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Friday, December 4, 2009

Iran students prepare for Monday protests under government repression

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/iran-students-prepare-for-monday.html

Last update - 23:12 04/12/2009       
Iran cracks down on dissent in universities
By The Associated Press
 
As they gear up for a major anti-government protest Monday, Iranian students are besieged by a clampdown in the universities, with a wave of arrests and expulsions. At the same time, authorities are intensifying enforcement of Islamic morals on women's dress and men's hair length as a way to punish political dissent.
 
They say authorities have cracked down at campuses nationwide to prevent the demonstrations from becoming widespread and that students recruited by the pro-government Basij militiamen are on the watch, informing on classmates suspected of being pro-opposition troublemakers.
 
On Thursday police warned of a tough response, especially if demonstrators try to move outside campuses into the streets. "Any gathering or ceremony outside the designated places will be considered illegal and police will take necessary steps," a statement said.
 
 
In telephone interviews from Beirut with more than a half-dozen students in Tehran, the crackdown was described as part of a government campaign to control not only security but ideas at universities, strongholds of the reform movement that took to the streets after the disputed presidential election in June.
 
Some courses seen as too Western-based have been replaced with more Islamic ones, students say. Since classes began in October at Tehran's prestigious Sharif University of Technology, members of herasat, a feared force of guards and morals police in universities, have been stopping women at campus gates for wearing clothes that are too colorful or not all-covering enough.
 
A herasat official uses a cell phone to photograph male students with long hair or those wearing colorful T-shirts, said Kouhyar Goudarzi. "If a student complains, he grabs his student card and says 'when you look like a human being, you will get your card back,'" he said.
 
"Student dissatisfaction has reached a point where it's about to explode," he said.
 
Goudarzi, a 23-year-old aerospace student, said he was expelled because he spoke to the BBC's Persian TV service about a campus demonstration in October.
 
Six months later, the fire is still burning, said Atieh Vahidmanesh, a 24-year-old economics post-grad at Sharif University. "We are under aggressive surveillance."
 
Pro-government students recruited by the Basij militia are on the watch, turning in classmates whose loyalties are suspect.
 
It's difficult to judge how big Monday's protests will be, whether they will be confined to campuses or spill into city streets and squares. While calling for thousands to turn out at campuses, leaders acknowledge the crackdown may reduce the numbers.
 
"Our sympathizers who are not active themselves are afraid to come to the protest," said one student leader at Tehran's Allameh Tabatabei University who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of persecution.
 
"We are not calling on others to participate because we don't want to pay a high price," he said by telephone from Tehran.
 
Some on campus dismiss such talk. "The media are used to exaggerating issues," said Mahdi Eslami, a pro-government student. "I don't feel there's been any change in the atmosphere of universities."
 
Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a political science professor at Tehran's Allameh Tabatabaei, a leading humanities university, said it's not a police atmosphere at the university. Students are controlled, but not openly.
 
"For example, new students are put in separate dorms to shield them from older, more politicized students," he said.
 
Iranian universities have historically played a leading role in times of turmoil.
 
Students were a powerful force in the 1979 revolution that overthrew the pro-U.S. shah but later became a bastion of dissent against clerical domination.
 
Dec. 7 is a traditional day for rallies commemorating the killing of three students during a 1953 anti-U.S. protest. Since the late 1990s they have served as pro-reform protests, often bringing clashes with security forces.
 
The June vote sparked demonstrations by hundreds of thousands claiming President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election was fraudulent. Security forces crushed those marches, and the opposition has had little success in reviving them.
 
But students have kept their movement alive with small demonstrations on many campuses every Tuesday.
 
Opposition Web sites say the government has brought hundreds of security forces to Tehran from the provinces to crack down on any demonstrations Monday.
 
Nearly 100 student leaders have been detained in the past weeks, human rights groups say. Many have faced Revolutionary Courts, and several have been ordered jailed for up to eight years, human rights groups say.
 
Amir Eslami, in the midwestern city of Hamadan, was jailed, released and went into hiding, but his body was found several days ago, according to the opposition Jaras Web site. The government has not confirmed the death.
 
Students now meet clandestinely and distribute newsletters by hand to avoid seizure by the universities' herasat, said Mehdi Arabshahi, a 28-year-old postgraduate student.
 
"We're in a state of war," he said. "On the one hand, they're trying to prevent us from protesting, on the other, the students go right ahead and hold gatherings and publish their newsletters."
 
Arabshahi said he hid for a month after the election to avoid arrest, but was detained in October for 48 hours for meeting with students in a Tehran park. Arabshahi and two other student leaders were summoned to the Revolutionary Court on Wednesday to have their case looked at.
 
Goudarzi said the Basij militia has increased salaries for students, offering up to $400 a month plus $250 for every incriminating photo or piece of evidence against a student.
 
In the past, morality restrictions such as those on women's dress have been somewhat more lax on campuses. But this semester, the herasat increasingly stop students and force them to sign forms admitting they broke the rules, said Elmira Ali Husseini, a physics postgraduate student at Sharif University.
 
Their signature can be used later by the prosecution if they are involved in protests, she said.
 
Female students are barred from campuses for wearing bright colors or too short a manteau - the overcoat that hides the female form, said Vahidmanesh, the economics student. She said her friends were turned away for wearing striped sweat pants under their overcoats - stripes are considered sexually provocative.
 
Another acquaintance was detained at a campus protest under the pretext that her hair showed from under her scarf - and then she was forced to sign a pledge to stay away from rallies, Vahidmanesh said.
 
Some classes considered too Western - such as Marxism - have been replaced by such courses as God and Philosophy, or Islam and Social Theory - ominous echoes of the cultural upheaval after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when books showing Western influence were banned and thousands of students and lecturers purged. In some English departments, the writings of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are required courses.
 
"They're just a waste of time and cost money, otherwise they are of no use to us," said Nazzi, a student who declined to give her last name for fear of retaliation.
 
"The changes in the curriculum," said Arabshahi, "will take the university back years and lead to another cultural revolution."
 


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Can you be an Israeli in the "godeneh medineh" (America)

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/can-you-be-israeli-in-godeneh-medineh.html

A joke - Two Israelis go to America, the Goleneh Medineh (Golden Country in Yiddish). They take a taxi from the airport. On the way, they run into a traffic jam. A Brinks armored car has overturned spilling cash and gold bars all over the street. People are rushing to grab the money. Moishe says to Yaakov, "Should we get out and start collecting money?"
"Nah, let's put our bags away before collecting the gold int he streets."
 
It doesn't work out that way for most Israelis, but they stay anyhow. They come to have "careers" and find themselves working in car washes or as taxi drivers, but still they will not return to Israel. Others on the other hand, leave lucrative jobs to return. The ones who stay will not admit for a long time, maybe for ever, that they have left Israel. They are just staying until the wife finishes her doctorate or until young David finishes elementary school or high school or university. They are coming back as soon as they have a good nest egg, or as soon as the security situation is better. In short, they are probably never coming back, except perhaps to buy a second home in Netanya and spend their declining years as guests of the Israel health service.
 
At what point does one stop being Israeli? Or at what point do one's offspring stop being Israeli? When they become a U.S. Administration official? When they marry a lady from Jordan?  Israelis are our most expensive export unfortunately. The only way to be an Israeli, is to live in Israel. If that is important to you then you do it. If not, not. Sending your kids to a Hebrew school or a Hebrew summer camp or eating falafel does not make you Israeli. An Israeli in the USA is an American-Israeli. That is assuredly something a bit different from an American Jew, but it isn not an Israeli. 
 
Ami Isseroff 
 
 Does moving to the U.S. make an Israeli more 'Israeli'?  By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent  

Every Israeli couple with children who move to the United States finds itself confronted with the quandary of how to maintain their offspring's Jewish identity in America.
 
What kind of framework should we place them in, these new Americans ask themselves. Should we send them to a Jewish school? The Israeli scouts or regular extracurricular activities? Should we let them dress up for Halloween, or tell them to wait for Purim? Should we insist they speak Hebrew?
 
And if the children were born in America, a whole other issue is raised for these emigres, or 'yordim': "Are my children Israeli?"
 

 
Faced with these questions, New York-based Israeli psychologist Udi Sommer(who has two American-born children of his own) decided to take a coast-to-coast journey across the United States to survey how other parents were dealing with the same issue.
 
Sommer, a lecturer at the State University of New York, conducted dozens of interviews with parents in every major American city.
 
"There is a lot of research out there about the children of immigrants, regarding their integration, but the experience of the parents themselves has been disregarded," Sommer told Haaretz.
 
"For me, parenthood has been a very strong experience, and at some point I had a need to see what was happening with other people, to understand this phenomenon in a more general sense," he said.
 
One of the most interesting things that Sommer found during his research was that Israelis who emigrate to the United States often find themselves reconnecting with their Israeli identity through their American children.
 
"There are Israelis who did just fine with cutting themselves off from their [Israeli] identities until their children were born," he said. "When you become a parent, everything rises to the surface."
 
According to Sommer, parenthood gives these Israelis "the tools with which... to mend this rift."
 
Parenthood and immigration are two of the experiences which can most shift a person's life from away from his foundation, said Sommer.
 
And for those young, secular parents who move to the States, he said, "with the birth of the first child, suddenly the question comes up: what is Israeliness anyway, and should I pass it on?"
 
For a lot of families, the greatest source of tension is the issue of language - particularly when the parents insist on speaking Hebrew and the children, English. "This creates two different spheres of existence," said Sommer.
 
Israeli parents in the United States - especially those whose children attend public school - find themselves faced with a question of their Judaism that secular parents in Israel do not usually have to consider.
 
"Because you don't have the rules of the holidays or traditions being explained in school, suddenly parents have to figure out how to explain the traditions themselves so that their kids can distinguish themselves from the others," said Sommer.
 
Often, said Sommer, parents find themselves torn between wanting their kids to integrate and succeed in America and at the same time, hoping to raise them as "Israelis."
 
"Is it good for them, or just for us, to hone in the idea that they are Israeli?" wonders one parent. "If we're not returning to Israel, then what good does it do?


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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ritz Carlton to build first hotel in Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/ritz-carlton-to-build-first-hotel-in.html

What - they are violating the Boycott Israel campaign? They aren't the only ones who will not succumb to terror and racism either.
 
Thursday, December 3, 2009, 1:43pm EST
Ritz Carlton to build first hotel in Israel
Washington Business Journal - by Missy Frederick Staff Reporter

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC is planning to build its first property in Israel.
 
The 110-room hotel will be located at the marina in Herzliya, which is a suburb north of Tel Aviv. Construction is expected to be completed in March 2012.
 
The hotel will include 85 Ritz-Carlton Residental Suites, and is co-owned by Tidhar, an Israeli real estate company.
 
A total of $160 million is being invested in the project.
 
"For a number of years, the Ritz-Cartlon Hotel Company has recognized the strategic potential of extending our brand to Israel," said Simon Cooper, president and chief operating officer, in a statement. "Having spent several years in Israel earlier in my career as a hotelier, I know the country very well."
 
The project is being designed to appeal to both leisure and business travelers, according to Cooper.
 
Chevy Chase-based Ritz-Carlton operates a total of 73 hotels worldwide.


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Resistance strikes blows against the occupation - in Russia and Syria

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/resistance-strikes-blows-against.html

To our dear friends in Russia and Syria,
Today, the forces of liberation and enlightenment struck a blow against the occupation in a successful operation against a bus in Damascus, killing 12. Last Friday, the resistance forces conducted a successful operation on a train in Russia, striking a blow against the Chechnya occupation forces and the apartheid Russian regime.
 
We know that these operations have evoked fear and anger in ruling circles in the Tehran regime, the Damascus regime and the Moscow regime, who find themselves helpless to stem the forces of liberation.. As right thinking people, you will no doubt understand the need of all progressive and enlightened peoples to support resistance to occupation, a right guaranteed under international legitimacy and specifically vouchsafed in the Fourth Geneva convention, and in the appropriate United Nations resolutions,for which your countries voted enthusiastically, and as intenrnationally accepted in the right to blow up anyone someone else doesn't like for any reason. As you are backers of the Hezbollah liberation movement, there is no doubt that you appreciate the justice and logic of these arguments 
 
You must realize that the time is past when people could go about their business quietly and sleep soundly at night. Thanks in large part to your efforts, liberation movements are constantly at work all over the world, blowing people to bits for the benefit of humanity. The Syrian Army Intelligence, which played such a starring role in creation of the Palestinian resistance movement and its training, as well, apparently, as in material aid to the brave resistance fighters in Iraq, understands the value and importance of resistance. Nobody is more familiar with the noble mission of People's liberation movements than Mr Putin, a former official of the KGB, since the idea of such liberation movements was pioneered by the Soviet government in Algeria, among Palestinians, in Vietnam and  elsewhere.
 
Do not even think of trying to fight the resistance. As you know, it is impossible for a state to ever win an asymmetric war against liberation fighters. Do not even think of calling these operations "terror." There is no such thing as "terror." "Terror" is an invention of reactionary Zionist neo-conservatives.  
 
Do not even think of torturing these reistance fighters either. Torture is a big no-no under the Geneva conventions and it is NOT NICE.   You must find a nice comfortable accomodation for the resistance fighter, who is to be accorded all the honors of a soldier under the Geneva convention. There, he or she can wait until his group kidnaps one of your citizens and then he and 20,000 others will be released in an exchange deal. Meanwhile, you must, also launch a dialog with him, to understand the deep underlying reasons for resistance. This is the opinion of Eyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist and Gaza expert on  people blowing up other people (there are many such experts in Gaza). You must sit the resistance fighter down on an analyst's couch and probe their early childhood to find the deep underlying reasons why they need to blow people up. Did the nice resistance fighter have too strict toilet training, or did they have an aloof father? Were they deprived of essential warmth in childhood? You must try to walk in the shoes of the nice resistance fighter, and understand what it means to grow up under a brutal occupation, deprived of the right to blow people to bits, with no C4 or even gelignite. You must empathize with the resistance figher and explain to him or her that you feel their pain.
 
You must also launch a political dialogue, since there are only political solutions to asymmetric conflicts. The Chechnya resistance fighters will no doubt be satisfied with a Chenyan state with its capital in Grozny and will accept the Russian state, for now at least. The Fateh al Islam, which evidently blew up the Syrian bus, will settle for an Al Qaida state in Syria and Lebanon, and  will  also accept the Iranian state for now, though they will not recognize it. What a wonderful window of opportunity!
 
The UN and the EU can help you. The UN will send Judge Goldstone to prepare a nice report about the war crimes of the Russian imperialist war criminals in Chechnya, and another report about the war crimes of the Beirut puppet government of the Syrian imperialists in Nahr al Bared refugee camp, where so many innoocent civilians were killed. The nice Swedes will prepare a document recognizing Damascus as the capital of the Al Qaeda Islamic Republic, and another document recognizing Grozny as the capital of the Chechen Republic, all according to international legitimacy and applicable UN resolutions. The UN can also send a peace keeping force, to make sure that nobody harms the resistance forces.
 
Surely, all right thinking and progressive people understand that this is the right way to deal with resistance movements, and that the time for solution of conflicts by violence is past. Violence only breeds more violence - a vicious circle.
 
Perhaps, on second thought, not everyone agrees. But everyone must understand how exactly it came about that "resistance" in the form of murder of civilians came to be legitimized because it was supported by the USSR in its geopolitical strategy, and by the Muslim and Arab governments for use against Israel, and legitimized and given protection by the UN. Unlike people however, plastic explosive is not racist or political. It doesn't target only Jews or only people that Russians don't like. It will work for anyone, against anyone else. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, it is perhaps too late to put it back.
 
Ami Isseroff


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The Iran lobby: Alavi "charity" bribed Rutgers and Columbia professors

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/iran-lobby-alavi-charity-bribed-rutgers.html

The Alavi foundation, 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?
Ami Isseroff
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

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The brighter side of the Shalit swap? - Hamas: "1 Israel Soldier Equals 1,000 Soldiers From Palestine"

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/brighter-side-of-shalit-swap-hamas-1.html

This is one way to look at the swap. The other way of looking at it, is that the deterrent value of arrests deteriorates with each swap, since every prisoner can assume he or she is going to be traded for the next kidnap victim.
Ami Isseroff

By Herb Brandon
Israel News Agency
Jerusalem ---- December 1, 2009 ..... The Israel State Prosecutor's office confirmed today that Israel will free up to 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Though the news was excellent for the Shalit family, it did very little for the pride of the Islamic terror group Hamas and those seeking to live in a state called Palestine.
"Sadly, we must beg of those in Israel for over 1,000 of our brave brothers to return to Gaza," a Palestinian journalist told the Israel News Agency.
"It is humiliating to each and every Palestinian to see that one Jewish soldier from Israel is equivalent to 1,000 Islamic soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank. It is even more humiliating for us that the IDF and those of the government in Israel show the Palestinian people more care and compassion than our Arab brothers."
The Palestinian journalist was referring directly to Egypt which shares a border with Gaza.
"We receive tons of food, medicine and fuel daily from Israel while nothing comes from Egypt. The Egyptians allow us to dig a few tunnels to smuggle in cheap cigarettes, drugs, perfume and sex magazines, but nothing else."
As there is no democracy or freedom of speech in Gaza, many international newspapers, women's fashion and men's adult magazines are banned. Many of the tunnels are used to smuggle in weapons, heroin and hashish.
Over 450 Palestinian prisoners will be released before Gilad Shalit is allowed to come home. Another 530 Islamic terrorists will be freed following his release as a "gesture to the Palestinians," the Israel State Prosecutor's office announced today.
The Israel Supreme Court says it needs to censor the details of the prisoner swap in order to effectively carry out the negotiations with Hamas through a German mediator.
Shalit was captured on June 25, 2006 after Palestinian terrorists created a tunnel and attacked an IDF post in a cross border raid. He was abducted through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel and has been held as a prisoner by Hamas in Gaza. Shalit, a soldier of the IDF's Armor Corps, held the rank of corporal at the time of the kidnapping but has since been promoted to staff sergeant.
During the morning attack, two Palestinian terrorists and two IDF soldiers were killed and three others wounded. Shalit suffered a broken left hand and a light shoulder wound after his tank was hit with a Rocket propelled grenade.
Shalit was part of an Israel defensive force implemented to reduce terror attacks from Gaza.
Although Israel left Gaza in a unilateral peace move 4 years ago, Hamas has continued to attack Israel towns and cities with over 12,000 terror rockets. Iran backed Hamas has stated that it was not interested in land, but rather the killing of Jews and Christians in their Islamic Jihad or Holy War against democracy and the West. Hamas leaders have repeated what Iran has been saying for many years, that their mission was to "wipe Israel off the map."
Iran, which has now spit into the face of US President Barack Obama policy of "reaching out and not jumping to conclusions about Iran or Islamic terrorism", declared this week that it will ignore the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it censured Iran for secretly building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.
Iran said on Sunday it would build 10 more nuclear uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for the vote by the 35-nation board of the UN nuclear organization, which had rare support by Russia and China.
"If the enemy (Western democracies) should want to test its bad luck in Iran, ballistic missiles would land in the heart of Tel Aviv," said Iran cleric Mojtaba Zolnour.

Hamas has refused requests from the Red Cross (ICRC) to allow visits by the ICRC. Several human rights organizations have stated that the terms and conditions of Shalit's detention are illegal and contrary to international humanitarian law.
Shalit became the first Israel soldier captured by Palestinian terrorists since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Shalit holds French citizenship, a fact that encouraged both France and the European Union to be involved in efforts to gain his release.
The information of the prisoner exchange was released in response to a law suit filed in Israel's Supreme Court by the Almagor Terror Victims Association and three bereaved parents of IDF soldiers.
"It should be stressed that contrary to the release of prisoners as part of a gesture or diplomatic agreement, this is an incident of bargaining, which can be seen as an ongoing terror attack," said the Israel State Prosecutor's office.
Shalit's parents met Sunday with Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for an update on the negotiations.
"We are neither encouraged nor the opposite. We're still waiting," the soldier's father, Noam, said following the meeting. "We have nothing new."
The Voice of Palestine radio station said Saturday that Shalit would be transferred soon to Egypt in preparation for his release. Egypt and Germany have been mediating the prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas.
"This has turned out to be a win-win situation for Israel," an Israel security analyst commented.
"These 1,000 Islamic terrorists have been living in Israel like parasites. It has been a heavy financial cost to feed, cloth and house them in Israel. As we release them back to Hamas, many, if not all, will be working for our security forces, gathering essential information while others act as sleeper agents. Hamas will not know who to trust. For if these new agents do not follow their directives from the ISS, they will be eliminated. These terrorists were on a paid holiday while being kept prisoner in Israel under the strict and humane terms of the Geneva Convention. That will not be the case once they are back in Gaza."

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Lenny Ben David: Barack Obama is not the problem for Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/lenny-ben-david-barack-obama-is-not.html

This assessment has to be mostly correct. Barack Obama is certainly not an anti-Semite and is not the worst US president as regards Israeli policy. However, it is probably not in order to accuse Rahm Emmanuel of being too idealistic, or to lay the blame on any one advisor. Barack Obama is an adult and could make his own decisions. He certainly had input from Hillary Clinton and others. This was not the decision of one person. State Department Middle East experts would not be more pro-Israel, for certain
Nov. 30, 2009
Lenny Ben-David , THE JERUSALEM POST
This week a senior respected Israeli analyst asked me to look back and decide, "Are we seeing the worst crisis in US-Israel relations? Is this the worst ever administration from Israel's perspective?" Also this week an Israeli minister termed President Obama's administration "awful," and an Israeli political activist was quoted in Israel's largest circulation paper as saying, "The Obama regime is anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic."
To all, I respond with the strongest possible retorts: balderdash, tripe, silliness and stupidity! There are other serious ideological problems with this US administration which results in rock-bottom popularity for the US president in Israel but the labels of "anti-Semitic" or "the worst" are just bum raps.
Just look at the history.
IN 1957, the Eisenhower administration threatened to come down hard on the fledgling Israel, including removing UJA's tax-exempt status, as a way of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula.
In 1970, Richard Nixon threatened to cut the supply of 50 F-4 Phantoms to Israel because of insults hurled at French Premier Georges Pompidou by Jewish-American activists in New York. The demonstrations led the notoriously anti-Israel columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak to bray, "More than any president since Dwight Eisenhower, Mr. Nixon has shown a tough realism in trying to stake out the correct US policy in the inflamed Middle East without kowtowing to the large and highly influential Jewish vote." [Note Evans and Novak beat by more than 35 years professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of the 2007 The Israel Lobby a distinctly unoriginal diatribe against Jewish influence on foreign policy. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same.)]
Observers feared the worst in US-Israel relations in 1975 when the Ford Administration weighed a "reassessment" of American policy in the Middle East, including cutting aid to Israel.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan earned a place in history as one of Israel's strongest friends, but his administration included strong critics of Israel such as vice president George H.W. Bush and defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. The sale of AWACS, just the tip of a massive arms sale and a realignment of US policy to embrace Saudi Arabia, took place under Reagan's watch, and the political war cry of "Reagan or Begin" was broadcast to suggest American Jews' dual loyalties. Arms to Israel were embargoed and delayed after the 1981 Osirak reactor bombing and the 1982 Lebanon War. And the Pollard affair pulled the US-Israel relationship to new lows.
Could relations have been worse than when George Bush Sr. went on national TV to challenge 1000 Jewish lobbyists to block $10 billion in housing loan guarantees over the issue of settlements at a time when hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews were flowing into Israel? Actually, yes, they worsened when his secretary of state, James Baker, was quoted as saying, "F*** the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway."
YOU GET the point: Anti-Semitism and crises in the US-Israel relationship have existed in the past, and there is simply nothing like it in the current US administration. Arms embargos and aid cut-offs then truly endangered Israel's security and gave Arab states tangible proof that American support for Israel was assailable. There is no such talk of cuts today. In fact, the strong support given to Israel by Congress and the unprecedented joint anti-missile exercise carried out by US and Israeli armed forces last month should put to rest the canard of an anti-Israel America.
So why the pervasive malaise about the Obama administration - a distrust so deep that Obama's popularity in Israel is equal to the margin of error? Well, Obama's failure to visit Israel doesn't improve his popularity, nor does his repeated cold-shouldering of Israel's prime minister.
Even the appointments of prominent Jews, Rahm Emanuel (chief of staff), David Axelrod (senior advisor), Mara Rudman (NSC/Mitchell's team), Hannah Rosenthal (envoy to monitor anti-Semitism), etc. don't make a difference. They arranged the first ever Seder in the White House, and sent the president to visit a concentration camp. How can anyone accuse these individuals of being "self-hating Jews," when they are members of synagogues, observe Jewish holidays, have relatives in Israel and send their children to Jewish Day Schools?
Because they are "Newest Testament" Jews; Jews who have embraced the new American Jewish religion of tikkun olam [fix the world] liberalism. Tikkun olam is the new overarching mitzva that guides them, even though it was never one of the 613 precepts of the Torah. The founding of Israel and the creation of Palestinian refugees may not have been the Original Sin in their theology as it is to others on the Left, but the settling of the West Bank following Israel's victory in 1967 is definitely viewed by them as Israel's Golden Calf
The translation of Newest Testament universalism into action can be seen in the words and policies of the modern day shaliach tzibbur [leader of the service], J Street.
The policies of J Street - the self-proclaimed "blocking back for Obama" - hold open the option of negotiations with Hamas, oppose Iran sanctions, and embrace the Saudi Plan, now called the Arab Peace Initiative, which demands a return to the 1967 lines, dividing Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
"There will be no peace if the settlements remain in place," wrote one of the Newest Testament prophets, MJ Rosenberg. "Pre-1967 Israel was not terrible at all. In fact it was pretty wonderful," he also wrote. "The secular areas [of Jerusalem] are charming but much of the rest is Jewish Taliban country... No humor, no aesthetics, just lunatics in black."
The Obama administration certainly has committed its share of questionable activities, such as ignoring George W. Bush's assurances on Israeli population centers in the West Bank, being over-confident in the ability of Palestinian security forces, attempting to appointment Chas Freeman to a high intelligence post, and abysmally executing its campaign against Israeli settlements and building in Jerusalem.
Perhaps the biggest mistake of all, however, was the advice given by Obama advisors that the rules of tikkun olam have a place in the compassionless Middle East.
The diplomatic failures led the New York Times editorial board to conclude on November 28, "We don't know exactly what happened but we are told that Mr. Obama relied more on the judgment of his political advisers - specifically his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel - than of his Mideast specialists."
Misguided, perhaps. But to declare the Obama administration to be anti-Semitic is just wrong. Let's keep the debate in the area of policy. Unfortunately, there'll be no shortage of topics to discuss.
The writer served as a senior diplomat in the Israeli Embassy in Washington and a member of AIPAC's staff in Washington and Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997. Today he is a public affairs consultant. He blogs at www.lennybendavid.com

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Continued (Permanent Link)

The offer the Palestinians turned down

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/offer-palestinians-turned-down.html

This is the offer that the Palestinians turned down. It is essentially not different from the offer of Ehud Barak, made in 2000, give or take a bit of land, and they turned that down too. It is hard not to read between the lines...  Mahmoud Abbas has mentioned parts of this offer many times, and was very proud that he turned it down, pointing out that he would not give up right of return for refugees and any part at all of East Jerusalem.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
    * Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor
    * From: The Australian
    * November 28, 2009 12:00AM
 
Ehud Olmert
 
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at The Rocks in Sydney earlier this month. Picture: Sam Mooy Source: The Australian
 
EHUD Olmert is a giant of contemporary Middle East politics. As Israel's prime minister he made war - twice - in Lebanon in 2006, and in the Gaza Strip earlier this year. He's also tried to make peace, offering the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, the most extensive concessions any Israeli leader has ever brought to the table in the search for a settlement.
 
Now Olmert's out of office, not because he lost an election but because he is fighting corruption charges in the courts. Previous such charges against him came to nothing and Olmert has always asserted his innocence.
 
In Sydney this week, I conducted, perhaps, the longest interview and discussion Olmert has undertaken with any media since leaving office in March after more than three years as prime minister.
 
Dressed in jeans and black T-shirt with a Red Bull logo, Olmert looked pretty chipper for a balding lawyer with a modest paunch in his early 60s who'd just flown 24 hours from Israel.
 
For 90 minutes in the boardroom of Sydney's Park Hyatt, and then over a relaxed lunch with his wife, Aliza, at Circular Quay, Olmert talked with remarkable frankness about the military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon, the historic peace deal he offered the Palestinians, President Barack Obama's Middle East policy and the options for action against Iran.
 
Olmert's role in history is a big one. If he clears his name of the corruption charges he could come back to the centre of Israeli life, as previous prime ministers - like Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu, now PM for the second time - and Labour's Ehud Barak, who both staged comebacks.
 
Olmert is straightforward and direct, and sometimes surprising, in his assessments of the global leaders he dealt with. He believes, for example, that the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is a genuine partner in the peace process.
 
Olmert says of Abbas: "I think he's genuine in his desire to achieve a Palestinian state, and he recognises the right of Israel to exist. And, while I can't speak for him, even if he can't say it publicly and formally, he recognises that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people."
 
This judgment by Olmert is critical because it means he still believes the peace process has a chance, while Abbas remains the Palestinians' leader. And it's not as if Olmert, who spent most of his life in the centre-right Likud party and was once the hardest of hardliners, is unwilling to pass a harsh judgment on a Palestinian leader.
 
I ask Olmert to compare the failure of Abbas to conclude a peace agreement with him, with the opportunity Yasser Arafat passed up at Camp David in 2000. It is one of the few times Olmert cuts off a question with a declarative response: "The two are not alike. Yasser Arafat never wanted to make peace with Israel. Yasser Arafat was a murderer and a terrorist and remained so until the last day of his life. Abu Mazen (the name by which Israelis and others in the region commonly refer to Abbas) wants peace."
 
So, too, Olmert says, does Netanyahu. Olmert followed Ariel Sharon out of Likud to form the Kadima party, based on the idea that Israel would unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and later the West Bank. It withdrew from Gaza but withdrawal from the West Bank became untenable in light of the missile attacks on Israel from Gaza.
 
Sharon was felled by a stroke and Olmert took over as acting PM in January 2006, later won an election in his own right and remained PM until the end of March this year. Netanyahu became leader of Likud and consistently attacked Sharon and Olmert from the Right, for offering too many concessions to the Palestinians.
 
But Olmert says Netanyahu is not an obstacle to peace: "The Prime Minister (Netanyahu) is dedicated to peace, he is concerned with peace. Naturally - he is also worried about security."
 
Olmert is similarly positive about Obama, implicitly rebuking those Israelis who see Obama as hostile to Israel's security interests: "I'm entirely free of any suspicions or complaints about the Obama administration. I think the Obama administration is very friendly to Israel. I know a lot of the people in the administration and they are committed to Israel. Many people in this administration are intimately acquainted with all the facts of the Middle East - Hillary Clinton, Dennis Ross, Rahm Emmanuel, Jim Jones."
 
Olmert, like many Israelis, was critical of Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo: "I was not happy with this speech. There should not even be a tacit comparison of the Holocaust with the Palestinian situation. This mistake was not corrected by Obama later visiting Buchenwald (the site of a Nazi extermination camp during World War II). However, this does not mean that Obama is an enemy of the Israeli people, just that he made a mistake. I hope he realises he made a mistake."
 
But he has some advice for Obama on the search for an Arab-Israeli peace: "I don't quite understand the American approach. Every new president believes they have to start from square one. If they're lucky they last for eight years, and by the end there is almost peace. But the new administration then starts anew, because they always know best."
 
Olmert believes Obama made a mistake by focusing initially on a demand for an Israeli building freeze in West Bank Jewish settlements: "I think the tactic of starting to argue about a building here or there is a tactical mistake and I expect the Americans to change their approach."
 
So what should the Americans do? "Instead of starting at the beginning, they should start at the end."
 
Here, Olmert approaches the most significant aspect of his prime ministership. He waged a war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006, and since then Hezbollah has not fired rockets against Israel. He waged a brutal operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip at the start of this year, and since then the Hamas rockets have mostly fallen silent. And the Israeli economy, despite everything, did well in the last few years.
 
But Olmert's term in office is best remembered for the extensive negotiations, and final peace offer that he undertook with Abbas.
 
Olmert explains this position to me in unprecedented detail. His offer to Abbas represents a historic watershed and poses a serious question. Can the Palestinian leadership ever accept any offer that an Israeli prime minister could ever reasonably make?
 
It is important to get Olmert's full account of this offer on the record: "From the end of 2006 until the end of 2008 I think I met with Abu Mazen more often than any Israeli leader has ever met any Arab leader. I met him more than 35 times. They were intense, serious negotiations."
 
These negotiations took place on two tracks, Olmert says. One was the meetings with the two leaders and their senior colleagues and aides (among them Kadima leader Tzipi Livni on Olmert's side). But Olmert would also have private, one-on-one meetings with Abbas.
 
"On the 16th of September, 2008, I presented him (Abbas) with a comprehensive plan. It was based on the following principles.
 
One, there would be a territorial solution to the conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders with minor modifications on both sides. Israel will claim part of the West Bank where there have been demographic changes over the last 40 years."
 
This approach by Olmert would have allowed Israel to keep the biggest Jewish settlement blocks which are mainly now suburbs of Jerusalem, but would certainly have entailed other settlers having to leave Palestinian territory and relocate to Israel.
 
In total, Olmert says, this would have involved Israel claiming about 6.4 per cent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank: "It might be a fraction more, it might be a fraction less, but in total it would be about 6.4 per cent. Israel would claim all the Jewish areas of Jerusalem. All the lands that before 1967 were buffer zones between the two populations would have been split in half. In return there would be a swap of land (to the Palestinians) from Israel as it existed before 1967.
 
"I showed Abu Mazen how this would work to maintain the contiguity of the Palestinian state. I also proposed a safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza. It would have been a tunnel fully controlled by the Palestinians but not under Palestinian sovereignty, otherwise it would have cut the state of Israel in two.
 
"No 2 was the issue of Jerusalem. This was a very sensitive, very painful, soul-searching process. While I firmly believed that historically, and emotionally, Jerusalem was always the capital of the Jewish people, I was ready that the city should be shared. Jewish neighbourhoods would be under Jewish sovereignty, Arab neighbourhoods would be under Palestinian sovereignty, so it could be the capital of a Palestinian state.
 
"Then there was the question of the holy basin within Jerusalem, the sites that are holy to Jews and Muslims, but not only to them, to Christians as well. I would never agree to an exclusive Muslim sovereignty over areas that are religiously important to Jews and Christians. So there would be an area of no sovereignty, which would be jointly administered by five nations, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian state, Israel and the United States.
 
"Third was the issue of Palestinian refugees." This issue has often been a seeming deal-breaker. The Palestinians insist that all Palestinians who left Israel - at or near the time of its founding - and all their spouses and descendants, should be able to return to live in Israel proper. This could be more than a million people. Olmert, like other Israeli prime ministers, could never agree to this: "I think Abu Mazen understood there was no chance Israel would become the homeland of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian state was to be the homeland of the Palestinian people. So the question was how the claimed attachment of the Palestinian refugees to their original places could be recognised without bringing them in. I told him I would never agree to a right of return. Instead, we would agree on a humanitarian basis to accept a certain number every year for five years, on the basis that this would be the end of conflict and the end of claims. I said to him 1000 per year. I think the Americans were entirely with me.
 
"In addition, we talked about creating an international fund that would compensate Palestinians for their suffering. I was the first Israeli prime minister to speak of Palestinian suffering and to say that we are not indifferent to that suffering.
 
"And four, there were security issues." Olmert says he showed Abbas a map, which embodied all these plans. Abbas wanted to take the map away. Olmert agreed, so long as they both signed the map. It was, from Olmert's point of view, a final offer, not a basis for future negotiation. But Abbas could not commit. Instead, he said he would come with experts the next day.
 
"He (Abbas) promised me the next day his adviser would come. But the next day Saeb Erekat rang my adviser and said we forgot we are going to Amman today, let's make it next week. I never saw him again."
 
Olmert believes that, like Camp David a decade earlier, this was an enormous opportunity lost: "I said `this is the offer. Sign it and we can immediately get support from America, from Europe, from all over the world'. I told him (Abbas) he'd never get anything like this again from an Israeli leader for 50 years. I said to him, `do you want to keep floating forever - like an astronaut in space - or do you want a state?'
 
"To this day we should ask Abu Mazen to respond to this plan. If they (the Palestinians) say no, there's no point negotiating."
 
Olmert is right to paint this offer as embodying the most extensive concessions, and the best deal, ever offered to the Palestinians by an Israeli leader. But his very experience with this offer raises several questions. Could he have delivered its terms if the Palestinians had accepted it? Perhaps international momentum would have enabled him to do so, and, in fact, Olmert's Kadima party did remarkably well in the election which followed his prime ministership. Could any Israeli government today realistically make such an offer? The answer would seem to be no.
 
And most important, if the Palestinian leadership cannot accept that offer, can they accept any realistic offer? Do they have the machinery to run a state? Is their society too dysfunctional and filled with anti-Semitic propaganda to live in peace next to the Jewish state? Could they ever deliver on any security guarantees?
 
I put these questions to Olmert and his response to them is perhaps the most lukewarm part of our interview: "It's certainly a legitimate concern, since I never received a positive response from them. I think it's up to them (the Palestinians) to prove the point. I hope they will rise to this."
 
Olmert still believes the Palestinians should respond to the deal he offered them. If they did so, this would open the way to peace, but only if Palestinian society is reconciled to living in peace next to Israel as it really exists.
 
Olmert is robust in defence of other parts of his legacy. The war he led in 2006 against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon was widely criticised within Israel itself as being poorly executed. Not surprisingly, this is a view Olmert rejects: "The war in Lebanon ended with a unanimous UN resolution which allowed Israel to stay in the south of Lebanon until an international force took over from us. Since then, there has been not one military attack on Israel from Hezbollah. For more than three years now the northern border has been totally quiet and the northern part of Israel is flourishing as never before.
 
"The military operation in Lebanon was the most successful military operation in recent Israeli history. Many in Israel don't recognise that."
 
He claims a similar success in the military operation in the Gaza Strip, which has also resulted in a vast decline of rocket attacks on Israel. He sees a grotesque double standard in the world's criticism of what he portrays as Israel's efforts at self-defence: "When they were firing rockets at us from the north or the south, their purpose was only one thing, to kill Israeli civilians. Nobody (at the UN) was so devastated by this that they set up a special commission to investigate it. Everyone comes to us and says non-involved people (innocent civilians) were killed in Gaza. I regret it very much. But I had to protect a million people who were under attack. Every prime minister . . . has the responsibility to provide security for his people."
 
Not surprisingly, Olmert rejects the Goldstone report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza root and branch: "To write a report that focuses only on Israel's response to terror against innocent civilians was a moral indignity by Goldstone."
 
Olmert went quite a long way towards achieving a peace deal with Syria, but could not conclude it before he left office: "If Bashir Assad (Syria's President) wants the Golan Heights, I made it clear what the requirements would be for Israel."
 
Part of those requirements, Olmert says, would be "breaking off military co-operation with Iran that is harmful to Israel's security. Breaking off that military co-operation is important, but I don't expect Syria to break diplomatic relations with any country."
 
Olmert believes that the Syria track is perhaps the only peace process open to Israel in the immediate future, and that the time has come for direct Israel-Syria negotiations.
 
But if Syria is willing to make peace, I ask Olmert, how come it was building, with North Korean help, a nuclear reactor which Israel, under Olmert, bombed to obliteration? "I am saying nothing about that."
 
One matter where Olmert is a little critical of Obama is the ever present issue for all Israelis, Iran: "There is no doubt that Iran is planning to have a non-conventional capacity. Why would any country fight with the whole world over a civilian nuclear program if they have no plan of developing a nuclear bomb?
 
"They (the Iranians) are enriching uranium and hope to have enough fissile material for a few bombs. At the same time they are developing delivery systems with a range of 3000km. Once they have enough fissile material it will be impossible to stop them.
 
"When the President of Iran talks about removing Israel from the face of the Earth and is building nuclear bombs with a range of 3000km, you have to be worried.
 
"Israel is very active about this, but we feel the leadership on this issue should be taken by the Americans, and also by the Russians, Chinese, Germans and French.
 
"I was not happy with Obama's decision to have a dialogue with Iran. This dialogue will be used for only one purpose, to buy time for Iran.
 
" My advice would be to set a rigid timetable for this dialogue. This will not be easy as the Iranians are not dumb. Secondly, prepare your fallback position now. Don't start to prepare it when the talks fail.
 
"My view is that the Chinese and Russians are not in favour of a nuclear Iran. The problem is how to co-ordinate action. This is the responsibility of President Obama. The Americans want to lead the world, they must lead the world. Europe certainly now wants tough action.
 
"It is not a simple choice between acquiescence in the face of Iranian nuclear weapons or a comprehensive military attack on Iran. There are a lot of other effective options."
 
And what are some of these options? "I'm not prepared to discuss them publicly."
 
Olmert's life and political persona have seen radical transformations, from ultra-hawk to offering historical compromise. He was mayor of Jerusalem for 10 years, was finance minister, has been at the heart of intense political and military struggles.
 
He is visiting Australia in connection with the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum, which has its second session next week. Olmert has been a frequent visitor to Australia, and compares Sydney to Tel Aviv.
 
"Growing up in Israel, how can I not be an optimist? When you remember what Israel was 50 years ago and you see Israel now, one of the most successful countries in the world, stable, democratic, with an enormously stable economy despite everything that has happened in the global economy in the last few years, how can I not be an optimist?"
 
His final injunction seems simple enough in theory, but is immeasurably difficult in practice: "We need to be powerful enough to defeat all our enemies, and generous enough so that they will understand that peace is more attractive than any alternative their extremists can offer."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is Israeli-Palestinian peace really just out of reach?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/is-israeli-palestinian-peace-really.html

The conventional wisdom in much of the world holds that there is an Israeli-Arab peace settlement that is just out of reach - so near yet so far, frustrated only by tactical accidents. We all know what the peace settlement must look like, says the myth. If only Israel wasn't so stubborn about building in Jerusalem or (under Ehud Olmert) not negotiating at all about Jerusalem, there could be peace in a week. But somehow peace, like the lost tribes of Israel in the medieval Jewish myth, remains beyond reach, on the other side of the Sambatyon river in a land that Christian mythology identified with the Kingdom of Prester John. The river throws up rocks of settlements and fire of "misunderstandings" and nobody can pass.

What does the peace settlement look like? We all know, what the peace settlement would look like, don't we? It would look like the
Clinton Bridging Proposals, or it would look like the Geneva Accord, or it might even look like the reasonable proposal of Palestinian-American comedian Ray Hanania.

All of those proposals rest on three major principles:

1) The Palestinians give up the so-called "Right of Return" of the descendants of Palestinian refugees of 1948. They can live in the state of Palestine or abroad, or in limited numbers in Israel, but they do not have a "right" to return to Israel and they cannot come to
Israel in unlimited numbers.

2) At least some parts of Jerusalem east of the 1949 armistice line remain under Israeli sovereignty, including the old city Jewish quarter, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, Har Choma and other areas that are today Jewish neighborhoods.

3) The Palestinians recognize that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, just as the Jews recognize that Palestine is the state of the Palestinian Arab people.

Peace "optimists" tell us that the Palestinians leaders have really agreed or are secretly ready to agree to all these proposals and/or that polls show that the Palestinian people back these concessions. For example, a friend, a knowledgeable journalist, insisted to me that the Geneva initiative "has support from the Palestinian PLO establishment." In fact, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO, rejected the Geneva accord, as did the Israeli government. It is like saying that the Geneva initiative "has support from the Zionist establishment" since Yossi Beilin signed it. A minority of secondary leaders on both sides signed it, and they seem to have understood it differently. Some of the Palestinian signatories denied that it gave up the right of return.

The depressing fact is that all the polls of Palestinians and all the statements of the leaders and all the documents of the PLO and the Fatah have been fairly consistent in giving negative replies to all the issues. The one ray of hope is that some surveys show that the Palestinian people would be willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, but only provided that Israel accept Right of Return and give up all of East Jerusalem. This review will focus primarily on the issue of Right of Return, because it is the issue most studied in the polls, and it is the Palestinian demand with the most devastating consequences for Israel. Surveys almost never ask about giving up parts of the West Bank or any part of East Jerusalem. Almost all the results that show Palestinians support a "two state" solution assume in the questions that the "solution" includes right of return, and Israeli concession of all territories taken in 1967, including all of East Jerusalem.  Continued here: The mythical peace that is just out of reach


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel blasts EU plan to recognize Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem and unilateral state declaration

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/israel-blasts-eu-plan-to-recognize.html

Israel: EU stance on Jerusalem harms peace talks
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel on Tuesday lashed out a new plan by the European Union to call for the division of Jerusalem with a future Palestinian state, saying that such a move by the EU would further harm the chances of renewing peace negotiations in the Middle East.
 
EU foreign ministers are expected to issue an official call next week for Jerusalem to be divided, in order to serve as the capitals of both Israel and a Palestinian state. A draft document authored by the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, Sweden, and implying that the EU would recognize a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, has been obtained by Haaretz.
 
"The process being led by Sweden harms the European Union's ability to take part as a significant mediator in the political process between Israel and the Palestinians," said a statement by Israel's Foreign Ministry.
 
"After the important steps taken by the government of Israel to enable the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians, the European Union must now exert pressure on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Steps like those being led by Sweden only contribute to the opposite effect," said the statement.
 
Jerusalem is waging a diplomatic campaign to keep the EU from issuing such an endorsement, but diplomats close to the EU deliberations believe it is almost inevitable.
 
The EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on December 7 for a two-day meeting in Brussels on the peace process, after which a statement outlining the body's Mideast policy is expected.
 
The Swedish draft represents the first official EU articulation of a solution for one of the core issues of the final-status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
The document expressed the EU's concern over the stalemate in the peace process and calls for the immediate renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in accordance with a prescribed timetable. The goal, it states, is "an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital."
 
The draft refers directly to the situation in East Jerusalem, calling on "all parties to refrain from provocative actions" and stating the EU Council "has never recognized the annexation of East Jerusalem. If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as capital of two states. The Council calls for the reopening of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem in accordance with the road map. It also calls on the Israeli government to cease all discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem."
 
The document deals only briefly with Israel's announcement of a 10-month moratorium on construction in settlements across the West Bank: "The Council takes note of the recent decision of the government of Israel on a partial and temporary permanent freeze and expresses the hope that it will become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations." Israel's removal of checkpoints also receives only cursory mention: "Many checkpoints and roadblocks remain in place to protect settlements."
 
On the issue of borders, the document states that the EU will not accept any changes made by Israel to the 1967 borders unless they have PA approval. The EU, it says, welcomes PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's proposal of a unilateral declaration of statehood and would "be able, at the appropriate time, to recognize a Palestinian state."
 
Israeli diplomats have been following the Swedish initiative for several weeks. Israel's Brussels-based ambassador to the EU, Ran Kuriel, sent several messages to Jerusalem last week accusing Sweden of leading the union on a "collision course" with Israel. Kuriel wrote that Britain and France support the Swedish position, while Germany, Spain and Italy are disinclined to side with Israel on the matter.
 
Senior Foreign Ministry officials said the belief is widespread across the foreign policy echelon that Sweden is advancing an explicitly "anti-Israel" line, rendering Europe "irrelevant" to the peace process.
 
European diplomats privy to the negotiations said that although changes favorable to Israel had been made to the draft, there is virtually no chance of preventing the EU from calling for the division of Jerusalem. They said they believe the EU statement will help Palestinians return to negotiations with Israel, as it gives them guarantees of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem even though Israel has not frozen construction there.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF takes the war to the Web....

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/idf-takes-war-to-web.html

Last update - 09:29 01/12/2009    
 
By Anshel Pfeffer and Gili Izikovich, Haaretz Correspondent 
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman's Office is to begin drafting computer experts with an eye toward establishing an Internet and new media department unit, Army Spokesman Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu said Monday.
 
Speaking at the Eilat Journalists Conference, Benayahu said the new department would focus on the Internet's social media networks mainly to reach an international audience directly rather than through the regular media.
 
The new unit, as well as an initiative by the Information and Diaspora Ministry to train people to represent Israel independently on the Internet and in other arenas, were presented Monday at the conference during a panel discussion on Israeli public relations abroad.

Responding to criticism of Israel's ability to face hostile entities on the Web, Benayahu said the new program would be able to deal with the problem. He said that from each group drafted to the Army Spokesman's Office, between eight to 10 young people who are experts in Web 2.0 - YouTube, Facebook and Twitter - to be identified before induction, would be assigned to the new department. The new recruits would be put to work in the new media unit after undergoing a general Army Spokesman's Unit training course.
 
Benayahu told Haaretz the new program would be up and running in a few months.
 
The Army Spokesman's Office began working in this area more than a year ago. During Operation Cast Lead it put up YouTube videos of attacks on targets in the Gaza Strip, to illustrate the care the IDF takes to avoid hitting civilians. One such clip showed how the pilot of an IDF helicopter diverted a missile that had been fired at a target when it was realized civilians had entered the target area.
 
The head of communications at the Army Spokesman's office, Col. Ofer Kol, said they wanted to reach "mainly an international audience that is less exposed to operational processes. Foreign media do more 'zooming-in' and so it's important to us to show the totality of IDF actions without a filter."
 
The IDF YouTube account got millions of hits during Operation Cast Lead, which led to the decision to expand activity at the site and other social network Web sites. The IDF hopes to show other sides of the army less familiar to the world, such as women's service.
 
The Spokesman's Office has also contacted bloggers who are known as opinion-makers and sent them information and pictures directly.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

EU will recognize East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/12/eu-will-recognize-east-jerusalem-as.html

Last update - 08:02 01/12/2009       
EU to recognize East Jerusalem as capital of Palestinian state
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
 
European Union foreign ministers are expected to officially call next week for the division of Jerusalem, to serve as the capitals of both Israel and Palestine. A draft document authored by the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, Sweden, and implying that the EU would recognize a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, has been obtained by Haaretz.
 
Jerusalem is waging a diplomatic campaign to keep the EU from issuing such an endorsement, but diplomats close to the EU deliberations believe it is virtually inevitable.
 
EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on December 7 for a two-day meeting in Brussels on the peace process, after which a statement outlining the body's Mideast policy is expected.
 
The Swedish draft represents the first official EU articulation of a solution for one of the core issues of the final-status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
The document expressed the EU's concern over the stalemate in the peace process and calls for the immediate renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in accordance with a prescribed timetable. The goal, it states, is "an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital."
 
The draft refers directly to the situation in East Jerusalem, calling on "all parties to refrain from provocative actions" and stating the EU Council "has never recognized the annexation of East Jerusalem. If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as capital of two states. The Council calls for the reopening of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem in accordance with the road map. It also calls on the Israeli government to cease all discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem."
 
The document deals only briefly with Israel's announcement of a 10-month moratorium on construction in settlements across the West Bank: "The Council takes note of the recent decision of the government of Israel on a partial and temporary permanent freeze and expresses the hope that it will become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations." Israel's removal of checkpoints also receives only cursory mention: "Many checkpoints and roadblocks remain in place to protect settlements."
 
On the issue of borders, the document states that the EU will not accept any changes made by Israel to the 1967 borders unless they have PA approval. The EU, it says, welcomes PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's proposal of a unilateral declaration of statehood and would "be able, at the appropriate time, to recognize a Palestinian state."
 
Israeli diplomats have been following the Swedish initiative for several weeks. Israel's Brussels-based ambassador to the EU, Ran Kuriel, sent several messages to Jerusalem last week accusing Sweden of leading the union on a "collision course" with Israel. Kuriel wrote that Britain and France support the Swedish position, while Germany, Spain and Italy are disinclined to side with Israel on the matter.
 
Senior Foreign Ministry officials said the belief is widespread across the foreign policy echelon that Sweden is advancing an explicitly "anti-Israel" line, rendering Europe "irrelevant" to the peace process.
 
European diplomats privy to the negotiations said that although changes favorable to Israel had been made to the draft, there is virtually no chance of preventing the EU from calling for the division of Jerusalem. They said they believe the EU statement will help Palestinians return to negotiations with Israel, as it gives them guarantees of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem even though Israel has not frozen construction there.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, November 30, 2009

N.J. Stand up comic to tour Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/nj-stand-up-comic-to-tour-israel.html

You see - not everyone hates us! :-)
 
 
Nov. 30, 2009
Gil Hoffman , THE JERUSALEM POST
After entertaining American troops in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as six times in Afghanistan, comedian Butch Bradley is certainly battle-tested.
 
And yet, when a rocket came dangerously close to him on a recent visit to Afghanistan, he needed a friend to calm him down - Israeli-born comedian Avi Liberman.
 
"I was supposed to be giving Avi confidence, but after the rocket attack I was hyperventilating and Avi was sleeping," Bradley recalled. "He said 'I'm from Israel - this is nothing.' His calmness helped me get through the stress of that tour, which was funny, because I was supposed to be looking out for him."
 
Now Bradley will be coming to Israel together with Liberman and two other American comics on the biannual Stand Up for Israel Comedy for Koby tour.
 
Liberman has been bringing top American comedians to Israel twice a year since the heart of the Palestinian wave of violence in 2001. The events have brought in money for multiple charities and have recently been devoted to the Koby Mandell foundation, which works on behalf of terror victims' families and is named after the 13-year-old who was murdered by terrorists near his Tekoa home on May 8, 2001.
 
Due to the tour's success, this time the shows will be held in larger auditoriums, with a performance to be staged in Haifa for the first time. The tour will kick off Wednesday in Modi'in at the Azrielli Mall's Einan Theater, followed by Thursday at Beit Shemesh's Eshkol Hapayis, Saturday Night at Tel Aviv's ZOA House and Sunday at Jerusalem's Beit Shmuel; Ra'anana's Eshkol Hapayis is next on Tuesday and the the Haifa Cinemateque a day later.
 
As usual, Liberman lined up three top-tier comics to join him. Besides Bradley, the tour will feature African-American funnyman Steve White, who is a veteran of five Spike Lee films, and Mark Schiff, who regularly opens for Jerry Seinfeld and is an observant Jew.
 
WHITE CAME on the tour for the first time seven years ago. The Comedy for Koby tour web site describes him as "Morgan Freeman, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington and a little Meryl Streep all rolled into one." He has been featured on all of America's top comedy shows on television and he even has journalistic experience, having covered Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League for Comedy Central.
 
Schiff came on the tour three years ago, and Liberman said that since then, many people have asked him when he would bring him back. He has appeared multiple times on Jay Leno and David Letterman's TV shows.
 
An added bonus for Schiff in coming on the tour is that he gets to visit his son, who is studying at a Jerusalem yeshiva. With himself and Schiff - both observant - joined by the Catholic Bradley, Liberman said he had "the most spiritual group I've ever brought."
 
On their tour of Afghanistan, Liberman became close to Bradley, who he calls "a really good comic and an all-around mensch." Bradley recalled that on their tour, they prayed a lot together and Liberman taught him the Wayfarers' Prayer [Tefilat Hadereh].
 
The only one of the four comedians coming to Israel for the first time, Bradley said he was excited about the trip and not at all concerned about the security situation.
 
"I'd like to think I'm politically aware," Bradley said. "I don't look at Israel as a war zone. I'm really impressed by the resilience of the people going on living their lives; it's inspirational. I'm coming to show support for the people of an amazing country and for the Koby Foundation. I'm from New Jersey - that's more of a war zone." Bradley boasts that his was the only Catholic family in a Jewish neighborhood in Atlantic City. He went to nursery school at the local Jewish Community Center.
 
When he was deciding which neighborhood to move to in Los Angeles, he saw a group of hassidim and decide to settle down near them.
 
"I thought 'oh my gosh - these are my people,'" he said. "I moved there so I'd feel closer to home."
 
Growing up, he was inspired by watching Jewish comedians Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, and Shecky Greene. Now he is a fan of Seinfeld and Adam Sandler - also members of the tribe.
 
"Richard Pryor is the only comic I like who is not Jewish," he quipped.
 
BORN LAWRENCE Bradley, Butch was a nickname his uncle gave him that stuck, at first to his dismay. But he has since grown into the name.
 
"It was tortuous growing up with that name, but as a stand-up comic, it works," he said. "It was definitely part of God's plan." Asked how he got on the USO circuit entertaining troops, Bradley said that September 11 was an eye-opening experience for him and he wanted to do what he could to help.
 
"I wrote letters volunteering and before I knew it, I was in Iraq," he said.
 
Bradley believes his experiences with the American troops made him understand what Israel was going through. A fan of Fox News, he promised "five minutes of Obama jokes" in his routine to Israeli audiences, known to be among the more skeptical of the US president.
 
"If I lived in Israel, I would sure hope that America took a stand against terrorism," he said.
 
Bradley added that he was looking forward to visiting the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Christian sites, and just going to cafes and taking in the culture. He noted that he loved humous and planned on consuming vast quantities of it in Israel.
 
"It's an honor to get to come," he summed up. "I don't think there's a place like it on earth. It's going to be exciting and mind-blowing."
 
 


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Anyone for divesting from Israel?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/anyone-for-divesting-from-israel.html

With a correction expected in emerging markets, Merrill Lynch gives five reasons for sheltering in Israel.
Globes correspondent30 Nov 09 09:44
 
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has come out with a report strongly recommending Israel as a defensive haven among emerging markets. In part, this based on experience. "True to its traditional role of GEM diversifier, Israel has outperformed EM throughout each of seven major global corrections since 1993. Based on historical data from MSCIBarra, the MXIL Index outperformed the MXEF Index by an average of 23%. In the recent 2008-2009 sub-prime financial crisis, Israel outperformed emerging markets by 30%," analysts Haim Israel, Micha Goldberg, and Mai Doan write.

The report gives five reasons for investing in Israel now: (1) resilient economic performance vs. GEM as the local recession ended two quarters ago; (2) lack of excess positioning as investors remain underweight Israel; (3) strong currency vs. the US dollar; (4) substantial domestic liquidity support; and (5) Israel's traditional role as GEM's beta diversifier.
 
Besides Teva and the healthcare sector in general, Merrill Lynch picks out telecommunications, particularly Partner and Bezeq, and the banks, particularly Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot, as good bets. "Although Teva and the healthcare space are perceived by the market as natural candidates to park money in times of uncertainty, we believe this could be the time for Israeli banks and telcos to shine," the report says.


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Egyptian Cleric: Day of vengeance is nearing for every Jew on the face of the Earth

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/egyptian-cleric-day-of-vengeance-is.html

The remaking of history is as interesting as the rest of the hate rhetoric. So far as is known, Khaybar was a peaceful town of merchants, not a military power. It was attacked for the plunder it afforded. The inhabitants were murdered or enslaved. Such was the mercy of Muhammad...
 
 
Following are excerpts from an address by Egyptian cleric Hazem Shuman, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on October 31, 2009. 
 
Hazem Shuman: Tonight's lecture is one of the most important lectures of this series. Tonight, we will talk about the Battle of Khaybar, about the Prophet Muhammad's greatest battle [with the Jews], in which the Prophet eradicated the Jewish presence in Al-Madina. 
 
On June 5, 1967, when the Jews occupied Palestine and Jerusalem and were celebrating their victory, Moshe Dayan cried: "This is our revenge for Khaybar." How come Khaybar remained seared in their hearts for 1,400 years? After 1,400 years, their hearts are still burning because of Khaybar. The first thing that the Prophet Muhammad did after his victory in the Hudaybiyya Treaty, after he stabilized the Muslim state, and neutralized the Quraysh front, the first mission of the Prophet Muhammad, his first campaign, was against the Jews of Khaybar. 
 
Your turn has come at last, you offspring of apes and pigs, you most accursed creatures created by Allah, you people who have harmed the Prophet again and again. 
 
Only 20 days after the Hudaybiyya Treaty, the Prophet Muhammad decided to take the army of Islam to Khaybar. Why the Jews of all people? It has been proven that the Jews are like a cancer – if they are not removed from the body of the nation, they will kill the entire nation. Unless the Jews were dealt with, they would have brought the Persians and the Byzantines to the Arabian Peninsula. the Jews are dangerous to the whole world. They threatened the stability of the Arabian Peninsula.

[...]
 
Jews are always the same. We are still tormented by the sights of their massacres of the Muslims, when they went into Sabra and Shatila. Sharon chopped off the limbs of children, and used them to make a necklace, so that he could boast that he dismembered the bodies of Muslim children. When the Jews entered Sabra and Shatila, a Jewish soldier took a pregnant woman and emptied a submachine gun into her neck. When she was dead, he cut open her belly, took out her nine-month-old fetus, and slaughtered it in front of the Muslims. 
 
They took 30 Muslim men and women, including a newly-wed couple, and shot them all in Sabra and Shatila. They chased a six-year-old boy, whose mother was hugging him and calling for help. They stabbed him with knives and killed him in his mother's lap. In the end, she went mad, because of what had happened. They shot dead an entire family, except for a baby, who screamed at the sight of the bloodbath. The moment they saw he was crying, they shot him with a machine-gun as well. At Sabra and Shatila, they raped a Muslim woman, and then killed her children in front of her. They tore off women's ears, by pulling their earrings. 
 
[...]
 
The Jews of Khaybar in the 7th year of the hijra are a replica of the state of Israel in 2009, in terms of the terrifying economy that sucked the blood of the Arabs, the military armaments and superiority over the entire region, the settlements that form the state, the fortifications, like the separation fence that they are building today.

When the army of the Muslims arrived, the Jews removed their women and children from the fortifications at the front, and left only their fighters at the front... The army of the Prophet Muhammad was very poor. The Muslims had nothing to eat. The first time they ate was after the conquest of Khaybar.

One of the Prophet Muhammad's companions had a debt to a Jew. The Jew told him he had to pay his debt before he left, but the Muslim did not have even 5 dirham, so he sold his clothes so he could pay his debt and leave. The Prophet's companions sold their clothes in order to fight the Jews, and take revenge upon them.

[...]

Finally, [in the battle of Khaybar], Allah gave the Muslims strength, and they launched a martyrdom-seeking attack on the fortifications. All their lives long, they were martyrdom-seekers and heroes, who sacrificed their blood for Islam. They stormed the fortress and took the Jews captive, for the first time. All the other Jews fled. 
 
When the Muslims entered the fortress, they were astounded. What is this? Never in their lives had they seen so much food – enough to last years. They were astounded by the weapons too. There was a weapon called a tank. It was a house made of tin, like today's tanks. Soldiers sat in it and drove it towards the fortifications. When they were pelted with arrows, it did not have any effect on them. There were catapults, which fired bombs of fire, which penetrated the walls and smashed the fortifications. Why did the Jews amass all these weapons? They were planning to use them against the Muslims. They were preparing for the day when they would fight the Muslims – otherwise, why would they have amassed all those weapons? The [Muslims] also found large quantities of wine, which they poured out on the floor. 
 [...] 
 
The [Muslim fighters] reached the final fortification, the final battle. All the Jews, including women and children, were here. The walls were enormous. The number of arrows fired from its towers was indescribable. Its gates were well fortified, and no one could escape from there. This was the first time that the Prophet Muhammad used catapults. The [Muslims] shot catapults at the walls until there were gaping holes in them. All the Muslim army charged into the final fortress, with hatred burning in their hearts for the Jews, with a strong desire to take revenge upon the offspring of apes and pigs. 
 
All the Muslims – men and women – charged with a strong desire to annihilate the Jews. They entered the fortress, and a terrible battle took place, a violent battle in the last fortress, until all the Jewish soldiers were arrested and all the Jewish women captured. Khaybar trembled with the sound of the cries of "Allah Akbar," and the entire Arabian Peninsula shook with the victorious cries of "Allah Akbar." 
 
1,400 soldiers defeated 10,000 Jews. The Jews were defeated, and the reputation of the invincible army was shattered. After a month-long siege and terrible fighting, the Jews were defeated. The Arabian Peninsula shook with the cries of "Allah Akbar," and the Jews collapsed.
 
Soon the cries of "Allah Akbar" will be sounded at the gates of Jerusalem, and at the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Soon, cries of "Allah Akbar" will be heard on the day of vengeance against the Jews.

The Jews were defeated. The Prophet Muhammad and everybody was very surprised that only 96 Jews were killed, along with 16 Muslims. 96 people? The Prophet could have massacred the Jews, down to the last one. Why did the Prophet Muhammad let them be? Because the Prophet Muhammad does not fight for the sake of war or bloodshed. He fights for the sake of peace. this proves to what extent he is the prophet of peace.

[...]

I have a message for every Jew on the face of the earth. The army of Muhammad will return. Oh offspring of apes and pigs, the day of vengeance is nearing. Oh most accursed creatures created by Allah, those who swore before the Prophet Muhammad to die are returning. Wait for us and you will see, you most accursed creatures.

[...]
Oh nation of Muhammad, do not be afraid to wage war against the Jews. If you do not fight for the sake of Palestine, Allah will fight you. Decide what you are more afraid of – a war with the Jews, or a war with Allah. Can you fight God? If you abandon Palestine, you will be fighting God.
 
Source: MEMRI


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Ignoring "ridiculous carrot and stick policies" Iran decides to build ten new enrichment plants

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/ignoring-ridiculous-carrot-and-stick.html

An accurate description of Western policy was given by the speaker of the Iranian parliament:
"If you do not stop these ridiculous carrot-and-stick policies, we will in return adopt new policies and seriously decrease cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Larijani, an influential conservative, told the assembly.
Thumbing its nose at the world, Iran thereupon decided to build 10 new enrichment plants. No doubt the plants had been planned for a long time and may have been in process of construction.. What was really decided was to make them public.
Carrots and sticks can work on cooperative beasts. When you are dealing with a mad dog that is out of control, there is only one remedy that works.
Reuters News Agency however, seems to be blissfully ignorant of the Iranian constitution, as they wrote:
Parliament has the power to oblige the government to change its cooperation with the IAEA, as it did in 2006 after the Vienna-based agency voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council.
Final say on all legislation is that of the "Council of Experts" - the Ayatollahs, who can veto any parliamentary legislation as "un-Islamic."
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 17:36 29/11/2009
Iran approves plan for 10 new nuclear plants
By Reuters

Iran warns it will cut cooperation with UN, two days after IAEA votes to rebuke Tehran over secret enrichment plant.
The Iranian government on Sunday approved a plan to construct 10 new uranium enrichment plants, just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to rebuke the Islamic Republic for building an enrichment plant in secret.
Iran's parliament speaker said Sunday that Tehran could move to reduce its cooperation level with the United Nations nuclear agency watchdog if the West continues to pressure the Islamic state over its nuclear program.
The Islamic Republic has already denounced Friday's IAEA resolution, which won rare backing from China and Russia, as "intimidation" which would poison its talks with world powers.
"If you do not stop these ridiculous carrot-and-stick policies, we will in return adopt new policies and seriously decrease cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Larijani, an influential conservative, told the assembly.
Parliament has the power to oblige the government to change its cooperation with the IAEA, as it did in 2006 after the Vienna-based agency voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council.
Friday's resolution by the 35-nation IAEA board was a sign of spreading alarm over Tehran's failure to dispel fears it has clandestine plans to build nuclear bombs, a charge Iran denies.
It urged Iran to clarify the original purpose of the recently-disclosed Fordow enrichment site, hidden inside a mountain bunker, stop construction and confirm there are no more hidden sites.
But it was far from clear whether the West could now coax Moscow and Beijing to join in tough sanctions against Iran, something they have long prevented at the U.N. Security Council.
Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh on Friday called the resolution a "hasty" step devoid of legal basis, saying Iran would not halt its sensitive nuclear work.
He said Iran would continue to allow basic inspections at its nuclear sites but could stop making "voluntary gestures" of extra cooperation such as when it allowed widened surveillance at its rapidly expanding main enrichment complex at Natanz.
Iran says its atomic energy program is purely for peaceful purposes, aimed at generating electricity.

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U.S. diplomacy and journalism on the Arab-Israel conflict

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/us-diplomacy-and-journalism-on-arab.html

U.S. diplomacy and journalism on the Arab-Israel conflict
November 29, 9:02 AMNY Israel Conflict Examiner
Richard Shulman
How realistic and fair are U.S. diplomacy and reporting on the Arab-Israel conflict?

 
 
Isabel Kershner of the New York Times reports that Israel's Defense Min. Barak has approved building 28 public and educational institutions in Jewish "settlements" in the "West Bank."  He ordered a temporary freeze of other Jewish construction there.  The freeze does not apply to Jerusalem.  "Israel claims sovereignty over the whole of the city; the "Palestinians" want the eastern part as the capital of a future state  (11/28, A5).
 
 The U.S. asked Israel for a complete freeze and the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) to "crack down on anti-Israel violence" and the Arab states to somewhat normalize relations with Israel.  The Arab states refused.  Israel offered a partial freeze, more than any predecessor had offered, but less than Pres. Obama wished, and Abbas rejected the Israeli compromise.  The opportunity to restart negotiations was lost.  "At some point, extremists will try to provoke another war…"  (Ed., 11/28.)
 

The framework of those presentations is slanted to obscure Israel's high legal and ethical position, the Arabs low position, and U.S. Executive branch exceeding its jurisdiction.  One method of injecting bias is the terminology devised to make the Arabs seem justified in their demands:
 
 
 
(1) "Settlements," for Jews building in their historical homeland in an area that the Palestine Mandate reserved for them, including in their own capital, and not calling Arab construction "settlements.
 

(2) "West Bank," a term coined after Jordan seized Judea and Samaria, as those provinces have been known for thousands of years and still are officially named.  This is another attempt to de-Judaize them;
 
 (3) "Palestinians," coined for certain Arabs in a pretense of their having a nationality which notion they had rejected in my lifetime, until they found it expedient.  This follows the Roman re-naming of the Jewish country, so as to de-Judaize it, but in this case, to give Arabs more of a national claim there;    
 

(4) "Extremists," a flexibly applied word that seems to cover both sides, but Jews never provoked wars in modern times, the Arabs did.  Unstated by the Times is the news I reported that the P.A. is planning its third Intifada.
 

In another omission of what might lend truer perspective, Ms. Kershner ignored Israeli complaints that the public approval for more schools in Judea-Samaria was of an early stage in a series of approval steps, but that Min. Barak already had denied the next stage.  These figures are misrepresented for domestic politics.
 

Israel doesn't just claim sovereignty over its whole capital, it has it, via annexation through a normal process.  That the international lynch mob disapproves does not make truth.  To mention what Arabs want of Jerusalem as if on a par with it actually being Israel's capital, is an attempt to equate what is not of equal right or entitlement.  This is a similar technique to using those loaded terms mentioned earlier.
 
Nor is it candid to refer to the Arabs wanting eastern Jerusalem.  By covenants, maps, school and TV presentation, Islamist ideology, and Arafat's phased plan for the conquest of Israel, the Arabs signify their intent to take over all of Jerusalem and of Israel.  Is the New York Times assisting the Arabs' next phase?
 
 
Notice that the Times referred to Israel and the Arab states not meeting Pres. Obama's requests, but did not refer to the P.A. not meeting it.  The newspaper puts it as the P.A. is supposed to "crack down on anti-Israel violence."  That is disingenuous, being incorrect and vague enough to allow claims that the P.A. fulfilled its obligation.   The Oslo Accords, which have a legal basis, and the Road Map, which is advisory, both state that the P.A. must dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.  Oslo does not require a building freeze.  The Road Map suggests one after P.A. action.  As many of my articles show, the P.A. has not done that.
 
Instead, the P.A. raised a new demand, the freeze, as a pre-condition for negotiation.  If U.S. diplomacy and media reporting were fair, they would admit that the onus for non-negotiation is on the Arabs.  (Not that I expect negotiation to bring peace with Arabs who use diplomacy to pursue Arafat's phased plan for the conquest of Israel).  And some of the onus is on Pres. Obama, whose suggestion for Israel facilitated making it an Arab pre-condition for negotiating.
 
 
Both U.S. diplomats and the Times make another false equivalency between the Arabs and Israel, in suggesting that both sides need to prove good faith before negotiation.  The Arabs walked out of earlier negotiations, refused to negotiate, and set pre-conditions for it.  Israel long has been willing to negotiate and without pre-conditions.  That shows which side demonstrates bad faith.  The New York Times reportage demonstrates advocacy journalism, in which it steers, rather than informs, the public.
 
 


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Joint session of German and Israeli governments - a symbolic occasion

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/joint-session-of-german-and-israeli.html

German friendship for Israel is valuable and must be cultivated, despite the heavy weight of the past, or perhaps because of it. In the long run, this bond may prove to be more "unbreakable" than the bond with the United States. German friendship must stand not only for Germany, but for Germany's considerable influence in the EU, since Germany is the largest economy in Europe.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Berlin on Monday for a special joint session of the German and Israeli governments, a symbolic visit highlighting the two nations' bond six decades after the Holocaust.
 
It is the first time an Israeli government will convene in Berlin, the former headquarters of the Nazi regime. The visit is more than ceremonial: High on the agenda will be Germany's latest push to win the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held for three years by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
 
Netanyahu said Sunday that the visit would focus on Mideast security and diplomacy. "Germany is a loyal partner in the great efforts to promote peace and strengthen security," he told his Cabinet.
 
Since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1965, Germany has become perhaps Israel's strongest ally in Europe. Germany is Israel's second-largest trade partner - after the U.S. - and the Germans have played a leading role in international efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. It also has paid $39.4 billion to Holocaust survivors in Israel.
 
Monday's session follows a historic visit last year by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Cabinet to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. She addressed the Israeli parliament and expressed shame over the Holocaust. At the end of Merkel's 20-minute speech, delivered in German, legislators gave her a standing ovation.
 
Merkel's spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said the top themes Monday would include environmental issues, economic cooperation and progress of the Middle East peace process. He said the international effort to halt Iran's suspect nuclear program would also come up.
 
Though not on the official agenda, the German-mediated efforts to arrange a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas will certainly be discussed.
 
Wilhelm would say only that Germany is ready to give help and support wherever
it is possible and wanted.
 
Netanyahu's entourage will include seven Cabinet ministers - including his defense and foreign ministers - who will meet separately with their German counterparts.
 
"This is a serious upgrade of the relations to the highest level possible," said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, one of the participants on the trip.
 
In an emotional visit to Germany in August, Netanyahu received the blueprints to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. A month later, he waved the yellowing sketches at the United Nations in a passionate critique of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's questioning of the Holocaust.
 
Monday's visit also coincides with the opening in Munich of the trial of accused Nazi criminal John Demjanjuk.
 
In the 1980s, Demjanjuk stood trial in Israel accused of being the notoriously brutal guard Ivan the Terrible. He was convicted, sentenced to death, then freed when an Israeli court ruled he was a victim of mistaken identity.
 
The 89-year-old, who was deported from the U.S. to Germany earlier this year, now stands accused of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp.
 


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Illegal settlements? What's in a word?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/illegal-settlements-whats-in-word.html

The OFICL notes that the US accepted the British mandatory borders of Palestine in 1924, making the settlements legal. However, the United States also accepted the state of Israel within its borders and the UN partition plan of 1947. The question of which of these takes precedence is interesting.
 
However, the United States has not called the settlements illegal. Instead it has said that settlement construction is "illegitimate" because Israel undertook to freeze settlement construction in the framework of the roadmap.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
NGO to Clinton: Settlements are legal
Nov. 28, 2009
JACOB KANTER , THE JERUSALEM POST
The Office for Israeli Constitutional Law, a non-governmental legal action organization, sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, warning that by labeling Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal, she is violating international law.
 
The little-known Anglo-American Convention, a treaty signed by the US and British governments in 1924, stipulated that the US fully accepted upon itself the Mandate for Palestine, which declared all of the West Bank within its borders.
 
"The treaty has been hidden," said OFICL director Mark Kaplan. "But if you look at the House [of Representatives] deliberations during World War I, people are saying, 'Look, we've invested a lot of money in Palestine, and we expect that this treaty will be upheld.'"
 
Though the United Nations' 1947 partition plan declared the West Bank an Arab territory, the mandate's borders still hold today.
 
"The mandate expired in 1948 when Israel got its independence," Kaplan said. "But the American-Anglo convention was a treaty that was connected to the mandate. Treaties themselves have no statute of limitations, so their rights go on ad infinitum."
 
"The UN partition plan was just that-a plan," said OFICL chairman Michael Snidecor in a statement. "The General Assembly has no authority to create countries or change borders."
 
Clinton's rhetoric, according to Kaplan, has become more and more troubling.
 
"Our letter was sent as a result of so many comments that have been made by the secretary of state," he said. "It's part of a process that we've been involved with for a number of months, but we're speeding things up because of the acceleration of recent events."
 
A few days after praising Israel for its "unprecedented" actions in freezing settlement activity, Clinton reemphasized the supposedly illegal status of the settlements.
 
"The United States believes that settlements are not legitimate," she said. "That has been the policy of our government for 40 years. That is the policy of President [Barack] Obama today and going forward."
 
According to Kaplan, the IDF presence in the West Bank has added to this misconception of illegal activity.
 
"Israel chose to adopt a policy of military rule in 1967, which makes it smell of occupation," Kaplan said. "And the world says it is illegal occupation because of all the propaganda that's been out there. Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria does not qualify as an occupation under international law because of the Anglo-American Convention, and if you look at the Hague and Geneva conventions."
 
The OFICL letter also warned Clinton that if her office does not comply with the civil rights recognized in the Anglo-American convention, OFICL will file a class-action suit in a US district court.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze last Wednesday, but the letter, which was also sent to Netanyahu's office, states that under the legal principle of estoppel - which precludes someone from denying the truth of a fact which has been determined in an official proceeding or by an authoritative body - any demand on Israel to freeze construction within the mandated borders is illegal under US law.
 
According to one adviser, Netanyahu's staff is reviewing the documents and will discuss the issues before replying to OFICL's planned actions.
This article can also be read a


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Juden raus! - The crime of being a Zionist

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/juden-raus-crime-of-being-zionist.html

 
I am an 81-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. Strange things happened to me last week in Germany.
 
A journalist, I had been invited by a student organization at Bielefeld University and College to give a lecture on "Racism and Anti-Semitism in Hungary." My host was the left-wing anti-fascist group Antifa AG at the Bielefeld campus, located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
 
 
My lecture was scheduled to take place on November 19 at a youth center that serves as the home of a number of left-wing organizations. The event had been announced in late October, but two days before I was to appear, at a meeting of people who frequent the center, several raised an objection about my speaking there. They said they had received information that during Israel's War of Independence, when I served in the Palmach (the pre-state elite strike force of the Haganah), I had participated in a massacre in a Palestinian village. They went so far as to allege that I myself had actively participated in the killing.
 
Those accusing me did not name the place where this alleged massacre was committed, or provide any other details, and even acknowledged that their information was incomplete. But when pushed for corroboration, they settled the matter by explaining that "Pfeifer is a Zionist." At the same time, in an apparent - and bizarre - attempt to appear even-handed, those in attendance resolved that they also would not be willing to host someone who had been a member of the militant Palestinian organization Black September in the 1970s.
 
Of course, no one at the youth center asked me to respond to the accusations before they decided to rescind the invitation. Nor have any of them been willing to answer the questions of German journalists who learned about the incident regarding just why they excluded me. I only learned about what happened because it was reported to someone in Antifa by two of its members who had been present at the decisive meeting.
 
Fortunately, my hosts were able to organize an alternate space with limited notice, and I gave my lecture in the end. My subject was Hungary, where a recent resurgence of racist acts and statements can be observed. This includes the murder of eight Roma (Gypsies) in racial attacks during the past two years, and the shocking anti-Jewish verbal attacks in the right-wing media there and on YouTube.
 
As for me, I did indeed serve in the Palmach and the Israel Defense Forces from 1946 until 1950, after arriving in Mandatory Palestine in 1943. And although I left Israel in 1950, I am proud of my service as a soldier there, when we were defending ourselves against aggression and fighting for the right to have our own state. I did not participate in any massacres, but I know that improper acts were carried out by both sides in the conflict between Israel and its neighbors, as happens during wartime.
 
But the comparison of the Palmach with Black September, which carried out murderous acts of terrorism against civilians in the name of the Palestinian struggle, is an outrageous and ignorant one.
 
To accuse someone of having participated in a "massacre" - in this case, with no details and no proof - is an act of projection that is unfortunately not unusual in certain European circles. The best-known and by far the most widespread example of projection of guilt is the defamation of Israelis as the "Nazis of today." This is one of the most objectionable forms of anti-Semitism in the era after Auschwitz. As far as I can tell, my real crime apparently is being a "Zionist," which I can only understand as being guilty of being a Jew who defended himself and who favors the existence of a Jewish and democratic state. In Germany, I had the feeling that I was being judged by those arrogant anti-Semites not on the basis of what I have done or am doing, but for what I am.
 
Karl Pfeifer is a Vienna-based journalist.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Switzerland - not holier than thou after all

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/switzerland-not-holier-than-thou-after.html

Switzerland's Choice of Friends

By Assaf Sagiv



Given Europe's bloody history of conflict, Switzerland can perhaps be proud that it arouses no particularly intense emotions. Certainly no one hates it with the passion generally reserved for the Americans or the Jews -- but then again, no one really adores it, either. For the most part, criticism of Switzerland goes no further than noting that its contribution to humanity has been fairly modest and that the country is, well, rather boring. Even the sharpest tongues have found little in Switzerland to infuriate: "I don't like Switzerland," declared Oscar Wilde. "It has produced nothing but theologians and waiters." Dorothy Parker, the wisecracking poet and journalist, once wrote that "the Swiss are a neat and industrious people, none of whom is under seventy-five years of age. They make cheeses, milk chocolate, and watches, all of which, when you come right down to it, are fairly unnecessary." And who can forget the words of the great film director Orson Welles in The Third Man? "In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love. They had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

The Swiss have earned their reputation for blandness: For centuries, they distanced themselves from the turmoil of world politics, as well as from the wars that tore neighboring European countries to pieces. With few exceptions, they refrained from joining any league or alliance that might obligate them to take a political, military, or economic stand. And although Switzerland is home to numerous international organizations, it held off joining the United Nations until 2002 and is still not a member of the European Union. Yet this calculated aloofness, far from exasperating the world, seems instead to have played to its advantage: Even now, after the echoes of Europe's most recent wars have died down, Switzerland is still viewed by many as an island of calm, stability, and sanity.
What a pity, then, that Switzerland's pastoral image has come at the price of ignoring many of the basic values that any enlightened nation is duty-bound to uphold. In recent months, a series of controversial diplomatic moves have reflected a disturbing eagerness on the part of the Swiss government to appease some of the world's greatest despots and terrorists, casting doubt (and not for the first time) on the public integrity and political insight of those who advocate a policy of neutrality. Indeed, these actions illustrate the vast moral chasm facing those who may be tempted to follow the Swiss example—a temptation with dangerous implications both for the future of the West and for freedom-loving peoples everywhere.
 
In late April of this year, Switzerland played host to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, generally known as Durban II. Though the UN took care to bill the gathering as a prestigious event, several leading Western democracies boycotted it, for reasons self-evident to anyone who recalled Durban I. Although the previous conference, held in South Africa in 2001, purported to promote tolerance, enlightenment, and love of mankind, it quickly dissolved into a grotesque festival of Israel-bashing. As signs increased that the ugly spectacle was set to repeat itself this year, the United States and Israel—along with Canada, Germany, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia—announced their intention to stay home.
 
Their decision was vindicated on the conference's opening day, when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—a Holocaust denier who openly calls for Israel's annihilation—addressed those assembled on the subject of the Jewish state's "barbaric racism." Dozens of European Union representatives, in an act of public protest, walked out on his speech. Switzerland, however, took a different tack: Its president, Hans-Rudolf Merz, was all smiles and warm handshakes, even meeting with Ahmadinejad for several hours that same day. To be sure, the pair had good reason for this mutual show of affection. Only one year earlier, the Swiss energy company EGL had contracted to import 5.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Iran annually between 2011 and 2035 at a price of close to $40 billion—a move, it should be noted, that undermined American efforts to put economic pressure on the Islamic regime in an attempt to slow its push toward nuclear armament. Faced with international criticism for his country's affability toward Iran, Merz fell back on its old, foolproof motto: "Switzerland," he declared, "is neutral."
 
Less than two months later, it was Hamas's turn to enjoy Swiss hospitality. A delegation headed by one of the organization's leaders, Mahmoud al-Zahar, visited Geneva at the invitation of a local research institute. Both the United States and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group, and forbid its members to set foot on their soil. This, however, did not dissuade high-ranking Swiss diplomats from meeting with its emissaries. When the international media learned of the visit, Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey rushed to justify her government's conduct by declaring that "Hamas is a major player in the Middle East, and one cannot ignore it."


This ostentatious display of tolerance—dare we say, friendliness?—shown by the Swiss government toward Palestinian terrorists will not surprise those who have followed the exploits of Swiss activist Jean Ziegler, a member of the Advisory Committee to the UN Human Rights Council. Ziegler, who was elected to the post in March 2008 following a particularly vigorous lobbying campaign on the part of the Swiss government, is an ardent critic of both Israel and the United States—and a vigorous defender of terrorist organizations and dictators. (He is, for example, one of the founders of the Libyan-funded Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, of which he himself was a recipient in 2002.) In recent years, Ziegler has repeatedly accused Israel of "war crimes," labeled Gaza an "immense concentration camp," and accused IDF soldiers of acting like "concentration camp guards." In the same spirit, Ziegler declared in 2006 that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization but a "national resistance movement." In light of its recent behavior, it is only fitting that the Swiss government regards this homegrown radical as an eminent public figure, and his work a source of pride. Who better, after all, to represent a state so anxious to prove it is not an ally of Western democracies? (For a comprehensive review of Jean Ziegler's exploits, see Hillel Neuer's "Ziegler's Follies," Azure 32, Spring 2008.)
 
It might be tempting to chalk Swiss diplomacy up to a case of ovezealous neutrality. Yet it hardly cuts both ways: In July of this year, the official Swiss news agency reported that Ahmadinejad's congenial hosts had decided to exhibit a more reserved attitude toward the Dalai Lama. Although the exiled Tibetan leader has been a lifelong proponent of non-violent resistance—in stark contrast, for example, to Mahmoud al-Zahar—the Swiss government decided to shun him during his visit to Lausanne in early August. Given that Switzerland is now in advanced negotiations with China over a free-trade agreement, it seems reasonable to conclude that the decision to sidestep the 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was the result of pressure from Beijing. In a radio interview, Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey reluctantly admitted as much. "It's not a good time, it's a difficult period, it's impossible for me, for my colleagues too," she said.
 
By contrast, the Swiss have been particularly obsequious toward Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In July 2008, Gaddafi's son Hannibal and his wife Aline were arrested in Geneva after beating two domestic employees. After posting half a million Swiss francs in bail, the couple was released two days later. The Libyans were nonetheless outraged: Gaddafi the elder immediately slapped a series of sanctions on Switzerland—which he called a "mafia state" at the yearly G8 meeting—including the halting of all oil exports, the cancellation of all flights between the two countries, and the withdrawal of some $5 billion in Libyan assets from Swiss banks. For the Swiss, this was all too much to bear. During an August 2009 visit to Libya, the Swiss president publicly groveled before his hosts, apologizing for Hannibal's "unjust arrest."
The Swiss people are noted for several praiseworthy national traits, such as seriousness and precision. Unfortunately, as their leaders' recent actions and the not-so-distant past demonstrate, they are sorely lacking in one crucial quality: shame.
 
In truth, the Swiss flirtation with political evil is not new; it dates back seven decades: Although Switzerland ostensibly remained neutral throughout World War II, even readying itself for the very real possibility of a German invasion, it did not shy away from active financial collaboration with the Nazi regime. The Swiss National Bank served as chief money-changer for the Third Reich, allowing the Germans to deposit enormous amounts of gold—some $400 million at wartime exchange rates—looted from their Jewish victims and occupied countries. It then converted roughly one quarter of it into hard currency, which Germany used to buy products and raw materials from other neutral countries. Under pressure from the Allies, these states reduced the extent of their trade with the Axis powers; only Switzerland declined to forgo its profitable cooperation with its northern neighbor. It continued to do business with the Nazis until the final weeks of the war, thus oiling the German military machine long after the bell had tolled for Hitler's empire.
Switzerland's conduct toward persecuted European Jews was equally deplorable. Until 1943, it refused entry to Jewish refugees, claiming its doors were open only to those persecuted on political grounds. Tens of thousands of individuals in mortal danger on account of their ethnic or religious origins were thus considered unfit to enjoy the protection of an ostensibly neutral state. In 1938, worried by the influx of unwanted elements, the Swiss authorities—most notably Dr. Heinrich Rothmund, Swiss chief of police—convinced the German government to stamp the Jews' passports with the letter "J" so they could be more easily identified, and thus prevented from entering Switzerland. In total, the Swiss deported more than 30,000 Jewish refugees, most of whom were subsequently murdered by the Nazis. Those allowed to remain in Switzerland were held in detention camps so as to keep from taking up permanent residence, and shortly after the war, most were forced to leave. According to Swiss historian Edgar Bonjour, the responsibility for his country's callous and exploitative policy during the Holocaust does not lie solely with functionaries or politicians. "The whole generation failed and shares the guilt," he emphasized.
 

Nor did later generations do their best to make amends. For decades, Holocaust survivors and their families who sought to reclaim capital they had deposited in Swiss banks before and during the war were met with outright refusal. Only in 1998, following a lengthy public campaign and persistent legal struggle, did the banks consent to set up a fund of $1.25 billion to compensate the heirs of the original depositors: the Jewish refugees Switzerland turned away during the war and those it used as slave labor. Stuart Eizenstat, the United States ambassador to the European Union at the time, who played a major role in exposing Swiss injustice and forcing restitution, explains in his book Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II (2003) that
The story of the Swiss reparations process is not a story of easy successes or idyllic justice. The Swiss banks were at best insensitive and at worst antagonistic.… The Swiss government was not cooperative. Only through the diplomatic efforts of the U.S. government, threats of sanctions and boycotts by lawyers and Jewish organizations, class-action lawsuits, and heated negotiations did my colleagues and I help produce results far beyond anyone's expectations.
Eizenstat further notes that the difficult negotiations he conducted with both the banks and the government in Bern led to an outbreak of vicious antisemitism in Switzerland. He mentions, by way of example, a cartoon published in a local newspaper at the time: "Under the caption Helvetia under Drunk ('Switzerland under pressure') is a Jew holding a press, crushing Mother Switzerland into disgorging gold."
Undoubtedly, Switzerland's dark past only inflamed the anger felt by many Jews and Israelis over its recent decision to befriend some of their worst enemies. In the wake of the meeting between presidents Merz and Ahmadinejad, Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland for consultations, and President Shimon Peres declared, "There must be a limit, even to the neutrality of Switzerland." But with diplomatic protests falling on deaf ears, some have suggested a different course of action. In a fuming, sardonic piece in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, journalist Nadav Eyal reasoned: Money talks. Maybe ours can, too. Israeli businessmen who are shareholders in Swiss banks could sell their shares. Just like that! The Finance Ministry could encourage them to do so, in its own mysterious way. The Knesset, for its part, could take several painful measures affecting Switzerland's leading export industry—the banking secrecy that it offers to those who have something to hide. Incidentally, it's safe to assume—and this is only a wild guess—that the Swiss banks have one or two Jewish customers. Perhaps they could be persuaded to deposit their money in other banks whose countries are not so eager to give out Toblerone to dictators and terrorists with a special interest in killing Jews.

Eyal's resentment is certainly justified, and some of his suggestions indeed make sense. But it would be a mistake to think that the problem begins and ends with Switzerland. Ultimately, Swiss policies are but an extreme example of a much wider phenomenon, and reflect an approach that appeals to many in Europe and beyond. Put simply, it holds that in a world where armed rivals are engaged in a game of life and death, the smartest thing to do is to watch from the sidelines.

In the past, this assumption might have made sense: When Switzerland first adopted its policy of neutrality in the sixteenth century, it did so because it had no choice. Home to various cultural and linguistic groups living side by side, it was forced to contend not only with the danger of foreign conquest, but also internal schism. Under the circumstances, neutrality was the only viable option. It was also, and perhaps more importantly, not morally problematic: In the power struggles between Europe's various monarchs and, later, nation-states, no side held a fundamental moral advantage over its rivals.

In the twentieth century, however, the picture changed dramatically. World War II and the ensuing confrontation between the West and the Soviet bloc were not merely geopolitical conflicts between morally equivalent parties. Rather, they were clashes between worldviews, each of which sought to propel mankind in an opposing direction. These battles set open societies against closed ones, democracies against dictatorships, and value systems that promote pluralism and tolerance (albeit often begrudgingly honored) against ideologies that sought to obliterate the "other." The battle being waged today between the West and radical Islam is no different. The atrocities carried out by extremist Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, and Israel—and let us not forget New York—have made it clear that, now as then, the forces of freedom are up against unconstrained evil.

 

In such a conflict, there is no place for neutrality—or passivity, indifference, and weakness. The reality of our world demands total commitment to one or the other side. Sadly, Switzerland is not the only state that has chosen to be one of what Dante called "the sad souls… who lived without blame and without praise." Even among those nations that have proclaimed their willingness to fight to protect their freedoms, many too frequently prefer to avoid decisive action, thus enabling their enemies to gather strength and prepare for the next round. Thus, for example, is Israel obliged to sit back and watch while Iran's nuclear project, which poses an apocalyptic threat to its existence, moves forward, while in America and Europe—not to mention China and Russia—statesmen talk incessantly of "diplomatic channels" and warn against "burning bridges" with the Muslim world. And when the president of the United States asserts, in his initial response to the presidential election fraud in Iran and the subsequent suppression of popular protest, that "it's not productive" for his country to intervene, his words recall the advice of Switzerland's fifteenth-century patron saint, Nicholas of Fl�e, who counseled his flock: "Don't get involved in other people's affairs."
 
History shows that at times there is simply no escaping involvement in other people's affairs—lest we wish them to become our own. Winston Churchill once said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." If we seek to avert disaster, we cannot suffice with not feeding the crocodile. We must also confront those who do.
 
Assaf Sagiv
October 2009


Continued (Permanent Link)


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