing churches with nightclubs, casinos, alcohol, and places to raise animals considered unclean by Islam.
After receiving the shocking response by the council, Gabraeel and a delegation from his human rights group visited the Grand Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi of the famous Al-Azhar University, a chief Sunni Islamic learning center in the world.
Tantawi contradicted the council and said "sharia does not prevent Muslims from donating to the building of a church, as it is his free money." He also went on to say sharia law does not interfere with other faiths "because religion, faith and what a person believes in is a relationship between him and his God."
Immediately after Tantawi's statements were publicized, there was a backlash from the Muslim community and he revoked his statements less than 24 hours after the visit by the human rights delegation. Tantawi claimed the delegation had misunderstood him, even though everything he said was recorded and sent to media outlets and uploaded on Coptic advocacy web sites.
Egyptian Christians see the controversy as explicitly revealing how religious authorities and the government truly feel about the building of churches. In Egypt, Christians are not allowed to construct or fix churches unless they receive a permit from governors. But usually authorities make excuses and circumvent giving a direct answer to requests for building permits. At the end, however, nearly all requests for permits in Egypt are denied.
In contrast, there are no such building permits necessary for the construction or fixing of mosques.
Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Israeli Mortar Shell to Be Used by US Military

New Israeli Mortar Shell to Be Used by US Military

01 September 2009 , 13:57

The shell, which is equipped with GPS technology to direct it precisely to its target, is expected to be used by battalions of the US military in Afghanistan

Nir Kosti, Bamahane

In the last few weeks, a new mortar shell was successfully tested by the Raytheon Company. The mortar shell is part of the Guided Accuracy system, which is produced by the Israel Military Industries (IMI). The system is directed by GPS and has new abilities considered very accurate. The modern technology allows soldiers to navigate the course of the mortar shell to the target through a GPS system, up to a distance of ten meters from the launching point.

The mortar shell is expected to be used by battalions of the US military, among other things in the framework of the military operations in Afghanistan. "This is the only mortar shell worldwide that reaches such high accuracy," Bill Peterson, the director of the project at Raytheon pointed out. "The mortar shell has the ability to cope in an advanced way with wind and stormy weather in the mountains. We are ready to quickly deliver the system to be used by the forces in the Afghan mountains," he added. A member of the IMI claims that the system could also be used by the IDF, and according to him, the IDF might purchase it within the next few years.

The system was tested by the US military throughout the last few weeks. During the tests, the shells were fired at a variety of targets in mountainous areas. The shells were fired under conditions similar to battle, including extreme temperatures, and the mortar shell hit precisely seven out of eight times.

IMI chairman Avner Raz is satisfied with the results of the tests and explains that the development of new technology for combat soldiers has become a supreme objective of the strategic program of IMI. The CEO of IMI, Avi Felder, concluded that the success of Raytheon's demonstration helps both companies. 

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Title :

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Boycotting Israel - BGU President responds to Neve Gordon

There just isn't a great way to handle a haywire faculty member who calls for a boycott against his own institution, especially if he has tenure. Rivka Carmi shows grace under fire below. But if the "law in Israel is very clear" perhaps the law has to be changed. An institution should not be forced to pay the salary of an employee who calls for a boycott against it, and neither should a state. But how can we change the law and still ensure proper protection for legitimate views?
Ami Isseroff
Neve Gordon's divisive Op-Ed
Ben-Gurion University's president responds to one of her professor's call for a boycott of Israel.
By Rivka Carmi
September 1, 2009
As president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, I have always remained open and impartial to the wide diversity of opinions within our academic faculty and their right to free speech, no matter how controversial their views or writings may be.
However, I strongly believe a call for a worldwide boycott of Israel written by a Ben-Gurion University faculty member, Neve Gordon, that appeared in The Times oversteps the boundaries of academic freedom -- because it has nothing to do with it.
Academic freedom exists to ensure that there is an unfettered and free discussion of ideas relating to research and teaching and to provide a forum for the debate of complicated ideas that may challenge accepted norms. Gordon, however, used his pulpit as a university faculty member to advocate a personal opinion, which is really demagoguery cloaked in academic theory.
Gordon argues that Israel is an "apartheid" state and that "a boycott would save Israel from itself." But the empirical facts show that it would destroy the very fabric of the society that he claims to want to protect. Instead of investing in activities that promote coexistence, this "call for a boycott" is already being used to isolate Israel.
This is particularly pernicious for our university, a proudly Zionist institution that embodies the dream of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, to bring development and prosperity to all the residents of the Negev region. This work -- which includes community outreach and scientific innovation in Israel and around the world carried out by nearly 25,000 students, faculty and staff -- is being threatened by the egregious remarks of one person, under the guise of academic freedom.
A number of online campaigns have been launched calling for donors and other supporters of the university to "boycott BGU." We have heard the calls by those who demand that the university ignore Israeli law and fire Gordon, a tenured faculty member, on the basis of his statements. And we are also under attack by others who champion Gordon on the basis of freedom of speech.
Like it or not, Gordon cannot be readily dismissed. The law in Israel is very clear, and the university is a law-abiding institution.
At the same time, by calling on other entities, including academic institutions, to boycott Israel -- and effectively, to boycott his own university -- Gordon has forfeited his ability to work effectively within the academic setting, with his colleagues in Israel and around the world. After his very public, personal soul-searching in his Op-Ed article, leading to his extreme description of Israel as an "apartheid" state, how can he, in good faith, create the collaborative atmosphere necessary for true academic research and teaching?
The primary effect of Gordon's Israel-bashing will be to detract from the work of his university. I am a doctor; my professional career has focused on preventing hereditary genetic diseases in the Bedouin Arab community. Today, the laboratory that I founded at Ben-Gurion University is working with Bedouin, Palestinian and Jordanian doctors and researchers to improve the health of Arab children across the region. This is but one of the many Israeli-Arab collaborations -- in fields that range from developing advanced water technologies to solar energy, environmental conservation and emergency medicine -- that will be compromised here if "collective punishment" for Gordon's actions or for my opposition to his views is imposed on BGU.
There are many more hopeful and pragmatic voices to be heard at our institution than Gordon's, and they are the ones who will ultimately guide us, and Israel, to a brighter future.
Rivka Carmi is the president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel.

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Sesame Street goes Zionist - Shalom Sesame!

A series of shows about Israel (or any other country) for kids is a great idea. But why limit the target audience to Jewish kids?
 HERZLIYA, Israel (JTA) -- Grover has been getting to know Israel.
The furry, blue "Sesame Street" character has visited the Dead Sea, Caesarea, the Western Wall and even Jerusalem's shouk to sample the produce.
Along with Disney Channel star Annelise van der Pol, Grover has been exploring the Jewish state as part of a Sesame Workshop production called "Shalom Sesame."
The 12-part series is geared toward North American Jewish children and their families to forge a sense of Jewish identity by providing a taste of Israel, Jewish traditions and culture. It will include celebrity appearances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing and possibly Ben Stiller, among others, and is scheduled for a Chanukah 2010 release.
A 1986 production of the same name sold 1 million copies and is considered the top-selling Jewish educational title.
More than 20 years later, it was time to update and overhaul the content.
"The needs of the Jewish community have changed," said Danny Labin, the project's executive director, speaking at the studio outside of Tel Aviv where segments are being filmed.
Labin noted shifting demographic realities such as intermarriage and Israel's large immigrant populations from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. Two of the new human characters reflect this diversity in Israel: One is an Ethiopian Israeli woman, the other a Russian immigrant.
Scripts and concepts have been reviewed with the help of a team of senior experts in Jewish education representing the religious streams and a range of backgrounds, from Chabad to Reform.
"We are trying to make something that is accessible to those not ensconced in a formal Jewish framework to help parents feel more comfortable and get them interested in a search for identity themselves," Labin said.
The project also intends to supplement the TV show with an interactive Web site and other media platforms, including plans to use joint online projects to help connect Jewish Israeli and American children with the show as a vehicle.
In the first episode of "Shalom Sesame," the character played by van der Pol --  a Jewish-American actress who was named after Anne Frank -- is seen on a plane flying to Israel for her first visit.
After hearing Grover, cast as a flight attendant, shout out "Kosher meal! Aisle 10!," they strike up a friendship and decide to travel together throughout the country. Throughout the series the pair remain in Israel -- a device that lets children see various landscapes, meet Israeli children and even learn a little Hebrew.
There are episodes on the Jewish holidays, mitzvah themes such as loving animals and treating others kindly, animation segments and interviews. The Chanukah episode will feature a visit with a family whose menorah has remained in the family for generations. The Rosh Hashanah episode opens with a discussion about new beginnings as the audience sees an Israeli girl start her first day at school and her brother learn how to blow a shofar.
In an exclusive interview with JTA, Grover discussed why he was excited about the project.
"My home is 'Sesame Street,' but I love meeting people from all over the world, and one of those places is Israel, where I have been able to make new friends and learn," he said in his trademark high-pitched tone. "I have learned a few words in Hebrew, like 'toda' [thank you] and 'boker tov' [good morning], and that pretty much gets me by."
Eric Jacobson, the puppeteer who assumed the voice and actions of Grover about 10 years ago after the legendary Frank Oz retired, said Grover seems to connect with audiences young and old both in Israel and around the world.
"Let's start with that Grover is blue," Jacobson said during a break from filming. "No one I know is blue, and therefore he can be anybody."
Three other puppets join Grover in the cast, including a floppy-haired Arab Israeli named Mahboub.
Shahar Sorek plays another human character, an archeologist who is religiously observant and wears a kipah. Often he is the one to explain some of the Jewish rituals and Bible stories.
"I think it's important to protect and present our Jewish heritage, and this is a tool for helping to do that," Sorek said.
The Sesame Workshop has co-productions with some 18 countries, including an Israeli version called "Rehov Sumsum" and a Palestinian version called "Shara'a Simsim."
"Shalom Sesame" is the first series intended to reach out specifically to an American Diaspora audience, but similar programs are planned for children of Arab Americans and of Indian Americans based on "Sesame Street"-style programs in Egypt and India.
During a scene shot last week from the final episodes of "Shalom Sesame," at a farewell party for Grover and van der Pol, a wistful van der Pol looks around at her new friends and says, "I can't believe my Israel adventure is over. It's been the most amazing experience of my life -- the friends, the fun."
"The falafel!" pipes in Grover, prompting a round of laughs.
Shoshana, who plays an Israeli family friend of van der Pol's character, turns to her and says, "You will always have a home here. You are our mishpocha now, part of our family."
The director calls out, "OK everyone, get a little mushy now."

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Israeli diplomacy returns to Africa

Relations with newly emerging African states were once Israel's great diplomatic success story. Pressure from Arab and Muslim countries after the Six day war soured relations, but that's no excuse for the long neglect of the continent by the Israeli Foreign Minstry. Avigdor Lieberman's initiative is welcome and important.  According to a Reuters article, the itinerary will include several additional countries not mentioned below: 
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and an Israeli business delegation will visit Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana during the week-long tour beginning on Wednesday.
South Africa is notably absent from the itinerary...
Ami Isseroff

Lieberman to make first trip to Africa by Israel FM in 20 years
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, Reuters
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will depart Wednesday on a visit to Africa in a bid to boost trade ties and drum up diplomatic support in a continent where pro-Arab sentiment has long been strong.
Lieberman's visit will be the first by an Israeli foreign minister to Africa in 20 years. An Israeli business delegation, along with delegates from the Foreign, Finance and Defense Ministries will accompany him on visits to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana.
"The aim is to reinvigorate our political and economic relations," said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Lieberman.
African nations often vote in blocs in United Nations forums where Israel is a frequent target of censure. Israel is trying to enlist support for international pressure on Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program...
"Israel has been absent for many years from many areas of the world," Lieberman said, "After my visit to South America, I was convinced of the importance of these kinds of visits and the contribution they bring in relations between the countries."
The Foreign Ministry stated that the issue of Iran will be discussed in light of Iran's effort to become a presence in Africa.
Liberman's trip will start in Addis Abba where he will meet with Ethiopia's president and foreign minister and attend an economic seminar in conjunction with economic ministers from the Ethiopian government.
He will also help inaugurate a joint project between Israel, Ethiopia and the United States, which will strive to support farmers and agriculture in Ethiopia.
Lieberman will then visit Uganda on Thursday where he will meet the president and foreign minister. While in Entebbe, he will participate in a memorial ceremony commemorating Operation Entebbe, a hostage rescue operation in 1967 where 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed.

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WSJ Warns Obama on Iran

This Wall Street Journal is bound to be controversial. I don't agree with all of it. For example, and especially:
The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative
Preventing Iran from getting the bomb must be a priority imperative for the United States, all Western allies, and all moderate Gulf States. It is not just an Israel issue. Iran with nuclear weapons means the end of U.S. influence in the Gulf, and the end of any chance for moderate Arab and Muslim regimes to triumph over extremism.
Israel, Iran and Obama
Conflict is inevitable unless the West moves quickly to stop a nuclear Tehran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course.
The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is likely to come from Israel. They've long concluded that the U.N. is no threat, as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has in practice become an apologist for Iran's program. They can also see that the West lacks the will to do anything, as the Obama Administration continues to plead for Tehran to negotiate even as Iran holds show trials of opposition leaders and journalists for saying the recent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent. The irony is that the weaker the West and U.N. appear, the more probable an Israeli attack becomes.
The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That's a view shared across Israel's political spectrum, from traditional hawks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to current Defense Minister and former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its ballistic missiles—all the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence. Iran's march to the bomb also alarms its Arab neighbors, but it represents an existential threat to an Israeli nation that Iran has promised to destroy and has waged decades of proxy war against.
This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran's stolen election and crackdown. The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is gaining power at the expense of the traditional military and a divided clerical establishment.
On the weekend, Ahmadinejad called for the arrest and punishment of opposition leaders, and last week he nominated Ahmad Vahidi, a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, to become defense minister. Vahidi is wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant for his role in masterminding the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 200 others. Vahidi's nomination shows that when Ahmadinejad talks of wiping Israel off the map, no Israel leader can afford to dismiss it as a religious allegory.
Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration's policy of diplomatic pleading with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European Union and Bush Administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion in July that the U.S. would extend a "defense umbrella" over its allies in the Middle East "once [Iranians] have a nuclear weapon" may have been a slip of the lip. But Israelis can be forgiven for wondering if the U.S. would sooner accept a nuclear Iran as a fait accompli than do whatever is necessary to stop it.
It's no wonder, then, that the Israeli military has been intensively—and very publicly—war-gaming attack scenarios on Iran's nuclear installations. This has included sending warships through the Suez Canal (with Egypt's blessing), testing its Arrow antiballistic missile systems and conducting nation-wide emergency drills. U.S. and Israeli military officials we've spoken to are confident an Israeli strike could deal a significant blow to Iran's programs, even if some elements would survive. The longer Israel waits, however, the more steps Iran can take to protect its installations.
The consequences of an Israeli attack are impossible to predict, but there is no doubt they would implicate U.S. interests throughout the Middle East. Iran would accuse the U.S. of complicity, whether or not the U.S. gave its assent to an attack. Iran could also attack U.S. targets, drawing America into a larger Mideast war.
Short of an Islamist revolution in Pakistan, an Israeli strike on Iran would be the most dangerous foreign policy issue President Obama could face, throwing all his diplomatic ambitions into a cocked hat. Yet in its first seven months, the Administration has spent more diplomatic effort warning Israel not to strike than it has rallying the world to stop Iran.
In recent days, the Administration has begun taking a harder line against Tehran, with talk of "crippling" sanctions on Iran's imports of gasoline if the mullahs don't negotiate by the end of September. Rhetorically, that's a step in the right direction. But unless Mr. Obama gets serious, and soon, about stopping Iran from getting a bomb, he'll be forced to deal with the consequences of Israel acting in its own defense.

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Madonna delights Israeli fans

It was not just a musical event. It sent a clear political message. Quote:
"I shouldn't have stayed so long away. Every time I come here, I get so supercharged with energy. I truly believe that Israel is the energy centre of the world. And I also believe that if we can all live together in harmony in this place, then we can live in peace all over the world."
Madonna made her return to the stage in Israel last night after a 16-year absence and told a crowd of 50,000: "Israel is the energy centre of the world."
The concert, at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, was the first of two to mark the end of her Sticky & Sweet tour. The second is this evening at the same venue.
She took the stage half an hour late and delighted fans when she grabbed an Israeli flag from the crowd and draped herself in it for her final song.
She told the audience: "I shouldn't have stayed so long away. Every time I come here, I get so supercharged with energy. I truly believe that Israel is the energy centre of the world. And I also believe that if we can all live together in harmony in this place, then we can live in peace all over the world."
Madonna arrived in Israel on Sunday and spent the evening visiting the Western Wall. On Monday she had dinner with opposition leader Tzipi Livni and she is expected to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday.
Although she has not performed in Israel since 1993 she visited the country in 2004 and 2007. She has been practicing Kabbalah for more than 10 years and has adopted the Hebrew name Esther.
Last updated: 4:17pm, September 2 2009

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Nazis armed the Palestine 'Arab Uprising'

In 2006, 70 years after the fact, the British finally released documentation showing the close ties between Palestinian "nationalists" and Nazi Germany during the Arab Uprising, as well as Britain's cynical abandonment of promises to Jews and perfidy in the the crucial pre-war period. British later tried to make a case that they were balancing between two legitimate claims, whereas in fact, they simply abandoned their obligations under the League of Nations mandate in order to appease the Arabs.
The perfidy did not stop with the war, since the British withheld information about Arab-Nazi collaboration for many years, evidently because it would have helped the Jewish case.
Ami Isseroff

British National Archives unveil presence of Nazi S.S. agents in Mandatory Palestine, working closely with Palestinian leaders
Yaakov Lappin Published: 05.07.06, 16:41 / Israel News

Historical documents in Britain's National Archives in London show that Nazi Germany attempted to ship arms to Palestinian forces in the 1930s.

A British Foreign Office report from 1939 reports of "news of a consignment of arms from Germany, sent via Turkey and addressed to Ibn Saud (king of Saudi Arabia), but really intended for the Palestine insurgents." Britain's chief military officer in Mandatory Palestine also noted reports "regarding import of German arms at intervals for some years now."
British documents from the same period, and German records photographed by an American spy and sent to the British government, said that a number of Nazi agents were sent to Mandatory Palestine, in order to forge alliances with Palestinian leaders, and urge them to reject a partition of the land between the Jewish and Arab populations.
One Nazi agent, Adam Vollhardt, arrived in Palestine in July 1938, and was reported to have gained strong influence with Arab leaders, meeting with Palestinian leaders throughout 1938. Vollhardt held several meetings with leading Arab politicians and told them "that the Palestine question would be settled to the satisfaction of the Arabs within a few weeks," adding that "it would be fatal to their (Palestinians') cause if at this juncture they showed any signs of weakness or exhaustion."

"Germany was interested in the settlement of the (Palestine) question on the basis of the Arabs obtaining their full demands," Vollhardt was reported to say to Palestinian leaders, according to a report by the British War Office. Vollhardt also assured Arab leaders that "the Germans could continue to support the Palestinian Arab cause by means of propaganda."

German documents photographed and sent to Whitehall by an American spy revealed that in 1937, German officials had calculated that "Palestine under Arab rule would… become one of the few countries where we could count on a strong sympathy for the new Germany."

'Arabs admire our Fuhrer'
"The Palestinian Arabs show on all levels a great sympathy for the new Germany and its Fuhrer, a sympathy whose value is particularly high as it is based on a purely ideological foundation," a Nazi official in Palestine wrote in a letter to Berlin in 1937. He added: "Most important for the sympathies which Arabs now feel towards Germany is their admiration for our Fuhrer, especially during the unrests, I often had an opportunity to see how far these sympathies extend. When faced with a dangerous behaviour of an Arab mass, when one said that one was German, this was already generally a free pass."

A second Nazi agent, Dr. Franz Reichart, was reported to be actively working with Palestinian Arabs by the British Criminal Investigation Division "to help coordinate Arab and German propaganda." Reichart was also head of the German Telegraphic Agency in Jerusalem.

German records show that the Nazis viewed the establishment of a Jewish state with great concern. A 1937 report from German General Consulate in Palestine said: "The formation of a Jewish state… is not in Germany's interest because a (Jewish) Palestinian state would create additional national power bases for international Jewry such as for example the Vatican State for political Catholicism or Moscow for the Communists. Therefore, there is a German interest in strengthening the Arabs as a counter weight against such possible power growth of the Jews."
Jewish refugees abandoned
The records also show that the news of increased Nazi-Arab cooperation panicked the British government, and caused it to cancel a plan in 1938 to bring to Palestine 20,000 German Jewish refugees, half of them children, facing danger from the Nazis.

Documents show that after deciding that the move would upset Arab opinion, Britain decided to abandon the Jewish refugees to their fate.
"His Majesty's Government asked His Majesty's Representatives in Cairo, Baghdad and Jeddah whether so far as they could judge, feelings in Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia against the admission of, say 5,000 Jewish children for adoption… would be so strong as to lead to a refusal to send representatives to the London discussions. All three replies were strongly against the proposal, which was not proceeded with," a Foreign Office report said.

"If war were to break out, no trouble that the Jews could occasion us, in Palestine or elsewhere, could weigh for a moment against the importance of winning Muslim opinion to our side," Britain's Minister for Coordination of Defence, Lord Chatfield, told the British cabinet in 1939, shortly before Britain reversed its decision to partition its mandate, promising instead all of the land to the Palestinian Arabs.

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EU official supports anti-Israel conspiracy theory: Israel hi-jacked Russian ship

EU officials, as well as TIME magazine, are becoming increasingly blatant in support of improbable and unfounded accusations against Israel.

'Israel behind Russian ship hijacking'

Sep. 2, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

The conspiracy theory which names Israel as the mastermind behind the mysterious hijacking of a Russian freighter in July appears to be gaining traction, with the European Union's rapporteur on piracy, Admiral Tarmo Kouts, expressing his support for that version of events.

In an interview with Time magazine, Kouts said that the interception of the Arctic Sea, and the ship's subsequent total disappearance before being retrieved by the Russian navy, bared the marks of an Israeli operation, which he termed the most likely explanation.

"There is the idea that there were missiles aboard, and one can't explain this situation in any other way," he told the magazine, becoming the highest-ranking official to date to support the theory. "As a sailor with years of experience, I can tell you that the official versions are not realistic."

In response to Kouts' remarks, Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, said that the EU official should stop "running his mouth."

According to the official Russian explanation of the incident, the boat was simply transporting a shipment of timber when it was hijacked by pirates who originally claimed to be environmentalists. After the pirates turned off the ship's tracking device in late July, the boat effectively disappeared. Russia sent out a search party, and on August 17, the ship and its crew were rescued.

While Russia has consistently denied any report which deviates from their official line, numerous papers quoting various experts claimed there was far more to the story. These experts cite a number of facts to support their theory, such as the ship not sending out a distress signal, President Shimon Peres's surprise visit to Russia shortly after the incident, and the unusually long amount of time it took the Russian navy to track down the freighter.

Until today, no government official of any kind has gone on the record to accuse Israel as being behind the hijacking, but many have admitted that the story - or at least the official version - does not appear to hold water.

"There is something fishy about this whole story, no doubt about it," former Israeli deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh told The Media Line. "But I can't comment further on this."

This article can also be read at

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anal "terrorist"

From the Saudi Gazette:
"According to Okaz sources, the bomber who detonated himself only a meter away from the Prince was part of a terrorist cell formed to target oil installations and public figures.
The sources said the bomber stayed in an apartment on Sari Street, northwest of Jeddah, Thursday."
... "Okaz sources said the bomb was implanted in the attacker's rectum, which could explain why he refused to drink coffee at the Prince's Court"
Noteworthy are the location of the bomb, as well as the use of the word "terrorist." A few sentences later however, the article reverts to the politically correct "militant." Terrorists never attack in Israel. Only "militants" and "gunmen" attack in  Israel.
Jokers are having a field day with the location of the bomb.
Ami Isseroff

By Abdullah Al-Orefij

RIYADH – The failed assassination attempt on Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, Thursday night was planned by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which operates from Yemen, sources confirmed.

The suicide bomber was recruited by Yemeni Nasser Al-Wohaishi, known also by the nom de guerre Abu Baseer, the sources said.

Al-Wohaishi is the head of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which had announced in an Internet posting last January the merger of the Saudi and Yemeni branches of Al-Qaeda.
The merger was seen by analysts as an attempt to consolidate after the Saudi branch of Al-Qaeda was practically wiped out following a vigorous counter-terrorism campaign led by Prince Muhammad.
According to Okaz sources, the bomber who detonated himself only a meter away from the Prince was part of a terrorist cell formed to target oil installations and public figures.
The sources said the bomber stayed in an apartment on Sari Street, northwest of Jeddah, Thursday.

He had slipped into the Kingdom from Mareb, east of Sana'a, Yemen's Foreign Minister Abu-Bakr Al-Qirbi told The Associated Press.

"He was in Yemen," said Al-Qirbi. "He claimed that he was going to hand himself over to Saudi authorities and make a statement to his followers to abandon Al-Qaeda principles."
Okaz sources said the bomb was implanted in the attacker's rectum, which could explain why he refused to drink coffee at the Prince's Court.

The bomber had sent word he wanted to surrender personally to the Prince who had ordered that he not be searched to encourage others to come forward.
At the Prince's home in Jeddah's north Obhur beach area Thursday night around 11.30 P.M., the attacker was in line to enter a gathering of well-wishers for Ramadan when he blew himself up. The Prince was lightly injured in the attack. The bomber died.

Saudi authorities have so far not announced the identity of the attacker who along with his brother was on the Interior Ministry's list of 85 most wanted militants.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has made several unsuccessful attempts to strike inside the Kingdom.

In April, Saudi authorities discovered a cave in the remote Saudi mountains near the Yemeni border that was a way station for the militants. Saudi police seized 11 suspected Saudi militants planning armed robberies, kidnappings and other attacks. Earlier this month Saudi authorities announced the arrest of 44 militants and the seizure of explosives, detonators and guns.

Thursday's bombing was the first assassination attempt against a member of the royal family in decades and was also the first significant attack by militants in the Kingdom since 2006.
Saudi Arabia has waged a fierce crackdown on Al-Qaeda militants in the country. It has killed or captured most of their leaders after a string of attacks that started in 2003.
However, Thursday attack raises concerns that Yemen's instability could allow Al-Qaeda to carry out cross-border attacks. The Yemeni army is on a near three-week-long offensive on strongholds of Zaidi rebels, also known as Huthis, in lawless swathes around Saada city in the Mareb region. The security forces are stretched by the tribal revolt in the north and separatist unrest in the south. – Okaz/ SG/ Agencies

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The future of the peace process?

Remember when there was going to be a Palestinian state by the end of 2008? Now it is postponed to 2011, but the principle is the same. US officials say the settlements problem is solved (see below) but Palestinians insist there won't be talks without a total settlement freeze, according to this report:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will only meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if the US convinces Israel to put a full settlement construction freeze in place, according to a Reuters report Monday.

The report quoted Abbas aide Nabil Shaath as saying that the PA president would only resume negotiations with a complete halt to settlement activity, without "loopholes," as well as a commitment from Israel to establish a Palestinian state.

Compare to what is below.
Ami Isseroff
Washington will announce the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority through a trilateral summit of U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The meeting would take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly late this month; two years would be allotted to completing talks on a peace agreement.
On Monday President Shimon Peres confirmed that such a summit was being considered, under facilitation by Obama.
Peres also all sides to broaden the scope of peace talks beyond the contentious issue of settlements, though he called it a matter that would need to be addressed.
"On that particular issue, there is not yet an agreement. Negotiations are going on. I do believe there is a solution for it as well," Peres said. "It's very hard to convince your own people to make so many concessions, to take so many risks."
"But this is the task of a leader to move ahead," he said, adding Netanyahu was aware of what needed to be done. "He knows there is no chance, no escape, no alternative to go ahead and make peace. He knows he must do it ... it's just not a simple proposition," Peres said.
U.S. officials briefed representatives of several European Union countries last week on the diplomatic vision Obama will present at the UN.
Last week, after meeting Netanyahu in London, special U.S. envoy George Mitchell briefed several European Union foreign ministers on the latest developments in Middle East peace talks. Meanwhile, senior White House officials updated several European ambassadors on their plan for advancing the negotiations.
Israeli envoys Yitzhak Molcho and Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog flew to Washington on Monday for talks with Mitchell.
European and Israeli diplomats told Haaretz that Mitchell and other top Washington officials said "Obama has no new peace plan," but only that the diplomatic outline is different from the so-called Annapolis process and is based on several guiding principles.
First is that talks will advance according to the Middle East road map. Second, the target for completing negotiations will be two years from now. Third, unlike the Annapolis process, the United States will take a more active role in the talks and will "take a seat at the negotiating table."
The U.S. officials told the Europeans that in the coming weeks, possibly before the General Assembly opens, Washington could declare an agreement for "confidence-building measures" drafted by Israel and the Palestinians to allow talks to progress.
"We didn't reach 100 percent of what we wanted in Israel and the Arab states, but we got enough to allow for the renewal of talks," a U.S. official said.
The agreement would call for Israel to temporarily or partially freeze settlement building, though the length of the freeze was not stipulated. "In the next meeting with the Israeli negotiating team the issue will be settled conclusively," a U.S. official said. Their counterparts in Jerusalem said the freeze could last at least six to nine months. One Israeli source said the freeze could last up to a year.
Meanwhile, the American officials said they had achieved a series of normalization steps by Arab states toward Israel, though Saudi Arabia had declined to commit to any goodwill gestures toward Israel. Instead, it is transferring several hundred million dollars to the authorities in Ramallah.
One European diplomat said Qatar would reopen the Israeli diplomatic mission in Doha, and several other states will allow direct flights from Israel through their airspace and to their airports. Several Persian Gulf states also agreed to grant tourist visas to Israeli tourists and businesspeople.
The American officials said that after talks are renewed, they would be interested in convening an international peace summit before the end of this year. European and Israeli diplomats said Moscow is a leading possibility to host the meeting, and that members of the Quartet of Mideast peace negotiators had already promised Russia to hold it in that nation's capital.
Another candidate to host the meeting is Paris. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak recommended to Obama that the summit be held in the city in the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean, of which France and Egypt are co-presidents. Sarkozy also floated the idea separately with Netanyahu and Abbas.
American officials told the Europeans they are also interested in restarting the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese diplomatic tracks, though those processes would take several months to launch. Restarting those tracks, they said, would also improve U.S.-Syrian and Syrian-Lebanese relations.
Monday Abbas said he would agree to renew the peace process with Israel only if it agreed to a freeze on settlement construction.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told Haaretz after meeting Israeli representatives Monday that no agreement had been reached on freezing settlement growth in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Solana said Mitchell would return to the area next week in hopes of returning Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Solana Monday, "We must not commit to target dates on a comprehensive agreement, since in the past this has brought disappointment and frustration, and led to conflicts between the two sides.
"The Palestinians' unilateral initiatives do not contribute to creating a positive dialogue between the two sides. If the Salam Fayyad initiative goes through, it won't go unanswered," Lieberman said. Last week the PA prime minister announced a plan for creating a "de facto Palestinian state" within two years if the peace process continues to stagnate.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Hamas leaders in Holocaust Denial

UNRWA schools do not teach about the Holocaust. Hamas wants it to stay that way. Moreover, they insist it never happened. As "spiritual leader" Younis al-Astal declared:
Adding the Holocaust to the curriculum would amount to "marketing a lie and spreading it."
Not the Holocaust, but teaching about it is a "war crime" according to the  Hamas. Evidently, they want their kids to believe they are the originators of the idea of murdering all the Jews, as is stated in the Hamas Charter. It is interesting that certain Jewish groups want to open a dialogue with the Hamas.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, (AP) – A Hamas spiritual leader on Monday called teaching Palestinian children about the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews a "war crime," rejecting a reported U.N. proposal to include the Holocaust in Gaza's school curriculum.
A senior Israeli official said such statements should make the West think twice about ending its boycott of Hamas, in place since the group seized Gaza by force in 2007.
Hamas spiritual leader Younis al-Astal lashed out after hearing that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the main U.N. body aiding Palestinian refugees, planned to introduce lessons about the Holocaust to Gaza students.
Adding the Holocaust to the curriculum would amount to "marketing a lie and spreading it," al-Astal wrote in a statement.
"I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies," he wrote.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also objected to including what he referred to as the "so-called Holocaust" in the lesson plan. "We think it's more important to teach Palestinians the crimes of the Israeli occupation," he said.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said countries contemplating ending their boycott of Hamas must "seriously reconsider" after the Hamas statements, which he described as "obscene."
Many Palestinians are reluctant to acknowledge Jewish suffering, fearing it might diminish their own. Attitudes toward the Holocaust range from outright denial to challenging its scope.
Still, Hamas has been making overtures to the West, hoping to end a stifling blockade of Gaza. The statements about the Holocaust by senior Hamas officials could undermine the group's attempt to present itself as pragmatic.
The U.S. and Europe list Hamas as a terror group, but there have been growing calls, particularly in Europe, to talk to the militants. Hamas control of Gaza is seen as a key obstacle to any Mideast peace deal.
UNRWA provides education, health care and welfare services to more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million people. Spokesman Chris Gunness said a final decision has not been made about the Holocaust course for Gaza schools.
"While the Holocaust is currently not included on the basis of age appropriateness, all elements (of the curriculum) remain under review and under evolution," he said.
The U.N. runs 221 schools in Gaza for more than 200,000 students and is the largest independent agency in the territory, controlled by Hamas since a violent takeover in 2007. The West Bank, the other territory that is supposed to comprise a future Palestinian state, is controlled by Hamas' Western-backed rivals of the Fatah movement, led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Three teachers at U.N. schools said that according to the new program, basic information about the Holocaust was expected to be taught to eighth grade students as part of human rights classes.
Two of the teachers said they were told about the lesson plan by colleagues involved in the new syllabus. Another teacher said he attended a recent meeting with education officials where he was told to try to teach the new syllabus without offending parents' sensibilities.
All three said they had not received the syllabus for the human rights classes yet, even though the school year began in late August. They requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to reporters.
Israeli officials said the statements place Hamas in a pariah club of Holocaust deniers that includes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Some 6 million Jews were killed in the Nazi campaign to wipe out European Jewry, and the urgent need to find a sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of survivors contributed to the creation of Israel after World War II.
Many Palestinians are reluctant to acknowledge the full extent of the Holocaust because they feel it provided legitimacy for Israel's establishment. A majority of Gaza's 1.4 million people are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 Mideast war over Israel's creation.
Hamas' founding charter calls for Israel's destruction, though senior Hamas officials have recently said they would accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel as an interim stage to full Islamic control of the region.
Hamas is frequently at loggerheads with the U.N. refugee agency, which it considers the only serious challenge to its control of Gaza. Over the summer, Hamas accused the U.N. of spreading "immorality" in summer camps for children, because it offered activities such as folk dancing and crafts.

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Madonna & Jesus in Israel - with Justin Timberlake Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore

Madonna is the Kabbalah loving pop star and Jesus is her boyfriend, Jesus Luz. It is nice to see all these glitterati supporting Israel by their presence, isn't it?
Madonna & Jesus in the Holy Land
Madonna & Jesus in Jerusalem; Queen of Pop Expected to Meet Netanyahu Today
JERUSALEM, Aug. 31, 2009 —
Pop star Madonna and family landed in Israel Sunday for two tour-closing sellout concerts in Tel Aviv  the final stop on her global Sticky and Sweet tour.
The 51-year-old queen of pop's private jet touched down at Israel's Ben Gurion airport and she was then whisked to her beachfront hotel in Tel Aviv in a fleet of identical cars, an attempt to throw the pack of waiting paparazzi off the trail.
Late Sunday she and her 22-year-old boyfriend, Jesus Luz, visited Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem, including a complex of tunnels beneath the famous Wailing Wall. Security at the site was tight and waiting photographers and camera crews could only catch fleeting glimpses of the star.
Madonna is a devotee of the Kabbalah, the mystical Jewish discipline, and she has been to Israel before on a spiritual pilgrimage. She has adopted the name of Esther as a sign of her commitment to Kabbalah.
Before her first concert Tuesday night in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park, she and a number of her Hollywood friends and fellow Kabbalists including Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher will reportedly visit the gravesites of famous Jewish rabbis.
Another Kabbalah-related friend, singer Justin Timberlake is also expected in Israel to attend Madonna's concert and events at a Kabbalah center.
One Israeli paper reported Monday that Madonna even insisted work on her huge stage should be suspended on Saturday for fear of desecrating the Jewish Sabbath.
She is also scheduled to meet with Israeli political leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni .
Because of its recent history of violence and the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians many headline music acts and performers have stopped coming to Israel in recent years.
There has been enormous interest in Madonna's visit as a result, with VIP tickets selling for $700 each. Fifty-thousand fans are expected to attend each performance.

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Anti-Israel chorus reaches a crescendo

Reflections on the New Antisemitism

by David Solway

The Hebrew Scripture is replete with passages of unforgettable beauty, and many of the most beautiful are to be found in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 119, the longest in the book, is studded with such pearls, in particular verses 103-05, which read (in the King James translation):

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get
understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

These words resonate ironically today, when the words one hears and reads everywhere around us about Jews, about Zionists, and about the state of Israel are not "sweet" but sharp and bitter. The "precepts" we receive in the various media, print and electronic, do not promote "understanding" but seem instead to justify "every false way." The biblical "lamp" seems to have been extinguished and the "path" is shrouded in darkness.

The most recent case in point comes from the left-leaning Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, which reported in a double-truck spread on August 18, 2009, that Israeli soldiers regularly abduct Palestinians to harvest their innards for the international organ trade. (This is the same daily that, on Easter 2003, referred to "the crucifixion of Arafat.") The source for this ludicrous fable consists of a number of Palestinians whose depositions are accepted as gospel. How Swede are their words! The story now comes full circle back to its Palestinian source to be confirmed by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an (which is, incidentally, financed by Denmark and Holland). The feature cites a certain "expert" whose evidence for the claim consists of a rather peculiar factoid, namely, that Israel returns the bodies of Hezbollah fighters minus their organs! The obvious question remains unasked: why would Israel send back these scavenged bodies if it wished to avoid detection and avert a scandal? The absurdity is palpable, but logic and common sense are clearly beyond the cognitive abilities of anti-Semites. And then, as we know, there is the inconvenient medical fact that the organs of people who do not expire under clinical conditions, when organs can be removed immediately, are not viable for transplant.

Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the Palestinian propaganda machine and the robust Antisemitism of the Swedish media and officialdom (not to mention Norway, Spain, the UK, and several other European countries) might consult another verse from Psalm 119: "The wicked have laid a snare for me." And indeed they have. The most popular Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, cleared the way for its Swedish counterpart to launch its newest calumny, publishing an article on August 8, 2009, accusing Jews of creating swine flu as part of a pharmaceutical conspiracy to profit from the sale of antidotes.

The despicable lies perpetrated by Aftonbladet and De Telegraaf are only the latest in what seems like an endless chain of defamatory utterances and slanderous fictions about the Jewish people and the Jewish state. We recall the notorious Mohammed al-Durah hoax , in which the Palestinian 12-year-old was ostensibly shot by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) at the Netzarim junction in Gaza on September 30, 2000, propagated by the France TV 2 network and picked up by every major news outlet on the planet. We now know that the episode was rehearsed, directed, and staged with the collusion of Palestinian stringers and cameramen. It constitutes perhaps the most conspicuous contemporary chapter in the never-ending and constantly mutating hate-campaign against the Jewish people.

Then we had the so-called Jenin massacre , which turned out to be anything but, except for the 22 young Israeli soldiers who died trying to avoid civilian casualties when an American-style air strike would have done the job of scrubbing out the terrorist nest. Next, the blame for the 2006 Lebanon war was laid at Israel's doorstep although the conflict was triggered by the Hezbollah incursion into Israeli territory, resulting in the kidnapping and killing of several Israeli soldiers. Britain's Independent went so far as to accuse Israel of using uranium-tipped weapons, a claim so manifestly outrageous it defies both reason and belief — and should rightly have defied publication.

An investigation is now proceeding under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council into Israel's conduct during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. There is not so much as a mention in its mandate of Hamas' seven-year rocket barrage against civilian communities in southern Israel which provoked the long-deferred Israeli response. Note well. It is not Hamas - a terrorist organization whose charter promises the annihilation of the Jewish state, which has deliberately violated international law by using its own civilians as human shields, firing missiles from its own population centers, storing ammunition in hospitals and mosques, and commandeering ambulances as troop carriers, and that continues to hold a kidnapped Israeli soldier in illegal detention - which is being investigated. It is Israel that is being singled out for condemnation, the country of which British military expert Richard Kemp, in a BBC interview in January 2009, said: "I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza."

The world is once again thirsting for Jewish blood, an ironic reversal of the old blood libel canard. We see this vampiric appetite expressed in a multitude of different ways: in the international media, as we have observed; in the theater ( My Name Is Rachel Corrie , Seven Jewish Children ; in film (Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ); in opera (the antiphrastic staging of Camille Saint-Saen's Samson et Dalila in Antwerp in May 2008, with the Philistines cast in the role of the Israelites and the Israelites as the oppressors of the Philistines); in the tarnished and largely one-sided reports of NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (the latter soliciting funds from Saudi Arabia ); in international conferences on racism ( Durban I and II , which turn into flagrant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatefests); in the General Assembly of the United Nations (whose current president, Miguel d'Escoto Brockman , is an outspoken opponent of the Jewish state); on university campuses where Israel Apartheid Week i s one of the hottest shows around; in Barack Obama's defaulting on the commitment of the previous American administration regarding the natural growth of Israeli settlements and construction in East Jerusalem; and so on, ad vomitatum.

And there seems no way at present of evading the growing pandemic of anti-Jewish feeling and anti-Israeli denunciation that is infecting the contemporary world. "What is new about the new Antisemitism," writes Phyllis Chesler in The New Antisemitism , is "that it is worldwide. … Jews are being verbally and visually attacked everywhere." The Jew is someone for whom there is no elsewhere. This is my definition, but there have, of course, been many definitions of the Jew over the millennia, most of them pejorative. I need not rehearse them once again, for the Dictionary of Received Opinion is open to all and readily available. It is, in effect, the one dictionary that need not be purchased, lodged in the inner life of the West like a demonic version of the Gideon Bible in hotel room drawers.

There is no disputing this. What the great English Renaissance author Sir Thomas Browne called the Pseudodoxia Epidemica (or Dictionary of Received Opinion) is especially rich and hospitable when it comes to the vilification of the Jew. In his master work of that title, Browne set out to dispel common prejudices of every kind, a Herculean effort which, fraught with "discouragment of contradiction, unbelief, and difficulty," he described as the "disswasion from radicated beliefs." Concerning the Jews, he is in no doubt about the ubiquitous and diabolical error of such "radicated beliefs." "In the conceit of the evil order of the Jews," he writes, "Christians without a farther research into the verity of the thing, or enquiry into the cause, draw up a judgment upon them." It is only the "more ocular discerners" who know otherwise.

Today, it is not only Christians (or Muslims) who "draw up a judgment upon them" but, as Chesler indicates, a vast, secular, politically correct, mainly liberal-left constituency busily adding a sheaf of extra pages to the common Pseudodoxia, comprising a thick appendix of stigmatic designations. Obviously, this has mainly to do with Israel, conceived as the new Jew on the block and the national incarnation of the "longest hatred" as it manifests among us. Anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment has become so pervasive that it reminds me of the philosopher Nicholas of Cusa 's definition of God as a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. But in our demented age the definition applies not to love but to hatred, not to the worship of the Lord but to the derogation of the "satanic" Jew.

The fact must be faced. Although there are writers of integrity, talent, and impressive scholarship, truly "ocular discerners," who have taken up the defense of Jews and of Israel, it seems increasingly like a fruitless struggle. The words of Israel's defenders in the infosphere are simply unable to fill the ever-expanding circle of hostility, deprecation, and vengefulness in which Jews and the Jewish state now find themselves. It is, rather, the words of their adversaries that proliferate and block out the horizon of discourse — the invidious message of those who should never be taken at their word.

Thankfully, there is a countervailing fact as well, which has to do with the long history of courage against all the odds and the unprecedented resilience of the Jewish people — and, of course, with those honorable and gracious advocates for truth and decency who come to the defense of Israel. As hapless as the battle may seem at times, there can be no reneging. "Nor have we let fall our penne," wrote Browne, even though we "are oft-times fain to wander in the America and untravelled parts of truth." Browne was a devout man who would have based his practice on a passage like that of verse 130 of the above-quoted psalm: "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." I would add only the hopeful rider: and to the sophisticates as well.

But for those of us who are not religiously observant, the imperative to speak, write, and act remains in force. In the interests of the survival of Israel and the integrity of the West, and despite all the impediments raised against the simple truth, we need to get the word out.

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity , and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress, an imprint of Mantua Books, in the fall.

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Swedish government firm, won't condemn anti-Semitism

Along with freedom of the press, freedom to be anti-Semitic is evidently one of the mainstays of the Swedish government, as they refuse to condemn Anti-Semitism. At least, they are sticking to their principles.

Bildt: No plan to condemn anti-Semitism

Aug. 31, 2009

The crisis over the Swedish newspaper article claiming IDF soldiers killed Palestinians and snatched their organs refuses to fade away, with Sweden's Foreign Minister denying a report that his country would work together with Italy to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism at an upcoming informal meeting of European foreign ministers.

Monday's Haaretz quoted Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini as saying that he and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt agreed to work to pass a resolution saying that the EU, under the Swedish Presidency, strongly condemned anti-Semitism and would work against its manifestations in Europe.

Frattini, according to the paper, said he would demand that the statement make clear reference to the offensive Aftonbladet article.

Later in the day, however, the Swedish news agency TT quoted Bildt - currently on a trip to Kabul - as denying that he discussed with Frattini a possible resolution to the Israeli-Swedish friction at the upcoming meeting.

According to the news agency, the Swedish foreign ministry's head of communications,. Cecilia Julin, denied Bildt and Frattini even discussed the disagreement, or a possible resolution at the Council of Ministers.

"From the Swedish side we have no plans to handle this question through the informal foreign ministers' meeting in Stockholm," said Julin. She said that Bildt suggested that Frattini's comment must have arisen through an "Italian misunderstanding."

Swedish President Fredrik Reinfeldt also continued to hunker down Monday behind the official Swedish position that this was an issue of press freedom, and that the Swedish government could not take a stand.

Referring to Swedish laws regarding freedom of the press, Reinfeldt said at a press conference in Stockholm, "We cannot be asked by anyone to contravene the Swedish constitution, and this is something we will also not do within the European Union."

Israel has said repeatedly that it was not asking the Swedish government to impinge upon freedom of the press, but rather to condemn a "blood libel" that appeared in a Swedish newspaper.

Bildt, meanwhile, is still scheduled to arrive in Israel on September 11 for a one day visit. Israel, according to diplomatic officials, continues to wait for a condemnation of the article by the Swedish government. If such a condemnation is not forthcoming by the time of Bildt's visit, the officials said, it would cast a serious cloud over the trip and Sweden's efforts to play a significant role in the diplomatic process.


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Lieberman: Israel won`t let Palestinians declare state unilaterally

It is noteworthy that Palestinians have the option, under the roadmap, to negotiate a state with provisional borders, which the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah have both rejected, instead preparing a program to declare a state unilaterally - a state that would have no borders and would de facto, control only a very small territory. The EU has expressed support for such a state. The United States has been silent.
Last update - 15:19 31/08/2009       
Lieberman: Israel won`t let Palestinians declare state unilaterally
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday declared that Israel would not stand by idly should Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad go ahead with his stated plan to declare a de-facto state within two years.
Lieberman told visiting UN envoy Tony Blair and European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana that such unilateral initiatives did not contribute to the creation of positive dialogue and vowed that Israel would respond.
He also said that a deadline should not yet be set on a future agreement between Israel and the Palestinians as past attempts to do so has only exacerbated the conflict.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres earlier Monday told Solana that Israel the Palestinians had both expressed willingness to enter negotiations and have agreed to work toward the principle of two states for two peoples.
Peres added that now was the time to move on peace talks, and suggested the sides launch two parallel negotiations, one on a permanent agreement the other on existing issues.
Fayyad said last week that the Palestinian Authority intends to establish a de-facto state by 2011, despite failing peace talks.
We have decided to be proactive, to expedite the end of the occupation by working very hard to build positive facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be ignored," Fayyad told the Times of London. "This is our agenda, and we want to pursue it doggedly."
According to Fayyad, the idea would be to "end the occupation, despite the occupation."
The de facto state would include security forces, public services and a thriving economy, Fayyad told the Times, and would hopfully serve as the impetus to Israel to move foward on its own commitments.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Israel wants release of IAEA classified document about Iranian nukes

A word or two of caution: Nobody knows for certain that the classified document exists, and of course its existence will be denied, or it will be claimed that it is just opinions of inspectors. People who follow the public reports closely say that in fact there is usually a section on military dimensions, and that the current report is not much different from previous ones. Iran's welcome of the IAEA report is par for the course. They have done the same regarding previous reports and always claim the document exonerates them.

J'lem wants IAEA report on Iran released

Aug. 31, 2009

Israel wants the International Atomic Energy Agency to release a classified report on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons experiments, government officials said Sunday, following Friday's release of an IAEA report that was welcomed by Teheran as "positive."

Although the report said that Iran was stonewalling about "possible military dimensions" to its nuclear program, the report was far less critical of it than Israel would have liked.

According to government officials, the IAEA has another document that is a summary of everything the agency knows about Iran's nuclear program, but which has remained classified.

Israel is keen on getting that document released, but has limited leverage since it is not a member of the IAEA.

The current head of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, did not agree to release the document, and the decision to do so will now go to his successor, Japan's Yukiya Amano, due to take office on December 1.

The Associated Press reported some 10 days ago on the existence of a secret IAEA summary of Iran's alleged weapons experiments, based on agency investigations and US and other intelligence reports.

AP quoted senior Western diplomats as saying the information concerned allegations that Iran had actively pursued research into developing nuclear warheads.

ElBaradei, according to the AP report, has opposed the document's publication out of the fear that this would make Iran even more intransigent and less likely to cooperate with the IAEA, and push the US or Israel closer to a possible military strike on Teheran's nuclear facilities.

This article can also be read at

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Saudi Prof: TV channel owners as bad as Zionists and Crusaders and should be executed. Islam casts fear...

TV channel owners who show the "wrong" materials are as bad as the Zionist enemy and the crusader Americans and therefore should be tried and executed, according to a Saudi professor.

The professor was frank about the nature of Islam in his view:

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: Islam itself casts fear...

Interviewer: No, it doesn't. Islam is a religion of tolerance and leniency, Sheik.

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: Allah says otherwise. Islam is lenient, but the infidel West trembles in fear of it. Allah has ordered us to prepare: "Prepare for them what force and steeds of war you can, to cast fear in the hearts of Allah's enemies and of your own." Our human nature may tell us that stoning is unacceptable, but this is a punishment decreed by Allah. If Allah decrees death – this is how it should be. If the Islamic scholars ruled that the punishment for drug dealers is death, this is how it should be.

I believe that [the TV channel owners] are more dangerous than all of these. Forget about whether or not they should be killed – we demand that they face trial in an Islamic court of law. I call upon the good, honorable businessmen to contribute their millions in order to hire lawyers to file Islamic lawsuits against these TV channels owners, and to persecute them legally. I call upon lawyers and good people in Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf states, in Egypt, in Yemen, and everywhere, to banish them from all Muslim countries.

The religion of fear...

Ami Isseroff

MEMRI August 8, 2009 Clip No. 2216

Saudi University Professor Yousuf Al-Ahmad: Al-Walid bin Talal and Other Owners of Saudi TV Channels Should Be Executed According to Islamic Law

Following are excerpts from an interview with Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad, a professor of Islamic law at Al-Imam University, Riyadh, which aired on Daleel TV on August 8, 2009.

Interviewer: A year ago, Sheik Saleh Al-Lahidan issued a fatwa that made all hell break loose. He demanded that owners [of liberal Arab TV channels be placed on trial] and repent. Do you support Sheik Al-Lahidan's demand?

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: I believe all Muslim scholars support him in this.


I believe that one of our problems is that we continue to bury our heads in the sand, and talk about "Lebanese" TV channels, as if we are being honest. Take LBC, for example. We all know who owns it. We should say to [the owner] Al-Walid bin Talal: Beware. The same is true of MBC TV, Al-Arabiya TV, the ART and Rotana channels – all these [Saudi] channels serve to destroy Islam and the Muslims.


Regarding these base channels that I have mentioned, and others like them – I have no doubt whatsoever that their danger to the Islamic nation is no less than that of the Zionist Jews, or of the Crusader Americans in Iraq and elsewhere.

Interviewer: What led you to such an extremist view? Note that you are equating channels owned by Muslims, by Saudi citizens, with the Jews.

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: I wasn't equating them. I said they are more dangerous. I was being precise. in my view, the deadly poison that they are spreading has reached the bone marrow.


The people who spread corruption in the land – whether highway robbers, drug dealers, or the owners of these TV channels, who are even more dangerous... These channels broadcast corruption and nudity. They are all people who spread corruption in the land, and they should be tried in an Islamic court of law and sentenced to death. This [fatwa] is clearly in accordance with Islamic law. There's no doubt about it.

Interviewer: The ferocity of this fatwa has cast fear in the hearts of...

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: ... of the hypocrites.

Interviewer: In everybody's hearts. Even in the West, it received much attention.

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: Islam itself casts fear...

Interviewer: No, it doesn't. Islam is a religion of tolerance and leniency, Sheik.

Sheik Yousuf Al-Ahmad: Allah says otherwise. Islam is lenient, but the infidel West trembles in fear of it. Allah has ordered us to prepare: "Prepare for them what force and steeds of war you can, to cast fear in the hearts of Allah's enemies and of your own." Our human nature may tell us that stoning is unacceptable, but this is a punishment decreed by Allah. If Allah decrees death – this is how it should be. If the Islamic scholars ruled that the punishment for drug dealers is death, this is how it should be.

I believe that [the TV channel owners] are more dangerous than all of these. Forget about whether or not they should be killed – we demand that they face trial in an Islamic court of law. I call upon the good, honorable businessmen to contribute their millions in order to hire lawyers to file Islamic lawsuits against these TV channels owners, and to persecute them legally. I call upon lawyers and good people in Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf states, in Egypt, in Yemen, and everywhere, to banish them from all Muslim countries.

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Netanyahu: 'Palestinians ruining peace bids by refusing to recognize Israel'

Actually, what the Palestinians refuse to recognize is the right of Israel to exist as the state of the Jewish people.
'Palestinians ruining peace bids by refusing to recognize Israel'
By Haaretz Service
The catalyst behind the long-lasting dispute between Israel and the Palestinians is the latter's unwillingness to recognize Israel's right to exist, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview to Israel Radio on Sunday.
When asked whether he thought the original sin of Israeli society was the occupation since 1967 of the West Bank, Netanyahu said that "the original sin was that the Jewish people couldn't protect itself from the verbal and physical assaults which ultimately brought to its destruction."
"I think that in 1967 the Jewish people were on the brink of destruction and the sin would have been our inability to defend ourselves the way we wanted to," the PM added, saying that he regretted "the fact that our glorious victory is presented as the mother of all sin."

Netanyahu said, however, that Israel does "not want to control the Palestinians, we want to reach a settlement," but that the reason for the peace talk stalemate isn't "because of the State of Israel but because of the other side's persistent refusal to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist."
"I believe that the things I am doing to make that point clearer will lead to their recognition of Israel's right to exist, which will remove the malignant element preventing the peace we want so dearly," the PM added.
On word of an agreement between the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama on a future construction freeze in all West Bank settlements, the PM said that "no decision has been made, and we have not reached an agreement with the United States."
"There are a lot of rumors and a lot of newspaper articles, none of which are my responsibility. We haven't agreed to anything yet, we are still working toward advancing peace talks while safeguarding settlers' rights, who are equal citizens," Netanyahu said.
"Any decision is bound to disappoint someone, every side saying you should have done things differently, but I will conduct myself in the way I believe will promote Israel and peace, something which is ultimately appreciated by civilians as well as Knesset Members."
Regarding comments made by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who told a closed-door meeting of far-right activists a few weeks ago that he was "not afraid of the Americans" and that anti-settlement groups like Peace Now were "viruses" to Israel, Netanyahu made it clear that he found those remarks unacceptable.
"I've discussed the matter with minister Ya'alon and he made it clear to me that that was not his intention. I assume he will never use that term again," Netanyahu said.
"The Left is not a virus, settlers are not a cancer. We have legitimate disagreements, but we must maintain our unity by respecting our political adversaries."
When asked about his 1999 comment, that the "Left forgot what it meant to be Jewish" the PM said that "It was a mistake then, and it's still a mistake."
"Of course I have changed, it's the result of age and wisdom, both of which tell me one thing - we are one people and I am the prime minister of all of us."

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Netanyahu: Schalit return rumours exaggerated

Rumors of an imminent deal for return of Gilad Schalit seem to have become a staple of Israeli news. With the entry of German mediators, they heated up further. But they seem to be quite a bit exaggerated.
Last update - 16:02 30/08/2009       
Netanyahu refutes claims Shalit deal just days away
By Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denied reports of a breakthrough in talks with Hamas to return captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, and said people should not expect a deal to be brokered in the coming days.
"Discussions about a deal [for Gilad Shalit] being secured in the next few days have no basis," Netanyahu told a closed cabinet meeting on Sunday.
"We must return Shalit home safe and sound, but nonetheless, there is a great deal of exaggeration and inaccurate information out there", Netanyahu told the meeting.
On Saturday, German weekly Der Spiegel reported that the German mediator in the talks for the release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit has presented Hamas with a new proposal to which Hamas would have three days to respond.
The Saudi newspaper al-Madina reported on Sunday that Top Israeli negotiator Haggai Hadas arrived in Cairo in a further attempt to advance a deal to secure Shalit's release.
According to the report, Hadas is scheduled to meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as well as with the German mediator.

Egyptian security sources cited in the report said that Hamas and Israel are close to an agreement, with only two major points still in contention: the deportation of some of the released prisoners to Gaza as well and the release of Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti.
The report also stated that Egyptian security officials convened with the head of Hamas's military wing, Ahmed Al-Jabari, where, sources said, Al-Jabari was presented with a clear Israeli offer.
According to al-Madina, Suleiman is to leave for Israel in the coming days and will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Israeli security officials.
Meanwhile, the London-based daily Al-Hayat reported over the weekend that Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal is due to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday to approve a deal for Shalit's release.
Palestinian news agency Ma'an, however, says there has been limited progress in finalizing a prisoner-exchange deal.
Der Spiegel reported that a new comprehensive proposal has been put forth for a deal between Israel and Hamas involving 450 prisoners in exchange for Shalit. This is identical to what was negotiated during the government of the previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert.
The German mediator, however, included a new element in the deal that is similar to the model used in the exchange with Hezbollah for two Israeli reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Accordingly, Israel would release several hundred Palestinian prisoners at a later stage, with no direct connection to the deal with Hamas. Israel would be committed to release more prisoners as a humanitarian gesture, but again this would not be part of the deal.
The gesture by Israel would not be linked to any timetable, and the release would be carried out at a time of Israel's choosing.
According to Der Spiegel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government is the side that requested the involvement of the German mediator, several months ago. The magazine also said the mediator is from the ranks of Germany's federal intelligence agency and had begun talks with the various sides in mid-July.
Meshal's deputy, Musa Abu Marzuq, said in an interview with the Jordanian daily Al-A'd that his boss' trip to Cairo may be delayed slightly because of the death of his father in Jordan. As a result, Jordan's King Abdullah is allowing the Hamas chief to travel to the Hashemite Kingdom to take part in the mourning.
This marks Meshal's first visit to the kingdom in a decade, following his expulsion from the country.
Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation led by Mahmoud al-Zahar returned to the Gaza Strip from Cairo. Zahar's trip included a visit to Damascus and talks in Cairo with Egyptian officials. It focused on the Palestinian reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah.
Meanwhile, members of the Shalit family and the organization conducting a campaign for Gilad's release are following developments closely. They are making preparations to step up their efforts.
"We are hearing what is going on but we are not under any illusions. We are watching what is happening and are hearing things, and are waiting for the results," said the head of the campaign, Shimshon Leibman.
On Thursday the Shalit family celebrated Gilad's 23rd birthday in a ceremony in Mitzpeh Hila. Aviva Shalit, Gilad's mother, promised on behalf of the family to carry on with the efforts to gain her son's release, "incessantly, with the help of friends and the activists."
She said that "hundreds of thousands of Gaza Strip residents have paid a heavy price during the past three years for this adventure by their leadership, in poverty, in destroyed homes, and they cannot express their frustration."

Continued (Permanent Link)

A fable of the Middle East and the land of Mordor

I was sitting in town today, waiting for my wife to return from shopping in Waitrose. To keep things balanced, I now do a second round in Waitrose, so we get the best of both worlds. I was sitting on a bench opposite a window of John Lewis, where they were displaying large-screen televisions, and the televisions were playing clips from films. The first one was that bit during the siege of Helm's Deep, where the Riders of Rohan, led by Gandalf (returned from his fight with the Balrog), charge down upon the massed orcs of the Uruk Hai. Stirring stuff. I first read Lord of the Rings when I was thirteen, forty-seven years ago. It was my first real book, and it gripped me night after night for week after week. It's not great literature, but that's not what JRR Tolkien set out to write. He was a specialist in Old and Middle English. I also specialized in Middle English as part of my first degree. There are great books from that period, but they don't all set out to be literary masterpieces. Many of them, from Gawain and the Green Knight to the Arthurian legends, are about myth, and that's what The Lord of the Rings is about too.

Tolkien's masterpiece tells a myth of great power. In the simp;lest terms, it describes a battle between good and evil, between the Dark Lord Sauron and the forces of good (exemplified by the future king Aragorn, the Elves of Rivendell, and the Hobbits of the Shire). Good wins in the end, as it does in all great myths. The Land of Mordor is ruined and the Shire cleansed. There are echoes here of the Bible, of Arthur, of the Mabinogion.

From the beginning, we know how things stand. There is no mistaking the goodness and strength of Gandalf, the evil of the Ringwraiths. Sauron is evil through and through, as are his orcs, as are the nine Nazgul. The Hobbits epitomize goodness and simplicity, and Aragorn (despite a rocky start) reveals himself as a dedicated enemy of the Dark.

Real life is not as easy, of course. What appears good often turns out to be evil, what seems ill often turns out well. We spend our lives tussling with moral dilemmas, learning who to trust, who to be cautious with. more often than not, people get it wrong. The Germans fell in love with Nazism, learned to hate the Jews, came to put their trust in brute strength and murder. Throughout Europe, communists extolled the People's Paradise of the Soviet Union even as Stalin sent millions to their deaths. Misplaced faith hurts and kills, leads whole nations to commit crimes they will later regret.

I don't have to explain the relevance of this to Israel. Today, millions across the globe self-righteously wish the worst possible harm to befall this small nation. It is not mild criticism, it is a global effort to portray Israel as Mordor, a land whose soldiers, dressed as orcs, march from the Iron Gate to slaughter innocent Palestinians (and harvest their organs). Of course, the myth has been created in reverse. Just as it isn't hard to know who, in The Lord of the Rings, is a good guy or a bad guy, so it should be clear to anyone with a working moral compass who is on the good side or the bad side of the Middle East conflict.

I'm not talking about perfect evil set against perfect good. The real world isn't like that. I'm just looking at the broad picture and our ability as human beings to recognize good and evil within it. When one side uses suicide bombers and bombs set in cafés, buses, and restaurants, rants about how much they want to kill their foe, rejects all forms of peace-making, trains its children in hate, and turns its guns on its own people; and when the other side treats its enemies in its own hospitals, willingly departs from territory, builds a security fence that keeps the bombers out, and supplies its enemy with goods, fuel, and equipment, why is it so hard to tell which side of the border Sauron is on and which Aragorn? When one side has struggled through war and terror to destroy the other, and the other has offered its enemy a state of its own again and again, does it take the brain of a genius to see which way the horses of Rohan are riding?

Tragically, many of the world's finest brains keep failing this moral test. Intellectuals in America, Europe and elsewhere have come and continue to come to the startling conclusion that Israel is the one truly evil state in the world. This astonishing notion marches alongside many other failures of the moral compass. Intellectuals, the media and government dare more and more often apologists for radial Islam. Feminists defend female genital mutilation and round on other feminists (like Phyllis Chesler) who condemn it. I recently took part in a TV debate in which one person after another spoke up loudly for a woman's right to wear a full face veil, despite the very obvious disadvantages this has for the woman and the society round her. Intellectuals (rightly) condemn the Transatlantic slave trade, but no voice is ever raised to condemn the larger and longer-lasting Arab and Ottoman slave trade. It has become commonplace to denounce Western empires and colonialism, but when did anyone last speak out about the many Islamic empires and their often devastating impact on countries like India.

During World War II, there was never any doubt where one's loyalties lay. Apart from a few self-serving individuals, like Oswald Mosley and Lord Haw Haw, everyone knew who the enemy was. When bombs were falling every night on British cities, it was hard for anyone's moral compass to swing far off north. The more we knew about the Reich, the more obvious it was that we can not afford to lose the war, because Hitler was a Dark Lord who would enslave or kill us.

And that's the puzzling thing. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't going on in someone's backyard. It's out there for everyone to see. Hamas rockets fell on Sderot, and any visiting journalist (if any had cared to visit) could have been there when they landed. But when Israel moved in to stop the barrages after many years, the world seemed not to know of any provocation and portrayed Operation Cast Lead as an unprovoked attack. All the photographs and film of destruction in Gaza made the front pages and TV screens; but there were no shots of the Gaza that had not been harmed. We all know about this, about this dishonest reporting that is more interested in keeping wounds open than in telling the truth.


Frodo carried the ring of power to the Crack of Doom, and Gollum's greed finally carried it into the depths of the mountain, where it was destroyed and Sauron's power lost for ever. If only we had a ring like that and a Crack of Doom to throw it into. What we have instead is Israel itself. Whatever its flaws, it's a healthy country. It stands for values like democracy, freedom, human rights, and a balance between secularism and religion. Set beside its neighbours, it stands out. Good amidst evil may be overstating it. But it needs to be recognized for what it is: a land that promotes good and stands against evil.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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