And now here's a special treat from the days when I was too young to go to Times Square (after all, I lived in Boston!). Live from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City, it's New Year's Eve with Guy Lombardo!
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that UNIFIL is on 'high alert' for attacks by Global Jihad and Hezbullah. The Post bases its report on a 'high ranking officer' in the multi-national force.
According to the officer, warnings transmitted recently by the IDF regarding potential threats, were "taken seriously" and were being handled with extreme caution. The officer refused to reveal if changes had been made to security procedures in UNIFIL bases, but said that necessary measures were taken.
"This threat is serious," the high-ranking officer said, "and we are taking the necessary precautions."
Two weeks ago, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, told the cabinet that there were increasing signs of global Jihad elements setting up a presence in Lebanon and planning attacks against UNIFIL. The high-ranking officer said that the Global Jihad terror cells posed a direct threat to the multinational force in southern Lebanon and particularly to French, Italian, and Spanish soldiers.
Ed Koch is writing a new blog for JPost.com, and his first post is online now. Koch, the former mayor of New York, was always a straight shooter to whom party loyalty means less than getting it right. Koch says that George W. Bush is his hero:
George Bush is a hero to me because he has courage. The President does what he believes to be in the best interest of the United States. He sticks with his beliefs, no matter how intense the criticism and invective that are directed against him every day.
The enormous defeat President Bush suffered with the loss of both Houses of Congress has not caused him to retreat from his position that the US alone now stands between a radical Islamic takeover of many of the world's governments in the next 30 or more years. If that takeover occurs, we will suffer an enslavement that will threaten our personal freedoms and take much of the world back into the Dark Ages.
Our major ally in this war against the forces of darkness, Great Britain, is still being led by an outstanding prime minister, Tony Blair. However, Blair will soon be set out to pasture, which means Great Britain will leave our side and join France, Germany, Spain and other countries that foolishly believe they can tame the wolf at the door and convert it into a domestic pet that will live in peace with them.
These dreamers naively believe that if we feed the wolves what they demand, they will go away. But that won't happen. Appeasement never works. The wolves always come back for more and more, and when we have nothing left to give, they come for us.
Radical Islamists are very much aware that we have shown fear. For example, we have allowed the people of Darfur - dark skinned Africans - to be terrorized, killed, raped and taken as slaves by the supporters of the Sudanese government, radical Islamists. The countries surrounding Iraq - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan - made up of Sunni Arabs, know that for them, the wolves who are the radical Shi'ite are already at their door.
...the exploitation of the weak, the unjust system of distribution and denial of the rights of nations, will end with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS). In the government of the Imam man will witness real economic welfare throughout the world without any discrimination. The main issue in his global government is carrying out social justice and one of the main products of social justice is a highly developed economy that leads to the blossoming of moral and spiritual values as emphasized by the dynamic teachings of Islam. According to narrations, justice revives the dynamics of the shari’a or religious rulings. The Prophet’s 6th infallible successor, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (PBUH) says people will be needless when justice governs their life.
Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Except for that bit about 'dynamic teachings of Islam,' in which, of course, there is no room for non-Muslims except as Dhimmis. But wait, there is more.
Imam Mahdi's educational system will mould man's personality and morality toward sublimity and create conditions throughout the world that will lead man to abstain from any extravagance and overuse or waste of natural resources. Thus the environment and its resources will remain immune from destruction and pollution. In the economic field, people will have complete mutual trust and conclude deals without the exchange of economic documents, and no infraction will be committed in these deals.
One of the characteristics of the global government of the Mahdi is the astounding growth of science and technology. There will be an explosion of science. As we said last week, knowledge is made of 27 letters and up to now whatever man has discovered is within the confines of only 2 letters. But when the Mahdi appears the other 25 letters of knowledge will be at the service of mankind, which is something not imaginable with the limited knowledge that we have today despite the seemingly great progress in science and technology. The Mahdi will correct man's scientific mistakes and bring up new and astonishing methods that had never occurred to man before.
How will all this happen?
The Mahdi's far sightedness and firmness in the face of mischievous elements will strike awe. After his uprising from Mecca all of Arabia will be submit to him and then other parts of the world as he marches upon Iraq and established his seat of global government in the city of Kufa. Then the Imam will send 10 thousand of his forces to the east and west to uproot the oppressors. At this time God will facilitate things for him and lands will come under his control one after the other. The Prophet’s 5th infallible successor, Imam Mohammad Baqer (PBUH) says: It is as if I see the Mahdi who has taken control of the east and the west, and all obey him.
But for those of you who think the 'Mahdi' is going to allow Jews and Christians....
After his appearance the Imam would remain in Mecca for some time, and then go to Medina. According to narrations Sofyani, a descendant of the Prophet’s archenemy Abu Sofyan will seize Syria and attack Iraq and the Hejaz with the ferocity of a beast. The Sofyani will commit great crimes against humanity in Iraq slaughtering people bearing the names of the infallible Imams, and his army will lay siege to the city of Kufa and to Holy Najaf. Of course, many incidents take place in this line and finally Imam Mahdi sends troops who kill the Sofyani in Beit ol-Moqaddas [Jerusalem CiJ], the Islamic holy city in Palestine that is currently under occupation of the Zionists. Soon a pious person from the progeny of Imam Hasan Mojtaba (AS) meets with the Imam. He is a venerable God-fearing individual from Iran. Before the Imam's appearance he fights oppression and corruption and enters Iraq to lift the siege of Kufa and holy Najaf and to defeat the forces of Sofyani in Iraq. He then pledges allegiance to Imam Mahdi. Another beautiful moment of the Savior's appearance is the coming down of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) from heaven. Hazrat Mahdi receives him courteously and asks him to lead the prayers. But Jesus says you are more qualified for this than me. We read in the book Tazkarat ol-Olia, 'the Mahdi will come with Jesus son of Mary accompanying him.' This indicates that these two great men are complement each other. Imam Mahdi will be the leader while Prophet Jesus will act as his lieutenant in the struggle against oppression and establishment of justice in the world. Jesus had himself given the tidings of the coming of God's last messenger and will see Mohammad's ideals materialize in the time of the Mahdi. The seat of the Mahdi’s global government will be the city of Kufa, where his headquarters will be the Sahla Mosque, presently outside the city that was the home of Prophet Idrees or Enoch long before the great deluge of the times of Prophet Noah. From here he will dominate the east and the west to fill the earth with justice. The Prophet’s 5th infallible heir, Imam Mohammad Baqer (PBUH) says the Mahdi's appearance is mentioned in Surah Hadid, ayah 17 that says, "Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death."
And all of this is supposed to happen pretty soon:
In our discussion of the world in the last days of the earth we had said in our previous editions of this programme that no source has pointed to the exact date when the Savior will appear and only God knows about the exact timing of the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS). The Prophet had said: He will certainly appear and if only a day were to be left to the end of the world God will make that day so long for Mahdi to appear and rise. There are various versions of the exact day of his reappearance. Some say it would be Friday and the date will be Ashura or the 10th of Moharram, the heart-rending martyrdom anniversary of his illustrious ancestor, Imam Husain (AS). Others say the date will be the 25th of the month of Zil-Qa’dah and may coincide with the Spring Equinox or Nowrooz as the Iranians call. A saying attributed to the Prophet’s 6th infallible heir, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (PBUH) says the Mahdi will appear on the Spring Equinox and God will make him defeat Dajjal the Impostor or the anti-Christ as the Christians say, who will be hanged near the dump of Kufa. The 6th Imam goes on to add: There will be no Nowrooz when we will not be waiting for him.
Now, doesn't that make you all feel warm and fuzzy?
Saddam's last words - they had nothing to do with 'Palestine'
Last night, reports indicated that Saddam Hussein's last words were "'Palestine' is Arab." This morning, after interviewing witnesses who were there and seeing the uncut video of Saddam's last moments that I linked last night (I don't speak Arabic, but I didn't think I heard 'Falestin' there anywhere), Al-AP is reporting a different story:
By several accounts, Saddam was calm but scornful of his captors, engaging in a give-and-take with the crowd gathered to watch him die and insisting he was Iraq's savior, not its tyrant and scourge.
"He said we are going to heaven and our enemies will rot in hell and he also called for forgiveness and love among Iraqis but also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the Americans and the Persians," Munir Haddad, an appeals court judge who witnessed the hanging, told the British Broadcasting Corp.
Another witness, national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, told The New York Times that one of the guards shouted at Saddam: "You have destroyed us. You have killed us. You have made us live in destitution."
"I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persian and Americans," Saddam responded, al-Rubaie told the Times.
"God damn you," the guard said.
"God damn you," responded Saddam.
New video, first broadcast by Al-Jazeera satellite television early Sunday, had sound of someone in the group praising the founder of the Shiite Dawa Party, who was executed in 1980 along with his sister by Saddam.
Saddam appeared to smile at those taunting him from below the gallows. He said they were not showing manhood.
Then Saddam began reciting the "Shahada," a Muslim prayer that says there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger, according to an unabridged copy of the same tape, apparently shot with a camera phone and posted on a Web site.
Saddam made it to midway through his second recitation of the verse. His last word was Muhammad.
The floor dropped out of the gallows.
"The tyrant has fallen," someone in the group of onlookers shouted. The video showed a close-up of Saddam's face as he swung from the rope.
Then came another voice: "Let him swing for three minutes."
As the Munchkins said in the Wizard of Oz: The Wicked Witch is Dead!
IDF searches for 'more options' against Kassams - Olmert has taken away all the ones that work
An IDF 'senior officer' told the Jerusalem Post that the army is seeking 'more options' against Kassams after nine of them hit the western Negev this weekend. Although the 'officer' doesn't say it, the reason is quite simple: Ehud K. Olmert has taken away all the options that work.
Despite Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision last week to allow the Southern Command to target rocket cells, the Kassams were fired without any intervention from the IDF. The rockets lightly damaged buildings in Sderot and other Israeli communities just outside the Gaza Strip, although one of them landed in Palestinian Authority territory.
In the past, before the policy of restraint took effect, the IDF was allowed to fire artillery shells at Kassam launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip, from where the rockets are fired at Sderot and other southern communities. The IDF is currently not allowed to fire artillery shells. Therefore, Palestinian terrorists have freedom of movement inside Palestinian villages in the area.
IDF sources explained that the actual targeting of Kassam cells was very difficult and was not automatic.
"Just because we have the orders does not mean that we are able to thwart the attacks," explained an officer in the Southern Command.
The officer said that IDF soldiers rarely succeeded in thwarting Kassam attacks before the rockets were fired, and generally had an opportunity to attack the terrorists only after they launched rockets.
"This is a very difficult process that requires advanced technological means and perfect coordination between IDF branches," the officer said.
It doesn't require any "advanced technological means." It requires the IDF to be on the ground in Gaza. If that were to happen, there would be no more Kassams. But Ehud K. Olmert, AmirComrade Peretz amd TzipiFeigele Livni aren't sending the IDF into Gaza. They are continuing to fiddle and wait for the United Nations 'Human Rights Council' to send Bishop Desmond Tutu to investigate. And Israel continues to burn.
The next time you see a report originating out of the Gaza Strip, look at the byline, and think twice over whether you should trust it. Reporters without Borders issued a report this week that says that the Gaza Strip is not a safe place for reporters to be. Unfortunately, they blame the Israelis for that as much as they blame the 'Palestinians' themselves.
The Gaza Strip has become the scene of especially violent inter-Palestinian clashes this year. The tension between Hamas, the ruling Islamic party that won the elections at the start of the year, and Fatah, President Mahmoud Abbas’ party, has led to a political stalemate that has paralysed Palestinian institutions. The split within the government has inevitably had repercussions on the street, and journalists are no longer safe.
Representatives of all the Palestinian factions and the Israeli army profess a desire to respect press freedom and the work of journalists, but the statistics belie their claims. This year alone, the Israeli army attacked or threatened 16 journalists and wrecked the premises of three news media, while Palestinian militants caused damage to seven news media by setting them on fire or smashing equipment, and attacked at least four journalists. Six foreign journalists have also been kidnapped by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Reporters Without Borders believes that the safety of journalists will never be taken seriously until the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli army decide to apply the law by bringing those responsible for crimes against journalists to justice. Systematic investigations must be carried out, the findings must be published and those found guilty must be punished.
Reporters Without Borders also proposes the creation of a distinctive sign so that journalists can be more easily identified. The organisation is normally opposed to the use of signs that could mark journalists out as targets. Identifying oneself as a journalist in Iraq or Afghanistan significantly increases the risks to which one is exposed. But in some cases it could provide additional protection in the Palestinian Territories, where journalists face a regular and professional army.
Reporters Without Borders therefore proposes to rapidly bring together Palestinian and Israeli journalists, politicians from both camps and Israeli military officials to discuss this question and find a solution that would reduce the risks to which journalists working in the Palestinian territories are exposed.
It is also vital that all Palestinian factions should quickly agree on a joint statement calling for both local and foreign journalists to be respected. The opening-up of the state-owned media - the news agency WAFA and the radio and TV broadcaster PBC - to all Palestinians regardless of their political affiliation are also essential conditions for improving press freedom.
Can anyone recall the last time they saw a byline that was not Arab coming out of the Gaza Strip? Unfortunately, mainstream media journalists have become combatants in this war by blatantly taking the 'Palestinian' side. Two examples of this are the Muhammed al-Dura affair and the Gaza Beach explosion this past summer. Because of that, I don't buy into any of the stories of things that the IDF has supposedly done to journalists.
You want more proof? They ranked 168 countries on the freedom of their media in 2006. Israel ranked number 50. I thought that was ridiculous until I saw that we were ranked ahead of the United States, which was ranked 53. That says it all.
Olmert becomes the grinch who stole Christmas - in a good way
Could Ehud Olmert have found his backbone? In reaction to some of the 'concessions' Olmert promised to the 'Palestinians' last week, which included removing road blocks to make terror attacks easier to carry out, The Big Picture made a devastating argument on Wednesday that Olmert is easily manipulated by Jihadis and liberals:
Olmert is providing an extreme example of a Western disorder: if you tell him his country is an oppressor, he'll do whatever you want. It makes him predictable and pathetically easy to manipulate.
We in the West must recognize this absurd disorder and take steps to put an end to it.
Now, Olmert seems to be backtracking. Maybe.
One of the 'concessions' Olmert offered was to release 'Palestinian' prisonersterrorists for the Id el-Adha Muslim holiday that starts today. This was to be done despite the fact that Hamas continues to hold kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit, and that Israel has said many times that no 'Palestinians' will be released until Shalit is released. But now, Olmert has changed his mind and has said that no terrorists will be released for the holiday. And 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen, who is chancing a visit to Gaza this weekend for the first time in a long time, is upset about it:
Abbas said Olmert had promised him that he would release prisoners.
"Unfortunately, this didn't happen, and we hope that he will fulfill his promise after the holiday," Abbas told reporters.
Now, if only Olmert would fulfill his promises to protect Israelis....
Most of the world is happy that Saddam was hung at dawn this morning. But not the 'Palestinians.' Saddam held a special place in the hearts of the 'Palestinians.' Until the US invasion of Iraq ousted him three years ago, Saddam paid thousands of dollars to the perpetrators of 'Palestinian' terror attacks (or to their families in the case of suicide bombers). Saddam died this morning with the words "'Palestine' is Arab" on his lips. Here's al-AP on the 'Palestinian' reaction:
The execution of Saddam Hussein sent many Palestinians into deep mourning Saturday as they struggled to come to terms with the demise of perhaps their most steadfast ally.
Unlike much of the rest of the world, where Saddam was viewed as a brutal dictator who oppressed his people and started regional wars, in the West Bank and Gaza he was seen as a generous benefactor unafraid to fight for the Palestinian cause, even to the end.
"We heard of his martyrdom, and I swear to God we were deeply shaken from within," said Khadejeh Ahmad from the Qadora refugee camp in the West Bank. "Nobody was as supportive or stood with the Palestinians as he did."
During the first Gulf War in 1991, the Palestinians cheered Saddam's missile attacks on Israel, chanting "Beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv," as the Scud missiles flew overhead.
He further endeared himself to the Palestinians during the recent uprising with Israel by giving US$25,000 to the family of each suicide bomber and US$10,000 for each Palestinian killed in fighting. The stipends amounted to an estimated US$35 million.
Saddam's support for the Palestinians, whose cause is deeply popular with Arabs throughout the Middle East, was at least partially aimed at gaining widespread support throughout the Arab world.
"Saddam was a person who had the ability to say, 'No' in the face of a great country," said Hosni al Ejel, 46, from the al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah.
"He wanted the Palestinian people to have a state and a government and to be united. But God supports us, and we pray to God to punish those who did this," said Ghanem Mezel, 72, from the town of Saeer in the southern West Bank.
Others were happy to hear Saddam's final words, knowing that his support for them remained unshakable until the end.
Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem opened a "house of condolences" where people can gather to mourn Saddam. The organizers hung Iraqi flags, pictures of Saddam and broadcast Iraqi revolutionary songs.
Mohammed Barghouti, the minister of labor in the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet, said that although his Islamic group was often at odds with the secular Saddam, his execution was wrong.
"The Palestinians had bonded with Iraqis in brotherhood," he said.
Atlas Shrugs has a post this morning in which she sets out some more of the historical background behind the murder of two US diplomats and one Belgian diplomat at the hands of the Black September terrorist organization on the orders of Yasser Arafat. The fact that Arafat was behind the murders was no secret - WorldNetDaily exposed it as far back as January 2001 (and others clearly suspected it by 1985-86), and I reported on it in 2001 to my (pre-blog) Matzav mailing list.
In fact, in 1985 and 1986, Congress requested then-Attorney General Ed Meese to investigate Arafat's complicity in the murders of the diplomats.
On Feb. 12, 1986, some 47 U.S. senators, including now-Vice President Al Gore, petitioned Meese "to assign the highest priority to completing this review, and to issue an indictment of Yasser Arafat if the evidence so warrants."
However, the one critical piece of evidence needed to warrant an indictment -- the tape recordings -- was not produced by the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency or the State Department.
"These tapes do exist," claims Welsh. "I participated in their production. But no one has ever been willing to come forward and acknowledge their existence."
Welsh recently received responses from the three separate agencies to Freedom of Information Act requests for the recordings or transcripts.
"I had written them (CIA, State and NSA) on three different dates," says Welsh. "Guess what? All three agencies just happened to have all written their replies on the same date -- Dec. 21, 2000."
Back in 1973, Welsh had received spontaneous transcripts of the dialogue between Arafat and his subordinates. But, under NSA protocol, he was not permitted to keep copies. Under normal procedure, he expected copies of the final transcripts and tapes to arrive on his desk for further analysis. They never came.
"Things were recorded but never arrived at my desk," he recalls. "I know they were recorded because I was receiving simultaneous reports from a collection site. The warning I drafted for the State Department was based on those reports."
Over the years, there have been reports that the Israelis also had tapes of Arafat ordering the executions of the U.S. diplomats and that Jerusalem provided copies to Nixon. Gen. Ariel Sharon said in 1995 that Israeli intelligence gave tapes proving Arafat's culpability in the murders to the U.S State Department and White House in March 1973.
Arafat reportedly ordered the eight gunmen to surrender peacefully to the Sudanese authorities. Two were released for "lack of evidence." Later, in June 1973, the other six were found guilty of murdering the three diplomats. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and released 24 hours later to the PLO.
During their trial, commander Salim Rizak, also known as Abu Ghassan, told the court: "We carried out this operation on the orders of the Palestine Liberation Organization and should only be questioned by that organization."
Sudanese Vice President Mohammed Bakir said, after questioning the six: "They relied on radio messages from Beirut Fatah headquarters, both for the order to kill the three diplomats and for their own surrender Sunday morning."
"I know Yasser Arafat was a direct player in the murder of our diplomats and so has every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon's," says Welsh.
Welsh also made a prediction, which turned out to be only slightly off base:
"When Arafat dies, possibly the tapes will be acknowledged, but not released," predicts Welsh. "Oil, oil, oil. That's the big fear. If Arafat were to be destroyed politically -- and this would do it -- the Arab world would reply with a boycott we would not be able to deal with."
Atlas ends with something that I found surprising coming from her:
It's all very well for the US to assume to attempt to broker a peace treaty between Rabin and Arafat, but if it had been common knowledge that Arafat--a world terrorist and no freedom fighter--had ordered the murder of US officials, would Clinton and the US been so ready to push Israel into the Oslo Accords?
Atlas is one of the most savvy and least naive people I know (and one of the nicest - at least over the phone and in email). She is also one of the most committed people I know on behalf of Israel's well being. Because of all that, I was shocked to see her asking the question above. Would Clinton and the US have been so ready to push Israel into Oslo? Absolutely if they thought it was in the US's interest. BUT - and there are a couple of big buts here:
1. No one pushed Israel into Oslo. Israel's own leftist politicians pushed Israel into Oslo and then lied to their own countrymen and bribed their own Knesset members (remember Gonen Segev's cabinet seat and Alex Goldfarb's Mitsubishi?) to make it seem to work.
2. As much as I dislike Clinton, he genuinely believed he was doing what Israel wanted him to do in everything he did regarding Oslo. There was no sense in him being more Catholic than the Pope. If Israel's elected government thought this was a good idea, why should Clinton have objected?
The Israeli government knew who Arafat was in 1993, and knew that they were dealing with a murderer. Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, and their gang of academics (Uri Savir, Ron Pundak etc.) decided to deal with Arafat anyway, in pursuit of their holy grail of giving the land of Israel away to the Arabs. That's what post-Zionism is all about.
As far as the Americans go, does anyone really think the Baker - Hamilton Commission doesn't know that Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Mahmoud Ahmedinadinnerjacket of Iran are murderers who would wipe out all of Israel in a second? Did they recommend dealing with them anyway?
I've been suspicious of 'ethicists' ever since 2002, when the New York Times' 'ethicist' - one Jewish-sounding Randy Cohen - advised a woman who wrote to ask whether she should work with an Orthodox Jewish male real estate agent who would not shake her hand that
she was entitled to work with someone "who will treat you with the dignity and respect he shows his male clients." He deemed it irrelevant that the agent was acting in accord with his deepest religious beliefs: "Sexism is sexism, even when motivated by religious convictions." Cohen agreed that the action was "offensive" -- nothing less than an attempt to "render a class of people untouchable" -- and calling it religious "doesn't make it right."
An ethicist - according to Wikipedia - is one whose judgement on ethics and ethical codes has come to be trusted by some community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgement. In other words, an 'ethicist' espouses a set of popular values, that may not be part of any value system, and may not belong to anyone other than himself. All that is required is that 'some community' trust him and that his judgment may be mimiced or approximated.
As an Orthodox Jew, I believe that all ethics and morality are embodied by and contained in the Torah. Torah prescribes how we should behave in each and every situation, and has an answer for each and every issue. There is nothing that is not contained in the Torah. There are no ethics and no morality outside of Torah. Torah encompasses all. There is no better moral system.
The IDF has an ethicist. Despite the fact that the IDF's ethicist is being called upon to set ethical standards for a Jewish army in a Jewish state, his 'ethical standards' do not necessarily accord with Torah. For example....
The government's policy of restraint regarding Kassam rocket launchings from Gaza is legitimate from an ethical perspective, Prof. Asa Kasher said this week in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post.
"The chances that a Kassam rocket will kill are relatively low compared to a suicide bombing," said Kasher, co-author of the IDF code of ethics.
"Therefore, use of targeted killings to prevent terrorist attacks that threaten the lives of dozens of Israelis is an obligation of the state that has nothing to do with political policy decisions. But the decision to exercise restraint against Kassam rocket launchings is a legitimate policy decision."
The Torah's ethics are very different. In Shomth (Exodus) 22, the Torah tells us that if a robber sneaks into a house and the owner of the house kills him, the owner is not liable. Our Rabbis explain that one who sneaks into a house with the intent of stealing must realize that the owner of the house is not going to stand by and watch his property be taken. The owner is likely to defend his property by standing up and killing the robber. That the robber chooses to enter the house anyway shows that he has no regard for his own life, but since the robber will not allow himself to be killed without a fight either, the Rabbis conclude that the robber has come to kill or be killed. Therefore the owner of the house is not liable for killing the robber. (Secular law actually recognizes this principle as well wth some limitations). From here, the Rabbis derive a principle: When someone comes to kill you, kill him first.
This week, two teenage boys were critically wounded in Sderot from one of those Kassam rockets that have a 'low chance' of injuring someone compared with a suicide bomber. While those boys will God willing recover, their lives are forever changed. They will never be able to do many of the things that they took for granted. In many ways, their lives are over. Can we really say that those who shot the Kassam were not trying to kill anyone? Why aren't we killing the shooters - and those responsible for the shooters - first?
Jawdropping statement of the day: NATO starting to take interest in Iran's nuclear program
This is amazing. The Jerusalem Post reports this morning that according to Israeli 'defense officials' NATO is starting to take interest in Iran's nuclear program. Starting to take interest? Where the ^%$#$ have they been for the last three years?
According to the official, Iran was, until now, a "taboo" issue for NATO and was rarely brought up in official functions and talks between member countries. The official said that recently senior military officials in NATO have expressed growing interest in the up-to-date Israeli assessment on Iran.
A diplomatic official said that Iran was a "sensitive issue" for NATO and that while there were certainly countries - like the United States - that would like to see possible NATO involvement on the issue, other members from Europe were so far preventing this from happening. [And to think, I thought that because NATO is the club of nations that is protected by the United States, the United States sets the agenda. Silly me. CiJ]
"There are people who want this issue to come up and want NATO to start talking about Iran," the official said. An important organization with great military capabilities, NATO, the official said, should at least begin to discuss the nuclear threat emanating from Iran even without connection to possible military action against the Islamic Republic.
"This should be on NATO's agenda," the official said. "But since NATO works by consensus among its members, countries have the ability to prevent discussions on certain issues."
Hey Europe, after the 'Saturday people,' Iran is going after the 'Sunday people.' And you - with your irredentist population of Muslims who can take care of you from within - are right after us on the list.
Message to the Bush administration: Time to re-assert control of NATO. You can't rely on Europe for anything.
The Council for the National Interest (CNI) is an anti-Israel organization which is opposed to U.S. aid to Israel and disseminates demonizing propaganda about Israel to academics, politicians, and other audiences.
In a December 2006 solicitation letter, CNI stated that "despite Congress's repeated attempts to characterize Hamas as an anti-Christian terrorist organization, the fact is that Hamas has just announced that they will give [money] for Bethlehem's Christmas celebration." It followed similar statements in support of the Palestinian terror organization and several meetings in the Middle East earlier in 2006 between CNI representatives and key leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, including Khaled Mishal and Hassan Nasrallah, as well as Syrian president Bashar Assad.
CNI has run inflammatory anti-Israel ads in major national newspapers since 2002. In an ad that it published in the New York Times on November 5, 2006, it blamed Israel for the war in Iraq and accused the "Israel Lobby" of trying to of push the U.S. into a new military confrontation with Iran. The ad included a cartoon in which the "Israel Lobby" is depicted as a crooked used cars salesman and the U.S. as its gullible customer....
This morning, I blogged the transfer of Egyptian weapons to 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen's Fatah, and noted that
While it is undoubtedly the case that while Ehud K. Olmert was kissing Abu Mazen's buttcheeks on Saturday night, Abu whispered in Ehud's ear that of course the weapons would only be used against Hamas, we all know that in the past that has not been the case, and that weapons supplied to Force 17 with reiIsrael's approval have been used against Israelis.
The Popular Resistance Committees on Thursday warned that arms transferred by Egypt to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement will reach its operatives who will use them against Israel.
"We vow to show the Israelis very soon the weapons they lately channeled to the Presidential Guards and to the security services will be directed against the occupation," Muhammad Abdel Al, a spokesperson for the group said.
I would never have thought otherwise.
"In all the security services, including in the Presidential Guard, there are activists affiliated with all the Palestinian groups, including ours, and Hamas," he said.
He added that the members of the security services are known to have sold weapons to Palestinian armed factions.
"We vow that there will be no use (of these arms) in a civil war, as we promise that should these arms reach us we will use them against the occupation and the Zionist enemy," he said.
"In all the apparatuses, including in the Presidential Guards, no moves and no information is kept secret from us. We, Hamas and other groups have activists in all the apparatuses. I tell you more than that. At least a third of the workforce in security apparatuses are affiliated with resistance movements," he said.
Abdel Al said that his group, as well as Hamas, has been aware for a while of Fatah preparations for a possible confrontation with other armed groups and for Israeli plans to send arms to Abbas.
"An officer in the Presidential Guards approached me personally and said that he and his associates are not involved in confrontations that erupted lately between the Presidential Guard and Hamas," he said.
He added that his group is aware of plans to rid the Presidential Guards of Hamas affiliates.
"But we have prepared and ordered our people to be vigilant and avoid being exposed," he said.
"The enemies of the Palestinian people will not push us into civil war. Although latest events look like civil war at then of the day we, other resistance groups and the majority of the security apparatuses are in the same boat, in the struggle against the occupation," he said.
But give them a statereichlet and all of the world's problems will be solved.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting today that Hezbullah has been handing out cash rewards based on the number of Jews killed and injured by 'Palestinian' Kassam rockets that are shot from the Gaza Strip. According to the Post, we're not talking about small change either. We're talking about "thousands of dollars."
"Palestinian terrorists get thousands of dollars per attack. Sometimes they are paid before the attack and sometimes they submit a bill to Lebanon afterward and the money gets transferred a short while later."
According to the officials, while Islamic Jihad was behind most recent rocket attacks - including the one on Tuesday night that critically wounded 14-year-old Adir Basad in Sderot - several splinter terrorists groups are also involved and have received direct funding from Hizbullah.
According to security officials, Islamic Jihad gets the money via its headquarters in Damascus while Fatah's Tanzim terror group and the Popular Resistance Committees receive payment from Hizbullah in Lebanon.
All of the money originated in Iran, the officials said.
Government officials said Hamas was not currently involved in firing missiles, but was doing nothing to stop those who were.
Please note that the "Popular Resistance Committees" - the people who kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit - are a part of Hamas (and the proof is that Hamas has been conducting the 'negotiations'). So to say that Hamas is 'not currently involved in firing missiles' is disingenuous.
For those of you who thought that all that cash that's been smuggled into the Gaza Strip is going to pay the 'salaries' of poor 'Palestinian' employees whose salaries have been cut off due to the 'boycott' of the 'Hamas government' - think again.
It's no longer enough for the government of Ehud K. Olmert, AmirComrade Peretz and Feigele Livni that they have left the residents of Sderot and its vicinity high and dry with no protection from 'Palestinian' Kassam rockets. This morning, with Israel's consent, cooperation and approval, 2000 AK-47 (Kalashnikov) rifles, 20,000 weapons magazines and more than 2,000,000 rounds of ammunition were transferred by Egypt to Israel through the same Kerem Shalom crossing where IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in June, and then from Israel to 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen's 'Fatah movement' (read "Force 17") through the Karni crossing.
While it is undoubtedly the case that while Ehud K. Olmert was kissing Abu Mazen's buttcheeks on Saturday night, Abu whispered in Ehud's ear that of course the weapons would only be used against Hamas, we all know that in the past that has not been the case, and that weapons supplied to Force 17 with Israel's approval have been used against Israelis.
Olmert continues to delude himself and the rest of the world that Fatah's goals in this struggle are any different than Hamas'. The goals are the same - it's only the methodology that differs. Fatah's charter still calls for "armed struggle" against the "Zionist entity," its logo (above) still shows the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as being 'Palestine:'
The Fatah Charter states that,“The Israeli existence in Palestine is a Zionist invasion with a colonial expansive base, and it is a natural ally to colonialism and international imperialism” (Article 8); calls for the “Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence” (Article 12), and says that “Armed struggle [i.e., terrorism] is a strategy and not a tactic” (Article 19).
In comments that were widely reported in the media here, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, the former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called the transfer of weapons to Fatah a 'bad mistake.'
"A lot of IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians will be killed with these weapons," Steinitz told Army Radio. "We haven't yet seen that Abbas is determined to contain terrorism, and there's a greater chance that these weapons will be used against [our] soldiers, and we'll have to combat terrorism."
But IDF Lt.-Gen. (res.) Yochanan Tzoref told Israel Radio that Israel's complicity in the transfer of weapons to Fatah showed that "the government was starting to think in more complex terms."
Tzoref explained that while Fatah might be at a disadvantage as far as its arsenal in its struggle with Hamas, the real challenge facing the organization was that it had lost the faith of the Palestinian public.
"Fatah has to undergo an internal process that will strengthen it, and allow it to compete with Hamas in the public's eyes," Tzoref said.
Hamas had the [Palestinian] public's support almost "instinctively," Tzoref continued, whereas the Fatah "old guard" was holding up necessary reforms.
Do you all understand that? We are arming Fatah and building them up in the hope that they will shoot at Hamas and not at us. And even in the best case scenario - that they shoot at Hamas for the time being - we are ignoring the fact that Fatah is no better than Hamas. It stands for the same goals as Hamas and only differs on tactics. And we all know that in the past, Abu Mazen has been totally unwilling to even lift a finger against his 'people'terrorism. Why don't we just ask them to shoot us already and put us out of our misery?
In the early evening hours of 1 March 1973, eight Black September Organization (BSO) terrorists seized the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum as a diplomatic reception honoring the departing United States Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was ending. After slightly wounding the United States Ambassador and the Belgian Charge d'Affaires, the terrorists took these officials plus the United States DCM, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador and the Jordanian Charge d'Affaires hostage. In return for the freedom of the hostages, the captors demanded the release of various individuals, mostly Palestinian guerrillas,imprisoned in Jordan, Israel and the United States.
The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the head of Fatah. Fatah representatives based in Khartoum participated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
The admission comes 33 years after James J. Welsh, then the National Security Agency's Palestinian analyst, saw a communication intercepted from Arafat to his terrorist commandos in Sudan.
Within minutes, Welsh told WND, the director of the NSA was notified and the decision was made to send a rare "FLASH" message – the highest priority – to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum via the State Department.
But the message didn't reach the embassy in time. Somewhere between the NSA and the State Department, someone decided the warning was too vague. The alert was downgraded in urgency.
The next day, eight members of Black September, part of Arafat's Fatah organization, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, took Noel, Moore and others hostage. A day later, on March 2, 1973, Noel, Moore and Eid were machine-gunned to death – all, Welsh had insisted for years, on the direct orders of Arafat.
But the scandalous part of this story is that it was covered up for thirty-three years:
Welsh believes the initial cover-up of the communications breakdown and the role of Arafat was launched to prevent embarrassment to the State Department and White House. President Nixon, he points out, was in the death throes of the Watergate scandal at the time. The last thing he needed, Welsh speculates, was an international scandal to deal with on the front page of the Washington Post.
Later, after Nixon was gone, Welsh believes the whole matter of the Arafat tapes was kept quiet to protect the future viability of signals intelligence intercepts of this kind. And, finally, he said, the cover-up persisted to foster Arafat's role as a "peacemaker" and leader of the Palestinian cause.
After the deadly attack in Khartoum, Arafat ordered the eight gunmen to surrender peacefully to the Sudanese authorities. Two were released for "lack of evidence." Later, in June 1973, the other six were found guilty of murdering the three diplomats. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and released 24 hours later to the PLO.
Before surrendering, the Khartoum terrorists demanded the release of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, as well as others being held in Israeli and European prisons. Nixon refused to negotiate.
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.
More on US blocking arms and technology transfers to Israel
On Monday, I ran a story indicating that the United States has been blocking arms and technology transfers to Israel since September. The story said that it was only an excerpt, and there really is a lot more to it. Apparently it was done as a 'gesture' to 'our friends the Saudis.'
The unofficial suspension of U.S. arms deliveries began in late September, the sources said. They said the suspension halted the airlift of air-to-ground and other munitions conducted during and immediately after the Israeli war with Hizbullah.
"Several weeks after the war, the U.S. supplies stopped," the source said. "There was no real explanation."
The sources said the administration has held up a list of weapons requested by Israel in wake of the Lebanon war. They said the weapons and equipment -- including the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM -- were meant to replenish munitions and other stocks in preparation for a larger war that would include Syria in mid-2007.
"The administration has not rejected any Israeli request," a U.S. official said. "Instead, the State Department and Defense Department have said that all requests must be examined."
The administration refusal to approve the Israeli requests has also hampered military cooperation between the two countries. In November, the Israel Air Force canceled plans to send delegations to the United States to examine air systems and munitions.
A U.S. official said the White House was deeply disappointed by the Israeli failure to defeat Hizbullah. The official said the war undermined U.S. confidence in Israel's military and government.
"The word in the White House was that Israel lost the war," the official said. "That alone led to a plummet in Israel's stock in the administration, particularly the Pentagon."
The U.S. refusals have also hampered Israeli defense programs. The sources said the State Department has prevented the transfer of data and technology, even from projects that included Israeli participation.
In one case, State prevented Northrop Grumman from providing details of its Skyguard laser weapon, which the company has sought to sell to Israel. The ban led to the suspension of Israeli negotiations to procure Skyguard, designed to intercept short-range rockets and missiles.
The sources said the halt in U.S. weapons exports to Israel was designed to assuage Saudi Arabia. They said Riyad has increasingly linked regional cooperation with Washington to pressure on Israel to halt attacks on Palestinian insurgency strongholds in the Gaza Strip.
"The White House believes that Saudi help is vital for the United States in Iraq," a diplomatic source said. "There's nothing like stopping the weapons flow to Israel to show the Saudis that the United States means business."
It's 1938. Are we to play the role of Czechoslovakia? At this rate, Iran won't even need their nukes for us.
I mentioned a couple of times during the war this summer, and at least once since, that ultimately I believe that the only way to resolve our issues with the 'Palestinians' - and with Hezbullah for that matter - is to adopt the kind of 'scorched earth' approach used by the allies in Dresden, Germany to bring the European theater to a close in World War II:
How have other countries responded to similar challenges in the past? During World War II, in the Atlantic theater, the axis powers wished to subjugate all of civilization to the 'superior Aryan race'. The war's end came about because allied carpet-bombing of cities like Dresden caused disproportionate civilian casualties and convinced ordinary Germans that they had no chance of winning the war. That left their leadership the choice of conceding or facing a coup. In the Pacific theater, the Japanese wished to establish dominance over the entire Pacific rim. The US administration correctly calculated that a ground invasion of Japan would cost the lives of thousands of US servicemen. So it responded disproportionately: it dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those bombs cost thousands of Japanese lives, but they saved thousands of other lives. On the whole, the disproportionate response was appropriate. (The last time I wrote this, someone pointed out in the comment section that the Union did the same thing to the Confederacy in the United States Civil War - the Union army brought the war home to the Southern plantation owners who were financing it. The burning of Atlanta - and the accompanying civilian casualties - helped bring about the end of the war).
Hat Tip: Gershon in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York
Even when Israel agrees to a cease-fire, rockets and mortars continue to fall on our cities and daily attempts to smuggle suicide belts and bombs into Israel continue unabated.
Therefore, I can't understand why we don't simply abandon this blundering and adopt the Dresden option for stopping the carnage.
In the later years of WWII, the Allies and Germany had set about systematically attacking each other's cities in attempt to bring about a surrender that wasn't forth-coming on the battlefield. In many cases there were legitimate military/strategic targets in amongst the civilians who where being incinerated. But Dresden... with its relative paucity of strategic targets... represented the antithesis of the industrial German war machine. It was what modern military planners would call a 'soft target'.
Several of Japan's 'soft targets' were also burned to the ground. Forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the moment... as the deliberate firebombing of Tokyo was equally gruesome, albeit not quite so technologically sophisticated to carry out.
The results of these attacks against civilian population centers is indisputable. Even if one wanted to argue that the leaders were fanatical enough to fight to the last civilian standing... the home-front support for the war literally evaporated in the face of such devastation. The London blitz severely damaged some of that city's infrastructure. The bombing of Dresden erased that beautiful city from the map. Guess who surrendered?
Look at the way Israel's resolve has weakened in the face of much less concentrated attacks against its civilians! At any given point easily half of the Israeli population is ready to throw up its collective hands and say "enough... give them whatever they ask for... just make the bombs and rockets stop!" So please don't try to tell me that attacking civilians doesn't work.
I know... I know. I can hear you out there saying that it isn't fair... the Kassams are a primitive, home-made rocket and the IDF has sophisticated smart bombs and missiles with pinpoint accuracy in its arsenal.
To this I say tough sh*t. Tell that to the parents of the two boys who were wounded in the most recent kassam attack. Tell it to the large families where parents have to make the unthinkable nightly choice of which children to put to bed in the family's small reinforced rocket-proof room.
Better yet, don't tell anyone anything. Get up from your latte in Ramat Gan and go live for a few weeks in Sderot. Not willing to risk it? Then shut your mouth and shut your windows... because the smell of burning flesh may carry quite a ways if the wind turns northerly.
When rockets were falling on cosmopolitan Haifa you guys were all for the the war effort. But when a development town like Sderot comes under daily attack all you can suggest is 'restraint'? Puleeze! Maybe Sderot needs a few more art galleries and sidewalk bistros before it will qualify for your outrage.
As always, I am open to anyone's suggestions... but please don't tell me that doing nothing is still a viable option. As foreign policy, 'restraint' only works when both sides in a conflict are willing to practice it.
I've discussed the Badr Brigade and how 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen wants to use it for 're-enforcements' on a couple of occasions. But after hearing a couple of times how the government had approved Badr's deployment (IDF disapproval notwithstanding), I was wondering where they were already. Now, I know.
It seems that the Badr Brigade is more like F-Troop than it is like a fighting force.
According to this article in Maariv (link in Hebrew), the reason that the Badr Brigade has not been deployed to Gaza is that it has no funds to pay the troops, no supplies and no training. For the last two weeks, senior American and British officers have been spending time with the Badr Brigade at its Zarka (Jordan) base trying to whip them into shape. But there's a long way to go. At least six months if the financial and logistical problems are solved.
Olmert and Peretz decide to 'maintain' 'cease fire'hudna
Last night, I told you all that I thought that two teenagers who were seriously wounded by a Kassam in Sderot would not be enough to motivate our feckless government to actually do something.
But it's not entirely clear to me what they actually have decided to do. The Jerusalem Post is reporting that "it was decided that Israel would continue to target Palestinians rocket launchers only." Does that mean the people launching the rockets or only the inanimate rocket launchers? If it's really a continuation of the previous policy, it's only the inanimate rocket launchers, since we know that the IDF was ordered not to fire on 'Palestinians' about to launch Kassams. Ynet reports that Olmert and Peretz "ordered the IDF to act only against cellslaunching Qassam rockets into Israel from Gaza." In terrorist parlance, 'cells' consist of people, and in fact YNet describes this as a "decision to break from the current policy of restraint," although it also says that Israel will "simultaneously [maintain] the ceasefire and [act] with the Palestinian Authority in the [vain. CiJ] hopes that they will take action to prevent the rocket attacks emanating from their territory." Haaretz is also reporting that the IDF has been instructed to "resume pinpoint operations targeting Qassam rocket launching cells on Wednesday, essentially accepting Peretz's proposal to alter the policy of restraint in the wake of ongoing rocket fire." Here's the statement from Olmert's office as carried in Haaretz:
"A directive has been given to the defense establishment to take pinpoint action against the rocket-launching squads," Olmert's office said in a statement, a day [after CiJ] two teenage boys were wounded, one of them critically, by a Qassam rocket that struck the western Negev town of Sderot.
According to the Prime Minister's Office statement, the IDF has also been instructed to uphold the cease-fire in general. "In parallel, Israel will continue to maintain the ceasefire and work with the Palestinian Authority so that immediate steps are taken to halt the Qassam firings."
So I'm going to assume that YNet and Haaretz got it right and that the Post will correct it later in the day.
My take on this is that nothing is going to change unless and until (and I regard it as unlikely) someone gets Olmert to stop fiddling and get out of La La Land and get real. The 'pinpoint' operations are completely ineffective and create the appearance that something is being done while doing nothing. The only way to stop the Kassams is for the IDF to go back into Gaza in full force and stop them and keep them stopped. Nothing more (although I would not complain if the former Jewish residents of Gaza were allowed to return to their homes) and nothing less.
But Olmert won't do that, because if he did that, he would be admitting that last summer's unilateral disengagementsurrender of Gaza to the 'Palestinians' and expulsion of its Jews was a very bad mistake, and that would put the final nail in the coffin of unilateral gifts of territory to the 'Palestinians' for a long, long time to come. So instead, Olmert will continue to fiddle, with Peretz hesitating to play along and Livni playing along more vigorously, while Israel continues to burn.
Several prominent scholars have taken issue with Jimmy Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," cataloguing its historical inaccuracies and lamenting its lack of balance. The journalist Jeffrey Goldberg also critiqued the book's theological purpose, which, he asserted, was to "convince American Evangelicals to reconsider their support for Israel."
Mr. Carter indeed seems to have a religious problem with the Jewish state. His book bewails the fact that Israel is not the reincarnation of ancient Judea but a modern, largely temporal democracy. "I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures," he recalls telling Prime Minister Golda Meir during his first tour through the country. "A common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of the Labor government."
He complains about the fact that the kibbutz synagogue he enters is nearly empty on the Sabbath and that the Bibles presented to Israeli soldiers "was one of the few indications of a religious commitment that I observed during our visit." But he also reproves contemporary Israelis for allegedly mistreating the Samaritans--"the same complaint heard by Jesus almost two thousand years earlier"--and for pilfering water from the Jordan River, "where . . . Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist."
Disturbed by secular Laborites, he is further unnerved by religiously minded Israelis who seek to fulfill the biblical injunction to settle the entire Land of Israel. There are "two Israels," Mr. Carter concludes, one which embodies the "the ancient culture of the Jewish people, defined by the Hebrew Scriptures," and the other in "the occupied Palestinian territories," which refuses to "respect the basic human rights of the citizens."
Whether in its secular and/or observant manifestations, Israel clearly discomfits Mr. Carter, a man who, even as president, considered himself in "full-time Christian service." Yet, in revealing his unease with the idea of Jewish statehood, Mr. Carter sets himself apart from many U.S. presidents before and after him, as well as from nearly 400 years of American Christian thought.
What I found most enlightening about this article was Oren's description of the strong American support for Jewish return to Zion in the 19th century. I had no idea.
A fourteen-year old and a thirteen-year old from Sderot are fighting for their lives tonight after absorbing a direct hit from a Kassam rocket. One of the teenagers was critically wounded and the other was seriously wounded in the eighth Kassam strike of the day. (I got the number of rockets from DEBKAfile and not from the Jerusalem Post article linked above, nor from Israel Radio, which counted six rockets). According to the Jerusalem Post,
Shortly after 10 p.m., the Red Alert alarm sounded throughout Sderot; 10 seconds later, the rocket landed near a group of schoolchildren who were headed for the nearest shelter. Ninth-graders Matan Cohen and Adir Bassad, however, had no time to reach the shelter and were hit by shrapnel.
Cohen and Bassad were rushed to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. This sounds like they are in very bad shape:
Doctors told an Israel Radio interviewer shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday that Bassad, who suffered hits to his chest and stomach, was not yet stabilized, and a surgical team was battling to save his life.
Cohen, whose major wound was to his leg, was reported stabilized.
A number of other people were reported in shock.
One of the medics who treated the boys reported that one of them was likely to lose his legs. One of the boys had a bone sticking out of one of his legs, he said, and the other's ankle was completely twisted.
Meanwhile, the scene outside was chaotic as agitated residents came out of their homes to survey the damage. Cars windows were smashed, and the upstairs windows of homes in the vicinity were completetly shattered.
Frustration and anger were the prevailing emotions at the scene of the attack.
"Our children are getting hurt over here and nobody's doing anything about this," one resident shouted.
"We can't go out anywhere, not to the shopping mall, or anywhere," another resident said.
Others vented their anger at the press members who were covering the incident. "You guys are going to interview us and maybe show a minute or two, but you don't really feel our pain," one resident accused.
Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert will convene the security authorities tomorrow to discuss the so-called restraint policy. Defenseless Defense Minister AmirComrade Peretz - who is from Sderot and whose security guard lost his legs outside Peretz's home a few weeks ago to a Kassam - has had enough.
"We cannot continue to restrain ourselves," Peretz told the prime minister. "We cannot let Islamic Jihad do whatever they want, and we need to take action to stop the Kassams."
Earlier today, a Kassam shot by the 'Palestinians' hit near a 'strategic facility' in Ashkelon for the second time in two days, causing damage to the facility. No one will tell you which facility it was, but as I have noted in the past, there are three 'strategic facilities' in Ashkelon:
The sensitive sites include:
The Rotenberg Power Plant, Israel's second-largest generating station which supplies an estimated quarter of the country's needs.
The Ashkelon Seawater Reverse Osmosis Plant, the largest desalination plant of its kind in the world. Launched last August, the facility is ramping up to provide an annual flow of 100 million cubic litres of water, an estimated 15 per cent of domestic demand.
The Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, which controls three oil pipelines reaching to the port cities of Eilat, Ashdod and Haifa.
A total of sixty-two Kassam rockets have now been shot at Israel in the month since the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government agreed to the 'cease fire'hudna. The United Nations 'human rights council' will not be sending Bishop Desmond Tutu to Sderot or to Ashkelon to investigate.
For the record, I do not believe this will cause the government to abandon its 'restraint' policy. If a rocket (God forbid) killed ten or more people in Ashkelon, that would be a different story.
DEBKAfile is reporting this evening that King Abdullah of Jordan refused to meet with 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen, because Abu Mazen showed up without 'moderate' 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh in tow:
Abbas was due to report to the king in Amman Monday, Dec. 25, on his Saturday night talks with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and the steps offered to ease life in the Palestinian territories. When told that he had arrived in Amman without the Hamas PM, Abdullah called the meeting off. Observers report the humiliated Palestinian leader left the Jordanian capital abruptly. He has a date for Tuesday with President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
DEBKAfile’s sources report that the slap in the face to Abbas was directed with greater force at Olmert, who a week earlier visited Amman to report to the king on the benefits he proposed to pledge to Abbas at their forthcoming interview. Abdullah dismissed the package as too little and demanded far more drastic concessions to put the brakes on the Palestinians’ descent into civil war before it spilled over into his kingdom. He then offered to receive Olmert, Abu Mazen and Haniya in Amman and personally mediate their disputes. The Israeli prime minister rejected the offer on the spot. The king made no response.
It transpired later that Abdullah resolved there and then to have nothing to do with the Olmert-Abbas track, which he regards at best as a side-show of the main Palestinian power play. By standing Abbas up, he made this view plain to the Palestinians and the Arab world. He also showed the Israeli prime minister that his steps to consolidate Abbas were a pointless exercise, unless Hamas was simultaneously addressed.
What's Abdullah up to? Abdullah probably has less legitimacy than any ruler in the Middle East. His country was created by the Arab-loving British foreign office for his great grandfather as a consolation prize for having lost out to his cousins in Saudi Arabia:
In 1927, the British installed Abdullah ibn Hussein, another son of the Sherif of Mecca, as emir of the new country called Trans-Jordan, later Jordan. Jordan was confined to the East Bank of the River Jordan and did not include any part of the West Bank.
Why were the sons of the Sherif of Mecca made rulers of these countries?
The British wanted alliances with all the Arab kingdoms. They had shored up support for the Ibn Saud of the Arabian Peninsula, who had fought the Turks alongside them. Ibn Saud got Saudi Arabia.
But when that happened, the British had to pay off the Hussein Sherif of Mecca, who was in charge of the Islamic holy sites. (The Hussein family are Hashemites, the tribe of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, and have been traditionally the keepers of Holy City of Mecca.)
They had to give him and his children some land, so they gave them Iraq and Trans-Jordan -- the land on the East Bank of the River Jordan.
Abdullah has no democratic legitimacy and a population that is mostly 'Palestinian.' His family is not indigenous to the area. He has two goals: avoiding the Islamists so that he can stay in power, and pushing 'Palestinian' nationalist aspirations across to the west side of the Jordan River so that he can stay in power on its east bank. Both goals are threatened if the State of Israel and Abu Mazen push 'Palestinian' Islamists eastward, whether he forces them into Jordan or whether they flee there. If the 'Palestinian' Islamists are unhappy, it will cost Abdullah dearly to keep them out of Jordan - his own 'people' will demand that they be allowed in.
But both goals are served if the 'Palestinian' Islamists dominate the west bank of the Jordan River, so long as Abdullah can keep an airtight border on the River. That's what's behind Abdullah's seeming backing of Hamas. The message to Israel and to Abu Mazen is that if they cannot contain Hamas, he will contain Hamas at their (including our) expense.
Olmert's 'Christmas present' to Bethlehem: Deportees may be allowed back
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government is considering allowing some of the thirteen 'Palestinian' terrorists who were deported in May 2002 after the siege of the Church of the Nativity to return to Bethlehem. For those who have forgotten, here is recap of what happened four and a half years ago from Wikipedia:
On April 2, 2002, approximately 200 Palestinians fled the advancing Israeli forces into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. During the siege, the Church bellringer and 9 Palestinians inside the Church were killed and many more wounded. While the Israelis were preforming a psychlogical attack on the millitants, a fire broke out. According to a PBS doccumentary, an IDF flare was responsible. Following extensive negotiations, the Isreali forces laid siege to the Church for a total of 39 days, during which many civilians and Palestinian policemen left, some of whom were taken into temporary Israeli custody according to Frontline. Among the people still present in the Church in early May 2002 were 39 Palestinian men wanted by the Israeli army, as well as various civilians, clerics, policemen, the Governor of Bethlehem Muhammad al-Madani, and 11 people who caught the Isrealis by suprise and ran into the Church with needed supplies on 2 May - ten foreign activists of the International Solidarity Movement and Carolyn Cole, a photographer of the Los Angeles Times.
Negotiations over how to end the siege were arduous and broke down several times. Besides the Palestinian and Israeli negotiation teams, those involved included Greek Orthodox clerics from the Church of the Nativity and officials from the USA, the European Union and the Vatican. Finally, an agreement was reached to end the siege. Under this Agreement, 26 Palestinians from the Church of the Nativity were to be exiled in the Gaza Strip. Thirteen others were to be deported abroad.
On 9 May, 26 men, emerged from the Church into Manger Square, were taken on two buses to Gaza, under US escort, and passed through the checkpoint into Gaza on foot, after having been questioned at an Israeli army base. The following day, 10 May, the remaining 13 Palestinians left the Church. The 13 men were then taken on a bus to Ben Gurion Airport (outside Tel Aviv), from where a British military aircraft carried them to Cyprus. The remaining Palestinian policemen and civilians were released. Later the same day, the ten International Solidarity Movement activists were removed from the Church.
The 13 deportees arrived in Cyprus where they were to remain temporarily until the European Union, which had undertaken the will to receive them, would decide to which specific member states they would go....
On 21 May, The European Union finally decided on the host countries for 12 of the 13 deportees. Italy and Spain would each take three, Greece and Ireland would each take two and Belgium and Portugal would each take one. On 22 May, the 12 Palestinians were taken under police escort to Larnaca airport. In the following days, they reached their destinations. No agreement was found with respect to the 13th man, Abdallah Daoud, described by Israel as “the most wanted of the wanted”. He was eventually received by Mauritania on 25 November 2002.
Daoud was born in 1962. He is originally from the Balata refugee camp, in Nablus. Today, he resides in Bethlehem, and serves as the Head of the Palestinian Authority's General Intelligence apparatus in the city. He had previously served as the Head of the General Intelligence apparatus in Tulkarm and Kalkilya.
It has emerged that Daoud provided assistance and instructions to senior Fatah Tanzim operatives, such as Raed Karmi - a senior Tanzim operative responsible for fatal terrorist attacks in the Samaria region, Mohammed Naafa - a Tanzim terrorist operative and Abbas Alsaid - a Hamas terrorist operative.
Daoud provided courses and training to Tanzim operatives, and provided weapons and ammunition to Tanzim operatives. He encouraged them to carry out attacks, and chided them for not doing enough for the Palestinian struggle. He recruited operatives, and encouraged them to carry out attacks.
It emerged that he was personally involved in shooting attacks, together with Tanzim terrorist operatives. Daoud was personally responsible for operating a terrorist cell, for the execution of shooting attacks and the liquidation of collaborators.
Daoud was also involved along with others in the production of high explosives, for the use of Tanzim operatives. He also instructed his operatives in the preparation of bombs and high explosives.
He coordinated the transfer of weapons from one town to another, for the use of Tanzim operatives. He purchased and transferred mortar bombs and landmines. He encouraged the recruitment of terrorist operatives into the ranks of the PA General Intelligence apparatus, in order to grant them protection, following their terrorist operations.
Daoud assisted in the handling of the terrorists responsible for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rechavam Zeevi. During the questioning of Said Hassan Khalil Rabia of Abu Dis, it emerged that Daoud had contacted him by phone to clarify the whereabouts of his terrorist accomplice Hamdi Qoran.
Recently, he orchestrated the Tanzim operatives in Bethlehem in the execution of shooting attacks against Israelis, including attacks on the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
He took part in directing the 25 February 2002 shooting attack at the Tekoa junction. In the attack, two people were killed, and one person was severely wounded.
And for those who have forgotten, while the terrorists hid in the Church of the Nativity, the Church's Christian owners and the church itself suffered. This is from a recent interview with one of the siege's leaders, Jihad Jaara, who is now in exile in Ireland:
Over 200 nuns and priests were trapped in the church after Israeli hostage negotiators failed to secure their release.
WND: Again, the church siege took place in front of the world media. There is plenty of video footage of the condition the church was in when the ordeal finally ended. It was a big mess. And the priests afterwards told reporters your group seized church stockpiles of food and "ate like greedy monsters" until the food ran out while civilians inside went hungry. They say you also guzzled beer, wine, and Johnny Walker scotch that your group found in the priests' quarters. Israel says it even found over 40 explosive devices inside.
JAARA: It is not a secret that inside the church there was a very serious lack of food. I don't remember that there were such problems as you describe. Still, we were 250 persons inside the church who suffered from the fact that the Israeli army prevented any food supply and we were obliged to eat the weeds of the gardens in the church. We did not blackmail the religious to give us their food. They kindly and with much generosity offered us to share their food with us.
As for the conditions in which we left the church, it is true there was a lot of dirt but it is normal to the conditions in which we were living. Thirty-nine days without any water and any possibility to move because of the snipers who were placed all around the church.
WND: Israel says it found documents after the siege that imply your group attempted to extort Church officials for money in exchange for their assured safety. Is this accurate?
JAARA: This argument is very funny. The officials of the church whom you say we tried to extort were the only ones who gave us money before our exile to Gaza and Europe. This is a very noble position that we will not forget. Secondly, why should we have needed this money during the siege? Were there malls inside the church [for us to shop in]? We did not know if we were going to survive the whole operation or not. So why should we need this money?
WND: Explain why Christians accounted for upwards of 90 percent of Bethlehem for years until the Palestinian Authority took control of the city in 1995. Immediately Christians started fleeing the city. Now the population is about 20 to 25 percent Christian. Just what caused the vast majority of Bethlehem's Christians to flee right after the Palestinians took control?
JAARA: This is the responsibility of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli cruelty. The Israeli occupation defaced Christian monuments and sites and this was part of the reasons that incited Christians to leave. The Christian emigration is not a new phenomenon. Muslims leave places too. I reject your attitude that makes a separation between Muslims and Christians.
WND: I am not referring to Israeli reports. I have personally talked to scores of Christians in Bethlehem who say they feel threatened by the Muslim population. Many were afraid to even give me their names for fear of Muslim retaliation. Should Christians in Bethlehem be afraid?
JAARA: I say that all these things are rumors and arguments that Israel brings in order to separate between the two communities hoping that these thoughts will infiltrate our society. Problems can take place between a Muslim family and a Christian one, yet this happens between neighbors all over the world. It is not in any way a planned aggression against Christians. It is true also that when there is a case of a Christian girl who gets married with a young Muslim it is a very sensitive affair that may create some tension but it is very natural now all over the world that couples from different religions get married. It is the occupation that feeds this tension.
Back to the Jerusalem Post. The Post is reporting that there are a lot of Christians in Bethlehem who would rather these people stay abroad:
On Saturday, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the deportees would soon be allowed to return to Bethlehem. The announcement was made following the summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.
While most Muslim residents here welcomed the news about the impending return of the gunmen, some Christian families expressed fear that the deportees would once again impose a reign of intimidation and terror in the city.
"What a wonderful Christmas gift from Father Christmas, Ehud Olmert," commented a local businessman. "These men were responsible for a spate of attacks on Christians, including extortion and confiscation of property." [/sarcasm CiJ]
He said the biggest threat came from those gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, whose members often targeted "peaceful" Christians.
"I'm aware that most Christians living here are afraid to speak publicly about the issue, but the overwhelming majority was not unhappy when these thugs were deported from the city," he added. "Now some people here are once again worried because of the reports that they will return. They remember all the bad things that happened to the Christians when these gunmen were roaming the streets. People also remember how the gunmen mistreated the monks and nuns who were held hostage during the raid."
The families of the Bethlehem deportees have been campaigning for the past four years to allow their sons to return home. The issue has been raised several times during meetings between Israeli and PA officials, but no solution was ever found.
Mary, who works in a local tourist agency, said not all the deportees were involved in anti-Christian actions.
"Some of them were good boys, but there were a few who used their guns and rifles for criminal purposes," said the 44-year-old woman. "Some residents are now worried that these guys will return to the streets of Bethlehem. We heard that one of them, who is now in Europe, was involved in the murder of two Christian sisters in Beit Jala."
Tony [not his real name], who owns a small souvenir shop near Manger Square, said he and many of his fellow Christians used to live in fear when the gunmen were around.
"They used to take cigarettes and other goods for free from my neighbors," he recalled. "When they were deported from the city, there was a sigh of relief not only among Christians, but some Muslims as well. Let's hope that when they come back, they will return to normal life."
The few Christians who agreed to go on the record had only words of praise for the gunmen.
"They are heroes," said Bishara Hazboun, a 22-year-old university student. "There's no difference between Christians and Muslims and we are all one people. Some people have been trying to defame the fighters by spreading all kinds of lies against them. I never saw them do any harm."
To my Christian friends abroad: How do you think Bethlehem's Christians really feel about having these terrorists back in their midst? And to all of you, why would any Israeli government willingly take back these criminals? Those who are kind to the cruel are eventually cruel to the kind. Allowing this gang of terrorists to return to Israel will only bring more terror and violence. Let's keep them away.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 32 years and seven grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com