Israeli Flying Aid (IFA) is a volunteer non-profit organization founded by Gal Lousky. IFA specializes in transferring emergency, lifesaving aid to populations in disaster areas, and in particular nations in which the IFA presence is especially significant:
• Nations that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and are hostile to Israel.
• Nations in which the government is hostile to its own citizens and refuses to allow entrance of foreign lifesaving aid after natural disasters but in effect uses the disaster as a weapon of mass annihilation in order to overturn opposition.
• “Complex regions” where UN Red Cross teams and NGOs are not allowed entry (e.g., Indian Kashmir following the earthquake, Russian-occupied Georgia, etc.)
IFA has aided disaster victims in India, Sri Lanka, the Georgian Republic and elsewhere, including extending aid in the United States during Hurricane Katrina.
Israeli Flying Aid is on the spot in Haiti bringing vitally needed help. They need your donations to continue.
Donation information as provided to me:For donations via wire, please use the following details:
Israel Flying Aid
Israel Discount Bank
Branch number: 199
Account number: 57797
Swift code: IDBLILIT
or via check to:
P.E.F ISRAEL ENDOWMENT FUNDS, INC.
317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017
The covering letter of the check should have this information:
Enclosed is my contribution of $ ____________________________ with recommendation to your trustees that it be used for:
Organization: Israel Flying Aid, 48 Ben Zion Galis, Sgula Petach Tikva, ISRAEL 49277
Name (contributor):_____________________________________ (please print)
Minimum contribution accepted is $ 25.00.
Gifts are tax deductible only if made payable to P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. (IRS No. 13-6104086)
Upon request a copy of the last Annual Report filed by P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. with the New York Secretary of State may be obtained from either P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017, or the office of the New York Secretary of State, 162 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12226.
Labels: Haiti Relief, Israel-2
Continued (Permanent Link)
A tiny step forward in the nightmare of UN boycotts of Israel.
Geneva, Jan. 27, 2010 – After decades of exclusion, Israel was granted membership in a United Nations caucus in Geneva.
Israel's admission to the Human Rights Council's JUSCANZ group -- an acronym for the non-EU democracies of Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- was approved last Friday by consensus, and signifies they regard the Jewish state as "like-minded." The group has expanded over time to include Norway, Switzerland and other Western countries.
"For this to happen in Geneva, and especially at the Arab-dominated Human Rights Council, is an historic accomplishment for Israel and for the principle of equality," said Alfred Moses, Chair of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization.
"It's a significant achievement in an arena where regression is the norm, one that will allow Israel for the first time to participate in a UN consultative group on human rights issues," said Moses.
"This is particularly important during a time when countries are planning for the 2011 reform of the council, a body that has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the world's victims of human rights violations."
"The diplomatic victory followed years of diplomatic efforts, which were supported by UN Watch as a necessary implementation of the UN Charter's equality guarantee for all nations, large and small. The United States is one of several countries that deserve particular credit for finally making it happen."
The change does not apply to JUSCANZ consultations in New York, nor to the Asian regional group's continued exclusion of Israel. UN Watch called on the United Nations to remove remaining discriminatory barriers to Israel's full and equal participation within UN voting and consultation blocs.
"We also urge the Human Rights Council in particular to remove its permanent agenda item targeting Israel; to eliminate its post of a permanent investigator on alleged Israeli violations, where guilt is presumed in advance; and to end the policy whereby three-quarters of all council resolutions have been devoted to the one-sided censure of Israel, and Israel made the object of more special sessions than the total for the rest of the world combined."
UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.
Labels: Human Rights, Israel-2, United Nations
Continued (Permanent Link)
It is difficult to comprehend the scope of this tragedy or to imagine a government that is so negligent that it cannot provide and organize basic security and health facilties for its people. We are proud that Israel is saving lives in Haiti, but it would really be much better if it were not necessary.
PORT-AU-PRINCE - The Israeli field hospital in the earthquake-stricken Haitian capital reflects the streets of the city, fluctuating between despair and hope amid the looting, violence and stories of miracles. Each account takes on great importance against the background of the earthquake that devastated the Western hemisphere's poorest country.
A baby around 18 months old lies on a bed in intensive care. She was admitted with an open sore and a massive infection throughout her body. The respirator shakes her every time it forces air into her. She has already been resuscitated a few times, and the team is not optimistic.
In the children's ward, located in a tent, is a baby under a year old; someone left him here after he was pulled out of the rubble Sunday morning. He has open sores on his leg and does not make a sound except for a slight chirping when the doctor checks his leg. The doctors say he is in shock.
"His condition is stable and pretty good considering what he's been through. He'll get antibiotics and surgery on the leg - it's a rare case of survival; apparently he was in an air pocket," says Dr. Assaf Amit, who heads the children's emergency department. "When he came here his condition was life-threatening."
His parents aren't here - perhaps they are dead - but the Israeli nurses caress him and give him a warm bottle of milk. "Apparently it's genetic, the ability to survive - he was lying in the rubble without food for five days," says Gali Wiest, the delegation's head nurse.
"We were shocked by the sights, and the nurses here have to cope with providing nursing care - it's a third-world country," she says. "I have four children myself and I was an emergency-room nurse, but the sights here are very difficult and you need a lot of mental fortitude. We've already taken in 87 children, most in moderate to serious condition; there have been a few operations and amputations, and they keep coming."
Photo: Natasha Mozgovaya
But no one stays for long. The hospital has a two-week mandate - nothing compared to the time it takes to recover from complex injuries.
"We're all thinking about the fact that we discharge them into the street, in effect, because they have no home," says Dr. Avi Yitzhak. "But you have to make the right decision: Either you take in 40 people and treat them for two weeks or you try to save as many as possible to at least stop the primary injury."
Yitzhak immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1991 and says he feels a special connection to the patients here. He says he knows the problems of practicing medicine in the developing world.
"There's no organized network of clinics here, there's nowhere to discharge them to and we have to treat as many people as possible, as long as it's still possible to save them," Yitzhak says.
"When I went out on rescue yesterday I saw what was happening in the streets, the bodies, the people who didn't know what to do. It's obvious that the work is very intensive and I assume that we could burn out at a certain stage. But for now we're full of energy and we're thrilled by our ability to help."
Willsmith Joseph, 9, had surgery Saturday to amputate his toes, which had developed gangrene. Sunday morning he was in a deep sleep in the children's ward. His older brother knelt beside him. They will have to leave before noon. The nurse gives him two packets of antibiotics and some acetaminophen and tries to explain in English when to take them.
"Where are you going?," I ask the older boy. "We have no place to go. To the tent encampment," he says. "Our house was ruined." Willsmith's face contorts in pain as he walks with his new crutches.
"Had we not amputated his toes the gangrene would have spread and he would have died within days," Dr. Yitzhak explains. "Yes, it hurts, and there's an infection, but he'll live. It's a drop in the ocean, and it's frustrating, but we have to do the maximum to help as many people as possible."
Most of the wounds are infected and neglected - some people were pulled out of the rubble after being trapped for a few days, others simply couldn't get to a hospital or were turned away. Max Darlene Azur, 29, came to the Israeli hospital with open wounds on both sides of her leg. For four days she shouted and writhed in pain in the town square. The bodies of two of her cousins were still inside her home.
"I was in my room, and the wall simply collapsed onto my leg. But now I feel much better," she says.
The hospital also had its first birth Sunday. Jeanne-Michelle was brought in with labor pains and delivered a beautiful boy, her fourth child. Jeanne-Michelle sits indifferent most of the time, but when she says her newborn's name - Israel - a broad smile spreads across her face. "I feel fine," she says. She will be discharged within a few hours, to make room for other deliveries.
"It's very symbolic," Dr. Dar Shir says. "In a place where even without the disaster infant mortality is among the highest in the world and most women don't give birth in hospitals, the best experts in Israel delivered her baby. It's very moving, and balances out a little the things that are happening here, and reminds us that a woman who is ready to give birth will do so even when there's an earthquake. It's what keeps the human race going. Of course it's a problem to discharge them under these conditions, but at least she delivered safely and both mother and baby are in excellent condition."
According to the field hospital's commander, Dr. Itzik Kreis, "Throughout the night we continued to deal with saving lives; we received a number of patients in very poor shape who needed surgery and intensive care.
Photo: Natasha Mozgovaya
"For now the other medical teams don't have the ability to provide more than first aid. We are focusing on saving lives," says Colonel Kreis. "Most of the injuries are a result of the earthquake, but in a few days the situation can change and regular patients will start to come in as well."
How to donate via Israeli organizations:
Tel (+972) 2-659-4222
Online at https://www.zaka.us/haiti.asp
Or via bank account:
Bank of Jerusalem
Branch # 30
18 Keren Hayesod, Jerusalem, Israel
Account No: 300060134
Swift Code: JERSILIT
Magen David Adom:
Magen David Adom Trumot Lakaribim
Israel Discount Bank
Branch # 151
Yad Eliahu, Tel Aviv
Account No: 17926
Labels: IDF, Israel-2
Continued (Permanent Link)
A wonderful age of tolerance has dawned in our time. For most of the inhabitants of the Western world, the bad old days of bigotry and narrow-mindedness are gone.
The multicultural pluralistic politically correct society accepts almost everyone for what they are, and listens respectfully to their opinions. Discrimination against women is forbidden and frowned upon. People of all colors and creeds and nationalities, and with all manner of political beliefs, are respected, listened to and accepted for who they are and what they do. There is only one exception.
The wave of tolerance has spread to every corner of society. The standard bearer of conservative political values in the United States today is a woman - Sarah Palin. Gay people, who once had to hide their secret or face jail terms, have come out of the closet and serve as officials in Europe and the United States. They may even as ministers in churches. African Americans, once called "n****r," are closer than ever to being accepted as true equals in American society. An African American was even elected president.
Practically every creed and every political belief has gained respectability. Adherents of Mao and Stalin can argue their points of view alongside Social Democrats and Christian Democrats. Nobody reminds them of the millions of people who were murdered in the Soviet Union or Maoist China and of all the human misery caused by their "scientific" beliefs.. Let bygones be bygones. Islamis accepted as a respectable creed, the religion of peace. The president of the United States has said so. Discrimination against people just because they areMuslims is rightly forbidden. Nobody assumes that all Muslims are terrorists or bigots or wife beaters. News reports from Muslim and Arab governments and press are treated with respect, and the Muslim point of view is heard and respected 'round the world.
Even terrorists and advocates of terror get a break. We must negotiate with Iran, accept Iran into the family of nations. Never mind if they sent their terrorist agents to murder US soldiers and violated the immunity of diplomats. Never mind if they are plotting to take over the Middle East. Dialogue with Iran is politically correct. Apologists explain that "militants" are practicing "resistance." Suicide bombers are billed as "altruists" by British professors. Jihad
is thought to be not such a bad thing and is preached freely in the capitals of Europe. Respectable organizations recommend recognition of groups like the Hezbollah and the Hamas
, who are welcome in many capitals of the world, and get a favorable press from major news media. A conference of such "resisters" was recently held in Beirut, under the auspices of the United Nations.
It is even OK to be Jewish in many circles of society, thoughJewremains a bad word. There is only one political group that is beyond the pale of "politically correct" and outside the bounds of the pluralistic multicultural society: : Zionists. Abortion rights groups and anti-abortionists can lobby for their causes, as can gun manufacturers, those opposed to firearms, Muslim groups and Palestinians. For Zionists, it is forbidden. The pro-Israel "Zionist lobby" conjures up images of a sinister conspiracy to subvert America, worse than anything dreamed up by the Cominform. An entire book and many articles, mostly fiction though not sold as such, have been written about the alleged role of the Zionist lobby in starting the Iraq war and other nefarious deeds. Not a shred of real evidence is offered in any of them, but "everyone knows" it must be true, and it is believed by respected professors and journalists and their students and audiences. If a Zionist product turns up in certain countries, there can be an international scandal. It doesn't bother anyone. In fact, "progressive" groups are working to widen the boycott of Zionists.
and Zionist Israelis there is no quarter and no hope at all. Zionists are blamed for every ill of the world, and accused of every crime including eating babies, poisoning children and killing people to steal their organs for illegal transplant trade. None of this flood of baseless calumny is considered impolite, intolerant or not "politically correct." Zionists are the only group you can seriously dump on in intelligent society without being considered a boor and a bigot.
When a Zionist attempts to speak at a UN meeting, he is silenced. If a Zionist goes to an international conference at Annapolis, sponsored by the United States, he or she must enter by the service entrance, an institution created to separate domestics, menial laborers and other "inferiors" from "respectable" people. Nobody would shake their hands either. We may be about to see more of the same humiliating treatment in a different setting, again under the auspices of the United States, which claims an "unbreakable bond" with Israel. The Palestinian Arabs will not sit in the same room with Zionists, so the United States is trying to arrange "proximity talks." The evil Zionists will sit in one room, and the righteous "moderate" former (?) terrorists of the PLO will sit in another room and formulate their demands. The entire world thinks this is a great concession to the evil, racist, imperialist and colonialist Zionists. What will they talk about? Zionist concessions to the Palestinian Arabs.
If a person admits to being a Zionist, nobody will listen to his or her opinion or version of the facts - it must be "Zionist propaganda." The same is true of news items that originate from "Zionist" sources. If Al Jazeera writes that Zionists committed war crimes in Gaza it is accepted as a fact, even if Al Jazeera also reported that the United States had used atomic weapons in Iraq. Time Magazine and Newsweek then headline fantastic tales of Zionist atrocities in Gaza.
If, on the other hand, the "Zionists" report that they captured a ship bearing a cargo of illicit Iranian arms, and show the arms, marked with the marks of the manufacturers in Iran and bound for the Hezbollah terrorists, it is ignored. It is "Zionist propaganda." At most, it will get a back page headline that states that "Israel claimed that the arms were manufactured in Iran" "Israel claimed that the arms were bound for Hezbollah." Nobody believes it. Nobody will listen to the "tales" of Zionists.
At parties and social gatherings, it is OK to say that you are gay, that you favor Scientology or flat earth theory, that you are a Maoist or a supporter of "rights" for Hamas. You can announce that you believe in anything at all. Say that you are a Zionist however, and the room will become silent. People will change the subject and move away from you. It's not your deodorant.
Everywhere in the world, Zionists have gone to earth, hiding in the closet, avoiding the pernicious Z-word or at most masquerading as "pro-Israel." The BDS (Boycott, Divestment Sanctions) group condemns "imperialism, colonialism and Zionism," and presumably also pedophilia and necrophilia, though the latter are not mentioned. The Friends Society approves of this program and joins the BDS in their demonstrations in support of the Hamas. It doesn't matter what Zionists really do or what they really think, just as it didn't matter who Paul Robeson was in the bad old days. He had the wrong skin color and that was enough. It didn't matter what George Washington Carver did, he could not be served in the white section of an Alabama cafe. It doesn't matter what Zionist scientists invent, or how many children are saved by Zionist cardiologists who give their time to Save a Child's Heart, or how many people regain their sight thanks to the "international Zionists" of Eye from Zion.They are still Zionists.
It doesn't matter how much aid the Zionists or the "Tel Aviv government" give to disaster victims in Haiti or Turkey or Kosovo, regardless of whether those people support Israel or Zionism. "Zionism" is a dirty word, and Zionists are thought to be in the moral category of Nazis and are in fact compared to Nazis. The very word "Zionism" conjures up the worst associations: racism, colonialism, apartheid, imperialism. A retired SS Obersturmbahnfuhrer may get fairer treatment in the foreign press than an IDF officer. Former Nazi officers are presumed innocent until proven guilty, a courtesy not afforded to Zionist "war criminals" in many publications.
It doesn't matter how many Palestinian Arabs are treated in Israeli hospitals, or how much humanitarian aid Zionists give to Gaza. It makes no difference how many Zionists demonstrate for peace. Zionists are Zionists. They must be boycotted and ostracized. A Zionist, in the popular imagination, is a person with horns and a tail, a religious fanatic who wants to bring about the end of the world (never mind that Zionism is a secular ideology either).
The president of the United States, who has made so many eloquent pleas on behalf of the religion of Islam, would not dare to urge the world to accept Zionists as human beings, to listen to what we have to say as equals. The discrimination is institutionalized and is not confined to Arab countries. Israel is probably the only major country that has never yet had a rotating seat in the UN Security Council. "Everybody knows" that "Zionism is Racism" even if the odious UN resolution on that subject was repealed. The repeal too, is ascribed to a dark Zionist conspiracy. Zionists are held responsible for the terror bombings of 9-11 and the terror attacks in Mumbai, even if Muslim terrorists confessed proudly to perpetrating them.
San Francisco, the home of gay pride and Politically Correct ideas, the supposed bastion of tolerance and multicultural pluralism, is paradoxically probably the worst place in the United States to be a Zionist. Can you imagine a "Zionist Pride" parade in San Francisco?
"Zionism," which should be a source of pride to all its supporters - Jews and non-Jews, has instead been turned into an affliction that no-one dares to speak its name, worse than the "C" word. This has happened because of the work of a small group of dedicated bigots, fanatics and terrorists, who never lose an opportunity to blacken Zionism and Zionists with every calumny. They have managed to make their bigotry and hate respectable and accepted, because you and I let them do it.
Don't you think it is time to end the witch hunt against Zionists? I am proud to be a Zionist. I am proud of the Zionist tradition of construction and renewal, of defense of the rights of the Jewish people, and of Tikkun Olam (social justice) around the world. I am proud of the country that we built from scratch, against tremendous odds, and the new lease on life that we have given to our people. I am proud of the kibbutzim as an ongoing experiment in social justice and democracy. I am proud that Israeli Arabs have more freedom and more protection under the law than Arabs do in any other country in the Middle East. Aren't you? I am proud that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where no members of any religion are treated as dhimmi - second class citizens. I am proud of the fact that Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees today than it did a century ago - a consequence of the "Zionist plot." I am a Proud Zionist. Aren't you?
If you are afraid to stand up for what you believe, you are not free. You can't hide what you are forever. I am not afraid to say I am a Zionist. How about you?
It is time to tell the world, "We are proud to be Zionists. Zionism is not what you think it is. It is not about eating babies and poisoning wells. It is a progressive national movement like any other. and it has done wonderful things!"
Please help us end the persecution of Zionism. Zionists have to come out of the closet. If we don't stand up for what we believe, nobody else will. Read the Israel Advocacy Handbook to learn the Zionist side of the story. Spread the word for "Zionist Pride." Join the Facebook Zionism Cause ( http://apps.facebook.com/causes/causes/73516 ) and invite others - help us explain to people what Zionism is really about.
As for the rest of you, you may disagree. After listening respectfully, you may believe that Jews are not entitled to a homeland of our own- that it is too much of an inconvenience to the world, or that it causes too much strife. We cannot force you to support us. If you disagree, blame us only for what is really our fault and what we really believe - in the right to self-determination of the Jewish people. Don't make us out to be racists or imperialists or colonialists, body snatchers or baby eaters or initiators of wars in Iraq. Don't lock us out of the room and out of legitimate public discourse. We ask only that you grant us the same rights and the same hearing, the same legitimacy and respect that you grant so willingly to advocates of flat earth theory, Jihadism, Maoism and any other group or political movement that you may or may not support.
Labels: Anti-Zionism, Israel-2, United Nations, Women, Zionism
Continued (Permanent Link)
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.
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."
Labels: Hamas, Israel-2, Palestinians
Continued (Permanent Link)
Of particular relevance is this order issued by the Hamas during operation Cast Lead:
"" In accordance with the policy of the factions of the jihad resistance in Gaza …we inform you that it is completely forbidden to issue information about the numbers, names or pictures or any [other] detail about the shaheeds and wounded of the resistance . The order is in force until the end of the Zionist aggression which is clear to us and our nation, with the consent of Allah, may he be exalted. Any [report] which violates these rules will be deleted and a warning will be sent to whoever is responsible for the posting. Let us all be soldiers of the resistance, and if we cannot assist it, at least let us not assist the enemy [fighting] against it." "
A facsimile of the original Arabic is here.
The following is the published response of the IDF Spokesperson to B'telem allegations:
Approximately six months ago the IDF publicized official statistics, gathered and confirmed by the Research Division of the IDF Defense Intelligence, citing the number of casualties during Operation Cast Lead. According to these statistics, there were 1,166 Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip, the majority of which (709) were terror operatives affiliated with the Hamas terror organization, some of whom belonged to other terror groups.
The "B'Tselem" report is not based on facts or on accurate statistics. Furthermore, among its sources, B'Tselem officially states that it based its findings, on cross referencing statistics from investigations of Palestinian human rights groups and various websites and blogs, including those of the militant wings of terror organizations and that of the Palestinian Police.
The discrepancy in the numbers is based on the fact that B'Tselem's sources are organizations with a vested interest, and it does not have the tools, nor the intelligence capabilities with which it can within a necessary degree of confidence know the causes of death or the affiliations of these casualties.
The Hamas terror organization is hiding these statistics so that it can play on international public opinion so as to increase support in its violent acts of terror. For example, the way in which Hamas "police officers" are categorized in the report, where Hamas is presenting operatives in its military wing as police officers whose job is to enforce law and order. This is done in order to minimize the number of casualties amongst its forces, while inflating the number of civilian casualties.
By shifting public attention to the number of casualties, Hamas is diverting attention from the real issue, in which this terror organization specifically and deliberately endangered the lives of the residents in the Gaza Strip, where on the other hand, as much as was possible, the IDF sought to prevent the harm of uninvolved noncombatant civilians. It should be remembered, that the IDF engaged in Operation Cast Lead after a prolonged period of continuous rocket and mortar fire on hundreds of thousands of Israeli residents. The firing of these rockets was done from within population centers in the Gaza Strip, while using the local residents as a human shield from behind which it would launch its terror attacks.
- With regards to the categorization of the "police officers," information can be found that proves their terrorist activities on the website of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: www.terrorism-info.org.il.
- An example of the double use of Hamas "police officers" in reports can be openly seen in a statements made on June 28, in which the Hamas Minister of the Interior, Hamad Fatahi, and also Haled Mashal himself, admitted that on the first day alone, 400 or 500 "Hamas warriors" had died. Furthermore, as Hamas has a policy of withholding information regarding sustained casualties during the operation, it is possible that the number of terror operatives who were killed is higher than the IDF's calculations.
- It should also be stated the Manager of Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health and Emergency Services Ministry stated that there were approximately 1400 casualties during Operation Cast Lead. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is that a number alone was given unsupported by identifying names, as well as the addition of natural death cases, which stands at approximately 400 per month in the Gaza Strip, possibly caused by the confusion at Gaza Strip hospitals during the operation.
- As was explained to the organization, the IDF is unable to disclose the methods in which it gathers such information, as it is classified.
Labels: Betselem, Hamas, Human Rights, Israel-2
Continued (Permanent Link)
Danny Shapiro, a friend who has started working at the Peres Peace Center wrote the following account.
July 19 was the first day of a six day camp joining 32 Israeli kids, aged 12 – 14, from the poor southern towns of Yeruham and Sderot, and 28 Palestinian kids living in poverty and despair in the occupied territories.
The camp, held at Kibbutz Galon, is organized by the Peres Center's Sports Department. And as much as I read about this kind of program, no article I could read, or video I could watch, could in any possible way match the almost incredulous sense of wonder and inspiration aroused by seeing these sixty kids playing in Galon's pool together, and enjoying a multi-lingual "Darbuka" session with a Palestinian madrich (leader).
It was also fascinating and deeply impressive to speak at length with Issam, who works on a number of projects with the Peres Center. Issam grew up in Gaza and moved to Ramallah after Hamas came to power and he felt his life was in danger for his many years of reconciliation work. No doubt some of you know him.
His story is amazing. He sat in Israeli prison and had a life-changing experience with an Israeli officer that put him on the path of working towards conciliation and peace. If I have the time I will write the story down and pass it along.
Issam reminded me again and again that not only was this the first time most of the Palestinian children had met an Israeli who not either a soldier or a settler – but for the great majority of them, this was the first time in their lives outside of their town or certainly the territories; the first time they had eaten in a restaurant; the first time they experience what even the lowest social and economic classes in Israel take for granted.
I have no illusions that the experience of these 60 kids, and that of the additional several hundred who will be treated to similar camps this summer, will make any serious dent in overall public opinion or attitudes, and certainly will not make the leaders on both sides more peace loving and conciliatory. But then, that (the latter, at least) is not the goal of the Peres Peace Center.
But this type of program most certainly changes attitudes (this is based on professional evaluation following multiple years of experience), and, if nothing else, humanizes the conflict for those who are involved in it; and injects a few rays of hope into our battered and shattered hearts and minds
That is what Peres Peace Center does. That is what the "peace" group Alternative Information Center finds objectionable. They published an article insisting that Palestinians must boycott Peres Peace Center. The article states:
Shimon Peres is definitely an enemy of the Palestinian people, of human rights and of peace, and any kind of collaboration by a Palestinian organization with the Peres Center is scandalous.
Is the summer camp "scandalous?" You decide. The directors of the Peres Peace Center, in any case, are Uri Savir and Ron Pundak, though Peres founded the Peres Peace Center.
Labels: Israel-2, Palestinians, Peace
Continued (Permanent Link)
Regard if you please, the below confidential communication, which I, and a select group of maybe 20,000 other people have received. This is definitely "inside dope." I am about to share this precious secret with you, and expose yet another conspiracy of internal Jew Zionism. Here is what it is about. The virtuous and truth telling democratic Ismalic Republic of Iran is fresh from having conducted impeccable democratic elections in the best traditions and with total transparency. The glorious Basij warriors triumphed over the Mossad inspired plots of evil people like Neda Soltan, who wanted to introduce foreign and corrupting concepts into Iran such as women's rights, as well as degenerate and evil culture such as the Zionist Mickey Mouse. But Iran is a victim of a plot and a libel by the international Jew Zionism conspiracy that is operated from that den of iniquity, Tel-Aviv.
The Iranians, who have the second largest gas reserves and the sixth largest petroleum reserves in the world, as well as a puny industrial capacity, explain that they have an urgent need of nuclear power to generate electricity, as well to satisfy the intellectual curiosity of the forward looking Mullahs, who were commanded by Allah in the Quran to seek out the secrets of the world, hidden from all men and Jinn except for the wisest and most virtuous. That is the only explanation for why they are refining uranium, and for why they built secret centrifuge factories and a secret heavy water reactor, and why they are investing a huge part of the budget of their poor country in nuclear gadgetry and solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles. Perhaps the missiles will be used to solve the traffic jam problem in Tehran.
The Zionists, for reasons all their own, decided arbitrarily that Iran, which never harmed a hair on anyone's head, is trying to create nuclear weapons. If the Iranians do not stop their peaceful and innocent nuclear program, not to mention their peaceful and innocent crash solid state ICBM development program, also needed for peaceful purposes, the greedy and evil Zionists propose to attack the centrifuges and other development sites. At least that is what the letter below claims. As the astute author and analyst Sam Vaknin notes:
Late last year, Israel embarked on a coordinated campaign of leaks to the press regarding its determination to take out Iran's nuclear facilities if Obama's then-new administration fails to sway the Iranians diplomatically.
And Vaknin goes on to tell in detail of the pernicious Zionist plot, designed to torpedo the Obama program of engagement with the nice Iranians. He tells us that preparations are almost complete. To his excellent and imaginative report, which is based on information that is available only to a select group of about two billion people who have the rare qualification of being literate, we can add that the Zionist government has passed both submarines and warships through the Suez Canal, which analysts of about the same caliber of Vaknin have claimed is a sure signal to Iran by Israel. All this, as noted is supposedly meant to torpedo the Obama policy and launch an attack on Iran in a few short months. Only Vaknin forgot that Obama has said repeatedly that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, and that Obama has vowed to get tough with Iran if it doesn't respond to diplomacy in a few months.
Vaknin has joined the honorable ranks of the Iran attack prognosticators. The most prominent of them are Sy Hersh of the New Yorker and Uzi Mahnaimi of the Sunday Times. Every few months these two earned their keep by predicted an Israeli or American attack on Iran in just a few weeks or months. No attack ever materialized, but the two clowns went on predicting, based on "leaked" "information" from "reliable" sources. Like the medieval Jewish prognosticators of the Ketz - the end of days - based on the false "science" of numerology, they were never deterred by the fact that the cataclysmic event did not occur. There was always a good excuse: their leaks had exposed the vicious Zionist-neoconservative conspiracy of Dick Cheney, the Likud and other malefactors.
Vaknin himself is the best judge of his own character and motivations. After all, as he tells us that he is author of a book called, "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited."
What is wrong with Vaknin's prediction that an Israeli attack is imminent? A few things. Firstly, in the surprise attacks it has carried out in the past, Israel never ever leaked any details of the planned operation beforehand. This was true of the attack on the Iraqi reactor, Operation Focus that began the Six day war, the attack on the reactor that was being built by North Korea in Syria, the attack on Tunis, and the sinking of Arafat's "refugee boat" in Cyprus, among others. Leaked "plans" are almost surely disinformation. A great analyst like Vaknin must know that. (Surely he is a great analyst, as he says so himelf). Second, the timing is wrong. Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad said that Iran will not have a bomb before 2014, so what is the hurry? Third, the timing of the attack is wrong. Israel hasn't got its missile defenses in place, and will not have an operation anti-missile system for all the relevant ranges for a while. Fourth, Israel and the US agreed to go for sanctions in the autumn if Iran doesn't negotiate seriously. An Israeli attack would make some Americans pretty angry, unless it is really part of the plan. Fifth, Vaknin claims that Israel will attack only two targets. This seems to be worthless, since any attack must strike at least the nuclear research center at Isfahan, the Arak reactor that can produce plutonium, and the Natanz facilities for manufacturing centrifuges. Probably there are other vital targets. Israel would have to hit a number of them in order to really set back Iran's "electricity generation" program.
But who am I to question Vaknin? Vaknin seems to be no amateur. He is an "analyst" - he tells people in Macedonia all about Israeli policy. He has Web sites about Global research etc. Nobody in Macedonia or Micronesia or anywhere else asks fools like me to explain Israeli policy. So how could this astute sleuth have missed all this signs that only a child could miss? As he notes, Israel has planted many leaks, and one could be quick to conclude that Vaknin himself is a devious agent of the sly Zionist conspiracy, trying to confuse and panic the ever virtuous and stout hearted Iranian government.
The truth may be simpler. By his own accounts, Vaknin (see samvak.tripod.com/cv.html) has a Phd from a third rate American university in philosophy and dabbled in computers and business administration. While he was in jail(!) (see healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/my-story/menu-id-1470/) for unspecified reasons, he wrote an amateur book about psychology, and then he evidently graduated to amateur geopolitical analysis. All this information is from his own CV and autobiographical summary. I could not find anywhere where he had studied or worked in anything related to international relations, security, military affairs etc.
Assuming that I didn't miss anything (you are invited to check) and that it is not a cover provided by a sinister intelligence agency (you know which one) the conclusion is that his ideas are no better and no worse than yours or mine. The difference is that we don't usually pretend to know with absolute certainty when or if Israel is going to attack anyone, or whom they will attack. If he can make a living from it, then good for him. We should not begrudge anyone a living, but it should not come at the expense of endangering the peace and spreading unfounded rumors about Israel.
The letter follows below.
Preparations for Attack on Iran Almost Complete
By: Sam Vaknin
July 10, 2009
Late last year, Israel embarked on a coordinated campaign of leaks to the press regarding its determination to take out Iran's nuclear facilities if Obama's then-new administration fails to sway the Iranians diplomatically. Israel is unwilling to accept a nuclear Iran: "It is not an option", say its senior intelligence and military leadership.
On January 20, 2009, I appeared as a guest in the most popular political affairs program in Macedonia ("Glasot na Narodot", or The Voice of the People). I warned that Israel is willing to wait 6 to 8 months for Obama's "diplomacy" with regards to Iran's nuclear capability to show some progress. If Iran remains recalcitrant, Israel plans to bomb two facilities in Iran as it did in Iraq in 1981, I said. Refueling won't be a problem, I assured the program's host, Slobodan Tomic: both Egypt and Saudi-Arabia offered to help.
Israel has decided to go ahead. Taking into account political, geopolitical, military preparedness, and climatic conditions, there are two windows: between July 21 and 24 and between August 6 and 8. Advance teams comprised of Mossad agents and military personnel are already on the ground in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq (including in the Kurdish lands, adjacent to Turkey).
A mock has been erected not far from Eilat (near the Red Sea, opposite Aqaba). A defunct airbase in Biq'at Ha'Yareach (Moon Vale) has been resurrected to accommodate Air Wing 10. In a country as small and intimate as Israel, it is amazing that this has been kept a secret: hundreds of recruits and reservists - from mechanics and pilots to cooks and administrators - have been re-stationed there in the last few months.
A mysterious facility also sprouted up not far from Dimona's nuclear reactor, next to a university town called Sde Boker. It is not known what is its role, though speculation is that it is intended to shield the sensitive facility from an Iranian counter-attack. Several batteries of aged Patriot missiles have been recently replaced with brand new anti-missile rockets developed by Israel.
Citizens are reporting dry runs in the skies of the Negev, Israel's traditional air force training grounds and a desert with some resemblance to Iranian conditions. Piecing these scant testimonies together, it seems that the Israelis are concentrating their effort on midair refueling and surgical strikes on multiple targets.
Finally, HAGA (Hagana Ezrakhit), the Civilian Defense Force, a part of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), has been instructed to begin preparations for a possible Iranian counter-strike with long-range conventional missiles. At this stage, Israel is not contemplating chemical or biological warfare (though the distribution of gas masks does seem to be part of the drill).
No one knows for sure where will Israel strike. Wiping off all the widely distributed and impregnable components of Iran's capability to enrich uranium is close to impossible. The after-effects of even a limited air attack may be devastating and not necessarily short-term, as the Israelis are convinced. The price of oil is likely to spike and radicals and extremists throughout the benighted region are bound to leverage the attack to smear and taunt Israel and its allies but, then, what else is new. The Arab countries are likely to breathe a sigh of relief that the Iranian bully has been humbled.
The big question mark is how will the Obama administration react to such a fait accompli that flies in the face of the new President's stated policies. Will Obama try to make an example out of Israel and harshly punish it - or will he merely verbally lash it and proceed with business as usual? Time will tell. Soon.
Associate Editor, Global Politician and Founding Analyst, International Analyst Network
Labels: Iran, Israel-2, Nuclear Weapons
Continued (Permanent Link)
It seems that the US has broken yet another agreement or understanding with Israel. It is not the first time.
Despite fervent denials by Obama administration officials, there were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. As the Obama administration has made the settlements issue a major bone of contention between Israel and the U.S., it is necessary that we review the recent history.
In the spring of 2003, U.S. officials (including me) held wide-ranging discussions with then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem. The "Roadmap for Peace" between Israel and the Palestinians had been written. President George W. Bush had endorsed Palestinian statehood, but only if the Palestinians eliminated terror. He had broken with Yasser Arafat, but Arafat still ruled in the Palestinian territories. Israel had defeated the intifada, so what was next?
[Commentary] Getty Images
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Jordan's King Abdullah, June 4, 2003.
We asked Mr. Sharon about freezing the West Bank settlements. I recall him asking, by way of reply, what did that mean for the settlers? They live there, he said, they serve in elite army units, and they marry. Should he tell them to have no more children, or move?
We discussed some approaches: Could he agree there would be no additional settlements? New construction only inside settlements, without expanding them physically? Could he agree there would be no additional land taken for settlements?
As we talked several principles emerged. The father of the settlements now agreed that limits must be placed on the settlements; more fundamentally, the old foe of the Palestinians could -- under certain conditions -- now agree to Palestinian statehood.
In June 2003, Mr. Sharon stood alongside Mr. Bush, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at Aqaba, Jordan, and endorsed Palestinian statehood publicly: "It is in Israel's interest not to govern the Palestinians but for the Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state. A democratic Palestinian state fully at peace with Israel will promote the long-term security and well-being of Israel as a Jewish state." At the end of that year he announced his intention to pull out of the Gaza Strip.
The U.S. government supported all this, but asked Mr. Sharon for two more things. First, that he remove some West Bank settlements; we wanted Israel to show that removing them was not impossible. Second, we wanted him to pull out of Gaza totally -- including every single settlement and the "Philadelphi Strip" separating Gaza from Egypt, even though holding on to this strip would have prevented the smuggling of weapons to Hamas that was feared and has now come to pass. Mr. Sharon agreed on both counts.
These decisions were political dynamite, as Mr. Sharon had long predicted to us. In May 2004, his Likud Party rejected his plan in a referendum, handing him a resounding political defeat. In June, the Cabinet approved the withdrawal from Gaza, but only after Mr. Sharon fired two ministers and allowed two others to resign. His majority in the Knesset was now shaky.
After completing the Gaza withdrawal in August 2005, he called in November for a dissolution of the Knesset and for early elections. He also said he would leave Likud to form a new centrist party. The political and personal strain was very great. Four weeks later he suffered the first of two strokes that have left him in a coma.
Throughout, the Bush administration gave Mr. Sharon full support for his actions against terror and on final status issues. On April 14, 2004, Mr. Bush handed Mr. Sharon a letter saying that there would be no "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. Instead, the president said, "a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel."
On the major settlement blocs, Mr. Bush said, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Several previous administrations had declared all Israeli settlements beyond the "1967 borders" to be illegal. Here Mr. Bush dropped such language, referring to the 1967 borders -- correctly -- as merely the lines where the fighting stopped in 1949, and saying that in any realistic peace agreement Israel would be able to negotiate keeping those major settlements.
On settlements we also agreed on principles that would permit some continuing growth. Mr. Sharon stated these clearly in a major policy speech in December 2003: "Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements."
Ariel Sharon did not invent those four principles. They emerged from discussions with American officials and were discussed by Messrs. Sharon and Bush at their Aqaba meeting in June 2003.
They were not secret, either. Four days after the president's letter, Mr. Sharon's Chief of Staff Dov Weissglas wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that "I wish to reconfirm the following understanding, which had been reached between us: 1. Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in Judea & Samaria."
Stories in the press also made it clear that there were indeed "agreed principles." On Aug. 21, 2004 the New York Times reported that "the Bush administration . . . now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward."
In recent weeks, American officials have denied that any agreement on settlements existed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on June 17 that "in looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements. That has been verified by the official record of the administration and by the personnel in the positions of responsibility."
These statements are incorrect. Not only were there agreements, but the prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation -- the dissolution of his government, the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza, and the removal of four small settlements in the West Bank. This was the first time Israel had ever removed settlements outside the context of a peace treaty, and it was a major step.
It is true that there was no U.S.-Israel "memorandum of understanding," which is presumably what Mrs. Clinton means when she suggests that the "official record of the administration" contains none. But she would do well to consult documents like the Weissglas letter, or the notes of the Aqaba meeting, before suggesting that there was no meeting of the minds.
Mrs. Clinton also said there were no "enforceable" agreements. This is a strange phrase. How exactly would Israel enforce any agreement against an American decision to renege on it? Take it to the International Court in The Hague?
Regardless of what Mrs. Clinton has said, there was a bargained-for exchange. Mr. Sharon was determined to break the deadlock, withdraw from Gaza, remove settlements -- and confront his former allies on Israel's right by abandoning the "Greater Israel" position to endorse Palestinian statehood and limits on settlement growth. He asked for our support and got it, including the agreement that we would not demand a total settlement freeze.
For reasons that remain unclear, the Obama administration has decided to abandon the understandings about settlements reached by the previous administration with the Israeli government. We may be abandoning the deal now, but we cannot rewrite history and make believe it did not exist.
Mr. Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2009
Labels: Israel-2, Settlements, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
But reports that the Catholic church seized Jewish funds for centuries are regrettably correct.
June 9, 2009
ROME (JTA) -- Israel will not seize funds of Catholic institutions in the country, as Italian and Catholic media previously reported.
A statement Tuesday by the Israeli embassy to the Holy See said that "the seizure of funds from the Ministry of Education destined for some educational institutions of the Catholic Church in Israel will not be made, and that the situation remains unchanged."
Reports that Israel would seize assets of some Catholic institutions to pressure the Vatican to pay disputed taxes were published by Catholic and Italian media on Monday.
Italian media Tuesday quoted Israeli sources as saying the reports were the result of "a technical error" and a "misunderstanding."
Labels: Catholics, Israel-2, Religion
Continued (Permanent Link)
The full text of US President Obama's speech in Cairo is here among other places. Below are the highlights. This is the first time that a U.S. President has used the word "legitimacy" about Israeli settlements, but regarding both the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as with the Iranian and other problems, Obama offered no plan - just finely balanced rhetoric that will either please everyone or make them angry. Each media outlet will choose to highlight whatever seems important to them: Here is the Israeli-Palestinian nugget:
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights... That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true
What does "continued Israeli settlements" mean? Is it a deliberate imprecision? Does he mean continued settlement, or the continued existence of settlements? Is Jerusalem a "settlement?" If he is referring to existing settlements, then Obama's speech directly contradicts the letter of Predident Bush given in 2004. It did take some courage to say, in Cairo, addressing the Arab world, that the bond between israel and the United States will never be broken. This was not a AIPAC meeting after all.
Obama: I'll personally pursue two-state solution
By Haaretz Service
In his long-anticipated Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington's strong backing for a Palestinian state, highlighting his administration's commitment to follow through on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While reaffirming Washington's "unbreakable bond" with Israel, Obama said that there can be no denying of the right of Palestine to exist, and that he would "personally pursue" the realization of a Palestinian state "with all the patience that the task requires."
"Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's," Obama said.
The president also issued a blunt repudiation of Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, an issue that has strained Washington's ties with Jerusalem.
"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," Obama said. "This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."
"The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear," Obama said, referring to the multi-stage peace plan agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians during the Bush presidency. "For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities."
"If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth," Obama said. "The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."
"That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest," the president said.
In addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Obama acknowledged longstanding Muslim accusations of Washington's double standard in objecting to Tehran's drive for nuclear weapons while tolerating Israel's alleged possession of atomic bombs.
The president reiterated his desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons.
"I understand those who protest that some countries have [nuclear] weapons that others do not," Obama said. "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons."
Obama conceded that Iran has rights to nuclear energy "if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
Obama said his government will close the gap between public pronouncements and difficult truths that are often acknowledged behind closed doors in the halls of power throughout the Middle East.
"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," Obama said.
Obama urged Muslims around the world to acknowledge Jewish suffering and to repudiate Holocaust denial. The Arab and Muslim world ought to reconcile with the existence of Israel, the president said.
"Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve," Obama said.
The president also noted the plight of the Palestinians, who "have suffered in pursuit of a homeland" and who "endure daily humiliations ... that come with occupation."
"Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," Obama said. "So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
The president urged the Palestinians to draw upon the example of African slaves in the United States, arguing that a "peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding" had led to their gaining civil rights.
"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed," Obama said. "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights."
Obama said the Palestinians "must focus on what they can build." He urged Hamas to accept the Quartet's preconditions for international recognition - recognition of past signed agreements with Israel, recognition of Israel's right to exist, and a renunciation of violence.
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said.
Obama offered the Arabic greeting of assalaamu alaykum, or "peace be unto you", in the early part of his speech. He also quoted a passage from the Koran and cited his father's Muslim background in a bid to highlight his sensitivity to Islamic grievances against the West.
"America is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security."
"The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars," Obama said. "Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims."
"Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President," Obama said. "But my personal story is not so unique."
Obama is delivering his long-anticipated speech seeking to turn a new page in Washington's relations with the Arab and Muslim world.
Obama arrived in Egypt hours before giving long-promised speech in Cairo, the ancient seat of Islamic learning and culture.
The U.S. president is hoping to usher in a new era in the United States'
relationship with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Aides say Obama will blend hopeful words about mutual understanding with blunt talk about the need for Muslims to embrace democracy, women's rights and economic opportunity.
Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key American ally, at his palace in the capital.
"We discussed how to move forward in a constructive way to bring peace and prosperity to people in the region," Obama told reporters after talks with Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981 and kept a tight lid on opposition.
"I emphasized to him that the U.S. is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so all people can meet their aspirations," he said before heading to a mosque in a quarter of Cairo that is full of Islamic architectural gems.
The mosque is a 600-year-old center of Islamic worship and study called the Sultan Hassan mosque. Obama will then tour the Great Pyramids of Giza on the capital's outskirts.
Obama arrived in Egypt from Saudi Arabia, where he stayed overnight at King Abdullah's horse farm in the desert outside Riyadh.
In his Cairo address Thursday, Obama called on Israel and the Arab states to change their approach to the Middle East peace process.
Labels: Hamas, Israel-2, Obama, Peace, Settlements, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
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