Thursday, April 30, 2009

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April 30, 2009
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Palestinian Faces Death for Selling Land to Jews - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Anwar Brigith, 59, a Palestinian from Bet Omar in the West Bank, was found guilty of selling land to Jews by a PA "military court" on Tuesday and sentenced to death by hanging.
The three-judge panel found the defendant guilty of violating PA laws that bar Palestinians from selling property to "the enemy."
The judges noted that the defendant did not have the right to appeal.

In Israel, Solar Power that Won't Need Subsidies - Ilene R. Prusher (Christian Science Monitor)
Israel has launched a unique solar farm, based on a system of rotating dishes made up of mirrors, that is capable of harnessing up to 75% of incoming sunlight - roughly five times the capacity of traditional solar panels.
Using mirrors to reduce the number of photovoltaic cells makes the cost of solar energy roughly comparable to fossil fuels.
Ben-Gurion University Professor David Faiman, director of Israel's National Solar Energy Center, explains:
"By using mirrors to concentrate the sun's light, you cut down...the amount of photovoltaic material you need, and you've essentially opened the door to affordable photovoltaics."
"The beauty of the mirror-based system is that since you have to cool it, you can get 50% more energy out of it in the form of hot water."
"In 20 years, if we in Israel move in this direction, 60 to 70% of our electricity needs will not cost anything."

Turkey Drops Probe into Israel's Gaza Operation (Middle East Online-UK)
A Turkish prosecutor has dropped a probe into whether Israel committed war crimes in its offensive in Gaza, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.
The prosecutor said there were no grounds for prosecution after the justice ministry refused it permission to bring charges.

Yemen's Jews Uneasy as Muslim Hostility Grows - Hamza Hendawi (AP/Washington Post)
Yemen's remaining Jews, estimated to number 250 to 400, are feeling new and sometimes violent pressure from Yemeni Muslims.
"There is hardly a mosque sermon that's free of bigotry. The government's own political rhetoric marginalizes the Jews, and civil society is too weak to protect them," says Mansour Hayel, a Muslim Yemeni and human rights activist.
See also Ministries Ignore Plight of Emigrating Jews - Mohamed Bin Sallam (Yemen Times)

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* U.S. Congress Moves to Tighten Sanctions on Iran - Dan Robinson
One week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that the Obama administration will work to impose "crippling" sanctions against Iran, Senate lawmakers Tuesday introduced legislation to target Iran's gasoline imports, including companies supporting Iran's energy sector or insuring fuel shipments to Iran. Senator Joseph Lieberman called for "a coherent plan of action for the months ahead that has goals and schedules and teeth." The Obama administration, he added, must make clear that it does not view engagement with Iran as a process without an end. (VOA News)
See also U.S. Won't Set Timelines for Iran Talks
U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said Wednesday: "In terms of Iran, we are obviously looking at ways in which engagement might be fruitful and productive....But I think it's not appropriate at this time to be trying to establish timetables for this, but rather, to see how the engagement can move forward." (State Department)
* U.S. Plans New Talks with Syria - Jay Solomon and Nada Raad
The Obama administration is dispatching two high-level envoys to Syria in coming weeks for a second round of talks focused on securing the Iraqi border and supporting the Arab-Israeli peace process, in the latest sign of a reconciliation between Washington and Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and National Security Council official Daniel Shapiro will be making their second trip to Damascus in less than two months. Syrian officials said this week they hope the diplomatic thaw could lead to an easing of trade sanctions enacted by the Bush administration aimed at curbing Syria's support for militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. (Wall Street Journal)
* Lebanon Frees Four Generals Held in Hariri Killing - Sam F. Ghattas
Lebanon released four generals held for nearly four years in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri after a UN-backed international tribunal ordered them freed on Wednesday. Tribunal judge Daniel Fransen said a key witness had retracted a statement that initially incriminated the generals and there was not enough evidence to justify their continued detention. (AP)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Obama Aide: We Won't Press for Peace at All Costs - Yitzhak Benhorin
The U.S. does not plan to pressure Israel for peace at all costs, President Obama's chief economic advisor, Larry Summers, said Wednesday at an event marking Israel Independence Day at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Summers said that during Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington on May 18, the two leaders would discuss peace, which he said was what everyone wanted, but not peace at all costs. (Ynet News)
* Hamas, Fatah Deadlocked over Palestinian Unity - Khaled Abu Toameh
Fatah and Hamas negotiators, who held "reconciliation" talks in Cairo on Monday and Tuesday, once again failed to reach agreement over the formation of a unity government, prompting the Egyptians to postpone the talks until May 16. (Jerusalem Post)
* Poll: Israelis Positive, Optimistic on Independence Day
The War and Peace Index published by Tel Aviv University on Independence Day found that the majority of the Israeli public is positive, optimistic and satisfied with the state of the nation. 80% of Israeli Jews polled defined their personal status as "very good" or "good," 90% said they think Israel is doing "very well" as a nation; and 81% said they were "very optimistic" or "optimistic" as to the nation's future. 81% said that given their choice of countries to live in, they would prefer to stay in Israel. (Ynet News)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* Saudis Learn to Embrace Iran - Editorial
The specter of Osama bin Laden has faded and the Saudi people have turned against the terror network, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service, told us Monday. Now, the prince explained, two new nightmares have emerged: that Iran will develop a working nuclear bomb, or that America will strike Iran to prevent it from having a working nuclear bomb. To the Saudi prince, Iran and America offer differing "nightmares." He proposed that the U.S should retreat from Iran's sphere of influence and either learn to live with Iran's bomb or bargain for it with Israel's safety. We suspect that the Saudis realize nothing will be done to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions. That means Iran's bomb is inevitable and so is the Saudis' appeasement. (Washington Times)
* Arab Education Displays Its Discontents - Raja Kamal and Tom G. Palmer
The Saudi religious curriculum, which couples rote memorization of texts with uncritical acceptance of tribal practices, keeps the country backward. It does not prepare students to cope with modernity, nor to be productive participants in an increasingly global economy. The greatest culprit is the suppression of critical thinking, coupled with limited and weak exposure to math and science.
Each year thousands of students graduate from universities with degrees in Sharia (Islamic law) or Arabic literature. Thinking for oneself - a precondition of both entrepreneurship and of democratic participation - is suppressed. Raja Kamal is senior associate dean at the Harris School for Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Tom G. Palmer is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
* America Should Rescue the Human-Rights Agenda from its Hijackers - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Though last week's UN conference in Geneva claimed to stand for the "inherent dignity" and "the equal and inalienable rights" of all human beings, the world's dictators were the real winners. Many official country delegates came to condemn the "colonial powers" of the West and Israel. In so doing, they sought to guard against exposing their own regimes' human-rights records.
Most of the governments that pile on to condemn Israel and the so-called "neocolonial" West have terrible human-rights records. These include tyrannical regimes such as Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Libya, Iran, Syria and Egypt (my home country). But members of like-minded voting blocs - such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity and the League of Arab States - comprise more than two-thirds of the UN membership votes. Together, they can railroad through any resolution, no matter how absurd. The writer, who was incarcerated by the Mubarak regime from 2000 to 2003, is now a visiting professor at Harvard. (Wall Street Journal)


The Day Israel Was Born - Editorial (Ha'aretz)

When Israel proclaimed its independence 61 years ago, Ha'aretz ran the following editorial:

* Today Hebrew independence has been revived on the soil of Israel after 1,900 years of exile. But the bond between the people and its land was not severed, and today our ancient and rejuvenated nation, after an unexampled period of subjugation and suffering, sets about laying the foundations for a life of freedom and independence on its soil.
* Great nations view us as an uninvited guest as we seek to take our place at the table of the nations. But no other path is available to us. Just as we reached our present status with our own might alone, so we must continue to conquer our state with our own might, in the hope and confidence that the world of power will accept us when it sees that we, too, possess the strength to safeguard what is ours.
* Harsh times and bitter auguries lie in store for us. Many have already fallen, but many more will fall, and the boundaries between front and rear will become blurred. May we all display the valor, the readiness for sacrifice, the psychological stability amid the vicissitudes of the campaign, the faithfulness in doing our duty and the spirit of Israeli fraternity thanks to which we shall reach our sought-after destination.
* And if we meet the test and are thus privileged, this day, a day of blood and pillars of smoke, shall be the day on which we lay the foundations for a life of security and liberty for ourselves and for our children.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

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April 28, 2009

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Communities Around the World to Sing Israel's National Anthem on Wednesday (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
On Wednesday, April 29 at 10:50 p.m. Israel time (3:50 p.m. EST, 2:50 p.m. CST, 12:50 p.m. PST), communities around the world will join together to sing Israel's national anthem Hatikva in honor of the 61st birthday of the State of Israel.
Live Hatikva will be broadcast around America and on the Internet streaming live at

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Sick Gazans Victims of Hamas-Fatah Power Struggle - Diaa Hadid and Ibrahim Barzak (AP/Washington Post)
Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in Gaza, unable to travel abroad for crucial medical treatment, because of political infighting between Hamas and Fatah.
Eight Gazans who were waiting to travel abroad have died since a dispute shut down a medical referral committee that helps sick residents find treatment outside of Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.
On March 22, Hamas took control of the Fatah-run medical committee, which referred about 1,000 patients a month with life-threatening illnesses to Israel and Egypt.
In response, the West Bank government, which funds medical treatment for Palestinians abroad, froze most patient transfers.

Israel Confirms First Case of Swine Flu in Man Who Visited Mexico (Ha'aretz)

Turkish Army Unhappy over Drill with Syria - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
"The Turkish military is not happy about [this week's joint military drill with Syria]. It does not like Syria, and views it as a problematic state," said Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, on Monday.
Internationally, the drill raised many questions over Turkey's relationship to NATO (of which Turkey is a member), the West and Israel, Inbar said.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Arab political discourse at BESA, noted: "Turkey is occupying a whole section of Syria [Alexandretta province], and yet Syria is willing to hold joint military drills with Turkey. So there's no reason why Syria can't cooperate with us while we're sitting on the Golan Heights."

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Happy Israel Independence Day!
Daily Alert will not appear on Wednesday, April 29

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* Abbas Rejects Calling Israel a Jewish State - Isabel Kershner
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday dismissed a demand by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian negotiators have long refused to recognize Israel's Jewish character. In an attempt to bolster the Palestinian argument, Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide and veteran negotiator, on Monday produced a copy of a letter signed by President Harry S Truman on May 14, 1948. In its original form, it recognizes the provisional government of the new Jewish state, but the typed words "Jewish state" in the second paragraph have been crossed out and replaced with the handwritten "State of Israel."
Shlomo Avineri, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Erekat was misinterpreting the American president's intention. The Truman letter had been prepared hours before Israel declared its independence, before the new country had chosen its name. It was later corrected by a Truman adviser, Clark M. Clifford, after the declaration of independence in order to call the country by its name, not to deny its Jewish character. (New York Times)
See also President Truman's Decision to Recognize Israel - Clark Clifford with Richard Holbrooke (ICA/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Israel: PA Recognition of Jewish State "Crucial" for Reconciliation - Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid
The Foreign Ministry said Monday that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was "crucial" for reconciliation between the two sides after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Israeli calls to do so. "Recognition of Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is an essential and necessary step in the historic reconciliation process between Israel and the Palestinians," the ministry said in a statement. "The sooner the Palestinians internalize this basic and essential fact, peace between the two peoples will progress and come to fruition." (Ha'aretz)
* UN Chief Raps Hizbullah "Intimidation" in Lebanon
Hizbullah and other armed militias in Lebanon are fostering instability and intimidation as elections near, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned in a report published Monday. "The threat that armed groups and militias pose to the sovereignty and stability of the Lebanese state cannot be overstated," he wrote. Hizbullah's arsenal, which includes an autonomous telecommunication network, "is a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the Lebanese state and an obstacle for the conduct of the normal democratic process in the country." In 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the "disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias." (AFP)
* U.S. to Expand PA Security Forces - Mohammed Assadi
The U.S. plans to expand a program to bolster PA security forces in the West Bank. "We have plans to train at least three more battalions before this time next year," Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton said Monday. Each battalion has about 500 members. "If it goes the way the administration has asked for, we will accelerate dramatically what we are doing here in terms of training and equipment," Dayton said.
U.S.-funded training is conducted by Jordanian police at a base outside Amman. Last month, U.S. officials said the Obama administration planned to boost support for the Dayton program by up to 70%, from $75 million in 2008 to as much as $130 million. Some 1,600 members of Abbas' National Security Force and Presidential Guard have undergone U.S.-funded training since January 2008. (Reuters)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Netanyahu: We'll Continue to Pursue Peace - Ronen Medzini
"In spite of the opposition of our enemies, Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and despite the difficulties, we will continue our efforts to complete the circle of peace with the rest of our neighbors, until we are successful," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a memorial service in honor of Israel's fallen soldiers. "The price we have paid and are still paying is unbearable, I know. My family has also been struck by bereavement; your sorrow is my sorrow. I feel the pain deep in my heart and carry with me the memory, the yearning and the burden of the loss." The prime minister's brother Jonathan was killed during the 1976 IDF raid on Entebbe to free Israeli hostages. (Ynet News)
See also Address at Memorial Service for Israel's Fallen Soldiers - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
See also Israeli Defense Minister: No Second Chance for Those Who Can't Defend Themselves - Hanan Greenberg
"We live in a tough environment. This isn't western Europe or North America. There is no mercy for the weak here, and no second chance for those who can't defend themselves," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday prior to Remembrance Day. (Ynet News)
* Israel at 61: Population 7.4 Million, 75.5 Percent Jewish - Motti Bassok
The population of Israel stands at 7,411,000 - 75% of it Jewish - up from 7,282,000 last year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Jewish population of Israel stands at 5,593,000 and the Arab population is 1,498,000, or 20.2%. Foreign residents make up 4.3% of the population. There are 14 cities with over 100,000 residents. (Ha'aretz)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* Iran's New Target: Egypt - Abdel Monem Said Aly
On April 8, Egypt announced it had uncovered a Hizbullah cell operating inside its borders, offering a rare insight into the way Iran and its proxies are manipulating Middle East politics. Tehran sees Egypt as its greatest rival in the region, and the most formidable Arab bulwark opposing its influence. It is in this context that Hizbullah actions in Egypt should be assessed. Acting as a front for Iranian objectives, Hizbullah is tasked with distracting Egypt from the diplomatic process. Egypt's persistent attempts to bring about peace in the Israeli-Palestinian arena and its encouragement of other Arab countries to follow its path with Israel threaten to deprive Iran of the single most potent regional issue that it can exploit to further its radical agenda. The writer is director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. (Wall Street Journal)
* Boycotting Israel Not Ethical - Editorial
Having set up the Mountain Equipment Co-Op as an "ethical," customer-owned enterprise, the Vancouver-based MEC board has committed itself to letting those customers discuss what business practices may be considered ethical. Now a faction of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation thinks the MEC should boycott Israeli-made products. Why? Because when subjected to terrorist attacks from Gaza, Israel vigorously defended itself.
Much of what we buy is made in countries where modest research would uncover human-rights abuses sufficient to justify a boycott. China, for instance, should be on any list of least-favored trading partners. Yet, without Chinese products MEC members would hike barefoot and sleep under the stars. Israel is at least a democracy, where citizens are free to criticize their government. (Calgary Herald-Canada)
See also Getting One's Knickers in a Twist over Israel - Pete McMartin (Vancouver Sun-Canada)


Netanyahu Bids to Change "Diskette" - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

* Israel's new government will formally unveil its foreign policy when Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with President Obama at the White House on May 18.
* Netanyahu will set out to achieve a changing of the international "diskette." This, first, necessitates an acknowledgement that successive negotiating efforts have foundered on the rock of Palestinian intransigence and weakness. Second, it requires a shifted focus to a more modest, gradual program for creating a climate in which reconciliation might truly start to flourish.
* In comments that mesh thoroughly with the thinking in the Prime Minister's Office, Foreign Minister Lieberman has stressed that Israel fully "intends to take the initiative" as regards the Palestinians. Indeed, the Netanyahu government wants to engage with the Palestinians and with the rest of the region - first and foremost, to build a partnership to face down the common threat posed by Iran.
* Netanyahu's government is not conditioning the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians on the thwarting of Iran. But it is saying, sensibly, that there is no prospect of substantive progress with the Palestinians unless Iran's nuclear drive is halted. Iran threatens Israel directly, via Hizbullah to the north and via Hamas in the south. But if Iran is cowed, moderate Palestinians and more moderate forces throughout our region would be liberated.

See also The World According to Foreign Minister Lieberman - David Horovitz and Amir Mizroch (Jerusalem Post)

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Atzmaut message

Independence Day message from President Peres

27 Apr 2009

Greetings from President Shimon Peres to the Jewish Communities around the world on the occasion of Israel's 61st Anniversary
April 2009

On the eve of Israel's 61st Independence Day, alongside the celebrations, it is time for reflection and prayers for the well-being of the Jewish people, here in Israel and around the world. It is also a time to consolidate and strengthen the bonds that link the State of Israel and the Jewish Communities abroad, for we are one people with a common heritage, united in times of joy and united in darker hours.

The past year has witnessed Operation Cast Lead, launched by Israel in self-defense with the sole purpose of putting an end to the vicious and unjustifiable missile and rocket attacks on its citizens - innocent men, women and children - wreaking havoc and pain for the last eight years. Iran has continued to call for Israel's annihilation, as it is set on developing nuclear weapons that threaten Israel's very existence. The heavy clouds of the economic crisis that engulfed the world has also cast a long shadow over Israel's skies, and affected thousands of households across the country. Anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Israel manifestations is on the rise and Gilad Schalit is still being held captive.

Since its inception Israel has had to grapple with complex issues and has always prevailed. Also today Israel will prevail. Its human resources abound and its creativity flourishes. Our vision of a bright and hopeful tomorrow for the Jewish people has not faltered. To that end, we must intensively invest in the future generations today through education - from the cradle to adulthood. We must continue to excel, and play a leadership role in the field of advanced science and technology, medicine and renewable sources of energy. It is essential that the mounting water shortage is surmounted by appropriate desalination projects, the desert greened and food secured. Job opportunities must be created and social gaps closed. Any divide in our society has to be bridged and our quest for peace must go on.

This is our mission. From the ashes we have risen, and as we move into the seventh decade of the establishment of the State of Israel, there is much for which to be grateful and much for which to be proud.

Let us celebrate together Israel's 61st anniversary, a Jewish people united and with unflagging hope in our hearts.

Yom Atzmaut Sameach!
Shimon Peres

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Israel celebrates 61 years of independence April 2009

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April 27, 2009

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Report: Iranian Arms Ship Destroyed near Sudan (Jerusalem Post)
An Iranian vessel en route to Sudan with weapons for Hamas in Gaza was attacked by an Israeli or American ship and destroyed, according to a report Sunday in the Egyptian weekly Al-Usbua.
Sources in Khartoum said, "The ship was destroyed at sea near the Sudanese coast" and all of the crew members on board were killed in the incident, which occurred in the past two weeks.


Turkey, Syria to Stage Joint Military Exercise (Hurriyet-Turkey)
The land forces of Turkey and Syria will perform joint military exercises across the border this week for the first time, the Turkish General Staff said Sunday.
See also Israeli Defense Minister: Joint Turkish-Syrian Military Exercise "Disturbing" (Ynet News)
See also Turkey, Syria Pursue Defense Industry Cooperation (Zaman-Turkey)
Turkey and neighboring Syria plan to sign a letter of intent giving the green light for cooperation in the defense industry.
Turkish defense industry sources said the agreement is a sign of the level of political relations reached between Turkey and Syria.


U.S. Aid Goes to Abbas-Backed Palestinian Phone Venture - Adam Entous (Reuters)
U.S. aid in the form of loan guarantees meant for Palestinian farmers and other small to mid-sized businesses has been given to Wataniya Palestine, a mobile phone firm backed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and Gulf investors.
Former Palestine Investment Fund board members and advisers challenged the justification for granting U.S. loan guarantees when the company's financial backers, including a Kuwaiti and Qatari telecom group, were highly profitable.


The Women Who Terrify Iran's Mullahs - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
For months, Iran's state-owned media have been whipping up frenzy about alleged plots to topple the regime.
Last week, an Iranian court sentenced Roxana Saberi, 31, a former Miss North Dakota who has been in Tehran for years working as a journalist, to eight years in prison as a devious "spy" helping the American "Great Satan" undermine the Islamic Republic.
The Khomeinist regime has always regarded women as one of its three worst enemies, the other two being Jews and Americans.
Since last January, scores of women fighting for women's rights have been arrested and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment.
Among the women in prison are the leaders of the "one million signatures" campaign for an end to gender apartheid in Iran.
Some 30,000 women are in prison in Iran today, held on charges of anti-Islamic activities and/or violations of the notorious Islamic dress code.

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Israeli Security Guards Foil Italian Cruise Ship Hijacking in Indian Ocean - Richard Owen
Israeli security guards on an Italian cruise ship using pistols and a firehose beat back pirates who tried to board the vessel near the Seychelles, according to the ship's captain. Commander Ciro Pinto of the MSC Melody, with 991 passengers and 536 crew, said the ship came under attack 600 miles off the Somali coast. Domenico Pellegrino, managing director of the ship's owner MSC, confirmed that the Melody was protected by Israeli security guards. "We use them because they are the best," he said. "And we have just had a demonstration of that." (Times-UK)
Is U.S. Changing Stance on Hamas Funding? - Paul Richter
The new U.S. administration has opened the door, if only slightly, to engagement with the militant group Hamas. The Palestinian group is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization and under law may not receive federal aid. But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the unlikely event that Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government. The proposal is akin to agreeing to support a government that "only has a few Nazis in it," Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week.
U.S. officials insist the proposal does not mean they would be recognizing or aiding Hamas. Under law, any U.S. aid would require that the Palestinian government recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the proposal sounded "completely unworkable." (Chicago Tribune)
Clinton: U.S. Won't Make a Deal with Syria that "Sells Out" Lebanon - Matthew Lee
During a visit to Lebanon on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington will never make a deal with Syria that "sells out" Lebanon's interests. There have been concerns among anti-Syrian factions in the pro-U.S. parliamentary majority that the Obama administration's talks with Syria could weaken American support for Lebanon. Ahead of the June 7 elections that could boost the Iranian-backed Hizbullah and its allies, Clinton said: "I want to assure any Lebanese citizen that the United States will never make any deal with Syria that sells out Lebanon and the Lebanese people." (AP)
U.S. Seeks to Assure Arabs on Iran - Jay Solomon
The Obama administration is dispatching its point man on Iran, Dennis Ross, to the Middle East this week in an effort to win greater Arab support for Washington's engagement strategy toward Tehran. A number of Arab governments in recent weeks have voiced concern about the U.S. outreach, fearing it could help entrench Iran as a Mideast power while failing to end its nuclear program. "The discomfort among the Arabs is quite real. They have deep anxieties about Iran," said a senior U.S. official. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Israel Ready for Peace Talks with Syria Without Preconditions - Shalhevet Zohar and Haviv Rettig Gur
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday told Israel Radio, "I'd be glad to negotiate with Syria this evening, but without preconditions." "They say, first go back to the 1967 lines and give up the Golan. If we agree to that, what is there to negotiate?" he said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Assad: No Talks Till Israel Cedes Golan
Syrian President Bashar Assad told the Austrian daily Die Presse in an interview published at the weekend: "The bottom line is that there is occupied territory that must be returned to Syria, and then we can talk about peace." (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Terrorist Who Murdered Boy with Axe Arrested - Efrat Weiss
The Palestinian terrorist who murdered 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ with an axe in Bat Ayin in the West Bank on April 2 was arrested two weeks ago by the Israel Security Agency, it was announced Sunday. Moussa Tit, 26, of the West Bank village of Khirbet Safa, said he carried out the attack for religious reasons and wanted to die as a martyr. After infiltrating the village, the terrorist said, he spotted children and began attacking them one after the other. Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, noted, "The terror attack was indicative of the atmosphere within the Palestinian population, which encourages the murder of innocent Israelis." (Ynet News)
Israel Remembrance Day Begins Monday Evening
Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars will begin on Monday evening, April 27, at 8 p.m. with a moment of national silence heralded by a one-minute siren. On this day the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence. On Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., ceremonies will commence at 43 IDF military cemeteries located throughout the country following a two-minute siren blast. Israel's flag, adorned with a black ribbon and memorial flame, is placed on each and every grave of those who fell in Israel's battles.
A total of 22,570 men and women have been killed defending the Land of Israel since 1860. In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2008, 133 members of the security forces have been killed in the service of the state. The commemoration ends on Tuesday evening, April 28, with the celebration of Israel's 61st Independence Day. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

Isn't Rejection of the Jewish People's State Racist? - Guy Bechor
The new Israeli government demands recognition of both parts of the "two-states for two peoples" slogan, placing a mirror before Arab societies for the first time. This is an important development that must be insisted on at any price. The need to recognize Israel as the Jewish people's state will force the Arabs to look at Israel, and understand what it's all about. Is there a Jewish people? Most Arab community leaders would say: Not at all, just like Mahmoud Abbas or Saeb Erekat believe; at most, there is a Jewish religion, and perhaps Jewish culture. However, in order to get their own state, they will have to recognize this people, its identity, and its national movement - Zionism.
Yes, the Jewish people is also a nation, and the Arabs will have to accept it. If such a demand is made, and they reject it to this day, what does it say about them? That they're racist? Unwilling to recognize the other? The writer is a lecturer in Arab Law and Middle East Politics at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Ynet News)
Ahmadinejad at Durban 2 - A One-Man Wrecking Crew - Benjamin Pogrund
How did the organizers of the UN conference on racism manage to allow Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be the keynote speaker on the opening day? UN officialdom provided him with a platform to be a one-man wrecking crew. Some say the countries that boycotted and walked out should have stayed to listen to Ahmadinejad and engaged him in debate. But would it have been possible to sit down to a polite conversation with Adolf Hitler and persuade him that he was wrong to believe that Jews, Gypsies and Russians were sub-humans deserving only of mass death? Would there have been any point in trying to engage Ahmadinejad in debate, to tell him his views are lunatic and evil?
During the Ahmadinejad diatribe, many in the conference hall, from Africa, Asia and Latin America, applauded and cheered his attack on Israel as a "racist state" and on the West. Who wants to be involved with people who behave like this? The writer was deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Guardian-UK)

The Purpose of Engaging Iran - Tony Blair (Office of Tony Blair)

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on April 22:

Ten years ago I set out what I described as a doctrine of international community that sought to justify intervention, including if necessary military intervention, not only when a nation's interests are directly engaged, but also where there exists a humanitarian crisis or gross oppression of a civilian population.
Should we now revert to a more traditional foreign policy, less bold, more cautious; less idealistic, more pragmatic, more willing to tolerate the intolerable because of fear of the unpredictable consequences that intervention can bring? My argument is that the case for the doctrine I advocated ten years ago remains as strong now as it was then.
The struggle faced by the world, including the majority of Muslims, is posed by an extreme and misguided form of Islam. Our job is simple: it is to support and partner those Muslims who believe deeply in Islam but also who believe in peaceful co-existence, in taking on and defeating the extremists who don't. But it can't be done without our active and wholehearted participation.
There is a link between the murders in Mumbai, the terror attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempts to destabilize countries like Yemen, and the training camps of insurgents in Somalia. There is a shared ideology. There are many links criss-crossing the map of Jihadist extremism. And there are elements in the leadership of a major country, namely Iran, that can support and succor its practitioners.
Engaging with Iran is entirely sensible. The Iranian government should not be able to claim that we have refused the opportunity for constructive dialogue. The purpose of such engagement should, however, be clear. It is to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability, but it is more than that. It is to put a stop to the Iranian regime's policy of destabilization and support of terrorism.


Independence day worldwide

The Diaspora

Invitation to Independence Day event

Jews all over the world to mark Remembrance, Independence days

Jewish communities from London to Baku will honor Israel's fallen with traditional ceremonies, then celebrate country's 61st anniversary with barbeques, torch-lighting and even bar-hopping. 'We want the Jews here to understand what it's like to be a typical Israeli,' Jewish Agency envoy in Auckland says

Daniel Edelson Published: 04.26.09, 13:22 / Israel News

Israelis and Jews all over the world will be attending events marking Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day (Tuesday) and the Jewish state's 61st Independence Day (Wednesday).

David Eckstein (24), a Bnei Akiva emissary in Auckland, New Zealand told Ynet on Sunday that "there are about 4,000 Jews here; many of them are former Israelis or the sons and daughters expatriates, and they want to be exposed to Israel's culture at its best.

"On Independence Day we plan to help them get a sense of what it is to be a typical Israeli. We've organized a big event; we'll set up falafel and hummus stands and have a barbeque, while the songs of Israeli singers Eyal Golan, Rita, Shlomo Artzi and the band Dag Nahash will be playing in the background," he said.

Remembrance Day ceremony in New Zealand last year (Archive photo: Aviv Alshich)

Eckstein said a celebratory prayer session is set to take place at Auckland's synagogue, after which participants will sing Israeli songs. In the evening, he said, youngsters will go bar-hopping in the city, "because what better way is there to celebrate?"

One the eve of Remembrance Day the local Jewish community will hold a traditional ceremony, which will also honor the fallen soldiers of New Zealand's army. "The Jewish community here is very patriotic," Eckstein said.

Aviel Zwebner (36), a Jewish Agency representative in the UK, said the local Jewish community, which, according to him numbers 250,000-300,000 people, will also mark Remembrance and Independence days, adding that the main events are set to be held in London and Manchester.

"We will hold a traditional Remembrance Day ceremony – just like in Israel – and then throw an Independence Day bash with a performance by a local Jewish stand-up comic. We expect at least 1,000 people to attend and celebrate with Israel," he said.

Manchester will host a fair in which Israeli arts and crafts, as well as other goods, will be sold.

Anti-Israel rally in Malmo (Archive photo: AFP)

Avital Beles (21), Bnei Akiva's emissary to Malmo, Sweden said the city's controversial decision to stage the Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden in an empty arena only strengthened the local Jewish community of nearly 800. "They Jews protested and organized pro-Israel events, and now they are eagerly awaiting the Independence Day celebrations," she said.

"On Remembrance Day we are planning, along with local teenagers, a ceremony that will focus on current events, during which a woman whose son made aliyah and was killed in Jenin will speak. A day later we will mark Independence Day with the traditional torch-lighting ceremony, as they do in Mount Herzl (Jerusalem). There will also be a performance by local children and traditional dancing," she said.

Jews in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia will mark Remembrance and Independence days in a more subdued manner.

According to Gregory Brodsky, director of the Jewish Agency's South Caucasia delegation, the events will be catered mainly for adults.


Some 3,000 Jews reside in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi; 70- 80 more live in Baku, Azerbaijan, while the Armenian capital of Yerevan is home to 50-60 Jews.

"In Georgia the Jewish community is very traditional and connected to Israel; the communities in Azerbaijan and Armenia are not as connected, but are still very interested in Israel. Therefore, during this year's events we will make it a point to educate them on Israel's wars and the country's inception," Brodsky told Ynet.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Yom yerushalyaim May 22



By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

There is nothing that brings out an identity crisis more than living in Eretz Yisrael during this season of modern Jewish holidays. On May 22nd, a large segment of Klal Yisrael will be celebrating God’s gift of the millennium to the Jewish People, Jerusalem .

The modern State of Israel presents a troubling contradiction. Moving to Israel or even coming to Israel for a visit can bring about an incomparable spiritual high on the one hand, and shock and disappointment on the other.

When Rav Chaim P.Scheinberg moved to Israel with his family and his Yeshiva in the early 1960‘s, he made a going away speech for a large group of his students and friends. He commented on how when he would walk through the streets of New York and see so much crime, promiscuity, and lack of respect for ideals and morals -he would ask himself on a regular basis, “What am I doing here?”

So he went to visit Eretz Yisrael. On that visit he toured the length and breadth of the country. As he traveled, he looked around and he saw so much crime, promiscuity and lack of respect, just like back home! - The difference was, he said, he found himself asking “what are THEY doing here?”

That being said it is painful to walk the streets of Tel Aviv, Netanya and even Jerusalem and see Jews that have adopted the “alien” cultures over the beautiful tradition of Yiddishkeit. It is equally painful to walk the neighborhoods and the political arenas of those that have not forsaken our tradition and yet see such a disappointing measure of division and rudeness.

On the other hand, consider the Torah giants and geniuses of Eretz Yisrael. On any given corner of Jerusalem or on the bus it is not unusual to overhear an intense discussion of some of the most complex Talmudic issues.. Mi K’amcha Yisrael.

Even in secular Israel . A while back there was an exchange of 400 terrorists for 3 dead Jews and one live one. A huge controversy broke out. On the one hand Israel must show how much they value every citizen. On the other hand 400 killers were let loose. I was listening with interest to the debate in Knesset. Tommy Lapid, a non-religious member, cited the Maharam M’Rutenberg. He explained that Rav Meir of Rothenberg, among the latest of the Tosafists, was imprisoned by Emperor Rudolf in Germany in 1286. Upon hearing of the immense ransom demanded by the emperor, the Maharam outright refused to be released. Even after his death in prison, the authorities refused to give his remains to the community for proper burial until a certain philanthropist donated practically his entire fortune for the retrieval of the Maharam’s remains. The Maharam felt that paying the ransom would endanger all the scholars of Israel . A debate ensued in the secular Knesset about the comparison to the Maharam M’Rutenberg. Who is comparable to the Jews? (Even in debate secular Jews cite pious scholars).

The Torah speaks about a spiritual skin disease called tzoraat. Tzoraat is a form of spiritual leprosy which makes the afflicted one ritually impure or “tamey.” The sign of impurity in Tzoraat is white. If the Kohen sees white in the blemish, the patient is tamey. The more white the more impure. As it gets whiter it gets more serious and more impure. Then the Torah presents us with a shocking law, “hafach kulo lavan” let’s say that the blemish turns completely white. This should be the ultimate in impurity! Tahor - the Kohen proclaims him as pure! How can the sign of tumah become the sign of purity?

Metzora stands for motzi ra, to exude the evil.

What is happening with a tzoraat, probably similar to many dermatological illnesses is actually a positive process. A person has negativity in their soul. Something evil is stirring with in them. They begin to do teshuva and the evil wants to leave the body. When tuma leaves the body it looks horrible. White spots of leprosy looking blotches, but what you are actually seeing is impurity leaving the body. The mess is actually a positive process! Motzi Ra!

Often in psychological therapy things get worse before they get better. Negativity that has been hiding dormant for years is brought to the surface. It begins to show, it begins to hurt, however it is so positive that it is leaving the body. Motzi Ra.

“Rava said: Mashiach won’t come until the government becomes heretical! As it says: “hafach kulo lavan - tahor! If it turns completely white it is pure!” Like a tzoraat, the government must bottom out and turn completely white to be purified. Once the negativity is out of its system. Tahor! It is pure.

We are a traumatized people. The Jewish people have gone through so much during the last two millennia. So much negativity has developed within us. We all know what the Holocaust did to people’s souls. We became poisoned by torture. What we see in Eretz Yisrael is the Jewish people acting out and getting the negativity out of our system.

At the time of the founding of the State of Israel, the organizers thought that we needed a new kind of Jew. Max Nordau, a partner to Herzel in building secular Zionism, at the first Zionist Conference called for a more muscular Jew that was more intimidating and more macho. The Yeshiva Bachur became the nebechel. Tension grew and that tension became a tzoraat - Motzi Ra! Possibly the tension was and is part of a positive process - maybe even Messianic.

Times are changing. There are tens of thousands of people returning to Judaism (Baalei Teshuva) in Eretz Yisrael. Disdain for Torah Jews is diminishing. We are recovering from galus, “hafach kulo lavan - tahor!” We have bottomed out and we are becoming pure again.

Something is happening! May we all come together in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh and hear the entire Klal Yisrael lead the world in song, “HaKodosh Boruch Hu, Anachnu ohavim Otcha! God, we love You.

Jerusaqlem Day


A Light to Our Fellow Jews in the Month of Iyar


On the site where the ancient Temple of Jerusalem stood, legend tells us two brothers once lived. The elder did not marry, and was all alone in the world. The younger had a wife and three children. The brothers had no material possessions except a plot of land which they inherited from their father. They did not want to divide up the land, because they loved each other. Instead, they worked it together, and when the harvest was over, they counted sheaves and divided them equally between them, placing them in two piles, each beside his own tent.

One year, after the harvest, the elder brother lay down to sleep beside his pile. But he could not fall asleep, because the thought ran through his mind: “My brother has a wife and children to care for, while I am alone in the world and work only to fill my own belly. It isn't right that I should take an equal share with my brother.” At midnight he got up, took some sheaves from his pile, stealthily went to his brother's pile and placed them there. Then he returned to his place and slept peacefully.

That same night, the younger brother was also unable to sleep. He thought: “My brother is all alone in the world. I have children who will look after me when I am old and unable to work. What will my brother do in his old age? It isn't fair of me to take an equal share of the produce of our field!” So before daybreak, the younger brother got up, took a few sheaves from his pile, stealthily placed them on his brother's pile, and returned to his place and slept.

In the morning, the brothers saw that their piles were as large as ever. They wondered greatly about this, but they did not say a word to each other. The same thing happened the next night and the morning that followed. On the third night, as the brothers were carrying sheaves to each others’ pile, they met midway, recognized each other, embraced, and wept, for they realized what had been happening. God saw what the brothers did and blessed the spot where they met. Later Solomon, King of Israel, built the holy Temple on that very spot - the Temple from which the message of peace, love and brotherhood went out to the whole world. As it says in the Book of Isaiah: "From Zion comes forth the Torah and the Word of God from Jerusalem ." (Isaiah 2:3)

As Jews, Jerusalem is not a city as any other. It is the Holy City , the dwelling place of the Shekhinah - the Divine Presence - the focal point of all that is Jewish. No words can adequately describe the profound 3000-year-old love affair of our people with this most special city. How can one capture the miracle, the mystery and the majesty of this city, when one is so confined by the limits of words. Words are a feeble instrument to describe the bond we, as a people - and hopefully as individuals - feel about Ir Shalem, the City of Peace .

In the 10th Century BCE, the city of Jebus was captured by King David, who made it the capital city of the United Israelite Kingdom and restored its name to Yerushalayim, proclaiming that, in accordance with Divine Will and through God's presence in this place, the Almighty will make the world shalem - complete, whole, tranquil, peaceful. Yerushalayim became the Holy City with the building of the First Temple by David's son, Solomon. Ever since, Yerushalayim has been the political and spiritual center of the Jewish people.

Today, Jerusalem is a short distance away. One can get there in less than two hours from Tel Aviv by car. One can get there in nine hours from New York by plane. But it was not always that way. In 1840, a man set out from Poland to Jerusalem to see the Holy City before he died. He left just after Sukkot. He arrived in Palestine - spent, sick and exhausted, just in time for Pesach - eighteen months later. He had crossed mountains and rivers and fought off robbers and diseases in order to get there. There were many such pilgrims in the nineteenth century.

Eighteen months - that is how long it used to take to get there. Now it is nine hours away.

The profound yearning for Zion and Jerusalem its Holy City, the urge to return and reestablish the Jewish state, and the faith that the vision of the Prophets would be fulfilled, has sustained the spirit of the Jewish people in all the countries of our dispersion. Throughout history, our religious writings have stressed the sacred obligation to come home to the Land of Israel and to remember the city of Jerusalem . Psalm 137 proclaims it best when it teaches: "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand whither, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember you not, if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy" (Psalm 137:5-6).

As we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim which commemorates the reunification of the city during the 1967 Six Day War, let us not forget the Holy City 's importance to our lives and to the psyche of our people. Let us pray that peace come speedily and in our day.

Rabbi Geoffrey J. Haber is the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El of Closter , New Jersey . This Dvar Torah was originally shared through the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, May 2007.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daily Alert

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April 23, 2009
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Report: Corruption Still Rampant in Palestinian Society (DPA)
Corruption is still rampant in Palestinian public institutions, the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity-Aman said Wednesday in a report.
Despite some positive reforms in the area of public fund management, there is still a "general weakness in the system of combating corruption."
Aman commissioner Azmi Shueibi said the Palestinian public in general believes that corruption increased in 2008.
In the West Bank, "many forms of favoritism, nepotism, misappropriation of public money and abuse of public position continues to impact on many sectors of Palestinian society."
In Gaza, corruption was "manifested in the dismissal, termination, transfer or exclusion of public officials believed to belong to the political opponents, who were replaced by new hires of a favorable political affiliation."
See also Firms Run by PA Leader Abbas' Sons Get U.S. Contracts - Adam Entous (Reuters)
Construction and public relations firms run by Tarek Abbas and Yasser Mahmoud Abbas, sons of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, have received over $2 million worth of U.S. government aid contracts to repair roads - and America's image - in the Palestinian territories since 2005.

Syria Says Ahmadinejad Speech Reflected Arab Views (AFP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at a UN conference on racism had widespread Arab support, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Wednesday.

Somali Pirates Form Unholy Alliance with Islamists (Der Spiegel-Germany)
Intelligence agencies are alarmed at the Somali pirates' increasingly close ties to Islamist groups.
Intelligence agencies have managed to deeply penetrate the pirate clans and have inside information about the bosses, arms caches, alliances and arrangements.
Until recently, the pirates and Islamists have been mortal enemies. When fighters loyal to the radical Council of Islamic Courts seized power in Somalia in 2006, they immediately put the pirates out of business.
Half a year later, an invading army from U.S.-backed neighboring Ethiopia swept aside the Islamists - and the pirates quickly headed out to sea again in search of new booty.
Today, the pirates want money and the Islamists want power. The pirates are "mujahideen because they are at war with the Christian countries," says Sheikh Hassan Turki, the leader of Hizbul Islam. Mukhtar Robow of the al-Shabab militias says the pirates are defending "the coast against Allah's enemies."
The pirates smuggle weapons for the Islamists including, last October, ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns - weapons that could make life extremely difficult for Western helicopter pilots.
See also Somalia's Muslim Jihad at Sea - Joshua E. London (Washington Times)
The Somali pirates do not think of themselves as pirates, but instead consider themselves to be devout Muslims protecting Somalia against the infidel West.
While the U.S. government is treating the matter as a criminal case, these "criminals" are jihadist Muslim pirates and must be dealt with in the context of America's larger regional and international war against Islamist terror networks.

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* Clinton: U.S. Prepared for New Sanctions If Outreach to Iran Fails - David Gollust
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. is laying the groundwork for new sanctions against Iran if outreach to Tehran on its nuclear program fails. Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, "As the President said in his inaugural address, we will hold out our hand - they have to unclench their fist. But we are also laying the groundwork for the kind of very tough...crippling sanctions that might be necessary in the event our offers are either rejected or the process is inconclusive or unsuccessful." (VOA News)
See also Clinton Sets Conditions on Palestinian Government with Hamas
Secretary of State Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, "We will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agrees to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority." "From everything we hear, there is no intention on the part of Hamas to meet those conditions, but these are not just American conditions. These are the conditions that were adopted by the Quartet," she said. "These are actually the the Arab peace initiative," she added. (Reuters)
* Israel: Action on Iran Not a Condition for Peace-Making with Palestinians - Amy Teibel
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon made it clear Wednesday that reining in Iran was not an Israeli condition for going ahead with peacemaking with the Palestinians. "We should continue on the path of peace with the Palestinians as if there is no Iran threat. Simultaneously, we should move forward on stopping Iran as if there was no Palestinian issue," Ayalon said. (AP)
* Israel Says Actions in Gaza War Did Not Violate International Law - Isabel Kershner
The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday presented the conclusions of several internal investigations into its conduct during the war in Gaza and stated that it had operated in accordance with international law, countering accusations of possible war crimes. The IDF said it had "maintained a high professional and moral level" during the war, though it faced "an enemy that aimed to terrorize Israeli civilians while taking cover" among Palestinian civilians and "using them as human shields." Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, the deputy chief of staff, said the army had "not found a single case of an Israeli soldier deliberately hurting innocent Palestinian civilians, whether from the land, air or sea." (New York Times)
See also below Observations: Report on the Conduct of IDF Soldiers During the Gaza War (Israel Defense Forces)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Israeli Foreign Minister Hosts Egyptian Intelligence Chief in Jerusalem - Barak Ravid
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman met in Jerusalem on Wednesday with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and invited him to visit Cairo. Lieberman's office called the talks friendly, and said that during the meeting Lieberman expressed his respect and appreciation for Egypt's leading role in the region and his personal respect for Mubarak and Minister Suleiman. (Ha'aretz)
* Pro-Israel Activists Protest in Geneva - Tovah Lazaroff
Shouting "I'm a Zionist" in English and French, several thousand pro-Israel activists rallied Wednesday in Geneva against the UN's week-long anti-racism conference. Former U.S. Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, who heads UN Watch, said, "We changed what could have been a tragic travesty into a triumph." Instead of hearing only Israeli wrongs, he said, emphasis has been placed back where it should be - on worldwide human rights abuses. (Jerusalem Post)
* Hamas PM Hid in Hospital During Gaza Operation - Yaakov Katz
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other senior Hamas commanders took over a ward of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and operated a command and control center there throughout the Gaza operation in January, the IDF revealed on Wednesday. Hamas believed that Israel would not target the hospital. Senior Hamas commanders also set up a command center in a Red Crescent Society clinic in Khan Yunis and used it as a detention center.
An IDF investigation discovered that out of seven medical personnel claimed to have been killed by the IDF, five were Hamas operatives, including a nephew of the Hamas health minister. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* Do the Palestinians Really Want a State? - Robert D. Kaplan
The new Israeli government faithfully represents the Israeli electorate, which is in utter despair over the impossibility of finding credible partners on the Palestinian side with which to negotiate. Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Abbas' Fatah movement may be willing to live in peace with Israel, but it has insufficient political legitimacy among Palestinians to negotiate such a deal. With Fatah and Hamas facing off against each other, the Palestinians are simply too divided to plausibly meet Israel across the table.
But there is a deeper structural and philosophical reason why the Palestinians remain stateless, as best explained by associate Johns Hopkins professor Jakub Grygiel in "The Power of Statelessness." Statehood is no longer a goal, he writes. Many stateless groups "do not aspire to have a state," for they are more capable of achieving their objectives without one. Instead of actively seeking statehood to address their weakness, as Zionist Jews did in an earlier phase of history, groups like the Palestinians now embrace their statelessness as a source of power.
A state entails responsibilities that limit a people's freedom of action. A group like Hizbullah in Lebanon could probably take over the Lebanese state today, but why would it want to? Statelessness offers a level of "impunity" from retaliation. The most tempting aspect of statelessness is that it permits a people to savor the pleasures of religious zeal, extremist ideologies, and moral absolutes, without having to make the kinds of messy, mundane compromises that accompany the work of looking after a geographical space. (Atlantic Monthly)
See also The Power of Statelessness - Jakub Grygiel (Policy Review-Hoover Institution-Stanford University)
* The Two Nation-State Solution - Ari Shavit
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about the occupation. If it were, it would have erupted in 1967 and not in 1920. The only way to peace is by means of true mutual recognition. Peace will not be achieved without Israeli recognition of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian nation-state, and without Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people and the Jewish nation-state. Israel has recognized the Palestinian people and agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, in no case - neither at Oslo, Camp David or Annapolis - did the Palestinians go a parallel distance. To this day they do not recognize the Jewish people, its rights or its nation-state.
In the summer of 2008, Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, made Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas an unprecedented peace proposal. However, Abbas did not accept Olmert's offer. He rejected out of hand the principle of dividing the country into two nation-states. It is out of the question for Israel to recognize the Palestinian people's right of self-determination in advance, while the Palestinians refuse to recognize the Jewish people's right of self-determination. That asymmetry will not lead to peace. In this specific case Netanyahu is right. On this issue of principle he is expressing the firm opinion of the Israeli majority. (Ha'aretz)


Report on the Conduct of IDF Soldiers During the Gaza War (Israel Defense Forces)

Five investigative teams assigned to investigate events related to the conduct of IDF soldiers during the Gaza War dealt with the following five issues:

* Claims regarding incidents where UN and international facilities were fired upon
Regarding the UNRWA school in Jabaliya, Hamas fired mortar shells at Israeli forces 80 meters from the school. All of the shells fired by IDF forces landed outside the school grounds.
* Incidents involving shooting at medical facilities, buildings, vehicles and crews
A building containing a mother-and-child clinic was used by Hamas as a weapons storage facility. Despite the fact that the building was not identifiable as a clinic, the IDF still warned the residents prior to the attack. IDF forces took extraordinary care and acted even beyond the obligations of international law.
* Claims regarding incidents in which many uninvolved civilians were harmed
Regarding the attack on the house of senior Hamas operative Nazar Ri'an, Ri'an was a legitimate military target due to his involvement in the execution and planning of terrorists attacks, and his house was used as a weapons storage facility, as proven by the secondary explosions after the attack.
* The use of weaponry containing phosphorous
The use of weapons containing white phosphorus as a smoke screen is standard, legal, and a tactic employed by other Western militaries worldwide.
* Damage to infrastructure and the destruction of buildings
No uninvolved civilians were harmed during the demolition of infrastructure and buildings by IDF forces. In many cases, the planting of explosives or weaponry by Hamas was responsible for the significant damage caused to the structures.
* The government of Israel ordered the IDF to embark on the Gaza operation following eight years of rocket fire on Israeli communities in southern Israel. During this time, hundreds of thousands of Israeli children, women and men were terrorized by endless attacks executed by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza. Thousands of rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli schools, kindergartens and residential neighborhoods.
* There were 1,166 Palestinian fatalities during the Gaza operation; 709 were Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, whose names are known. 162 of the fatalities were men between the ages of 16 and 45, whose connection to Hamas is unclear. 295 of the fatalities were Palestinian civilians.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Daily alert

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April 16, 2009

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IDF Tightens Borders with Egypt and Jordan - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF has beefed up forces along Israel's borders with Egypt and Jordan out of concern that terror cells currently operating in the Sinai Peninsula will infiltrate into Israel, defense officials said Wednesday.
Special forces were deployed along the borders and were laying ambushes to catch terror cells that might try to infiltrate into Israel and particularly Eilat.
Egypt has also beefed up its forces along the border with Israel.


BBC's Middle East Editor Breached Guidelines on Israel Reporting - (Telegraph-UK)
The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee has ruled that pieces by its Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, broke BBC rules on accuracy.


Jordanian Court Sentences Three "Hamas Spies" (Maan News-PA)
A Jordanian court on Wednesday sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage for Hamas.
A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.
The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.


Saudi Cleric on Al-Jazeera Teaches Children to Hate Jews (MEMRI)
On Al-Jazeera TV on January 11, 2009, Saudi cleric Khaled Al-Khlewi said: "The Jew is treacherous, disloyal, deceitful, and belligerent by nature. Nothing works with him but force."
Al-Khlewi asks: "Do you like the Jews?"
Omar, age 8: "No."
Al-Khlewi: "You hate them. Why do you hate them? What did the Jews do?"
Omar: "They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad."
Al-Khlewi: "Well done. They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad. And what are they doing to our Muslim brothers now? They are killing them. When you curse them, what do you say? 'Oh God...'?"
Omar: "Oh God, destroy the Jews."


English Anti-Semitism on the March - Howard Jacobson (New Republic)
In the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned.
Mindless acts of vandalism come and go, but what takes root in the intellectual life of a nation is harder to identify and remove.
In the end, it is frankly immaterial how much of this is Jew-hating or not.
The inordinacy of English Israel-loathing - ascribing to a country the same disproportionate responsibility for the world's ills that was once ascribed to a people - is toxic enough in itself.

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No New Iran Sanctions If Iran Freezes Nuclear Development - Bill Varner
The Obama administration won't impose additional sanctions on Iran if it freezes nuclear development work and joins talks over the future of its program, European diplomats said. Undersecretary of State William Burns informed Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia of the new U.S. approach to the so-called "freeze-for-freeze" proposal at a meeting in London on April 8. Under President Bush, the U.S. said it was prepared to accept a freeze on UN and EU sanctions. President Obama would extend that offer to include U.S. sanctions, which under Bush often targeted Iranian banks.
European diplomats said that in return for the new U.S. concession, Iran would have to refrain from further development steps, such as adding centrifuges to enrich uranium. Asked whether the U.S. has dropped the condition of ending uranium enrichment, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, "We have not dropped or added any conditions." (Bloomberg)
U.S. Defense Secretary Warns Against Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuclear Facilities - Paul Richter
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned this week that an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would probably delay Tehran's nuclear program from one to three years. A strike, however, would unify Iran, "cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them," he said. In their private conversations, U.S. officials are discouraging such a course, even though officials say they would never deny Israel's right to act in self-defense. (Los Angeles Times)
Israel Balks at UN War Crimes Probe of Gaza War - Diaa Hadid
Israel is unlikely to cooperate with a Gaza war crimes probe because it distrusts the UN Human Rights Council sponsoring the investigation, an Israeli government official said Wednesday. The investigation is to be headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, who is Jewish. "(It's) not about Justice Goldstone," Aharon Leshno Yaar, the Israeli ambassador to UN organizations in Geneva, said Tuesday. "It's clear to everybody who follows this council and the way that it treats Israel that justice cannot be the outcome of this mission." (AP)
Hizbullah Faces a Backlash in the Bekaa Valley - Nicholas Blanford
Hundreds of Lebanese special forces backed by helicopters deployed this week into the northern Bekaa Valley, a Hizbullah stronghold, raiding homes and encircling villages in a manhunt for a gang that attacked an army patrol on Monday, killing four soldiers. After Hizbullah signaled its consent to the army to crack down, some angry Shiite clan members are vowing to vote against Hizbullah in the June 7 parliamentary elections. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Israel Calls for Understandings with U.S. - Herb Keinon
Israel and the U.S. "can and need" to "coordinate and reach understandings" on all the issues on the regional agenda, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told visiting U.S Middle East Envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday evening. Government sources said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is scheduled to meet Mitchell on Thursday, was keen on working together with the U.S. envoy, and that this trip was an opportunity to "touch base with one another and find the common ground to move forward."
Both Israeli and U.S. officials have said there was wide understanding in Washington that the new Netanyahu government was still in its "policy review" stage. Mitchell, who is projected to set up an office in Israel by July, is expected to visit the region about every three weeks. It is anticipated that Netanyahu will complete his "policy review" by the end of May, when he is expected to meet with President Obama in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel: Durban 2 Text Is Getting Worse - Tovah Lazaroff and Hilary Leila Krieger
Israel said that the newest version of the draft text for next week's anti-racism conference released Wednesday in Geneva was worse than the previous one when it came to singling out Israel. "The new text is not an improvement. If anything it is worse than the previous text because it includes a reference to foreign occupation which in the diplomatic world is code for Israel," said Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aharon Leshno Yaar. In addition, in its opening paragraph the new text continued to reaffirm the conclusions of the 2001 conference that singled out Israel. "We are worse off than we were yesterday," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Ilana Curiel
Gaza's rocket attacks on southern Israel resumed on Wednesday after a two-week lull when a rocket was fired in the early evening that landed near the border fence. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

How to Restart the Middle East Peace Process - Interview with Tony Blair by Tim McGirk
Tony Blair, ex-British prime minister and current mediator for the Quartet, said: "The new Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] is really clear that he wants economic and security change on the West Bank. That's what we agreed we'd work on with him. There are one or two things that [Netanyahu's] term "economic peace" can mean. One, that economic development is a substitute for state, and that's obviously not acceptable. I personally think he wants the second, to build the [Palestinian] state from the bottom up. I understand and buy into that."
"It's very hard for the international community to put the money into the Palestinian government where [Hamas] is saying, We reserve the right to use violence, to fire rockets at innocent Israeli civilians....Firing these rockets isn't just morally wrong - they're shooting at innocent civilians - but it's also tactically useless. At no level is it sensible." (TIME)
Mitchell's Trip to Bypass Damascus - Andrew J. Tabler
U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is scheduled to visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and North Africa this week. Conspicuously absent from his itinerary is Damascus. Despite a Syrian public relations campaign designed to exploit Washington's opening gestures with Syria as a major policy change, the exclusion of Damascus from the envoy's agenda demonstrates that the Obama administration continues to pursue cautious and critical engagement with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With Damascus unfortunately more interested in public relations than in addressing outstanding bilateral issues, Washington's step-by-step approach seems set to continue. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Protecting Israel and Its Good Name - David Horovitz
Protecting Israel cannot now be achieved by walls and fences and defensive measures; the rockets have to be stopped at the source - and the source of the rockets, as ruthlessly determined by the Palestinians who manufacture and launch them, lies in the heart of the civilian populace. By cynical design, those who would kill our citizens thus ensure that their people are killed when we try to thwart the attacks - so that we are forced to fight not only to protect ourselves, but to protect our good name and our legitimacy as we do so. The true picture is an Israeli nation seeking to defend itself against a cynical, dishonest Palestinian terror leadership whose religiously inspired loathing for us far outweighs its concerns for the well-being of its own people. (Jerusalem Post)

Building a Palestinian State from the Bottom Up - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is an experienced statesman whose greatest achievement is the agreement between the Protestant majority and Catholic minority in Northern Ireland.
Some lessons can be learned from Northern Ireland. There, the decommissioning of militias' weapons was a precondition to elections. The PA elections failed in part because the movements running in them were essentially armed militias.
The Oslo process was an attempt to build the institutions of a Palestinian nation state from the top down; this fell through because Palestinian society did not produce the instruments for building a structure for the state.
In the last two years, the Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair and U.S. Security Coordinator Keith Dayton have made some successful attempts to build Palestinian institutions from the bottom up. They are the only successful attempts so far to create infrastructure for a state.
True, this process is gradual and bound to take time, but the other process - the top-down one - failed, and it was time to admit it.
The writer, professor of political science at Hebrew University, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Aipac update April 16, 2009
France: Iran Must Freeze Enrichment During Talks

U.S., Israel to Test Missile Defense Systems

Ahmadinejad: Iran Building More Advanced Rockets

Egypt Arrests Hizballah Fighters Smuggling Arms to Gaza

Israeli Find Could Cure Deafness

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France: Iran Must Freeze Enrichment During TalksThe French Foreign Ministry stated Wednesday that Iran must suspend its efforts to enrich uranium—a key step toward building a nuclear bomb—during any talks with the international community over its illicit atomic program, Agence France Presse reported. Romain Nadal, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, said Paris stood by the proposal made to Iran in 2007, which said the international community would not seek additional U.N. sanctions if Iran would halt all nuclear activity beyond its civilian site in Bushehr. Iran rejected that offer and has continued to advance its uranium enrichment efforts. Secretary of State Clinton said the United States would work with allies "to make it clear that Iran cannot continue to pursue nuclear weapons. We will stand behind the sanctions that have already been implemented, and we will look for new ways to extend collective action vis-à-vis Iran's nuclear program."
U.S., Israel to Test Missile Defense SystemsThe United States and Israel plan to hold an unprecedented joint test later this year of three key ballistic missile defense systems, The Jerusalem Post reported. Israeli defense officials said the exercise, which will include the jointly developed Arrow 2 missile defense system, aimed to create the necessary infrastructure that would allow the Israeli and American missile defense systems to work together in case of an attack. Last week, the Israel Air Force held its 17th test of the Arrow 2 interceptor, shooting down a missile mimicking an Iranian Shihab ballistic missile. The upcoming exercise, called Juniper Cobra, will be the fifth in a series of tests between the United States and Israel.
Ahmadinejad: Iran Building More Advanced RocketsIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that his country is building new rockets capable of carrying heavier satellites than the one it previously launched in February, Agence France Presse reported. World powers think the previous rocket "was our final rocket," Ahmadinejad said, "but we are working on rockets which can go up to 700 kilometers [440 miles] and above and carry heavier satellites." The previous missile launch marked a dangerous development in the Islamic Republic's efforts to build a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it and was an important step toward eventually building a missile that could reach the United States. Click here to learn more about the Iranian threat.
Egypt Arrests Hizballah Fighters Smuggling Arms to Gaza
Egyptian officials last week detained nearly 50 Egyptian, Palestinian and Lebanese men linked to Hizballah, accusing them of planning attacks in Egypt and smuggling arms to Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Reuters reported. After Hassan Nasrallah admitted to the smuggling charges, Egyptian state-run media slammed the Hizballah leader for his close ties to Iran. "I say to you what every Egyptian knows, that you are an Iranian party," said one front-page editorial. "Are there instructions from Iran to drag Egypt into a conflict?" Egyptian police also arrested a man seeking to smuggle $2 million to Hamas through the Sinai. In recent weeks, Iran has redoubled its efforts to provide Hamas terrorists with weapons and financial support.
Israeli Find Could Cure DeafnessAn Israeli discovery on the function of tiny molecules in the inner ears of mice could lead to a cure for human deafness caused by aging, disease, drugs, noise or genetic disease, The Jerusalem Post reported. The research, carried out over three years, was led by world-renowned geneticist Professor Karen Avraham of Tel Aviv University. "The internal ears of mice and humans are very similar," Avraham said. The study examined molecules that are vital to the growth of sensory hair cells inside the ear. Typical healthy babies are born with 15,000 of these hair cells in each ear that allow them to hear. Later in life, these cells die off in a process called apoptosis. With new insight into the molecules involved in apoptosis, researchers hope to devise strategies to prevent it. Click here to learn more about the Israeli study.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Humorous and true but not by Peres

Subject: Open Letter from President Shimon Peres

An Open Letter from President Shimon Peres to President Barack Obama
Relayed to the world by Steven Plaut

Dear Mr. President,

I am shocked, Mister President, truly shocked. After all the hope you have
inspired for a new America, after your denunciation of American arrogance,
after your pledge to solve problems with the world's terrorists through
talking, here you go and order the American Navy SEALS to violate the human
rights of the Somalian pirates without so much as reading them their Miranda

Have you lost your senses? Why could you not have learned from the lessons
offered to you by Israel in its successful strategy to get Gilad Shalit
released from captivity! After all, we have worked quietly and peacefully
for more than three years to obtain Shalit's freedom. Why could you not
have been content to do the same with Captain Phillips?

What happened to your promise to deal with all forms of activism in the
world being perpetrated by misunderstood militants through civilized

Mister President Minister, I have a great amount of experience in dealing
successfully with terrorism and violence, and this is why I wish to explain
to you why your actions were unjustified and simply unforgivable.
The first thing you must realize is that one can only make peace with one's
enemies. With one's friends there is no need to make peace. There is no
military solution to the problems of terrorism, and this is why you should
have sought a diplomatic solution to the holding of Captain Richard

"No Justice, No Peace," as they say. You must now invite the leaders of this
Somalian protest organization responsible for the hijacking of the ship and
the holding of Captain Phillips to the White House. You must learn to feel
their pain and understand their needs.

But most importantly, you must end the illegal occupation of territory that
does not belong to you! First, you must withdraw from Guam and Hawaii and
remove all the illegal Anglo-Saxon settlers there. But that is just a
beginning. Large sections of the United States, including the Southwest,
are illegally occupied territories. Some even have a Hispanic majority.

The solution is to create two states for two peoples inside Illinois itself.
One will be for the Americans and the other for the Somali pirates.

Then there is the matter of the status of Washington, DC. It has a sizeable
Somali minority, many of whom drive taxis. Your selfish insistence that the
District of Columbia remain American is racist and insensitive. You must end
the apartheid regime inside America and turn Washington into the shared
capital of two states.

Then you must pay compensation to the families of the Somali pirates
mercilessly killed in cold blood by your Navy SEALS. You must grant them
survivor benefits from the American social security administration and lands
inside Yellowstone Park.

This is not even the first time that you Americans violated the civil rights
of pirates. Your crimes go all the way back to Thomas Jefferson and his
imperialist attacks on the Barbary Coast pirates. The aggressors were led
by that racist warmonger Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr., who attacked
pirate ships in Tripoli for no better reason than that they had hijacked the
USS Philadelphia. Did you not learn anything from that early bout of
American imperialist insensitivity?

You must offer the pirates Internet web services and five-star tourist
hotels in exchange for their promising to abandon violence. After all, that
is how we turned Yasser Arafat into a peace partner. You see, military
force serves no role any more in the post-modern universe. It is passe. It
is archaic. Today, consumer interests dominate the world, and the Somali
activists of the earth will surely wish to make peace in exchange for some
profits from participating in global trade.

The attacks on the American ship by the Somali pirates came because you
have been insufficiently sensitive to the needs of the Other. You should
have negotiated with them even while the ship was under attack. Conditioning
negotiations on an end to violence is a no-win situation. It will simply
prolong the bloodshed! You must put your own house in order, eliminate
inequality and injustice inside Chicago, and then the militants will no
longer target you.

The key is to build a New Middle Africa, one in which everyone is so busy
with the important matters of developing tourism, infrastructure
investments and high-technology that they will have no time to pursue

Begin by declaring a unilateral ceasefire! Mister President, blessed is the
peacemaker. Remember Martin Luther King! Go meet with the legitimate
representatives of the Somali pirates. The entire world will support you
and congratulate you if you respond to the attack on the American ship by
disarming the United States and opening serious dialogue with the pirate

All we are saying is give peace a chance. Yitzhak Rabin would have
approved. Yes, chaver, what you need is shalom, salaam, peace. You will
be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition. Do not allow yourself to be
drawn down into the gutter of retaliation. Violence never achieves
anything. History has no lessons. History is the dead past.

Follow my example! Provide the Somali pirate organization with anti-aircraft
and anti-tank missiles so that they can battle against the true radicals and
extremists. And they will do so with no ACLU or Supreme Court to restrain
them! Demonstrate your humanity by paying pensions to any widows and orphans
of the militants killed by the Navy SEALS.

Mister President, my own peace policies have eliminated war, bloodshed and
terror from the Middle East. We now have only peace partners. If you follow
in my footsteps, you can achieve the same lofty goals.

Peacefully yours,
Shimon Peres, Peacemaker-at-Large

Hamas lies

The Hamas Hate Industry
Hamas' on-going battle for hearts and minds often contains clearly anti-Semitic elements. A play put on at the Islamic University in Gaza City to mark the anniversary of the death of Hamas founder sheikh Ahmed Yassin, broadcast on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV on April 3, preached hatred of the Jews, claiming that Jews drank and washed their hands in Arab-Muslim blood, insinuating it was part of their religious rituals. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

Israel's ties to the land


The Jewish People's Ties to the Land of Israel - Allen Z. Hertz (Jerusalem Post)

There is an enormous body of archeological and historical evidence demonstrating that the Jewish people - like the Greek people or the Han Chinese people - is among the oldest of the world's peoples. The Jewish people has more than 3,500 years of continuous history, with a national identity that, in each century, has kept a link to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Jewish Bible, the Christian Gospels and the Koran all specifically testify to the connection between the Jewish people and its historic homeland.
Like other peoples, the Jewish people has a right to self-determination. Though the self-determination of the Arab people is expressed via 21 Arab countries, Israel is the sole expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people, which of all extant peoples, has the strongest claim to be considered aboriginal to the territory west of the Jordan River. Thus, the Jewish people is aboriginal to Israel in the same way that, in Canada, certain First Nations are deemed aboriginal to their ancestral lands.
Though some Western thinkers are now uncomfortable with the idea of a nation-state as the homeland of a particular people, the overwhelming majority of modern states are the homeland of a particular people, e.g., Japan, Italy or the 21 countries of the Arab League.
At the 1919-1920 Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I, a powerful international searchlight was trained on the self-determination of peoples, including the claims of the Arab people. However, no one there had ever heard anything about a distinct Palestinian Arab people. The international decision to create Palestine "as a national home for the Jewish people" was made in recognition of the Jewish people's aboriginal title and continuing links to the land. The Paris decision-makers strongly believed that they had also done justice to the claims of the Arab people via the creation or recognition of several new Arab states.
Moreover, the decision to create a Jewish national home in Palestine did not result in the displacement of any Arabs. To the contrary, from 1922 until 1948, the Arab population of Palestine almost tripled. The later problem of Arab refugees only emerged from May 1948, when local Arabs allied with several neighboring Arab states to launch a war to exterminate the Jews.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It is not good

Apr. 6, 2009
We were not supposed to see Shlomo Nativ's name in the newspapers. At least,
we weren't supposed to know who he was for several years. He was just a
13-year-old boy. He was loved by his family and friends. He had brothers and
sisters, parents and grandparents. His life was not our business. And, to a
certain extent, now that it is over, it still shouldn't concern us.
What should concern us is his death. Nativ was murdered last Thursday at the
hands of a Palestinian ax murderer just a few meters from his home in Bat
Ayin. And his death should interest us for what it teaches us, first of all
about the nature of the Middle East and Israel's place in it.
The mainstream media in Europe and the US and even here maintain that
Nativ's death tells us little we didn't already "know" if we are
right-thinking people. By this view of things, the cold-blooded terrorist
murder of civilians - even of children - is to be expected when the victims
in question are Israeli Jews who live beyond the 1949 armistice lines. It
isn't nice. It isn't pleasant to say. But as far as the right-thinking
people of the Western media are concerned, Israeli Jews like Nativ, who live
in Gush Etzion in Judea, are simply asking to be murdered.
Today, the media's view is shared by both European governments and the Obama
administration. For years now the Europeans have accepted the legally
unsupportable Arab claim that all Jewish presence in areas beyond the 1949
armistice lines is illegal. Since 1993, supported by the Israeli Left, the
US government has gradually moved toward adopting this view. And today this
view stands at the center of President Barack Obama's emerging policy toward
Israel and the Palestinians.
At base, this view assumes two things. First, it assumes that the root of
the Arab-Israeli conflict is the absence of Palestinian statehood, and
therefore the solution is the establishment of a Palestinian state. The
second thing it assumes is that the Palestinian demand that any territory
that Israel transfers to Palestinian control must first be ethnically
cleansed of all Jewish presence is completely innocent and acceptable.
OBAMA MADE clear that this is the view of his administration on two
occasions in the past week. First, at a news conference before he departed
for his European tour, he announced that as far as his administration is
concerned, the only way of contending with the Arab conflict with Israel is
by establishing a Palestinian state. In his words, "It is critical for us to
advance a two-state solution."
And second, last Thursday in London, Obama made clear that he supports the
mass expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (as well as the
Golan Heights), when he announced his support for the so-called Saudi peace
The Saudi plan, issued as a propaganda stunt by Saudi King Abdullah during a
meeting with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2002, calls for
Israel to commit national suicide by removing itself to within the
indefensible 1949 lines and accepting millions of hostile foreign Arabs as
citizens in its rump state in exchange for "regular" relations with the Arab
Shlomo Nativ's murder shows clearly that Obama and his supporters are
viewing the Arab conflict with Israel through a distorted lens. Their
interpretation of both the nature of the conflict and its likely resolution
are wrong.
IT TAKES A CERTAIN type of person to hack a child to death with an ax. In
the case at hand, Nativ's murderer actually tried to kill seven-year-old
Yair Gamliel as well.
But unlike Nativ, the first grader managed to escape
with a fractured skull.
Nativ of course was not the first child to be brutally murdered by
Palestinian terrorists. Kobi Mandell and Yosef Ish-Ran were also 13 when
they were stoned to death by a mob as they gathered wood for a bonfire in
2001. In 2003 five-month-old Shaked Avraham was shot in her crib by a
Palestinian terrorist who pushed his way into her home. In 2002
five-year-old Matan Ohayon, four-year-old Noam Ohayon and their mother
Revital Ohayon were murdered in their home in Kibbutz Metzer.
And the list goes on and on and on.
It takes a special type of person to murder a child. And it takes a special
type of society to support such behavior. Palestinian society is a special
society. It has become routine, indeed it has become expected that in the
aftermath of successful murders of Israelis - including children -
Palestinians distribute candy in public celebrations.
In 2002 for instance, when word got out about the terrorist who barged into
Nina Kardashov's bat mitzva party in Hadera and massacred six people, the
masses took to the streets in neighboring Tulkarm to celebrate. That
particular attack was carried out by a Fatah terrorist employed by the
US-trained Palestinian Authority security forces. The Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency) and the IDF now reportedly believe that Nativ was also
murdered by a Fatah terrorist.
TO CELEBRATE the terrorist murder of children and to glorify child murderers
as heroes is to celebrate and glorify the nullification of life - or at
least the life of the target society. This is the case because at the most
basic philosophical level, children represent the notion that life is
intrinsically valuable. Since children haven't yet had the chance to
accomplish great and lasting things for humanity, all they can give us is
the promise of a future.
The fact that Palestinian terrorists target children specifically - both
inside and outside the 1949 lines - and that Palestinian society celebrates
their murder tells us that the two foundational assumptions upon which Obama
and his supporters base their policies toward Israel and the Middle East are
false. It is not the absence of a Palestinian state that stands at the root
of the conflict, and it is not the presence of Israeli communities, or
"settlements," beyond the 1949 armistice lines that renders the conflict
Instead, the root of the conflict is the Arab world's rejection of Israel's
right to exist - regardless of its size. And the reason the conflict is
intractable is because hatred of Israel and Jews is so deep and endemic in
both Palestinian society and the wider Arab world that they view the very
existence of Jews - including Jewish children - in Israel as an unacceptable
affront to their sensibilities. Indeed, the Jewish presence both within and
beyond the 1949 armistice lines is so unacceptable that murdering Jews at
every opportunity is perceived as an acceptable and indeed heroic
THIS BEING the case, the question necessarily arises, why are these basic
facts so assiduously ignored by people like Obama who should know better?
Why did Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the US Senate's Foreign Relations
Committee, say in late February, "Nothing will do more to make clear our
seriousness about turning the page [in US relations with the Arab world]
than demonstrating - with actions rather than words - that we are serious
about Israel's freezing settlement activity in the West Bank?"
Why did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attack Israel during her visit
last month for lawfully destroying illegal Arab houses in Jerusalem?
Why are Obama's supporters from Peace Now to the Arab League to The
Washington Post and Haaretz editorial boards urging him to coerce the
Netanyahu government to accept a complete halt to all building activities
for Jews in Judea and Samaria?
The answer unfortunately is that in their actions, Obama, his colleagues and
supporters are not motivated by facts. Instead they are motivated by a
desire to ignore the facts. They wish to believe that the existence of
Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is a primary obstacle to peace
because doing so allows them to ignore the fact that the reason there is no
peace is because Palestinians and their Arab and Iranian brethren refuse to
peacefully coexist with Israel regardless of its size. Accepting such bitter
realities would make it impossible for them to move forward with their
agenda of appeasing the Arab world because it would force them to
acknowledge that the Arab world is unappeasable.
And that's the thing of it. At base, the so-called settlements are nothing
but an excuse for appeasers to curry favor with the Arabs by blaming Israel
for the absence of peace while ignoring the Arabs' bigotry, hatred and
aggression. What these Israeli communities represent is nothing more than an
assertion of Israeli rights to land - whether that land is within or beyond
the 1949 armistice lines. If these communities didn't exist - as they no
longer exist in Gaza - then a surrogate, such as the IDF which protects
other Israeli land, would be found to replace them.
And if the IDF weren't around - as it isn't in Gaza or in southern Lebanon -
then the appeasers would blame another surrogate, such as the Israeli naval
quarantine of Gaza, or Israel's control over the town of Ghajar along the
Lebanese border for the Arabs' bigotry, hatred and aggression against it.
Here it should be noted that there is no difference in principle between the
way the likes of the Obama administration and its supporters treat Israel
and the way they treat the US and its non-Israeli allies. When on Sunday
Obama responded to North Korea's launch of a long-range ballistic missile by
announcing that he wishes to all but disarm the US of its nuclear arsenal,
he was effectively arguing that US strength is to blame for North Korea's
aggression. He did what amounts to the same thing when he apologized to the
Iranian regime for supposed US arrogance. By Obama's lights, now that the US
is humble, the Iranians may one day stop calling for its destruction, waging
war against it in Iraq and Afghanistan and building a nuclear arsenal.
Then too, when Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen reportedly
agreed to apologize to the Islamic world for Denmark's independent
Jyllands-Postens 2005 publication of cartoons of Muhammad in exchange for
Turkish support for his candidacy for NATO secretary-general, he was
accepting that it is Western civilization - with its freedom of speech -
that is to blame for Islamic aggression and intolerance.
In the end then, the truth exposed by Shlomo Nativ's brutal murder on
Thursday in Bat Ayin is twofold. First, it demonstrated that the so-called
settlements have no relevance whatsoever to the intractability of the
Arab-Israeli conflict. When your enemy hates you so much that he hacks your
children to pieces, there is nothing you can do, short of committing
suicide, that will appease him.
Second, it reminded us of what appeasement places at risk. By attempting to
appease the unappeasable, all that successive Israeli, American and European
governments have done is strengthen our enemies at the expense of our
security and freedom.