Saturday, November 28, 2009
Mr. Chavez expresses his solidarity with the Palestinian people, based no doubt, on international legitimacy and the struggle against colonialist imperialism. A response to Mr. Chavez:
Hugo Chavez: Israel plans to 'terminate the Palestinian people'
By News Agencies
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday charged that Israel aims to "terminate the Palestinian people" and said he backs the establishment of Jerusalem as capital of an independent Palestinian state.
"We .. are on the side of the Palestinian people's memorable struggle ... against the genocidal state of Israel that knocks down, kills and aims to terminate the Palestinian people," Chavez told visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"We reiterate ... our greatest commitment and our greatest solidarity ... for the creation of an independent Palestinian state with the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital," he added during Abbas' first state visit to the country.
Chavez gave no details to support his charge that the Israel sought to eliminate the Palestinian population.
Socialist Chavez is a harsh critic of both Israel and the United States. In January, Venezuela cut diplomatic relations with Israel over the Israeli offensive in Gaza of nearly a year ago, which Chavez called a "Palestinian holocaust."
Abbas met on Friday night with Chavez, who has stepped squarely into Middle East politics this week by hosting both the Palestinian leader and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
During their meeting the Palestinian leader dismissed an Israeli plan to temporarily halt new construction of West Bank settlements as insufficient on Friday, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose occupation rather than peace.
The Palestinian president said that "we can't accept the current Israeli government's concept for the negotiations."
"We don't have any condition to restarting negotiations except the commitment of the two sides to the foundations of the peace operation according to the road map, and especially stopping the expansionist activities of the Israelis," Abbas told lawmakers, speaking through an interpreter.
He said Wednesday's announcement by Prime Minister Netanyahu of a 10-month halt to new construction in West Bank settlements "didn't bring anything new because the occupation is going to continue in the West Bank and in Jerusalem."
"The Israeli prime minister had to choose between peace and occupation." Abbas said. "Lamentably, he chose occupation."
Abbas thanked the Chavez government for its support and said: "We're all on the same path."
During their meeting at the palace, Chavez presented his guest with an olive branch and a gold-plated replica of a sword that once belonged to 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar - Venezuela's most revered founding father.
"We want peace," Chavez said, then hugged Abbas. "May this sword never need to be unsheathed."
Abbas earlier visited Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay to build support for efforts toward a Palestinian state.
Latin American leaders backed his calls for Israel to halt settlement
construction and also to guarantee that future borders are based on lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. Netanyahu says such matters must be resolved in negotiations.
During Wednesday's visit by Iran's Ahmadinejad, Chavez denounced Israel as a murderous arm of the Yankee empire.
Chavez has been strengthening ties with Israel's adversaries while trading verbal barbs with President Shimon Peres, who predicted last week in Argentina that the people of Venezuela and Iran will soon get rid of their leaders.
"They won't hold, not because any of us is going to kill them; their own people are getting tired of them," Peres said.
Chavez interpreted that as a threat. "The president of Israel comes here to South America, and he immediately opens fire against us and against me saying I'm going to disappear soon," Chavez told reporters Wednesday. "Well, let's see who disappears first."
Peres spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch has denied the Israeli president threatened anyone, saying "he meant Venezuelans and Iranians will replace their leaders by democratic means."
Abbas told Venezuela's National Assembly that the long history of Mideast
negotiations has shown in the past that Israel doesn't want peace. He compared the barrier of walls and fences separating Israel from Palestinian areas to the Berlin Wall.
"The Palestinian people, like the rest of the peoples of the world, want to live free, peacefully, independent," Abbas said. "When is the world going to hear us?"
Chavez has repeatedly condemned Israel as a genocidal government, though he has also assured Jews living in Venezuela he wants to maintain good relations with them.
A leading Jewish community group, that Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations, criticized the government's warm reception of Ahmadinejad this week.
An international Jewish rights group, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, demanded on Thursday that the Organization of American States investigate what it called Venezuela's role in promoting terrorism, condemning Chavez's praise of Carlos the Jackal - the imprisoned Venezuelan notorious for a series of Cold War-era bombings, assassinations and hostage dramas.
Chavez lauded Carlos - whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez - last week as a revolutionary fighter who aided the cause of the Palestinians.
Ramirez is serving a life sentence in a French prison for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and an alleged informant. He also has been linked to the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet en route to Uganda, as well as bombings in France.
Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's director of international
relations, called Chavez's remarks an abominable message condoning violence. "He prefers to put himself on the side of the murderers," Samuels said
Friday, November 27, 2009
83% of the Druze Community Joins the IDF
26 November 2009 , 14:15
On Wednesday (Nov. 25), the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, attended a reception at the home of Druze Sheikh Tarif Muefk for the Eid al-Adha holidays which began that day. "The Druze people are active in their enrollment in the IDF especially in combat units," remarked the Chief of the General Staff to the Sheikh's guests. "This shows the values and willingness to contribute to the State."
The percentage of Druze soldiers joining the IDF reached 83% vs. 72% of the Jewish population. This year, there was a particular increase of Druze serving in certain places such as military medicine: Six members of the Druze community were accepted to study medicine in an IDF program, and thus constitute 12% of the military doctors hired this year. "My vision for the IDF is to be an army that can fight and learn" added the Chief of the General Staff. "The IDF will continue to be a place that connects people from all communities, religions, immigrants, men and women."
Thousands of Druze soldiers currently serve in various IDF units, including the Pilots Training Course, the most elite course the IDF offers. So far members of the Druze community have been awarded 106 citations and awards for exemplary service.
Putting two and two together, if most American Jews consider that they are a religion and not a people, and more and more Jews define themselves as "secular" or "just Jews," it means that soon there will not be many Jews in the United States, since they would have neither peoplehood nor religion to bind them to Judaism.
So, for all those "liberal Jews" (what branch of Judaism is that?) who think or pretend to think that Jews are not a people, it is worthwhile considering the meaning of two Hebrew words that recur in the Bible, "Am Yisrael" - the people of Israel. When Moses said to Pharoah, "Shlach et ami..." - "Send my people" ("Let my people go") what people was he referring to, if not the Jews?
Extending the Birthright program as Daniel Gordis advocates is a good idea, but it is not a panacea. As he notes, Australian and French Jews have already come to Israel in large numbers - paying their own way - because they wanted to come! A limited number of American Jews are really candidates for the birthright trip. A larger number have not come not because they do not have the money, but because they have no interest in coming to Israel, and they have no interest in having an interest.
Nov. 26, 2009
DANIEL GORDIS , THE JERUSALEM POST
'It never even occurred to me that the Jews were a people." I had just finished speaking on Shabbat morning at a traditional shul on Long Island. The talk had been about the nation-state and its roots in the Book of Genesis. Along the way, I'd made some comments about the changing nature of American Jewish life today, and the much-reduced role that peoplehood now plays in American Jews' sense of self.
After services, someone told me that members of the liberal synagogue across the street had come to hear the talk. Ouch. I'd been rather direct about the dangers of liberal American Judaism's diminishing the role of peoplehood in Jewish life, and worried that I might have offended the visitors.
But it turns out that they were more intrigued than anything else.
One woman said that the idea that the Jews were a people had never occurred to her. Another person remarked that peoplehood was an interesting idea, but warned that if Jews are a people, "… you're going to cut 40% of my congregation out of the picture."
Almost without our noticing, American Jewish life is being dramatically redefined. Especially among the young and the liberal, American Judaism is being recreated in the model of American Protestantism.
Christianity is not about peoplehood. "The Christian People" is a meaningless phrase. Judaism, like Protestantism, has become a faith system, a purely personal - and highly individual - means of constructing meaning in our world.
Judaism as a faith system, of course, is nothing new. But from time immemorial, we have also seen ourselves as a people. From the moment that Pharaoh refers to the Jews as "the people, the Children of Israel" (Exodus 1:9), it is clear even to our enemies that Abraham's clan has morphed into a nation.
FOR MILLENNIA, rank-and-file Jews understood this. We cultivated bonds of mutual obligation, even when we profoundly disagreed, even when our faith wore thin. Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la-zeh, all Jews are responsible one for another, the tradition has long insisted.
And it actually worked. It was peoplehood that got American college students to wage a relentless battle to free Soviet Jews, with whom they had virtually nothing obvious in common.
It was due to peoplehood that IAF pilots flew converted cargo planes into an Ethiopian civil war in order to save people of a different race, a radically different faith system and virtually no shared history, bringing them to Israel in Operation Solomon.
And it is peoplehood that has continually led American Jews - despite their absolute disinterest in making aliya and their profound differences with Israel about conversion policy and the peace process - to support Israel both financially and politically.
This move away from peoplehood will continue as intermarriage becomes more common. Flourishing marriages, after all, are possible even when spouses disagree about important issues. And therefore, in the logic of young American Jews, there's nothing terribly illogical about my choosing to spend my life with someone who's not Jewish.
After all, on a host of issues, I have my opinions and she has hers. So, too, in religious life. I have my synagogue, she has her church. I have my holidays and she has hers. I believe my beliefs, and she has hers.
But peoplehood? If I'm a member of a people, then there's actually a yawning chasm between us. And since she has no interest in becoming Jewish, it's Judaism - and not she - that must change. Consciously or not, I sense that Judaism must be redefined - as a faith system, a personal odyssey, as "my Judaism," to use a problematic phrase now popular among American Jews.
As anything but a people.
YET WITHOUT peoplehood at the core of American Jewish life, devotion to Israel becomes a choice, not an instinct, as it used to be. Young American Jews look with horror at the suffering of Palestinians, and decide that this conflict is simply not theirs.
One of the founders of Fast for Gaza (www.fastforgaza.net) wrote recently that "unlike previous generations, [today's young American Jews] don't necessarily understand their Judaism in traditionally tribal terms anymore. … Rather, they are increasingly viewing their Jewishness against a larger, more universal global reality. In short, to be a Jew and a global citizen is what gives them 'goose bumps.'"
This writer himself admits - the new, personal, less "tribal" (i.e., less peoplehood-oriented) Judaism is more animated by global citizenship than by a sense of Jewish responsibility. (That's why they fast for Gazans, and not for Israelis under Gaza rocket fire or for Gilad Schalit, I assume.) From afar, it would seem that there is little that Israel and Israelis can do to influence this seismic shift.
But the dangers to Israel's security as a result of this change are obvious. Something must be done.
One idea for starters: Recent studies show that a quick trip on Birthright has lasting implications for Jewish identification, and dramatically lowers intermarriage rates, for example. It's because in Israel, Jews encounter peoplehood, with all its problems, but also with its triumphs.
It's time to take the Birthright concept and expand it. Two-thirds of Canadian Jews and 75 percent of Australian and French Jews have been to Israel, but about two-thirds of American Jews have never even visited. That has to change.
Even in this economy, there is more than enough American Jewish money to get the vast majority of American Jews to Israel, to witness first-hand the power of peoplehood and, perhaps, to transform the dangerous, emerging American Jewish sense that attachment to other Jews and their state is a relic of the past.
We know what's at stake. Those people who never even imagined that Jews are a people are the men and women who in a generation will be running the federations, many of America's synagogues and national organizations. They will be setting communal agendas and disbursing American Jews' money. Either they will argue our case on Capitol Hill, or no one will.
We would be fools to imagine that we do not need those American Jews at our side. But we'd be equally foolish to believe that they'll care one whit about us, unless we can restore peoplehood to the central value it used to be.
The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He is the author, most recently, of Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End (Wiley, 2009). He blogs at http://danielgordis.org.
This article can also be read at
The boycott movement in trade unions is the result of a systematic program of subversion, in which organizations created for a wholly different purpose were turned into platforms for spreading anti-Israel propaganda.
It was not spontaneous or accidental. It took a long time and a lot of work. The natural bent of the British working man is not necessarily to support the Islamic Jihad and the Hamas after all.
What happened to trade union officials who fought for pensions, vacations with pay - take your kids to the seashore sort of thing?
Talking Union Boycott Blues
If you wanna stick it to the Jews, let me tell you what to do;
The following statement was issued today by the Scottish Trades Union Congress — a strong proponent of the campaign to boycott Israel, including a sports boycott. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to use an event like this to promote peace — perhaps by waving the flags of both countries, or no flags at all?
STUC to ask Celtic fans to show Palestinian flags in solidarity with suffering Palestinians on December 2nd
Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Deputy General Secretary Dave Moxham said: "This December marks the one year anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in which 1400 men, women and children were killed in an act described by the United Nations as 'indicating serious violations of international human rights' and 'amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.'
"Israel also continues to flout international law through its illegal occupation, through increasing settlements and building its so-called security wall which separates Palestinians, family from family and community from community."
"When the Israel team Hapoel Tal Aviv visit Celtic Park on Wednesday night, millions around the world will be watching including those living in Israel and Palestine.
"I am today writing to Celtic FC and Hapoel Tel Aviv FC outlining the reasons and purpose of this call and making clear that we attach no blame either to Hapoel Tel Aviv players, nor their fans, for the outrageous actions of their government.
"We hope that Celtic fans will join with us in a demonstration of support for a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine based on a safe and secure Palestinian homeland living side by side with Israel."
Last update - 20:15 27/11/2009
Comment / Anti-Semitism in Europe: New prejudice fans flames of the oldest hatred
By Morten Berthelsen
Israeli soldiers harvest Palestinians' organs for profit, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reports in August, following up with an op-ed claiming Muslims are the greatest threat to society since the Second World War. The latest installment is an article on foetus diagnostics under the headline: "It is not wrong to want perfect human beings" ? in effect an excuse to discard "weak individuals" in order to breed the ideal. Ideas not a million miles away from the ones that rang across the Rhineland seven decades ago.
Aftonbladet, albeit a mere tabloid, perfectly illustrates the tide that has swept over all of Europe once again.
Take a look, for instance, at the political handling of the three articles mentioned. The article on cultivating perfect human beings fostered no response. Donald Boström's report on the IDF harvesting organs of Palestinian youth caused massive outrage in Israel but no official denouncement from the Swedish government. As it should be. Though the article is highly problematic, unreliable in its web of rumours, assumptions, myths, and whispers, scientifically ludicrous and the author's agenda seems crystal clear, the Swedish government was right in minding its own business.
And that is exactly the reason why the entire political spectrum's harsh condemnation of the op-ed by Sweden Democrat Jimmie Åkesson on the Muslim threat to Sweden, and therein Europe, is that more conspicious. Politicians should stick to their own affairs, and not interfere. Their indignation can partly be explained by the fact that the piece was an actual political statement ? a man with a mission to combat Islam. But in a rhetorical perspective the need to defend Muslims but not Jews is nonetheless remarkable.
The double standard should be obvious, but aren't. There is no comment on the fact that the op-ed's criticism of circumcision, a lack of New Testament and "ritual slaughter" also targets Jews. All party leaders condemned the piece. One government minister even claimed that Islamophobia has replaced anti-Semitism, as though the latter has ceased to exist.
Ancient demons reawoken
It is beyond any doubt that the scourge of Islamophobia intensifies and comes under extreme scrutiny as Muslim populations increase all over Europe. But even though it is blatantly obvious that anti-Semitism is very much alive and back with a vengeance, this ancient demon of Europe is being silently suffocated by the wave of anti-Islamism.
In an otherwise important piece by The Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the growing aversion towards everything Islam in Europe, she surrenders to the grave mistake of describing Islamophobia as "a yellow star [of David, a symbol of Nazi persecution of the Jews] ... of our time." This only weeks after she on Yom Kippur wrote a column characterising Israel as "fanatic and aggressive" as Iran, referring to the Goldstone Report as "the long, sober, unbiased UN report on the last assault on Gaza", and citing images from Operation Cast Lead.
Alibhai-Brown is dead right, though, in pointing out the hatred of "the enemy within", namely, the Muslims, based on the deeds of the "soldiers in Allah's mercenary army" - the radical Islamists. Here, the dimension of fear plays a key role. It has become commonly accepted to equate Islam with fanaticism and terrorism, an appaling misconception that will only result in marginalisation, stigmatisation, and an amplified impact in a self-fulfilling prophecy with increased radicalisation. Much in the same way that persistent jealousy in a relationship stimulates adultery. Keep calling me a cheater, and I will become one.
But while European Islamophobia mostly manifests itself in straight forward hatespeech, and should be slammed and fought as such, the anti-Semitism of today is far more sophisticated. It originated from the same extreme right that fuels anti-Islamism, but right-wing anti-Semitism has not evolved. Neo-Nazis spout the same gall, but are widely despised, if even heard, and as such cannot be considered dangerous.
In the words of Andrei S. Markovits, paraphrasing an American automobile commercial: "Right-wing anti-Semitism was your father's anti-Semitism. It is obsolete." It is the perilous language of the left that has gained a strong foothold across all of Europe. It's the left's disturbing discourse that echoes through the mainstream, swaying a susceptible audience.
The left hides conveniently behind the cloak of "new anti-Semitism," that, not being new at all, vilifies the State of Israel and not the Jewish people in a wider sense, thus maintaining the European self delusion of not being anti-Semitic. On top of that, it is comme il faut to define Israel as an occupational force because the land has been bestowed on the Jews, and the question about who actually holds the rights to it is so delicate and tangled that it is easiest to uphold that view. In their version of recent history, the Holy Land was taken from the Palestinians and given to the Jews, who accepted it. Like knowingly buying stolen goods. That the history goes much further back, and is in no way simple, seems to be of less interest. For instance, when Western European media report from the Middle Eastern witches' cauldron, timelines begin at 1948, not 1917, 1010, or 1047 BCE for that matter.
Reporting from a distorted truth
In common parlance, Israel is still demonized, Nazified; it is the harbinger of all evil, racism, colonialism, imperialism and ethnic genocide. This is evident through practically the entire European media, in news reports, op-eds, editorials, cartoons ? and the anti-Israel approach of the media is becoming far more distinct with the emergence of an Arabic media ocean of hostile messages dished up as journalism, religious spin, and children's TV shows.
Add to that selective reporting even from journalistic powerhouses, notably the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent, El País, El Mundo, Le Monde, and you will be excused for cursing the child-mutilating Jewish pariah. In Europe, you hear not of the daily threats of annihilation against the Jewish people, of Hamas test-firing Tel Aviv-bound rockets, of the seized Iranian ship carrying hundreds of tons of arms and missiles for Hezbollah. You will, however, read the same Gaza tunnel report over and over, and hear of settlers pillaging West Bank olive harvests, of Israel stealing water from the Palestinians, of a rabbi condoning murder of all "subhuman" gentiles, of Ahmadinejad's Jewish heritage. White phosphorus in Gaza? No doubt. Qassams in Sderot? Where?
Let it be clear that critical reports of settler violence, checkpoint harassment, and illegal annexation are based in truth, despicable, and roar through the Israeli media. But when European media wrestles with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is is more often than not reporting from a one-sided, distorted dimension of truth. The path from Christian childrens' blood for matzot to Palestinian childrens' organs for profit is a short one. What would´ve come to pass had the organ story starred a Muslim protagonist?
That scenario was witnessed only far too well after the 2006 Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, which resulted in protests and violence across the Muslim world, a commercial boycot of Denmark, the burning of Danish embassies, and left more than a hundred deaths in its wake.
Ssshh, the Holocaust is sleeping
That anti-Semitism is running rampant through Europe should come as no surprise. More than 50 percent of Germans equate Israel?s policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi treatment of the Jews. Sixty-eight percent of Germans say that Israel is waging a "war of extermination" against the Palestinian people. A European poll shows that the nearly 60 percent regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, more than Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. And in a more recent survey, stereotypes prosper as one in five Europeans continue to blame Jews for the death of Jesus.
Only there is no room for realising it, admitting it, and standing up to it. It is as if the monster of Holocaust may not be reawoken, and every reminder of the continued existence of anti-Semitism consequently hides in the shadows, chained there by denial. It is as if everything would shatter if the bogeyman was brought to life, named and allowed to breathe. Its comatose state is guaranteed by the cultural crisis and the war of values fought between Europe's Christian-traditional majority ("us") and its Muslim minority ("them"). Everything else is toned down. As if population size decides significance. At the same time Jews are a long-time exiled people that blends in and functions in all aspects of society. But they are present and have a long, tough history of managing in an eternal environment of spite. But in Israel they dominate the culture. Israelis demonstrate strength and exude power. Transformed from Shylock to Rambo, they break the unwritten European code of the underdog. And the Palestinians belong religiously to the majority-minority battle Europe keeps in focus.
Crosshairs on Israel
Anti-Semitism is to a great extent subhumed by Islamophobia as a consequence of being struck by a double-edged sword: The fear of reprisals from extreme Muslim factions ? and the fearful realisation that the fundamental European values are collapsing.
Aiming the resultant anger at Israel is the easy choice between two evils. The fear of "Muslim invasion and hostile takeover" on one hand is obvious in both political rhetoric and popular opinion, especially on national level all over Europe. But when the image of "Evil Israel" is simultaneously presented on the other hand, the impact of Islamophobia is mitigated and cushioned.
In turn, the significance of both hatreds is lost. By equating the two, you underestimate both. Amid this smelly fog floats the main differences in the European approach to the two religions. The swollen hate-language against Islam is the voice of fear. It is based on religious clashes and troublesome assimilation. The forked tongue of anti-Semitism speaks in politically correct riddles, with its foundations laid in 1948 just beneath the State of Israel. The former is the blunt weapon of the extreme right and is easily parried. The latter is a cascade of razor blades from both sides of the political sphere and thus harder to repel.
Also, the collective left of European media and public are hypersensitive towards Islam. They cave in to fear and shout foul at any hostile opinion delivered, such as with the Danish cartoons and the Swedish condemnation of the anti-Muslim op-ed in Aftonbladet. Editor-in-Chief Jan Helin justified in advance publication of the opinion piece, dissociating himself from the views presented. When the story on transplant organ theft by the IDF blew up, Helin hit back hard at Israel saying: "It's deeply unpleasant and sad to see such a strong propaganda machine using centuries-old anti-Semitic images in an apparent attempt to get an obviously topical issue off the table."
Call out the culprit
Biased reporting and fixation on Israeli crimes ? proven or not ? is paving the way for neo-Nazis, radical Islamists, right-wing and left-wing extremists to coalesce and form so-called anti-Zionist parties in Sweden and France. Boycott campaigns and anti-Semitic NGOs openly funded by EU member-states feed Islam's battle of rhetoric against the Jews, and it is high time the media realised the link between its inflammatory reporting on Israel and physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in the countries where the reports are published or broadcast.
And the violence has re-emerged ? this decade has seen a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes throughout Europe and exploded following the Gaza war of a year ago. The "typical" violent offender has apparently ceased to be the "extreme right skinhead' and is now the "disaffected young Muslim," evidenced by the fact that most cases occur in countries with a large Muslim population, such as Sweden and France, where Jews are often forced to hide their religious identity in public.
To whit, A Danish study published Friday exposes the magnitude of distrust and prejudice against Jews in Denmark. Up to 75 percent of Muslim immigrants from five different countries and approximately twenty percent of ethnic Danes possess anti-Jewish attitudes, the study shows. A figure immediately causing political uproar, with some politicians quoted as saying it is "highly disturbing" and "embarassing", calling for a plan of action to restore freedom of religion and other fundamental freedom rights. The UN commission is now being asked to recommend similar
investigations in other member states, to give the public an insight into the extent of anti-Semitism in Europe. Of Muslim immigrants questioned in the study, 31.9 percent say "there are too many Jews in Denmark." In fact, not even 6,000 Jews reside in Denmark, compared to some 200,000 Muslims.
In order to salvage free speech, taken hostage by nationalist preachers who call it theirs and make themselves its squires, the media of all Europe needs to develop some chutzpa and tear it from the hands of those who believe freedom of speech and of the Fourth Estate is the same as printing anything, anywhere. More worrisome is the immunity displayed throughout the European media towards the kind of callous stigmatisation seen in Aftonbladet ? no broadside, no foundations shaken. The ghost of 1930s Nazi rhetoric is one we can all see standing behind the curtain, but no one dares point a finger at it.
The Alavi founction, a "charity" foundation apparently controlled directly by the Iranian government has evidently been bribing U.S. universities. What is truly remarkable is that this story got little publicity in most US media - though it did merit a little article in the New York Times. Columbia, which got a $100,000 "donation" prior to the appearance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, insisted that it had no knowledge whatever that the foundation had anything to do with the Iranian government. In total Columbia University got over $300,000 from the generous foundation. It seems that Columbia officials do not read the news very thoroughly. In December of 2008, the Federal bureau of investigation announced the arrest of the president of the Alavi foundation for obstruction of justice. He had refused to turn over papers that would indicate whether or not the assets of the foundation were controlled by the Iranian Republic. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a Columbia professor to figure out that something might be fishy about this foundation.
Is this the explanation for the tenure granted to rabid anti-Zionist professors Joseph Massad and Barnard anthropology Professor Nadia el Haj, whose speciatizes in debunking the "myth" that Jews inhabited the land of Israel in ancient times?
Aren't universities who accept such gifts perverting and misusing academic freedom to promote the political agenda of a foreign power?
Report: Columbia and Rutgers funded by Iran-controlled group
By Haaretz Service
An Islamic charity alleged to be a front for the Iranian regime has been funding anti-Israel and pro-Iran professors at Columbia and Rutgers Universities, the New York Post reported on Monday.
The Manhattan-based Alavi Foundation, which promotes Islamic charity and Persian education, has been accused by the American government of funneling money to U.S. schools supported by Iran and to a ring of Iranian spies in Europe, says The Post.
According to the report, the foundation has also given thousands of dollars to Columbia and Rutgers to fund its Middle Eastern and Persian studies programs.
"We found evidence that the government of Iran really controlled everything about the foundation," Adam Kaufmann, investigations chief at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, told The Post.
The Post reported that the Alavi Foundation gave Columbia $100,000 in 2007, after the university agreed to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Columbia University spokesman Robert Hornsby told The Post that the money it received ahead of Ahmadinejad's visit was the largest single gift it had received from the foundation. He also told The Post that the university had been unaware that the charity was directly linked to the Iranian government.
In addition, says the report, the foundation gave $351,600 to Rutgers from 2005-2007 to fund its Persian Studies Program. That allegation was corroborated by a spokesman for the university, but no other comment was offered on the matter.
U.S. agents have begun confiscating as much as $650 million in assets from the foundation, according to the report
This is a bad time for a major nuclear crisis, as Americans are busy with Thanksgiving weekend.
Diplomats: Iran Censured at UN Nuclear Meeting
Diplomats: UN watchdog votes to censure Iran's nuclear defiance, urges a stop to enrichment
By GEORGE JAHN
The Associated Press
The U.N. nuclear agency's board censured Iran on Friday, with 25 nations backing a resolution that demands Tehran immediately mothball its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop uranium enrichment.
Iran remained defiant, with its chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency declaring that his country would resist "pressure, resolutions, sanction(s) and threat of military attack."
The resolution — and the resulting vote of the IAEA's 35-nation decision-making board — were significant on several counts.
The resolution was endorsed by six world powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — reflecting a rare measure of unity on Iran. Moscow and Beijing have acted as a traditional drag on efforts to punish Iran for its nuclear defiance, either preventing new Security Council sanctions or watering down their potency.
They did not formally endorse the last IAEA resolution in 2006, which referred Iran to the Security Council, starting the process that has resulted in three sets of sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Their backing for the document at the Vienna meeting thus reflected broad international disenchantment with Tehran.
It also appeared to signal possible support for any new Western push for a fourth set of U.N sanctions, should Tehran continue shunning international overtures meant to reach agreements that reduce concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
Strong backing for the resolution at the meeting was also notable. Only three nations — Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia — voted against the document, with five abstentions and one member absent.
That meant even most nonaligned IAEA board members abandoned Tehran, despite their traditional backing of the Islamic Republic.
The diplomats who reported the vote spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Iran argues that attacks on its nuclear program are an assault on the rights of developing nations to create their own peaceful nuclear energy network. The United States and other nations believe Iran's nuclear program has the goal of creating nuclear weapons.
The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
It also censured Iran for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction. It noted that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei cannot confirm that Tehran's nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed "serious concern" that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means "the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" cannot be excluded.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, shrugged off the vote.
"Neither resolutions of the board of governors nor those of the United Nations Security Council ... neither sanctions nor the treat of military attacks, can interrupt peaceful nuclear activities in Iran, even a second," he told the closed meeting, in remarks made available to reporters.
Too bad this article appears only in Israel National News and not, for example, in Haaretz.
Dutch anti-Semitism in Jerusalem
by Yochanan Visser
The incident described below will be discussed in the Dutch Parliament Nov. 30th after being hushed up by the state funded news show. The Dutch-Israeli monitor group Israel Facts reported the truth.
The Dutch-Israeli monitor group Israel Facts (IF) which I represent published a report about the way the Dutch government funded news show NOS Journaal hushed up a Dutch anti-Semitic incident in the old city of Jerusalem on October 31. This report, sent to the Dutch government, caused the Christian Union party to decide to discuss the issue at the upcoming debate about the media budget in the Dutch parliament on November 30.
In another related development, the Daily Standard, a Dutch operated news site, exposed the funding of anti-Israel groups by EU tax money via charities like Cordaid and Oxfam.
The anti-Semitic incident took place at a festival organized by a Dutch group for the Moslem holidays, which are taking place now. It was sponsored by the European Union via the Dutch charity Cordaid. NOS Journaal featured this festival in its prime time news
Dutch artistic director Merlijn Twaalfhoven accused Israel of turning Jerusalem into a purely Jewish town.
On the show, reporter Sander Van Hoorn blasted Israel for curtailing Arab culture in Jerusalem and interviewed Dutch artistic director Merlijn Twaalfhoven, who accused Israel of turning Jerusalem into a purely Jewish town. He said that the festival's aim was "to show the beauty of all those cultures which have been living together in Jerusalem for hundreds of years". Twaalfhoven reported that there is tension in Jerusalem and that an arrest the day before the festival prevented him from "drinking tea with Israelis". Van Hoorn added "No Jewish visitors are allowed at the festival of Twaalfhoven".
Journalist Gil Zohar was one of those unwanted Jewish visitors. He recounted how festival director Jamal Goseh asked him where he lives and when he replied that he was a Jerusalem resident, Twaalfhoven told him and other Israeli peace activists that they were not welcome. Zohar told Twaalfhoven that he was a journalist and had an invitation, but to no avail. This occurred in the presence of the foreign press.
The next day Zohar met with Twaalfhoven to give him a chance to explain the incident. In an apparent attempt to excuse himself, he told Zohar that months before the festival, the Dutch team had to promise the local Arab people that Jews could not attend.
Officially acceding to this demand would have meant losing the subsidies from the EU via Cordaid and the Anna Lindh Foundation, so it was decided to tell Israelis that the "multicultural" festival was fully booked.
Zohar published an article in the Jerusalem Post about his experience with Dutch anti-Semitism in Jerusalem. IF wrote the NOS editorial news staff pointing out that they did not mention it in their coverage.
NOS Journaal was asked to comment on the incident and to explain how it could be that Jews were banned from the festival, but has not responded to date.
An earlier Israel Facts report this year exposed the NOS Journaal as a news show which is extremely biased against Israel. It proved that NOS violated its own journalistic code by not giving Israeli spokesmen the right of reply. The report stated that NOS was omitting facts and manipulating video footage to portray Israel in the most negative light. This has lead to questions in Dutch parliament and to a proposal for an overhaul in the state funded media by Remkes, a member of parliament for Dutch Liberal party VVD.
NOS Journaal was caught red handed when it tried to hush up one of the most serious anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Israel in recent years, an incident instigated by Dutch foreigners in the presence of the foreign press. By hushing up the incident, NOS crossed a red line, and recommends that the Dutch government implement the budget overhaul
One article denied the existence of the Jewish people.
advocated by the VVD. Measures should be taken which will assure that the Dutch public will be informed about Israel in a responsible and professional way once again.
In the Netherlands the number of anti-Semitic incidents connected to events in Israel rose sharply this year. Israel Facts feels the reason may be the biased way events in Israel are reported by main stream media in the Netherlands. The visit of Israeli foreign minister Lieberman lead to a sharp increase in biased anti-Israeli articles in the main Dutch newspapers. One article denied the existence of the Jewish people. Even worse, most newspapers refuse to publish op-ed articles in which claims like these are countered.
I'll bet you didn't think they would be stupid enough to do this, right? They are a rational regime, right? They would not actually hang out a sign that says "We are evil," would they?
But they really did....
Smart regimes don't come out against peace, kindness and decency, even if they are against peace, kindness and decency. But the Iranians did it. They confiscated the Nobel peace prize medal of Shirin Ebadi. Perhaps they will melt down the medal, sell the gold, and give the money to the IRGC or the Ayatollahs.
That's the sort of regime this is.
Iran confiscates rights lawyer's Nobel Peace medal
By The Associated Press
Iranian authorities have confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's medal, the human rights lawyer said, in a sign of the increasingly drastic steps Tehran is taking against any dissent.
In Norway, where the peace prize is awarded, the government said Thursday the confiscation of the gold medal was a shocking first in the history of the 108-year-old prize.
Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts in promoting democracy. She has long faced harassment from Iranian authorities for her activities - including threats against her relatives and a raid on her office last year in which files were confiscated.
The seizure of her prize is an expression of the Iranian government's harsh approach to anyone it considers an opponent - particularly since the massive street protests triggered by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 re-election.
Acting on orders from Tehran's Revolutionary Court, authorities took the peace prize medal about three weeks ago from a safe-deposit box in Iran, Ebadi said in a phone interview from London. They also seized her Legion of Honor and a ring awarded to her by a German association of journalists, she said.
Authorities froze her bank accounts, as well as her husband's, and demanded $410,000 in taxes that they claimed were owed on the $1.3 million she was awarded. Ebadi said, however, that such prizes are exempt from tax under Iranian law. She said the government also appears intent on trying to confiscate her home.
Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to be awarded the peace prize and the first female judge in Iran, said she would not be intimidated and that her absence from the country since June did not mean she felt exiled.
"Nobody is able to send me to exile from my home country," she said Thursday. "I have received many threatening messages. ... They said they would detain me if I returned, or that they would make the environment unsafe for me wherever I am."
But my activities are legal and nobody can ban me from my legal activities.
Ebadi has criticized the Iranian government's crackdown on demonstrations by those claiming the June vote was stolen from a pro-reform candidate through massive fraud.
Ebadi left the country a day before the vote to attend a conference in Spain and has not returned since. In the days after the vote, she urged the international community to reject the outcome and called for a new election monitored by the United Nations.
During the past months, hundreds of pro-reform activists have been arrested, and a mass trial has sentenced dozens to prison terms. Authorities also went after Ebadi's human rights center in Iran.
"After the election all my colleagues in the center were either detained or banned from traveling abroad," Ebadi said.
Calls to Iranian judiciary officials were not returned Thursday.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the move shocking and said it was the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry summoned Iran's charge d'affaires in Norway on Wednesday to protest the confiscation, spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund said.
The Foreign Ministry also expressed grave concern about Ebadi's husband, who it said was arrested in Tehran and severely beaten earlier this fall, after which his pension and bank account were frozen.
Ebadi said her husband, Javad Tavassolian, and her brother and sister have been threatened many times by authorities pushing them to persuade her to end her human rights campaigning.
Ebadi has represented opponents of Iran's regime before but not in the mass trial that started in August of more than 100 prominent pro-reform figures and activists. They are accused of plotting to overthrow the cleric-led regime during the post-election turmoil.
The Iranian Embassy in Norway refrained from giving a comment.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee's permanent secretary, Geir Lundestad, said the move was unheard of and unacceptable. He told The Associated Press that the committee was planning to send a letter of protest to Iranian authorities before the end of the week.
Ebadi said she planned to return to Iran when the time is right.
"I will return whenever it is useful for my country," she said. "Right now I am busy with my activities against violations of human rights in Iran and my international jobs."
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Mohamed ElBaradei cannot be suspected of "Islamophobia," neoconism or Zionist tendencies. Even he has finally been convinced of the awful truth: Iran is not interested in dialogue. Iran is certainly intent on building the capability to produce nuclear weapons and is probably actually engaged in building them. If it is bluffing, as Saddam Hussein was, it is certainly an elaborate and almost perfect bluff. Perhaps nobody will believe it is real until the first mushroom cloud appears - not in Tel Aviv surely, but most likely in some European capital, or until Iran has closed the straits of Hormuz backed by the threat of nuclear retaliation against anyone who tries to open them. .
The United States and the world are fast approaching a most unpleasant decision point. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is right, then the United States and its fickle allies will back down. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is wrong, he will go to meet Saddam Hussein and others who thought the United States is a paper tiger.
IAEA Chief: Iran Investigation at 'Dead End'
IAEA chief: Iran nuclear investigation at 'dead end'; let down by Tehran on enrichment deal
By GEORGE JAHN
The Associated Press
The outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday his probe of Iran's nuclear program is at "a dead end" and that trust in Tehran's credibility is shrinking after its belated revelation that it was secretly building a nuclear facility.
Mohamed ElBaradei's blunt criticism of the Islamic Republic — four days before he leaves office — was notable in representing a broad convergence with Washington's opinion, which for years was critical of the IAEA chief for what it perceived as his softness on Iran.
Iran also came in for censure from another quarter at the opening session of the IAEA's 35-nation board, with the introduction of a resolution taking Tehran to task on a broad range of issues linked to international concerns that it may be seeking to make nuclear weapons. Significantly, diplomats at the meeting said the resolution was endorsed not only by Western powers — the U.S., Britain, France and Germany — but also by Russia and China.
For strategic and economic reasons, Moscow and Beijing have sided with Tehran in the past. They have prevented several Western attempts to slap new U.N. sanctions on Iran for its nuclear defiance or succeeded in watering down their severity.
They did not formally endorse the last IAEA resolution critical of Iran in 2006. Their backing for the document at the Vienna meeting Thursday thus reflected broad international disenchantment with Tehran.
It also appeared to signal possible support for any new Western push for a fourth set of Security Council sanctions, should Tehran continue shunning international overtures meant to reach agreements that reduce concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
In Tehran, state TV quoted Iran's envoy to the U.N. agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying, "The Western countries should not spoil the positive atmosphere. They should allow cooperation between Iran and the agency to continue its positive trend."
The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
It also censured it for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction, noted that ElBaradei cannot confirm that Tehran's nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed "serious concern" that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means "the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" cannot be excluded.
Western diplomats said they expected about two-thirds of the board to support the resolution in a vote, likely Friday.
While the board cannot enforce any of its resolutions, they do get referred to the Security Council, giving any later move to impose new U.N. sanctions on Iran additional weight.
In his comments, ElBaradei touched on the same criticisms expressed in the resolution.
"There has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," he told the board session. "We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us."
"Issues of concern" is the IAEA term for indications that Tehran has experimented with nuclear weapons programs, including missile-delivery systems and tests of explosives that could serve as nuclear-bomb detonators.
ElBaradei has emphasized the need for talks instead of threats in engaging Iran. He has criticized the U.S. for invading Iraq on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program, which has never been proven. That — and perceived softness on the Iran issue — has drawn criticism from the U.S. and its allies that he was overstepping his mandate.
But ElBaradei's comments Thursday left little doubt that he was most unhappy with Tehran.
"I am disappointed that Iran has not so far agreed" to a proposal involving removal of most of Iran's enriched stockpile, ElBaradei told the meeting.
The plan approved by the six world powers negotiating with Iran over the past few months would commit Tehran to ship out 70 percent of its enriched uranium for processing into fuel rods for its research reactor in Tehran. That would help allay international fears by removing most of the material that Iran could use to make a nuclear weapon.
It would take more than a year for Tehran to replace the enriched material, meaning it would not be able to make a weapon for at least that long.
Iran says it is enriching only to power a future network of nuclear reactors. But enrichment can also produce fissile warhead material. Iran continues enriching, despite three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to make it freeze that activity and has built an enriched stockpile that could arm two nuclear warheads.
Initially, Tehran appeared to favor the plan. But in recent weeks it has offered modifications that have one thing in common — its refusal to ship out most of its enriched stockpile. That effectively kills the plan, with the West refusing to accept anything else than an Iranian commitment to export the material.
In another reflection of a tougher Russian line, Moscow on Thursday urged Tehran to accept the uranium proposal and abide by other agreements reached at a meeting with six world powers last month. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Iran's ambassador to Moscow that such cooperation would "significantly move forward the process of restoring the international community's trust in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program," the ministry said.
Impatience with Iran has been fueled by Tehran's September revelation that it had secretly been building a new enrichment facility. In a possible pre-emptive move, Iran notified the IAEA in a confidential letter only days before the leaders of the U.S., Britain and France went public with the project.
Iran says it did not violate IAEA statutes by waiting with its notification. But ElBaradei has said Tehran was "outside the law" in not telling his agency about the facility much earlier. On Thursday, he said that Iran's late reporting on the facility reduced "confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction in Iran which have not been declared to the agency."
Ruediger Luedeking, Germany's chief IAEA representative, called the questions about the facility "a major issue which again gives rise to serious questions and concerns regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program."
A perusal of IAEA records shows that Tehran's chief envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the agency's board last year that his country "has repeatedly declared that there is no undeclared nuclear material and activity in Iran" — at the time when construction of the secret nuclear facility was in full force.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Lebanon Is Still an Occupied Country
This is the story of three year old Moshe, whose parents were murdered by Islamist terrorists in the Mumbai attack one year ago. Please try to keep this heart wrenching story in mind, when attempting to fathom the cynicism and depravity of those who blame the attacks on the "Mossad" and those who published their evil drivel.
Orphaned Toddler Doing Well a Year After Mumbai Attack
A Year After Parents' Murder by Gunmen, 3-Year-Old Mumbai Orphan Is Doing Well
By SIMON MCGREGOR-WOOD and JORDANA MILLER
JERUSALEM, Nov. 26, 2009 —
Little Moshe's mother and father, Rabbi Rivka and Gabriel Holtzberg, were killed moments after the gunmen entered Chabad House, the Mumbai Jewish community center they ran.
His Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, found Moshe sitting on the floor beside their blood-stained bodies and, with great presence of mind, whisked him to safety.
Images of the traumatized little boy emerging from the besieged building were soon beamed around the world. His cries for his dead parents days later at a memorial ceremony later broke hearts.
Now, a year after the four-day attacks that began Nov. 26, Moshe and nanny Samuel are still living together in the Israeli town of Afula, in the home of his maternal grandparents, Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg.
Moshe, 3, is doing well, his uncle, Shmulik Rosenberg, told ABC News this week.
"He started kindergarten in September and is doing well," he said. "He's a very happy child but he still asks about his parents a lot. We tell him they are in heaven."
Samuel, an Indian Catholic, is slowly adapting to life in Israel but plans a vacation to her beloved Mumbai in December. She misses the Indian city's energy and scale, she said. The bond between her and Moshe, who recently celebrated his birthday, is strong and she is committed to staying by the child's side for as long as she is needed, Samuel said.
Meanwhile, Moshe has settled into a touching daily routine.
"Every day, when Moshe wakes up, he looks at a picture of his parents and says good morning," uncle Rosenberg said. "And before he leaves the house, he says goodbye to them in the same way."
Although Moshe is beginning to lead a normal life, his uncle said, memories of that fateful day still haunt him.
"He remembers some of what happened even though he doesn't understand," Rosenberg said of the shooting and bombing attacks that killed at least 173 people. "For example, he'll say, 'Why did they [his parents] fall on the ground? Why did they look so sad? And why didn't they answer me when I called out to them."
Who started the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS, not to be confused with BLT, LBJ, MSM or WMD) movement? Was it the Palestinians? The leftists? Nonsense says Cecile Surasky of the Jewish Voice for Peace. It is the Zionists who are at fault for starting the BDS movement. Surasky has exposed the Elders of Zion, tails, horns and all. He said "You, Jewish leaders, have left us no choice. You started the BDS movement. Only you can stop it." Blue Truth has this and other stories about the outrageous fibs of anti-Zionist activists.
Surasky, remember who used the same sort of logic? Blaming the Jews for something he started? That's right, you know who.
Bongani Masuku (International Secretary) and George Mahlangu (Campaigns Coordinator) from the South African national trade union centre, COSATU, are due to speak in Manchester on 7 December at an event titled "The case for sanctions and boycott". The event will be chaired by Tom Hickey, a member of the National Executive Committee of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU). Full details are on the Engage website. (It is well worth reading the comments there for details about Masuku's notorious anti-Jewish rants.)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Last update - 17:01 25/11/2009
Barghouti: Shalit abduction achieved what no dialogue could
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service
Fatah strongman, expected to win Palestinian election if freed in Shalit deal, declares intention to run.
Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti said in an interview on Wednesday that he intends to run in the next Palestinian presidential election, and remarked that the abduction of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit by Gaza militants achieved what no negotiations could ever achieve.
Shalit was kidnapped in a cross border raid in 2006, and has been held prisoner by Hamas for over three years. Recent reports suggest that Israel and Hamas are closer than ever to reaching an agreement on a deal that would see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Shalit's freedom. It is unclear whether Barghouti will be among those prisoners, as he is currently serving five consecutive life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role in murderous terror attacks.
"Maybe Israel will finally understand that Hamas' demands cannot be ignored," Barghouti told the Milan-based Corriere Della Sera, adding that the main issue topping his agenda currently is achieving unity between rival Palestinian factions.
"Following a [unity] deal, I will be ready to submit my candidacy" for Palestinian president, he said.
Remarking on the Shalit prisoner exchange, Barghouti said "this time it is really happening, and some of the prisoners will finally be free." He added that the capture of an Israeli soldier was directly responsible for progress that no dialogue has been able to achieve - the release of prisoners. "It appears that Israel had no choice but to yield to Hamas' list of prisoners, of which I am one," Barghouti told the newspaper, via his attorney.
If Barghouti is released in a prisoner exchange, it could have far-reaching strategic implications on internal Palestinian balance of power, and attempts to strike a peace deal with Israel.
Fatah officials say that Barghouti's release could expedite the resignation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, paving the way for Barghouti to assume the post.
Palestinian opinion polls show that Barghouti is extremely popular among the Palestinian public. Though Hamas is likely to gain popularity if it is able to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, no single Hamas figure seems likely to defeat Barghouti in Palestinian elections.
It is safe to assume that many within Barghouti's Fatah faction would be happy to see Barghouti stay under lock and key; many of them took part in the efforts to block his allies from gaining seats in the last party primary. But Barghouti opponents understand that it is important for Fatah to present a candidate capable of defeating Hamas, especially if the Shalit deal goes through.
Barghouti, who maintains exceptionally close relations with the Hamas leadership, has been trying to promote Palestinian unity for quite some time. In an interview from his prison cell last week, Barghouti voiced support for the idea of Palestinian "resistance" alongside peace negotiations with Israel.
Among Palestinians, the term "resistance" is an umbrella name for anything from terror attacks, which Barghouti has supported in the past, to non-violent demonstrations. In any event, it is clear that Barghouti has adopted a more hawkish line than Abbas.
Officials from the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoner Affairs convened in Jericho on Tuesday against the backdrop of a framed photograph of Barghouti hugging fellow prisoners from a range of Palestinian factions, among them Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Secretary General Sadat and two senior Hamas officials. That is Barghouti's way - putting Palestinian unity above peace talks considerations. This stance has proven popular with the Palestinian public and has bolstered Barghouti's position as the prominent leadership candidate.
Barghouti's wife, who attended the meeting, was even welcomed as "the next president's wife."
"I hope to see him soon," she said, somewhat evasively. Those who have met with him recently say that Barghouti has accepted the challenge and is preparing himself for the political activity that will inevitably follow his release, should it come to pass.
Those concerned that peace will break out unexpectedly needn't worry, the Palestinians have already rejected the move.
Netanyahu declares 10-month settlement freeze 'to restart peace talks'
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday evening that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, saying the move was a bid to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.
"I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," Netanyahu said at a special press conference he held shortly after the security cabinet approved the moratorium.
He added: "We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond."
Settlement building has been a key sticking point in U.S. efforts to restart Middle East peace talks; the Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a complete halt to construction.
During the press conference, Netanyahu said the "far-reaching and painful" move would not be implemented in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which is viewed by Israel as a separate issue to be discussed in a final status agreement with the Palestinians.
"We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital," the premier said.
The freeze applies only to new construction, meaning housing already underway will continue. Also, Netanyahu said, only new homes are included.
"We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life in the settlements," he said.
Netanyahu concluded with an appeal to the Palestinians to enter into a new round of peace talks.
"Now is the time to begin negotiations, now is the time to move forward towards peace," he said. "Israel today has taken a far-reaching step toward peace, it is time for the Palestinians to do the same."
He added: "Israel's government has made an important step toward peace today, let us make peace together."
Netanyahu: Settlement freeze will prove Israel really wants peace
At the cabinet vote, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) was the only minister to oppose the move.
Shortly before the cabinet session, Netanyahu said the freeze would prove that Israel genuinely seeks to reach peace with the Palestinians.
"In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will advance Israel's broad international interests. This is not a simple step, nor an easy one; but it has many more advantages than disadvantages," Netanyahu told his aides.
He added: "It will enable us to show the world this simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps to enter into negotiations and is very serious in its intention to advance peace."
At least one key Security Cabinet member, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, came out in favor of the proposal. "Its aim is to open a window for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians," he said.
"I hope that the Yesha [council of settlements] leadership, which is patriotic, responsible and serious, will understand the need for the decision at this time," Barak added.
"The understandings with the United States are of the utmost importance with regard to negotiations, and guarantees of security and its military supremacy."
An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday said Netanyahu would seek approval for the moratorium from his cabinet in order to boost peace prospects.
"As part of our efforts to give impetus to peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and promote Israel's comprehensive national interests, the prime minister will ask the security cabinet to approve a temporary suspension on construction permits for new residences and the [actual] start of new residential construction for a period of ten months," the statement said.
The move is not unexpected; Netanyahu announced several days ago that he intended to declare a settlement freeze for 10 months. Israel began building in the West Bank in 1967, following the capture of the territory from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Today, more than a quarter of million Israelis live in West Bank settlements.
The freeze will also not apply to construction that has already been authorized or to work on public buildings conducive to normal life in the territories.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters Wednesday that a settlement freeze was unacceptable without halt in construction in Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a state.
"What has changed to make something that what was not acceptable a week or 10 days ago [acceptable now]?," he told reporters. "The exclusion of Jerusalem is a very serious problem for us."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It seems the enemies of Islam are preparing a terrible assault on the religion of Muhammad:
Egyptian Cleric Dr. Mahmoud Khiyami Hasan Explains the Logic Underlying Polygamy
Following is are excerpts from a debate on polygamy, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on March 3, 2009.
TV host: Dear viewers, we mentioned on previous shows that the enemies of Islam are planning one abominable and vile conspiracy after the other, in order to finish off the Muslim woman and turn her into a liberated Western woman. Listen to what they ask of women. Listen to what they have in store for the Muslim woman. They demand that the Muslim woman rebel against her role as mother and wife, as well as against her religion, which oppresses her, by granting her husband guardianship [over her].
In addition, they demand that married women be allowed to travel without the permission of their husbands and that a husband who forces his wife to have sex with him be punished, because this, in their view, constitutes rape. They demand the establishment of shelters to protect raped women from their families until they give birth. Then the children would be left to the care of the people in the shelters.
Egyptian cleric Dr. Mahmoud Khiyami Hasan: If a man has been married to a woman for a long time, but this woman does not give birth, and he wants to have a son, but he also wants to keep her – is it better that he keeps her, and that she remains protected in a respected marriage, or is it better for him to divorce her?
TV host: It's better for her to be protected.
Dr. Mahmoud Khyiami Hasan: Right. So he marries another woman in order to have an opportunity to have children, just like in the case of Sarah and Abraham.
Sometimes, a wife might suffer from a disease, preventing her from satisfying her husband's desires.
There are cases when there are many women and not enough men.
TV host: What do you mean?
Mahmoud Khiyami Hasan: There might be wars. In World War I, the killing of men in Germany got to the point that there was one man to every four or six women. There were demonstrations in Germany following World War I, demanding to instate polygamy.
Interviewer: My God!
Mahmoud Khiyami Hasan: Even the enemies of Islam demanded to instate polygamy, due to the shortage of men following the war. Sometimes, a man has the necessary money, and a single wife does not fulfill his sexual needs. In order to avoid committing sins... Why shouldn't he marry a second, a third, or a fourth wife? He has both the financial means and the physical capability. It is better than turning to the prohibited.
Close The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization providing translations of the Middle East media and original analysis and research on developments in the region. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.
MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.
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