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Friday, September 18, 2009

A friend indeed - US reacts to Goldstone report

The US is the first country to relate to the unfairness of the Goldstone report.
Of course, part of this is US officials saying, "There but for the grace of God..." Aside from pure propaganda abuse of human rights protection laws, some countries without armies or defense budgets are using them as a way to rein in other countries, particularly the US, by limiting the ability to make war. That way, all the countries become more equal in the competition for international influence, right?
Ami isseroff
Last update - 00:49 19/09/2009      
U.S. calls UN Gaza report unfair to Israel
The Obama administration sharply criticized a UN report Friday alleging that Israel committed multiple war crimes in its Gaza war this year. The State Department statement ended nearly a week of muted reactions to findings already rejected by Israel.
The State Department said the conclusions of a UN commission headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone were unfair to Israel and did not fully deal with the role in the conflict of the militant Palestinian group Hamas. It said the United States objected to a recommendation that Israeli actions be referred to the International Criminal Court.
"Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel," spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
While the report makes overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with
respect to Israel, its conclusions regarding Hamas' deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative, he said.
The UN report, released Tuesday, faulted Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza, saying it used disproportionate force in the offensive. About 1,400Palestinians were killed during the three-week conflict. Israel charged that Hamas was to blame, saying its fighters placed rocket launchers and forces in crowded neighborhoods.
The report also called Hamas' firing of rockets at Israeli civilians a war crime.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the findings, saying Israel's security forces were exercising their country's right to self-defense. The United States had been largely silent until Friday, limiting its response to expressions of concern about unspecified content and the panel's mandate.
That mandate was given to Goldstone and his colleagues by the UN Human
Rights Council this year, before President Barack Obama decided to end the Bush administration's policy of snubbing the body and join it.
Kelly said Friday that the United States wanted to keep discussion of the
report within the council and had very serious concerns about a recommendation that it be raised at other bodies, including the International Criminal Court.
"We note in particular that Israel has the democratic institutions to
investigate and prosecute abuses, and we encourage it to use those
institutions," he said.
U.S. officials also are troubled by the possibility that Arab states and
others might attempt to raise the report at next week's UN General Assembly session. Kelly said it was important for the world to remain focused on trying to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"We hope efforts related to the Middle East at the Human Rights Council and other international bodies will look to the future and how we can support the goal of a two-state solution," he said.

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Ahmadinejad Unwelcome at New York Hotel

This is somewhat remarkable, since NY hotels have put up with a variety of unusual and unsavory characters including King Saud and Fidel Castro.

New York's Helmsley Hotel said on Friday it canceled a banquet set for next week when it learned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on the guest list, saying the man who called the Holocaust a lie was not welcome.
Ahmadinejad was due in New York next week to attend the UN General Assembly, and his public appearances outside the meeting have generated controversy in recent years.
"As soon as Helmsley corporate management learned of the possibility of either the Iranian mission or President Ahmadinejad holding a function at the New York Helmsley Hotel, they immediately ordered the cancellation of that function," hotel spokesman Howard Rubenstein said in a statement.
"Neither the Iranian mission nor President Ahmadinejad is welcome at any Helmsley facility," the statement said without saying why.
A group called United Against Nuclear Iran told the hotel that Ahmadinejad was on the guest list, he said.
The New York Post reported the banquet was booked months ago by an Iranian student group.
Ahmadinejad on Friday called the Holocaust "a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim" in comments to worshipers at Tehran University

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Obama's Middle East Policy

Does the Obama administration have a plan B ??? When pursuing a high risk policy, there always has to be a plan B, doesn't there? Wouldn't it be better for Israel to go along with the American administration's demands and let the Palestinians bear the onus of responsibility for failure?
Stuck in the Middle East
Obama's go get-'em diplomacy with Israel and Iran is on a collision course with failure.
Eight months into his presidency, Barack Obama is fast approaching his first real moment of truth on the Middle East. At the opening of the U.N. General Assembly session next week, the U.S. president will host a ceremonial summit between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in hopes of launching talks to achieve a final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then, a week later on Oct. 1, Undersecretary of State William Burns will join representatives of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China for the first talks with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator to see whether an agreement can be reached to curtail President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear weapons program.

This is the diplomatic offensive that Obama promised the U.S. public last year -- the investment in "soft power" that the president's supporters deemed lacking during the George W. Bush administration. But the White House is facing tough prospects on both fronts. All that fantastical thinking about the transformative power of diplomacy is now headed straight for the iceberg that is the Middle East.
One immovable object is Abbas, who has participated in hundreds of peace negotiations over 15 years with six previous Israeli governments -- all while Israeli settlement construction was proceeding at a brisk pace. Now, Abbas says that he won't accept the partial freeze that Netanyahu has declared; he'll wait to join peace talks until Israel bows to Washington's unprecedented demand for a total freeze on construction, including in Jerusalem. But that is a condition that no Israeli government is going to accept. Even if Abbas softens his stand and agrees to begin talks, negotiations will still be in their throat-clearing phase when the Palestinian president's term ends Jan. 10. With Hamas controlling Gaza there is no agreed electoral mechanism to empower a successor Palestinian president to make concessions on behalf of the Palestinians. Far from achieving transformative success, Obama will be lucky if he can just keep negotiations alive for more than a few weeks.
The Iranian talks look even more likely to end without resolution. On what seems like a daily basis, Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reaffirm their determination to accelerate Iran's nuclear program and add to the rapidly growing stockpiles of low-enriched uranium. The talks are not likely to throw them off this path.
When both of these diplomatic initiatives grind down, then, and hopes for change fade, the U.S.-Israel relationship will face new strains. Obama can tolerate an impasse on the Iranian front for some time, but Netanyahu cannot. Although Obama and his advisors certainly do not want to see a nuclear-armed Iran, some find the prospect of an attack against the Islamic Republic even more frightening. As the countdown to a nuclear Iran draws ever near, many top Netanyahu advisors have a different view.
On the Palestinian file, the opposite is true: It is Obama who cannot live with an impasse and the Israelis who can. Since 2005, when Israel withdrew every soldier and 8,000 settlers from Gaza, only to be rewarded by a Hamas coup and thousands of Qassam rockets, Israelis have been skeptical that further Oslo Accords-type agreements can enhance their security. The idea of negotiating with the Palestinians to pull the Israeli army out of the West Bank, for example, doesn't inspire much public enthusiasm. Trouble is, many Americans do still believe in the Oslo idea. And a breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian talks would put enormous strains on Washington's relations with Arab countries like Saudi Arabia that need diplomatic movement to quiet domestic tensions. Allowing the talks to fail would also be unacceptable to the European Union and profoundly unsettling to important parts of Obama's own political coalition. Without a peace process, there will be more pressure for anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, leaving Obama with a bitter choice between using the U.S. veto to prevent them or allowing them to pass, imperiling an ally and inflaming demands for U.S. sanctions against Israel.
There is yet one more wild card in all of this: Obama's door is open to advisors who want to break with Israel. Many on the left of the Democratic Party believe that Israel is the obstacle to peace and that a breakthrough could be achieved if Obama just twisted Israel's arm. Of course, this was always the view of some of the storied Arabists in the State Department, but today, it comes more influentially from Jewish American critics of Israeli policy who depict themselves as pro-Israel and pro-peace. Faced with the reality that only the 3 percent of Israelis who vote Meretz share such views, and that the dovish camp led by Yossi Beilin has no prospect of winning an election in the actual Jewish state, the Beilinist Israeli left has moved to Washington. Their goal is to lobby the U.S. president to "save Israel from herself" by imposing terms on Israel that the great majority of Israelis would reject.
Obama is poorly positioned to reach over Netanyahu's head to persuade the Israeli people to embrace this agenda. A Sept. 12 poll put Bibi's approval rating at 65 percent, while similar polls by Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post found that only 12 and 6 percent of Israelis, respectively, think that Obama is pro-Israel. If elections were held today, Likud would gain five additional seats, and Bibi's coalition would grow at the expense of the left, which has already been decimated by a public rebuff.
Some Netanyahu advisors think that Obama is himself a man of the left and that top aides like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod are closet J-Streeters in the White House. Instead, however, Obama and his top advisors are instinctively drawn to the center-left, like Bill and Hillary Clinton. He is more likely to take advice from the National Security Council's Dennis Ross than from more-leftist deputy Mideast peace envoy Mara Rudman or the ubiquitous peace pundit Daniel Levy.
In short, all that is clear is that Obama's big Mideast moment is coming. Now the world waits to see what kind of U.S. president he wants to be.

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Ahmadinejad: Confronting Israel is a national duty - Holocaust is a lie

Last update - 13:14 18/09/2009    
Ahmadinejad: Confronting Israel is a national duty
By The Associated Press and Reuters
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday the Holocaust was a "lie" and a pretext to create a Jewish state that Iranians had a religious duty to confront.
"The pretext (Holocaust) for the creation of the Zionist regime (Israel) is false ... It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim," he told worshippers at Tehran University at the end of annual anti-Israel Quds Day rally.
"Confronting the Zionist regime is a national and religious duty," the Iranian president said.
Ahmadinejad's critics say his fiery anti-Western speeches and questioning of the Holocaust have isolated Iran, which is at odds with the West over its disputed nuclear program.
The hard-line president warned leaders of Western-allied Arab and Muslim countries about dealing with Israel.
"This regime [Israel] will not last long. Do not tie your fate to it.. This regime has no future. Its life has come to an end," he said in the speech broadcasted live on state radio.
On Firday, tens of thousands of Iranian government supporters and dozens of opposition activists poured out onto the streets of Tehran for coinciding marches marking an annual pro-Palestinian commemoration.
Baton-totting police and security troops, along with the pro-government Basij militia that helped crush mass street protests this summer against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, were deployed along main squares and boulevards but the rallies kicked off peacefully.
Ahmadinejad joined one of the government-sponsored marches heading to the Tehran University campus where he was to address supporters before a Friday prayers service.

The opposition has said it would also hold its own protest Friday, despite warnings by the clerical establishment against anti-government rallies. There has not been a mass opposition demonstration since mid-July, when authorities cracked down heavily on the opposition.
Both opposition leaders - Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karrubi - were to appear at the opposition rally, raising concerns for a showdown between security troops and opposition activists.
By midmorning in central Tehran, dozens of opposition supporters in green T-shirts and wearing green wristbands - a color symbolizing the opposition movement - marched with fingers raised in the V-sign for victory and chanting "Death to the Dictator."
Others shouted for the government to resign, carried small photos of Mousavi, while some women marched with their children in tow. There were also chants of: "Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, but our life is for Iran" - a slogan defying the regime's support for Palestinian militants in Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla.
According to an eyewitness report published in a reformist Web site, a group of Iranian hard-liners have attacked a reformist former president while he was marching with opposition supporters at an anti-government rally in Tehran.
Witnesses said the attackers pushed ex-President Mohammad Khatami to the ground. It says opposition activists rescued him and quickly repelled the assailants.
Khatami has sided with the opposition in the post-election crisis that has gripped Iran. Another reformist Webs site says his turban was disheveled and he was forced to leave the march.

Eyewitnesses said earlier that Iran security forces clashed with supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and arrested at least 10 of them.
"Security forces just arrested over 10 people," one witness said. "They are pushing protesters and beating them."
"Supporters of Ahmadinejad are beating supporters of Mousavi near the Vali-ye Asr street [in central Tehran]. At least two protesters were injured," the witness added.
Just hundreds of meters away on the main Keshavarz Boulevard, thousands of Ahmadinejad supporters marched carrying huge photographs of the president and also the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some in the government-sponsored rally chanted: "Death to those who oppose the Supreme Leader!"
The demonstrations mark Quds Day - an annual event dedicated to condemning Israel and expressing support for the Palestinians. Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem.
On Thursday, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard warned opposition protesters against holding anti-government demonstrations, saying that if they attempted any sort of violation and disorder they will encounter strong confrontation.
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, last week also warned the oppositions against using Quds Day for other purpose than demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinians.
The pro-reform camp claims Mousavi was the rightful winner of the June 12 presidential election and that the government faked the balloting in Ahmadinejad's favor. Since the vote, thousands of opposition supporters held street demonstrations against the alleged vote fraud but were met with a heavy government crackdown.
The opposition says at least 72 protesters were killed in the violence that followed the election, while government officials maintain that only 36 died in the unrest - the worst in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current regime to power. Thousands were arrested, and the regime's opponents have charged some detainees were tortured to death in prison.
Customarily on Quds Day, Tehran residents gather for pro-Palestinian rallies in various parts of the city, march through the streets and later converge for the prayers ceremony. The ceremony was established in 1979 by the leader of the Islamic Revolution and founder of present-day Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Can Iran build a bomb?? AP says IAEA says yes, IAEA denies

An AP report states:
VIENNA — Experts at the world's top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report seen by The Associated Press.
The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that the agency's leaders share Washington's views on Iran's weapon-making capabilities.
It appears to be the so-called "secret annex" on Iran's nuclear program that Washington says is being withheld by the IAEA's chief.
The document says Iran has "sufficient information" to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to "overcome problems" on developing a delivery system.
But the IAEA has denied the report.  The wording "sufficient information" is ambiguous. They may have the information, but not the technical knowhow to make the implosion mechanism needed for a light warhead or the delivery system. A US bipartisan report by Senators Coats and Robb and General Wald insists that Iran could have enough uranium to build a bomb in 2010, but it takes more than fissile material to make a useable bomb.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Goldstone report repeats mistaken allegations of NGOs

IDF officers point to mistakes in accusations
Sep. 16, 2009
While the IDF referred official comment on the Goldstone Report to the Foreign Ministry, senior officers said on Tuesday night that they were not surprised by its severity.
Many of the allegations raised by the authors have already appeared in NGO reports on Operation Cast Lead.
Here are a few examples: One claim made by Goldstone is that Israelis forces "did not use their best efforts to permit humanitarian organizations access to the wounded and medical relief, as required by customary international law."
Israel has argued the opposite, citing numerous examples when IDF soldiers risked their own lives to assist Palestinians in need of medical care. One case came on January 9, when the commander of the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion ceased operations and ordered his men to help load handicapped Palestinians into ambulances sent to evacuate them from Jabalya to Gaza City.
In another incident, a soldier from the 401st Armored Brigade was seriously wounded when his tank was hit by an anti-tank missile. While the commanders were coordinating his evacuation, a request was received to allow an ambulance into the area to evacuate a Palestinian woman who had gone into labor. The commander in the field complied.
While the fighting was going on, the IDF allowed hundreds of trucks loaded with food staples and medicine into Gaza. Israel ceased military operations for several hours each day to allow humanitarian corridors to be opened, even though Hamas took advantage of the lulls to regroup, transfer weapons and disseminate orders.
The Goldstone report also accuses the IDF of intentionally targeting the Quds Hospital, which it says was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The army investigated the incident, which included an attack on a warehouse that belonged to the hospital.
The findings revealed that the warehouse was not known to belong to the hospital and was therefore not marked on IDF maps as were the more than 1,800 known UN and humanitarian structures. In addition, Hamas gunmen fired at troops from inside the warehouse.
Another example is the report's conclusion that "by deliberately attacking police stations and killing large numbers of policemen (99 in the incidents investigated by the Mission) during the first minutes of the military operations, [Israel] failed to respect the principle of proportionality between the military advantage anticipated by killing some policemen who might have been members of Palestinian armed groups and the loss of civilian life." These attacks, the report states were a violation of international law.
Reports compiled recently by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center say that most of the policemen killed were actually members of Hamas's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, and other terrorist groups. According to the JCPA report, among the 343 members of the Palestinian security forces who were killed, 286 have been identified as terrorist organization members, more than 80 percent.
Goldstone also slammed the IDF's use of white phosphorus during the offensive.
"While accepting that white phosphorous is not at this stage proscribed under international law, the Mission considers that the repeated misuse of the substance by the Israeli armed forces during this operation calls into question the wisdom of allowing its continued use without some further degree of control," he wrote.
An IDF internal probe into the use of the weaponry discovered that in all cases it was employed in accordance with international law. The weapon was used as a shell fired by mortar squads as well as by the navy, which fired a 76 mm. cannon that every few rounds fires a white-phosphorus shell so the navy can track where it hits.
In addition, the IDF fired some 3,000 155 mm. artillery shells - which look like exploding octopuses in the air - that are not white-phosphorus weapons and are used solely to create smokescreens for troop movements on the ground.
The Israeli probe revealed that white phosphorus weapons were used only in open areas, and not in urban centers. The weapon was not used against terrorists in the open areas but for marking and ranging when the forces tried to target Kassam rocket cells operating there.
The IDF said it knew of only one case where white phosphorus was used in its burn capacity. That incident also took place in an open area, but to burn away shrubbery and uncover tunnel openings. The IDF said that the use of the weapon in that incident was also in line with international regulations.

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All about Jews in Bangladesh

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury: All about Jews in Bangladesh

I thought you would be interested in this facebook note from a friend in Bangladesh.

Ami Isseroff

Amongst South Asian nations, Jewish population in India is above 15,401 while Jewish population in Bangladesh is 175 which is 0.00011 of the total population of the country. Number of Jews in Pakistan is 200, while there is no official record of any Jewish population in Sri Lanka.

Although the number of Jews in Bangladesh is shown to 175 in various information sites, including Wikipedia, according to Bangladeshi scholars, the real number of Jewish population in Bangladesh is above 3,500, while the Jews in Bangladesh are afraid of disclosing their religious identity fearing persecution of the anti-Semitic people.

According to information, fearing religious persecution, Jews in Bangladesh mostly identify themselves as 'Jehova's Witness', while most of the Jews in the country are in textile related business as well as business in grocerries.

There is special congregassion of Bangladeshi Jews on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah. But, according to Bangladeshi scholar and Head of Dhaka University's Public Administration Department, Professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Pakistani government grabbed the only Jewish synagogue, which was located in Dhaka and the building is now being used as one of the offices of the government of Bangladesh.

Professor Dr. kalimullah demanded immediate returning of the Jewish synagogue to country's Jewish population as well stop all forms of repression on Jews in Bangladesh.

There was another Jewish humanitarian group active in the then Pakistan with a huge office at Dhaka's Purana Paltan area [near Central Post Office]. But, that organization was also forced to seize operations by the Pakistani government and that building has also been grabbed by the government, which presently houses one of the offices of the republic.

Persecution of Jews continue in Bangladesh because of spread of religious hatred, mostly by fanatic Muslim clergies, who term the Jews as 'enemies of Islam'. They encourage elimination of Jewish population from the country. That is why, although there is Jewish population in Bangladesh, none of the official records will presently show about their existence in the country. Jews were prevented from declaring their religious identity both in the National Identity Card as well as Passports issue by Bangladeshi government.

Bangladeshi continues to hold state policy of demonizing Israel and the country maintains total ban on the Jewish state for decades. Travel by any Bangladeshi citizen to Israel is seen as an offense according to Bangladeshi law.

Meanwhile, persecution of religious minorities in Bangladesh has been harshly criticized in the world by a number of scholars, although the situation is yet to change.

Eminent Indian writer and journalist M J Akbar speaking as keynote speaker at a seminar titled 'Meaning of Minority Politics' organised by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute [BEI] in the city in December 2007, said he was saddened that Bangladesh's birth principle of 'language-centred nationhood' "was incapable of finding a polity." and said stay true to the country's founding principles.

"Out of all the countries in the Muslim world, Bangladesh had the greatest opportunity to build a modern Muslim country," he said, adding that the question of Biharis and the gradual assimilation of Jamaat-e Islami into national politics have to be addressed.

Otherwise the results will be felt long into the future, he added. Akbar disagreed with the dominant view that a minority is a group of people who are demographically outnumbered in a particular area, stressing that the category is based on perceptions. Outlining the history of Bengali Muslims to illustrate his point, he said they were affected the most as a 'minority' in the last century that have transformed their history, and in effect their lives.

In Bangladesh, there is no Committee for minorities in the country to identify the issues facing 20 million minorities. In Bangladesh, being a minority means being a victim of oppression, torture and discrimination.

My submission is that the word minority has its own connotation and definition. By 'minority' today we mean a disadvantaged group of citizens, who are not the privileged ones, at the top, but the under-privileged at the bottom. [Atlantes Magazine, 29th January 1975]. It was thought that the Liberation of Bangladesh marked the end of a chapter of communal politics, opening up newer possibilities for the Hindus and other ethnic minorities and they would be able to play a more effective role in the political process. Minorities had also thought that Bangladesh would put an end to discrimination against them, and their loyalty to the country would no longer be questioned. But in the present-day Bangladeshi the Hindu's loyalty to the state is very much questioned. On the other hand, Bangladeshi state policy considers Jews as 'Enemies', which is extremely sordid and unacceptable.

I strongly urge the Bangladeshi government to immediately return the Jewish synagogue to the country's Jewish population as well allow the Jews in the country to live in peace by openly expressing their religious identity. And good news is, despite series of repressions and persecutions both by the government and religious fanatics, Jewish population in Bangladesh presently is increasing for past several years.
In defense of Bangladeshi persecuted Jews

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An impassioned defense of Israel

What's Israel Got to Do with It?
"The Israel test is finally our own test of survival as a free nation."
By Clifford D. May
Bill Gates famously called George Gilder "very stimulating even when I disagree with him, and most of the time I agree with him." The issues on which Gilder has staked out stimulating positions over more than 30 years as a writer and public intellectual are wide-ranging. They include the causes of poverty and the creators of wealth; the consequences of modern feminism; and the possibilities opened by the high-tech revolution. His arguments are often surprising, always provocative, and generally controversial.
His latest book is titled The Israel Test. Much of what he says is dramatically different from what just about anyone else is saying. In particular: "Either the world, principally the United States, supports Israel, or Israel, one way or another, will be destroyed. There are no other realistic choices. And if Israel is destroyed, capitalist Europe will likely die as well, and America, as the epitome of productive and creative capitalism spurred by Jews, will be in jeopardy."
At this juncture, it is probably not just useful but necessary to note that George Gilder is not Jewish. In other words, the case he makes for Israel has no basis in religious or ethnic affiliation. At the same time, not being tethered to Israel or to Jews allows him to be blunt in a way few of Israel's Jewish defenders dare.
For example, he says that people "who obsessively denounce Jews have a name; they are Nazis." He does not hesitate to apply the term to Arab and Iranian leaders who exhibit such behavior. He contends, as well, that the "most dangerous form of Holocaust denial is not rejection of the voluminous evidence of long-ago Nazi crimes but incredulity toward the voluminous evidence of the new Holocaust being planned by Israel's current enemies. Two Iranian presidents have resolved to acquire nuclear weapons for the specific purpose of 'wiping Israel off the map.'"

What can be done to prevent a second Holocaust and to beat back the jihadis at America's gates? Gilder believes, first, we need to recognize the nature and gravity of the threat; second, we need more resolve; and third, we need more technology of the sort America and Israel have been most adept at producing.
It will require comprehensive missile defense and other high-tech means to prevent our sworn enemies from "infiltrating nuclear weapons into American cities, exploding them offshore near American ports, or detonating bombs above America's critical electronic infrastructure" — destroying that infrastructure with an EMP (electromagnetic-pulse) attack, an offensive capability that Iran, for one, is known to be developing.
"No nation in history has succeeded in preserving its integrity and sovereignty without meeting the challenge of ever-advancing armaments," Gilder points out. "But many American intellectuals still imagine that the United States is different, that it is possible or desirable for us to negotiate an 'end to the arms race.' Our enemies will always want to end the arms race because they know only free nations can win it. . . . An end to the arms race would deprive the capitalist countries of their greatest asset in combating barbarism."
Gilder is convinced that the forces targeting Israel and America also are "targeting capitalism and freedom everywhere." Capitalism, he says, requires freedom — for entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers alike. All benefit because "under capitalism the achievements of one group provide markets and opportunities for others."
He goes on to make this unfashionable observation: Any democracy not resting on a solid capitalist foundation is doomed. "Without an expanding capitalist economy," he writes, "democracy becomes dominated by its zero-sum elements — by mobs and demagogues."
Over the centuries, such mobs and demagogues have, many times, turned against Jews. Today, Gilder adds, "they have turned against Israel." Sometimes, the root cause is simply greed and envy. But often it is the belief that "social justice" necessitates the dispossession of the "haves" and redistribution to the "have-nots" in the interest of "equality of outcome."
Over time, this can only lead to expanding poverty because it is based on a misunderstanding of what wealth is. Fundamentally, wealth inheres not in material resources but in "human minds and creations that thrive only in peace and freedom. In particular, the immiseration of the Middle East stems chiefly from the covetous and crippling idea among Arabs that Israel's wealth is not only the source of their humiliation but also the cause of their poverty."
Gilder has much more to say — more challenging arguments and perplexing questions than I can summarize in a brief column. But his underlying thesis is straightforward: The future of freedom, democracy, capitalism, America, the West, and the tiny state of Israel are all tied together in a single knot. Israel is "not only a major source of Western technological supremacy and economic leadership — it is also the most vulnerable source of Western power and intelligence."
Israel is, Gilder contends, "not only the canary in the coal mine — it is also a crucial part of the mine." If Americans will not defend Israel, they will "prove unable to defend anything else. The Israel test is finally our own test of survival as a free nation."
— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

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Jane Fonda sorry she joined McCarthyite protest against Tel Aviv

What part of "McCarthy" did Jane Fonda NOT understand?
Tel Aviv, for the ifnormation of Cassanda Szklarski (who wrote the article below) was founded in 1909 on land that was purchased from its Arab owners. It didn't displace anyone, unlike the European settlement of Canada. In 1948, the Arabs of Yaffo attacked the Jews living there, and when they lost a counterattack, they fled the city. Tel Aviv has no more troubled history than Toronto. Less in fact.
By Cassandra Szklarski (CP) – 1 day ago
TORONTO — Jane Fonda is expressing regret over endorsing a protest letter that targets an Israeli film spotlight at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The celebrity activist appears to back away from the controversy in a column posted Monday on the Huffington Post website just as big-name performers including Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman and Sacha Baron Cohen added their names to a growing list of the protest's critics.
"I signed the letter without reading it carefully enough, without asking myself if some of the wording wouldn't exacerbate the situation rather than bring about constructive dialogue," Fonda writes in the article.
"In the hyper-sensitized reality of the region in which any criticism of Israel is swiftly and often unfairly branded as anti-Semitic, it can become counterproductive to inflame rather than explain and this means to hear the narratives of both sides, to articulate the suffering on both sides, not just the Palestinians. By neglecting to do this the letter allowed good people to close their ears and their hearts."
The letter was written by a group of Toronto-based filmmakers angered by the festival's decision to put Tel Aviv at the centre of its inaugural City to City program. The group held a press conference Monday to explain their concerns and to refute claims they advocate a boycott.
It is not the films or the filmmakers we protest but rather the frame," said filmmaker Elle Flanders, who spoke alongside Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and Palestinian-Israeli director Elia Sulieman, among others.
Our campaign was meant to begin the dialogue that TIFF missed out on - one that refuses the Israeli government's attempt to shift attention away from the conflict that it maintains and worsens daily."
Flanders complained that the spotlight excludes Palestinian voices, comes on the heels of a devastating bombardment in Gaza and amid a global publicity campaign by the Israeli government known as "Brand Israel."
The flap has drawn heated opposition from celebrity critics, which on Monday grew to include Portman, Cohen, and Seinfeld among dozens of people that endorsed a statement applauding the City to City" program and denounced notions of a blacklist.
Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy," said the statement, also endorsed by Lenny Kravitz, Patricia Heaton, Jacob and Noah Richler, George F. Walker and Moses Znaimer.
Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect."
Greyson withdrew his film from the festival in protest but said he in no way encouraged others to do the same, nor did he wish anyone blacklist participants.
From the start we encouraged others to speak out in whatever way they chose, which they have, by the many hundreds," said Greyson, reading from a statement structured as a letter to producer Robert Lantos, one of the group's biggest critics.
The last time I checked, this was called free speech."
Protest organizers said they had collected more than 1,500 signatures for their letter, including from historian Howard Zinn, filmmaker Guy Maddin and actor Viggo Mortensen, in addition to early signers author Naomi Klein and musician David Byrne.
Tel Aviv is the first city selected for the festival's City to City" program, meant to spotlight the films from a particular urban centre.
While acknowledging Tel Aviv's troubled history, festival co-director Cameron Bailey has defended the choice, saying the program was meant to foster debate and share in the exchange of cultures.
The film festival runs through Saturday.

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Bankruptcy of Israel Branding concept proven in Toronto

Ideals cannot be sold like peanut butter or political candidates. The issue about Israel is not Israel as a tourist destination or investment, but the legitimacy of Zionism. At stake is the right of the Jewish people to self-determation, not the pulchritude of Israeli womanhood or the attractivness of our antiquities to tourists. Therefore, the Israel Branding campaign, conceived by people who haven't a clue evidently about why they are in Israel and what it is all about, was doomed to failure. The idea was to portray Israel as a country with great beaches, pretty girls and good investment opportunities  -- a campaign pitched to airheads. We do have great beaches, pretty girls and good investment opportunities, but that's not really the point, is it? We have a few problems that can't be ignored. Ignoring reality is bound to lead to problems.
The first launch of this turkey of an idea was scheduled for July or August of 2006. What common sense could not stop, was stopped by the Hezbollah. It was not appropriate, of course to launch a campaign of fluff and tourist attractions while rockets were falling all over northern Israel. But the advocates of this idea didn't give up. They are extremely stubborn, and will listen to no criticism of their idea. 
It was relaunched as a pilot in Toronto, only to run into a different sort of problem - boycott of Tel Aviv at the Toronto film festival. A PR campaign is an admission that you don't believe in what you are doing and need to "improve the truth." 
The Ben Harris article below was written before a different group of celebrities came out against the McCarthyite blacklisting of Israel, and before Jane Fonda admitted that she had not bothered to read the anti-Israel protest before signing it. Protest first, then find out what it is all about. Way to go, calamity Jane. They shoot horses, but not harmful illiterates unfortunately.
Ami Isseroff  
NEW YORK (JTA) -- When Amir Gissin helped come up with an idea to remake Israel's international image several years ago, it's unlikely he imagined that the showcasing of Israeli films in Toronto would spark a star-studded Hollywood brouhaha over artistic expression and cultural boycotts.
But that's what happened as Israel became the major flashpoint at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.
In an interview last year with the Canadian Jews News, Gissin boasted that his new marketing idea, known as Brand Israel, would help reshape public perceptions of the Jewish state and culminate in a major presence at the 2009 festival.
The presence turned out to be the focus on Tel Aviv as part of the festival's new City to City program, which included an appearance by the city's mayor and VIP receptions in addition to the screening of 10 Israeli films.
"The way to fix negative images of Israel is to present Israel in a positive light elsewhere," Gissin told the paper.
But the effort appears to have backfired as a string of celebrities, including Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen and Harry Belafonte, signed on to the so-called Toronto Declaration claiming that the Tel Aviv spotlight is merely an attempt by the Israeli government to divert attention from its treatment of the Palestinians.
So rather than talking about Israel's rich cinematic culture, the buzz this week in Toronto has centered on the one thing Israeli officials had sought to avoid: the conflict with the Palestinians.
Israel has long sought to divert the focus from its conflict with the Palestinians out of concern that in the eyes of many, the country is a Middle East backwater engaged in an interminable tribal conflict.
The 2007 "Girls of the IDF" photo shoot for Maxim magazine and the recent transformation of a spit of land in Manhattan's Central Park into a replica of the Tel Aviv beach were of a piece with the Foreign Ministry's efforts to broaden public perceptions of Israel and, in effect, tell the Western world, "Hey, we're just like you."
Last year, the Israeli government dedicated $10.6 million to the effort, according to Joel Lion, Israel's current consul for media affairs in New York, who in an earlier post in Germany arranged for the prime minister of Saxony to cook falafel and couscous with an Israeli chef.
Increasingly, cultural events featuring Israeli artists have been the focus of protests in North America. But the debacle in Toronto appears to have drawn a much higher level of attention, raising questions about the rebranding strategy.
The trouble began when filmmaker John Greyson pulled his short film from the festival. That spurred a group of filmmakers and activists -- among them Fonda, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and the historian Howard Zinn -- to sign a declaration titled "No Celebration of Occupation."
"We do not protest the individual Israeli filmmakers included in City to City, nor do we in any way suggest that Israeli films should be unwelcome at TIFF," the statement said. "However, especially in the wake of this year's brutal assault on Gaza, we object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann have all characterized as an apartheid regime."
Within days, the Jewish federations in Toronto and Los Angeles had organized a group of Hollywood stars to sign a statement protesting the Toronto Declaration. The statement -- its signatories include Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman and Sacha Baron Cohen -- ran as a full-page advertisement in the Tuesday edition of the Toronto Star.
"Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy," the statement said. "Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect. Those who refuse to see these films for themselves or prevent them from being seen by others are violating a cherished right shared by Canada and all democratic countries."
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center argued in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star that those backing the declaration criticizing the focus on Tel Aviv had signed on to something that was "intentionally or unintentionally nothing more than a recipe for Israel's destruction."
Fonda took it personally, responding with a statement in which she described her support for various Israeli causes and stressed that the declaration did not call for a boycott of Israeli films. Several Atlanta Jewish leaders, including rabbis and a former federation president, issued their own statement defending her.
However, Fonda then issued a second statement standing by her opposition to the official focus on Tel Aviv, but saying that the declaration was one-sided and poorly worded.
In interviews Tuesday, those involved in Brand Israel disputed the notion that the festival controversy rendered their strategy inoperable. Several compared the effort to New York City's campaign to rebrand itself the Big Apple in the 1970s after years in which the city was seen as a hotbed of crime and ineffective government.
"You're always going to have people imbued with politics and seeing things through that lens," said Barak Orenstein, a brand manager in Toronto who gave the keynote address at a Brand Israel conference last year. "But there's definitely a need to share Israel's contributions with the world. And I think the country has to be proactive about the wonderful things that it's sharing."
Lion was even more dismissive, saying that the protesters were a small group and "nothing new." He noted, as did several others, that the festival stood by its decision to highlight the Israeli films and festival-goers would still have a chance to see them.
"People see that films from Israel are coming to an international film festival," Lion said. "They see that the films are there. So it's also a part of the branding effort, even if there's controversy. Controversy only helps."

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Israel's Respone to Goldstone "Fact Finding" mission in Gaza

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)
·       Israel is appalled and disappointed by the Report published on 15 September 2009 by the Gaza Fact Finding Mission. The Report effectively ignores Israel's right of self defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent and challenges Israel's democratic values and rule of law.
·       At the same time the Report all but ignores the deliberate strategy of Hamas of operating within and behind the civilian population and turning densely populated areas into an arena of battle. By turning a blind eye to such tactics it effectively rewards them.
·       The Report barely disguises its goal of instigating a political campaign against Israel, and in its recommendations seeks to involve the Security Council, the General Assembly the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the entire international community in such a campaign.
The Mandate of the Mission:
·       The one-sided mandate of the Gaza Fact Finding Mission, and the resolution established it, gave serious reasons for concern both to Israel and to the many states on the Council which refused to support it - including the member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan.
·       It also troubled many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who refused invitations to head the Mission and admitted that it was "guided not by human rights but by politics".
The Conduct of the Mission:
·       These concerns were exacerbated by the conduct of the Mission itself, including reports in the Palestinian media that, throughout its visits to Gaza, it was continuously accompanied by Hamas officials and its refusal to recuse members of the mission with clear political views on the issues under investigation. One mission member signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying that Israel's actions against Hamas attacks were acts of "aggression not self-defense", prejudging the investigation before it had even begun.
·       The unprecedented holding of telecast hearings also gave cause for concern. The fact that all the witnesses were prescreened and selected, and none were asked questions relating to any Palestinian terrorist activity or the location of weaponry and terrorists in civilian areas only supports concerns that they were part of an orchestrated political campaign.
A "non-judicial" document
·       Justice Goldstone as Head of the Mission repeatedly insisted that the Mission was not a judicial inquiry and so "could not reach judicial conclusions". On this basis that he justified the inclusion of partisan mission members, admitting that their involvement "would not be appropriate for a judicial inquiry'. The Report however is highly judicial in nature, reaching conclusive judicial determinations of guilt, and including 'detailed legal findings' even in the absence of the sensitive intelligence information which Israel did not feel able to provide. These determinations are made notwithstanding the Report's admission that it does "pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials".
Elements Ignored by the Report:
·       The Report all but ignores the deliberate terrorist strategy of operating in the heart of densely populated civilian areas which dictated the arena of battle.  Even when the Hamas terrorists mixed among civilians, the Report rejects the notion that there was an intention to put the civilian population at risk.
·       Astonishingly, despite the many widely reported instances in the international press of the abuse of civilian facilities by terrorist groups, and the statements of Hamas own leaders praising women and children who acted as human shields, the Report repeatedly stated that it could find no evidence of such activities. This, even despite its admission that those interviewed were "reluctant to speak about the presence or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups".
·       The Report also ignores Israel's extensive efforts, even in the midst of fighting, to maintain humanitarian standards. While it does, reluctantly, acknowledge Israel's "significant efforts" to issue warnings before attacks, it does not find any of these efforts to be effective
·       While the Report passes judgment against Israel in respect of almost any allegation, it seeks to absolve the Hamas of almost any wrongdoing. The word "terrorist" is almost entirely absent. Soldier Gilad Shalit, now held incommunicado in captivity for over three years, was "captured during an enemy incursion" and the Hamas members that the Mission met with in Gaza are thanked as the "Gaza authorities" for extending their full cooperation and support to the Mission.
·       Even the thousands of rocket attacks against Israelis which necessitated the Gaza Operation are given the most cursory treatment, and indeed the Report indirectly blames Israel even for these by terming them "'reprisals".
Rejection of democratic values:
·       In a Report which relies so heavily on Israeli human rights organizations and which also petitions on sensitive security issues to Israel's Supreme Court the Report devotes considerable attention to "repression of dissent in Israel". It bases this assertion in large part on the widespread support for the military operation in the Israeli public, assuming that Israel has "created a political climate in which dissent is not tolerated. The notion that the majority of Israelis genuinely supported action to bring years of continuous rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians to an end does not appear to have occurred to the members of the Mission.  
·       The Report is also critical of Israel internal investigations even though these compare favorably to investigations of allegations in military matters in most western countries, and have regularly resulted in criminal investigations and convictions.
·       The Report's recommendations are as one-sided as its findings. It seeks to harness the Human Rights Council, the Security Council the General Assembly, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court and the international community as parts of its hostile political campaign.
·       Despite token recommendations in respect of the Palestinian side, all the international pressure is directed solely against Israel.
·       The true test of such a Report can only be whether in future conflicts it will have the effect of increasing or decreasing respect for the rule of law. Regrettably a one-sided report of this nature, claiming to represent international law, can only weaken the standing of law in future conflicts. At the same time, it will broadcast a deeply troubling message to terrorist groups wherever they are that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.

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Woud you believe: Goldstone 'is a Zionist and loves Israel'

Some people have strange ways of showing affection. Husbands who beat their wives, people who murder their families, all "love" their victims. Judge Goldstone accepted Christine Chinkin as a member of his team knowing that she was blatantly biased and produced a report that has no relation to fact. If Goldstone's standards are used to judge Israel, Israel will be left without any way to defend itself. The same standards will not be applied to any other country. But his daughter insists he is a Zionist and loves Israel.
The following quote is even more amazing:
Goldstone maintained that had her father thought that his inquiry would have been to Israel's detriment, he would never have agreed to head the UN commission.
"I know that if he thought what he did would not somehow be for the sake of peace of everyone in Israel or that it would have hindered such efforts, he would not have accepted the job," she said.
How could the report NOT be to the detriment of Israel, if it was commissioned by a UN body chaired by Libya and the investigation included panel members who had prejudged the issue?
Goldstone's daughter: My father is a Zionist and loves Israel
Sep. 16, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Nicole Goldstone, the daughter of Richard Goldstone, whose report on Operation Cast Lead alleged that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza, maintained on Wednesday that her father "is a Zionist and loves Israel."
Speaking from Toronto, where she now lives, Nicole told Army Radio she had many conversations with her father when he was asked to head the UN inquiry into the Gaza conflict.
"I know better than anyone else that he thought that however hard it was to accept it, he was doing the best thing for everyone, including Israel," she said. "He is honest, tells things how he sees them and wants to uncover the truth."
Nicole, who said she had read the first 300 and last 10 pages of the report, conceded that it contained some "very harsh" allegations against Israel.
She joked that she was hosting her parents for Rosh Hashanna, and that speaking with her father following the report's release, he had asked her, "Are you sure we can still come?"
Goldstone maintained that had her father thought that his inquiry would have been to Israel's detriment, he would never have agreed to head the UN commission.
"I know that if he thought what he did would not somehow be for the sake of peace of everyone in Israel or that it would have hindered such efforts, he would not have accepted the job," she said.
Nicole insisted that the fact that the report also accused the Palestinians of crimes against humanity showed that her father tried to be balanced.
"I am not angry with him, I love him and respect him," she concluded. "He is a Zionist. My dad loves Israel and it wasn't easy for him to see and hear what happened. I think he heard and saw things he didn't expect to see and hear, and I am one hundred percent sure he did it [conducted the investigation] in the hope that the Israelis would come to cooperate, and he wanted to help find a long-term solution for the state of Israel."
Nicole, who has spent time living in Israel, said that the country "is the most important thing in my life, my heart is there…I love Israel more than my family and friends and anything else."
Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said that the UN report would hamper Middle East peace efforts.
Speaking to Army Radio, Shalev added that "the international atmosphere is very influential. We have already begun a public diplomacy campaign in world capitals in order to explain the extent to which the report is biased, one-sided and political."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Jerusalem made the right decision not to cooperate with the inquiry.
"The report only came out because of countries like Pakistan, Libya and Saudi Arabia, who are members of the UN Human Rights Council," Ayalon told Army Radio. "The results just prove the correctness and legitimacy of the decision not to cooperate… the report was compiled without any connection to investigations of the ground."
"It completely ignores all Hamas terror activity that preceded the IDF operation," he continued, stressing that the main reason for Israel's boycott of the investigation "was the presence on the commission of those who insisted that the operation was not one of self-defense, but an Israeli aggressive action."
Ayalon said that Israel would now focus its energy on "making the report dissipate" and that Jerusalem was in contact with the US over the findings, emphasizing that the report could have repercussions for American troops fighting in Iran and Afghanistan. "We must remember that all Western nations opposed the inquiry commission, and our work with the Europeans and Americans can prevent the consequences," he said, asserting that the report would have negative effects on efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace and normalization between Jerusalem and the Arab world.
Ayalon concluded that there was "no one better" than Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to lead the campaign against the report and put Israel's side across.
Israel's former ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman said that the UN Human Rights Council report contained "blatant, one-sided, anti-Israel lies."
"Members of the UNHRC include countries like Zimbabwe and Libya that spend 90 percent of their time on Israel and don't deal for example with the Darfur massacre," he told Army Radio.
Gillerman also said that the UNHRC should never have been set up in the first place.
"We and the US were only ones who voted against the body being established. We knew it would be very one-sided and anti-Israeli," he said, adding that former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan had said that allowing the UNHRC's establishment was one of his biggest mistakes.
Gillerman said Israel was right not to cooperate with the inquiry, saying, "The findings would never have been objective."
He stressed that while soul searching was being done by Israel and would continue, Operation Cast Lead was conducted to protect a million southerners from rocket attacks.
"We went to lengths no other country would have gone to in order to avoid civilian casualties," he went on, adding that the IDF embarked on an operation any other country would have carried out under the circumstances, but that other militaries would have caused greater collateral damage.
On a positive note, Gillerman said that the Israeli media was getting "more worked up" by the report than others. "I haven't seen other media outlets around the world dedicating so much time to the issue."
This article can also be read at

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Israeli heroes rescue battered American wife from Palestinian captivity

According to the Jerusalem Post and Israel radio, ten former IDF combat soldiers rescued a US citizen and her two-and-a-half year old son from a Palestinian village in the Tulkarm area where they had been held captive for 3 years. The woman, who  married a young Palestinian man she met in the United States, was being held captive in his house, together with their son.

The man's first wife and four children from the first marriage also live in the house. Presumably, he is "married" to both women under Muslim law, but the religion of the husband was not stated in the report. The woman's husband hit her, prevented her from leaving the house and threatened that if she left she would never see their son again. He also threatened that if she left the home she would be apprehended by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) though it is not clear why that was a threat.

Efforts to bring about the woman's release by contacting Palestinian Authority officials failed. The woman's parents then contacted a Jewish American man who had served in a combat unit in the IDF. He contacted friends in Israel who planned the rescue operation for several weeks, gathering intelligence on the family's routine, and carrying it out successfully on Monday.

The woman and her son were brought to the US consulate in Jerusalem. They left Israel to return to Ohio on Tuesday.

Giora, one of the men who took part in the rescue, explained  that while the IDF was not aware of the operation, the US consulate was updated about every step of the mission. Carrying out military operations without coordinating with the IDF seems like a risky proposition, if indeed the IDF did not know.

"The rescue mission was planned similarly to operations carried out during my time in the military service in a way that ensured no lives were endangered," Giora told Israel Radio.

It seems that the soldiers were not paid in advance for their work, but Giora said the family have promised to compensate the men for freeing their daughter,

We can  see the comments of various anti-Israel bloggers, Christian Peace Team and rights organizations on this mission, "Mercenary former members of the IOF break up happy Palestinian family." "Gross violation of Palestinian sovereignty." "Insufferable provocation of the colonialist occupation forces, worse than Nazi raids."

Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TIA-CREF Press Release - Sale of Africa-Israel shares unrelated to Israel divestment campaign

An Israel Boycott Movement announcement and a Haaretz and other articles based on it claimed that the TIA-CREF retirement fund had divested from Africa-Israel corp. due to their alleged activities in the West Bank. A TIA-CREF press release shows that there is no truth to the report. The shares were sold in June because of poor performance. The press release is below.  TIA-CREF maintains that the fund still has large sums invested in Israel.

As of June 30, 2009, TIAA-CREF no longer owned shares in Africa-Israel Investments Ltd.  While a small number of shares of the company were previously held in the CREF Stock Account, they were sold after they fell out of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Some news reports have failed to note that the sale occurred in June, as a routine part of the indexing investing process, in which the Account manager's holdings track the index. The CREF Stock Account invests in a broadly diversified portfolio of domestic and foreign equity securities by using a combination of three strategies: active management, enhanced indexing and pure indexing.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which the CREF Stock Account tracks in part, is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance of 22 emerging markets countries (as of June 2009). 

As of June 30, 2009, TIAA-CREF funds and accounts had investments in companies in Israel and around the world.  For information about specific holdings, please see the semi-annual CREF Schedule of Investments, available here.

For more information on the CREF stock account, click here.

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TIA-CREF Divestment Hoax?

An earlier article claimed that the TIA-CREF pension fund had divested from the Africa-Israel company because of the anti-Israel boycott campaign. This news initiated a flurry of activity by Israel advocates including a letter writing campaign to TIA-CREF. Alert commenters have pointed out that the information may have been the result of a hoax perpetrated by the Boycott and Divestment campaign. The situation is a bit murky.
A press release evidently published by TIA-CREF stated:
TIAA-CREF no longer owns shares in Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. A letter dated September 11 from the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East calls on TIAA-CREF to sell shares in that company, which the signatories allege builds and maintains homes in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
While a small number of shares of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. were held in the CREF Stock Account, since June 30, 2009 they are no longer held in the Account following their removal from an emerging markets index that the Account tracks, as part of a regular rebalancing.
The press release used to be at but it is not there any more. It is still in the Google cache. The reason for removal of the press release is not clear.
An article in Haaretz Newspaper does not mention the TIA-CREF press release or the possibility that the "divestment" was a hoax as of today. Africa-Israel has been suffering severe financial difficulties.
Ami Isseroff 

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Israel launches Gaza Facts Web site

Gee I'm glad the Goldstone report was out. I couldn't wait for the verdict. The suspence was really too much, wasn't it?
By way of reply to its critics, Israel has launched a Gaza Facts web site:
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza investigation: Israel guilty as charged

The inevitable result of the Goldstone investigative commission into the Gaza war is before us. It is inaccurate to say that the commission was appointed to investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes. It is more accurate to say that the mission of the commission was to condemn Israel after a fair trial, in the same way as judges in the southern US aimed to see that "this nigra gets a fair trial before we hang him." Judge Chinkin, one of the panel members, had  already signed a public letter condemning Israel for war crimes last January. She did not require any investigation to reach her conclusions. Such an act is sufficient for disqualifying a judge from participation in any legal procedure, but this was not just any procedure. Probably, she did not require a war either to reach her conclusions about Israel. 
The findings of the commission will be passed to the Hague court and used as an excuse for various initiatives to delegitimize Israel.
Last update - 17:51 15/09/2009       
UN: Israel, Palestinians guilty of Gaza war crimes
By Shlomo Shamir and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents
United Nations investigator Judge Richard Goldstone said on Tuesday that his commission had found that both Israel and the Palestinians committed war crimes during the offensive on the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
Goldstone concluded that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, during its December 27-January 18 military operations in the Hamas-ruled territory.
A summary of his nearly 600-page report on the fact-finding mission's conclusions also said the firing of rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants where there were no military targets would constitute war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, as well.
Goldstone, a former chief UN war crimes prosecutor heading the four-person inquiry team, said he would pass on his findings to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Israel refused to cooperate with the mission because it regarded it as having biased instructions from the UN Human Rights Council, which has a track record of repeatedly singling out Israel for criticism and turning a blind eye to any Palestinian wrongdoing.
The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor earlier this month cast doubt as to the neutrality of the Goldstone Commission on Gaza.
Goldstone said in July he regards the mandate of the fact-finding mission as requiring an independent investigation into all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law during the IDF's 22-day offensive.
"The testimonies we have heard from victims and witnesses... have been very difficult to hear, but I believe it is important that we listen to these stories," said Goldstone.

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IDF Arrests Hamas Terroist Harouish in Tul Karem

Top Terror Leader in Tul Karem Arrested Last Night
According to IDF spokesman, last night, in a joint operation between the IDF, the ISA, and a special police force, Mohammed Mastafa Mahmoud Harouish and Tisir Kamal Samara were arrested in Tul Karem.  Samara, a Hamas militant, was released just a year ago from a prison sentence in Israel, where he was jailed for his involvement in the forming of Harouish's terror cells.
Harouish was born in 1983, and is the head of the military branch of Hamas in Tul-Karem.  Samara was born in 1984, and served as Harouish's assistant.
Harouish has been wanted since 2004 for his involvement in Hamas terrorist activity, which was a foundation for the suicide bombing in Netanya during Passover of 2002.
From as early as 2003, it is known that Harouish has been actively involved in Hamas in the Samaria region.
In March 2004, Harouish was wounded by IDF fire and Hamas militants evacuated him for medical treatment in Ramallah, from where he continued his involvement.  At this time he was involved in the planning of a thwarted suicide terror attack in Israel.  Harouish was arrested by the Palestinian security forces and transferred to the Palestinian Authority's prison in Jericho.
After being released from prison in 2006, Harouish returned to Tul-Karem.  He then became one of the commanders of Hamas' military branch in the city, and chief assistant to Omar Jabber, the head of Hamas infrastructure. Harouish recruited militants, formed terror cells, and purchased weaponry. These cells were to commit terror attacks against IDF forces as well as of the Palestinian security forces.
This plan was thwarted as a result of many arrests throughout the Hamas infrastructure, starting in May 2007, culminating with the arrest of Omar Jabber in March 2008.
After the arrest of Jabber, Harouish has remained the top wanted official in the area.
Harouish and Samara were transferred for questioning by security forces.

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IDF draft dodgers to speak at US colleges

I wonder if there are any Palestinians out there who are willing to tour with the IDF draft dodgers and explain why they refused to be terrorists.  The Israel advocates who criticize these draft dodgers are rather mild and charitable, since they assume that the girls themselves do not have an anti-Israel agenda, and are only opposed to the Israeli occupation as they claim:
Indeed, campus observers said that political events of the past year - including Operation Cast Lead and the second Durban conference - fueled anti-Israel rhetoric that they expect to continue.
"Last year sort of motivated Israel's detractors to be more vocal and do more programs," said Lawrence Muscant, deputy director of The David Project. "My feeling is we're going to see the same thing carry over into this semester."
Like Klein, Muscant expressed concern about the campaign, based on knowledge of similar ones in recent years.
"On the one hand, if it were inside Israel, they're talking about internal Israeli policies. When they speak to the outside world, it often gets lost in translation and it plays into the hands of those who delegitimize the State of Israel and question its right to exist, even if that's not their goal," he said.
If everyone refuses army service, israel will not have an army. If Israel does not have an army, it cannot defend itself. If Israel cannot defend itself, it will cease to exist, regardless of the "intent" of the draft dodgers.
Ami Isseroff
IDF draft dodgers speak at US colleges
Sep. 15, 2009
E.B. SOLOMONT, Jerusalem Post Correspondent in New York , THE JERUSALEM POST
Two Israeli women who are refusing mandatory army duty have kicked off a North American speaking tour and plan to take their story to more than a dozen college campuses in the next month.
Hoping to highlight their opposition to Israel's policies toward Palestinians, Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, both 19, will appeal to their American counterparts during their "Why We Refuse" tour from September 12 to October 10. Both women describe themselves as Shministim, a group of high school seniors who refuse to serve in the IDF.
"We believe it is important to spread information about the Israeli occupation and about the movements that work against it," stated Wind, who said that she was detained for 40 days because of her refusal to serve in the IDF. She was released in March. "We hope to empower people our age to take responsibility by taking a more active role in the resistance movements," she said.
Their month long tour is being organized by the anti-war groups CODEPINK and Jewish Voice for Peace. According to their itinerary, the young women will visit more than a dozen schools in California, New York and Washington DC, starting with the University of California, Hastings on Monday and finishing with the University of Maryland on October 8. They will make stops at Cornell, Columbia, New York University, Brown, Brandeis and other schools on the way.
"There's a lot of interest outside of Israel to understand what's happening inside, how different people express their opposition to what's happening," said Sydney Levy, the campaigns director of Jewish Voice for Peace. Last year, the organization collected tens of thousands of letters from North American Jews who supported the Shministim, calling their detention a violation of human rights and international law.
"When you speak with them, you get a sense of what is going on there from an Israeli point of view," Levy said.
But others said the women's perceived credibility was precisely why their campaign could have dangerous ramifications.
"I definitely do not agree with what they're trying to do because I think they're misguided," said Dani Klein, the North America campus director for StandWithUs, which advocates for Israel on campuses. Klein said if the campaign gains traction, it could backfire by further empowering anti-Israel students.
"When they see Israelis come out against their own country or their own army, in this instance, it gives those who want to be anti-Israel the fodder to do it," he said.
The two young women, he said, could inadvertently educate people to hate Israel.
He compared their campaign to Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers who openly criticized Israel's treatment of Palestinians. "I definitely understand that Israelis have the right not to agree with their government. That's fine," Klein said. "Every citizen in a democracy has that right. But you take that up in your country. Once you take that abroad, what does that gain you?"
So far, it is unclear what kind of reception Wind and Mishly will receive during their tour. Levy said demand to hear them speak was high and that time constraints forced him to turn down several speaking engagements on their behalf.
Indeed, campus observers said that political events of the past year - including Operation Cast Lead and the second Durban conference - fueled anti-Israel rhetoric that they expect to continue.
"Last year sort of motivated Israel's detractors to be more vocal and do more programs," said Lawrence Muscant, deputy director of The David Project. "My feeling is we're going to see the same thing carry over into this semester."
Like Klein, Muscant expressed concern about the campaign, based on knowledge of similar ones in recent years.
"On the one hand, if it were inside Israel, they're talking about internal Israeli policies. When they speak to the outside world, it often gets lost in translation and it plays into the hands of those who delegitimize the State of Israel and question its right to exist, even if that's not their goal," he said.
"Whether this group prescribes to this idea or not, I believe there will be people who use their message to further their own agenda."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Nazi memorabilia hobbyist Garlasco suspended from Human Rights work

From the New York Times we learn that Marc Garlasco, the lover of SS jackets and other Nazi memorabilia, has now been suspended from his duties as a Human Rights Watch investigator:
The group, Human Rights Watch, had initially thrown its full support behind the analyst, Marc Garlasco, when the news of his hobby came out last week. On Monday night, the group shifted course and suspended him with pay, "pending an investigation," said Carroll Bogert, the group's associate director.
"We have questions about whether we have learned everything we need to know," she said.
What more can they need to know? What can be bad? Garlasco wrote (as a Nazi memorabilia hobbyist:
"That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!""
We can be sure they will find that Garlasco is perfectly suited (or suited up) to investigate the war crimes of the Zionist war criminals. He is exactly right for his assignment in HRW, isn't he?
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yemeni child bride, 12, dies in labor

Abolishing child marriage, he says, "is an idea whose time has come."

Actually, the time for this idea came several centuries ago, but some places seem to have missed it. Muhammad's wife Aisha was apparenlty about 9 years old when the marriage was consummated.

The Painful Death of a Yemen Child Bride
Yemeni Girl, 12, Dies in Childbirth After 3 Days of Labor

After days of struggling through labor a 12-year-old "child bride" has died in Yemen, her baby a stillborn.
Fawziyah Abdullah Youssef was married last year at the age of 11 to a 24-year-old. In a custom that is common in Yemen, her parents pulled her from school so that she could be given to her betrothed.
"Families think child marriage is a good thing&that it comes directly from Islam. They don't understand the dangers," Ahmad Al-Qureishi of Seyaj, a Yemeni children's rights group, tells ABC News.
The dangers are apparent in statistic gathered by the United Nations. Yemen has a high maternal death rate of 430 women per 100,000 births  more than 20 times that of its neighbor, Saudi Arabia -- and is in the top 50 countries ranked for high infant mortality.
Most of the maternal deaths are for early pregnancy, according to UNICEF.
"It's a deeply embedded social habit. For every one child marriage we can stop there are five more," said Naseem Rehman, a UNICEF spokesman in Yemen's capital of Sana'a.
Rehman says child brides in Yemen face a "triple disadvantage," having to cope with a lost childhood, a pregnancy their bodies aren't ready to handle, and often forced to give birth at home, far from any health facility.
An estimated 50 percent of women in Yemen are married before age 18, some as young as eight. In recent years Yemen's civil society and women's rights activists have pushed back against the practice, which is prevalent in what has long been the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula.
Calls For New Law
In February Yemen's parliament passed a child marriages law setting a minimum age of 17, but it has yet to be enacted. The bill has long been challenged by conservative lawmakers who say it would contradict the laws of Islam.
The law also challenges rural and tribal customs. Marriages are often arranged by parents to serve the family's interests; a child marriage can bring a dowry payment, and relieves a household from having to feed one more child.
Earlier this year Seyaj, the children's rights group, documented the case of Rahmanah Ali Al Shayef, 10, whose father traded her hand in marriage in exchange for a bride for his son. When a local official refused to issue the marriage contract because of the bride's young age, Al Shayef's father took her to another district, where the marriage officer was more compliant.
The issue of child marriage in Yemen rose to prominence in 2007 after an 8-year-old bride, Nojoud Ali, was granted a divorce from her abusive husband.
At the time her lawyer, Shatha Nasser, told ABC News that the young girl left her home and walked to the local court, asking staff there for help. They put her in touch with Nasser, who handles cases of abuse against women and children, and the two successfully fought for an annulment.
Together they were honored by Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year Award in 2008; Nojoud Ali has since been banned from traveling outside of Yemen.
Since then human rights activists have stepped up their efforts, led by Yemeni women and civil society groups.
"We have young girls speaking out against the practice, which injures the child, the family, and the community," said Rehman of UNICEF.
Abolishing child marriage, he says, "is an idea whose time has come."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinian "Policemen" Killed in Operation Cast Lead Were Trained Terrorists

It is not a big surprise to find that the Palestinian police being trained by Hamas were moonlighting as terrorists militants, is it?

Palestinian "Policemen" Killed in Gaza Operation Were Trained Terrorists

Jonathan D. Halevi


  • After international human rights organizations accused Israel of killing innocent Palestinian "traffic policemen" during the Gaza operation, a detailed investigation shows that a decisive majority of the Palestinian "policemen" were members of the military wings of the Palestinian terror organizations and fighters who had undergone military training.
  • Among the 343 members of the Palestinian security forces who were killed, 286 have been identified as terror organization members (83 percent). Another 27 fighters belonging to units undergoing infantry training raises this total to 313 (91 percent).
  • Lumped under the rubric of the "Palestinian police" are all the security bodies that fulfilled combat and terror roles against Israel, the intelligence and preventive intelligence bodies, as well as those active in policing and maintaining order. Those serving in all of the Palestinian security apparatuses in 2007 and 2008 took part in terror activity and fighting against the IDF.
  • In the December 27, 2008, attack on an officer training course at Gaza police headquarters, 89 dead were counted. Of these, 60 (67 percent) belonged to Hamas and almost all were members of its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. The total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed at police headquarters was 81 (91 percent).
  • The human rights organizations which reported on Palestinian casualties in Gaza failed to mention the affiliation of hundreds of Palestinian security personnel who were members of terrorist organizations and who were trained fighters, thus artificially inflating the list of "civilians" killed by the IDF.

After international human rights organizations accused Israel of killing innocent Palestinian "traffic policemen" during the Gaza operation (Dec. 27, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009) who were not involved in fighting or in terror, a detailed investigation shows that a decisive majority of the Palestinian "policemen" were members of the military wings of the Palestinian terror organizations and fighters who had undergone military training.

Among the 343 members of the Palestinian security forces who were killed, 286 have been identified as terror organization members (83 percent). Another 27 fighters belonging to units undergoing infantry training raises this total to 313 (91 percent).

Who Were the Palestinian "Policemen"?

The official list of the slain Palestinian policemen was published for the first time on the police website on February 24, 2009.1 The term "Palestinian police" was incorporated in the interim accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (1995) pursuant to the Israeli demand that sought to avoid awarding the Palestinians the trappings of an independent state. Lumped under the rubric of the "Palestinian police" were all the security bodies that fulfilled combat and terror roles against Israel, the intelligence and preventive intelligence bodies, as well as those active in policing and maintaining order.

Following the Hamas victory in the parliamentary elections of January 2006, Hamas established a new security force - the Executive Force - subordinate to the Ministry of Interior, which was a military force intended for "qualitative missions" in the fight against Israel and elements opposed to the regime. Hamas ally Jamal Abu Samhadana, who headed the Popular Resistance Committees terror organization, was placed in charge of this force.

Following the June 2007 military coup that enabled Hamas to take over the Gaza Strip, Hamas authorities conducted a reorganization of the Palestinian security forces, known as the "Palestinian police." Its main components include:

  • The Police - infantry forces that are intended also to fight against Israel, comprised of the Rapid Intervention Force, the Executive Force, the Naval Police, and the Military Police
  • National Security - an infantry force
  • Security and Protection - a skilled force loyal to the Hamas regime and charged with providing security for the leadership and sensitive institutions
  • Internal Security - the preventive intelligence apparatus
  • Civil Defense - evacuation and rescue forces

An analysis of the lists of Palestinians slain in 2007 and 2008 reveals that those serving in all of the Palestinian security apparatuses took part in terror activity and fighting against the IDF.2 The Hamas leadership presented these organizations alongside "the Palestinian Resistance" as the spearhead of the continued armed struggle and the jihad for liberating all of Palestine.

How Many Slain Palestinian "Policemen"?

The Palestinian police published an official list of 231 "policemen" killed in the course of the Gaza operation. Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, later divulged that the number of Palestinian "police" killed totaled 230, the Security and Protection apparatus lost 50, National Security and Internal Security had 10 slain, and Civil Defense 11. This makes a total of 301 killed among the various Palestinian security apparatuses of the Hamas government.3

This study examined the official published lists of policemen as well as the lists of fatalities put out by the Palestinian human rights organizations PCHR and El-Mizan, as well as additional information published in open sources (such as the websites of the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas government, and the Palestinian press). The total data listed the names of 343 who were defined as Palestinian "policemen" or "security personnel" killed during the course of the Gaza operation.

The Connection between the Palestinian Security Forces and the Palestinian Terror Organizations

An analysis of the list of slain Palestinian security forces shows that of the 343 killed, 258 (75.2 percent) were Hamas members, almost all of them members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.4 Twelve more were members of the Popular Resistance Committees, eight belonged to the military wings of Fatah, three were members of Islamic Jihad, four were defined as "fighters" whose organizational affiliation is unknown, and one belonged to the "Army of the Umma," an extreme Islamic terror organization identified as an al-Qaeda offshoot.

In the official fatality list published by the Palestinian police, only one policeman was listed as a member of the traffic division, senior NCO Hussein Naim Hussein Abbas, who was also a member of the al-Qassam Brigades.

Another 27 fighters belonged to units undergoing infantry training intended for fighting against Israel. Thus, the total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed from the Palestinian security apparatuses totals 313, or 91 percent of the fatalities.

In the December 27, 2008, attack on an officer training course at Gaza police headquarters, 89 dead were counted, according to the PCHR. Of these, 60 (67 percent) belonged to Hamas and almost all were members of the al-Qassam Brigades. Two belonged to the military wings of Fatah and one to the Popular Resistance Committees. Eighteen came from units that were undergoing infantry training intended for fighting against Israel. Thus, the total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed at police headquarters was 81 (91 percent).

Ten Examples of "Policemen" from Hamas' Military Wing

Among those killed in the IDF attack on police headquarters on December 27 were the following members of the military wing of Hamas:

  1. Omar Bakr Shimali (b. 1988) was a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Shimali began as an activist in the Hamas student organization (al-Kutla al-Islamiya). He was assigned to a "Special Unit" and was stationed at front-line positions. At the same time, Shimali was active in the military police and worked at police headquarters.5
  2. Mohammed Khaled Shahiber (b. 1987) joined the al-Qassam Brigades in 2007 and was stationed at front-line positions.6
  3. Bilal Mahmoud Omar (b. 1989) joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 2006 and at the same time was active in the Hamas security apparatus. In 2007 he joined the al-Qassam Brigades and was assigned to forward positions. He served as a security guard at the home of Police Commander Tawfik Jabber.7
  4. Sidqi Ismail Hamad (b. 1983) was active in Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and in mid-2008 joined the al-Qassam Brigades. He served as a bodyguard for Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. He was an officer with the rank of lieutenant in the Security and Protection apparatus.8
  5. Mohammed Tawfik al-Nimra (b. 1986) joined Hamas in 2003 and also swore loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2006 he joined the al-Qassam Brigades and was stationed in front-line positions.9
  6. Mohammed Ziad al-Nabih (b. 1981) joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in 1995 and the al-Qassam Brigades in 2004.10
  7. Nasser Abdallah al-Ghara (b. 1962) joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in 1989, and in 2004 he joined the al-Qassam Brigades. He was active in the engineering unit that was engaged in preparing explosive charges.11
  8. Nahez Salim abu-Namous (b. 1989) joined the al-Qassam Brigades in 2007 and underwent infantry and mortar training.12
  9. Hussam Muhammed al-Majaida (b. 1982) joined Hamas in 2004 and a year later the al-Qassam Brigades. He was active in the Executive Force of the Palestinian Police established by Hamas in 2006.13
  10. Hassan Maher Hassan Aruk (b. 1985) was active in the al-Qassam Brigades and was stationed in front-line positions.14

No "Friendly" Fire Incidents Among Palestinians

The Palestinian terror organizations reported on the intensive fighting they conducted against IDF forces within densely populated urban areas of Gaza. There are reports about the launching of many hundreds of mortar shells in populated Palestinian areas, the launching of antitank missiles at Palestinian houses entered by IDF forces, small arms fire and machine gun fire at IDF forces within Palestinian neighborhoods, the detonation of powerful explosive charges near Palestinian houses, booby-trapped houses, and setting explosive charges along transportation arteries.

Nevertheless, I have yet to encounter a single report about a Palestinian who was killed or even lightly wounded by "friendly" Palestinian fire. All the Palestinians killed and wounded were attributed exclusively to the IDF, while none of the human rights organizations speculate about this manifest miracle. On the other hand, in all of Israel's wars, the IDF sustained a number of losses from "friendly" fire, including four out of the ten soldiers killed in the Gaza operation.


The charges made against the IDF for presumably killing "traffic cops" and "innocent policemen" fulfilling a civilian role are incorrect. The decisive majority of the Palestinian "police" were members of the military wings of the Palestinian terror organizations (primarily Hamas) and fighters who had undergone military training. The recruitment of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades members into the official security services allowed the Hamas government to pay their salaries out of the government budget.

The human rights organizations which reported on Palestinian casualties in the Gaza operation failed to mention the affiliation of hundreds of Palestinian security personnel who were members of terrorist organizations and who were trained fighters, thus artificially inflating the list of "civilians" killed by the IDF.

*     *     *




A similar study on the 2008 fatalities has been completed and will be published shortly.


4. A table (in Hebrew) analyzing each name appears on the Jerusalem Center's Hebrew website at:











*     *     *

Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi is the research director for the Orient Research Group and a research fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Halevi previously served as a senior adviser for political planning in Israel's Foreign Ministry and as head of the data and information branch in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his report published in Hebrew on May 24, 2009.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel: Unilateral Palestinian state declaration overshadows settlement freeze dispute

Unilateral Palestinian state declaration - More important than settlement freeze

Israel is obsessing over the settlement freeze, ignoring a dangerous Palestinian plan to unilaterally declare statehood with EU backing.

The Israeli government has dithered about the issue of the settlement freeze, as though it is the most important foreign policy issue. The government announced a non-freeze - no new housing units would be built, except for the ones that would be built. Then it announced that an additional 300 or 400 units would be built. Then it developed that most of these units were already planned and approved. What was the point of announcing these non-additional additional units, other than to annoy the Americans and give the Palestinians a cause for complaint?

Meanwhile, the threat of a unilateral Palestinian state looms large and potent, and eclipses the petty obsession with settlement units. In July, the unfortunately irrepressible Javier Solana offered support of the EU for unconditional acceptance of a Palestinian state as a member of the UN in two years, if negotiations fail. At the end of August, the "moderate" Palestinian Authority announced that it would declare a state in two years, regardless of negotiations. Solana welcomed this provocation as well. Of course, the Palestinians only have to continue insisting on impossible peace conditions in order for the peace process to fail. Then the approval of the European Union and perhaps the United States for a unilaterally declared Palestinian state would have a suitable excuse. There is little evidence that anyone in Jerusalem is considering the issue seriously. The Israel Foreign Ministry did indeed "blast" Solana's statement, but there is no evidence that any action was taken to reverse the EU position. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman likewise protested the Palestinian announcement, but if the government is considering the problem, nobody knows about it. Continued: Unilateral Palestinian state declaration - More important than settlement freeze

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel: Second Temple Street in Jerusalem City of David Excavation

Israel antiquities authority reports finding of a stepped street in excavations in the "Silwan" (Shiloach - in English - Siloam) area. Each such find supports the Israeli "narrative" (fact) of Jewish habitation and sovereignty in Jerusalem in ancient times, and debunks the Palestinian "alternative narrative" that there were no Jews in "Palestine" in ancient times. That explains why the Palestinians are so anxious about these archeological digs and the removal of Palestinian Arab squatters who settled illegally in the Shiloach/ City of David area after 1967. The Jewish inhabitants of this area were ethnically cleansed during the illegal Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem that began in 1948.
Second Temple Period Stepped Street Discovered in City of David Excavation

2000 Years Ago, Pilgrims Began Their Trek to the Temple Mount From Here

A section of a stepped street paved in stone slabs, going south in the direction of the Shiloach Pool was discovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Shiloach Pool Excavation at the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park. The excavations are conducted in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, funded by the Elad Foundation, under the auspices of Prof. Ronny Reich of Haifa University and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The existence of this road has been known about for over one hundred years, since it was first discovered between 1894 and 1897 by Prof. Frederick J. Bliss and Archibald C. Dickey of the British Palestine Exploration Fund, and then covered and filled in at the end of their excavation. Other sections of this same road, to the north, have been excavated and covered over in the past, including during the excavations of Jones in 1937 and Kathleen Kenyon from 1961-1967.

This section of the stepped street was discovered at a distance of 550 meters south of the Temple Mount. The road represents the central thoroughfare of Jerusalem that ascended from the north-west corner of the Second Temple Shiloach Pool to the north.

According to Prof. Ronny Reich, "In the Second Temple Period, pilgrims would begin the ascent to the Temple from here. This is the southernmost tip of the road, of which a section has already been discovered along the western face of the Temple Mount."

The current excavation has been concentrated in a very narrow strip (1-2 meters in width) in the western sections of the road. Essentially, the excavation work removed the earth that had been filled in by previous excavators over the sections they already discovered. This section of road is built in the Second Temple style, which comprises alternating wide and narrow steps.

Further work must be done to clarify what the relationship was between the current excavated section and the section of the road and the drainage channel that were discovered nearby two years ago. 
Second Temple Street in City of David

1. The stepped street. Photographic credit: Vladimir Neichin

Second Temple Drain
2. The drainage channel. Photographic credit: Vladimir Neichin
For more information: Yoli Shwartz, Spokesperson, Israel Antiquities Authority 052-599-1888

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tragic death of Assaf Ramon, son of Astronaut Ilan Ramon in IAF Crash

Astronaut Ilan Ramon's son dies in IAF crash
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
Tags: Ilan Ramon
Tragedy struck the family of late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon again Sunday, when his son Capt. Asaf Ramon was killed in a crash while flying an Israel Air Force F16-A.
Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut was one of seven crew members killed when the U.S. space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry on February 1, 2003.
Asaf Ramon's aircraft crashed near the settlement of Bnei Haver, in the rugged terrain of the Hebron Hills. The Israel Defense Forces carried out an aerial and terrestrial search of the area for some 90 minutes before locating the crash site.
IAF Blackhawk ("Yanshuf") helicopters carrying soldiers from 669, the Air Force's elite search and rescue unit, were the first to locate the plane, and they retrieved the pilot's body.
Asaf excelled in the IAF's grueling training course for pilots. In June he received a presidential honor and was given his pilot's wings by President Shimon Peres. He then joined the squadron in which the course's advanced training program is carried out.
The young pilot escaped another plane crash only half a year ago during a routine training flight.
The Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, called an official inquiry and halted training in Israel's F-16 squadrons until further notice, the military said in a statement.
Ilan Ramon himself was a fighter pilot in the IAF, and the youngest to take part in Israel's 1981 air strike on Iraq's unfinished Osirak nuclear reactor. He was also the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors.
People in Israel had tracked Ramon's journey into space as a welcome distraction from the violence of the second intifada; they responded to his death with shock and grief.
Asaf Ramon was 15 when his father died; shortly afterward, he promised on a number of occasions that he would follow in his father's footsteps and serve as a pilot and possibly even as an astronaut in the future. he is survived by his mother, and his two brothers and sister.
Shortly before receiving his wings, Ramon told the IAF journal that, "It was important to me to mention my father and tell his stories, because I am proud of him and proud to be his son. But I also want people to know me as Asaf and not just as the son of the astronaut Ilan Ramon."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Lawyers challenge Goldstone's UN Gaza Report - Report to condemn Israel.

Another media circus organized by the UN - but this one is presided over by a nominal Zionist. The conclusions of the report were evidently known before the investingation. The list of lawyers challenging the report should be much larger. Ami Isseroff

U.N.'s Imminent Gaza Report Challenged by 50 U.K. & Canadian Lawyers for 'Bias'
Published by
UN Watch
- at September 13, 2009 in Goldstone "Fact Finding" Mission for UNHRC and Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
U.N.'s Imminent Gaza Report Challenged by 50 U.K. & Canadian Lawyers for 'Bias'
Arab and Islamic States Plan to Use Goldstone Report for Indictment of Israel by International Criminal Court
Geneva, Sept. 13, 2009 - An unprecedented team of fifty British and Canadian lawyers are challenging the refusal of a U.N. investigator to step down from an inquiry on the recent Gaza conflict, arguing that London School of Economics professor Christine Chinkin's participation on the panel - after she declared Israel guilty prior to seeing any evidence - "necessarily compromises the integrity of this inquiry and its report."
Arab and Islamic countries are hoping to use the report, by a UN Human Rights Council inquiry headed by former South African judge Richard Goldstone — and due for release today — to indict Israel at the International Criminal Court, a move recently encouraged by UN rights chief Navi Pillay. However, Geneva diplomats say U.S. and Western states will block any such attempt.
In submissions filed separately from both countries, prominent attorneys from law firms and human rights organizations in Great Britain and Canada are challenging the U.N.'s rejection of a request that Chinkin be disqualified due to her January condemnation of Israel on the very disputed issues that the inquiry is meant to impartially examine.
In early May, UN  Watch, a Geneva non-governmental organization that monitors the world body's human rights system, appeared before the U.N. panel to urge Goldstone and the other members to disqualify Chinkin, invoking "the impartiality principle that Goldstone promised to uphold," and "the due process requirements of morality, logic and international law."
Despite the NGO's filing of legal briefs in July and August, as reported by Agence France Presse and Deutsche Presse Agentur, the Goldstone mission waited until recently to respond, summarily rejecting the petition. UN Watch's appeal last week to the new president of the Human Rights Council, Belgian ambassador Alex van Meeuwen, received no response. The team of 50 lawyers has now launched a direct appeal to Chinkin that she step down.
In an August interview with South Africa's Business Day, Goldstone admitted that "If it had been a judicial inquiry, that letter [Chinkin] signed would have been a ground for disqualification."
According to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, "Goldstone's implied argument that his inquiry is somehow exempt from the impartiality rule simply defies logic, morality and established international law. At the same time, Goldstone's effective admission that his report is the product of something other than an impartial panel seriously calls into question the legal possibility of attributing any evidentiary weight or credibility to their report."
Apart from Chinkin, the other three members of the panel — Goldstone, Hina Jilani, and Desmond Travers — also implied Israeli guilt prior to their seeing any evidence, declaring in March that "The events in Gaza have shocked us to the core."
According to Neuer, "the Arab-controlled Human Rights Council deliberately selected individuals who made up their mind well in advance not only that Israel was guilty, but that a democratic state with an imperfect but respected legal system should be considered the same as or worse than Hamas, a group whose very raison d'etre is the killing and terrorizing of civilians."
The two separate appeals by 50 British and Canadian lawyers follow below. For more information, see
The U.K. appeal
Professor Christine Chinkin
Law Department
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
10 September 2009
Dear Professor Chinkin,
We wish to express our support for the UN Watch request that you be disqualified from the United Nations Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict and our disappointment that this well-founded request was recently rejected by the mission, as reported by the Jewish Chronicle ("Dispute over 'biased' Gaza inquiry professor," 28 August 2009).
Judge Richard Goldstone, as head of the mission, promised at the outset that it would be impartial. Impartiality requires that fact-finders be free of any commitment to a preconceived outcome. Because you expressed yourself on the merits of the issues prior to seeing any of the evidence, you cannot be considered impartial.
On 11 January 2009, The Sunday Times published a letter signed by you and others, which stated that you "categorically reject" Israel's claim that its military operation in Gaza constituted self-defence against the Hamas rocket attacks "deplorable as they are" and that "Israel's actions amount to aggression, not self-defence". You concluded that Israel was acting contrary to international law.
When you were asked about this during a May 2009 meeting with Geneva NGOs, you denied that your impartiality was compromised, saying that your Sunday Times letter only addressed jus ad bellum, and not jus in bello. (Audio recording at
However, your letter to The Sunday Times was not limited to Israel's decision to conduct a military operation in Gaza. It also expressed the categorical view that the Palestinians killed in the operation were "mostly civilians", that humanitarian relief was blockaded by Israel, and that the operation was contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. It concluded that "the manner and scale of [Israel's] operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law".
All these issues clearly bear on the fact-finding mission in which you are engaged. As you know, all are disputed. As a professor of international law at the London School of Economics, you must recognize that your actions have given rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. As colleagues in the law and academia, each of us committed to fairness and the principle that justice must be seen to be done, we are disappointed that you have refused to step down. Your continued participation necessarily compromises the integrity of this inquiry and its report.
Yours faithfully
Nigel Peters QC
Avril Mailer
Caroline Turner
Alan Steinfeld QC
Professor Ashley Grossman
Daniel Janner QC
Daniel Weiner
David Halpern QC
David Ziskind
Dr Howard Kahn
Jonathan Arkush
Jonathan Fisher QC
Jonathan D. C. Turner
Laura Dahan
Philip Gershuny
Rebekah Gershuny
Simon Monty QC
Simon Myerson QC
Jonathan Lux
The Canadian appeal
Click here for PDF
Professor Christine Chinkin
Law Department
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
September 11, 2009
Dear Professor Chinkin,
We wish to express our support for the UN Watch request that you be disqualified from the United Nations Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict and our disappointment that this well-founded request was recently rejected by the mission, as reported by London's Jewish Chronicle ("Dispute over 'biased' Gaza inquiry professor," 28 August 2009).
Judge Richard Goldstone, as head of the mission, promised at the outset that it would be impartial. Impartiality requires that fact-finders be free of any commitment to a preconceived outcome. Because you expressed yourself on the merits of the issues prior to seeing any of the evidence, you cannot be considered impartial.
On 11 January 2009, The Sunday Times published a letter signed by you and others, which stated that you "categorically reject" Israel's right to claim self-defence against Hamas rocket attacks "deplorable as they are" and that "Israel's actions amount to aggression, not self-defence". You concluded that Israel was acting contrary to international law.
When you were asked about this during a May 2009 meeting with Geneva NGOs, you denied that your impartiality was compromised, saying that your Sunday Times letter only addressed jus ad bellum, and not jus in bello. (Audio recording at
However, your letter to The Sunday Times was not limited to Israel's decision to conduct a military operation in Gaza. It also expressed the categorical view that the Palestinians killed in the operation were "mostly civilians", that humanitarian relief was blockaded by Israel, and that the operation was contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. It concluded that "the manner and scale of [Israel's] operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law".
All these are disputed issues which must surely bear on the fact-finding mission in which you are engaged. As a professor of international law at the London School of Economics, it behooves you to recognize that your actions have given rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. Your refusal to step down necessarily compromises the integrity of this inquiry and its report.
Yours faithfully,
Noam Goodman
Stanley W L Freedman
Eric M. Levy
David Matas Q.C.
Allan Adel
Marvin Kurtz
Anita Bromberg
Monty Warsh
Ari Itman
Jeffrey Citron
David Nadler
Jason Caron
Alan Grad
Alan Litwack
Andrea Safer
Lawrence Witt
Tibor Hollander
Norman Bacal
Saul Schipper
David Chodikoff
Andrew Cohen
Aren Prupas
Dean Chenoy
Joel Goldberg
Adam Kardash
Mark Jadd
Hayden Solomons
David M. Goodman
Danny Kaufer
Adam S. Goodman
David Steinberg
Igor Ellyn Q.C.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Rasmussen survey: Americans would defend Israel

Toplines - Which Countries Would US Defend - September 3-6, 2009
National Survey of 1,000 Adults
Conducted September 3-6, 2009
By Rasmussen Reports

1* Sometimes, when a country is attacked, the United States provides military assistance to help defend that country. Now, I'm going to read you a short list of countries. For each, please tell me if the United States should offer military assistance to defend that country if it is attacked?

45% Yes, the U.S. should defend France if it's attacked
37% No
18% Not sure

2* Israel
59% Yes, the U.S. should defend Israel
29% No
12% Not sure

3* Mexico
59% Yes, the U.S. should defend Mexico
28% No
13% Not sure

4* Japan
46% Yes, the U.S. should defend Japan
41% No
13% Not sure

5* Okay, Germany..if Germany is attacked should the United States offer
military assistance to defend Germany?
53% Yes
33% No
14% Not sure

6* Great Britain
73% Yes, the U.S. should defend Great Britain
18% No
10% Not sure

7* Canada
78% Yes, the U.S. should defend Canada
16% No
6% Not sure

NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of

Continued (Permanent Link)

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