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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why Israel's left has disappeared

A somewhat surprising analysis, considering the source!
Why Israel's left has disappeared
By Carlo Strenger
The left has failed to provide a realistic picture of the conflict with the Palestinians.
Israel's left has disappeared; it has nearly no parliamentary representation and remarkably little public presence. At first glance, this is a paradox, because the left's program has, in many ways, won, as Yossi Sarid said when he left the Knesset for good. The idea of a Palestinian state, anathema in Israeli society a few decades ago, is now accepted by the mainstream.
The left has dissipated because it has failed to provide a realistic picture of the conflict with the Palestinians. Its ideological foundation was based on a simple prediction: If we offer the Palestinians a state in the territories occupied in 1967, there will be "peace now."
Then things started to go wrong. After the Oslo process began, the newly formed Palestinian Authority educated its children with violently anti-Israeli and often straightforwardly anti-Semitic textbooks. The suicide bombings of 1996 were not prevented by Arafat (some say they were supported). What brought the left down completely were the failures of Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001, as well as the onset of the second intifada.
On the face of it, Israel's left should have said "we were wrong in our predictions. We underestimated the complexity of the situation. We didn't see that the Palestinians were not ready to renounce the right of return and we underestimated how much murderous rage there was against Israel. We still believe that we need to end the occupation as quickly as possible, but we need to face reality."
Instead of admitting that it had been partially wrong, the left tried to explain away all the facts that didn't square with its theory by putting the onus of responsibility for Palestinian actions exclusively on Israel's policies. The left argued that the bombings in 1996 happened because the Oslo process was too slow and the Palestinians wanted to avenge the targeted killing of Yihye Ayash; Camp David failed because prime minister Ehud Barak's offers were insufficient. The second intifada started because of Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000. Hamas came to power because we turned Fatah into collaborators with the Zionists, and so on.
The Israeli left's thinking is governed by what I call SLES (Standard Left Explanatory System). This intellectual construct gained popularity in Europe and the United States in the 1960s after the demise of European colonialism. The basic principle of SLES is simple: Always support the underdog, particularly when non-Western, and always accuse Western powers, preferably the United States and its allies, for what the underdog does. Anything aggressive or destructive a non-Western group says or does must be explained by Western dominance or oppression. This ranges from the emergence of Al-Qaida, which is blamed on the United States' dropping of its support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan after the Soviets were expelled, to corruption and violence in Africa, which is blamed on the aftereffects of European colonialism.
SLES is built on very questionable psychology: It assumes that if you are nice to people, all conflicts will disappear. It simply disregards the human desire for dominance, power and a belief system that gives them self-respect. As a result, SLES, under the guise of humanitarianism, assumes that non-Western groups don't have a will of their own; that all they do, feel or want is purely reactive to the West. It is also devoid of respect for non-Western groups: It assumes that they are not responsible for their deeds, and that all they do must be explained by victimization by the West.
If you listen to the left's explanations of Palestinian behavior, you might easily conclude that Israel is omnipotent and that Palestinians have no self will. In conversations with Palestinians I have heard more than once that they feel that the right wing respects them more than the left because the left always presumes to know what the Palestinians really want.
I want to make one thing very clear. I completely endorse Yeshayahu Leibowitz's famous saying that he is not sure whether Israel's policies since 1967 are evil stupidity or stupidly evil, and I continue to think that the occupation must end as quickly as possible. But I believe that Israel's stupidity is matched by the Palestinians making every conceivable mistake along the way, and I think the left should give them the respect of holding them responsible for their actions rather than talking about them as if they were abused children, as SLES prescribes.
Israel's most urgent problem is ending the conflict with the Palestinians, and the left will not gain popularity by turning greener or more socialist. If Israel's left wants to regain some credibility and convince voters that it has a role to play, it needs to give the Israeli public a reasonable picture of reality. And it needs a plan of action that is more intelligent than the right's tactic of trying (unsuccessfully) to explain to the world that the conflict cannot be solved but only managed.
The writer teaches at the psychology department of Tel Aviv University and is a member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Media dump on Israel for unfair media coverage of Israel

Israel's bad image: Blaming the victim

All of us know what a beating Israel has taken in the press. Newsweek's Michael Hirsh has taken note of Israel's bad image, but instead of naming the real culprit, he uses it as the occasion for another round of (relatively mild) Israel bashing. The entire problem, according to Hirsh, is Israel's inept public relations skills.

Books could be, and should be, written about the failings of Israeli public relations and press management. It is under-budgeted, inept, unresponsive and sometimes seems to concentrate on alienating the entire foreign press corps. All that is granted. But all the PR expertise in the world, and all the budget in the world will not solve the problem of Israeli public relations. According to Hirsh for example, it is Israel's fault that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian dictator, upstaged Benjamin Netanyahu when they were both in New York. Israel was at fault because the press found it better infotainment to give fawning interviews to Ahmadinejad, where only the right questions would be asked - the ones he wanted them to ask. Israel was presumably also at fault when Columbia university, having coincidentally gotten a $100,000 bribe from the Alavi foundation, a front for the government of Iran, invited the Iranian dictator to express his views about the Jewish problem, gay rights and democracy.

Carol Saivetz and Marvin Kalb documented how the media distorted the Second Lebanon war to help turn "nasty" Nasrallah into a hero and the Israelis into villains. Hirsh just might have been familiar with that study, though strangely, he didn't mention it. The staged ambulance chases, the fake smoke in the photos, the same "victims" showing up in different locations, products of Hizbollywood, were eagerly delivered by the media to an audience anxious for "real dirt" on Israel. Media coverage of the Gaza war was a barely disguised remake of the Second Lebanon war.


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Sahten - Israel wins a round in the Humus (Hoummus, Hummus) war

Humus is a dish made from ground chickpeas usually mixed with Tehinah - ground sesame seeds.  The Humus in question, which beat out the Lebanese effort for a Guinness world record,  was prepared in the Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh, not far from Jerusalem. In your face, Hassan Nasrallah.
You may laugh, but it seems the Lebanese take this issue very seriously, and are concerned about the pernicious effect of Zionist Hummus on the gastronomy and psyche of the Lebanese people, and the insidious Jew/Arab Zionist conspiracy to achieve hegemony over the Hummus world. .  
Ami Isseroff
Israel has taken the upper hand in a new kind of Mideast conflict, one in which bullets are replaced by chickpeas.
Using a satellite dish on loan from a nearby broadcast station, cooks in an Arab town near Jerusalem whipped up more than four metric tons of hummus, the chickpea paste that is a staple - and a near-religious obsession - for many in the Middle East.
The cooks doubled the previous record for the world's biggest serving of hummus, set in October by cooks in Lebanon. That record broke an earlier Israeli record and briefly put Lebanon ahead.
Hundreds of jubilant Israelis, a mix of Arabs and Jews, gathered around the giant dish in the town of Abu Ghosh on Friday, many of them dancing as a singer performed an Arabic love song to the beige chickpea paste.
Just after midday, an adjudicator sent from London by Guinness World Records,Jack Brockbank, confirmed that the Israeli chefs now held the record. He put the exact amount of hummus in the giant dish at 9,017 pounds (4,090kilograms).
Lebanon and Israel have officially been at war for six decades. Three months ago, when the Lebanese chefs prepared their record-breaking dish, they called it a move to reaffirm ownership of a Lebanese food they claimed had been appropriated by Israelis.
The event organizer in Lebanon, Fady Jreissat, said "Lebanon is trying to win a battle against Israel by registering this new Guinness World Record and telling the whole world that hummus is a Lebanese product, it's part of our traditions."
The driving force behind the Israeli hummus dish, Jawdat Ibrahim, an Israeli Arab restaurateur who became a millionaire after winning a lottery in the U.S., played down the conflict, saying competition is a healthy thing.
"Today we have the hummus. Hopefully, we will have the talks for peace in our region," he said.
The hummus war has been simmering for some time. In 2008, a group of Lebanese businessmen announced plans to sue Israel to stop it from marketing hummus and other regional dishes as Israeli.
One of the businessmen involved in the planned suit, Fadi Abboound, said, "It is not enough they are stealing our land. They are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine."
Many in the Arab world see Israel as a Western implant in the region, though a majority of Israel's population is of Middle Eastern and North African descent. The chefs responsible for Friday's record were from the country's one-fifth Arab minority.
On Friday, a newscaster on Israel's Army Radio referred to the hummus clash as the third Lebanon war.

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Al Qaeda and Hamas

It seems that if the Hamas are not linked directly to Al-Qaeda it is not for want of trying to form such a link. The rivalry witnessed in the Gaza strip is evidently not due to ideology, but to personal ambition of different leaderships.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 21:29 08/01/2010       
Study: Gaza militants fall short trying for al-Qaida link
By Associated Press

Palestinian militant groups are moving closer to Al-Qaida, but Osama bin Laden's terror network has so far snubbed Hamas and its offshoots for infighting and failure to prove their global jihadist intentions, a study has found.
Al-Qaida has granted formal ties with insurgent organizations in Yemen and North Africa but does not yet appear to believe that Hamas and its splinter groups are sufficiently focused beyond Israel to the Western world, according to the study by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The study, obtained by The Associated Press, is scheduled for release next week. It suggests al-Qaida may be waiting patiently for a Gaza-based terror group to establish itself, perhaps by successfully executing an attack on a Western target.
Matthew Levitt, a co-author of the study, said about Gaza-based terror groups, "Al-Qaida likely remains unconvinced of the ideological commitment of groups like Jaish al-Islam. Al-Qaida may also have concerns about the survivability of such groups, including their susceptibility to infiltration by Israeli intelligence."
Levitt's co-author is Yoram Cohen, who until recently served as the deputy director of the Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet.
U.S. administrations have struggled but so far failed to broker an enduring deal in the six-decade old Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has since fired rockets into Israel regularly. A year ago, Israel struck back with an offensive that left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, including many civilians. The Palestinian rockets have killed 13 Israelis.
Since the December 2008-January 2009 war, Gaza's Hamas rulers have gained strength but also have received sharp criticism from extremist operatives who have denounced the group's temporary cease-fires or truces with Israel and want the immediate implementation of Sharia, Islamic law, in Gaza.
According to the study, the rift between Hamas and its more formidable extremist offshoots - such as Jaish al-Umma, Jaish al-Islam and Jaish Ansar Allah - provides fertile ground for al-Qaida inspired terror. So far, however, the numbers are low, with about 200-300 militants in each group.
Small numbers of foreign fighters also slip into Gaza, including radicalized Europeans from France and Belgium along with militants from Egypt and Yemen.
Levitt and Cohen warn that the al-Qaida inspired groups in Gaza think big and are regularly plotting large-scale attacks against Israel.
Their capabilities could be enhanced if larger numbers of foreign fighters enter Gaza or if Palestinians who have fought abroad return there, the report says.
The report quotes one militant leader as saying, "We are waiting to carry out a big jihadist operation dedicated to bin Laden. If al-Qaida asks us to pledge allegiance to it, we are completely ready for it."

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My God is better than your God, My God is better than yours...

It seems that Muslims are to have the patent on the word "Allah" - at least in Malaysia. Three churches were firebombed there, even after the government suspended a Supreme Court ruling that Catholics can use the word "Allah" to signify God.
What a heart warming example of how religion brings people together and promotes harmony, so suitable for the Christmas season!. What a great illustration of how smoothly a multi-ethnic state can work given the tolerant traditions of Islam. Jonathan Swift could not write a parody about this, as it would not be believed.
It is obvious that God is all merciful and a promoter of peace, and that is the reason to firebomb churches. It is also obvious that someone has the wrong God and someone else has the right God, because there could not be two Gods, could there? Having the wrong God can be hazardous to your health.
 I have been told by experts that one must translate "Allah" as "God" in English because to do otherwise would promote Islamophobia. For example, "The Imam said, 'May Allah punish the Jewish sons of dogs and apes.'" is supposedly an Islamophobic translation. The correct translation would be  "The Imam said, 'May God punish the Jewish sons of dogs and apes,'" it is claimed.
Evidently it is not so, and if you translate Allah as God or God as "Allah" you may be firebombed. 

Three churches in Malaysia were firebombed early Friday as religious tension continues over a court decision that allows a Catholic publication to use the word 'Allah' for God, which Catholics claim is a long-standing practice.
By Tom A. Peter
posted January 8, 2010 at 7:05 am EST
Three churches in Malaysia were firebombed early Friday morning as its government works to quell religious tensions following a court ruling – and a subsequent government appeal – that allows the country's Christians to use the term Allah to refer to God. Only one church was seriously damaged and no one was injured.
Mosques throughout the country also small organized protests during their Friday prayer services and there are reports of cars with Christian stickers having their windshields smashed.
The controversy began when The Herald, a Roman Catholic newspaper in Malaysia, challenged a ban against the periodical using Allah in the Malay-language section of their newspaper to refer to God in a Christian context. Though Allah has been incorporated into the Malay language to mean God and the Koran teaches (Surah 29:46) that Christians, Muslims, and Jews share the same God, many Malaysian Muslims contend that Allah only refers to God for Muslims. Many allege Christians are using Allah in an effort to convert Muslims to Christianity, reports The Times of London.
Malaysian Christians argue that they have used Allah "for decades" in their Malay-language Bibles without any issues. In the court case, the Herald's legal team argued that Allah is an Arabic word for God and that they use it in their publication to serve the needs of their subscribers in Borneo. Time magazine reported that they rejected claims of trying to convert Muslims.
Meanwhile, tensions continue to mount between religious groups in Malaysia. Muslims constitute a slight majority, with Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists comprising the rest of the population. Although Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak originally supported protests against the court ruling that began last week, The Wall Street Journal reports that he is now calling for calm and asking citizens not to blame the government for inspiring the church attacks.

"There should be no over-zealous action that can harm the harmony of the country," Mr. Najib said.
Political analysts say Mr. Najib is attempting to tread a fine line between wooing the support of Malaysia's large ethnic-Chinese and Indian minorities, who make up around 40% of the country's population, and maintaining the support of an ethnic-Malay majority that has become increasingly defined by its Islamic faith in recent years.
As protests continue, there is concern among many Malaysians that the unrest represents an increasingly Islamicized government. In an interview with Al Jazeera Azmi Sharom, a columnist and law professor at Universiti Malaya, said that the government had been "pandering" to the groups of people who are now protesting for a long time.

He said the government allowed some groups to protest when others were banned because the main ruling Umno party - which depends on the Malay/Muslim demographic to remain in power - was "unwilling to do anything which would seem to go against what they think is the Malay/Muslim desire."
A report in the Malaysian Insider, however, warns that the attacks may be "triggering a blame game with opposition leaders pointing fingers at their political rivals" for stoking religious tensions. Additionally, it reported that a number of Muslims disapprove of the recent church attacks, while there are also many Christians who disagree with using the word Allah to describe God.


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Thursday, January 7, 2010

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) brings their anti-Semitism out of the closet

It seems the American Friends Service Committee has finally come clean, or has it?
For the longest time, the holier than thou American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)  has carefully maintained pretence of working for conflict resolution and Quaker pacifist values. It is true that their publication and Web site published at least one ignorant and obnoxious screed supporting "Right" of Return for Palestinian Arab refugees (and their descendants, and foreign spouses, and children of those foreign spouses). But they got around that with a pious disclaimer that the views in their journal are not their own. Why would someone publish a journal with views that are not their own?
But now they finally admitted that they are against the Jewish right to self determination. They are not working for conflict resolution and peace, but for destruction of a member state of the UN. It must be a relief to finally admit the truth after all those years of pretending they are for pacifism and nonviolence and rights for everyone. Hypocrisy is a great burden on the psyche.
At a pro-Hamas demonstration in San Francisco last week, Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee finally dropped all pretense about their position on Israel. While both of these groups had been vigorously involved in anti-Israel activities for years (and joined together to co-present the now-notorious showing of "Rachel" last summer at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival), each had maintained the pretense that they didn't oppose the existence of a Jewish state per se. They have now decided to admit what we knew all along-- that they are fully and completely aligned with groups that openly call for the elimination of Israel, and that they share the agenda of groups such as al-Awda, International ANSWER, and, in the end, Hamas.

This flyer was handed out at the event; the sponsoring organizations listed include JVP and the Pacific Mountain Region of the American Friends Service Committee. The website of the Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid not only endorses the Palestinian BDS movement (which calls for the elimination of Jewish statehood through the so-called "right" of return), but in case anyone misses the subtlety, it also states "We are opposed to imperialism, sectarianism, and Zionism."
AFSC is opposed to sectarianism, and that is why they are opposed to Zionism (and Christianity? How about Quakerism - aren't Quakers a sect?). The Jews, according to the PLO, are not a people, only a religion. Therefore Zionism is sectarianism (whereas Islamism is presumably universal, since everyone will be converted).
But do not rejoice too quickly at the revelation of the truth. The pious denials will perhaps soon be forthcoming. "It was a local initiative." "Does not necessarily represent." "Local branches have freedom of action." But of course, it will happen again and again. AFSC will keep on appearing at pro-Hamas events, keep on publishing and distributing incitement against Israel and the Jewish people and maintain an increasingly transparent pretence of pacifism and devotion to reconciliation and dialogue.  And of course, the Pacific Mountain Region of the AFSC will not even get a rap on the knuckles, because they in fact DO represent faithfully the policy of the AFSC. The policy of the AFSC is to be anti-Semitic and to deny it.
AFSC will of course ignore what I write. It's sectarian Zionist propaganda, right?
Ami Isseroff

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You can't keep a good blood libel down

The thing about a good blood libel campaign is that once it starts, it spreads, no matter what is done to expunge it. The blood libel of Damascus was stamped out by the Ottoman Turkish Sultan, but new blood libels soon sprang up in Damanhur, Egypt  and elsewhere in the Middle East. You can't keep a good anti-Semitic libel down. The blood libel has been with us for a thousand years, and it is not about to go away. Now, having started in Sweden with a fabricated story about Israeli organ harvesting, it has spread to the Ukraine and San Francisco and there is no end to it, as explained in Organ Harvesting and Anti-Semitism.


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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How not to fight terrorism

By Barry Rubin
Here's my usual disclaimer: I would love to be able to stop criticizing the Obama Administration but it keeps saying and doing things that shock and surprise me or—if you want to put it this way—live up to my worst expectations.
I'm sitting on a U.S. army base briefing officers along with a high-ranking State Department official who works on the Middle East. At one point, he gets a quaver in his voice and starts talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict making quite clear which side he's on. Sounding scared he says: "While a lot of problems in the world can bring trouble only the Arab-Israeli conflict can get you and your families killed."
The officers look disgusted. He is fitting precisely their stereotype of a cowardly diplomat. Abandon Israel and save your life and that of your children, is his message. Oh, and this is after September 11 which makes the statement even more ridiculous.
This kind of blatant cowardice is usually better concealed. It more often occurs in regard to intellectuals facing challenges like the "Danish cartoons." But it is glimpsed at times in a sort of strategic fearfulness, a refusal to do what's in one's interest lest someone might get mad about it.
John Brennan is the president's advisor on counter-terrorism and may be the dumbest of all Obama's foreign policy appointments. Brennan is apparently ex-CIA and he has yet to persuade me that he has any understanding whatsoever about terrorism. He's the guy who said that Hizballah wasn't a terrorist group because it ran candidates for parliament and had lawyers among its members.
Now in a television interview, he stated that the Guantanamo prison should be closed because al-Qaida has used its existence in order to make propaganda.
A few hours later, President Barack Obama repeated this talking point in the course of discussing reinforced controls on airplane passengers:
"We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al-Qaida," Obama said. "In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."
What? Is his understanding really so minimal that he thinks the formation of a revolutionary movement to seize power in Iraq and overthrow the Saudi government took place because the United States maintained a prison in Cuba? Is this man who proclaims himself the great understander of other cultures so ethnocentric that he thinks, so to speak, that "everything is about us?"
Does Obama have any sense at all of what al-Qaida uses as recruiting tools, of their ideology and goals? And would closing Guantanamo deprive al-Qaida of a recruiting tool, would it hurt that group? Isn't it obvious that, if anything, al-Qaida would proclaim this as a victory: Out of fear of us, the camp was closed! We have prevented the oppression of Muslims! We can make the great Satan tremble and give in! Now, that's a recruiting tool!
I actually find Michael Scheuer, another former CIA guy, more congenial than Brennan though he also has some terrible ideas. Scheuer views anti-American terrorism as solely caused by U.S. support for Middle Eastern regimes.
The reality is that there are three causes: U.S. policies; hatred of the American culture and society not because they care what goes on inside the United States but because they believe it will ultimately transform their own societies through both power and seductive example; and a desire to prove their strength and increase their support base by humiliating the world's leading power.
Scheuer's main credential is that he headed the Usama bin Ladin task force at the CIA which, one would think, would mark him as a failure whose ideas didn't work at all. On the positive side, he doesn't just focus on hating Israel but also blames U.S. support for all the Arab regimes as well. Of course, if the United States stopped this support, these regimes would more likely be overthrown by radical Islamists (not necessarily al-Qaida) and then we could see if the Islamists stopped hating and attacking America. (I'd bet they'd step up attacks.)
But Scheuer can't help revealing his special hatred of Israel, even when this contradicts his own thesis. In a CNN interview he said that Americans must decide whether they want their sons to die in Iraq and Yemen in order to defend Israel. Funny, I thought they were there to protect the Iraqi and Yemeni governments—which are not even friendly toward Israel—and American interests. I guess I'm the onlyone who remembers how much this sounds like Nazi propaganda in World War Two: Americans! This is just the Jews' war and not yours!
And then he makes an even more amazing statement when asked how America can stop terrorist attacks on itself:
"Ultimately we have to find a way to dissuade them from focusing their anger on us and persuade them to focus their anger at what they themselves believe to be the real enemy the governments that govern them and oppress them and Israel."
Of course, U.S. support for Great Britain made Nazi Germany look at America as an enemy, and the same goes for U.S. support for China and imperial Japan, and U.S. support for dozens of countries and the USSR. But the United States backed these other states because it wanted to block victory for a hostile force which would use these other places, if taken over, as a base to destroy U.S. interests and to hit America more effectively.
How would someone have been treated if they advocated betraying these allies so as to plead more effectively from aggressive tyrannical movements: Please leave us alone. We promise not to inconvenience you in your march to world conquest!
But Scheuer gives us just this imaginative proposal. Urge al-Qaida and other terrorists to attack U.S. allies—which they can hit a lot harder and damage a lot more—rather than America. (Ironically, this is the reverse of what the Saudis and other Arab regimes try to do.) Of course these groups will do both!
Moreover, what happens after al-Qaida or other Islamists seize power from these abandoned regimes? No doubt they will fondly remember that the United States stopped opposing them and be good buddies of America, right? (Warning: previous sentence is sarcastic.)
Actually, though, this is what was going on during the pre-bin Ladin era. Radical Islamist groups did focus on attacking regimes in the region—especially Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia—but were soundly defeated by the governments, except in Lebanon. Facing this stalemate, bin Ladin proposed attacking America directly. This is what led to September 11.
The basic problem is that Scheuer, and Brennan and Obama, too, basically think that the Islamist assault is something that can be made to go away by some clever stratagem: flatter Muslims; move away from Israel, abandon Israel, show more sensitivity; try captured terrorists in a U.S. court; or something else. Yet the beginning of wisdom is to understand that this is a challenge parallel to that from Communism and fascism.
The idea that al-Qaida and other terrorists can be bought off by selling out all the more moderate Arab states and Israel or they can be confounded by closing Guantanamo illustrates ignorance on a stupendous scale. The point of U.S. strategy should not be to "deny" al-Qaida talking points—it will never lack for them no matter how U.S. policy changes—but defeating it, making it impossible for the group to operate, blocking its attacks by effectively targeted defensive measures.
Have all the most basic lessons from centuries of statecraft been so thoroughly forgotten by those who govern in the West?

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Iron Dome rocket defense system development concluded

Iron Dome is Israel's defense system against Palestinian rockets. Its success in tests must be treated with caution. It is not effective against very close range attacks such as mortar attacks and it is extremely expensive to operate, since it uses missiles to shoot down rockets.
It should be effective against longer range rockets such as those that were typically employed by Hezbollah in the second Lebanon war. It might be effective against some of the longer range rockets used by the Hamas and its allies in Gaza. Like all weapons however, it is designed to fight the last war, not the next one.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 20:15 06/01/2010       
Iron Dome trial intercepts rocket barrage for first time
By Haaretz Service
The defense establishment this week successfully intercepted a barrage of rocket for the first time using the newly developed Iron Dome system, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Tuesday.
A series of test-runs were conducted over the course of Monday and Tuesday in cooperation with the Rafael manufacturer.
During the tests, the system managed to intercept a number of rockets, by simultaneously launching its own target missiles.
The successful experiment marks an end to the development period of the system for the defense establishment, in accordance with the timetable laid out.
Over the summer, the Iron Dome past its first live trial in intercepting the short-range rockets favored by Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas.
Iron Dome's success could improve the prospects of Israel eventually ceding West Bank land to the Palestinians, as Israeli officials have said that any withdrawals should be conditional on the deployment of a reliable defense against rocket attacks.
Designed by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Iron Dome uses small guided missiles to blow up Katyusha-style rockets. Israel plans to station the first working unit outside the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip next year.
Iron Dome would be capable of intercepting rockets with ranges of between 5 km (2 miles) and 70 km (45 miles), the official said.
The project was spurred by Israel's 2006 war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, during which 4,000 rockets rained down on its northern border communities.
Israel has seen similar attacks by Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza, from which it withdrew in 2005. A surge in the salvoes prompted an Israeli offensive last December which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, many of them civilians

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IDF to seek more legal advice during operations

It is not clear how this can work, and whether or not a legal team can respond quickly enough. IDF did not need any legal advice to know that the graffiti left by soldiers in Gaza would produce needless headaches for Israel, or that distributing inciteful pamphlets by extremist rabbis would not help our cause. But if there is a source of fire endangering troops, it is doubtful that it will be practical to wait several hours while lawyers decide if it is OK to shoot at it.
Filed at 2:43 a.m. ET
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's military will consult more closely with its legal advisers on future offensives, security officials said Wednesday -- a move motivated by war crimes accusations that followed last year's war in the Gaza Strip.
Officers are also receiving more intensive training in the rules of war and international law, the officials said.
Officials said military chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has ordered the military to consult with its legal advisers in the course of operations, and not just in the planning stage, as was the case with the Gaza war. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the policy revision with the media.
The Israeli military spokesman's office had no immediate comment.
The new policy follows a U.N. panel's conclusion that Israel committed war crimes in connection with the Gaza operation. Both military and political officials have been forced to cancel trips to Britain because of efforts by Palestinian activists to bring them to trial under a war crimes law that breaks down jurisdictional barriers.
Israel embarked upon the Gaza offensive to stop militants from launching rockets into southern Israel. But the operation drew widespread international criticism over the high Palestinian civilian death toll: Gaza officials and Palestinian human rights groups say more than 900 civilians were killed, out of an overall toll of more than 1,400.
Thirteen Israelis also were killed.
Visiting British Attorney General Patricia Janet Scotland said in a speech at Jerusalem's Hebrew University on Tuesday that her government was ''looking urgently at ways in which the U.K. system might be changed to avoid this situation arising again and is determined that Israel's leaders should always be able to travel freely to the U.K.''
In other news, Israeli defense officials say Barak has received dozens of anonymous death threats since the government decided in November to slow construction in Jewish West Bank settlements.
The slowdown has enraged settlers who fear it will be a first step toward dismantling some settlements as part of a still-elusive peace deal with the Palestinians.
Security officials said the internal security service, or Shin Bet, was investigating the threats and that Barak's security detail had been reinforced in recent weeks.
Such threats are taken seriously in Israel after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist opposed to his peace moves with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the slowdown in late November under pressure from Washington, which hopes to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
But the Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table, saying they want Netanyahu to freeze all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and take up negotiations where they broke off under his predecessor.

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Arab anti-MEMRI group quits

Of course, MEMRI's budget is nothing like $40 Million. In 2002, it was $ 1.75 Million. However, the usual nasties will probably run with this imaginary $40 million number, since everyone knows the Jews are all rich, right?
In 2003, a group of Arab journalists and activists joined together to create an NGO named Arabs Against Discrimination (AAD). According to the Egyptian English-language Al-Ahram Weekly,[1] its founders claimed that the new organization would be devoted "to respond[ing] to MEMRI's efforts."
One of its founders was Ibrahim Nafi', the former editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram and chairman of the Arab Press Association, Nafi' had previously been indicted in France for inciting hatred for publishing an article spreading the blood libel, after MEMRI translated and distributed the article.[2]
 Since its establishment, AAD has been almost entirely ignored by the media and political public of both the West and the Middle East. Virtually the only media who gave it coverage were the Egyptian media, as many AAD activists were also Egyptian journalists.
In an interview which aired on Faraeen TV on December 11, 2009, AAD announced that it was closing. Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab, a researcher at Ain Shams University in Cairo, said that AAD could not match the impact that MEMRI has had.
It should be noted that most of his other statements about MEMRI in the interview are inaccurate.
The following are excerpts from the interview announcing the closure of AAD. To view the clip of this interview, visit
"An Organization Called MEMRI... Monitors Everything That Appears in the Egyptian Media… And Distributes It Among the Intellectuals in Europe"
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "There is an organization called MEMRI, which monitors everything that appears in the Egyptian media – whether on TV channels, in the electronic or printed press, or in sermons in mosques – and distributes it among the intellectuals in Europe..."
Interviewer: "This organization has monitored us right from the start."
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "Tomorrow morning, you'll be at the top of its list."
Interviewer: "We've been at the top of its list ever since the show began."
AAD "Was Closed Due to Lack of Arab Funding"
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "I'd like to say something."
Interviewer: "Yes."
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "We founded an organization in Egypt, called the Arab Anti-Discrimination Organization, which operated from January 2004 to January 2009. This organization was shut down due to lack of Arab funding. I had the privilege of heading the organization's translation department. In the course of six years, I collected 6,000... not just me, it was a joint effort of brothers and colleagues in the media. We collected 6,000 reliable excerpts from Israeli newspapers and websites, and 1,000 excerpts from the broadcast media, which served to denounce Israel. There was a possibility that we would attend a congressional hearing, in which [we would present] the material denouncing Israel, but in the end... "
Interviewer: "Could we obtain a copy for the show?"
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "I'm afraid I don't have them. It is with the management of the organization – Dr. Ibrahim Nafi', the chairman, and Dr. 'Imad Gad, the secretary-general. They definitely have the material.
"The organization was closed due to lack of Arab funding, especially from the Arab League. [Arab League secretary-general] Amr Moussa refused to finance it, and I take full responsibility for what I say. The Arab League refused to finance it, and so did all the Arab brothers – Egyptian and Arab businessmen who initially financed it refused [to continue] to do so. The annual budget of this organization did not exceed $200,000, whereas the annual budget of MEMRI, which comes from rich Jews, is $40 million. Let's return to the main issue..."
"By Means of MEMRI and the Jewish and Zionist Lobby in the U.S. and Europe, Israel is Managing to Convince the Western World, and the U.S., that Its Narrative is True – And It is Managing to Portray Itself as a Victim"
Interviewer: "First let me tell you why we'd like a copy [of the organization's materials]. We are expecting to face a very large lawsuit soon..."
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "I will defend you and be a witness..."
Interviewer: "... filed by the Jews, although, by God, we love them."
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "Let me tell you something – you are not doing anything wrong on this show. First of all, the reliable material you presented came from the Israeli press. You did not fabricate material from the media."
Interviewer: "God forbid."
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "You bring news items and reports from the press, TV, and websites, so you don't have to be afraid, because you take a proper scientific approach. I would like to reassure your TV channel that you take a proper scientific approach, and they can sue you as much as they like, but they cannot harm you."
Interviewer: "My God!"
Dr. Mansour Abd Al-Wahab: "Another thing – to round off the issue of MEMRI and the Arab Anti-Discrimination Organization. By means of MEMRI and the Jewish and Zionist lobby in the U.S. and Europe, Israel is managing to convince the Western world, and the U.S., that its narrative is true, and it is managing to portray itself as a victim, facing the Palestinian hangman. In the war in Gaza, they portrayed the Palestinians as the hangman, and Israel as the victim. This is a media game, and Israel excels in it."
[1] Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), January 1-7, 2004.
[2] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 107, "French Legal Authorities Investigating Editor of Major Egyptian Daily for Antisemitism," September 6, 2002, .

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Palestinian Authority refused Request to Arrest Fugitive Before He Murdered Rabbi

The terrorist in question was a member of the Tanzim  and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which were created for the Second Intifada as terror "shock troops" organized by Marwan Barghouti. Disarming of these  groups was part part of the undertaking of the Palestinian Authority  of Mahmoud Abbas. Marwan Barghouti is one of the terrorists whose release is demanded by the Hamas in order to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
by Gil Ronen
Follow Israel news on  and .

( Shortly before the murder of Rabbi Meir Chai ten days ago, the Palestinian Authority rejected a request by Israel's security forces to re-arrest Fatah terrorist Anan Subuh, who later participated in the murder.
Subuh, 36, a resident of Shechem, was a member of the Fatah terror group's "Al Aqsa Martyrs" and Tanzim subgroups. He had been a member of a Tanzim cell that operated from the casbah area of Shechem and was led by Naef Abu Sherach until Sherach's death in June 2004. Subuh traded in weapons and supplied the weapons for terror activity.
He was included in the "fugitive agreement" between Israel and the PA, in which Israel agreed to stop hunting down certain fugitives in return for a promise by them not to go back to terror activity.
Arutz Sheva has learned that the Shabak received highly dependable information that Subuh had gone back to terror activity after the fugitive "pardon." The IDF therefore demanded that the PA, which is headed by Fatah, arrest him. The PA refused, apparently because Subuh belonged to a Fatah subgroup and not to rival Hamas.
Shortly afterward Subuh participated in Rabbi Chai's murder. Two days later the IDF gunned him down when he hid in a weapons cache in his home. Two other terrorists who carried out the murder were also eliminated that day.
The Palestinian Authority is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads Fatah. However, ever since the 1993 Oslo Accords, world leaders and news media usually refer to terror acts by Fatah subgroups as unconnected to Fatah's political leadership and to Abbas.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gaza Misery - fault of Hamas

Blame Hamas more than Israel for Gazans' plight
December 25, 2009|By Joel Brinkley
Washington - — While Palestinian Christians in the West Bank celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem today, Palestinians in Gaza, no matter their religious affiliation or political bent, are suffering in squalor and growing ignorance. Thousands are trying to flee.
Gaza has never been a prosperous enclave; the 140-square-mile territory has always been a poor, dependent state. But for Hamas, the radical Islamic terrorist group that seized control of Gaza in 2007, the long-term pursuit of a political impossibility trumps even the slightest concern for the welfare of the group's 1.5 million "constituents."
Residents of the Palestinian territories have been subjects of foreign states - Turkey, Great Britain, Jordan and then Israel - for half a millennium. But all the while, during both prosperous and desperate times, Palestinians have struggled to ensure that they educate their children.
As a result, Palestinians have been among the best-educated people in the world. Literacy rates among youths, even for girls, have hovered around 99 percent. Even Israel's literacy rate is lower: 97.1 percent. But now, for the first time in the modern era, Gazans as young as 9, 10 and 11 are being put to work in ever larger numbers, forgoing school. "Learning achievement has declined along with primary school enrollment," UNICEF reports.
Much of the world blames Israel. During its invasion of Gaza last January, Israeli troops damaged or destroyed nearly half of the territory's schools along with much of the remaining infrastructure. The point is, a year has passed. What political concessions has Hamas offered that might have enabled it to make repairs, improve the lot of its people? None. The United Nations reported this fall that 1 in 5 Gazans now live in what it called "abject poverty." That is why many parents are no longer sending their children to school. They need the pennies their children can earn at menial jobs to buy food.
Their chieftains don't seem to care. I have interviewed the leaders of Hamas many times over the years, and all of them offered one consistent refrain, time and time again: We are patient. Our resistance will continue as long as it takes - even centuries - until we reach our goal, full control of Palestine. Of course, that includes the state of Israel.
One of them, Ismail Abu Shanab, now deceased, once told me: "There are plenty of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews." Even Shanab, zealot that he was, must have known that nothing like that was going to happen even in his grandchildren's lifetimes - if ever. But he and all his colleagues, then and now, pursued that ludicrous goal in exclusion of all else, and now it is leading to the social destruction of their own people.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians Refuse to Resume Talks with Israel

Posted: Monday, 04 January 2010 11:57AM

by KYW's Mideast Bureau chief Jay Bushinsky
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 10-month freeze on new housing construction in the West Bank's Jewish settlements is not bringing the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table.
On the contrary, the Authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas, believes that building is still under way.
He told Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak that the bilateral talks will not resume unless there is a total halt on construction in the disputed West Bank.
Actually, Netanyahu allowed 3,000 housing starts and 500 previous ones to go ahead before he announced the 10-month freeze.
Meanwhile, there is talk here of a new American plan to assure the Palestinians the territorial gains they seek.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli airport security - an example for the rest of the world

Israelis have long been horrified at foreign security procedures or lack of them at airports. Open pilot cabins (that was stopped after 9-11) and lack of elementary checks made every flight a target. What the article does not say, but everyone knows, is that passengers must report to Ben-Gurion airport about two hours ahead of every flight. They don't wait in line that long, but the checks, including the baggage check, takes that long. Despite the relatively effective and innocuous Israeli checks, foreign visitors sometimes do complain, especially if they get targetted by the security personnel.
Ami Isseroff
The 'Israelification' of airports: High security, little bother

December 30, 2009

Cathal Kelly

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

"It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He's worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'

"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"

A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

This doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben Gurion Airport's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, 'So far, so good'. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable

"But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Pianist Kissin protests against BBC anti-Israel bias

A famous Jewish artist who is not anti-Israel and who is not afraid to speak out for Israel. This is so exceptional it should be page one news in the New York Times.
Pianist Kissin protests against BBC anti-Israel bias
World famous musician writes to BBC Director-General
By Stephen Pollard and Robyn Rosen, December 30, 2009
The Russian-born pianist Evgeny Kissin, who became a British citizen in 2002, has accused the BBC of "slander and bias" against Israel, broadcasting material he describes as "painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda".
Mr Kissin, 38, who until now has not generally been known as politically engaged, has written to the director-general of the BBC, Mark Thompson. According to a close friend of the pianist, he has decided to become "actively involved in exposing and countering the evil propaganda of certain British media and especially the BBC."
Mr Kissin's decision to use his fame and artistic renown to protest to the BBC on Israel's behalf contrasts with the criticisms against the Jewish state regularly voiced by musicians such as Daniel Barenboim, who holds Israeli citizenship.
In Mr Kissin's letter, he accuses the BBC's Persian Service of a "blood libel concerning Israel's alleged harvesting of Palestinian organs and blood for future transplant".
He continues: "It beggars belief that the British taxpayer should be funding an organisation which is aligning itself with Iran's despotic leader in its antisemitic propaganda. Other print media like the Guardian, which erroneously printed this libel propagated by Israel's enemies, have since apologised. I am not aware of any such retraction from the BBC."
Mr Kissin, who was a child prodigy in his native Russia and is now widely recognised as one of the greatest living pianists, intends from now on to speak out against media bias against Israel, which he sees as both fuelling and being fuelled by antisemitism.
In his letter, he says that when he became a British citizen he was "inspired and proud to belong to the country of Winston Churchill, who famously said: 'There is no antisemitism in England because we do not consider ourselves more stupid than the Jews'. Above all, the BBC and especially its World Service, had always been a beacon of light, of truth and objectivity to those of us behind the Iron Curtain, in the 'Evil Empire'. Reaching out to far corners of the world, it was the voice of a country which for us was a model of democracy and human rights."
He concludes by asking: "Is it not time for the BBC to return to the values for which it was so much respected, before it finds itself in the garbage of history, together with Pravda, Tass, Volkischer Beobachter and Der Angruff?"
The classical music promoter, Lilian Hochhauser, said this week: "I fully support Evgeny Kissin's initiative to counter the increasing bias displayed by the BBC and others against Israel. I encourage all in the arts world to act against the growing stigmatisation of Israel, as well as increasing our cultural co-operation with the country."
A spokesman for the BBC said the corporation was unable to comment until it had received Mr Kissin's letter.

Continued (Permanent Link)

CFWME on The Kairos Palestine Document

FAIR   Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

WITNESS              475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1960

New York, New York 10115

(212) 870-2320


The Kairos Palestine Document


On December 11, 2009, a group of Palestinian Christian leaders issued  the " Kairos Palestine" document.  They  describe this document as  "a word of faith, hope and love," offered at a time when, according to the drafters, Palestinians have "reached a dead end" because of the Israeli occupation.  According to this document the only answer is to call for divestment and economic boycott of "everything produced by the [Israeli] occupation."  But is this conclusion sound --  is economic boycott of Israel the only, or the just solution to the conflict?


The Kairos Palestine document was written by Palestinian Christians.  It is their narrative, their truth and they rightfully express it. 

               But  U.S. Churches cannot adopt this narrative without bringing a critical eye and ear to bear upon it and without similarly listening to an Israeli narrative which also has its truth.


The Kairos Palestine document calls the Israeli occupation a sin that must be removed.  (Sec. 4.2.1)   We agree . . .

        The occupation has had a corrosive effect on  the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.  One people should never rule over or dominate another. 

The Kairos Palestine document states that "[the Palestinian] connectedness to this land is a natural right."   (Sec. 2.3.4)   We agree . . .

        But the Jewish connectedness to the land is also a natural right.  Both Jews and Palestinians have legitimate claims to the land which can and must be accommodated through a negotiated two-state solution.

The  Kairos  Palestine document  professes that "an end to Israeli occupation  . . . will guarantee security and peace for all."  (Sec. 7)  . . . But is that true?

           There was no security or peace prior to the occupation.  During the British Mandate period, Arabs responded to Jewish immigration with violent attacks.

           More violence broke out after the November 29, 1947 U.N. partition plan which separated the British Mandate into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.  Increasingly violent attacks by Arabs against Jews were followed by violent Jewish reprisals.   This was twenty years before the occupation and prior to the creation of the state of Israel.

           One day after Israel declared independence, five Arab states attacked the new Jewish state. The 1948/49 war ended with Armistice Agreements.  But there was no peace.  All of Israel's borders were closed  and every Arab country boycotted Israel.  Hundreds of Israelis were killed and wounded in terror attacks launched mostly from bases in Jordan and the Syrian Golan Heights.

           In 1964 -- three years before the occupation -- the  Palestine Liberation Organization was founded.  The PLO established a Palestine Liberation Army in order "to attain the objective of liquidating Israel."

           There is no reason to believe that ending the occupation alone would bring security and peace to Israel and Palestine.


According to the drafters of the Kairos Palestine document the "clear Israeli response [to peacemaking efforts] refusing any solution, leaves no room for positive expectation" and so "economic sanctions and boycott [must] be applied against Israel."(Secs. 3.1 and 7)  But is this the truth?

           No reasonable or honest person would find Israel blameless in this conflict. There is a strong and vocal segment of Israeli society that feels justified in claiming all of historic Israel as their own. But this expansionist mentality and the lack of interest in accommodating Palestinians is not and has not been the majority Israeli position nor has it, for the most part, been the official government position.

           Israel acquired the Palestinian Territories in 1967 defending itself from the massed threat of  combined Arab armies amidst escalating provocations. Within days of the war ending, Israel tried to open negotiations for  land in exchange for peace. The League of Arab States met in Khartoum and announced that there would be no peace, no recognition and no negotiations with Israel.

           In December 2000, President Bill Clinton made a proposal in Taba.  The Palestinians would get all of Gaza, about 97% of contiguous West Bank territory, East Jerusalem for their capital, three Quarters of the Old City, sovereignty over the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques and $30 billion. The occupation would end. Israeli PM Ehud Barak accepted. The Palestinian leadership said no.

           On November 25, 2009, PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements in an attempt to restart peace talks. Palestinian leadership, however, rejected the proposal and refused to restart negotiations because the freeze does not include East Jerusalem. 

           There clearly will be a need for further compromise on both sides before a negotiated peace is reached. However, this latest Israeli action should be accepted as a basis to bring the parties back to peace talks. Why do the drafters of the Kairos Palestinian document ignore the opportunity to negotiate an end to the occupation?

Fair Witness therefore strongly encourages the U.S. Churches to read the Kairos Palestine document with an open heart but not with an uncritical mind.  We also encourage our churches to seize the current opportunity to act as peacemakers -- and not to fan the flames of conflict by showing contempt and punishing one side through acts of divestment and boycott.





Continued (Permanent Link)

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