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Saturday, November 21, 2009

You don't say: Outlook for tough Iran sanctions is dim

Well yes, we already knew the outlook for tough Iran sanctions is dim - USSR and China watered down all previous sanctions resolutions, didn't they? But as the Obama administration had about 10 months to prepare for this moment, you would've thunk they had thought about the problema and worked out solutions, no? Apparently not.
Don't ever take it for granted that the people in charge know what they are doing. No matter who is in charge - it just isn't true in many cases.
Of course, one guy knew what he is doing. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  understood that there would be no sanctions and wagered that there would be no military action, and that he could make the US and other Western powers look like helpless idiots.
Why shouldn't they look like helpless idiots, if they are helpless idiots?
Ami Isseroff

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is shifting the focus of its Iran policy from talk to sanctions, but the prospect of winning early international support for toughened new penalties appears dim.

Equally problematic is finding a set of sanctions that would have a significant impact on the prime target of American and international worry: Iran's suspected pursuit of an atom bomb. Three rounds of U.N. sanctions, dating to December 2006 and aimed mainly at squeezing Iran's nuclear work, have had little apparent effect.

The administration may get an early indication of its prospects at a huddle Friday in Brussels with senior diplomats from the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Russia, China, Britain and France — plus Germany. Any decisions on new Iran sanctions, though, are likely weeks away.

The administration has tried for months to draw Iran into talks to resolve international worries that its declared intent to develop a civilian nuclear power network is cover for a secret nuclear weapons program. But the Iranians have shown little interest, while denying any clandestine nuclear ambition.

The diplomacy, while unsuccessful so far, may improve the administration's chances on sanctions by demonstrating to the Europeans, Chinese and others that Washington has at least tried to find an accommodation with Iran.

"Many of them are still instinctively against sanctions, but Iranian intransigence has put them in a bind," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank.

President Barack Obama said Thursday in South Korea that because the Iranians rejected a U.N. proposal to ship the majority of Iran's low-enriched uranium out of the country, "we have begun discussions with our international partners" about new pressure tactics. He said "a package of potential steps" against the Iranians would be developed over the next several weeks. He was not more specific.

The uranium gambit was seen as a way of getting Iran to open up, but on Wednesday Iranian Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki appeared to close that door by saying Iran would not send its uranium abroad. The uranium, if enriched sufficiently, could be used to produce a nuclear weapon, although Iran insists it is intended as fuel to power a planned network of civilian nuclear power reactors.

If, as some suspect, China and perhaps Russia balk at imposing new sanctions on Iran, the U.S. could enact its own penalties and coordinate them with the European Union, as it has done in the past. The administration's first choice, however, is to get the U.N. Security Council to ratchet up the pressure.

One possibility is to strengthen existing U.N. sanctions such as a March 2008 provision for financial monitoring of certain banks with suspected connections to the illicit spread of nuclear technologies.

Both houses of Congress are considering legislation that would give Obama a broad new array of authority to target Iran's energy sector by penalizing foreign companies that sell and ship refined oil products to Iran. Despite Iran's large oil holdings, it has limited capacity to make refined products like gasoline.

Obama has expressed confidence that he can persuade allies to join him in getting tougher on Iran, given widespread opposition to a nuclear-armed Iran. But it's far from clear that China, which has strong and growing commercial and investment ties to Iran, would go along. Russia's intentions also are unclear, although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in September that sanctions may be inevitable.

Stephen P. Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development, said it's no surprise that China has not publicly expressed a willingness to consider new sanctions, even if it might eventually go along. More significant, Cohen said, are recent Russian statements suggesting possible support.

"This is probably why the president thinks that he can discuss sanctions now without it being blown out of the water within five minutes by the Chinese and the Russians," Cohen said in a telephone interview.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, is doubtful of a positive turn of events, in part because he sees the Iranian leadership in turmoil following a disputed presidential election in June.

That might be why, he suggested, Iran has shown little interest in a separate International Atomic Energy Agency offer to provide nuclear fuel for an Iranian research reactor in exchange for Iran's shipping the majority of its low-enriched uranium to Russia or another third country.

"You may have a political system (in Tehran) that is so fractured, that is so at each other's throat, that they are incapable of making a decision of this magnitude," Parsi said.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ Robert Burns has been covering national security and military affairs for The Associated Press since 1990


Continued (Permanent Link)

What do Jews want?

The Middle East from the point of view of the Jews:
For the past 2,000 years or so, my people have been hounded, persecuted, murdered, tortured, expelled from their homes, beaten, burnt at the stake, gassed and cremated in ovens.

I hardly have to explain that I am talking about the Jews, the people who brought humanity and civilization to the world, who developed a code of ethics and behavior to which most of the modern "civilized" world at least pays lip service; and that gave the Christian world its Savior...

For the past 2,000 years, we have had to endure excruciating trial by fire, be barred from lands in which we had lived for many generations, and be the butt of jokes, derision, hatred, false accusations and calumny.
More - For the Past 2,000 Years...

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Has the Obama government misread Israeli opinion on Jerusalem?

Herb Keinon's Analysis: Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel is one of the more astute analyses of why Israel is building in Gilo, and why most Israelis are backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue. Anyone who thought about it could recognize immediately that the heart of the "innocent" seeming Palestinian demand to stop settlements was really the issue of Jerusalem (see Will Jerusalem be a frozen settlement? - which I wrote last May - and O! No! Jerusalem and the Settlement Freeze!). It was obvious what the Palestinians were trying to do with their "settlement freeze." But it was hard to believe that U.S. would be obtuse enough to fall for the ploy or arrogant enough to ignore Israeli opinion entirely.

Herb Keinon is absolutely on the money when he writes: ... Gilo - not in a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War. If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, than it cannot build in Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot or Har Homa. However, the issue, as we shall see, is not quite what most Israelis - or most Americans think it is.

The Palestinians knew that by posing a demand to end "settlement construction" before resuming peace talks, they would have an iron-clad guarantee that there would never be peace talks, because Israel is not going to give up its claim to Jerusalem, certainly not before there are any negotiations, and Israel will not allow Jerusalem to be treated as a "settlement." The Palestinians don't want to negotiate peace with Israel, because they have finally understood that in negotiations, Israel will never agree to allow the descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees to return to Israel and turn the country into an Arab state, and Israel is not going to give up all of East Jerusalem. "Moderate" Mahmoud Abbas has stated repeatedly that the Palestinians insist on "Right" of return, insist on getting every inch of "East Jerusalem" for their capital city, and insist Israeli withdrawal to the Armistice borders of 1949. Abbas said it first, perhaps in an interview he gave in 2000, and he has never budged an inch from those positions. If they cannot obtain the destruction and dismemberment of Israel by negotiations, the Palestinian "moderates" will turn to unilateral declaration of a state or to other means to accomplish the same end. If Israel agrees to the settlement freeze, the Palestinians can use it as an admission that Israel is giving up all rights to the areas in question, and will seek to ensure that it is a permanent freeze.

Not only would the Palestinians not have to negotiate about peace, but they get an added bonus, since by refusing to agree to the conditions of the nice President Obama, Israel is seen as the "obstacle to peace."

To most Israelis, the issues are obvious. What is a wonder to me, at least, is that some of my American Jewish friends cannot understand why the bad Mr. Netanyahu is putting a monkey wrench in the machinery of peace being operated by their Nobel prize winning president, over another silly settlement. It is surprising to me because you don't have to be a religious fanatic or even Jewish to know that Jerusalem is central to the Jewish people, and has been a central national symbol for the Zionist movement (Zion is a place in Jerusalem, remember?) and modern Israel. You don't have to have much background in the history of the Middle East to understand that since the time of the Emperor Vespasian at least, whoever controls Jerusalem is considered to control the land of Israel (AKA Palestine), an idea ratified, at least in the eyes of the Muslims by the conquest of Jerusalem from the Crusaders by Salah al-din (Saladin). Our American Jewish friends might disagree, but surely they can understand the reasons. Yet one of them wrote that the construction in Gilo looks like Israel is saying,

"We don't give a sh*t what you think or how hard you want to work for peace we will do what we want to do."

The perceptions of Americans about the peace process seem to be a bit strange. Israelis lost over a thousand lives "taking risks for peace," but were are supposed to be considerate of the hard working Americans, burning the midnight bourbon in Washington, who only want us to give up our capital city, a minor sacrifice, in order to advance their political agenda. What bad, ungrateful people we Israelis are, after all Mrs Clinton and Mr. Obama did in order to bring us peace!

The lady who wrote that is not ignorant. She not anti-Zionist. She considers herself knowledgable about dialogue. Dialogue people are supposed to know how to listen. Is it possible that she was totally deaf to Israeli opinion about Jerusalem? Does it really look like that? Perhaps to this nice Jewish lady, and a lot of Americans it does. From here, it looks rather like it is the Obama administration that is saying

"We don't give a sh*t about Israeli opinion, or three thousand years of history, or decisions of the Israeli government. We are an arrogant 800 pound gorilla and we will make you do whatever we want you to do."

Herb Keinon explained the Israeli position very well, though foreigners may not grasp that for most Israelis, Ramat Eshkol and French Hill are as much a part of Israel and Israeli Jerusalem as Pennsylvania avenue is part of Washington DC for Americans. It seems probable however, that it is Keinon who is misreading the American position, rather than the Americans who are misreading the Israeli position. Not only Herb Keinon, but a lot of Israelis may have been misreading the American position on Jerusalem for a long time and have also misunderstood the actual position of the Israeli government and the actual status of Jerusalem as well.

In order for the United States to "misread" the Israeli position on Jerusalem, we would have to assume that Mr. Obama and and his advisors do not know any of the following:

1. Jerusalem was the ancient capital of the Jewish people and has been a central part of Jewish culture in exile. President Obama held a Passover Seder at which he and other attendees presumably read from the Haggadah, including the pledge at the end "Next year in Jerusalem." He had to know that for Jews, this city is not like some town in the West Bank - it is not the same as Efrat, or Ariel or even Gush Etzion.

2. A sizeable Jewish community had lived in what Palestinian Arabs like to call "Arab East Jerusalem" - inside the old city in fact, for hundreds of years before being ethnically cleansed in 1948.

3. Jerusalem does not have the same status in international law as the rest of the West Bank. The United Nations partition plan called for Jerusalem to be internationalized. It was never supposed to be part of any Palestinian Arab state. The Palestinian claims of a "right" to a capital in East Jerusalem based on "international legitimacy" are completely bogus and without foundation. Subsequent UN resolutions reaffirmed the international status of Jerusalem in law, even though it was de facto divided and the eastern part was illegally annexed to Jordan. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution 303 reaffirmed that Jerusalem is a "corpus separatum." The international status of Jerusalem - fictional as it may be, has also been recognized in security council resolutions, which have the status of international law. Therefore it is not possible that the US doesn't know that settlement construction in Jerusalem is different from settlement construction in the West Bank.

4. Mr. Obama and Mrs Clinton both must know that the The Clinton Bridging Proposalsrecognized the special status of Jerusalem and called for the Jewish neighborhoods to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

5. Presumably, even the U.S. intelligence services, admittedly not too knowledgeable about the Middle East, at least monitor the Jerusalem Day declarations of every Israeli Prime Minister, all of whom pledge that "United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." in those or similar words. Yithak Rabin said, in October of 1995, "First and foremost, united Jerusalem …as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty." Mr Obama and his team had to know that for Israelis, Jerusalem is not just another settlement. They had to know that this issue is political dynamite.

American politicians must also know that these declarations of Israeli leaders are not just political hot air on the same order as the "unbreakable bond" between the United States and Israel, to be trotted out on festive occasions. Too much blood was spilled in Jerusalem for the Israeli position to melt away in the face of political expediency.

But perhaps Israelis have also been misled by our own leaders.and have misread the situation. Most Israelis, and many others, have the impression that Israel annexed East Jerusalem either in 1967 or in 1980, when the Knesset passed the Basic Law: Jerusalem.

The 1967 laws, Law and Administration Ordinance (Amendment No. 11) Law, 1967 and Law and Administration Order (No. 1) of 28 June 1967, extended Israeli juridiction to the area added to the Jerusalem municipality, but these related to internal Israeli law and did not make any declaration regarding the international status of Jerusalem.

Likewise, the 1980 Basic Law simply declares that United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The word "annexation" is not used, the 1948 law regarding annexation is not referenced. The law does not even mention anything about the citizenship status of non-Israeli Arabs living in Jerusalem. This is the entire law, which the government of Menachem Begin passed with so much fanfare:

1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.

3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.

4. (a) The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocating special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset.

(b) Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters.

(c) The Government shall set up a special body or special bodies for the implementation of this section.

The law is at least very ambiguous. There is no other law that annexed east Jerusalem. Jerusalem is therefore suspended in a sort of legal vacuum in Israeli law. Even that timid attempt to assert Israeli internal jurisdiction over east Jerusalem evoked an international storm of protest. The United Nations Security Council repudiated the law in Resolution 478, a kind of backhanded admission that Israel annexed or tried to annex Jerusalem. The United States abstained; it did not veto the resolution. All foreign governments moved their embassies out of Jerusalem. The United States never had an embassy in Jerusalem. Those "enthusiasts" who are pressing for Israeli annexation of parts or all of the West Bank should take into account that is doubtful if Israel even annexed east Jerusalem, and even that is not recognized by any other government.

American leaders did not "misread" Israeli opinion. Israeli leaders, of the right as well as those of the left, are fully cognizant of international opinion and United States policy regarding Jerusalem. They know very well that the US embassy has remained in Tel Aviv, and that the United States will not register "Israel" as the country of birth of any American born there, and they know exactly why. Israeli leaders have taken it into account even while making the most adamant assertions about Jerusalem to the Israeli public.

The difference of opinion between the US and Israel regarding Jerusalem seems to be something unpleasant that in fact everyone knows, but nobody usually talks about, something like a toilet in Victorian society, or an embarrassing relative who is never mentioned in polite company. Each side jockeys for position and pushes the envelope to see how far it can be pushed. The United States knew exactly what it was doing in insisting on stopping construction in east Jerusalem, and the Netanyahu government knew exactly what it is doing by announcing construction in Gilo. Isn't it time that the Israeli public understood and admitted the real situation, and isn't it time that the American public, especially American Jews, understood how Israelis feel about Jerusalem?

Ami Isseroff

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

AP: "Muslim countries seek blasphemy ban"

Allah be DELETED BY CENSOR! The.Muslim countries are seeking a "blasphemy" ban. Supported by the usual majority and the leverage of petroblackmail, it might just pass the UN General Assembly. Blasphemy is of course in the eye (or ear) of the beholder or auditor. In Iran, the Bahai religion is blasphemous for example. Strict Muslims believe that the teaching of evolution is blasphemous. Presumably, it would be forbidden to speculate on the honeymoon of Muhammad and his first wife, Aisha, aged 9 and similar subjects. It would also be forbidden to express doubt about proven facts of Muslim belief: Muhammad flew to Jerusalem in a night and tied up his horse at the Wailing Wall, Suleiman the Muslim built the temple (even the New York Times believes that it seems) and Ibrahim was the first Muslim. The penalty for blasphemy? In Iran it's hanging.  

AP Exclusive: Muslim Countries Seek Blasphemy Ban

AP Exclusive: Muslim countries seek UN treaty to protect religion from blasphemy


The Associated Press


Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world, Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery — essentially a ban on blasphemy that would put them on a collision course with free speech laws in the West.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Algeria and Pakistan have taken the lead in lobbying to eventually bring the proposal to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly.

If ratified in countries that enshrine freedom of expression as a fundamental right, such a treaty would require them to limit free speech if it risks seriously offending religious believers. The process, though, will take years and no showdown is imminent.

The proposal faces stiff resistance from Western countries, including the United States, which in the past has brushed aside other U.N. treaties, such as one on the protection of migrant workers.

Experts say the bid stands some chance of eventual success if Muslim countries persist. And whatever the outcome, the campaign risks reigniting tensions between Muslims and the West that President Barack Obama has pledged to heal, reviving fears of a "clash of civilizations."

Four years ago, a Danish newspaper published cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad, prompting angry mobs to attack Western embassies in Muslim countries, including Lebanon, Iran and Indonesia. In a countermovement, several European newspapers reprinted the images.

The countries that form the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference are now lobbying a little-known Geneva-based U.N. committee to agree that a treaty protecting religions is necessary.

The move would be a first step toward drafting an international protocol that would eventually be put before the General Assembly — a process that could take a decade or more.

The proposal may have some support in the General Assembly. For several years the Islamic Conference has successfully passed a nonbinding resolution at the General Assembly condemning "defamation of religions."

If the treaty was approved, any of the U.N.'s 192 member states that ratified it would be bound by its provisions. Other countries could face criticism for refusing to join.

Just last month, the Obama administration came out strongly against efforts by Islamic nations to bar the defamation of religions, saying the moves would restrict free speech.

"Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. "I strongly disagree."

But there are signs the U.S. is worried by the Islamic Conference campaign. Behind the scenes it has been lobbying hard to quash the proposal, dispatching a senior U.S. diplomat to Geneva last month for talks described as akin to trench warfare.

"The U.S. presence can be significant in determining the whole destiny of the process," said Lukas Machon, who represents the International Commission of Jurists at the U.N.

From a legal point of view, "the whole exercise is dangerous from A-Z because it's a departure from the practice and concept of human rights," Machon said. "It adds only restrictions."

In a letter obtained by the AP, Pakistan said insults against religion were on the increase.

The Islamic Conference "believes that the attack on sacredly held beliefs and the defamation of religions, religious symbols, personalities and dogmas impinge on the enjoyment of human rights of followers of those religions," the letter said. It was sent last month to members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, a temporary committee created to consider a previous anti-racism treaty.

In a separate submission to the committee, Pakistan proposed extending the treaty against racism to require signatories to "prohibit by law the uttering of matters that are grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion."

It's not clear who would decide what is considered grossly abusive, but each country's criminal courts would likely have initial jurisdiction over that decision, according to Marghoob Saleem Butt, a Pakistani diplomat in Geneva who confirmed the campaign's existence and has lobbied for the ban.

"There has to be a balance between freedom of expression and respect for others," Butt said in a telephone interview.

"Taking the symbol of a whole religion and portraying him as a terrorist," said Butt, referring to the Muhammad cartoons, "that is where we draw the line."

One American expert with more than 20 years experience of the U.N. human rights system said the treaty could have far-reaching implications.

"It would, in essence, advance a global blasphemy law," said Felice Gaer, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The independent, congressionally mandated panel issued a report last week warning that existing laws against blasphemy, including in Pakistan, "often have resulted in gross human rights violations."

In Egypt, blasphemy laws have been used to suppress dissidents, said Moataz el-Fegiery, executive director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. Abdel Kareem Nabil, a blogger, was sentenced in February 2007 to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

He said reformists who reinterpret traditional Islamic texts have also become the target of blasphemy accusations.

More broadly, introducing laws to protect religions from criticism would weaken the whole notion of human rights, said Sweden's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Hans Dahlgren.

"Religions as such do not have rights — it's people who have rights," he said, adding that the European Union, whose presidency Sweden currently holds, would oppose attempts to limit freedom of speech.

The treaty goes against the grain of recent efforts by Western and Muslim countries to find common ground on human rights.

Only last month a joint U.S.-Egyptian resolution on freedom of expression won unanimous support in the U.N. Human Rights Council, much to the surprise of seasoned observers. "We will engage, and we're going to keep engaging," said Michael Parmly, spokesman for the U.S. Mission in Geneva.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, the Ad Hoc Committee's chairman, Algerian Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, said concerns the treaty could stifle free speech have been "whipped up into a bugaboo."

Failure to agree on a treaty would boost extremists in the Arab world, said Jazairy, a former envoy to Washington now considered a key player in the U.N.'s human rights forum.

"If we keep hitting this glass wall and say there's nothing you can do about Islamophobia — you can do something about anti-Semitism but Islamophobia is out of bounds — you give an ideal platform for recruitment of suicide bombers," he said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The fanatics among us

Israelis have a bumper sticker that reads, "Death to Fantics." Jokes aside, the problem is with us. This morning a Jew stabbed an Arab in Ramat Eshkol. Let's not jump to conclusions about the motive - but lets be concerned.
Refusal to serve in the army and to obey orders cuts both ways. Those who condemn soldiers who refuse to evacuate settlements must equall condemn those who refuse to serve in the territories and vv. Otherwise their complaints are just political propaganda and not patriotism.
Vigilance wanted, apply within
by Isi Leibler
November 19, 2009

Neither right- nor left-wing organizations can guarantee total immunity against infiltration by fanatics and extremists. Their real test of moral integrity can be determined by the degree to which they isolate, condemn and purge such elements from their ranks.
It is thus wrong to blame the Labor Party for spawning far-left Israeli defamers of the Jewish state. These extremists were in fact deviants from a social democratic movement which made a formative contribution to the foundation of the state, despite having today sadly degenerated into a caricature of its former glory.
Those who besmirch Labor Zionists may be unaware that our founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, ferociously and ruthlessly purged extremists from his party, Mapai, which dominated Israel in its formative years. Ben-Gurion and other Labor leaders would never have tolerated those who today defame the IDF and pave the way for the global criminalization of Israel and the odious Goldstone Report. Nor would they have buried their heads in the sand and ignored the academics in our midst who have the gall to exploit universities as launching pads to defame and delegitimize the state and even call for global international boycotts of their own institutions. Ironically, Labor was far more effective in dealing with renegades and the mad Left than Likud under whose regime the post-Zionists emerged from the closet and bloomed.
Since the tragic assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, some of the far-left radicals have developed a penchant for accusing communities on the Right with collective responsibility for the crimes of individual extremists. They have been especially inclined to vent their spleen on their prime adversaries, religious Zionists, whose uninhibited patriotism and devotion to the state is manifested by the inordinately large proportion of their youngsters serving as role models in IDF combat units.
In the hyper-emotional climate of Israeli politics and religious fervor, it is not entirely surprising that a number of criminals motivated by extremism did indeed emerge from this sector. I have written previously about the danger posed by a handful of radical rabbis who endorsed the right to violently resist government decrees which they determined clashed with the will of the Almighty. These extremist zealots were condemned by responsible rabbinical and religious Zionist political leaders. But in retrospect, they should have been dealt with more ruthlessly.
NEVERTHELESS, it is outrageous to stigmatize the entire religious Zionist community for crimes committed by a few individuals, many of whom had no relationship with religious Zionism. For example, the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein may have been "observant." But he had no ties to religious Zionism and was simply a lone demented killer who probably unraveled after absorbing the radiant hatred from Arabs surrounding him.
On the other hand, prior to perpetrating his evil deed, Yigal Amir, Rabin's loathsome assassin, on the surface displayed all the positive characteristics of a religious Zionist role model. Had he not misunderstood or been influenced by the hysterical ravings of a few zealots or extremist rabbis, he may never have been transformed into a murderer.
After the assassination of Rabin, the religious Zionist movement relentlessly purged extremists from its ranks. However in the wake of the trauma of the Gaza disengagement, new wild extremist fringe groups emerged. Some sought to break away from the state, alleging it had betrayed them, identified with anti-Zionist haredim and refused to serve in the IDF. To this day, we still hear about unhinged rabbis babbling about killing non-Jews. Regrettably they are sometimes dismissed as madmen rather than prosecuted.
But renegade rabbis had no bearing on the sick and demented alleged serial murderer Ya'acov Teitel, whom religious Zionists and the settlers are falsely accused of having nurtured. The truth is that Teitel already had a shady record before arriving here from America and was simply an insane lone killer who even proclaimed that God would be happy with his depraved actions.
OF LATE, groups on the far Left have intensified campaigns primarily directed towards discrediting and defaming settlers and religious Zionists under the guise of commemorating the memory of Rabin.
As one who was privileged to know Rabin, I consider it nauseating to observe post-Zionists and extremists who detested Rabin now abusing his memory in order to promote their policies and attempt to silence their opponents.
Rabin's "gamble" with the Oslo Accords proved to have been a disastrous failure. But he was a consummate Zionist and few would deny that his sole motivation throughout his political life was to promote peace and the wellbeing of the nation. He would have despised and regarded with utter contempt many of those on the far Left who today claim to be promoting his legacy.
Admittedly, prior to his assassination, in the course of the bitter political debate, Rabin developed a love-hate relationship with the settlers and when condemned by them occasionally responded by employing vulgar language. But I vividly recollect a particular conversation in which he virtually predicted the Baruch Goldstein scenario by warning about uncontrollable extremist fanatics but accompanied these remarks with words of love and admiration for religious Zionists whom he regarded as amongst the most dedicated patriots in the land.
Needless to say, stereotyping or extending collective guilt to an entire community for the crimes of individuals is despicable, irrespective of whether it applies to religious Zionists, settlers, haredim, Russians, Ethiopians or any minority.
Only a few months ago, after a shocking case of child abuse in the haredi community, there were efforts to falsely stigmatize all haredim as child abusers. There were also irresponsible media outbursts trying to collectively bracket Russian olim with the alleged brutal slayings by Dimitry Kirilik.
As Jews we should be especially sensitive to such pernicious practices. Since time immemorial, highlighting the criminality of an individual Jew in order to defame entire Jewish communities was a central feature of anti-Semitic incitement. It is thus rather sickening in our time to see Jews using similar techniques against Jews.
In these difficult times we must strongly condemn the stigmatization of any group and also remain vigilant against any manifestations of extremism or incitement whether from the Right or the Left. That also applies especially within the religious arena in which the explosive fusion of nationalist extremism combined with zealotry has the potential of being transformed into the most brutal forms of violence and mayhem.
In this regard, the silence and failure of mainstream rabbis to condemn insubordination and refusal to obey orders by a handful of religious soldiers under the influence of a few radical spiritual leaders is highly disconcerting.
also at Jerusalem post: Vigilance Wanted - Apply Within

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

End of the road for Iran dialogue policy? Probably not

Iran has said no to the draft nuclear treaty proposal. You may think that this is the end - but it probably is not, as Iran apologists will most likely twist and squirm to avoid taking decisive action. Instead there will be more "dialogue" and attempts to reach a compromise. Iran will not accept any compromise that does not allow it to build nuclear weapons easily. The West, and particularly the US, is having its bluff called. Without a credible military stick, the dialogue carrot could not work.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 17:14 18/11/2009       
Iran rejects sending uranium abroad, considers swaps
By Reuters
Iran said on Wednesday it would not send its enriched uranium abroad for further processing but would consider swapping it for nuclear fuel and keeping it under supervision inside the country, the ISNA news agency said.
The decision is expected to anger the United States and its allies that had called on Iran to accept a deal which aimed to delay Iran's potential ability of making bombs by at least a year by divesting Iran of most of its enriched uranium.
A draft deal brokered by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, calls on Iran to send some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France to be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.
"Surely we will not send our 3.5 percent fuel abroad but can review swapping it simultaneously with nuclear fuel inside Iran," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the ISNA students' news agency.
The United States has rejected Iranian calls for amendments and further talks on the deal and U.S. President Barack Obama said time was running out for diplomacy to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
Mottaki criticized the United States for pressuring Iran to accept the deal.
"Diplomacy is not black or white. Pressuring Iran to accept what they want is a non-diplomatic approach," Mottaki said.
Russia and France, both also involved in talks with Tehran over what the West fears are its plans for an atomic bomb, also put pressure on Iran, which faces possible harsher international sanctions and risks even Israeli military action.
Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power.
Tehran has repeatedly said it preferred to buy reactor fuel from foreign suppliers rather than part with its low enriched uranium (LEU), which can be used for bombs if enriched further.
Iranian pledges in Geneva talks with the six powers on Oct. 1 won Tehran a reprieve from sanctions targeting its oil sector, but Western powers stressed they would not wait indefinitely for it to follow through.
Iran had indicated that it may agree to send only "part" of its stockpile in several shipments. Should the talks fail to help Iran obtain the fuel from abroad, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium itself domestically.
If 70 percent of Iran's uranium is exported in one shipment, or at the most two shipments in quick succession, Tehran would need about a year to produce enough uranium to again have the stockpile it needs for a weapon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying to find possible compromises to rescue the deal, including Iran parking its LEU in a third country, pending delivery of reactor fuel.
Turkey says it would be willing to store Iran's enriched uranium.
Mottaki did not say what would happen to the low-enriched fuel it was prepared to swap, but authorities have said in the past that it could be stockpiled in Iran under IAEA supervision.
"Our experts will tell us how much fuel was needed to be swapped. We do not accept their experts' views," Mottaki said.
Iran has an underground enrichment plant at Natanz and IAEA inspectors visited a second, hidden enrichment site near Qom that Iran revealed in September.

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Christians for Fair Witness Challenges America Magazine’s Omission of Facts in the East Jerusalem Evictions

November 18, 2009

Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

(212) 870-2320
Christians for Fair Witness Challenges America Magazine's Omission of Facts in the East Jerusalem Evictions 
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East is disturbed to see America magazine continue its pattern of omitting critical facts while reporting about recent evictions in East Jerusalem.

America editor Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. complains about the eviction of Sharihan Hannoun's family from their home in East Jerusalem.  According to Fr. Christiansen "Jewish settlers" have been "grabbing Palestinian land" in the Hannoun's neighborhood "with the support of [Israeli] authorities."  ("Of Many Things" November 16, 2009).

"I don't like these evictions or the way they were conducted.  But Fr. Christiansen omitted many essential aspects of the story," notes Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director,  Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

After 1949 East Jerusalem and the West Bank fell on the Jordanian side of the armistice line. Palestinian refugees (including the Hannouns) were resettled in homes built on land seized from Jewish owners under Jordan's "Enemy Property" law. The Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property never transferred ownership into the families' names as they were supposed to after the families paid a nominal rent for three years.

After acquiring this territory in 1967, Israel allowed the Palestinian families to stay in the homes undisturbed.  But in the 1970s Jewish groups started raising ownership claims. The Israeli courts ultimately gave the Palestinians "protected tenant" status allowing them to stay in the homes into perpetuity in exchange for nominal annual fees and with some restrictions on renovations to the property. Only those families that refused to pay this fee were evicted -- the families that are paying the nominal rent remain in their homes.

Msgr. Dennis Mikulanis, Vicar for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Diocese of San Diego says, "From what I understand the Hannouns have been living in their house for years and I think they should be allowed to stay, especially since there are homes on the Israeli side of the Green Line that were owned by Palestinians where Jews now live. But it appears that the Israeli courts reached a fair compromise which actually seems pretty close to the situation the Palestinians had under Jordanian rule."  Msgr. Mikulanis added, "I'm sure some will disagree, but America did not report all of the facts. This magazine is quickly losing its credibility for responsible journalism."


"Fr. Christiansen's article has a downright unsavory tone," said Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the  Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale, New York.  "There are complex and competing claims here, and like many aspects of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, arguments can be made on both sides.  However, Fr. Christiansen characterizes the Jewish claims as 'grabbing Palestinian land' and 'ethnic cleansing,' even as he omits any and all facts -- no matter how essential to understanding the situation -- that might tend to exonerate the Israelis.  This calls his integrity as an editor into very serious question."



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Khaled Abu-Toameh talks about "peace" prospects - non-existent

A sober assessment of peace prospects from one of the most astute journalists in the Middle East. Not Jewish and not a Zionist - an Israeli Arab who is owned by nobody and whose journalistic analyses set standards for objectivity and integrity. .



November 17, 2009

Peace in Arabic

It's not that I get tired of listening to Jewish speakers. More often than not, they motivate and inspire me. Whether I agree with them or not, there's a familiarity, a connection. I learn from my people and I embrace their diversity.

But no matter how diverse, it's still the same Jewish tent.

That's why it was so fascinating the other night to listen to someone who describes himself as an Israeli-Arab-Muslim-Palestinian. His look, his dress, his accent and body language all felt different. His mother's "large clan," he said, lives in Ramallah, where he visits almost every day from his home in Jerusalem. I could easily imagine him drinking tea and eating hummus with them.

The man was Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, and he spoke at the home of Steve and Rita Emerson in Westwood.

Toameh has been reporting on Arab affairs for close to 30 years, for both Jewish and Arabic media. There's a quiet nonchalance about him, an old-school Middle Eastern dignity. Even when he says something familiar, it sounds different coming from him.

Toameh is in the middle of a U.S. tour sponsored by StandWithUs and was in Los Angeles for their annual "Israel in Focus" weekend conference, which gathers student activists from around the world. Of course, he wouldn't have been chosen if his views toward the Jewish state weren't sympathetic.

But when Toameh spoke, what stood out was not that he is pro-Israel, but that he is pro-Palestine.

For example, he spoke about the virulent anti-Israel atmosphere he is seeing on U.S. college campuses, about which, he observed, "there is sometimes more sympathy for Hamas than I see in Ramallah."

When he asked these students, "What makes you pro-Palestinian?" the answers were usually the same: "Israel is an apartheid state, Israel is a violent occupier, etc."

"But that's anti-Israel," he challenged them. "That's not pro-Palestine. I'm pro-Palestine. What makes you pro-Palestine?

"If you're really pro-Palestine, come help us instead of just spewing poison about Israel. Come teach my people democracy. Instead of Israel Apartheid Week, why don't you have Palestine Democracy Week?"

There was something authentic and disarming about him. His words didn't smell like propaganda or activism. He spoke for moderate Palestinians like himself, and he spoke from his heart, not from talking points.

He brought up a private meeting he'd had with President Obama a couple of years ago, while Obama was still a U.S. senator. Toameh told Obama that the key obstacle to peace is the hatred and incitement to violence that prevails throughout Palestinian society — in schools, the media and mosques — and is endorsed by the Palestinian leadership.

Commenting on the charge of incitement, Obama asked: "Is it true?" and later asked: "What can we do about it?"

Toameh suggested that the United States and other donor countries should predicate aid to the Palestinians on their stopping the incitement, to which Obama responded, "Isn't this political extortion?"

Toameh clearly thinks not. He thinks it is in the interest of the Palestinians to stop incitement, and he shared an Arab perspective on the subject.

"Look at the language that is now flying back and forth between Hamas and Fatah," he said. "It's the same poison you hear about the Jews: sons of pigs, infidels, etc. Incitement has spread and backfired on the Palestinians."

This incitement has also hurt the Palestinians' ability to make peace: "How do you tell people to make peace with the people you've called monsters and sons of pigs?"

Toameh sees no hope in the "top down" approach to peace. The soil is too rotten, he says. The Arab moderates have been undermined. "If I go to Ramallah and talk about Palestinian concessions on the right of return, I'll get shot in five minutes."

He says the Palestinians "already got their two-state solution — Gaza and the West Bank," and if it weren't for the Israeli presence in the West Bank, "Hamas would take over and Mahmoud Abbas would be lynched."

But lest you think there was no ray of hope in this Arab gentleman, he closed by discussing the people who he believes hold the key to an eventual peace between Jews and Arabs.

The Arab citizens of Israel.

"They are the ones who can build a bridge between Jews and Arabs," Toameh said. "They know what democracy is. They know about a free press and about freedom of religion. They know both sides."

He acknowledged the many obstacles — mutual mistrust, dual loyalties, Muslim radicalization, etc. — but he says Israel has no choice. If it wants a peaceful future, it must do a better job of embracing its Arab citizens.

The fact that some of them are becoming more radical is an even bigger incentive to embrace the moderates and preempt further radicalization.

It's true, he said, that Arabs have it better in Israel than anywhere else in the Middle East. But that's not the point. Israel must see its Arab minority not as a threatening nuisance that must be tolerated and contained, but as potential allies who can eventually help bring peace to the Holy Land.

From your mouth to Allah's ears, Mr. Toameh.

David Suissa is the founder of OLAM magazine. You can read his daily blog at and e-mail him at .

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The Zionist Rachel Corries - The untold stories of Israel's Jewish Martyrs

The film "Rachel Corrie" tells the story (or fable) of an American girl who went to Gaza looking for trouble and was tragically killed. It is used as a tool in the war against Israel. On the other hand, there are thousands of Israeli martyrs who were not looking for trouble - just minding their own business. They were struck down by Palestinian terrorists. No book commemorates them as a group, and no movie tells their story. Now, a book has appeared in Italian to tell their stories.  

The Untold Stories of Israel's Martyrs

For the first time ever, in a book, depictions of the victims of Islamist hatred. Young and old, men and women. Struck down in a bus, at a bar, at the market. Killed solely for the "fault" of being Jewish

by Sandro Magister

ROME, November 7, 2009 – Today Jews all over the world are commemorating their martyrs of the "Night of Broken Glass," the victims of the Nazi pogrom on the night of November 9-10, 1938, in Germany.

There is universal, mournful observance of that massacre and of the tremendous extermination of Jews by the Reich that came after it.

But the same is not done, in Europe and the West, for the many other Jewish victims who for years have been killed in Israel, assailed by Islamic terrorism.

Every time one of them is killed, it is covered in the news and then immediately ignored. The victim ends up buried in the vagueness of the "Palestinian question," viewed by many as Israel's "fault."

Meanwhile, one out of every three hundred Israeli families has been directly affected by an attack. The terrorist actions number in the thousands. More than 150 suicide attacks have been carried out, and for each of these the Israeli police estimate that they have prevented nine more. 1,723 people have been killed to date, 378 of them women. More than ten thousand have been injured.

The indifference of the West and of Christians in the face of this steady stream of victims, struck systematically in the midst of their daily routine, on the buses, in the cafes, in the markets, at home, now has a response in a book that recounts their stories for the first time. It finally tells us who they are.

The book was published a month ago in Italy, and translations will soon be published in New York and London. Its title is "Non smetteremo di danzare [We will not stop dancing]." And the subtitle: "Le storie mai raccontate dei martiri di Israele [The untold stories of Israel's martyrs]."


His most recent book opens with a preface by English philosopher Roger Scruton, and with a letter by Robert Redeker, the French writer who has been living in a secret location since he began receiving death threats from Islamist fanatics.

The following is an extract from the first chapter.


The unsung dead of Israel

by Giulio Meotti

From "Non smetteremo di danzare," pp. 26-36

Why this book? Because before it there was not even one presentation of the story of Israel's dead. It was written without any prejudice against the Palestinians, it is an account motivated by love for a great people and its marvelous and tragic adventure in the heart of the Middle East and through the whole twentieth century. Every effort to exterminate an entire class of human beings, from Srebrenica to Rwanda, has been commemorated in some great story. This does not seem to be allowed for Israel; history has always been scrubbed quickly of the blood of Jews. Jews killed because they were Jews, whose stories have been swallowed up in the disgusting and amoral equating of Israelis and Palestinians, which explains nothing about that conflict and even blurs it to the point of disappearing. This book is intended to rescue from oblivion this vast reserve of suffering, to elicit respect for the dead and love of the living. [...]

The most beautiful gift in these four years of research was given to me by the Israelis who opened their grief-stricken world to my request for help, laying their sufferings bare. It was me knocking at the door, a stranger, a non-Jew, a foreigner. But they all shook my hand and spoke about their loved ones for the first time. [...]

I decided to tell some of the great Israeli stories full of idealism, suffering, sacrifice, chance, love, fear, faith, freedom – and the hope that, in spite of all this silence, Israel will triumph in the end. [...] There are incredible people like the obstetrician Tzofia, who lost her father, a rabbi, her mother, and her little brother. Today she helps Arab women give birth to their children. [...] There's Torah copyist Yitro, who converted to Judaism and whose son was kidnapped and executed by Hamas. There's Elisheva, from a family of farming settlers who lost them all in Auschwitz, and whose daughter, nine months pregnant, was killed by remorseless terrorists because "she wanted to live the Jewish ideal." In Tzipi they stabbed the chief rabbi to death, and where his bedroom used to be there is now an important religious school. Ruti's husband and David's brother was a great humanist doctor who cared for everyone, Arabs and Jews. There's the rabbi Elyashiv, whose son, a seminarian, was taken from him, but who continues to believe that "everything in life makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker." Then there's Sheila, who always talks about the coming of the Messiah and about how her husband took care of Down's children. Menashe lost his father, mother, brother, and grandfather in a night of terror, but continues to believe in the right to live where Abraham pitched his tent. [...] Elaine lost a son during dinner on the shabath, and for more than a year was not able to cook or make any sound. There are the friends of Ro'i Klein, a human shield who leapt onto a mine reciting the Shema' Yisrael, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Yehudit lost her daughter too soon, coming back from a wedding together with her husband. From Uri, who made the alyah from France, they took his daughter as well, a volunteer working with the poor.

Orly lived a happy life in a trailer, but her son didn't have time to put his kippah back on his head before he was killed. There's Tehila, one of those God-fearing but modern women who populate the settlements, the wife of an idealist who "lived the land," who loved the pink and blue plumage of Samaria's flowers. [...] There's also the marvelous Yossi, whose son sacrificed his own life in order to save his friends, and every Friday went to give out religious gifts to passers-by. Rina had created a pearl in the Egyptian desert, she thought of herself as a pioneer. She had her son taken from her, together with his pregnant wife. [...] There's Chaya, who embraced Judaism together with her husband. For them, conversion "was like marrying God." [...] All of these stories speak to us of this nation that is unique in the world, born from the 19th-century philosophy of secular Zionism, which from the ashes of the Holocaust brought back to their ancient homeland a people in exile for two thousand years and cut down to less than half its prewar size. Stories that speak to us of courage, desperation, faith, of the defense of hearth and home, even if errors are sometimes made, of the preservation of "honorable warfare" in the only army that permits disobeying an inhumane order. [...]

The story of these Jewish victims is not only a story of heroes. They are almost always defenseless people. [...] The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, the most important center for analysis in Israel, has calculated that only 25 percent of the Israeli victims were  soldiers. The majority were and are Jews in civilian dress. Among the Israelis, 40 percent of all the victims are women. Europeans believe that Israel is the stronger side, the country and military with the control of the territory, the technology, the money, the knowledge base, the capacity to use force, the friendship and alliance with the United States. And before it stands the pitiful weakness of a people claiming its rights, and ready for martyrdom in order to obtain them. But this is not the case. The stories of these new unsung victims proves it.

The Israelis have shown that they love life more than they fear death. The terrorists have killed hundreds of teachers and students, but the schools have never closed. They have killed doctors and patients, but the hospitals have continued to function. They have massacred soldiers and policemen, but the list of those who volunteer has never shrunk. They have shot up buses of the faithful, but the pilgrims continue to arrive in Judea and Samaria. They have made massacres at weddings, and forced young people to wed in underground bunkers. But life has always won over death. Like at Irit Rahamin's bachelorette party at the Sea Market Restaurant in Tel Aviv. When the terrorist began to shoot and throw grenades into the crowd, Irit threw herself to the ground, and from under the table called her future husband and told him that she loved him. Amid the screams. And the dying.


The book:

Giulio Meotti, "Non smetteremo di danzare. Le storie mai raccontate dei martiri di Israele", Lindau, Torino, 2009, pp. 360, euro 24.00.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'IAEA inspects site outside Damascus'

Nov. 17, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Following Monday's report that the IAEA had discovered processed uranium at three separate Syrian sites, UN inspectors on Tuesday conducted an emergency visit to a smaller site outside Damascus, Channel 10 reported.
According to Monday's report, IAEA inspectors had discovered enriched uranium in three sites besides Dir Azur, where IAF jets destroyed an alleged reactor in September 2007.
These findings have led the UN nuclear watchdog to suspect that Syria has uranium stockpiles.
The main cause for suspicion was the discovery of nuclear material traces near a small research nuclear reactor outside Damascus, the TV channel said Monday.
When the evidence was presented to the Syrians, they failed to provide convincing explanations, senior IAEA officials were quoted as saying.

Agency inspectors who visited the Dir Azur site after the 2007 bombing found highly processed plutonium, so the uranium traces may indicate Syria's nuclear program was more advanced than was previously assessed.

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Good news for Jews - we're taking over Britain

According to UK Channel 4, the "Israel Lobby" (AKA World Jewish conspiracy) is poised to take over Britain when and if the Conservative party comes to power, since an all powerful Jew conspiracy has permeated the corridors of British power. The next British monarch will be Ikey I, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, and the Menorah will be printed on British bank notes. The Channel 4 documentary evidently has compiled a list of the Jew lovers in the Conservative party, preparing to subvert the innocent British people, about to pass legislation that forces pubs to serve Manischewitz wine and kosher snacks. It must be the influential Jewish conspiracy that is responsible for tacit recognition of Sharia law and other pro-Zionist moves of the Zionist Occupied British government. The same Jew lobby was no doubt responsible for the spate of British Boycott Israel initiatives. Them Jews will get you every time, right?
Or is the documentary evidence of a quite different trend in Britain? What do you think?
Ami Isseroff
Israel lobby 'big influence in UK'
The programme links Hague, left, and Cameron to the Conservative Friends of Israel [EPA]
A British documentary has alleged that any future Conservative government will be disproportionately influenced by a powerful pro-Israeli lobby in the country.
Channel 4's Dispatches programme on Monday said that at least half of the Conservative shadow cabinet are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), one of a number of pro-Israel lobby organisations.
The prorgramme, entitled 'Inside Britain's Israel Lobby', said that such organisations make up "one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain", but that "little is known" about these groups and their associated individuals.
CFI members and their businesses are alleged to have donated more than $16.8m to the Conservative Party over the past eight years.
The alleged donations include tens of thousands of pounds to William Hague, after he was appointed shadow foreign secretary in 2005.
The documentary alleged that Lord Kalm, a CFI member and significant donor to the Conservatives, threatened to remove Hague's funding after he said that Israel had used "disproportionate" force during its war in Lebanon in 2006.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, is alleged to have promised not to repeat the conjecture.
Stuart Polak, CFI's director, disputed the figures in the UK's Guardian newspaper.
"CFI as an organisation has donated only £30,000 [$50,000] since 2005. Each of these donations has been made transparently and publicly registered," he said.
"In addition to this £30,000, it is undoubtedly the case that some of our supporters have also chosen, separately, to donate to the party as individuals."
The Dispatches documentary also claims that Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire and chairman of Bicom (the British Israel Communications and Research Centre), gave $25,000 and $84,000 donations to Cameron and the Conservative Central Office respectively.
Zabludowicz has a business interest in a shopping centre in Ma'aleh Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank deemed illegal under international law.
Bicom organises briefings on and trips to Israel for journalists. The CFI and the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) group, which is described in the documentary as "less unquestioning in its support of the Israeli government than CFI", plays a similar role, accounting for 13 per cent of the total number of paid-for foreign trips for MPs and candidates.
'Openness needed'
Zabludowicz told The Jerusalem Post newspaper that the Dispatches programme "seems to have a predetermined agenda".
"Some people have suggested that the production team felt compelled to 'balance out' their two recent programs exposing the footprint of radical Islamism in the UK," he said.
"I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart, having been led [through] a not-so-merry dance over the past 10 days by the programme-makers.
"Bicom is an advocacy organisation. We work with journalists every day. It is in our DNA to put our side of the story forward and to be transparent."
While the programme said that the donations are legal, one of its makers, David Oborne, a political columnist for the British Daily Mail newspaper, said that more needs to be known about the Israeli lobby's workings and power.
"There is nothing resembling a conspiracy," he wrote in the Guardian.
"The pro-Israel lobby, in common with other lobbies, has every right to operate and indeed to flourish in Britain.
"But it needs to be far more open about how it is funded and what it does ... mainly because politics in a democracy ... should be out in the open for all to see."
In 2006, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, two American academics, released a paper stating that Washington's support for Israel was predicated by a hugely powerful Israeli lobby in the US.

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EU, US, stop short of vetoing Palestinian state

Contrary to what the headline below, and similar headlines, would have you believe, neither the EU nor the United States have indicated they would veto a bid for recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state in the UN Security Council. Read what they said, not what we would want them to say.  The EU stated:
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the EU presidency, explained that the EU does not believe conditions are ripe yet for such a move. The EU is not on the Security Council, but EU members France and Britain are permanent council members that wield veto power
Conditions are not ripe yet, but in two years they might be ripe. "Does not believe" does not mean, "we will veto."
And the United States' declaration is similarly indecisive:
"It is our strong belief and conviction that the best means to achieve the common goal of a contiguous and viable Palestine is through negotiations between the parties," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
A unilateral declaration of statehood may not be the best means to achieve anything in the view of the United States, but that doesn't translated into a veto. It does not mean the United States or the EU would stop underwriting the Palestinian Authority if they declare a state. Moreover, even without Security Council recognition, a Palestinian state would be automatically recognized by all Muslim countries, and by several South American countries such as Venezuela and perhaps Brazil. China might also recognize such a state.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 11:34 17/11/2009       
EU rejects Palestinian bid for unilateral declaration of state
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
The European Union has rejected the Palestinian Authority's request to back its plan for gaining recognition as an independent state at the United Nations Security Council without Israeli consent.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the EU presidency, explained that the EU does not believe conditions are ripe yet for such a move. The EU is not on the Security Council, but EU members France and Britain are permanent council members that wield veto power.
The EU's foreign ministers on Tuesday were discussing ways to coordinate with the United States to get Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.
"The Palestinian plan is clearly an act borne by a difficult situation where they don't see any road ahead," said Bildt.
The Palestinian Authority is coming under increasing pressure ­ from Israel and the international community ­to back down from its threat to unilaterally declare a state without first concluding a peace agreement with Israel.
On Monday evening, the United States on Monday reaffirmed its support for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations, in its first official response to the Palestinian plan.
"It is our strong belief and conviction that the best means to achieve the common goal of a contiguous and viable Palestine is through negotiations between the parties," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
U.S. senators visiting Israel said earlier in the day that on Monday that Washington would veto a Palestinian declaration of statehood in the United Nations Security Council.

The idea of seeking UN intervention has been gaining steam in the Arab world as the impasse in peacemaking drags on. The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967.
The senators said the threat by Palestinian officials to take the issue to a UN resolution was a waste of time and would go nowhere. They urged Arab states to stop it.
"It would be D.O.A. - dead on arrival," Democratic Party Senator Ted Kaufman (DE) told a news conference in Jerusalem. "It's a waste of time."
Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT), an independent, said "an essentially unilateral" declaration of statehood was the one thing that would not move the stalled peace process forward."

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Venezuelan Jews fear crime, anti-Semitsm, politics - but are they doing anything about it?

Despite the headline, it is not clear than any Venezuelan Jews have left Venezuela or where they are going. None of the people interviewed stated that they are leaving. How many Jews in a "drove?"
Last update - 11:49 17/11/2009       
Citing Insecurity and Politics, Jews Leave Venezuela in Droves
By Jasmina Kelemen (JTA), The Forward
Caracas, Venezuela - Esther Benchimol de Roffe arrived in Venezuela as a young bride, leaving northern Morocco more than 50 years ago to meet her groom in a prosperous foreign land.
The young couple fit in easily in a country where, as Spanish-speaking Sephardim, they already were familiar with the language and the Jewish community was established. Her husband built a successful business, and Benchimol raised a family and earned international renown singing the ancient Sephardic hymns she had learned as a child in Alcazarquivir.
"It was a rich country, there were a lot of opportunities," reminisces Benchimol, now 74. "We had many friends and there was a real sense of brotherhood. There was never any racism against us."
Her tone changes, however, when she considers the futures of her grandchildren and whether she would advise them to stay in Venezuela.
"I wouldn't stay here," Benchimol said. "I'm speaking as a grandmother."
It's not anti-Semitism that causes her to fear daily for the safety of her grandchildren but 'la inseguridad? ' insecurity. It?s the general term Venezuelans use now to describe an unrelenting crime wave that cuts across the country's economically and ideologically polarized society. The issue consistently tops surveys here as Venezuelans' biggest concern.
Venezuelan Jews say that as citizens of a state in which many have lost faith in the police and judicial system, they fear random violence far more than anti-Semitic attacks. They consistently cite crime as their main source of anxiety.
Last year, Foreign Policy magazine called Caracas the murder capital of the world, tallying the homicide rate at 130 per 100,000 residents. Official statistics are hard to come by because the government has stopped providing details.
In order to gauge crime, journalists rely on the city morgue in Caracas to report how many bodies arrived over the weekend as the result of violence, publishing their tally in newspapers on Monday mornings. In one wave of weekend violence in early October, 56 people were reported murdered in this city of just over 4 million people.
In addition to murder, kidnappings for ransom ? a source of high anxiety for the city?s wealthier inhabitants ? are said to be on the rise. Jews say they feel at particular risk due to the perception that the Jewish community can pony up a large ransom for a kidnapped Jew.
Yair Rosemberg, a 28-year old theater producer, is less than a month away from getting married. Where crime was once regarded as something he read about in the papers, now it has touched a growing number of his acquaintances, he said.
He and his fiancee probably will move to Israel after they are married; the couple recently returned from a trip there to explore their options. Rosemberg cited it as his main reason for wanting to leave.
That fear, combined with President Hugo Chavez?s verbal broadsides against Israel and still fresh memories of a shocking assault last January against the community?s main synagogue, Tiferet Israel, is prompting many Jews here to consider whether there is a future for them in Venezuela. Over the past decade, the Jewish community has fallen from a high of about 20,000 members to the oft-cited figures of 13,000 to 10,000, according to local Jewish activists.
Throughout his decade in power, Chavez has referred to the United States as imperialist and belligerent. Following Israel?s incursion into Gaza last winter, Chavez severed diplomatic ties with Israel and ratcheted up his rhetoric against the Jewish state. He refers to Israel as a genocidal state. Once he referred disparagingly to Colombia as the region?s ?Israel? while voicing his displeasure at an agreement to allow the U.S. military access to Colombia?s military bases.
Meanwhile, he's built friendships with and welcomed the presidents of Iran and Libya, part of what he has described as his efforts to build a counterweight to U.S. "hegemony."
Venezuelan Jews say there is a wide gap between the president's anti-Israel rhetoric and the attitudes of the Venezuelan people toward Jews. Venezuela has not seen the anti-Semitism that exists in some other Latin American countries.
"I would rather be a Jew here than in Spain," said Paulina Gamus, a local political commentator and outspoken critic of Chavez, responding to a question about whether Venezuela is still safe for Jews.
"There, anti-Semitism is among the people. Here, with all of the government?s hostility, the people aren?t hostile.? she adds. ?There isn?t a personal sense of anti-Semitism."
Gamus is the only Jew to have served in Venezuela's National Assembly.
While Gamus insists that her home is in Venezuela, the younger generation of her family has mostly left the country. All of her children, nieces and nephews live abroad to escape the security situation, she said.
While not explicitly anti-Semitic, local Jews fear Chavez?s constant barrage of anti-Israeli discourse could breed hostility towards their community, adding another layer of stress in a city where many citizens already feel helpless coping with one of the highest murder rates in the world.
"There's a lot of fear that there could be an attack against the community," said Camila Roffe de Levy, a 51-year old biologist in Caracas and Benchimol?s daughter.
"No one has attacked us," she explained. "It's not the people, nor your neighbor nor the guy who lives down the street from you. But what scares us is this anti-Israeli discourse that could be wrongly interpreted by people who don?t know any better."
A lawyer who divides her time between Miami and Caracas says there is a general breakdown of trust toward the government, which she feels both as a Venezuelan citizen and even more so as a Jew.
She requested anonymity due to her work promoting human rights in Venezuela.
Since the synagogue attack last January, authorities have stepped up protection at Jewish houses of prayer. Many said they were pleased with the security provided during Yom Kippur.
But that day, while many Jews were in synagogue, Chavez praised Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi and invited him to speak on national television in a ceremony that all of the nation?s public channels were forced to broadcast.
"With this man [Chavez] you just never know," said Benchimol. "It's not something you can understand. It?s unpredictable."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Norwegian University is not boycotting Israel

This alleged boycott has been the subject of much acrimonious and unfortunate rhetoric about "Norwegian anti-Semites" who are boycotting Israel, whereas in fact, the University board voted unanimously to reject the boycott. It would have been better perhaps, if people had not send so many intemperate letters to the Norwegian embassies and to the university as well.
NTNU says no to academic boycott of Israel

(12.11.2009) The Board of NTNU decided today, Thursday, to reject the proposal for a boycott of Israel. The decision was unanimous and in accordance with the Rector's recommendation.

The background to the case was an appeal from a group of employees at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST), with a challenge to the institutions to approve a cultural and academic boycott of Israel. The goal of the boycott was to exert international pressure on Israel to start negotiations with elected Palestinian authorities and the international community in order to put an end to the suffering of Palestinians during the occupation by Israel.
The petition was presented by the Rector during the previous board meeting as an oral briefing, and the Board then asked to have the matter put on the agenda for today's meeting for a substantive discussion.
Board against the boycott
The Board voted against the proposal to boycott, and stressed the need for open lines of communication and between scientists at NTNU and academic institutions in Israel.
"As an academic institution, NTNU's mission is to stimulate the study of the causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and how it can be resolved. This means that the university is also dependent on being able to cooperate with Israeli academics, and hear their views on the conflict", said the board.

Continued (Permanent Link)

U.S.: IAEA report shows Iran still refusing to meet nuke obligations

The headline below could have been (and was) used many times in the past, and regrettably, it probably will appear again and again, until it is replaced by a headline announcing that Iran has tested a nuclear weapon - or used it. Even the United States State Department could have figured out by now that there is no chance whatever that Iran will abandon its nuclear development program unless it is forced to do so, and that Iran, which has built at least three different concealed nuclear facilities that have been discovered, and undoubtedly built more, and has tested an implosion device as well, is almost certainly developing a nuclear weapon.
U.S.: IAEA report shows Iran still refusing to meet nuke obligations
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
A United Nations nuclear watchdog report proves that Iran is still not meeting its obligations to the international community over its nuclear program, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Monday.
"[The] IAEA's latest report on Iran underscores that Iran still refuses to comply fully with its international nuclear obligations," he said.
A copy of the report obtained by Reuters on Monday noted that Iran's belated revelation of a second uranium enrichment site raised concern about possible further secret nuclear sites in the Islamic Republic.
Kelly further said that Iran's failure to disclose the Qom enrichment facility to the International Atomic Energy Agency was the most recent example of continued noncompliance.
"Now is the time for Iran to signal that it wants to be a responsible member of the international community," he added. "We will continue to press Iran in ways consistent with the dual-track approach to meet its international nuclear obligations."
The report further said Iran had told the IAEA that it had begun building the bunkered site near Qom in 2007, but the IAEA had evidence the project began in 2002, paused in 2004 and resumed in 2006. Iran reported the site's existence to the IAEA in September.
IAEA inspectors also found that Iran had reduced since August the number of centrifuges enriching Uranium at its main Natanz site by 650 to 3,936, while slightly raising the total number of machines installed to 8,692. Western diplomats and analysts said the slowdown was probably caused by technical glitches.
A senior official, meanwhile, said Monday that the nuclear agency believes Iran plans to start enriching uranium at the previously secret facility in 2011.
The official said the IAEA also believes that the site near Qom will be able to house 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges.
A senior international official familiar with a new IAEA report said Monday that number could allow Iran to enrich enough material to be able to arm one nuclear warhead a year. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the restricted nature of the information.
Also Monday, Russia said it would not start a nuclear reactor at Iran's Bushehr atomic power station by the end of the year as planned, citing technical reasons.
"The launch will not happen by the end of the year," Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told reporters. Russia's nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in February that the launch was scheduled for 2009.
The Bushehr plant has been delayed frequently. Russia last year completed delivery of nuclear fuel to the station under a contract estimated to be worth about one billion euros.
The Russian announcement prompted an Iranian official to question whether Russia would ever complete its part of the work.
"The Russians have never told us the truth and just followed their own interests - the Bushehr power plant will never be completed by Russia," Mahmoud Ahmadi-Biqash, spokesman of the parliamentary foreign policy and security commission, said.
"The Russians are playing with Iran over Bushehr for twenty years and even if we waited another 200 years, this power plant would not get ready," he told the ISNA news agency.

Continued (Permanent Link)

U.S Equivocates on Unilateral Palestinian State

The State Department opined that the the best way to achieve a viable Palestine is talks. In other words, negotiations are the best way, but it is not ruling out other ways, such as a unilateral declaration. I'm sorry if that is what it says, but that is what it says. That's about the mildest rebuke that can be given to a blatant attempt to tear up the Oslo Accords entirely. What, in the opinion of the State Department is the second best way to guarantee Israeli security, given that talks will fail and the Palestinians will declare a state? It would also be foolish to count on a U.S. veto in the Security Council, as Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman noted:
"Nothing is certain when it comes to an American veto, but I think the Americans understand that these policies bury any chance of reaching peace, and I think that the U.S. would also find it uncomfortable to have to deal at the Security Council with recognition of a Palestinian state.
But Lieberman is too certain that the U.S would be uncomfortable with recognition of a Palestinian state.
Here's the story:

The United States on Monday reaffirmed its support for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations, in its first official response to a Palestinian plan to declare statehood without Israeli consent.
"It is our strong belief and conviction that the best means to achieve the common goal of a contiguous and viable Palestine is through negotiations between the parties‬," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
U.S. senators visiting Israel said earlier in the day that on Monday that Washington would veto a Palestinian declaration of statehood in the United Nations Security Council.
The idea of seeking UN intervention has been gaining steam in the Arab world as the impasse in peacemaking drags on. The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967.
The senators said the threat by Palestinian officials to take the issue to a UN resolution was a waste of time and would go nowhere. They urged Arab states to stop it.
"It would be D.O.A. - dead on arrival," Democratic Party Senator Ted Kaufman (DE) told a news conference in Jerusalem. "It's a waste of time."
Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT), an independent, said "an essentially unilateral" declaration of statehood was the one thing that would not move the stalled peace process forward."
Meanwhile, the Palestinians asked the European Union on Monday to back their plan.
"We will seek the support of all members of the international community," Saeb Erekat, a top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters in Ramallah. Besides the EU, they also plan to seek U.S. approval, Erekat said.
EU foreign ministers will discuss the Arab-backed proposal at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, said Petra Dachtler, an adviser to the EU's special Middle East envoy, Marc Otte. Because the idea has only been floated recently, the EU has yet to formulate an opinion, she said.
The EU is not on the Security Council, but EU members France and Britain are permanent council members that wield veto power.
The plan appears to be largely symbolic, given that the U.S., Israel's chief ally, would likely veto such an initiative at the United Nations. It also would not remove the 500,000 Israelis living in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
The move, however, reflects growing Palestinian frustration with the deadlock in peace efforts. Palestinian officials say they hope international endorsement would force Israel to recognize a future Palestine's borders based on the pre-1967 lines.
Hamas to Palestinians: End occupation, then declare state
Earlier Monday, Hamas rejected the PA initiative, saying true independence required the complete cessation of Israeli occupation.
The Islamist militant group pointed out that a unilateral declaration of statehood had already been made by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1988.
If it had to be done again, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardweel said on Monday, "why not declare a Palestinian state from the sea [Mediterranean] to the river [of Jordan]" rather than in the West Bank and Gaza only.
The declaration proposed by Erekat would have no meaning and was merely an attempt by the rival Palestinian camp of President Mahmoud Abbas to pretend it had an alternative to faltering peace negotiations, other than armed struggle, said Bardweel.
"This move is not a meaningful declaration. It simply aims at escaping the benefits of resistance against the occupation," he said. "Instead of threatening to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state to be established in the air, we should work on liberating the occupied territories and end the current internal [Palestinian] division."
Declaring a state "in the air on 20 per cent of the Palestinian land, which would be rejected by the world," was not the solution, he argued. Rather, Palestinians should focus on their own "ability to liberate the land."
Labor: We'll quit coalition if settlements annexed
Industry and Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer (Labor) said Monday that his center-left party would pull out of the government if it carried through with right-wing calls to annex more West Bank settlements in response to a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence.
"The Labor party cannot continued to sit in this government if it decides to annex settlements," said Ben Eliezer. Negotiating with the Palestinians is the only viable option, he said, dismissing both Israeli and Palestinian threats for unilateral moves.
"In my opinion this whole thing about annexation is just words. I think the Palestinian threat also is just words. A ping-pong of declarations will get us nowhere, the only way forward is to bring the sides together for negotiations," he told Army Radio.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Erekat's suggestion by saying that Israel would make unilateral moves of its own should the Palestinians make good on its threat. He did not elaborate on what that might mean.
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz backed up the prime minister's call by detailing what they believed such unilateral motions would mean:
"We must be clear and tell them that, if that's the route they choose to take, any unilateral declaration on their part will be countered by declaring our sovereignty on all 'C' Areas," Landau said, referring to those which, according to the Oslo Accord, are in full Israeli civilian and military control.
"I think it is an outrage," Landau added of the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence.
"We've been seeing a series of Palestinian attempts in various area and this is one of them. It is a hostile proposition, one surely meant to erode any chances of continuing negotiations," Landau said.
Environment Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio: "If the Palestinians take such a unilateral line, Israel should also consider ... passing a law to annex some of the settlements."
Other options of sanctions were also available, he said. "Everything is open ... it could begin at stopping the transfer of money that the Israeli government currently transfers to the Palestinian Authority," he told the radio, referring to tax payments Israel collects on the Authority's behalf under interim peace deals.
Erdan said Israel might also consider tightening recently loosened travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank.
Lieberman: If PA breaches accords, so will we
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to the Palestinian Authority's suggestion by saying that Israel would see unilateral moves of the kind as an explicit violation of past agreements.
"Any one-sided Palestinian move will be met with steps of our own." he said. "Whoever makes unilateral policy with complete disregard for past accords will get the same from us."
"Breach of accords will not go unanswered," he said.
According to Lieberman, Israel could not count on the Americans to veto any such Palestinian request to the UN Security Council.
"Nothing is certain when it comes to an American veto, but I think the Americans understand that these policies bury any chance of reaching peace, and I think that the U.S. would also find it uncomfortable to have to deal at the Security Council with recognition of a Palestinian state.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel, Turkey and Jordan hold joint rescue drill

It can be gathered from the article below that perhaps there has been some easing in the Turkish "cold shoulder" of israel, since Israel was "allowed" to participate in a search and rescue drill.
Turkey and Israel hold joint drill, in apparent ease of tensions
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent Haaretz Service
Israel, Jordan, and Turkey conducted a joint search and rescue military drill two weeks ago, the Turkish daily Zaman reported on Monday, pointing to an apparent ease in recent tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara.
The exercise reportedly took place in the Turkish army's special forces training ground, in the vicinity of the Turkish capital.
Zaman also reported that, as a result of the drill's objectives, air force units did not take participate, and that the exercise was deemed a success by all parties.
The newspaper report added that Industry and Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer was scheduled to visit Turkey in ten days.
The Turkish daily also reported on Monday that Israel was ready to complete a long-delayed weapons deal with Turkey cited by some sources as the catalyst for recent tensions between the allies.
Technical problems leading to a two-year delay of 10 Heron-type drones, have finally been resolved, according to the report.
Turkey signed the $180 deal to purchase the Herons from Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit several years ago. Israeli media reported that Turkey was considering scrapping the deal when Israel failed to meet production deadlines.
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, however, denied that Turkey would had any plans to cancel the contract.
A Turkish defense source said Monday that Israel and Turkey were in the midst of negotiating how much Israel would pay in compensation over the missed deadline.
An Israeli official denied the official's remark, saying that the Israeli defense industry had met every clause in their contract with Turkey.
"They're looking for excuses. There were no delays aside for minor problems with a local manufacturer that was producing some of the parts for the drones, but that has nothing to do with Israel," the source said.
A Turkish air force official told Zaman last month that the delayed deal was the real reason Ankara had banned Israel from a NATO air force exercises on its territory, and not - as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said - because of its opposition to Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip.
"Turkey needs those vehicles in its fight against terror. What led to the recent crisis between Turkey and Israel was the delay in the delivery," a Turkey air force official told Zaman.
The report quoted a Turkish government spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek as saying that a proposal for the cancellation of the drill came from the General Staff as a response to yet another delay in the delivery of the Israeli UAVs to Turkey.
"The proposal for cancellation came from the General Staff, not the government. However, there was no disagreement between the two bodies on the decision," Cicek was quoted as saying.
The report stressed that the Turkish government had no hand in the decision to cancel the exercise. "The Anatolian Eagle [exercise] is an organization of the Turkish Armed Forces. It is up to the air forces and the General Staff to decide on which countries will participate in the exercises. The government has not interfered in the decision," Cicek was quoted as saying.
The Turkish-Israeli crisis reached a peak on Jan. 29 after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan walked out of a panel discussion in Davos in protest of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also commented on the recent drill crisis and called on every country to refrain from any act that could harm the atmosphere of peace and stability in the region.
Last month, AFP quoted Erdogan as saying that "diplomatic sensitivities" led his government to ban Israel from a joint NATO air force drill,.
"There is military cooperation between Turkey and Israel...but currently there are diplomatic sensitivities that we have to take into consideration," AFP quoted Edrogan as telling the Dubai-based channel Al-Arabiya.
"We have taken the conscience of our people into consideration when we decided.... I had to be the voice that expresses the existence of my people and my people were rejecting Israel's participation.
"We discussed it with the responsible parties and said yes, these drills will take place but Israel will not take part in them," he had said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

IAEA deepens Syria nuclear probe over uranium traces

Syria's initial explanation of uranium traces U.N. inspectors found at a Damascus atom research reactor is unconvincing and they will take more samples in a deepening probe, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
The report pointed out that the uranium samples did not fit Syria's earlier explanation for the particles -- that they came from reference materials or from a transport container. It said the type could also not be traced to Syria's declared inventory.
IAEA inspectors will visit the Damascus site on Tuesday to check Syria's latest explanation for the traces and the agency has asked for more information on Syria's yellow cake production and any other materials that could contain uranium particles.
The report said Syria was still refusing IAEA requests for return visits to the bombed Dair Alzour site and had not let the agency visit three military sites, whose appearance was altered by landscaping after the IAEA first asked to check them.
"Essentially, no progress has been made since the last report to clarify any of the outstanding issues," it said.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Exposing the double game of the Palestinian Authority

Everyone knows that the Palestinian authority was cheering Israel on during Operation Cast Lead, and everyone knows that the Palestinian authority has at the same time led the parade of those complaining of Israeli rights violations in Gaza. Only Avigdor Lieberman had the honesty to point (or foolhardiness?) out what everyone accepts as a fact. Never mind that Lieberman said it, and that many of us do not like Lieberman very much. Facts are facts. People who insist that the Palestinian Authority is "moderate" and that Mahmoud Abbas has "integrity" might want to have second thoughts.
Ami Isseroff
Lieberman: PA playing ugly 'double game' with Israel
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday accused the Palestinian Authority of playing an "ugly and double game," by seeking Israel's support in crushing Hamas while submitting simultaneous complaints to the international community.
"During Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian Authority pressured us to crush Hamas," Lieberman told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "Then, a month later, they submitted a complaint against us to the International Criminal Court in The Hague."
Even before the Goldstone Commission published its damning report about Israel's offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, said Lieberman, "there were a thousand complaints against Israel at the ICC, a large number of them encouraged by the PA.
Fatah, which runs the PA, was ousted by Hamas from Gaza in a bloody 2007 coup. Since then, the rival movements have been deeply divided and repeated attempts at reconciliation have failed.
With regard to the PA's suggestion that it would seek international support for a unilateral declaration of statehood, Lieberman said: "Any one-sided Palestinian move will be met with steps of our own."
"Whoever holds a unilateral policy with complete disregard for past accords," said Lieberman, "will get the same from us."
"Breach of accords will not go unanswered," he said.
According to Lieberman, Israel could not count on the Americans to veto any such Palestinian request to the UN Security Council.
"Nothing is certain when it comes to an American veto, but I think the Americans understand that these policies bury any chance of reaching peace, and I think that the U.S. would also find it uncomfortable to have to deal at the Security Council with recognition of a Palestinian state."
Lieberman also said he doubted the seriousness of Syrian President Bashar Assad's declared interest in renewing peace negotiations with Israel.
"[Assad] sends all sorts of signals," Lieberman told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, pointing specifically to Syria's continued relations with Iran, the support it gives to Hamas and to the Jihad movement in Damascus.
"Israel says very clearly: We are prepared to discuss peace without preconditions and without edicts," said the foreign minister. "The Syrians have been offered the chance to join the European Union as an observer, yet of course they rejected that - not because of Israel, but because of their other considerations."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are Palestinians ready for statehood?

Israeli preparation for the eventuality of a unilateral Palestinian statehood declaration consists of wishful thinking. If they declare statehood, Palestinians will use water from the West Bank aquifers that currently (and historically) provide water to Tel Aviv and the Israeli coast. Likewise they will get the UN to force Israel to stop taking water from the Sea of Galilee for the National Water Carrier. Judge Goldstone will write a report proving that it is a crime against humanity, based on the evidence of Palestinian experts.
Water usage will be the least of Israeli problems, since it could be impossible to prevent Palestinians from occupying all of East Jerusalem. Any Israeli armed defense mayl be considered a war crime by the UN.
Ami Isseroff
Nov. 15, 2009
While Palestinian officials continued to threaten Sunday to unilaterally declare independence, one senior Israeli defense official summed up the growing assessment in the defense establishment by saying, "Just let them try."
Behind the dare is a belief in the IDF and Defense Ministry that even though the past year has seen an unprecedented improvement in the performance of Palestinian security forces and civilian institutions - largely due to increased cooperation with Israel - the Palestinian Authority is still far from being able to hold it together on its own.
One official gave the water situation in the West Bank as an example. While Israel has recently come under growing international criticism for allegedly denying Palestinians adequate access to water, according to Israeli officials the situation would be far worse without Israeli assistance.
"The Palestinian Water Authority wouldn't last a day on its own," an IDF source said. "We allocated them a piece of land on the coast to build a desalination plant and they have decided not to build it."
Another example focuses on security cooperation, which has significantly increased over the past two years, since Hamas violently took control of the Gaza Strip. Next month, the fifth Palestinian battalion trained by US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton in Jordan will return to the West Bank for deployment. Another one will then depart for four months of training in Jordan.
Despite the deployment of these forces - which IDF officers openly admit are doing a good job cracking down on Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank - whenever PA President Mahmoud Abbas travels outside of Ramallah to another Palestinian city, the IDF, Shin Bet and Civil Administration are all involved to coordinate and ensure his safety.
"When Abbas travels it is like a military operation," one officer explained. "Everyone is involved since the PA forces cannot yet completely ensure his security."
The understanding in the defense establishment is that with all the hype surrounding the possibility that the Palestinians will unilaterally declare a state, it is more likely a ploy aimed at getting Israel to be serious about negotiations on the two-state solution. The idea is to get other countries to put pressure on Israel to start making real concessions - such as a freeze on settlement construction - so the talks can begin.
While this may be true, the corridors of the IDF's Central Command and Planning Division were buzzing with talk about the potential fallout, both diplomatically and militarily.
If the Palestinians declare statehood, then Israel will likely come under major international pressure to take action to show it recognizes the new state. The government will then go knocking on the IDF's door.
Ultimately though, Israeli moves will be dictated by political decisions. Israel cannot order the IDF to completely pull back from the West Bank while settlers still live there. It can, on the other hand, lift more roadblocks and even allow the Palestinians in the interim to "have" their new state in Area A parts of the West Bank which are already, for the most part, under Palestinian control.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Improving the Palestinian economy

The  Palestinian suspected of online phishing was no doubt trying to help the peace process by improving the Palestinian economy, but the evil and oppressive Zionist occupation thwarted hs efforts:
Police and the IDF arrested a 22-year old Palestinian Sunday on suspicion that he impersonated Bank Leumi and the Bank of Israel online in order to steal money from clients' accounts.
He is suspected of accessing the accounts with details he obtained from various clients through email.

The banks' clients received messages asking for their account numbers and passwords for "security reasons". A link was provided to websites which imitate those of Bank Leumi and the Bank of Israel.

Last week Bank Leumi issued a statement saying instances of online phishing were increasing, and that the crimes targeted clients of all banks.
"If a client receives an email such as this, there is a chance that it is an attempt at fraud or identity theft," the statement said, warning clients from clicking on the attached link to the fraudulent website.

The Palestinian is scheduled to be brought before a court for the remand of his arrest later Sunday.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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