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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Guardian omits Israelis from Nobel peace prize winners

This is not so unbelievable when you remember that during the Gaza war the Guardian was advertiving propaganda for Hamas in order to drum up support for the inquiry into Israeli "war crimes."
Guardian removes Israelis from Nobel Prize winners list
By Tom Gross
National Review Online Saturday, October 10, 2009

The British paper The Guardian - which one would just dismiss as an irrelevant left-wing rag, except that it is the overwhelming paper of choice for British teachers and for news staff at the BBC, the world's largest broadcasting network, who are "inspired" by Guardian stories on a daily basis in their broadcasts - is no friend of Israel and the Jews, as I have noted before.

But now it has wiped Israel off the Nobel Prize map, much as Iranian despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like to wipe Israel off the real map.

To accompany their story about Barack Obama winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, The Guardian posted on their website what they claimed was "every peace prize winner ever," stating that the information came from the website But guess whose names The Guardian took off the list, KGB-style, hoping no-one would notice? All three Israelis who have won the peace prize: Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

Following outrage in Britain, including online articles on the websites of the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph and Spectator (why are most anti-Semites on the Left these days?), The Guardian slipped the Israeli names back on to their list.

The Guardian had no trouble keeping FW De Klerk, the last president of Apartheid South Africa, on their original list. It is only the Jews - and their achievements - which they tried to wipe off the map.

And this from a paper whose motto is "Facts are sacred". Of course The Guardian - like several other prominent European papers - misleads readers
about Israel on a regular basis by omitting crucial information that portrays Israelis in a positive light.

This time it was caught red-handed, as the (London) Jewish Chronicle and the Harry's Place blog managed to upload The Guardian's Israel-free Nobel list before The Guardian slipped the names back in.

Below, The Guardian omitted Israeli political leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, who won the peace prize jointly with Yasser Arafat in 1994. (Incidentally The Guardian forgot to remove the word "Israel" when removing the names of the Israeli winners):

Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat were jointly awarded the 1978 peace prize for signing an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Only Sadat
was listed by The


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Will American Jews be exclusively Orthodox in the future?

In the 19th century, a would-be prophet predicted the great crisis of the twentieth century city. He proved, with facts and figues and extrapolations, that there was no doubt that in a few decades all the large cities of the western world would be choked with horse dung.
Prognosticaltions are dangerous. This fellow predicts that only Orthodox American Jews will remain. Maybe so, but he tells us that in 1964 Look Magazine predicted that Jews would vanish by the end of the century. Instead, Look magazine vanished.
The Jewish Future, in Black and White
By Uzi Silber
Published October 07, 2009, issue of October 16, 2009.
I've seen the future, and it's black and white.
It was a sunny Sunday morning in our Lower East Side community playground, animated by a frenetic blur of whooping kids, my own included.
Alone on a bench, I'd neglected to bring a book from home and wasn't in the mood to socialize with the parents nearby. I opted instead to subject the ad-hoc collection of children to an informal Jewish identity census.
Before disclosing the outcome of this thoroughly unscientific survey, it's important to recall that this neighborhood was once the beating heart of Jewish life in America and the historic core of what still remains the world's largest Jewish city.
Here then are the survey results: Of the 23 children in the playground, three were fully Jewish, and two were gentiles. A whopping 18 kids were half-Jewish.
It later occurred to me that with one notable (and Sephardic) exception, every one of my wife's closest Jewish friends has intermarried, though most fully intended not to. Her own sister recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary with her tall and handsome gentile husband from Alberta.
That intermarriage among American Jews is a ubiquitous phenomenon is widely known. But its accelerating pace is nevertheless astonishing. According to figures from the National Jewish Population Survey, only 13% of those who were married before 1970 intermarried, a figure that more than doubled to 28% during the 1970s, reached 43% by the second half of the 1980s and hit 47% by the late 1990s.
According to the NJPS, three-quarters of self-identified Jewish adults with intermarried parents themselves marry non-Jews. And only a third of intermarried couples raise their children Jewish.
Across the East River later that same afternoon, I witnessed an entirely different demographic state of affairs. Ahead of a visit to my Aunt Irene's in Flatbush, we stopped by a playground in Boro Park, a congested, square-mile patch of Brooklyn that is home to one of the world's densest concentrations of Jews.
The fenced-in grounds were a stormy sea of black and white: yarmulke-d, tzitzis-ed and peyes-ed boys scooted and climbed, while their sisters, concealed modestly from head to toe, biked and seesawed. Young mothers sporting mournful black kerchiefs pushed carriages as their husbands, uniformly clad in black pants and white shirts, yapped into cell phones in Yinglish.
Make no mistake, the Boro Park playground represents the Jewish future in America.
In a 2008 speech, Hebrew Union College sociologist Steven M. Cohen said that "we are now in the midst of a non-Orthodox Jewish population meltdown," noting high rates of intermarriage and low levels of affiliation among the offspring of intermarried couples. He contrasted this situation with the demography of American Orthodox Jews.
"Among Jews in their 50s, for every 100 Orthodox adults, we have 192 Orthodox children. And for the non-Orthodox, for every 100 adults, we have merely 55 such children," he explained. "In nearly two generations, in our own lifetime, the Orthodox have embarked on a path to nearly doubling their size. At the same time, the non-Orthodox are en route to nearly half their number."
The rapid growth in the Orthodox population is borne out within my own extended, and very typical, ultra-Orthodox family. My late father, who left his rigorously Orthodox fold as a teen, was one of six children. They, in turn, had 24 kids (of whom I am one). These two-dozen have given birth thus far to 110 children — a number sure to grow, considering the relative youth of many of my younger cousins. Indeed, the oldest among the 110 have wedded and have begun producing a gigantic litter that could one day approach 1,000 people — all within four generations!
The implication of all this? The ranks of secular and religiously liberal American Jewry will be greatly diminished by the end of this century, leaving behind a legacy of thousands of gentile Goldsteins, Bernsteins and Kaplans. The shrunken Jewish community in the United States will be increasingly composed of the fervently Orthodox, with a reduced representation of more moderately devout Jews.
In 1964, Look magazine ran a cover story entitled "The Vanishing American Jew," which posited that assimilation, low birth rates and intermarriage would conspire to extinguish American Jewry by the end of the 20th century. As it happens, it was Look magazine that vanished first.
But ultimately Look wasn't that far off. The figure it referred to — that fleeting creation of the 19th-century Jewish Enlightenment known as the modern American Jew — is indeed on the way to becoming a relic. How ironic that this was a fate once widely thought to be reserved for the now resurgent ghetto yid, who may well end up being the typical American Jew of the 22nd century.
Uzi Silber is a writer living in New York.

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Rivlin: Obama's Nobel win may force steps on Israel

Obama's Nobel win may make him over-confident. Confidence is not what Obama lacks. It is a political statement that endorses a particular, unproven, approach to international relations. It is like giving the Nobel prize to a physicist because the committee believes his approach might work, though he has not done the experiments yet. Time will tell who is right. Meanwhile however, it would be wise to exercise caution and respect.
Published:  10.09.09, 14:03 / Israel News
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said US President Barack Obama's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize was peculiar. "If the Nobel Prize should have been given according to his achievements as a politician, I would award it to him," said Rivlin.

"I'm afraid the Nobel Peace Prize was given to him so that he will see through steps that are against the interests of the State of Israel" said Rivlin, adding that he is "concerned granting the award to Obama will force Israel to take certain steps." (Amnon Meranda)

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Iran to execute Juveniles

Thursday, 8 October 2009
Urgent Action: Juveniles to be executed in Iran within the next three days
Urgent letter from Mina Ahadi and Nazanin Afshin-Jam to save the lives of convicted juveniles who will be executed within the next three days
Behnoud Shojaee and Akram Mahdavi are scheduled to be executed in Evin prison this Sunday October 11 which falls one day after the International Day Against Execution. Some reports say that they may be executed tomorrow. Another juvenile,Safar Angooti is scheduled to be executed on October 21st. The Supreme Court is also deciding the fate of another minor on death row, Ali Mahin Torabi. This sad news is worrying the families of these youngsters, NGO's and human rights activists internationally.
We ask all human rights defenders, and international organizations to act immediately to stop child executions . We invite all Iranian freedom fighters to protest by showing their solidarity and showing their displeasure and disgust by pressuring the Iranian authorities for a stay of execution. . Hand in hand let's do the right thing to save these young lives.
For more information about these children and 160 + other children on death row, please visit

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in your own language:
* Expressing concern that Behnood Shojaee and Safar Angoti are at risk of execution for a crime committed when they were under 18;
* calling on the Iranian authorities to commute his death sentence;
* reminding the authorities that Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), both of which prohibit the use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18.
Leader of the Islamic Republic:
Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via website: (English) (Persian)
Head of the Judiciary:
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Via website:
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name;
third: your email address
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of IranMohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri,
Tehran 1316814737,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax 01198 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: or ;
Mina Ahadi, Head of the "International Committee Against Execution"
Nazanin Afshin-Jam , President and Co-Founder "Stop Child Executions"

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A bit premature? President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel committee sent a message to the world, in particular about Middle East peace in awarding the peace prize to Barack Obama.  They were perhaps a bit hasty in awarding the prize, which has an unfortunate tradition: Previous winners included Ralph Bunche, who already made peace in the Middle East back in 1949, Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, who made "peace" in Vietnam, and Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, who made "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. In each case, but especially in Vietnam, it was shown that dialogue and negotiations are not always the route to peace. Of the recipients,
By Scott Wilson and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 9, 2009 6:23 AM
President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for his work to improve international diplomacy and rid the world of nuclear weapons -- a stunning decision to celebrate a figure virtually unknown in the world before he launched his presidential campaign nearly three years ago.
The announcement, which drew gasps of surprise from the audience in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, praised Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" during his nine months in office.
The committee singled out for special recognition Obama's call for a world free of nuclear weapons, which he first made in an April speech in Prague.
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."
Obama, 48, is the third sitting U.S. president--and the first in 90 years--to win the prestigious peace prize. His predecessors won during their second White House terms, and after significant achievements in their diplomacy. Woodrow Wilson was awarded the price in 1919, after helping to found the League of Nations and shaping the Treatise of Versailles; and Theodore Roosevelt was the recipient in 1906 for his work to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese war.
The committee's decision to chose Obama from among 205 nominees appears in part to be a rebuke to the Bush administration's unilateral approach to world bodies and alliances, most notably in its decision to go to war in Iraq without U.N. approval. It sparked immediate questions from reporters in Oslo, who noted that Obama so far has made little concrete progress in achieving his lofty and ambitious agenda.
Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the five-member Nobel committee, said committee members were hopeful that the prize would add momentum to Obama's efforts as he considers whether to expand the war in Afghanistan, prepares to withdraw from Iraq, and struggles to build momentum to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and assemble an international effort to stop Iran's nuclear program.
At the same time, Jagland said, "We have not given the prize for what may happen in the future. We are awarding Obama for what he has done in the past year. And we are hoping this may contribute a little bit for what he is trying to do."
Jagland specifically cited Obama's speech about Islam in Cairo last spring, as well as his efforts to address nuclear proliferation and climate change, and to use established international bodies such as the United Nations to pursue his goals. The prize "is a clear signal to the world that we want to advocate the same as he has done to promote international diplomacy," Jagland said.
"Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics," the committee said. "Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play."
The committee did not mention Obama's status as the first black U.S. president.
Jagland told reporters that the U.S. president had not been notified of the award in advance of the announcement, which was made at 11 a.m. in Oslo (5 a.m. in Washington). There was no immediate comment from the White House 0fficials, who also appeared to be surprised by the decision.
Friday's announcement came a week after the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen rejected Obama's personal appeal to award the 2016 Games to his hometown of Chicago.
Obama and his advisers have described the tenets of his foreign policy as one emphasizing "mutual interest and mutual respect" and the idea that global diplomacy functions on the principles of "rights and responsibilities" of sovereign nations.
"Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts," the committee said in its statement. ". . . the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened."
Former President Jimmy Carter won the 2002 award more than two decades after leaving the presidency, during which he helped negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, the first Arab nation to recognize the Jewish state. Vice President Al Gore won the 2007 prize along with the United Nations panel on climate change.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spiegel interview with Daniel Goldhagen: Universalizing the Holocaust

This is a thoughtful interview with a thoughtful author, but it seems that Goldhagen is attempting to universalize the Holocaust. His prescription for murdering "bad guys" can only work if the "good guys" are in charge. What if the decisions are made by the UNHRC?
SPIEGEL Interview with Daniel Goldhagen
The historian Daniel Goldhagen has never been one to shy away from controversy. In his new book, he argues that state leaders who propagate genocide should be killed outright. SPIEGEL spoke with him about the political tool of mass murder, Germany's reaction to his first book about the Holocaust, and the bankruptcy of international law.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Goldhagen, do all nations have the potential to become perpetrators of genocide?
Goldhagen: Not every genocide that could have happened, not every massacre that could have happened, actually has happened. Prejudices and hatreds -- ideas about other people which make them seem different in a way that is dangerous or potentially deleterious to you -- are generally widespread. There are groups of people around the world in country after country who, in principle, could be mobilized to attack other groups of people and to do so willingly.
SPIEGEL: What element must be added to the mix?
Goldhagen: The nature of the political regime -- the nature of the leaders themselves -- is absolutely critical for whether this potential will be turned into an actual genocide.
SPIEGEL: Are some states more at risk than others?
Goldhagen: You mean forms of government? In dictatorships, which are always threatened from below in one way or another because they do not respect the rights of the people, there is a much greater danger that the political leadership will opt for some kind of eliminationist solution to the problems that they perceive. Whatever prejudices exist today in the United States, in Germany, in Italy, in Japan, in many other countries, it is extraordinarily unlikely that they will, in the foreseeable future, erupt into mass murder.
SPIEGEL: Even in democracies, though, problems such as racism, xenophobia and hatred of minorities exist.
Goldhagen: Yes, but in such countries, no leader would ever even consider doing such a thing. It is completely off the table as an option.
SPIEGEL: The title of your book is "Worse than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity." What could be worse than war?
Goldhagen: That depends on our moral perspective and on the analytical question of how we want to measure badness. If we measure it by the most fundamental measure, which is how many people are killed, the perpetrators of mass slaughter have killed more people since the beginning of the 20th century - more than 100 million -- than have died as a consequence of conventional military operations. This should be one of the central political facts of our age. Yet it is known by virtually no one.
SPIEGEL: Humanity, in other words, is not marching ever further down the path of enlightenment, but rather has created a world full of mass slaughter?
Goldhagen: Mass slaughter is a systemic problem of the modern world.
SPIEGEL: Why have you chosen this issue to address? Until now, you have focussed on the conditions that made the Holocaust possible. This time, though, you look at the broader issue of genocide. Is this just another effort to explain how the German slaughter could have happened?
Goldhagen: Whenever we study genocides, or, for that matter, any social or political phenomenon, we're always looking for similarities and differences. It was the logical next step after looking at the Holocaust.
SPIEGEL: Why have you chosen to use the word "eliminationism" instead of the term "genocide" in your book?
Goldhagen: Because genocide, or large-scale mass slaughter, is but one tool that states and political leaders use to carry out political programs aimed at eliminating populations that are considered unwanted or dangerous. Thus, the fundamental phenomenon is eliminationism, with the mixture of means chosen being but a pragmatic decision to further the political gaol. There are five principal means: repression, forced transformation, expulsion, preventing reproduction, such as sterilization, and extermination.
SPIEGEL: Your book begins with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why are these two events not generally considered to be mass murder?
Goldhagen: Because the victors write the history. It was mass murder. The people in these cities were overwhelmingly non-combatants. The bombings were not necessary for ending the war. The Japanese were ready to surrender and President Harry Truman knew it.
SPIEGEL: Do people in the West tend to believe that we don't commit genocide, only the others do?
Goldhagen: People in the US, no more or less so than in other countries, don't want to look with clear eyes upon the transgressions or crimes that their own countrymen have perpetrated on others. There is a denial movement in virtually every country whose people have undertaken eliminationist assaults. You know: "We didn't do it," or "we had to do it."
SPIEGEL: Does genocide always begin with language?
Goldhagen: Most of what people know about the world is imparted to them through speech -- through language of all different kinds. One of the striking things about genocide is that the people doing the killing view large groups of people as being subhuman or dangerous. They use language to either dehumanize or demonize them.
SPIEGEL: Language mobilizes people to commit mass slaughter?
Goldhagen: Yes. Language is the bearer of hatred. Germans didn't know the Jews of Poland. Many Turks didn't know Armenians. Individual Hutu knew nothing about most Tutsi. How could they? And yet in each case they set out to kill vast numbers of people about whom they knew only what they had heard. Language transmits prejudices and descriptions of others that lead some to believe that the other must be eliminated. This is a critical factor in understanding the generation of mass slaughter, which is often not seen to be important. People say "it's just talk." but it's talk that is the soil from which these genocidal assaults eventually grow.
SPIEGEL: Do you not see a need to correct yourself? Thirteen years ago you wrote that there has never been a genocide comparable to the Holocaust. Now, you are comparing various genocides from history and the Holocaust is included as one of them.
Goldhagen: Yes, to look for similarities and differences. There have been many other mass slaughters in history and also in our time.
SPIEGEL: But your thesis remains true?

'The Past Is Far Less Threatening in Germany Today'
Goldhagen: Absolutely. The Holocaust retains certain distinctive qualities that make it singular among genocides. It doesn't make it necessarily worse or more morally horrific. It's simply a matter of fact that it had distinctive qualities. It is the only time when a state with a large number of supporters set out to exterminate the members of another group, not just in their own country, but, if they had won the war, in all of Europe, and then in the whole world with no exception. Every man, woman and child. Furthermore, there's a second quality to it that makes it distinctive. It actually was perpetrated by an international genocidal coalition in which peoples of different countries, and also different governments, participated in this genocidal enterprise.
SPIEGEL: When you published "Hitler's Willing Executioners" in 1996, you became world famous, but you were also strongly criticized.
Goldhagen: The world today looks so different, including Germany. The past is far less threatening in Germany today even than it was in 1996. I think it has more or less passed into history now. At that time, it was a shock for so many Germans to learn how ordinary Germans wilfully perpetrated mass slaughter. I think this is widely accepted in Germany now. SPIEGEL itself recently had a sober cover story on the topic.
SPIEGEL: You always use the term "the Germans" to describe the perpetrators. Is that not a mistake?
Goldhagen: This was, of course, one of the critical features of the debate after "Hitler's Willing Executioners" was published. "How can you say 'Germans' instead of 'Nazis'?" Do you want to revisit that discussion?
SPIEGEL: No. But in your new book, you make a plea for the precise use of language when talking about victims and perpetrators -- in order not to protect the perpetrators or to make the victims anonymous. Why not refer to "the Nazis" or "the German murderers" instead of simply "the Germans?"
Goldhagen: Well, they were Germans. We speak of the Americans in Vietnam and the French in Algeria. We should be able to say the Germans in Poland and so on.
SPIEGEL: But it's not true. The "Americans" in Vietnam were primarily soldiers sent there to fight a war. The same is true for the "French" in Algeria. But by using the word "the" before "Germans," you transform an entire people into perpetrators.
Goldhagen: No. I have often said, in my books too, that many, but not all, Germans took part. Why can't you generalize about the Germans? We generalize all the time. Here's a generalization: In the late 1930s many Germans supported Nazism and supported Hitler, and indeed, many Germans supported the eliminationist assault upon the Jews. Here's another generalization: Most Germans today support democratic institutions. It's not the generalization per se, but the empirical foundation on which the generalization is based that's important.
SPIEGEL: There is a difference between saying "the" Germans and "many" Germans.
Goldhagen: When I speak about things that the Nazi leadership in particular was doing, I use the term "the Nazis." When we're speaking about the general eliminationist or genocidal attacks on Jews and on others, I use "Germans." There is a linguistic problem. In English, the indefinite plural "Germans" makes it clear that you are talking about a lot of people who are German, but not about the collectivity.
SPIEGEL: Why do you react so brusquely when confronted by historians who do not share your viewpoint?
Goldhagen: What do you mean?
SPIEGEL: You have in the past attacked other Holocaust researchers and even said of some works that they are "complete nonsense." You have in the past gone after such well-respected scholars as Hannah Arendt and Christopher Browning. Why are you so ruthless?
Goldhagen: Anyone who knows what actually happened knows that it was I who was personally and vehemently attacked.
SPIEGEL: Still, do your attacks not, in the end, only harm you?
Goldhagen: I was completely taken by surprise by all that happened and the extent of the reaction. I am at heart an educator and I prefer discussions with people rather than polemics.
SPIEGEL: Too much vehemence can indeed seem suspect.
Goldhagen: I'm not going to stop speaking the truth because I'm worried about how people are going to react. You're either a scholar or a politician. I learned a lot from my father...
SPIEGEL: ... a political scientist who survived the Holocaust.
Goldhagen: I learned an orientation towards life and the world -- that we always need to tell the truth. We don't tailor what we say about the world because it's either personally or politically expedient. My father is absolutely a straight shooter about all manner of things. And this is what I learned from him.
SPIEGEL: The fundamental difference between you and most other historians or political scientists is that they say that World War II made the Holocaust possible. You, on the other hand, say that anti-Semitism in Germany provided the foundation that was then mobilized and organized by Hitler.
Goldhagen: Well, in the most prosaic sense the war was necessary because without the conquest of Europe, Germany would not have been able to get its hands on the Jews and have the freedom to slaughter them.
SPIEGEL: They could have started at home.
Goldhagen: There were practical reasons why they didn't. The war aims of Hitler were multiple and intertwined -- to secure Germany from a variety of putative enemies, to expand Germany geographically and to exterminate those whom he believed threatened the German people. Those enterprises included the extermination of the Jews.
SPIEGEL: But there were no concrete plans for the Holocaust by the time World War II began.
Goldhagen: This is where we have to start talking about eliminationism instead of genocide. The elimination of the Jews was always their policy. It started in Germany in 1933 with different kinds of laws and measures excluding Jews from German society. At that point they were trying to get as many Jews out of Germany as possible. Once they began to conquer countries, they immediately began to take other eliminationist measures against the Jews, such as ghettoization -- measures which were temporary until a more "final" solution could be initiated. So, to say that the eliminationist assault upon the Jews was a consequence of the war is simply not factually correct. There was always this eliminationist orientation and a variety of means used at different times until the program of total extermination began in 1941, coinciding with the assault on the Soviet Union.
SPIEGEL: Your colleague Christopher Browning argues that many of the murders perpetrated by the Nazis can be explained by peer pressure. This too is an idea that seems to make you angry.

'Eliminationism Has Become an Integral Part of the Political Repertoire of the Modern World'
Goldhagen: No, but it's wrong. I bring to bear a vast amount of evidence that shows that the killers often do a great deal more than they are ordered to do. Often the people doing the killing were not even being supervised. Is it possible for someone to slaughter children and not have a view about whether it's right or wrong? It seems to me the answer is no. It's not possible. When you see, in mass murder after mass murder, how they treated children with great brutality, it becomes clearer and clearer that the perpetrators actually believed it was right. It wasn't peer pressure that moved them. It was ideology.
SPIEGEL: You write that a half a million Germans participated in the mass murder and that almost all Germans knew it was going on. Neither statement is true.
Goldhagen: Excuse me? If you look at the things that the regime was organizing, the extermination of the Jews, the use of millions of slave laborers, the slaughter of Russians, Poles, Roma and Sinti, the so-called euthanasia program -- all these things which Germans today would consider to be criminal -- it is clear that Germans during the Nazi period had knowledge of the vast criminality of the regime.
SPIEGEL: The crimes committed in Germany were certainly impossible to overlook. But very few knew what was happening in the death camps in Poland -- in Treblinka, Auschwitz and the others.
Goldhagen: The evidence is overwhelming that the knowledge that Germans were killing Jews on a large scale was extremely widespread in Germany. Though the program as such was a secret.
SPIEGEL: Did the Nazis keep it secret out of shame?
Goldhagen: No. The regime wasn't ashamed of it. It controlled the media at the time and had rules about what should or should not be said. The Nazis were concerned that it could be used as propaganda against Germany. It probably wasn't known by many people that there was a formal program of total extermination. But on the Soviet front where there were millions of German soldiers, the mass killing of Jews was done in full view of the army. The army was often participating and providing logistical support.
SPIEGEL: Most of the soldiers say they didn't know anything.
Goldhagen: If you ask the perpetrators, as the Federal Republic's legal authorities did, whether they shot anybody, you'll find out that virtually nobody in these units actually shot anybody. They all deny it. You would then have to conclude that, in fact, nobody died because nobody will admit to having pulled the trigger.
SPIEGEL: Would you call all those who say they didn't participate liars?
Goldhagen: I'm not saying all soldiers must have known. We're talking here about one of the greatest crimes in all of human history. Even just knowing about it is an uncomfortable thing for many people to tell others about.
SPIEGEL: Are modern-day mass murders of a greater dimension than in centuries past because of the advance of technology?
Goldhagen: Most gargantuan slaughters that have taken place in the modern world -- as in Rwanda for example -- have been perpetrated with technical means that were invented before the twentieth century. It is the will that is the decisive factor. Eliminationism has become an integral part of the political repertoire of the modern world.
SPIEGEL: In your book, you warn of the dangers of political Islam. Why?
Goldhagen: "Political Islam" is the appropriate term to describe political movements that are grounded in an understanding of Islam and which seek to assert control -- often totalitarian control -- over their societies and other societies which they think should be Islamic. These movements often use violence and often with a genocidal or eliminationist attempt.
SPIEGEL: What should the international community do?
Goldhagen: There is something fundamentally wrong with the current situation. Everybody in the West is opposed to mass slaughter. And they look upon a world where relatively weak and poor countries with few resources engage in mass slaughter. And this just continues and you ask how can this be? If these powerful and wealthy countries were really determined to put an end to eliminationist assaults, you would think they could probably do it. President Barack Obama, who people expected would be much better on these issues, has done nothing. He should create a no-fly zone over Darfur; he should bomb Sudanese military installations until there is a total cessation of activities. But the nation-state is an egoistic entity -- the leaders of the country are calculating national interest and it has not been perceived to be in the national interest of any of the powerful countries to do much of anything.
SPIEGEL: Because they take place so far away.
Goldhagen: It is our moral duty. How many African lives equals one European life or one American life? Contemporary communications mean that we know immediately when things are happening now. So it is a problem of sympathy or empathy. The current situation is that leaders and regimes that decide to undertake eliminationist assaults have very little to fear. They are almost always successful and they do it with impunity.
SPIEGEL: International tribunals...
Goldhagen: ... The establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002 was a very good development. But as it currently functions, it is so slow and so ineffective. It was basically a low cost way for the countries of the world to pretend they were doing something. We must create an international environment where those leaders that might contemplate eliminationist assaults would think, it's probably not a good idea because I'll either lose power or I could lose my life.
SPIEGEL: That sounds a bit naïve.

'International Law on the Issue of Mass Slaughter Is Utterly Bankrupt'
Goldhagen: Does it? Any regime that has been declared to be undertaking eliminationist assaults should be suspended immediately from all international institutions. It should be declared that the leaders of these countries, the top political leadership and all high level subordinates, are outlaws and are subject to being killed.
SPIEGEL: You think murder is the answer?
Goldhagen: The perpetrators conceive of it as a war. They're making war on an identifiable part of humanity, which is like making war on humanity as a whole. And if they are making war, the rules of war apply. We should encourage those who can, to kill them. This may sound radical, but it is a far more effective, less-costly and, believe or not, likely solution than sending in a UN or some other rapid reaction force.
SPIEGEL: Doesn't sovereignty present a problem, and international law? Who should have the power to determine when such a measure should be taken?
Goldhagen: I'm not worried that this is going to lead to a rash of invasions of other countries. The problem is not over-eagerness. The problem is the absence of practically any will or any action to save the lives of people being exterminated. And the problem is that there is no provision in international law that allows for countries to violate the sovereignty of another. International law allows for leaders to slaughter their own people unless the UN calls it genocide, which is not going to happen. International law on this issue is utterly bankrupt.
SPIEGEL: The US marched into Iraq under the guise of protecting human rights.
Goldhagen: ... which wasn't really the reason for the invasion.
SPIEGEL: They toppled the regime and hanged Saddam Hussein. And if you ask around at the United Nations and others involved in international politics, you will hear them say that this invasion was harmful to the global community. Trust in the rules that should apply to all has been violated as has the will to act together.
Goldhagen: You are right. I'd be happy with functioning international law. The problem is that it won't come about any time soon. I asked the Justice Minister of Rwanda, Tharcisse Karugarama, whether the genocide would have been prevented had bounties been placed on the heads of the political leaders and they knew it. He said, "Definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely, many times definitely...." If people knew that at the end of the day they'll be the losers, they would never invest in a losing enterprise.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Goldhagen, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.
Interview conducted by Klaus Brinkbäumer and Martin Doerry

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UN Security council won't consider Goldstone report

UNSC rejects Libya's request for special Goldstone session
Oct. 8, 2009
E.B. SOLOMONT, jpost correspondent, and tovah lazaroff , THE JERUSALEM POST
NEW YORK - The UN Security Council on Wednesday rejected Libya's request to hold a special session on the Goldstone Report, but agreed to advance its periodical meeting on the Middle East to Oct 14 and focus on the war crimes report. The meeting was originally scheduled for Oct. 20.
Most of the council's members were against discussing the report until the UN Human Rights Council reached a joint agreement on its recommendations on the topic.
In a surprise move earlier Wednesday, the UN Security Council met behind closed doors at the behest of Libyan diplomats, who requested an emergency session to discuss the report. The request - supported by Palestinian officials - upsets a fragile agreement achieved less than a week ago at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which delayed action on the Goldstone Report until at least March.
Under the arrangement, Palestinians agreed to defer a vote on a resolution to refer the matter to the General Assembly, Security Council and possibly the International Criminal Court, a move that would allow individual Israelis to be prosecuted for their actions in Gaza.
But after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was sharply criticized both by members of his party and activists on the street for deferring the resolution, the Palestinian mission to the UN issued a statement in "full support" of the Libyan request to bring the issue to the Security Council independent of a UN Human Rights Council endorsement. Palestinians had enough votes in Geneva to endorse the resolution.
The Palestinian Observer Mission said it would work "diligently with the Arab Group and all other political groups inside and outside of the Security Council to ensure that this important (Security Council) meeting is convened to address this extremely serious issue."
The Libyan mission in New York - acting on orders from Tripoli - sent an informal letter to the Security Council asking for the meeting. Libya is a non-permanent member of the 15-member Council until later this year.
It is more likely that the UN General Assembly would bring the Gaza issue before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, speculated Ruth Lapidot, a Hebrew University international legal scholar.
Ali Abdussalam Treki, the Libyan diplomat and current president of the General Assembly, "will not request the GA to look into the report," a spokesman said on Wednesday. One of the body's 192 member states could make such a request, however, and the spokesman said, "I think that at some stage this report will have to end up in the GA. We'll just have to wait."
Unlike the Security Council, the General Assembly is more likely to move the Goldstone Report forward into the judicial arena, Lapidot said. "The General Assembly has an automatic majority of states that do not like Israel," she said, adding that countries do not have veto power in the GA.
While an ICJ advisory ruling is harmful in the court of public opinion, and could be used as the basis for other legal decisions, it had little practical implications at this time, said Lapidot. She pointed to the ICJ's 2004 advisory opinion, which stated it was illegal for Israel to construct the security barrier in the West Bank, and said it had not been too harmful to Israel.
An ICC ruling is more dangerous to Israelis, because "the ICC can prosecute individuals," said Lapidot.
At present, Palestinians needed the help of the Security Council to bring Israelis before the ICC because Palestine was not a state, said Lapidot.
She noted that separate from the Goldstone Report, an ICC prosecutor was now debating whether to consider Palestine a state for the purposes of legal action, a move that would make Israelis vulnerable to the court regardless of what happens with the Goldstone Report.
Whether Libya exerts pressure on the General Assembly remains to be seen. But during last month's debate, Treki showed his deference to Libyan president Muammar Gadaffi, allowing him to speak, uninterrupted, for 90 minutes - well over the 15-minute time allotment. Last year, then-president of the GA Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann used his position to bash Israel on a regular basis.
"Libya, being both on the Security Council and president of the General Assembly, will no doubt carefully coordinate its campaign with itself and its cohorts," said Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and the editor of "Their preference will be initially to insist on Security Council action. But if and when the Security Council does not act, they will then use it as an excuse to say the General Assembly is forced to take action because the Security Council did not."
"It will be like a one-two punch," she said. "The real question, though, is what are the Americans prepared to do about it."
The US so far has been clear that it wants to see the UN Human Rights Council, which mandated the inquiry, handle the report. American diplomats have stressed their goal of resuming peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians without distractions.
"Despite its flaws, the place for this report to be discussed remains in the [Human Rights] Council," Ambassador Susan Rice, the US permanent representative to the UN, said in a recent interview with The Washington Post.
In the Security Council, the US could face opposition from Turkey, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, which is pressing for "accountability" for anyone guilty of war crimes in Gaza.
"We will definitely take the position to discuss this issue on the Security Council," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said, according to a Reuters report.
The Goldstone Report, published in late September, accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes during Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. It said Israel used disproportionate force and failed to protect citizens, accusations amounting to possible crimes against humanity. Among their chief recommendations, the report's authors recommended that the Security Council require both sides to probe alleged abuses within six months.
Israel, which did not cooperate with the investigation, has called the mandate of the fact-finding mission itself inherently biased. American officials similarly called it deeply flawed.
Wednesday afternoon in New York, a European diplomat indicated that the report was commissioned by the Human Rights Council, where it should be dealt with. "They should proceed as planned, as it has been scheduled," the diplomat said.

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Why J-Street insists it is "pro-Israel"

Contrary to public assertions of the J-Street lobby regarding its polling results, it seems that American Jews really do care about Israel and judge candidates on the basis of whether or not they are "pro-Israel." It has therefore been careful to assert that it is "pro-Israel."

The importance of being 'pro-Israel'

By Eric Fingerhut· October 7, 2009

While writing about why he believes Jews are much more likely to be Democrats in The Hill newspaper, pollster Mark Mellman notes a poll he did which demonstrated how important it is for a candidate to be perceived as "pro-Israel":

Support for Israel is a critical element of Jews' voting behavior. An experiment we embedded in a survey for the National Jewish Democratic Council provides the most telling evidence. For half of the sample we pitted a Republican candidate "Jones" who had a "strong pro-Israel record" and a variety of typical Republican issue positions against a Democratic opponent "Smith," who also had a "strong pro-Israel record" along with typical Democratic positions on the same issues. The other half of the sample was given identical portraits of "Jones" and "Smith" except that, for the second group, the Democrat lacked the pro-Israel record.

Comparing the vote in the two halves of the sample reveals the substantial difference support for Israel makes to Jewish voters.

The pro-Israel Democrat won by a 45-point margin, while the Democrat who was identical, except on Israel, eked out only a three-point win. Support for Israel alone created a massive 42-point swing in the margin, clear evidence of the centrality of Israel to Jewish voters.

Mellman does note that "exactly what constitutes a 'pro-Israel candidate' remains uncertain, but offers some criteria based on recent surveys of the Jewish community by  the American Jewish Committee and others:

Ninety-four percent of Jews believe the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state; two-thirds would endorse Israeli military action to prevent Iran from going nuclear; nearly six in 10 oppose a compromise that left Jerusalem divided or outside Israeli sovereignty. While 60 percent would dismantle at least some Israeli settlements in exchange for peace, only 8 percent would dismantle them all. As J Street's poll makes clear, 75 percent supported Israel's military action in Gaza, while almost the entire community supports an active role for the U.S. in pursuing peace.

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Who is behind temple mount riots?

It is possible the Palestinian Authority is behind the riots and the false accusations but they have more to lose by unrest than they have to gain. Hamas is a more likely candidate.
The factor behind the Temple Mount riots
Oct. 7, 2009
With police mobilizing to secure Jerusalem following days of Palestinian rioting, it is instructive to offer some context for clashes that have been taking place on the Temple Mount and at scattered sites throughout east Jerusalem.
On Sunday, Palestinian protesters hurled rocks and bottles at police after Israel barred men between the ages of 18 and 45 from ascending the site. That restrictive order was imposed in response to Palestinian Authority calls for Arabs to flood the holy site to protect Al-Aksa Mosque from so-called Jewish extremists.
The following day, Palestinian and Israeli Arab unrest continued with rock-throwing incidents throughout Jerusalem's Old City and with the stabbing of an Israeli border guard in Shuafat.
The unrest, however, is not spontaneous and is not occurring in a vacuum.
The riots are being directly incited by the PA, whose official media outlets and institutions are stoking Arab flames by claiming right-wing extremist Jews are attempting to threaten Al-Aksa Mosque - a decades-old blood libel that should be easily dismissible in light of heavy Israeli restrictions on Jews and Christians from ascending the Mount during most hours of the day, whereas Muslims are usually free to access the site 24/7.
Indeed, Israeli law prohibits Jews and Christians from praying on the site. If any so-called extremist Jew attempted to enter Al-Aksa, he or she would likely be immediately removed from the Temple Mount by Israeli police, who follow Jewish tour groups very closely and coordinate with the Wakf, the Islamic custodians of the site.
The PA is not just inciting violence; its officials also assist the riots. On Monday Israeli security forces released from custody Jerusalem's senior PA official, Khatem Abed Al-Kadr, who had been detained on suspicion of inciting riots. The PA-aligned Islamic Movement is reportedly even sponsoring buses to transport young, riled-up Israeli Arabs to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from Umm el-Fahm.
In a conversation earlier this week, Dimitri Diliani, the spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party in Jerusalem, did not deny his group's involvement in the riots. "Palestinian political factions, including Fatah, are firm on defending the political, national and religious rights of the Palestinian people," Diliani said, "and it's evident now we will continue defending Al-Aksa Mosque as well as our rights in Jerusalem as a whole."
WE KNOW from history that riots emanating from the Temple Mount traditionally are pre-planned and are part of a larger Palestinian nationalist strategy. For example, in September 2000, the Palestinians started the second intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshippers after prime-ministerial candidate Ariel Sharon visited the site. At first, the Palestinians claimed the stone-throwing riots were spontaneous. Later, top PA officials, including Yasser Arafat and his deputy, Marwan Barghouti, admitted the Temple Mount clashes were pre-planned.
So why the current clashes?
This all actually began two weeks ago, immediately following a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama had hoped the meeting would initiate Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state within two years.
During his speech to the UN General Assembly days before the riots, Obama used strongly worded language to call for the creation of a "viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."
The term "occupation" routinely is used by the Palestinians as well as some countries hostile to the Jewish state in reference to Israel's presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. It is unusual for US presidents to use the term, although Jimmy Carter once famously called Israel's presence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem "illegal."
It seems the PA, emboldened by Obama's speech, may be using the riots as a pressure tactic to send a clear message to Israel - if negotiations do not create a state in the near future, expect another intifada. The PA under Arafat was notorious for negotiating on the one hand while leading a violent campaign against Israel on the other.
Already, some of Obama's policies have hardened Palestinian bargaining positions. Most notably, the PA is now demanding a complete halt to Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem in line with the US president's same demand. The PA never before set a settlement freeze as a prerequisite for talks.
ANOTHER FACTOR may be at play in sparking the recent Jerusalem clashes. The PA's involvement with the Mount riots come after the Palestinian public expressed disapproval with a decision by Abbas to call for the delay of a UN Human Rights Council vote regarding a UN report that accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes during Israel's defensive war in Gaza in December and January.
That UN report, authored by South African judge Richard Goldstone, has been slammed here as anti-Israel. The report equates Israel, which worked to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, to Hamas, a terrorist organization that utilized civilians as human shields and fired rockets from Palestinian hospitals and apartment buildings.
Israeli security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Abbas likely was in part using the Temple Mount clashes to incite against Israel and deflect Palestinian outcry, including from Hamas, stemming from his agreement to delay the UN vote.
The writer is Jerusalem bureau chief for and is author of the recently released The Late Great State of Israel: How enemies within and without threaten the Jewish country's survival.

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Israel critic Vanessa Redgrave and others slam Toronto Film Fest boycott

This letter, published in the New York Review of Books and protesting the proposed boycott of the Tel Aviv film festival in Toronto, separates the "Israel Critics" from the Israel haters and anti-Semites. Actually Tel-Aviv was founded as "Ahuzat Bayit" and was not originally built on any destroyed Arab villages. The land was purchased from Arabs.
Let Israeli FIlms be Shown

By Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Schnabel, Martin Sherman
To the Editors:
A group of prominent filmmakers has protested the Toronto Film Festival's choice of Tel Aviv, in its "City to City" section showcasing films from and about a particular city, as "a propaganda campaign on behalf apartheid regime." Their letter declared that the signatories were not protesting against the Israeli filmmakers who were included or their films. Their stand seems to us to be improperly thought out and to have distressing implications.
The protesters use the term "apartheid regime." We oppose the current Israeli government, but it is a government. Freely elected. Not a regime. Words matter.
In their letter the protesters say that "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages." True. Just as much of America is built on obliterated Indian property. Are they implying that Tel Aviv should not exist? At least not in its present form? Which would mean that the State of Israel (the original State of Israel, not including the occupied territories) should not exist. Thousands of Palestinians have died through the years because the Israeli government, military, and part of the population fervently believe that the Arab states and, indeed, much of the world do not want Israel to exist. How then are we halting this never-ending cycle of violence by promoting the very fears that cause it?
The injustice and cruelty inflicted upon the Palestinians over decades are immense. Many great powers, most notably the Soviet Union and Great Britain, have collaborated in this injustice, just as, if only by their silence, they played havoc with the lives of Jews during the Third Reich and the ensuing Holocaust.
Many Israelis are aware of this history. Many citizens of Tel Aviv are particularly cognizant of the situation of the Palestinians and are concerned about their government's policies and their country's future. And none more so than the Tel Aviv creative community. This is exemplified by Israeli films that criticize their government's behavior, and some startling Israeli theater pieces, such as the Cameri Theatre's Plonter, seen earlier this year in London. The Israeli peace bloc, Gush Shalom, and many Israeli human rights groups and advocates are based in Tel Aviv. Some 10,000 Israeli citizens demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the military attack on Gaza in January this year, a fact not reported by the BBC World News or CNN.
These citizens of Tel Aviv and their organizations and their cultural outlets should be applauded and encouraged. Their presence and their continued activity is reason alone to celebrate their city. Cultural exchanges almost always involve government channels. This occurs in every country. There is no way around it. We do not agree that this involvement is a reason to shun or protest, picket or boycott, or ban people who are expressing thoughts and confronting grief that, ironically, many of the protesters share.
If attitudes are hardened on both sides, if those who are fighting within their own communities for peace are insulted, where then is the hope? The point finally is not to grandstand but to inch toward a two-state solution and a world in which both nations can exist, perhaps not lovingly, but at least in peace.
The year 2009 is the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Barenboim-Said West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. We hope that those who protest Israeli inclusion in film festivals will take note of this example of the power of art freely expressed and available to all, and reconsider their position.
Vanessa Redgrave
Julian Schnabel
Martin Sherman

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Five years in jail for Saudi kiss and tell

Kiss and tell is not nice, but the Saudis have gone a bit far in punishing it - five years in jail and 1,000 lashes in this "moderate" regime that is supported by the US.

Saudi gets 5 years in jail for frank TV sex talk

Oct. 7, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST

A Saudi court on Wednesday convicted a man for publicly talking about sex after he bragged on a TV talk show about his exploits, sentencing him to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes, his lawyer said.

Talking about sex publicly is a taboo in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia.

Lawyer Sulaiman al-Jumeii said he plans to appeal the court's ruling and is confident the sentence against his client, which includes a ban on travel and talking to the media for five years after his release, will be revoked.

Al-Jumeii maintains that his client, Mazen Abdul-Jawad, was duped by the Lebanese LBC satellite channel which aired the talk show and was unaware in many cases he was being recorded.

"I hope you will not consider the case closed," the lawyer said. "I will continue pursuing the TV channel, even if no one stands by me, until it gets the punishment it deserves."

The program, which aired July 15 on LBC and was seen in Saudi Arabia, scandalized this conservative country where such frank talk is rarely heard in public. Some 200 people filed legal complaints against Abdul Jawad, who works for the national airline.

The program, "Bold Red Line," begins with Abdul-Jawad, dubbed a "sex braggart" and "Casanova" by the media, describing the first time he had sex at 14. He then leads viewers into his bedroom, dominated by red accessories, and then shows off blurred sex toys.

He is later joined by three male friends for a discussion on what turns them on.

Abdul-Jawad's lawyer maintains his client was referring to other people's sexual experiences and the toys were provided by the TV station.

The government moved swiftly in the wake of the case, shutting down LBC's two offices in the kingdom and arresting Abdul-Jawad.

The other three men on the show were also convicted of discussing sex publicly and sentenced to two years imprisonment and 300 lashes each, according to al-Jumeii.

The case itself was also tried before the wrong court, maintains the lawyer, who says it should have been heard by a specialized court at the Information Ministry qualified to issue decisions regarding editing, dubbing and other technical issues related to the case.

In his statement, al-Jumeii said the decision in the case was made "under pressure from public opinion" due to the media frenzy surrounding it.

He also said he will continue pursuing a lawsuit he has filed against LBC.

The kingdom, which is the birthplace of Islam, enforces strict segregation of the sexes. An unrelated couple, for example, can be detained for being alone in the same car or having a cup of coffee in public.

Saudis observe such segregation even at home, where they have separate living rooms for male and female guests.

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Speaking out against anti-Semitism in Arab countries is a risky business

What everyone knows, and nobody will say...
Speaking out against anti-Semitism is a risky business
Oct. 6, 2009
Aladdin Elaasar , THE JERUSALEM POST
From the fatwa against Salman Rushdie to the ostracisation of Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Irshad Manji and many others, it is hard for those in the Arab and Muslim world to speak out against suicide bombers, Jihadists, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism in their countries.
Ali Salem, a brilliant Egyptian playwright, was boycotted by his Egyptian and Arab colleagues for favoring peace with Israel and writing a book about it. That seems to be the plight of Arab peace activists. Why would such a well-known, talented writer have to pay the price after bringing laughs to millions of Arabs through his witty, whimsical and satirical plays?
What happened to the old days when Jews in Arab countries were the elite, la crème de la crème, movie stars, singers, writers, cabinet ministers, in what was dubbed as la belle epoch? Why was it replaced by so much hatred, intolerance and bigotry against the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and anger directed towards America?
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many Arab regimes have taken a hard-line against it, conveniently recycling crude anti-Semitic images for their public. The Palestinian cause has proven to be a very useful tool for the post-colonial regimes that followed. To this day, after decades of brainwashing for Arab and Muslim masses, it is a hot button for many Arab leaders marshalling their masses to burn American and Israeli flags. The Palestinian issue has been effectively used by failing, dictatorial and oppressive Arab regimes to point the finger at an outside enemy to deflect their public's attention from the nagging domestic issues; it has all taken its toll on education, health care and a deteriorating infrastructure.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES are rampant in the Middle East. Many people are made to believe that America and Israel are running the whole world and are behind every problem in their countries - from defective chewing gum to Farouk Hosny's failure to head UNESCO.
The late president Nasser of Egypt imported former Nazi propaganda experts from the Third Reich and spread anti-Semitism through the whole region. Some Arab leaders were cheering for Hitler, hoping that he was going to liberate them from the British. The former mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, put himself at the service of Hitler and was sought as a war criminal after the end of WWII. Even president Anwar Sadat, the peacemaker and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was once arrested for his affiliation with a Nazi spy ring in Cairo.
Moreover, the Cold War brought Soviet propaganda experts to many Arab nations, bashing the United States, and of course, the old favorite target since Tsarist Russia's infamous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Half the Arab countries are under brutal military dictatorships that came to power through military coups and have stayed there for decades, such as Colonel Gaddafi who has ruled Lybia since 1969. These regimes are secularist.
The other half are under absolute monarchies that use religion to get legitimacy, like Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. Whether secularist or seemingly religious regimes, they both champion the Palestinian cause and exploit religion for political objectives.
Amazingly, fundamentalist groups find themselves using similar rhetoric to that of state-owned media across the Arab world. The result has been the demonization and dehumanization of the Jewish people, and Israelis in particular, in the eyes of many who belong to the Muslim faith. Hate speech has found its way into state-sponsored textbooks, brainwashing generations since the early forties.
It makes it almost impossible for an independent thinker, intellectual, moderate, liberal, secularist or writer to sing outside of the choir. Those who dare to sing anything other than the official tune can find themselves accused of apostasy, tarnishing the image of their country, arrested, tortured and dismissed from their jobs.
Saudi Wahhabi petrodollars have found their way into the media, academia and political circles in this region, and even in the West. The Saudis have influenced more than 60% of mosques, madrasas in America and the West, indoctrinating many in the intolerant, puritanical, Salafist, literalist dogma made in Saudi Arabia. It is no wonder that impressionable young men from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen and Iraq take up arms.
To make things worse, Iran has been competing with Saudi Arabia for decades now, supporting Hamas, Hizbullah, the Syrian Ba'ath party and Shi'ite militias in Iraq.
But what has all this brought to the region?
It has actually worked like magic and entrenched oppressive regimes for decades, thus enriching the elite around these regimes beyond imagination. But that's where the "achievements" end.
The writer is a lecturer and author of The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age. The Egyptian government banned his book for alleged security reasons; the first book banned by the nation in decades.
This article can also be read at

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Sha'aria law in Action: Hamas bans women on motorcycles

While Hamas bans women on motorcycles, it approves of women suicide bombers. Hamas is definitely a cause worthy of support by all right thinking progressive people, isn't it?
Hamas bans women from motorcycles
Oct. 7, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
Hamas has banned motorcycle riders from carrying women on the back seat - the latest in the Islamist group's virtue campaign in Gaza.
The ban was posted on Hamas Interior Ministry Web site on Tuesday, in an effort "to preserve citizen safety and the stability of Palestinian society's customs and traditions."
Hamas wants to impose a strict interpretation of Islam. Its other efforts have included breaking up mixed couples on the beach and obliging female lawyers to wear headscarves in court.
The group insists compliance with the campaign is voluntary and reflects Gaza's conservative ways, but reports have surfaced of offenders being beaten or arrested.
Gazan women almost never drive motorcycles, and rarely even ride behind men.

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U.S. slams Honduras media director's remark 'let Hitler finish his vision'

This issue has been dealt with elsewhere as well, notably: Manuel Zelaya - these are your friends? Incitement to genocide is a crime in international law according to the Genocide Convention.
Last update - 08:36 07/10/2009       
U.S. slams Honduras radioman's remark 'let Hitler finish his vision'
By The Associated Press
The U.S. Ambassador in Honduras has condemned anti-Semitic remarks by a local radio news director who has been an outspoken opponent of the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Ambassador Hugo Llorens sent a letter to Radio Globo owner Alejandro Villatoro expressing "astonishment and incomprehension" over the Sept. 25 remarks by station director David Romero.
Commenting on the rumors alleging Israeli involvement in the crisis, Romero referred to the "famous Holocaust" and added that "I believe it should have been fair and valid to let Hitler finish his historic vision."

"Hitler's concentration camps and Holocaust constitute one of the most shameful acts of human history. How can it be that your station employs as its news director a man who does not understand this?" Llorens said in the letter sent Monday. "Mr. Romero's commentary makes a mockery of any pretense he may have of solidarity with people who struggle against injustice."
Romero later apologized for the remarks, saying that they were "stupid" statements made in the heat of the moment and that don't reflect his real views. He said his grandfather was a Jewish immigrant from Czechoslovakia who came to Honduras to escape persecution in Europe.
Radio Globo was shut down and its equipment confiscated by security forces last week after interim President Roberto Micheletti issued an emergency decree banning large-scale demonstrations and limiting civil liberties. Although Micheletti has lifted the decree, he said the Radio Globo and a television station that was also closed would have to go the courts to "recover their right to be on the air."
"I cannot help but note the irony that you and Romero came to visit me last week to seek support after your station was closed by the de facto authorities," Llorens said in his letter. "Radio Globo deserves to be on the air. The right of free speech must not be abridged, but with it goes the responsibility to speak truthfully and soberly."
Villatoro said Tuesday he had received the letter but had no plans to take action against Romero.
"I give no importance to this," Villatoro told AP. "I am not going to take any action or any measure against Romero because there is no law that punishes these situations."

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Nobel prize in Chemistry for Israel's Weizmann Institute's Ada Yonath

For those of us who live in Rehovot and are connected with the Weizmann Institute, this is "local gal makes good." However, Israel's excellence in the sciences will not continue if the current shameful neglect of higher education and research, and education in general, continues. No Nobel prizes are given for Yeshiva studies.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 12:34 07/10/2009       
Israeli scientist wins Nobel Prize in chemistry
By Haaretz Service
Israeli scientist Ada Yonath, a leading researcher in the structural biology field, was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday, the Nobel committee in Stockholm announced. Yonath shares the prize with Britain's Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz, an American, for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.
Yonath has focused her research on the structure of the ribosome, a part of the cell that synthesizes protein and translates genetic code in the production of protein.
Yonath was the first Israeli biologist to work with NASA in sending research material to outer space. She cooperated with NASA on 12 missions. Her research contributed greatly to the development of more effective antibiotics, which can overcome phenomenon of drug resistant pathogens.
Yonath is the fourth woman to win the Nobel chemistry prize and the first since 1964, when Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin of Britain received the prize.
Yonath is a professor and head researcher in the field of structural biology and biochemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
She has won many prizes for her research in recent years, including the Israel Prize in Chemistry and the Wolf Prize in Chemistry.
This year's three laureates all generated three-dimensional models that show how different antibiotics bind to ribosomes.
"These models are now used by scientists in order to develop new antibiotics, directly assisting the saving of lives and decreasing humanity's suffering," the academy said in its announcement.

"All three have used a method called X-ray crystallography to map the position for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome," the academy said.
Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, established the Nobel Prizes in his will in 1895. The first awards were handed out six years later.
Each prize comes with a 10 million kronor [$1.4 million] purse, a diploma, a gold medal and an invitation to the prize ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10. The Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo.
Israeli physicist Yakir Aharonov lost the Nobel Prize for physics, despite predictions that he was likely to win. The committee awarded the the physics prize to engineers who developed the mechanism used in digital photography, preferring to award the prize to practical technology that could be used on a daily basis rather than the theoretical physics which Aharonov focused on.
The last Israeli to receive a Nobel Prize was Yisrael Robert Aumann, who was awarded the prize in economics in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis. He shared the prize with Thomas Schelling.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is Uncle Sam funding the Taleban?

Your tax dollars at work - funding the Taleban:
"Everything was done in cash," said one contractor who worked for an Afghan firm with a wide range of CSTC-A contracts. "There is no way of tracking where the money is going. There are no controls on payments. The military does not follow up or check on [Afghan] companies the way they can U.S. vendors." 
This is the rule, rather than the exception, where Afghan companies are concerned, according to those closest to the process. As a result, they say, money can be easily diverted. 
"Of course we pay off the Taliban," said one procurement director for an Afghan company that imports fuel for the military. "What is the alternative?" 
Are Pentagon contracts funding the Taliban?
A US military aid program that favors Afghan vendors is being used by the Taliban as an extortion racket to the tune of a projected $80 million in the last year.
By Jean MacKenzie - GlobalPost
Published: October 6, 2009 10:53 ET
Updated: October 6, 2009 10:59 ET
KABUL — It seemed like such a good idea at the time.  
At a staff meeting in 2006, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, who was then commander of Combined Forces Afghanistan, took a sip of bottled water. 
Then he looked at the label of one of the Western companies that were being paid millions of dollars a year to ship bottled water by the container load into Afghanistan. 
And Eikenberry, who is now the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said, "There must be a way of producing bottled water in Afghanistan." 
Thus was born the concept of Afghan First, a policy of preferential treatment for Afghan-owned companies that steers military aid into the hands of Afghan vendors. 
All local procurement from fuel delivery for the Afghan army to the production of winter socks for the Afghan police — everything short of weapons and ammunition — now comes from a variety of local contractors, who are being paid about $800 million per year from the U.S. military. The largesse comes out of the total $1.1 billion budget for local purchases that falls under the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, CSTC-A for short. It is the lead U.S. agency responsible for developing the Afghan army and police.
"We are building this country," said Sgt. Edward Gyokeres, chief of the public affairs office at CSTC-A, explaining that the program is intended to use the American and coalition aid money in a way that helps construct a national economy in Afghanistan.
But, paradoxically, this well-intentioned policy may also benefit the insurgency, according to those inside the system, who contend that a significant portion of that money going to Afghan vendors trickles down into the hands of the very enemy the U.S. is battling in Afghanistan — the Taliban.
Precise numbers are impossible to obtain in the lawless fringes of rural Afghanistan where there is very little accounting for this money, but those knowledgeable about the process estimate that at least 10 percent, or about $80 million, has in the last year gone to the diverse groupings of Afghan insurgents whom the U.S. military has come to call the Taliban.
Some contractors say as much as 20 percent of the contracts go to paying off the insurgency, which would put the number closer to $160 million a year.
U.S. and Afghan officials tracking where the Taliban gets its funding estimate that the Taliban's annual take of the poppy crop is about $100 million.
Over the last month, GlobalPost conducted a series of interviews with contractors, military personnel and others who work inside the system and confirmed that a flow of money goes from these local Afghan contractors to the Taliban for payoffs and protection in the widening areas of the country that are Taliban controlled.
In fact, GlobalPost found almost no one inside the military procurement and aid community who expressed surprise at the phenomenon, but very few who were willing to discuss the process on the record out of fear of losing their lucrative contracts, their jobs, or their lives.
"There is no line item for bribes," said CSTC-A's Sgt. Gyokeres. "That's not to say it doesn't happen."
Procurement officers working for two different companies with large CSTC-A contracts shared their stories and three military officers commented on the procurement process. The head of the non-governmental organization that matches contractors to funders also weighed in, as did numerous ordinary Afghans and foreigners more indirectly associated with the process. 
They describe a system in which huge contracts in the tens of millions of dollars are being pushed through in a chaotic and violent environment with too few project managers and accountants. This is happening as the U.S. and coalition partners try to balance the desperate development needs of the country against the knowledge that some of those funds are ending up in the hands of the Taliban. 
All agreed: Payoffs to insurgent groups do occur, are almost impossible to track and will be extremely difficult to stop. As with U.S. assistance funds, a percentage of which find their way to Taliban coffers, military procurement money is a major source of financing for the resurgent Taliban. 
"ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) is aware of allegations that procurement funds may find their way into the hands of insurgent groups, but we do not directly support or condone this activity, if it is occurring," said Col. Wayne Shanks, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A). 
"While rigorous contract award and oversight processes exist, the relationships between contractors and their subcontractors, as well as between subcontractors and others in their operational communities, are not entirely transparent," Shanks added. 
His candid assessment of the process and the blind spots in it reflect an age-old struggle in counterterrorism: Money often flows through local businesses to the insurgency. It was a problem that was faced by the British Empire here in the 19th century and later by the Soviet Union when it invaded Afghanistan. The United States encountered the phenomenon in Vietnam and more recently in Somalia, according to aid workers who have been negotiating this terrain for decades. 

Paul O'Brien is the director of the aid effectiveness team at Oxfam who has spent many years in Afghanistan. He has deep inside knowledge of the difficulties that aid agencies and the military face in providing assistance in a war zone. He said that some of the funding inevitably ends up in the wrong hands. But he pointed out that imposing overly stringent accounting methods would jeopardize the overall effort and diminish the greater good of helping the Afghan people. 
"If we go in there and the first thing we say is, okay, we need to write down your names for accounting purposes and for political purposes to be sure you are not with the insurgency, it is much harder to accomplish the larger goal," O'Brien explained.
As GlobalPost first reported in its special report "Life, Death and the Taliban," the insurgents are reaping rich dividends from local contractors who are paid through U.S. and coalition development funding. The story prompted a probe by the USAID inspector general's office which is now underway. Large contracts awarded to American firms often have accounting procedures in place, but most U.S. companies engage a variety of Afghan subcontractors to carry out the work. This is where things begin to fall apart for both military and NGOs, or non-governmental organizations that provide development assistance.
"Everything was done in cash," said one contractor who worked for an Afghan firm with a wide range of CSTC-A contracts. "There is no way of tracking where the money is going. There are no controls on payments. The military does not follow up or check on [Afghan] companies the way they can U.S. vendors." 
This is the rule, rather than the exception, where Afghan companies are concerned, according to those closest to the process. As a result, they say, money can be easily diverted. 
"Of course we pay off the Taliban," said one procurement director for an Afghan company that imports fuel for the military. "What is the alternative?" 
There are few viable options for those who work in the widening area of Afghanistan that is under Taliban control. Those who do not pay up-front end up bearing even greater costs in cash or blood. Contractors often tell the story of one transportation company that refused to pay: It lost 800 trucks before it bowed to the inevitable. 
The amounts involved are far from negligible. According to the procurement director, who spoke on condition of anonymity, when fuel comes into the country from Central Asia it costs approximately $1 per liter.  
By the time it reaches a military base in Kandahar or Tirin Kot, in the volatile, dangerous, Taliban-controlled south, the price has gone up to $1.60 — billed, of course, to the U.S. military. A modest portion — between 10 and 20 cents — goes to the company as profit. The remaining 40 to 50 cents, or more than 25 percent of the total, goes for "security" — which means handouts to the Taliban or other local insurgents to allow the shipment through. 
This money is baked directly into the price of the fuel – legitimate security costs, to private firms that accompany the shipments or guard the fuel storage areas, would be a separate line item in a firm's budget.
It adds up. According to Mike Capstick, head of Peace Dividend Trust, an organization that matches Afghan companies to international donors, the value of military contracts given to Afghan companies last year alone was $1.1 billion.
If, as insiders say, between 10 and 20 percent is being siphoned off to the Taliban, then CSTC-A funding from the U.S. military would rival the narcotics industry as a source of revenue for the insurgency.
"I think it is important to note that the ISAF and our international partners are taking a broad-based approach to identify and close vulnerabilities that criminals, including the Taliban, use to raise, store and move funds," said Col. Shanks with USFOR-A.
"We work closely with our Afghan partners to take action against specific people involved in financing of the Taliban, and to build Afghan capacity in strategic areas, like internal audits, to better track budget and procurement flows, as well as to improve overall security conditions with the help of the Afghan National Security Forces," he added.

Shanks pointed to a series of recent military operations aimed at capturing or eliminating insurgents and their supporters.
Attempts are also being made to track and control the "hawala" system, a traditional financial structure in this part of the world that does not conform easily to regulation. 
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars are moved through hawala every day. The procedure is simple, and virtually untraceable. The customer brings his money, in cash, to a hawala trader at a central market. The broker takes a percentage, then makes a phone call to a partner in London, Cairo, New York or Sydney, who dispenses the requisite amount in cash to a designated recipient.
In Kabul, the government has distributed forms to hawala traders, and is requiring that they fill them out for every transaction. This also means that the hawala trader would have to pay taxes on all his profits.
"Of course we do not record everything," snorted one hawala broker. "We record a percentage — usually for those businesses that are all legitimate and above board. We do not register the rest."
The major customers for hawala, according to the broker, are those dealing in drug money and those with major international contracts.
Cracking an internal Afghan system from the outside is no easy task.
"Afghans know how to get things done here," said Capstick, from Peace Dividend Trust. "They can seal a deal with a handshake." 
But the Afghan way is all too often mired in corruption and nepotism, traits that have made the country the fifth most corrupt nation in the world, according to Transparency International's most recent annual index. In a country where the rule of law is more a distant dream than a present reality, giving the Taliban a cut of the funding is not seen as treason — it is merely expedient. 
"We delivered fuel to all the provinces, and the only way of accomplishing that was by greasing the Taliban," said the contractor from the Afghan firm. 
Between 10 and 20 percent of the proceeds were paid out to ensure security, he added. The overall contract amounts were staggering. 
"I went to Camp Eggers to collect unpaid invoices," he said, referring to the U.S. military base in the center of Kabul that houses CSTC-A. "For three weeks we were owed $16 million."
At that rate, the firm would be making upward of $250 million per year — with a healthy cut going to insurgent groups. 
The U.S. military is trying its best to build in checks and balances to keep the process honest. 
"All ISAF agencies check potential contractors and organizations to ensure that money is not going directly into the hands of known terrorists," said Shanks. 
But none of the procedures in place can hope to catch or counter the built-in payments to the Taliban. 
According to Lt. Col. Mitchell S. Appley, commander of the Kabul Regional Contracting Center, the military keeps a list of close to 4,000 Afghan vendors. 
"The policy, basically, is if there is an Afghan vendor available, we should give them preference," he said. "New rules and regulations allow us to restrict competition to Afghan only." 
The contracting system is long and complex, with multiple layers of bureaucracy designed to ensure transparency.
First a potential vendor is vetted by Peace Dividend Trust, which checks the organization's registration, does a site visit to make sure that it is a legitimate company, and helps its Afghan officials to negotiate their way through the military procurement system.
The military concedes that there is much it cannot control.  
"Corruption is a possibility," said Sgt. Gyokeres. "But our job is to administer the contracts fairly and objectively." 
For those working inside the system, this desire to remain above the fray amounts to a willful refusal to see what is going on. 
"They say 'just get it done,'" said the procurement director. "They do not seem to want to know too many of the details." 
A former international military officer explained why CSTC-A may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. 
"Someone from above is pushing on the soft spot in their forehead and telling them to get the contracts out," he said, speaking privately. "There is a lot of pressure on the military procurement system." 
The contractor definitely agrees. 
"That is the way things happen," he said. "It is not easy to start with nothing and then create a functioning infrastructure; some latitude is required. But this 'don't ask don't tell' policy has evolved to such an extent that Taliban funding is fully baked into the system. It stands to reason that the insurgency can now forecast revenue and accurately budget for combat resources based on lucrative contracts from the U.S. military, which were intended to rebuild their war-torn country."
(GlobalPost's C.M. Sennott contributed to this story.)

Continued (Permanent Link)

Inventing excuses for anti-Zionism of American Jews

There is no doubt that young American Jews who are not religious are not enthusiastic about Israel, The reasons were more or less honestly and candidly given in a New York Times interview with J-Street founders - the same Jews are not too interested in Judaism, and they are a bit ashamed of their (mostly mythical) aging Yiddish speaking ancestors in old age homes, as the J-Streeters told the world. They are intermarried and have Buddhist Seders.  Well OK, that's their right. They are free citizens of the United States and can believe what they want.
But it is pathetic when pundits like Jonathan Sarna (see below) feel compelled to compare themselves and their contemporaries to Louis Brandeis and to cite bogus reasons for being anti-Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace joins forces with the Palestinian ISM movement; a Jewish film festival features a hateful film about Rachel Corrie attended by the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fan club, J-Street supports the anti-Semitic play, "Seven Jewish Children," Jews support the Israel Boycott movement and Norman Finkelstein brays about the "Holocaust Industry." All this obnoxious activity is blamed on the fact that Israel is not perfect, and does not live up to the utopia envisioned by  Louis Brandeis. Theodor Herzl or Martin Buber. But the truth is that these Jews would be just as anti-Israel or apathetic if somehow Israel had managed to reach absolute perfection. In the 1930s there was no Israel. Zionism did not occupy any land, and was based on model mini-societies - the Kibbutz movement. But by and large, American Jews were even more apathetic toward Zionism. Two brief periods of real mass support for Zionism can be noted in the history of American Jews - after World War II and after the Six day war. Professor Sarna forgot that Louis Brandeis had to fight an uphill struggle against the Americanized establishment Jews who wanted nothing to do with Zionism. He "sold" them a special sort of American Zionism, in which the Jewish national home was not a place for Americans, but a refuge for unwanted European Jews - a charity case.
Whose fault is it if Zionism often seems to be the province of extremists only, especially in the United States? Forward and professor Sarna and his friends should look in the mirror to find the culprit. The Orthodox, right wing .Jews have come forward to defend Israel and so naturally they get to help shape Israeli policy. The Jews who support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should perhaps demand a say-so in the running of Iran, which they apparently consider to be a much better society than Israel.
Ami Isseroff  
After Utopia, Loving Israel
Now and Then
By Jonathan D. Sarna
Published September 30, 2009, issue of October 09, 2009.
Why are American Jews abandoning us? Why do American Jews hold Israel to a higher standard than they do any other country in the world — including the one they so proudly call home?
As an American professor on sabbatical in Israel, I field questions like these on a regular basis. The "waning American Jewish love affair with Israel" — as the subtitle of Steven Rosenthal's 2001 book "Irreconcilable Differences?" put it — is big news here.
Israelis, living as they do in a highly dangerous neighborhood, know that they can scarcely afford to lose friends. It is no secret that well-armed terrorists committed to Israel's total destruction lie just over the border in Gaza and Lebanon. Israel is also within Iran's missile range. The specter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fingering a nuclear trigger and calculating how many Israelis he can kill in a "first strike" reminds even the most stubbornly self-reliant of Israelis why friends abroad are so vital.
So when the Hebrew Union College sociologist Steven M. Cohen warns of "a growing distancing from Israel of American Jews… most pronounced among younger Jews," Israelis take notice. And well they should. When someone as passionate as Forward columnist Jay Michaelson, who speaks Hebrew and lived for a time in Jerusalem, writes, as he did in a recent essay, of his "waning love of Israel," they know that they face a problem.
To be sure, this is not an Orthodox problem. The young Jews whom Cohen surveyed were almost entirely non-Orthodox. Michaelson and his social circle (where "supporting Israel is like supporting segregation, apartheid or worse") are not Orthodox either. Young Jews who do identify as Orthodox — between 10% and 20% of their age cohort — generally support Israel ardently.
As for other young Jews, Brandeis University researcher Ted Sasson reminds us that young people have for years been more critical than their elders of Israel. Even decades ago, youthful organizations like the New Jewish Agenda and Breira dissented from Israel's policies. Support for Israel, he argues, generally increases with age and experience.
There is, nevertheless, a critical difference between support for Israel in the past and today. For much of the 20th century, the Israel of American Jews — the Zion that they imagined in their minds, wrote about and worked to realize — was a mythical Zion, a utopian extension of the American dream. Proponents conjured up a Zion that they described as a "social commonwealth." They conceived of it both as an "outpost of democracy," spreading America's ideals eastward, and as a Jewish refuge where freedom, liberty and social justice would someday reign supreme.
Louis Brandeis, the great lawyer and Supreme Court justice who for a pivotal time around World War I led the American Zionist movement, served as high priest and chief prophet for this vision of Zion. The Zionist "Declaration of Principles" known as the Pittsburgh Program, produced in 1918 under his direction, called, among other things, for "political and civil equality irrespective of race, sex, or faith"; public ownership of land and natural resources; "the cooperative principle" applied to industry, agriculture and commerce, and "free public instruction."
Brandeis's goal was to create not just a Jewish state, but a utopian Jewish state — one that drew on American experience; took advantage of the latest in social, economic and political thinking, and conformed to prophetic teachings. "Our aim is the Kingdom of Heaven," he once exclaimed, and the declaration reveals much about the kind of Zion that he and many Jews of an earlier era envisaged: nothing less than a heaven on earth.
This dream long outlasted Brandeis. My generation of American Jews was raised to view the Zionist project through similarly rose-colored glasses. Now, though, that dream, which had more to do with the lofty visions of American Jews than with the sordid realities of the Middle East, lies shattered beyond repair. In place of the utopia that we had hoped Israel might become, young Jews today often view Israel through the eyes of contemporary media: They fixate upon its unloveliest warts.
Israelis who question me about the waning American Jewish love affair with Israel nod comprehendingly when I offer them this explanation. After all, they have seen many of their own Zionist dreams ground down by years of war. In both countries, the ardor of young love, with all of its unrealistic hopes and passions and dreams, has given way to middle-aged realities.
When the bloom falls off of young love, there are always those who announce that their relationship is in trouble and prepare for divorce. So it is today with too many American Jews and their "waning love" for Israel. The deepest and most meaningful of relationships, however, survive disappointments. By focusing upon all that they nevertheless share in common, and all that they might yet accomplish together in the future, American Jews and Israelis can move past this crisis in their relationship and settle in, as partners, for the long haul ahead.
Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. He is currently spending a sabbatical as senior scholar at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

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After 60 Years, UNRWA to teach about Holocaust - Maybe

Oct. 6, 2009
E.B. SOLOMONT, JPost correspondent in NY , THE JERUSALEM POST
Palestinian schoolchildren in UN-run schools may soon learn about the Holocaust as part of a new curriculum on human rights that is being developed by a UN relief agency.
Despite strong opposition from Palestinians, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees is pushing forward with the new curriculum, currently in its draft stages, which will be circulated among parents, educators and human rights experts in the coming weeks.
"The issue is not whether UNRWA's Human Rights Education will include the important education on the Holocaust or not. It will," a spokesman for UNRWA in Gaza told The Jerusalem Post. "But this is not the only subject."
Rumors about the proposed curriculum erupted in controversy last month, when Palestinians protested plans to teach students about the Holocaust. At the time, UN officials said the curriculum would not be introduced this year, but they stuck by the concept. Since then, UN officials have said the Holocaust will be taught within the context of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Currently, the Holocaust is not taught in UN-run schools in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, or in Palestinian schools in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where officials said teaching Palestinian children about the Holocaust would first require peace with Israel. UN schools in Gaza are bound by Palestinian curriculum, but they may make changes. Since 2002, the schools have incorporated lessons on human rights.
John Ging, UNRWA's director of operations in the Strip, said any human rights course would be incomplete without a discussion of the Holocaust.
"No human-rights curriculum is complete without the inclusion of the facts of the Holocaust, and its lessons," Ging told Britain's The Independent. He said he was "confident and determined" the Holocaust would be included in the new curriculum. But it will only be a part of the lessons, which will touch on genocide in Rwanda, the apartheid regime in South Africa, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the "Nakba," or Palestinian "day of catastrophe."
"This is also part of the frustration here. There are so many global tragedies and travesties that are learned worldwide. Who learns about the Nakba?" Ging asked.
The proposed Holocaust curriculum will "inculcate the values" of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to Ging. He said that in 2005, the General Assembly urged "all countries to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to children so that we learn from history, so that we don't repeat history."
Ging criticized Israeli policies in Gaza, which he said amount to a "seemingly endless list of travesty and injustice."
But "we can't wait for those to be righted before we also do more to counter the effect of all that," he said, citing restrictions on fishing and travel and public health concerns such as a lack of clean water.
Still, controversy surrounding the curriculum has made UNRWA, which runs 221 out of 600 primary and secondary schools in Gaza, vulnerable to criticism.
Indeed, last month, Yunis al-Astal, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said it would be "marketing a lie" and a "war crime" to include the Holocaust in any part of the curriculum, according to The Independent.
But critics of the United Nations said the Holocaust must be part of a human rights curriculum. Disconnecting the Holocaust from human rights highlights the anti-Semitic bias in the UN, charged Jewish officials and others, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican congresswoman from Florida.
Earlier this year, New Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman, a Democrat, introduced a resolution calling on UNRWA to improve its transparency by publishing educational materials and publicizing a list of its employees.
"I'm encouraged that UNRWA is taking this step and is incorporating the Holocaust into its school curriculum, but we'll reserve judgment until we see what the actual textbooks say," Rothman said in a statement on Monday. "The lack of transparency has been an issue in the past and there's no way of knowing what the textbooks actually say."
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Canard: Ahmadinejejad is not Jewish

A great canard has been exploded. Jew hater Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  has no Jewish roots it seems, contradicting an earlier story (see Ahmadinejad Jewish? )
In June 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's meteoric rise from mayor of Tehran to president of one of the most influential countries in the Middle East took everyone by surprise. One of the main reasons for the astonishment was that so little was known about him.
One recently published claim about his background comes from an article in the Daily Telegraph. Entitled "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past", it claims that his family converted to Islam after his birth. The claim is based on a number of arguments, a key one being that his previous surname was Sabourjian which "derives from weaver of the sabour, the name for the Jewish tallit shawl in Persia".
Professor David Yeroshalmi, author of The Jews of Iran in the 19th century and an expert on Iranian Jewish communities, disputes the validity of this argument. "There is no such meaning for the word 'sabour' in any of the Persian Jewish dialects, nor does it mean Jewish prayer shawl in Persian. Also, the name Sabourjian is not a well-known Jewish name," he stated in a recent interview. In fact, Iranian Jews use the Hebrew word "tzitzit" to describe the Jewish prayer shawl. Yeroshalmi, a scholar at Tel Aviv University's Center for Iranian Studies, also went on to dispute the article's findings that the "-jian" ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews. "This ending is in no way sufficient to judge whether someone has a Jewish background. Many Muslim surnames have the same ending," he stated.
Upon closer inspection, a completely different interpretation of "Sabourjian" emerges. According to Robert Tait, a Guardian correspondent who travelled to Ahmadinejad's native village in 2005, the name "derives from thread painter – sabor in Farsi – a once common and humble occupation in the carpet industry in Semnan province, where Aradan is situated". This is confirmed by Kasra Naji, who also wrote a biography of Ahmadinejad and met his family in his native village. Carpet weaving or colouring carpet threads are not professions associated with Jews in Iran.
According to both Naji and Tait, Ahmadinejad's father Ahmad was in fact a religious Shia, who taught the Quran before and after Ahmadinejad's birth and their move to Tehran. So religious was Ahmad Sabourjian that he bought a house near a Hosseinieh, a religious club that he frequented during the holy month of Moharram to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hossein.
Moreover, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's mother is a Seyyede. This is a title given to women whose family are believed to be direct bloodline descendants of Prophet Muhammad. Male members are given the title of Seyyed, and include prominent figures such as Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei. In Judaism, this is equivalent to the Cohens, who are direct descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. One has to be born into a Seyyed family: the title is never given to Muslims by birth, let alone converts. This makes it impossible for Ahmadinejad's mother to have been a Jew. In fact, she was so proud of her lineage that everyone in her native village of Aradan referred to her by her Islamic title, Seyyede.
The reason that Ahmadinejad's father changed his surname has more to do with the class struggle in Iran. When it became mandatory to adopt surnames, many people from rural areas chose names that represented their professions or that of their ancestors. This made them easily identifiable as townfolk. In many cases they changed their surnames upon moving to Tehran, in order to avoid snobbery and discrimination from residents of the capital.
The Sabourjians were one of many such families. Their surname was related to carpet-making, an industry that conjures up images of sweatshops. They changed it to Ahmadinejad in order to help them fit in. The new name was also chosen because it means from the race of Ahmad, one of the names given to Muhammad.
According to Ahmadinejad's relatives the new name emphasised the family's piety and their dedication to their religion and its founder. This is something that the president and his relatives in Tehran and Aradan have maintained to the present day. Not because they are trying to deny their past, but because they are proud of it.

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Goldstone indicted

Posted September 28 by Tom Gross Media


To: Judge Richard Goldstone
From: Barbara Press
Subject: Hello Richard... It's been a while…

Dear Richard

Our paths have crossed many times compelling me to correspond directly with you. I pray your indulgence that you hear me out by reading to the end of my missive. In fact I ask you to share my letter with Noleen from beginning to end and to respond with your thoughts.

It has been a while since (inspired by you as head of ORT South Africa) I, together with Rabbi Bernard at Oxford Shule, established a school to teach the Killarney-Houghton Black domestic workers how to write, read, sew, cook and drive. It has been a while since you praised my father Hubert Press as one of the finest business brains you had ever encountered. It was been a while since I dined with you, Noleen, David and Marilyn Rivkin, discussing opera.

Jewish life has been crying out for a man of the stature of Adolph Cremieux, of Justice Louis Brandeis, of Sir Moses Montefiore, people of the highest integrity and purpose. For those who champion their own people are remembered forever in the annals of history. But those who are self-serving are lost in a trail of ignominy.

South African Jewry stand tall and your efforts in championing Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa were applauded and earned you a reputation as a man of stature.

I am bewildered by the direction you have taken as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This rogue Council has been tainted by a membership that does not condemn Iranian tyranny, Chinese oppression, African despotism but spends their time condemning one country unjustly, Israel.

The Goldstone Commission bears your name. One would expect the mandate of any report to be objective so that your name could be respected and a legacy ensured. Instead your committee ignored the facts, embraced bias and rendered the report bearing your name, illegitimate.

You tried to defend yourself in the New York Times but it was transparent and not effective. You could have resigned from the commission and retained your integrity. You knew that Israel faced 12000 Grads and Kassams from its Iran backed terror base of Gaza, 8000 irreversibly traumatizing the families and children of Sderot. You knew that the U.N. never passed one resolution condemning these deadly missiles. You knew that before and during Operation Cast Lead Israel made thousands of cell phone calls to warn civilians. You knew that Israel sent thousands of texts to warn civilians. You knew that Israel dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets in Arabic (I managed to obtain one of these as evidence) to warn civilians. You knew that Israel aborted operations to avoid civilian deaths. You knew that Israel set up medical facilities on the edge of Gaza to treat civilians. You knew that Israel dropped supplies of food into Gaza to feed civilians.

You also knew that Hamas operatives are not "civilians". You knew that not only were they not civilians but that they hid behind their own civilians to fire on Israeli civilians. You knew that they misused ambulances for military purposes. You knew that mosques and schools were used for Hamas depots and launching pads. You knew that Hamas operatives kill or shoot at the legs of any Gazans refusing to target Israel.

The video footage and U-tube sequences are still available for any and all of us to witness.

You clearly knew that one of your team members had condemned Israel in a published letter even before the conclusion of the incursion or the beginning of your investigation. But you did not resign or distance yourself from the hypocrisy of this illegitimate report. Instead a tedious 500-page report of the 3 week battle was padded with pages from the tainted U.N. mockery of Israel's security barrier (misnamed the "wall"). What a sad indictment of the charter of the United Nations.

Richard, you were indeed a respected legal giant in Johannesburg. This report did not arise from ignorance or naivete. I am trying so hard to resist the conclusion that your role and report might represent a self-serving desire to ingratiate yourself for a more senior position in the kangaroo court called the United Nations. But if true-and one hopes that this is not the case-at what price? Association with the infamous U.N. garners no respect in the USA so why would anyone seek to be head inmate at the U.N. Asylum?

I have been very direct as South Africans are want to be. But many of us South Africans have been tainted by the perfidy of the Goldstone report. This is the Jewish time of Judgment when the scales of fate are entered in the book of life and we all need to look into our souls. I am not sure how you could comfortably extricate yourself. Perhaps we could discuss this face to face.

Good Yomtov to you, Noleen and your family.

Barbara Press Fix

Continued (Permanent Link)

Keeping the record about Gaza straight

[note - Christians for Fair Witness Web site has been hacked as of this writing -]

October 5, 2009
Contact: Christians For Fair Witness on the Middle East
(212) 870-2320

Christians for Fair Witness  Strongly Condemns America Magazine  Article on Israeli Action in Gaza

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East strongly condemns Donald Moore, S.J.'s article in  America Magazine ("When Silence is Betrayed" October 12, 2009) in which he repeatedly invokes Jewish voices to unjustly accuse Israel of the worst sort of war crimes. 

"If Fr. Moore had a legitimate argument, he could have made it himself," notes Rev. Msgr. Dennis Mikulanis, pastor of San Rafael Parish and Vicar for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, California.  "But by repeatedly underscoring the point  that all the critics of Israel he cites are Jewish, he betrays the manipulative stance from which his entire article is written.  Is he trying to insulate himself from charges of bias, or worse, is he trying to hide behind Jewish voices and pretend  that if  any Jew criticizes Israel,  the criticism must be valid? Either way I find it intellectually insulting and morally offensive."

"The entire premise of the article is false," says  Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.    "Fr. Moore describes in some detail the suffering in Gaza and the destruction that was wrought by the last war, but he is dishonest about how it came about.  First Fr. Moore tries to confuse history with the argument that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza after the 1967 war was about 'territorial expansion.'  Fr. Moore needs to be reminded that Israel fought that war in self-defense and tried to negotiate land for peace almost immediately afterwards. It was the Arab nations that solidly rejected that offer."

"Fr. Moore compounds this dishonesty by pretending that in recent years Hamas resorted to terror against Israeli civilians only because it had no alternative and that it is merely the 'spin of [Israeli] public relations' that Israel's goal in the war was to stop the rockets," adds Fr. Loughran.  "But Fr. Moore either does not have his facts straight or he intentionally distorts the truth.  Had the rockets which started in 2001 stopped or even decreased when Israel ended the occupation of Gaza in 2005, he would have a point.  But after Israel disengaged from Gaza the response was to immediately start digging infiltration tunnels, increase the number of rockets that were being dropped on civilian targets in Israel and then elect Hamas, an organization openly dedicated not to a peaceful two-state solution, but to  the violent destruction of Israel.  What was Israel supposed to do?  Open its borders and simply allow terrorists free access or generally allow Hamas to strengthen itself while brazenly threatening Israel's very existence"?

There was a six month  truce,  but anyone who takes the time to check the newspapers from that period can confirm that it was indeed Hamas that announced the end of the truce in December, 2008.  And it was only after strong warnings from the Israeli government to stop the rockets, which had escalated  up to 100 per day, that the Israelis began a devastating military incursion in what was clearly a last-ditch attempt to protect their own population.

"The publication of an article like this one is a serious moral failure on the part of America magazine,"  adds Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale, New York.  "America has, over the years, distorted the record to cast Israel in as damning a light as possible. There have been inexcusable accusations of ethnic cleansing,  racism -- the list goes on and on.  The moral failure, however, lies not only  in  the dishonesty employed in its persistent prejudice against the Jewish state, but  in the tragic missed opportunity America is helping to create.  No reasonable person can argue that Hamas is anything but a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel and no reasonable person can argue that Israel did not go into Gaza to protect its citizens after eight years of indiscriminate rocket fire.  What can and must be debated  in this era of terrorist militias deploying from civilian populations, however, is how the armies of civilized countries are  to contend with asymmetric warfare. But here we have a Jesuit magazine, which just like the fatally flawed Goldstone report itself,  forecloses any honest debate on this critical issue, seeking instead to isolate and demonize  Israel.  This is a moral failure that should not be tolerated from any Christian publication."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Report - Iran has data to make an A-Bomb

This doesn't need much comment, except to say that evidently there is a lot of inexplicable and dangerous "information hiding." of the wrong type.
October 5, 2009
Report Says Iran Has Data to Make a Nuclear Bomb

Senior staff members of the United Nations nuclear agency have concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired "sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable" atom bomb.
The report by experts in the International Atomic Energy Agency stresses in its introduction that its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.
But the report's conclusions, described by senior European officials, go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States, and follow the revelation of a new underground nuclear enrichment center under construction near the Iranian city of Qum.
Questioned on Sunday about whether Iran was closer to producing a nuclear weapon, General James L. Jones, the U.S. national security adviser, said, "No, we stand by the reports that we've put out."
At the same time, he said that Iran's recent show of greater cooperation was a positive development. "For now, I think, things are moving in the right direction," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
In Tehran, the director of the I.A.E.A., Mohammed ElBaradei, announced on Sunday that the United Nations agency would inspect the suspect site near Qum on Oct. 25, and he praised a shift "from conspiracy to cooperation" by Iran, Reuters reported.
Two years ago, American intelligence agencies published a detailed report concluding that Tehran halted its efforts to design a nuclear weapon in 2003. But in recent months, Britain has joined France, Germany and Israel in disputing that conclusion, saying the work has been resumed.
The atomic agency's report presents evidence that beyond improving upon bomb-making information gathered from rogue nuclear experts around the world, Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a weapon. It does not say how far that work has progressed.
The report, titled "Possible Military Dimensions of Iran's Nuclear Program," was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency. It draws a picture of a complex program, run by Iran's Ministry of Defense, "aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab-3 missile system," Iran's medium-range missile, which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe. The program, according to the report, apparently began in early 2002.
If Iran is designing a warhead, that would represent only part of the complex process of making nuclear arms. Experts say Iran has already mastered the hardest part, enriching the uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel.
While the analysis represents the judgment of the nuclear agency's senior staff, a struggle has erupted in recent months over whether to make it public. The dispute pits the agency's departing director, Dr. ElBaradei, against his own staff and against foreign governments eager to intensify pressure on Iran.
Dr. ElBaradei has long considered a confrontational strategy toward Iran to be counterproductive. Responding to calls for the report's release, he has raised doubts about its completeness and reliability.
Last month, the agency issued an unusual statement cautioning it "has no concrete proof" that Iran ever sought to make nuclear arms, much less to perfect a warhead. On Saturday in India, Dr. ElBaradei was quoted as saying that "a major question" about the authenticity of the evidence kept his agency from "making any judgment at all" on whether Iran had ever sought to design a nuclear warhead.
Even so, the emerging sense in the intelligence world that Iran has solved the major nuclear design problems poses a new diplomatic challenge for President Barack Obama and his allies.
American officials say that in the direct negotiations with Iran that began last week, it will be vital to get the country to open all of its suspected sites to international inspectors. That is a long list, topped by the facility at Qum.
Iran has acknowledged that the underground facility there is intended for nuclear enrichment, but says the fuel it makes will be used solely to produce nuclear power and medical isotopes. It was kept heavily protected, Iranian officials said, to ward off potential attacks.
Iran said last week that it would allow inspectors to visit the site this month. In the past three years, amid mounting evidence of a possible military dimension to its nuclear program, Iran has denied the agency wide access to installations, documents and personnel.
In recent weeks, there have been leaks about the internal report, perhaps intended to press Dr. ElBaradei into releasing it.
The report's existence has been rumored for months, and The Associated Press, saying it had seen a copy, reported fragments of it in September. On Friday, more detailed excerpts appeared on the Web site of the Institute for Science and International Security, run by David Albright, a nuclear expert.
In recent interviews, a senior European official familiar with the report described it to The New York Times. He confirmed that Mr. Albright's excerpts were authentic. The excerpts were drawn from a 67-page version of the report written earlier this year and since revised and lengthened.
"This is a running summary of where we are," the official said. But he added that it was "not ready for publication as an official document."
Most dramatically, the report says the agency "assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device" based on highly enriched uranium.
Weapons based on the principle of implosion are considered advanced models compared with the simple gun-type bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima. They use a blast wave from a sphere of conventional explosives to compress a ball of bomb fuel into a supercritical mass, starting the atomic chain reaction and progressing to the fiery blast. Implosion designs, compact by nature, are considered necessary for making nuclear warheads small and powerful enough to fit atop a missile.
The excerpts of the analysis also suggest the Iranians have done a wide array of research and testing to perfect nuclear arms, like making high-voltage detonators, firing test explosives and designing warheads.
The evidence underlying these conclusions is not new: Some of it was reported in a confidential presentation to many nations in early 2008 by the agency's chief inspector, Ollie Heinonen.
Iran maintains that its scientists have never conducted research on how to make a warhead. Iranian officials say any documents to the contrary are fraudulent.
But in August, a public report to the board of the I.A.E.A. by its staff concluded that the evidence of Iran's alleged military activity was probably genuine.
It said: "the information contained in that documentation appears to have been derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, appears to be generally consistent, and is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it needs to be addressed by Iran with a view to removing the doubts" about its nuclear program.
The agency's tentative analysis also says that Iran "most likely" obtained the needed information for designing and building an implosion bomb "from external sources."
Many intelligence agencies assume that Iran obtained a bomb design from A.Q. Khan, the rogue Pakistani black marketer. That information may have been supplemented by a Russian nuclear weapons scientist, investigators say.
Brian Knowlton contributed reporting.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Anti-Israel Norway university seeminar

In a move which Foreign Ministry sources defined as "unusual," Israel's embassy in Norway has officially protested the launch of a high profile academic seminar there delivered exclusively by lecturers known for their highly critical views of Israel.
Israel's Foreign Minister last week described Norway's attitude toward Israel as "hostile."
"We were saddened to learn that a biased and one-sided seminar on Israel is taking place at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim," Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Oslo, Aviad Ivri, wrote last month to the institution's dean.
The seminar, whose first session took place last month, includes lectures by Ilan Pappe, who accuses Israel of perpetrating an "ethnic cleansing of Palestine" and by Stephen Walt, the coauthor of a controversial study on the effect of the Israel-lobby on U.S. policy. It has been described by prominent scholars as anti-Semitic.
Other speakers invited by NTNU Dean Torbjorn Digernes include Moshe Zuckermann, who in a January interview for Deutschlandradio - a widely-heard German program - that operation Cast Lead cost hundreds of thousands of Gazan lives.
The members of the seminar's organizing committee - Morten Levin, Ann Rudinow Saetnan and Rune Skarstein - have all signed a call for an academic boycott of Israel. They also brought a few Norwegian speakers, famous for their critical view of Israel.
"There's no one on the panel with a neutral view of Israel, let alone anyone to advocate its position," a source from the Foreign Ministry said. "Usually we do not get involved with academic forums of this sort because it's a freedom-of-expression issue, but this all-star team of Israel-haters crosses a line," the diplomat added.
"The overwhelming majority [of Israeli academics] oppose Pappe and Zuckerman and are rarely if ever found in seminars in Norway," Ivri wrote.
Morten Levin from NTNU -- a state-funded institution -- replied to Haaretz's query on the allegations by saying the objective of the lectures is to "communicate to a broad audience a deeper research-based understanding" of the situation.
"This requires a critical and careful scrutiny based on standard scientific methods," he added. "Neither the Israeli state nor the Palestinian authority or Hamas will be defended. None of the lecturers will question the right of the Israeli state to exist."
Responding to speculations by pro-Israeli scholars that the seminars will be a prelude to a call on NTNU to boycott Israel, Levin said: "The organizing committee of the lecture series has no formal connection whatsoever to the organization working for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions."
The university's dean -- who has called the seminar "praiseworthy" - did not reply to Haaretz's request to interview him.
Tammi Benjamin, an American university lecturer from California, has called on NTNU Dean Digernes "to profoundly apologize to his students for misleading them and for supporting known hate mongers against the Jewish state." Ronnie Fraser, a veteran U.K. activist against academic boycotts of Israel, has called on Digernes to resign.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel knows where Gilad Shalit is held

It seems Israel knows where kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is being held:
Asharq al-Awsat quoted a senior Israeli defense official as saying that Israel knows exactly where Shalit is being held captive, and that the location is under constant Israeli surveillance.

According to the report, the official said that if Israel so desired it could take the risk and storm the place, but the fear that Shalit might get hurt is preventing Israel from launching such an operation.

Hamas is aware of the fact that Israel knows where Shalit is held, the paper reported, and has consequently surrounded the location with explosives. Hamas has also issued a directive to kill Shalit if an Israeli attack is sensed, the paper said.

The paper said these remarks were made during an informal discussion surrounding the prisoner exchange talks.

Asharq al-Awsat further reported that one of the individuals present in the discussion said "Since we knew exactly where the secret Iranian nuclear reactor was before any Western intelligence body, and we knew about the Syrian reactor, is it logical that we wouldn't know where Shalit is?"

"We know where he is, but don't want to repeat the scenario of the evacuation of the soldier Nachshon Wachsman," he said. Wachsman was kidnapped by Hamas in 1994, and was killed during an Israeli attempt to rescue him.

On Friday, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that Shalit will be set free within weeks or two months at most, suggesting that the Islamic group might show greater flexibility in upcoming negotiations.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The one rabbi to have when you're having more than one

Last update - 10:30 04/10/2009       
Shas' Rabbi Ovadia Yosef - now starring in Carlsberg beer ads
By Nati Toker
Carlsberg beer usually advertises using good-looking young men and women enjoying their alcoholic beverages in a pub or other enticing settings; but to attract more ultra-Orthodox customers, the firm has adopted a rather different public figure - former chief Sephardi rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Over the weekend Carlsberg, owned in Israel by the Central Bottling Company (Coca-Cola Israel), distributed a calendar for the 5770 Jewish year along with the Shas newspaper Yom Leyom featuring pictures of Rabbi Yosef along with a holiday message from him.
Using famous rabbis and other ultra-Orthodox leaders is common in advertising for the sector. For example, pictures of company executives being blessed by various rabbis are common in such ads, as well as written recommendations from leading rabbis.
But the Carlsberg calendar is considered exceptional and unprecedented. Ultra-Orthodox marketers who saw the calendar were shocked, and several called it disrespectful.
Carlsberg started its marketing efforts to the ultra-Orthodox community over the past year using the Neto advertising agency. The difference between this campaign and the normal beer brand ads, which focus on enjoyment and having a good time, is the ultra-Orthodox marketing utilizes messages of the health value of drinking beer. This tactic enabled Rabbi Yosef to agree to appear in the calendar.
Another unique side to the advertisement is the rabbi did not receive any direct payment for appearing in the calendar. But Carlsberg and other products of the Central Bottling Company are under the kashrut supervision of the Badatz Beit Yosef organization, which is Rabbi Yosef's own kashrut supervisory body. There is fierce competition between the various supervisory bodies (worth millions), and each organization tries to find ways to provide added marketing value to the firms that pay them. It seems that Rabbi Yosef's appearance in the calendar is part of this help in marketing in return for the kashrut supervision.
Carlsberg has sponsored a number of conferences and events held by Rabbi Ovadia's family members, and company executives visited the rabbi's house in the past few months and received his blessings.
The Neto advertising agency did not respond to this report by press time.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Putting the Goldstone report in suspension

Supposedly, the delay could give Israel time to investigate the "war crimes." But there is no way tp disprove the lie that Israel deliberately targetted civilians, since no evidence was presented to support the lie. The man says your sister is a whore. Go prove you don't have a sister.
Sunday, October 4th 2009, 4:00 AM
Score one for the good guys. Under intense U.S. pressure, the UN Human Rights Council shelved, if only temporarily, the distorted, unfair, libelous and dangerous report on Israel's war of self-defense in Gaza.
The document, produced by a commission headed by supposedly esteemed international law expert Richard Goldstone, was worse than a one-sided affair.
In keeping with the council's blatant anti-Israel posture, Goldstone accused the Jewish state of war crimes for acting to end an eight-year bombardment of 4,200 Hamas rockets and 5,700 Hamas mortars.
There was joy in the lands of Hamas and Hezbollah at Goldstone's conclusions because they essentially declared that Israel could not legitimately use force in Gaza - no matter how the country attempted to avoid civilian casualties.
And try Israel did, by making thousands of phone calls and dropping tens of thousands of leaflets warning of impending attacks on Hamas terrorists. The air force went so far as to drop noisemakers on roofs as a signal to people to flee.
No matter.
The report concluded that Israel targeted "the people of Gaza as a whole" as part of "an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience and for its apparent support for Hamas."
All too transparently, the goal was to put Israel in the dock. But the Obama administration pushed the Palestinians into withdrawing such a resolution, proving that, at least in this case, U.S. membership on the council came in handy.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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