Monday, May 31, 2010

Murderous peace activitists in flotilla attack soldiers

It is the IDF Spokesman’s firm contention that Israeli troops were premeditatedly attacked as they attempted to intercept the flotilla en route to the Gaza Strip overnight. “It was a lynch,” said spokesman Avi Benayahu. “An ambush.”

Benayahu said soldiers, who had been dispatched to block the flotilla because of fears that it was carrying weaponry and other highly dangerous cargo into the Hamas-controlled Strip, were attacked with knives and bars and sharpened metal implements.

Benayahu said two pistols that had been fired were subsequently found aboard the one ship, the Marmara, on which the violence erupted. And, most dramatically, he said that one IDF soldier had his weapon snatched away by one of the “peace activists” on board, that this weapon was then turned against the IDF soldiers, who came under fire, and that they had no choice but to shoot back in self-defense.

Benayahu’s chilling description was echoed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a late-morning briefing that was delivered, with typical misdirected focus, overwhelmingly in Hebrew. This had been a deliberate provocation, charged Ayalon. At least some of those aboard the Marmara had been hell-bent on violence, he said.

Alongside those credible characterizations are the facts, the distortions and the rumors. As of this writing, it is reported that 14 or 15 people were killed aboard the Marmara, that dozens more were injured, and that several soldiers were hurt, including two who were badly injured.

There have been furious diplomatic protests from the Arab world. The Arab League is readying to meet in emergency session. The Palestinian Authority, according to its former foreign minister Nabil Sha’ath, is planning to push for sanctions against Israel at the UN Security Council. Jordan has summoned the Israeli ambassador in Amman.

Protests and condemnations are coming from Europe as well. Greece has cut short military exercises with Israel. Spain, the current EU president, has summoned the Israeli ambassador and branded the IDF’s storming of the flotilla “unacceptable.”

Demonstrators have gathered in Istanbul, in parts of Syria, and beyond.

It has been falsely rumored that Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of Israel’s Islamic Movement, was hurt in the on-board conflict, an erroneous claim that is fueling extraordinary tensions in the Israeli Arab community.

Israel may have felt it had no choice but to intercept a flotilla carrying it knew not what to the terror state of Gaza. It may well have assumed that its soldiers would come under attack. Apparently, it underestimated the hostility it would encounter.

At an early afternoon press conference, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi stressed that the IDF takeover of five of the flotilla vessels was met without violence. But on the Marmara - which was in the control of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), described by Barak as “a violent, extremist organization that supports terrorism” - things were very different. Ashkenazi said the soldiers were attacked with metal bars, knives and live fire, and noted that some of the wounded soldiers suffered gunshot wounds.

Barak also noted that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” – the alleviation of which ostensibly motivated the organizers of this flotilla. This was, rather, a “political provocation” organized by the IHH and coordinated with Hamas.

What seems urgent now is to make publicly available footage that shows exactly what did unfold. In early afternoon, video footage screened on Israel’s Channel 2 appeared to show one of those aboard the Marmara stabbing an IDF soldier. Any such footage should have been made available hours earlier. Critically, if footage showing a soldier’s weapon being snatched and turned on the IDF troops exists, it should be broadcast, and the sooner the better.

What would also have helped would have been for Israel to try to utilize six decades of unbroken diplomatic relations with Turkey – whose government essentially sponsored this flotilla, and whose nationals are among the dead – to try to resolve this ongoing crisis. The former Israeli ambassador to Turkey, Alon Liel, has been urging that Israel ask Turkey to send escort vessels to accompany the flotilla back home, rather than holding them and their incendiary human cargo at Ashdod.

But that boat has evidently sailed. Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel, is initiating appeals to the United Nations, and appears to be at the forefront of the efforts to harm Israel over this affair.

The “humanitarian aid” flotilla was clearly a perniciously well-conceived initiative, for which Israel prepared inadequately. Hampered by a prime minister who is overseas, a foreign minister widely perceived overseas as hawkish and even intemperate, and most importantly an ongoing strategic refusal to direct appropriate resources to the legal, diplomatic and media battlefields, the race is now on for Israel to contain the damage.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Terrorism? What terrorism?

Richard Baehr
John Brennan, the President's top counter terrorism advisor, is rapidly becoming a big embarrassment to the White House. Al Quds is his favorite city, Hezbollah has moderate elements we can work with, and now this: jihad does not refer to terrorist activity , but the more noble act of personal struggle. There are no boundaries to the political correctness associated with the Administration's charm offensive to the Muslim world.

From Richard Baehr -after 16 months

After 16 months of effort, there is now the possibility of weak sanctions that will be passed by the U.N Security Council to address Iran's nuclear program. Some new Congressional sanctions will follow, though for now they are being delayed by the Administration until the U.N has acted , so Obama can first bask in his multilateral triumph, achieved by bribes to Russia, and lowering the bar on what was achieved. In essence, the Iranian nuclear problem remains alive, kicking and expanding. The threat to Israel from Iran's principal proxy army- Hezbollah, and its 40,000 rockets, has become more severe, and soon Hezbollah may have Iran's nuclear umbrella to back its provocations. . Syria has slammed back the Obama outreach effort, and the Palestinians , while waiting for Obama to deliver Israel concessions, continue to take pot shots at Israel in every international venue. Even the supposedly moderate Salam Fayyad worked overtime to keep Israel from accession to the OECD.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Israel Opens Largest Desalination Plant of Its Kind - Ari Rabinovitch
Israel unveiled the world's largest reverse osmosis desalination plant on Sunday in Hadera, which will supply 127 million cubic meters of desalinated water a year, or about 20% of the yearly household consumption in Israel. It is the third in a series of five desalination plants being built that will eventually supply Israel with about 750 million cubic meters annually. Bigger desalination plants can be found in Saudi Arabia that use a thermal-based technology to desalinate sea water, but reverse osmosis requires less energy and is friendlier to the environment, said IDE Technologies CEO Avshalom Felber. Shmulik Shai, CEO of H2ID, said the plant will supply water at the cost of $0.57 per cubic meter. IDE, or Israel Desalination Enterprises Technologies, has operations in 40 countries. (Reuters)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

good news Iron Dome funding

Obama authorizes $205 million for Iron Dome

By Ron Kampeas · May 13, 2010
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration authorized $205 million to allow Israel to complete its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system.
"As the president has repeatedly said, our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable and our defense relationship is stronger than ever," a statement from the White House said. "The United States and our ally Israel share many of the same security challenges, from combating terrorism to confronting the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. The President recognizes the threat missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis, and has therefore decided to seek funding from Congress to support the production of Israel’s short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome."
A senior administration official set the figure at $205 million and said it was over and above the $3 billion that the United States annually allocates to Israel in defense assistance.
"Our team went out there to do the assessments in September and were very impressed," the official said. "It addresses an immediately existing threat to each Israeli citizen," the official said, referring to threat of renewed conflicts on the Lebanese and Gaza Strip borders.
The Obama administration is sustaining and in some cases enhancing defense assistance to Israel partly as a means to encourage Israel to advance peace talks with the Palestinians.
"It can be an important part of addressing Israel's needs in two state solution," the official said, "where there are legitimate concerns about a Palestinian state being used as a launching pad" for rocket attacks against Israel.
Israel's Defense Ministry reportedly has been seeking outside funding for the system because its budget is stretched developing offensive systems.
The $205 million will allow Israel to build two Iron Dome batteries, according to H'aretz.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Israel in OECD

On Monday, the OECD voted unanimously to accept Israel’s application for membership. This exclusive organization brings together the top democratic countries and works to coordinate their social, environmental and economic policies. Israel’s acceptance is no small accomplishment and is recognition of the Jewish state’s role in the global economy.

By welcoming Israel, the OECD member-countries have recognized that the Jewish state is a leading democratic and free-market nation, and a major player in the international community. OECD membership will bring Israel new business opportunities, increased access to international capital, a stronger credit rating and an exclusive forum through which to forge strong relationships.
While Israel will benefit economically from its inclusion in the OECD, the significance of this approval extends far beyond dollars and cents. This is truly a historic moment for the Jewish state. It is not often that a major international institution treats Israel with such respect. As a member of the OECD, Israel joins nations such as Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States on the economic and political stage.
Israel’s acceptance into the OECD was not easy. All 31 member states had to agree to approve Israel’s application. If one country voted no, Israel would have been rejected. While no Arab states are in the OECD—being a democracy is required for membership—some Arab leaders actively lobbied member-nations to bar Israel’s entry into the exclusive and prestigious organization. However, President Bush and President Obama were instrumental in pushing Israel’s application through the approval process.
President Bush helped Israel launch its OECD membership application in 2007 and ensured that the organization formally opened discussions on approving the Jewish state. And since coming into office, President Obama has made sure that Israel would be judged on its economy and governing structures—and not the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Congress also played an important role in pushing for Israel’s OECD accession. In 2005, the House of Representatives approved a resolution of support co-authored by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and the late Tom Lantos (D-CA). A similar resolution, authored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Norm Coleman (R-MN), was unanimously approved by the Senate in 2007.
America’s leadership and support of its closest ally made this crowning achievement possible. Together we can celebrate not only Israel’s acceptance into the community of leading democracies, but also the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Americans Jews pathetic

Convenient moral blindness Caroline Glick

May 4, 2010, 3:57 AM
Comments (30) | | Print

Moral blindness in the face of evil is depravity. But in the upside-down moral universe of our world today, moral blindness has become a badge of honor. If you refuse to call evil by its name, then you are a moderate. And if you stand up to evil, you are yourself an extremist.

The embrace of moral blindness as an emblem of sophistication is nowhere more apparent than among American Jews. Take recent events on US college campuses. This week the Washington Times reported that a large and vocal group of Brandeis University students are organizing to protest the university's decision to invite Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to give this year's commencement address.

In a Facebook initiative led by a student named Jonathan Sussman, several hundred students have joined the demand to disinvite Oren. Sussman claims that by inviting him, Brandeis is siding with "a rogue state apologist, a defender of (among other things) the war crimes and human rights abuses of the war on Gaza."

Sussman gained notoriety earlier this year when he sought to organize students to disrupt former UN ambassador Dore Gold in a debate the university hosted between Gold and Richard Goldstone. Sussman, a self-proclaimed Communist is a member of the anti-American Students for Democratic Society.

For their part, pro-Israel students have defended the administration's decision to invite Oren on technical grounds. In a dedicated Facebook page, Brandeis student Nathan Mizrachi wrote that protesting Oren is a "waste of time." While allowing that Oren is controversial, Mizrachi argued against protesting his speech by claiming, "anyone who is consistently contributing to our worldview in a dignified, widely respected manner - instead of idiots like Michael Moore or Fox News - is someone who merits our attention."

Mizrachi couldn't bring himself to argue that Brandeis was right to invite Oren. He couldn't be bothered to note that everything Sussman wrote is a lie. The most ringing endorsement of Oren's appearance that Mizrachi could muster in response to Sussman's latest attack was to say that it was a waste of time to protest his appearance and that it "would truly be a disgrace to our university," if protesters were to shout Oren down at commencement.

No offense to Mizrachi but his Facebook counteroffensive is not exactly what most people would call a particularly heroic defense of Oren, Brandeis or Israel.

Unfortunately, this is more often than not what passes as a pro-Israel message these days in the US Jewish circles. Following the example communicated by the US Jewish leadership, supporters of Israel often act as if shouting down Israel advocates is wrong only because doing so is an assault on freedom of speech. It isn't that Israel is in the right and the Palestinians are in the wrong. It isn't that Israel is a just and moral society. It isn't that the IDF fights justly and morally and only in self-defense. It isn't that the Palestinians have taken all the lands Israel has given them and transformed them into terrorist enclaves or that they democratically elected Hamas - a genocidal terrorist organization -- to lead them. It isn't that there is not now and never was a Palestinian leadership willing to accept Israel's right to exist.

It's just that it isn't right to silence Israel advocates. It's against the First Amendment. Zionists have a right to express themselves too.

But then, not all Zionists. And not too many of them. Take the Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh for example. Abu Toameh was scheduled to speak at Tufts University last month. His talk, sponsored by Honest Reporting and CAMERA, was supposed to be held under the auspices of Tufts Friends of Israel. At the last minute, Friends of Israel cancelled his lecture. Abu Toameh was informed that the pro-Israel student group cancelled his talk as a preemptive move to avoid criticism from campus Arab groups. Tufts Hillel Director Rabbi Jeffrey Summit later wrote him claiming that the talk was cancelled due to an overabundance of pro-Israel speakers on campus.

The situation at Tufts and Brandeis, where pro-Israel students can't figure out why Israel should be defended and don't want to overload themselves with too many speakers defending Israel is downright wonderful in comparison to the situation at Berkeley. There Jewish students and faculty were galvanizing forces behind the divestment from Israel drive that passed overwhelmingly in the Berkeley student senate in March.

The divestment initiative, which called on the university administration to divest from General Electric and United Technologies for their joint projects with the IDF, was vetoed by the senate president. His veto was narrowly sustained in a later vote last week. In the meantime, the divestment drive has expanded to UC San Diego.

In an article published last month on the American Thinker website, UC Santa Cruz and UCLA professors Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith wrote that the divestment campaigns and the overwhelmingly anti-Israel atmosphere on campuses has made life extremely difficult and often frightening for Jewish students on campuses.

And yet, there has been no divestment of major Jewish donors from these institutions. There has been no demand that Hillel replace ineffective or anti-Israel administrators. There has been no demand that campuses fire professors like Berkeley Hebrew Professor Ruth Adler or Talmud Professor Daniel Boyarin who force their students to undergo anti-Zionist indoctrination in their classrooms.

Again and again, the official Jewish community and pro-Israel students' response to anti-Israel campaigns and often violent onslaughts is to mumble out a protest against their infringement on the freedom of expression. That is, for many US Jewish leaders and Jewish campus activists, the biggest problem with the Red-Green alliance of leftists and Muslims is that they deny pro-Israel students and speakers the right to express themselves.

The mendacity of the Red-Green alliance's claims against Israel, the bigotry of their increasingly open calls for Israel's destruction, their denial of the Jewish people's right to self-determination or even our right to define ourselves as a people all goes unopposed.

This is not a sustainable line of defense. This is not even the beginning of a defense - of Israel or of the rights of American Jews. But this state of affairs does explain very well why according to recent polling data, a half of American Jews under 35 would be okay with a world without Israel.

Some argue that what happens on the campuses is not important. What really matters is what happens in the grown-up world. Unfortunately, today we see that the depraved moral blindness of the classroom has brought about a situation where political leaders cannot recognize the moral depravity of the international community. And sophisticated grownups - and particularly American Jewish grownups -- cannot or will not make their leaders pay a price for their depraved support for evil.

Take Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to travel to New York this week to participate in the UN's Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. It is clear that Ahmadinejad's purpose in travelling to New York is to ensure that the conference is a circus. Ahmadinejad means to make certain that to the extent a distinction is made between Iran's nuclear weapons program and Israel's purported nuclear arsenal, the distinction will claim that whereas Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal needs to be destroyed, Iran's interest in nuclear weapons is a justified response to Israeli badness.

Apparently anticipating his move, according to the Wall Street Journal US President Barack Obama has been discussing Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal with Egypt. According to the newspaper's account, the US is discussing Egypt's demand that the Middle East become a nuclear-free zone. A senior US official claimed, "We've made a proposal to them [Egypt] that goes beyond what the US has been willing to do before."

Some US Jewish groups have called for a protest of Ahmadinejad outside the UN building. Others have called on state delegations to stage a mass walkout during his speech.

But none have attacked the administration for agreeing to the false moral equivalence between Iran's nuclear program and Israel's nuclear program. None have condemned Obama for discussing Israel's purported nuclear program at a time when Iran -- that has declared its intention to destroy Israel -- is racing towards the nuclear finish line.

Then too, the American Jewish community is silent as Obama strong arms Israel into indirect, Obama administration-mediated talks with the Palestinians. It is silent even as it is widely reported that Obama has threatened Israel that if the Jewish state builds homes for Jews in Jerusalem or refuses to accept a Palestinians state by next year, Obama will impose his own "peace plan," on Israel. That is, the American Jewish community is all but mute as Obama does to Israel what Berkeley is doing to Israel.

The fact of the matter is that defending Israel against its enemies isn't a freedom of speech issue. It is an issue of right vs. wrong. Israel is the state of the Jewish people. It is a great ally of the US. Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem were legally allocated to the Jewish people by the League of Nations Mandate in 1922 and that allocation has never been cancelled or superseded. Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and neighborhoods in united Jerusalem are not illegal. The IDF did not commit war crimes in Gaza or anywhere else. Arabs are full citizens in Israel. When Israel fights, it fights to defend itself from aggression.

The aggression launched against Israel is conducted by societies and states that refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist. It is launched by societies and states that ignore the laws of war, that refuse to respect even the most basic human rights of their own citizens let alone of Israelis. The Palestinians have yet to find even one leader who is willing to accept Israel's right to exist or the Jewish people's right to self-determination in our land.

This is the truth. This is where the defense of Israel begins. And it is the absence of this truth and this defense from the lexicon of Jewish American students and community leaders in recent years that has brought about a situation where the only reason not to attack Israel is because it is "a waste of time."

It is the absence of this truth and this defense that has enabled a situation where the President of the United States can maintain the support of the American Jewish community while allowing others to equate Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal with Iran's nuclear program, and while treating Israel as if it were the root of all the pathologies of the Arab world.
And if the truth about Israel continues to be ignored by American Jews, not only will Israel be imperiled. The sustainability of their own community -- that has embraced moral blindness in the name of moderation and sophistication -- will be called into question.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Israel could strike iran

blished 13:51 10.05.10Latest update 13:51 10.05.10
Vice Prime Minister Ya'alon: Israel has the technological capability to strike Iran
Addressing a conference on air power, Ya'alon said Israel's experience in carrying out air strikes against militants along its borders could easily be extended to distant sorties in Iran.

By Reuters
Tags: Israel news Moshe Ya'alon Iran
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Monday that Israel has the technological capabilty to launch a military strike against Iran.

Vice PM Moshe Ya'alon pictured in August 2009.

Photo by: Emil Salman
Addressing a conference on air power, Ya'alon said Israel's experience in carrying out air strikes against militants along its borders could easily be extended to distant sorties in Iran.

"There is no doubt that the technological capabilities, which improved in recent years, have improved range and aerial refueling capabilities, and have brought about a massive improvement in the accuracy or ordnance and intelligence," he said.

"This capability can be used for a war on terror in Gaza, for a war in the face of rockets from Lebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army, and also for war on a peripheral state like Iran," said Ya'alon, a former chief of Israel's armed forces.

Israel, which is assumed to have the region's only atomic arsenal, bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie over Syria in 2007.

It has rarely used the term "war" in official statements on how to deal with Iran over a nuclear program which Israel and the West believe is aimed at building atomic weapons. Iran denies it has hostile designs.

Israeli leaders have spoken of leaving all options on the table in addressing the question of possible military action against Iran, and they have endorsed efforts by United Nations Security Council powers to impose new sanctions.

Israel's veiled threats against Iran have been questioned by some independent analysts who see the potential targets as too distant, dispersed and well-defended for Israeli jets to take on alone.

In his address at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Ya'alon posited air strikes to "decapitate or blind" an enemy by targeting its leadership or early-warning defenses.

"As far as I'm concerned, attack remains the best form of defense," he said.

Israel saw itself in a de facto war with Iran due to its sponsorship of Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, Ya'alon said.

"There is no doubt, looking at the overall situation, that we are already in a military confrontation with Iran," he said. "Iran is the main motivator of those attacking us."

Meanwhile, in separate remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said "there is still time" for diplomacy to work. He sought to play down Israel's interest in having Iran reined in, calling it a global challenge.

"If in the end of the day, Iran does get nuclear, in spite of what America says and wants, this will have grave implications for world order, the balance of power and the rules of the game," said Meridor, who, like Yaalon, belongs to Netanyahu's seven-member inner council.

Friday, May 7, 2010

new genetic advance

Israeli, American Doctors Make Genetic Discovery
Israeli and American researchers have discovered how a gene "sculpts" neurons into a menorah-like shape in the nervous system, a find that could eventually have far-reaching implications for the rehabilitation of people with central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) damage, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday. It was important to find these genes, the team said, because with their help, it would be possible to find, even in humans, the genes responsible for building neurons in the human brain. This, they concluded, would lead to being able to repair damage to people's brains and spinal cord. The scientists' work on the formation and maintenance of tree-like nerve cell structures could also have applications in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as the repair of damaged vital nerves.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Non proliferation treaty

Opinion: The NPT Illusion
By Bret Stephens

These are strange days for New York City's finest. Over the weekend, they deployed in force to find the terrorist who tried to bomb Times Square. Yesterday, they deployed in force to protect the terrorist who is president of Iran. One of these guys works in propane, fireworks and gasoline; the other guy in enriched uranium, polonium triggers and ballistic missiles.

That other guy-the one who didn't roll into town in a Pathfinder-was in Manhattan to unload on this month's U.N. review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And unload he did: on the Truman administration, on the Obama administration, on "the Zionist regime," on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, on the NPT itself. For all this, Iran is still considered a member in good standing of the treaty, entitled to its seat at the International Atomic Energy Agency and its right to the nuclear reactors.

Does this make sense? In the upside-down universe of Turtle Bay-the same one in which Iran was just elected by acclamation to the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women-it does. What's stranger is that it also makes sense to President Obama, who has called the NPT the "cornerstone of the world's efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons." If that's the cornerstone, it's no wonder the edifice on top of it is collapsing.
The case for the NPT is that it has slowed nuclear proliferation by offering a grand bargain between the world's nuclear haves and have-nots. The haves promise to work toward the elimination of their arsenals via arms-control treaties; the have-nots get access to civilian nuclear technology while promising not to build weapons of their own.

(The Wall Street Journal)
WJD May 6 No joy in Jerusalem

Though Cleggmania is rife in the U.K., Jerusalem is sunk in a Clegg-pression.

"Clegg is bad news for Israel," one official here said. "His party is running on a human rights platform, and the atmosphere is hostile to Israel. We remind the Liberal Democrats of South Africa during apartheid. Even if Clegg decides not to take the foreign portfolio, the very fact that Liberal Democrats sit in the cabinet is likely to mean trouble for us."

In the wake of the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, the Liberal Democrats asked for an arms embargo on Israel, and to suspend its preferential trade status with the European Union. The party was also behind the demand to mark Israeli products made in the West Bank.

In December, Clegg was at the head of the list of signatories of a letter attacking the Israeli government for the blockade on Gaza. "The confinement and punishment of an entire population is no way to bring about peace for all of the people of the Middle East," the letter read.

Most of the bad blood was created by Baroness Jenny Tonge, a former Liberal Democrat MP, who became a member of the House of Lords in 2005. A year earlier, Tonge announced that if she were a Palestinian living under occupation, she would herself have become a suicide bomber. In 2006, she said that the pro-Israel lobby exerted a "financial grip" on her party and on Britain.

In February, she went even further and called for an investigation into claims that IDF soldiers who were sent to aid Haitian earthquake victims were involved in harvesting body organs from the dead. Her remarks caused a storm and Clegg fired her from her job as shadow health spokesperson.

"Too little, too late," a member of the British Jewish community said. "In light of the blood libel, he should have expelled her from the party."

Clegg, who called Tonge's remarks "wrong, distasteful and provocative," says that he is "a very staunch defender of the people of Israel, of a very staunch defender of the rights of the Jewish community here in Britain, a community which is feeling quite beleaguered at the moment because of the rise in anti-Semitism and the rise in prejudice generally."

He recently criticized the cooperation of British Conservatives in the European Parliament with extreme right-wing parties in Eastern Europe, whom he terms, "nutters, anti-Semitic, and homophobic."

"As to the accusations that I am hostile to Israel, my actions prove the opposite. I have always sharply opposed various efforts to impose academic and cultural sanctions on Israel. I am also one of those who said that Britain should not have participated in the Durban 2 conference when it became clear that it would turn into an anti-Israel event."

"I have tremendous admiration for the state of Israel and its people. When I visited, I was once again exposed to the genius of this nation, which has managed to maintain a democratic regime and a thriving and open economy, despite its existence under a constant threat. This is a great achievement.

But we must distinguish clearly between the Israeli and the Jewish people on the one hand, and certain actions of the Israeli government on the other. If I have criticism it is focused solely on these actions. I plan to continue to voice my thoughts, which stem from honest and legitimate concern, and in my estimation that the long term interests of the people of Israel are not being met properly at this time."

Clegg rejects speaking to Hamas "as long as Hamas continues to nurture an extremist ideology of violence and terror. I totally understand the feelings of the residents of Sderot who are under constant missile attacks that are meant to impose terror. My condemnations of Hamas have always been clear and unequivocal, and the same is true of my attitude toward the fact that Israel has the full right to defend its inhabitants. That is the role of every country and every government.

"However," he adds, "I don't understand the Israeli strategy regarding Gaza. The imposition of the siege against 1.5 million people, many of them young people who become increasingly itter, and the disproportionate use of force.

Operation Cast Lead did of course bring about a certain neutralization of the attackers and the missile attacks ¬ but did it reduce the bitterness prevailing between the peoples, did it weaken Hamas' position, and did it guarantee Israel's long-term security interests? I'm not at all certain."

Clegg comes out against Israel's "continued development of the illegal settlements," he welcomes the approaching proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and as far as Hamas is concerned, he says: "The only way to deal with Hamas is to work to split the organization between the extremists who want to destroy the peace process and those who are willing over the long term to recognize Israel and to work to find a solution in a non-violent manner."

Clegg rejects out of hand the claim that the British public is today the most "anti-Israel" in Europe.

"Operation Cast Lead and incidents like falsifying documents in Dubai do create tension, but just as I would never treat any public criticism of some activity or other of the British government as an anti-British attitude, in the same way, British criticism of the policy of the Israeli government should not be treated as 'anti-Israeli,'" he says.
In December 2009, 51 of the 63 members of the Liberal Democrats stood behind a draft bill in the Parliament in support of universal jurisdiction, which allows private citizens to apply for the arrest of Israeli politicians for alleged war crimes while they are on British soil.

"I'm very happy that we should review it, but it shouldn't be reviewed in a sort of panic. It needs to be reviewed in a calm and deliberate way. I was against the Labour government's wish to try and rush through changes before the election, I think that's wrong. I think there are issues of principles at stake, which I would like us all to have a look at calmly after the elections."

Looking to Europe

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

make Israel give up its nuks?

Published 18:15 05.05.10Latest update 18:15 05.05.10
Five permanent UN Security Council members support Mideast nuclear arms ban
U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China voice support for 'full implementation' of nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
Tags: Israel news United Nations Iran nuclear
The United States, Russia, Britain, France and China on Wednesday voiced support for making the Middle East a nuclear-arms-free zone, which would mean Israel would have to scrap any atomic bombs in its possession.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the UN in New York on May 3, 2010

Photo by: AP
"We are committed to a full implementation of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East and we support all ongoing efforts to this end," the five permanent UN Security Council members said in a unanimous statement issued at a conference taking stock of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The 1995 resolution adopted by signatories of the landmark arms control treaty called for making the Middle East a zone without nuclear arms.

Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, is the only country in the Middle East not to have signed the treaty and, along with India and Pakistan, one of only three countries worldwide outside the agreement. Iran, though a signatory, is accused by the West of flouting treaty requirements to disclose its nuclear activities.

"This conference represents a pivotal turning point in the history of the treaty, and an opportunity that may be the last and that must be seized," Egyptian UN Ambassador Maged A. Abdelaziz told delegates Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Arab countries sought to turn attention to Israel as delegates from 189 countries debated how to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Middle East would join five other nuclear-free regions - Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the South Pacific and Latin America - covering some 116 countries that have outlawed the presence of atomic arms in their areas.

The U.S. and Israel are discussing what such practical measures might be, said a Western diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity about other countries' contacts.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, meanwhile, said Moscow is partnering with Washington on a draft plan. "In recent weeks, we have managed to develop a joint approach with the United States," Sergei A. Ryabkov told reporters.

On the second day of the month-long meeting at the United Nations, Arab countries were reiterating calls for a nuclear-free Middle East with criticism of Israel's unacknowledged nuclear arsenal and failure to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday declared the need for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, telling the United Nations General Assembly that the U.S. was '"prepared to support practical measures for achieving that objective."

(invade Israel?????)

"We support efforts to realize the goal of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free-zone in the Middle East in accordance with the 1995 Middle East resolution," Clinton told delegates at the opening of a month-long review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York.

"The Middle East may present the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the world today."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Special Days in Spring in Israel

Yom HashoahOn Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, less than a week after Passover, the people of Israel commune with the memory of the six million martyrs of the Jewish people who perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust. Modern rites of public bereavement and special ceremonies are held. On this day a siren is sounded at 10 a.m., as the nation observes two minutes of silence, pledging "to remember, and to remind others never to forget."

Yom Hazikaron

Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars is commemorated a week later, as a day honoring those who fell in the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel and in its defense. At 8 p.m. on the eve of Remembrance Day and at 11 a.m. on the following morning, two minutes of silence, as a siren sounds, give the entire nation the opportunity to remember its debt and express its eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence.

Independence Day (5 Iyar) directly follows Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars
. While this is not a centuries-old celebration, it is a day that means a lot to many citizens who have physically and actively participated in the creation of a new state and its struggle for survival, and have witnessed the enormous changes that have taken place since 1948. On the eve of Independence Day municipalities sponsor public celebrations, loud-speakers broadcast popular music and multitudes go "downtown" to participate in the holiday spirit.

Many synagogues also hold special services of thanksgiving, where Hallel is recited marking Israel's national deliverance.

On Independence Day, many citizens get to know the countryside by travelling to battlefields of the War of Independence, visit the memorials to the fallen, go on nature hikes and, in general, spend the day outdoors picnicking and having barbecues.

Israel Prizes for distinction in literary, artistic and scientific endeavor are presented and the International Bible Contest for Jewish Youth is held. Army bases are opened to the public and air force fly-bys, as well as naval displays, take place.

Lag B'Omer (18 Iyar), the thirty-third day in the counting of the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, has become a children's celebration featuring massive bonfires. It commemorates events at the time of the Bar-Kochba uprising against Rome (132-135 CE).

Jerusalem Day is celebrated on 28 Iyar, about a week before Shavuot, and commemorates the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, after it had been divided by concrete walls and barbed wire for 19 years. On this day, we are reminded that Jerusalem is "the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment and modern renewal." Hallel is recited in some synagogues.

Shavuot, the last of the pilgrimage festivals, when enumerated from the beginning of the Jewish year, falls seven weeks after Passover (6 Sivan), at the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. The Bible (Deut. 16:10) describes this occasion as the festival of weeks (Heb. shavuot), for so is it counted from Passover, and as the occasion on which new grain and new fruits are offered to the priests in the Temple. Its additional definition - the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai - is of rabbinical origin. Shavuot is observed among the Orthodox with marathon religious study and, in Jerusalem, with a mass convocation of festive worship at the Western Wall. In the kibbutzim, it marks the peak of the new grain harvest and the ripening of the first fruits, including the seven species mentioned in the Bible (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates).

Monday, May 3, 2010