There's a lengthy article on the American Jewish Committee's web site that has stirred up a storm of controversy for being honest. The article is called Progressive Jewish Thought and Anti-Semitism. The lengthy article was written by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, a professor of English and Jewish Studies and director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University, with a foreword by David A. Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee. This is from Harris' foreword:
Perhaps the most surprising—and distressing—feature of this new trend is the very public participation of some Jews in the verbal onslaught against Zionism and the Jewish state. Here, too, the vociferous denunciators are to be found at both ends of the political-religious spectrum, from the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta, who believe that a Jewish state in advance of the messianic era is blasphemy, to the ultra-leftists who find a territory-based Jewish existence to be antithetical to their own self-referential definitions of Judaism. But when it comes to getting noticed by the media and getting “traction” for their views, it is the so-called “progressive” Jewish anti-Zionists who receive the lion’s share of the attention.
These leftist Jewish critics challenge not just Israel’s policies, but “its legitimacy and right to an ongoing future.” Their acerbic criticisms and negative rituals—such as renouncing a Jewish child’s right to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return at his bris (ritual circumcision)—are documented here by Prof. Rosenfeld. There is the poet Adrienne Rich, who argues that the word Zionism is “so incendiary, so drenched in … ideas of blood and soil, in memories of victimization and pursuant claims of the right to victimized” that it “needs to dissolve before twenty-first century realities.” There is the hyperbolic British academic Jacqueline Rose, who says, “We take Zionism to be a form of collective insanity.” And there is Joel Kovel, a professor, writer, and Green Party politician who believes that “to be a true Jew,” Jews must “annihilate their particularism,” “annihilate or transcend Zionism,” and “annihilate the Jewish state.”
And from Rosenfeld's article:
For an exposure to the full range of such sentiments, one could hardly do better than to consult two recently published collections: Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, edited by TonyKushner and Alisa Solomon (New York: Grove Press, 2003) and Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers: Conversations with Jewish Critics of Israel, edited by Seth Farber (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2005). [Farber was a teacher at the Modern Orthodox school I attended in Boston (way after my time there) before making aliyah about ten years ago. CiJ]
Liberally sprinkled through the pages of the first of these books are references to Israeli “apartheid,” “racism,” “colonialism,” and “ethnic cleansing.” These descriptors have become part of standard discourse among “progressive” American Jews, who seem to take for granted that the historical record shows Israel to be an aggressor state guilty of sins comparable to those of Hendrik Verwoerd’s South Africa and Hitler’s Germany. As for “Zionism,” gone are the days when it was praised by those on the left as a movement of Jewish national liberation. One contributor, Joel Kovel, a professor at Bard College, who is writing a book on post-Zionist Israel, suggests that Zionism “is equivalent to a form of racism” and is unforgiving that it brought about “the Jewish homeland at the expense of another people” (p. 357).
In more condensed form, Irena Klepfisz, a poet and Holocaust survivor, declares that “you can be a victim and also a victimizer” (p.367)—a simplistic charge routinely made by those who wish to blacken Israel’s image in the worst way by drawing unseemly parallels between Jews as victims and those who victimize them.
Some of Israel’s Jewish critics are irate at the country for still other reasons: In their eyes, Judaism itself has fallen casualty to Israel’s sins, and the cost to their own religious principles is so high as to render questionable the value of the state’s existence. “I’m not against Israel,” writes Douglas Rushkoff, a New York-based author who writes on media and new culture. His objection rather is to the version of Israel which he sees as “this nationalized refugee camp,” which is “a compromise of Jewish ideals, and not their realization.... We get a claim on some land, but we lose our religion in the process” (pp. 181, 182).
Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmud at the University of California at Berkeley, joins Rushkoff in this critique but goes him one better. Just as Christianity may have died at Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor, laments Boyarin, so “I fear ... that my Judaism may be dying at Nablus, Deheishe, Beteen (Beth-El), and al-Khalil (Hebron)” (p. 202). As always, the recourse to Holocaust parallels is a sure sign that lucid thinking has been replaced by bias. In this case, as in others, Jewish identity is affirmed in opposition to the Jewish state.
The leftists don't hide their beliefs. In fact, they are quite open in expressing them:
Some Jews devise novel changes in their practice of Judaism to reflect the ways in which, so they claim, Israel has damaged the religion. Jews who are members of JATO (“Jews Against the Occupation”), for instance, build what they call “an anti-occupation sukkah with pictures of destroyed Palestinian buildings” adorning its walls. Marc Ellis, a professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and the author of several anti-Zionist books written from a liberation theology perspective, proposes that the synagogue Torah scrolls be replaced in the Ark of the Covenant by replicas of Israeli helicopter gunships, which he argues are the true symbol of Israeli reality today (p. 155).
Anti-Zionist Jews have introduced other rituals as well, such as taking an oath against exercising their rights under the Law of Return—the privilege of citizenship in Israel that every Jew (except one who has a criminal past and might endanger the public welfare) currently enjoys. “Far from being protected by Israel, I feel exposed to danger by the actions of the Israeli state,” writes Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz. “I am declaring another way to be Jewish.... I renounce my right to return” (p. 256). At the ritual circumcision of their son, Meg Barnett and Brad Lander issued a similar declaration: “We are thrilled to pronounce you a Jew without the Right of Return. Your name contains our deep hope that you will explore and celebrate your Jewish identity without confusing it with nationalism” (p. 293).
As these gestures of Jewish dissent indicate, there is a tendency among American Jews who identify themselves as “progressive” to embrace positions on Zionism and Israel that are as negative, and sometimes even as damning, as any to be found among the most fervent non-Jewish anti-Zionists. One recognizes in their writings passions of anger and indignation, bitterness and repudiation that transcend those associated with mere politics. Israel in their eyes is guilty of a great betrayal and should be punished. Never mind that more than a thousand of its citizens have been murdered in the last few years and thousands more maimed for life. Never mind as well that Israel is singled out more than any other country on the globe for inaccurate and one-sided condemnations of its alleged human rights abuses and targeted for boycotts and divestment campaigns. And never mind that, alone among the world’s countries, Israel’s very existence is considered an aggression, its legitimacy subjected to doubt, and its right to a future openly questioned.
No historical or political explanations of Israel’s current predicament are acceptable to some of the country’s Jewish critics, nor can the Jewish state be easily redeemed from its perceived wrongdoings. “History is screwing us totally up ... forget the history,” suggests Irena Klepfisz (pp. 358-59). She is for less explanation and more action—and now.
Like other “oppressive” regimes before it, Israel is judged to be guilty of the worst and must be brought to heel. Journalist Esther Kaplan, commenting on the charge by a young Rutgers University activist that “Israel is a racist state, an imperialist state—it is and should be a pariah state,” remarks: “[I]f that’s what it takes to bring down the occupation..., Israel should absolutely become a pariah state.... The time has come when Israel must be totally isolated by world opinion and forced, simply forced, to concede” (p. 87).
While their numbers are still relatively small, activists in groups like A Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Labor Committee for Peace and Justice, the International Solidarity Movement, and other “communities of the principled and disobedient”—the term is Susan Sontag’s (p. 348)–are organizing to bring about their political goals, whatever the costs. With others who condemn Israel as a “racist state, an imperialist state,” some will do whatever they can to make it a pariah. The full effects of their efforts may not be clear to these Jews, for they couch their ambitions in high-sounding terms like “peace,” “justice,” and “reconciliation.” Should they ever succeed in reducing Israel’s already embattled status to that of a rogue state, “totally isolated by world opinion,” the result would not be a fuller measure of peace and justice for either the Israelis or the Palestinians but, almost certainly, the opposite.
And then there is Farber's book, of which I will give you only a taste:
The true end point of these views is not just to force the Israelis out of the territories they have occupied since 1967, but to force an end to the Jewish state itself. This goal is suggested more implicitly than explicitly in some of the contributions to Wrestling with Zion, but it gets spelled out quite openly in Seth Farber’s collection of interviews with anti-Zionist Jews. The book’s contributors include Noam Chomsky, Steve Quester, Joel Kovel, Norton Mezvinsky, Ora Wise, Norman Finkelstein, Phyllis Bennis, Adam Shapiro, Daniel Boyarin, Rabbi David Weiss, and Marc Ellis, most of whom are identified as “progressive.”
Whatever substantive meaning the term “progressive” may once have had, it appears in Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers as little more than a self-validating honorific—the presumed equivalent of moral and political virtue itself. Like “peace,” “justice,” and much else in the contemporary lexicon of leftist rhetoric at its most dogmatic, “progressive” has worn badly; and in Farber’s overheated book, the term appears either as a pious gesture in the direction of utopian politics or, with reference to Zionism, signals views that can only be called regressive. The Israel that emerges in Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers—a country characterized as “amoral,” “barbaric,” “brutal,” “destructive,” “fascistic,” “oppressive,” “racist,” “sordid,” and “uncivilized”—is indistinguishable from the despised country regularly denounced by the most impassioned anti-Semites.
As pictured by Farber and his colleagues, Israel is guilty of every sin that a modern nation-state is capable of committing—from “apartheid” and “state terrorism” to “ethnic cleansing,” “crimes against humanity,” and “pure genocide.” No convincing evidence is offered to support any of these extreme charges. Rather, as demonstrated by the contributors to this book, it is an unquestioned assumption of their collective thinking that Israel is an inherently racist, oppressive, and singularly brutal country and, ipso facto, stands guilty as charged. For what is alleged to be its racist, systematic cruelty, the Jewish state is likened to the Ku Klux Klan and South Africa during the worst years of apartheid rule. Lest these analogies be considered too tame, Farber quotes the theologian Marc Ellis, who favors references of a still stronger kind: “‘What the Nazis had not succeeded in accomplishing ... we as Jews have embarked upon” (p. 15).
Others portray Israeli actions in similarly exaggerated and defamatory terms. Adopting the Palestinian nomenclature, Joel Kovel calls Israel’s still incomplete security fence an “Apartheid Wall” and compares the lives of Palestinians on the other side of it to Jews in “the Warsaw Ghetto” (p. 67). Anyone who knows anything about life and death in the Warsaw ghetto will find the comparison as bogus as Rose’s attempt to tie Herzl to Hitler. But Kovel is undeterred by the transparent falsity of his analogy and, determined to smear the Israelis, goes on to make his obscene point all the same.
In much the same spirit, Steve Quester wonders if Israelis are “going to build gas chambers and kill them all” (p. 41), but then backs off from that idea and imagines that the Israeli plan for the Palestinians is merely to “terrorize” and “starve” them out. Seth Farber himself holds to the harsher view and insists on conflating Israeli “racism” with “Nazi anti-Semitism” (p. 137). And Rabbi David Weiss goes him one better by claiming that the Zionists have actually been “worse than Hitler” (p. 206).
To advance this aim, the contributors to Farber’s Radicals, Rabbis, and Peacemakers at times invoke Judaism’s own teachings, denounce Zionism as “a perversion” of Judaism,” and call the state it created a “horrible mistake” (p. 224). Taking up a position long favored by the extreme right-wing rabbis of Neturei Karta, Farber finds the Jewish state heretical from a religious standpoint and condemns it for “driving a dagger through the heart of our identity as Jews” (p. 15). None of his contributors demurs from that line. Rather, a given of their collective thinking seems to be that Israel betrays the prophetic tradition, is “stifling ... to the notion of Judaism” (p. 63), and is simply unredeemable.
Rosenfeld's article is thirty pages long, but those of you who can may want to read the whole thing.
The essay comes at a time of high anxiety among many Jews, who are seeing not only a surge in attacks from familiar antagonists, but also gloves-off condemnations of Israel from onetime allies and respected figures, like former President Jimmy Carter, who titled his new book on the Mideast “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.” By spotlighting the touchy issue of whether Jews are contributing to anti-Semitism, both admirers and detractors of the essay agree that it aggravates an already heated dispute over where legitimate criticism of Israel and its defenders ends and anti-Semitic statements begin.
Over the telephone, the dinner table and the Internet, people who follow Jewish issues have been buzzing over Mr. Rosenfeld’s article. Alan Wolfe, a political scientist and the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, said, “I’m almost in a state of shock” at the verbal assaults directed at liberal Jews.
On H-Antisemitism (h-net.org), an Internet forum for scholarly discussions of the subject, Michael Posluns, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, wrote, “Sad and misbegotten missives of the sort below make me wonder if it is not the purpose of mainstream Jewish organizations to foster anti-Jewishness by calling down all who take from their Jewish experience and Jewish thought a different ethos and different ways of being as feeding anti-Semitism.”
Others have praised Mr. Rosenfeld’s indictment and joined the fray. Shulamit Reinharz, a sociologist who is also the wife of Jehuda Reinharz, the president of Brandeis University, wrote in a column for The Jewish Advocate in Boston: “Most would say that they are simply anti-Zionists, not anti-Semites. But I disagree, because in a world where there is only one Jewish state, to oppose it vehemently is to endanger Jews.”
Although many of the responses to the essay have referred to its subject as “Jewish anti-Semitism,” Mr. Rosenfeld said in a telephone interview that he was very careful not to use that phrase. But whatever it is called, he said, “I wanted to show that in an age when anti-Semitism is resurgent, Jews thinking the way they’re thinking is feeding into a very nasty cause.”
I agree with Alvin Rosenfeld and Shulamit Reinharz. It's one thing to criticize Israeli policies, to call for 'compromises' with the 'Palestinians,' and to claim that Israel treats them too harshly. It is quite another to call for Israel's dissolution, to accuse it of Nazism, and to compare its actions with those of the Nazis. There is no question that these sorts of attitudes by Jews give comfort to the likes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinadinnerjacket and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Anyone who believes that Iran, Syria and the 'Palestinians' would not murder every Jew in Israel if they ever - God forbid - get the opportunity is simply fooling himself.
The 'progressives' are a clear and present danger to the Jews of Israel and are a danger to all Jews worldwide. They must be fought at every opportunity.
Growing up in suburban Boston, Father Robert Drinan was my Congressman. He was also a good friend of my parents, as a result of having been the Dean of Boston College Law School, where my father was one of two Jews in the class of 1956. (My father still has a personal letter that was addressed to my parents, my brother and me - all by name - in which Drinan thanks us for our help in his 1972 Congressional campaign). Drinan was a true friend of Israel, and a classic liberal Congressman - unlike today's pretenders (for those who did not know him, think of a less boisterous version of Ed Koch). He passed away on Monday. The following is from a press release from the American Jewish Committee web site:
The American Jewish Committee mourns the passing of the Rev. Robert Drinan, a respected Jesuit priest, brilliant legal scholar and teacher, effective political leader, and beloved friend of the Jewish people and Israel.
“Robert Drinan was a Righteous Christian of our generation, and I had the joy of working with him for many years,” said Rabbi James Rudin, AJC’s senior interreligious adviser.
“Drinan passionately believed in the promise of the Second Vatican Council and its call for positive Catholic-Jewish relations,” Rudin said.
During his illustrious career, as a priest and later as a member of Congress, he was a cherished ally of the American Jewish Committee on a host of vital issues.
“Drinan was a relentless foe of all forms of anti-Semitism and a life-long supporter of Israel, deeply committed to the Jewish state’s survival and security,” said Rudin.
Drinan was a founder, in 1972, of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry, an international leader in behalf of human rights and religious liberty, and a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. His book, Honor The Promise: America’s Commitment to Israel, is a testament to Catholic understanding of and support for the Jewish state.
Drinan, the only Priest ever to serve as a voting member of Congress, resigned from Congress in 1980 pursuant to a directive from the Pope. He was sorely missed immediately. He was a righteous gentile if I ever heard of one. May his memory be blessed.
A new poll taken by the Smith Institute for YNet indicates that if elections were held today, the Likud would win 32 seats (as compared with its current 12) and KadimaAchora would drop to 9 seats from its current 29. I guess you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
In the race for Prime Minister (which is irrelevant under the current system in which the leader of the largest party is invited to form the government), Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu has the support of 34%, with foreign minister TzipiFeigele Livni tied with Labor MK Ami Ayalon in second place with 16%. Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is a distant fifth with 3%.
The survey, which was carried out Monday evening, questioned 500 adults over the age of 18 and had a 4.5 percent error margin.
Hat Tip: Toby in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York
The Peaceful Majority
by William Haynes
I used to know a man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War Two. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.
"Very few people were true Nazis "he said," but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."
We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.
Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.
It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is that the "peaceful majority" is the "silent majority" and it is cowed and extraneous.
This is more of a 'life in Israel' story than the typical fare on this blog, but I think it's important enough that you all ought to be aware of it.
Israelis seemingly have no concept of privacy and private space. All of us westerners have had the experience of standing in front of the teller at a bank and having the next person in line (literally) breathing down your neck. I have often turned around and asked the person behind me whether they wish to make a deposit into my account, and if not, could they please move away. Unfortunately, they usually ignore me. Too many Israelis are completely lacking in common courtesy. One would have hoped that our 'civilian ambassadors to the world' at El Al would be a bit better since they fly all over the world all the time. Unfortunately, they are not.
Last Wednesday night and Thursday, I flew from Chicago to Tel Aviv via London. When I got to the ticket counter in Chicago, the agent was unable to check my bag beyond London, because El Al had decided on their own that I had another reservation (I did not) and canceled my reservation. Half an hour of calls from a resourceful ticket counter agent in Chicago to El Al's gate at JFK in New York (it was amazing how she got the number at 10:00 PM New York time!) and calls from me to my travel agent at 5:00 AM Israel time (Ziontours - I highly recommend them!) got my El Al reservation reinstated. But it was a bad sign....
We landed in London early, and having spent 45 minutes in a security line at Heathrow on my way to the US, I quickly proceeded from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1, arriving at the El Al gate at the very end of Terminal 1 an hour and a half before flight time. I went to the gate agent, handed in my ticket and passport and asked for a boarding pass (American could not issue one). He asked if I had checked bags from Chicago and I said that I had, and gave him my baggage tags so that he could scan them in. He gave me my boarding pass (a middle seat - I was supposed to have an aisle, but that actually worked out in the end because there was an empty seat), and I asked whether I needed to go downstairs and identify my bags for them (as I have always had to do when connecting to El Al in London and many other European airports). Surprisingly, his response was "no, we don't do that anymore."
All was quiet until we started to board the plane. I got to the gate and was shoved off to the side because my e-ticket number did not appear on the boarding pass. I told the gate agent that wasn't my fault and they said they would make sure that the person who issued the boarding pass (who turned out to be from security and not a gate agent) would be rebuked for that. Eventually, they let me get on the plane. I put my carry-on in the (fortunately still empty) overhead bin, took off my coat and sweater and steeled myself for the four and a half hour cramped flight. Then, all hell broke loose.
A security agent - the same one who told me that I did not need to identify my bags, and who had issued my boarding pass - came down the aisle and asked if I was Carl in Jerusalem. I said that I was, and he asked me to come with him to "identify something." I asked if he wanted me to identify my bags and reminded him that I had offered to do that an hour and a half earlier. He said I should just come with him.
When we got to the plane's exit there were five security agents standing at the end of the jetway right outside the plane. One of them was holding a red, white and blue plastic bag. Inside the bag were my toiletries kit and several items I had purchased at places like Target and CVS. Each item other than the toiletries bag was wrapped the way I always wrap things I buy in the US (when you've had enough liquids leak in your bags, you learn your lesson) - in a zip lock plastic bag that is taped shut with masking tape. At first I thought one of my suitcases had burst open, but it turned out that they had gone through my duffle bag (they even opened the sealed coffee maker box!) and had removed some apparently random items from it. I was mortified! They asked if these things were mine and I said that of course they were. They ordered me to look more closely and I shuffled through the bag (without really noting what was there other than the toiletries bag and a bottle of Tums - which was taped at the top with masking tape) and said it was all mine. Then they told me to get back on the plane. I suggested that I take these items with me since they said that the rest of my things had been "sent ahead to save time," but of course, they refused, promising that the red white and blue bag would be there when we landed in Tel Aviv.
The red, white and blue bag was not there when we landed in Tel Aviv - forty minutes behind schedule. After all the luggage had gone around, at nearly 11:00 PM Israel time, I went to the El Al lost baggage counter and complained (with absolutely NO evidence that I was missing anything - there was no baggage tag for the red, white and blue bag!). Fortunately, the lady said, "Oh, you're Carl in Jerusalem. We got a message about you. Your bag is being sent on the night flight. It will be sent to your house tomorrow morning" I told her that I was furious at El Al for violating my privacy by going through my bags without my being present. She told me that she had nothing to do with security, but that El Al has had a lot of complaints about this and that they may reconsider the policy.
In the end, my red, white and blue bag showed up and you can bet that El Al paid about what the items were worth to have it delivered to my Jerusalem home around noontime on Friday. But that's only the beginning of what this 'incident' is going to cost them. Hereafter, if I have to connect through London on the way back to Israel, it's going to be on British Airways. Even if I have to wait ten hours to do it.
An ostrich can speak with his head buried in the sand
As some of you may recall, I do not particularly care for former foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami. Unfortunately, because he still wears the tag of a "former foreign minister," when he says something outrageous it makes headlines. That happened again on Sunday.
It's time for Israeli Jews to leave behind the mentality of the victim and the ghetto, and stop making comparisons between Hitler and Arafat, Saddam Hussein or even Ahmadinejad...
According to Ben Ami, being aware and putting the world on notice of the threats to our existence
is an obstacle to Israel's relationship with the international community and, even worse, "Give[s] legitimacy to some Palestinian comparisons between Israel and the Nazis...."
Ridiculous! As you might imagine, this has caused quite a storm:
Ben-Ami's statements caused a storm in the small Jewish community in Spain, and among Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The head of Spain's Jewish community, Jacobo Israel, emphasized to the Spanish Parliament that Israel is under existential threat by the Iranian regime.
The Foreign Ministry said that Ben-Ami's statements were enraging, particularly when made abroad by an Israeli Jew, speaking in the capacity of a former foreign minister.
Ben-Ami defended himself to the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper Monday, saying "I believe in explaining things in a balanced manner, which is the only thing that lends credence to our cries against others...We must not interpret current events as a Shoah."
"The ability to critique ourselves is sometimes the best advocacy...I'm sorry that narrow-minded people, instead of promoting Israeli interests, are weakening Israeli advocacy," he said
If Ben Ami survives an Iranian nuclear first strike against us, will he then tell the world that this is like the Holocaust? Maybe even that won't be enough for him.
The mother of Muhammed Faisal Saksak, the 21-year-old suicide bomber who carried out Monday's attack in Eilat, said she was aware of her son's plan to blow himself up and that she had wished him "good luck."
Dozens of Palestinians, chanting slogans against Israel and the US, converged on the family's home to "congratulate" them on the success of the attack.
Ruwaidah, 43, said she last saw her son on Friday morning, when he walked out of his home in the Slateen neighborhood near Bet Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
"As he walked out of the house, he asked me to wish him good luck," she said. "I wished him good luck and I knew of his decision to become a martyr. Although I was aware of his intention, I did not know exactly when he was planning to carry out a martyrdom attack."
According to the mother, another one of her sons, Naim, phoned Muhammed on his cellular phone over the weekend to inquire about his whereabouts. "When Muhammed answered, he told Naim: 'Pray for me all of you and don't try to call me again. I'm now in Jabalya refugee camp.' After that we tried to call him many times, but his phone was out of service."
The mother of nine said she was proud of her son for carrying out the suicide attack. "I pray to Allah that Muhammed will be accepted as a shaheed [martyr]," she said shortly after hearing about the Eilat bombing. "I hope that his martyrdom will deliver a message to the Fatah and Hamas fighters to stop the fighting and direct their weapons against the one and only enemy - Israel."
Ruwaidah said she was prepared to "sacrifice" all her sons "for the sake of the Aqsa Mosque and Palestine." She added: "I hope that our politicians will stop fighting so that the blood of the martyrs will not be shed in vain."
The suicide bomber's older brother, Naim, 26, said he too was proud of his brother, whom he described as a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades. "I knew that he was going out to launch a martyrdom attack and I wished for him to become a martyr," he said. "The family is very proud of what Muhammed did. He always wanted to be a martyr and was among those who went out to fight against the Israeli soldiers each time they invaded the Gaza Strip."
Muhammed's wife, Nadia, said she shared the family's sense of "pride" for what her husband did. "When I heard that he was martyred, I felt very proud of him," she said. "Why shouldn't I feel so when I know that he died for the sake of Palestine and Al-Aqsa? It's much better than dying in the internal fighting between Fatah and Hamas."
The Palestinian who blew himself up in the Israeli resort of Eilat on Monday was unemployed, despondent over the death of his baby daughter and driven to avenge his best friend's killing by Israeli troops, relatives said.
Dozens of neighbors celebrated outside 20-year-old Mohammed Siksik's house after the fiery attack that killed him and three other people, waving his photo and praising him as a martyr. Inside, his mother greeted mourners with a smile.
''He told me: 'Meeting God is better for me than this whole world,''' said Rowayda Siksik, wearing a white veil.
She said her son told her only that he was going to carry out an operation inside Israel. ''He said, 'Goodbye, I am going, mother. Forgive me.' I told him, 'God be with you.'''
Siksik never found steady work, getting by with occasional jobs with his father, installing tiles. ''You can't find work in this place,'' his mother said. Her son lost his 7-month-old daughter to a nerve disease, she said.
Sitting on the floor of her bare house, the mother said her son's best friend, Nader Amrein, was killed six months ago in an Israeli military operation in northern Gaza. Amrein was a member of Fatah, the movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
As the brother of a top Islamic Jihad official, Siksik made an easy target for recruitment for the suicide attack.
Originally sympathetic to the more secular Fatah, Siksik's life changed after the death of his friend. ''He became religious about six months ago,'' his mother said. ''He joined Islamic Jihad.''
Outside the house, Islamic Jihad and Fatah members argued heatedly over who would sponsor Siksik's funeral. The two groups claimed to have jointly planned the attack.
'Moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen is the leader of Fatah. Yet the United States, Israel and the European Union continue to pretend that Abu Mazen is a 'man of peace' and a 'moderate' who is somehow 'better' than Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas. Once again, I have to ask why?
Why Israelis are afraid of Iran - and what they might do about it
There's an excellent piece by historians Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren of the Shalem Center in today's Jewish World Review. It deals with Israel's fears about Iranian nuclear weapons and what Israel may do about it.
Hat Tip: NY Nana
Here are some excerpts:
Like most in the defense establishment, Sneh doesn't believe Iran would immediately launch a nuclear attack against Israel. But, he adds, it won't have to actually use the bomb to cripple Israel. "They would be able to destroy the Zionist dream without pressing the button," he says.
In clipped tones that reveal his long military background, he outlines three repercussions of an Iranian bomb. To begin with, he notes, the era of peace negotiations will come to an end: "No Arab partner will be able to make concessions with a nuclear Iran standing over them." What's more, Israel will find its military options severely limited. An emboldened Iran could provide Hezbollah and Hamas with longer-range and deadlier rockets than their current stock of Katyushas and Qassams; yet, threatened with a nuclear response, Israel would have little defense against intensifying rocket fire on its northern and southern periphery, whose residents would have to be evacuated to the center. Israel already experienced a foretaste of mass uprooting in the Lebanon war last summer, when hundreds of thousands of Galilee residents were turned into temporary refugees. Finally, says Sneh, foreign investors will flee the country, and many Israelis will, too. In one recent poll, 27 percent of Israelis said they would consider leaving if Iran went nuclear. "Who will leave? Those with opportunities abroad — the elite," Sneh notes. The promise of Zionism to create a Jewish refuge will have failed, and, instead, Jews will see the diaspora as a more trustworthy option for both personal and collective survival. During the Lebanon war, Israeli television's preeminent satirical comedy, "O What a Wonderful Land," interviewed an Israeli claiming that "this" is the safest place for Jews — as the camera pulled back to reveal that "this" was London.
A nuclear Iran will have devastating consequences for Sunni Arab states, too. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and, most recently, Jordan have declared their interest in acquiring nuclear power; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stated explicitly that Egypt may feel the need to protect itself against Iran's nuclear threat. Other Sunni nations could follow — including Libya, whose enmity toward the Saudis may draw it back into the nuclear race if Riyadh tries to acquire a bomb. A nuclear free-for-all, then, is likely to seize the Middle East. In this crisis-ridden region, any flashpoint will become a potential nuclear flashpoint.
The reverberations of a nuclear Iran will reach far beyond the Middle East. Tehran could dictate the price of oil and even control much of its supply through the Straits of Hermuz. And Iran will be able to conduct terrorist operations through its proxies with greater immunity. Even without the nuclear threat, Iran succeeded in intimidating the Saudis into releasing Iranian suspects in the 1997 Khobar Towers bombing. Moreover, if Tehran goes nuclear, the pretense of an international community capable of enforcing world order would quickly unravel: After all, if a regime that has perpetrated terrorist attacks from Argentina to the Persian Gulf can flout sanctions and acquire nuclear weapons, how can the United Nations credibly stop anyone else from doing the same?
And these terrifying scenarios exclude the most terrifying scenario of all: Iran uses its bomb. In a poll, 66 percent of Israelis said they believed Iran would drop a nuclear weapon on the Jewish state. Though defense experts are divided over the likelihood of an Iranian nuclear attack, every strategist we spoke with for this article considered the scenario plausible. "No one knows if Iran would use the bomb or not," says Sneh. "But I can't take the chance."
The threat of a theologically motivated nuclear assault against Israel tends to be downplayed in the West; not so here. The former head of Israel's National Security Council, Giora Eiland, has warned that an apocalyptically driven Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be willing to sacrifice half his country's population to obliterate the Jewish state. Military men suddenly sound like theologians when explaining the Iranian threat. Ahmadinejad, they argue, represents a new "activist" strain of Shiism, which holds that the faithful can hasten the return of the Hidden Imam, the Shia messiah, by destroying evil. Hebrew University Iranian scholar Eldad Pardo goes further, arguing that the ideology founded by Ayatollah Khomeini represents nothing less than a "new religion," combining Shia, Sunni, and Marxist beliefs and resembling Western messianic cults that have advocated mass suicide. And so Ahmadinejad's pronouncements about the imminent return of the Hidden Imam and the imminent destruction of Israel aren't regarded as merely calculated for domestic consumption; they are seen as glimpses into an apocalyptic game plan. Ahmadinejad has reportedly told his Cabinet that the Hidden Imam will reappear in 2009 — precisely the date when Israel estimates Iran will go nuclear. In a recent meeting with outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Iranian president predicted that, while the United States and Great Britain won the last world war, Iran will win the next one. And, two weeks ago, an Iranian government website declared that the Hidden Imam would defeat his archenemy in a final battle in Jerusalem. Notes one former top-ranking Israeli defense official: "We may not yet have located a clear theological line connecting the dots, but there are a great many dots." At least one ayatollah, though, has made that theology explicit: In 2005, Hussein Nuri Hamdani declared that "the Jews should be fought against and forced to surrender to prepare the way for the coming of the Hidden Imam."
For those Israelis who are skeptical of sanctions, there is the option of last resort: a military strike. Experts readily acknowledge the complexity of an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities, since they are scattered over dozens of sites, many heavily fortified and deep underground. But an attack on three key sites — especially the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz — would set back Iranian plans by several years. It would not be necessary, the former top-ranking defense official says, to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities: By repeatedly hitting their entrances, the sites could be rendered inaccessible. At the same time, Israel would probably bomb key government installations, like Revolutionary Guard bases, to weaken the regime's ability to recover. While the Iranian people are likely to initially rally around the government, the combined effect of a military attack and economic sanctions could trigger an eventual uprising, suggests the former defense official. Periodic air strikes, he adds, would impede attempts to rebuild the nuclear sites.
Defense experts downplay the possibility of secret facilities unknown to Western intelligence agencies. "If we can locate a suicide bomber as he moves from place to place, then we know how to locate static targets, even deep underground," says the former defense official. Nor are those facilities as impenetrable as some foreign news reports suggest. Noted Yuval Steinitz, former chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: "The Iranians are signaling us that the nuclear project is vulnerable. Whoever spends several billion dollars just for anti-aircraft systems around nuclear sites is saying that those sites are vulnerable. There would be no need to invest those sums if their bunkers were deep enough [to avoid an air strike]."
The Israeli air force has been actively preparing for an attack since 1993, enhancing the range of its bombers and acquiring the requisite bunker-busting ordnance. "Technically, we have the ability" to strike key facilities, a former commander of the air force told us. While the army's reputation was battered during the Lebanon war, the air force, by contrast, performed well, routinely destroying Hezbollah's long-range missile sites within less than five minutes following a launch.
An Israeli assault could only delay Iran's nuclear program, not eliminate it. That's because Israel cannot sustain an air campaign against such remote targets for days on end. This can only be accomplished by the United States, perhaps together with nato allies, by mounting an ongoing series of air strikes similar to the "shock and awe" campaign conducted against Iraq at the beginning of the war. Israelis, though, are divided over the likelihood of U.S. military action. Some experts believe President Bush will attack, if only to prevent being recorded by history as a leader who fought the wrong war while failing to fight the right one. Others speculate that a politically devastated Bush will leave the resolution of the Iranian crisis to his successor.
If Israel is forced, by default, to strike, it is likely to happen within the next 18 months. An attack needs to take place before the nuclear facilities become radioactive; waiting too long could result in massive civilian casualties. Still, Israel will almost certainly wait until it becomes clear that sanctions have failed and that the United States or nato won't strike. The toughest decision, then, will be timing: determining that delicate moment when it becomes clear that the international community has failed but before the facilities turn lethal.
Israel will alert Washington before a strike: "We won't surprise the Americans, given the likelihood of Iranian reprisals against American troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East," says an analyst close to the intelligence community. U.S. permission will be needed if Israel chooses to send its planes over Iraqi air space — and the expectation here is that permission would be granted. (Israel has two other possible attack routes, both problematic: over Turkish air space and along the Saudi-Iraqi border to the Persian Gulf.) Still, according to the former air force commander, if Israel decides to act, "We will act alone, not as emissaries of anyone else."
Regardless of whether Israeli or other Western forces carry out the strike, Iran will almost certainly retaliate against the Jewish state. Experts disagree, though, about the extent of the Iranian onslaught and Israel's ability to withstand it. Some say that, though Iranian missiles will strike Israeli cities and Hezbollah Katyushas and Hamas Qassams will fall in massive numbers, Israel's anti-ballistic and civil defense systems, combined with its retaliatory capability, will suffice to contain the threat. Optimists also downplay Iran's ability to mount terrorist attacks in the West: September 11 has produced an unprecedented level of cooperation among Western intelligence services, and they are monitoring sleeper cells as well as Iranian diplomats, who are believed to have used their privileged access to smuggle explosives.
The pessimists' scenario, though, is daunting. Not only could Iranian missiles — perhaps carrying chemical warheads — devastate Israeli cities, but, if the Syrians join in, then thousands of additional long-range missiles will fall, too. And, if Israel retaliates by bombing Damascus, that could trigger public demands in other Arab countries to join the war against Israel. The result could be a conventional threat to Israel's existence.
And again: 'Palestinian' suicide bombing attack in Eilat
A 'Palestinian' suicide bomber exploded in a bakery in an Eilat shopping center this morning, murdering three innocent persons and critically wounding two others. The bombing, which occurred around 9:45 A.M., was first reported to be a gas explosion, and around 10:30 police confirmed that it was a suicide bombing. This was the first suicide bombing ever in Eilat, although a Katyusha rocket fired from Jordan hit the tourist destination/port city in August 2005.
According to reports by security sources, at least two local residents had spotted Saksak, whose heavy coat and large bag aroused their suspicions, and called the police. Channel 2 reported that one of the people who alerted local police was the driver who gave Saksak a ride into town.
The driver, Yossi Voltinski, said in an interview with Channel 10 that he had suspected Saksak was up to something, but that he could do nothing until the terrorist got out of the car.
Voltinski said he had told the man to get out before reaching his destination.
"Still, unfortunately, he succeeded in his plot," he lamented. "He succeeded in killing innocent people, and I don't feel good about that."
Saksak, who appeared to have stopped at the bakery for coffee before reaching his final destination, blew himself up after he saw the police cars approaching.
A report on Israel's Channel 2 television tonight claims that Israel is mapping the population of Sderot for evacuation in preparation for an 'incursion' into Gaza in March. If this is going to happen, someone had better tell the local councils (the equivalent of county government in the US):
Several local councils in the area are drafting their own evacuation plan. A representative of these councils said they have not heard about any Defense Ministry evacuation plans. According to a statement from the Sderot municipality, the city has begun population mapping but does not yet have a full plan in place. The mapping, which was initiated by the ministries of defense and welfare in cooperation with the local authority, involves documenting Sderot's residents and determining potential relocation sites.
The security officer who reported on the army's plans said yesterday that the mapping and evacuation plans were spurred after IDF officials informed area security officers about the invasion plans. "The assumption is that after the incursion, the area will be exposed to heavy rocket fire," he said.
Now that's strange - I would have thought that if the IDF invades Gaza it would beat the ^%$# out of the 'Palestinians' and there wouldn't be any more Kassams or terrorists left. Silly me. What do I know?
Useful idiots are a bigger threat to Israel than nuclear bombs
In political jargon, the term "useful idiot" was used to describe Soviet sympathizers in western countries (particularly in the United States) and the alleged attitude of the Soviet government towards them. The implication was that the person in question was naïve, foolish, or in willful denial, and that he or she was being cynically used by the Soviet Union, or another Communist state. The term is still in use and used more broadly to describe someone who is perceived to be manipulated by political movement, terrorist group, or hostile government, whether or not the group is Communist in nature.
Israel produces many useful idiots who are naive, foolish or in willful denial of what the 'Palestinians' would like to do to us, and they are being cynically used by the 'Palestinians' and their fellow Arabs. Some of these useful idiots are now touring the United States under the sponsorship of Jewish or 'Palestinian' groups, or local Jewish communities. According to a report by Israel's foreign ministry, many of these useful idiots are former members of the IDF:
These ‘refuseniks’ are Israelis who have served in the IDF but disagree with the way the army operates in the West Bank and Gaza.
Sponsored by Jewish and Palestinian organizations, refuseniks representing “Shovrim Shtika” (Breaking the Silence) and “Combatants for Peace” travel to different campuses and Jewish communities in the US, and give audiences their take on what goes on in the territories.
The “Union of Progressive Zionists” and “Brit Tzedek v’Shalom” (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) were among the Jewish organizations that are funding the refuseniks.
“The willingness of Jewish communities in the United States to host these organizations, and even sponsor them, is unfortunate. This is a phenomenon that must not be ignored,” the report said.
What our foreign ministry doesn't understand is that by the time these people get to the US, it is way too late to stop them. They are the product of the post-Zionist education on which they have been raised. Last week at the Herzliya Conference, Nobel Prize winner Professor Robert Aumann hit the nail on the head when he said that post-Zionism is a greater danger to Israel than nuclear bombs. (Hat Tip: Zionist Conspiracy):
Having outlined the threat of Iranian nuclear attack, and the greater threat of Iranian proliferation of nuclear weapons among Islamic terror groups, Aumann continued:
"And now a few words about a third threat, which is perhaps the greatest of all. It does not come from Iran, nor from terrorist groups, nor from any external source. It comes from within us. 'We have met the enemy, and it is us.' Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, your humble servant makes his living from game theory - among other things, very serious games: games of life and death and of existence and annihilation.
"The name of the game in game theory is motivation, incentives. Earlier, we discussed the motivations of those standing on the opposite side. Motivating ourselves is the most important thing, and the thing we are losing the most. Without motivation, we will not endure. What are we doing here? Why are we here? What are we aspiring to here? We are here because we are Jewish, we are Zionist, because of our ancient bond to this land; we aspire to realize our 2,000-year-old hope of becoming a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem. Without this profound understanding, we will not endure. We will simply no longer be here; post-Zionism will finish us off."
The Nobel Prize Laureate, who was an outspoken opponent of the Disengagement, then addressed the prime minister: “About half a year ago in Petra, Jordan, the prime minister said that we are tired. He was right. He was elected by the nation, and he expresses the sentiments of the nation. We are like a mountain-climber that gets caught in a snowstorm; the night falls, he is cold and tired, and he wants to sleep. If he falls asleep, he will freeze to death. We are in terminal danger because we are tired. I will allow myself to say a few unpopular, unfashionable words: our panicked longing for peace is working against us. It brings us farther away from peace, and endangers our very existence. I think it was Churchill who said, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’ The preparation includes material preparation, a fantastic army, effective tools of war, but above all, we are talking about spiritual preparation, about spiritual readiness to go to war.
“Roadmaps, capitulation, gestures, disengagements, convergences, deportations, and so forth do not bring peace. On the contrary, they bring war, just as we saw last summer. These things send a clear signal to our 'cousins' [the Arabs -ed.] that we are tired, that we no longer have spiritual strength, that we have no time, that we are calling for a time-out. They only whet their appetites. It only encourages them to pressure us more, to demand more, and not to give up on anything. These things stem from simple theoretical considerations and also from straight thinking. But it's not just theory: it has been proven and re-proven in the field over thousands of years. I returned today from a trip to India, where we heard about historical stories that illustrate the same. Capitulations bring about war; determination and readiness bring about peace.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we must tell our 'cousins' that we are staying here. We are not moving. We have time; we have patience; we have stamina. Understand this and internalize it. And we must not simply say it to our cousins but feel it within ourselves. This and only this will bring peace. We can really live in peace and unity and cooperation with our cousins. But only after they understand and internalize that the Zionist state will be here forever. Thank you very much.”
Now there's a guy who is worthy of being in government. Unfortunately, politics in Israel are so corrupt that I am sure he would never consider it.
More evidence of Dhimmi Carter's anti-Semitism: 'Too many Jews' on Holocaust Museum board
WorldNetDaily is reporting that during his term as President, Dhimmi Carter objected to the make-up of the board of Washington D.C.'s Holocaust Museum because it had 'too many Jews.'
Former President Jimmy Carter once complained there were "too many Jews" on the government's Holocaust Memorial Council, Monroe Freedman, the council's former executive director, told WND in an exclusive interview.
Freedman, who served on the council during Carter's term as president, also revealed a noted Holocaust scholar who was a Presbyterian Christian was rejected from the council's board by Carter's office because the scholar's name "sounded too Jewish."
Freedman, now a professor of law at Hofstra University, was picked by the council's chairman, author Elie Weisel, to serve as executive director in 1980. The council, created by the Carter White House, went on to establish the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Freedman says he was tasked with creating a board for the council and with making recommendations to the White House on how best to memorialize the Holocaust.
He told WND he sent a memo to Carter's office containing recommendations for council board members.
He said his memo was returned with a note on the upper right hand corner that stated, "Too many Jews."
The note, Freedman said, was written in Carter's handwriting and was initialed by Carter.
Freedman said at the time the board he constructed was about 80 percent Jewish, including many Holocaust survivors.
He said at the behest of the White House he composed another board consisting of more non-Jews. But he said he was "stunned" when Carter's office objected to a non-Jew whose name sounded Jewish.
Freedman said he was "outraged by this absurdity."
"If I was memorializing Martin Luther King, I would expect a significant number of board members to be African American. If I was memorializing Native American figures I'd expect a lot of Native Americans to be on the board.
"I do not for a moment consider it inappropriate to build a Holocaust council with a significant majority of the board being Jewish," Freedman stated.
'Palestinian' Civil War Update - Abu Mazen escapes assassination attempt as 24 more 'Palestinians' die
The 'Palestinians' have been doing what they do best all weekend: killing each other. Unfortunately, the world only stands up and takes notice when Jewish Israelis kill 'Palestinians.'
It was also announced today that 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazenescaped an assassination attempt last week when four large explosive devices were uncovered by his security officers on the road leading from the Erez crossing to Gaza, as Abu Mazen left Ramallah and was about to travel on that route. Abu Mazen was sent back to his office in Ramallah. Abu Mazen was on his way to meet 'moderate' 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh to discuss the establishment of a 'national unity government.'
In a bid to discourage additional assassination attempts against Abu Mazen, Fatah officials preferred to keep the incident a secret and not publish it. Oh well, I guess that cat is out of the bag now.
Abu Mazen's convoy is usually comprised of at least twenty vehicles (which is more than usually accompany the Prime Minister of Israel), accompanied by police and national security forces and by his personal bodyguards from Force 17, who have also been trained in the United States. Abu Mazen travels in a secured vehicle, but the explosive devices uncovered were so strong that the car would not have prevented him from getting hurt.
It goes without saying that Hamas is the prime suspect behind this assassination attempt:
In spite of the assassination attempt, the Palestinian president decided not to cancel his trip to Syria and to meet with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. The Americans begged him not to go and expressed their anger over the trip.
Abbas' advisors also demanded that he cancel the trip and the meeting with Mashaal. However, Abbas decided to hold the meeting following heavy pressures exerted by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, Iranian officials and Palestinian organizations.
Meanwhile, twenty-four 'Palestinians,' including a two-year old infant, have been killed in internecine violence over the weekend, sixty-eight 'Palestinians' have been wounded and numerous homes have been destroyed.
Early Friday morning, a senior Fatah official, Nabil al-Jarjir , was assassinated, after Hamas claimed he was involved in the blast that killed one of their members on Thursday night.
As you watch this movie, keep in mind that this is what Iran plans for America - not just for Israel. But their nukes are for 'peaceful' purposes and if only the 'Palestinians' were given a statereichlet, radical Islam would leave the world alone....
New York Times: US administration to tell Congress Israel violated arms pact
The New York Times is reporting this morning that the Bush administration will inform Congress on Monday that Israel may have violated agreements relating to the use of cluster bombs in last summer's Lebanon war. If the Bush administration and Congress aren't capable of viewing Israel's use of cluster bombs last summer in the context of what Hezbullah was doing, then the US - Israel relationship is really in bad shape. However, the Israel Radio report I heard this morning indicates that a several-month suspension in the sale of cluster munitions to Israel is considered likely as a result of this report. I think the real reason behind that is the alleged use of cluster munitions by Israel late in the conflict when a cease fire was in sight. If they had been used right from the outset, there would have been less of a fuss.
Midlevel officials at the Pentagon and the State Department have argued that Israel violated American prohibitions on using cluster munitions against populated areas, according to officials who described the deliberations. But other officials in both departments contend that Israel’s use of the weapons was for self-defense and aimed at stopping the Hezbollah rocket attacks that killed 159 Israeli citizens and at worst was only a technical violation.
Any sanctions against Israel would be an extraordinary move by the Bush administration, a strong backer of Israel, and several officials said they expected little further action, if any, on the matter.
But sanctions against Israel for misusing the weapons would not be unprecedented. The Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on cluster-weapon sales to Israel in 1982, after a Congressional investigation found that Israel had used the weapons in civilian areas during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. One option under discussion is to bar additional sales of cluster munitions for some period, an official said.
The State Department is required to notify Congress even of preliminary findings of possible violations of the Arms Export Control Act, the statute governing arms sales. It began an investigation in August.
Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said that the notification to Congress would occur Monday but that a final determination about whether Israel violated the agreements on use of cluster bombs was still being debated.
“It is important to remember the kind of war Hezbollah waged,” he said. “They used innocent civilians as a way to shield their fighters.”
Even if Israel is found to be in violation, the statute gives President Bush discretion about whether to impose sanctions, unless Congress decides to take legislative action. Israel makes its own cluster munitions, so a cutoff of American supplies would have mainly symbolic significance.
Before firing at rocket sites in towns and villages, the Israeli report said, the Israeli military dropped leaflets warning civilians of the attacks. The report, which has not previously been disclosed, also noted that many of the villages were deserted because civilians had fled the fighting, the officials said.
David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said Israel “provided a detailed response to the administration’s request for information” on its use of cluster munitions “to halt Hezbollah’s unprovoked rockets attacks against our civilian populations centers.”
He added, “Israel suffered heavy casualties in these attacks and acted as any government would in exercise of its right to self-defense.”
John Hillen, who was assistant secretary of state in charge of the bureau until he resigned this month, told Bloomberg News in December that Israel had provided “great cooperation” in the investigation. “From their perspective, use of the munitions was clearly done within the agreements,” he said.
Israel has told the State Department that it originally tried targeted strikes against Hezbollah rocket sites, but those proved ineffective.
Heavy use of cluster bombs was tried instead, to kill or maim Hezbollah fighters manning the launchers. Israeli commanders employed cluster weapons because they suspected that they would flee after firing their rockets. Even those attacks failed to stop the rockets barrages.
The agreements that govern Israel’s use of American cluster munitions go back to the 1970s. But the details, which have been revised several times, are classified.
However, officials said that the agreements specified that cluster weapons could not be used in populated areas, in part because of the risk to civilians after a conflict is over if the bomblets fail to self-destruct, as they are designed to do.
The agreements said the munitions be used only against organized armies and clearly defined military targets under conditions similar to the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, when Israel arguably faced threats to its survival, officials said.
Donatella Rovera, a researcher with Amnesty International in London, said older American cluster weapons used by Israel during the war did not reliably self-destruct, compared with Israel’s own cluster munitions, which are newer and are said to have a much lower dud rate.
Halevy: World War III has begun and an Islamic nuke is likely
Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy told the Portugese newspaper Expresso today that World War III has already begun. According to a translation of the interview by Agence France Press, Halevy said that most of the West does not even realize that the war has already begun:
‘During World War I and II the entire world felt there was a war. Today no one is conscious of it. From time to time there is a terrorist attack in Madrid, London and New York and then everything stays the same.’
Violence by Islamic militants has already disrupted international travel and trade just as in the previous two world conflicts, he said.
Halevy, who was raised in war-time London, predicted it would take at least 25 years before the battle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is won and during this time a nuclear strike by Islamic militants was likely.
‘It doesn’t have to be something very sophisticated, It doesn’t have to be the latest nuclear technology, it can be something simple like a dirty bomb which instead of killing millions only kills tens of thousands,’ he said.
This evening, my wife and I were invited to Melave Malka (a post-Sabbath meal) at the home of old friends together with another couple. The male member of the 'other couple' is the author of a popular series about the commentaries of Rashi on the Torah. Rashi - Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki - lived in Medieval France and is the pre-eminent commentator on the Torah. Our fellow guest had something very interesting to say about one of Rashi's comments on this week's Torah portion, and I'd like to share it with you.
This week's Torah portion, Bo, includes the Jewish exodus from Egypt. As every school child knows, Pharoah is awakened in the middle of the night by the cries of people dying, and runs out in his pajamas (as the popular song in both Hebrew and English goes) looking for Moses and Aaron to tell them to take the Jewish people out of Egypt. On the verse that has Pharoah awakening in the middle of the night (Exodus 12:30) Rashi makes a one-word comment in Hebrew that means three words in English: "From his bed." What is Rashi trying to tell us?
Despite the fact that Moses had warned Pharoah that this was coming and that the first-born of Egypt were going to die, Pharoah was stubborn and had to show that life was "normal." He could not admit that he was mistaken. To 'prove' that he was right and that Moses (and God) were wrong, Pharoah went to sleep, as if to say, "nothing is going to happen tonight.
Throughout the history of the Jewish people, we see that being capable of admitting when one is wrong is a mark of leadership. When Judah lived with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Genesis 38), and then was going to have her burned at the stake as a harlot when the fact of her pregnancy was discovered, Tamar sent Judah his own staff and seal and asked him to recognize them as his own. Judah could have denied that they were his. He also could have played the magnanimous leader and decided to pardon her. But Judah did neither of those things. He said (Genesis 38:26) "she is right; she is pregnant by me" (or according to the Medrash, he said "she is right" and a voice from God added "it was from Me"). Because Judah admitted his mistake, the royal Davidic house came from Judah (and from Tamar).
King David was also capable of admitting that he was wrong. When Nathan the Prophet reproached David for having lived with Bat Sheva (who looked like a married woman, even though the Talmud proves that she technically was not one) King David's response (2 Samuel 12:13) is "I sinned." Nothing more and nothing less. And because of his response, King David remained King of Israel.
Compare that with King Saul, who failed to fulfill God's command to wipe out the people of Amalek (1 Samuel 15) and made excuses for his failure, blaming the people for his own inability to lead them. Saul was relieved of his throne by God in favor of David.
Look at the 'leaders' of Israel today. Which paradigm do you think they fit?
Sorry for the lengthy break - I'm back in Israel now.
As any of you who have read this blog for some time probably know, I don't use the term 'settler.' I refer to the Jews of Judea and Samaria as revenants.
But why is it that the word 'settler' has become such a bad word in politically correct society? The Jerusalem Post Magazine has a lengthy article about that question this weekend, comparing the settlers of the Negev in 1946 with the 'settlers' of today. The bottom line fits in perfectly with Israel's NotInMyBackYard attitude:
"Israel is not a pioneering society anymore," says Prof. Shmuel Sandler of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. "In general, all over the world, there are less aspirations and impulses to control territories where other people live. Settling and building an empire was once a very positive concept, but the world has changed its views and Israel has changed its views, and today colonialism is a dirty word."
But Sandler offers a deeper answer to the change in values, having more to do with the Israel's becoming a more affluent society since the 1940s and less to do with the settlement ideology.
"Israel has become much more hedonistic," he says. "To be a pioneer you have to sacrifice, living in the settlements is a sacrifice, and people don't see this as a worthy goal anymore. They're tired. It's much better to live in Tel Aviv than in a small settlement surrounded by Arab villages."
Sixty years ago, the main agenda was the welfare of the group - the individual was of secondary importance, elaborates media crisis consultant Amir Dan, CEO of the media and strategy office at McCann Press of McCann-Ericsson. "Today, people care more about themselves and their families and less about the collective good."
The main problem according to Amrusi is that today's generation lacks the education necessary to grasp the importance of the Land of Israel and thus of the larger significance of the settlement movement.
Less Jewish history and Bible studies in schools have led to more disconnection from their past, she says, and as a result, many have no idea who the land really belongs to. Without a strong Jewish identity and connection to Jewish roots, Israelis miss the bigger picture of the State of Israel and its role in the destiny of the Jewish people.
"Our history didn't start in 1948, it started thousands of years ago," Amrusi says. "We aren't talking about occupying a new place - we're talking about going back to our homeland, to where our culture and religion began with Abraham and King David."
The settlement movement, she contends, is just another link in the very long chain of the history of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
But the public doesn't empathize with the settler movement because it doesn't identify with the settlers, viewing them as dangerous extremists, explains Dan.
Sixty years ago, he says, settlers were looked at as people who risked their lives for the country, whereas modern-day settlers are viewed as risking the country for themselves and their own interests. Sixty years ago, the settlers were the soldiers of the state that was to come, but today they are not seen as soldiers but rather as the ones risking the lives of our soldiers.
Why? In 1946, he explains, everything was simpler because there was one clear-cut target - establishing a state. Today, there are many groups and many goals, and the settler movement differentiates itself even further from other groups because "it looks different, acts different and sees itself as different ideologically."
While Dan admits that the media play a large role in distinguishing and disconnecting the settlers from the rest of society, he says the settlers also separate themselves by thinking their ideology is more important than explaining their convictions to the consensus. Indeed, this realization led Gush Katif settlers on a campaign in 2005 going door-to-door to homes across the country in an attempt to show people that settlers are normal people and just like them.
Wherever the fault lies, 60 years from now, Dan says, the details of today will have faded away, and we will only remember the stereotypes.
"Settlers will conjure up extremists who hated Arabs and were religious and were different from me, they won't be learned about as heroes who saved the land," he predicts.
There are ways for the settlers to change this, of course, as they tried to do in their campaign before the disengagement. But, says Dan, "if I had to guess, Ariel Sharon will be the one remembered as a hero for taking the settlers out of Gush Katif."
I think it's more likely that Ariel Sharon will be remembered for starting the State of Israel on the path to its destruction, God forbid. Read the whole thing.
There was a report that I had planned to blog yesterday from WorldNetDaily that indicates that a deal is all-but-done to give control of Judea and Samariato 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen.
Israel and the Palestinians have been conducting behind-the-scene negotiations regarding handing over most of the West Bank to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to top Egyptian and European diplomatic sources who told WND they were directly involved with the talks.
The West Bank borders Jerusalem and is within rocket-firing range of Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport.
The Egyptian and European sources told WND the negotiations for an Israeli withdrawal were mediated by Egypt and the European Union, with U.S. input. The sources said major changes in Israeli-Palestinian affairs are expected within a few weeks to two months.
According to an aid to European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, speaking on condition of anonymity, there will be a "historic political evolution and movement in negotiations in the next few weeks and few months, unseen since the Camp David peace talks in 2000."
The sources said Israel is studying the transfer of responsibility in the central and southern West Bank to Abbas' security forces, which reportedly are receiving aid, weapons and training from the U.S.
They said one proposal being considered for the northern West Bank would see Jordan and the EU supervise the transfer to Abbas' security forces.
Still being debated is the role of Hamas, which leads the PA and maintains the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament. Negotiations between Abbas and Hamas leaders for a national unity government have mostly fallen through.
So far, Hamas has refused to recognize Israel, but recently offered a 10-year truce with the Jewish state. In a series of interviews this past weekend, Hamas leaders told WND during any 10-year truce period they would build a large Palestinian army and plan for the destruction of Israel.
Several recent public opinion polls showed the majority of Israelis now oppose a West Bank withdrawal. The leaders of Egypt and Jordan have expressed reservations about withdrawal plans, fearing terrorism can spill over into their respective countries.
You will note that there is no mention here of the possibility of expelling revenants. That's because the IDF cannot evacuate the revenants. The topography of Judea and Samaria is completely different. While revenants might willingly leave some of the less 'ideological settlements,' it is almost undoubtedly true that expelling revenants from places like Beit El, Ofra, Shilo, Kiryat Arab, etc. would lead to bloodshed among Israelis. If Olmert actually goes ahead with this lunacy, look for the revenants to form 'citizens' armies' and to rely on their own people for security. And look for lots more shooting between them and the 'Palestinians.'
"There were no negotiations regarding a West Bank withdrawal. This would go contrary to other things we have said in the recent past," said Olmert's spokesperson, Miri Eisin.
"Perhaps the officials talking to WorldNetDaily were referring to general expectations for movement in the Israeli-Palestinian arena," Eisin said.
But the European and Egyptian sources today stood by their statements that Israel agreed in principal to transfer security control to Abbas of most of the West Bank. The territory borders Jerusalem and is within rocket-firing range of Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport.
Israeli leaders previously have denied reports of pending withdrawals only to later carry them out. [In other words, they have lied to the electorate. CiJ] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, elected in 2001 on a platform against unilateral withdrawal, at first denied media reports Israel was planning to evacuate the Gaza Strip but later announced his Gaza withdrawal plan.
Olmert was elected prime minister on the platform of carrying out a withdrawal from the West Bank, but after this summer's Lebanon war, he has stated a West Bank withdrawal would not occur.
Olmert in August called the policy of unilateral withdrawal a "failure" and said it was "no longer relevant." But he can argue handing the West Bank to Abbas in an agreement is not unilateral. [Think of Bill Clinton saying "I did not have sex with that woman." It's the same level of argument. CiJ]
For those of you who still live overseas who want to try to change the situation, I have one piece of advice: Pack your bags and make aliya. That's the only chance you have of changing anything. I have met several people on this trip who cannot understand how Israel's politicians are willing to give the country away. If those people lived in Israel, it would make a huge difference.
Those of you who pay taxes in the United States will be pleased to hear that your tax dollars have gone to finance the major thoroughfare that goes through the village of Yaabid, which is near Jenin in northern Samaria. The street has been named "Saddam Hussein Street." After Saddam was executed in December, thousands of 'Palestinians' held a vigil on the street in his honor.
The Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida stated the street's dedication was meant to emphasize the "values of Arabness and Jihad, which [Saddam] represented."
But USAID held a ceremony in July 2005 marking its contributions of $402,000 for paving the Yaabid municipality's main street – now named after Saddam – as well nearly two miles of inner streets. The American agency also contributed to the reconstruction of the city's main entrance.
USAID regularly funds reconstruction efforts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, usually hiring local crews to carry out the construction.
USAID's office in Tel Aviv confirmed to WND it coordinated the Yaabid municipality's paving and reconstruction projects.
David Snider, a USAID spokesman, said his agency was not aware the street was renamed after Saddam.
"As always, USAID is fully compliant with all U.S. legislation and U.S. laws," Snider told WND.
Zacharias Zubeidi, leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [which belong to 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen's Fatah. CiJ] in Yaabid, told WND the city changed the name on the U.S.-funded street to show "Saddam Hussein is still alive."
"We will honor his memory until the American and Zionist occupation is driven from our land," Zubeidi said.
According to Palestinian Media Watch translations, after USAID funded road projects in Jenin in 2004, a central street there was named after the first Iraqi suicide bomber, who killed four American soldiers in Fallujah. The mayor of Jenin reportedly participated in an anti-American dedication ceremony in which speakers blessed the "resistance of the residents of Fallujah."
Also, a USAID-funded Palestinian sports center was named after Salef Khalef, operational head of the Black September terror organization, which was behind the killing of two U.S. diplomats in Sudan in 1973 and the massacre one year earlier of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich.
But just give them a statereichlet, and I am sure they will instantly love Americans and Israelis....
A bomb exploded late Monday night at the al-Arabiya office in Gaza. Al-Arabiya is a Saudi-sponsored cable television news network. Hamas has claimed responsibility.
It is widely believed that the Saudi-owned TV channel al-Arabiya was targeted over a report aired last week in which it was claimed that Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh cursed God.
"Even if God sets conditions for us, we will reject this," Haniyeh was heard saying in a news footage broadcast on al-Arabiya.
Hamas officials said Haniyeh's comments were taken out of contest, claiming he was quoting a Fatah official who had made similar remarks during an interview with Hizbullah's mouthpiece al-Manar TV.
They also claimed that al-Arabiya deliberately singled out the remark to slander Haniyeh instead of airing other parts of the conversation he was having with Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar.
Demands by the Hamas-led government that the Saudi broadcaster apologize for the report were shunned, prompting a wave of threats against al-Arabiya.
Hamas supporters refer to al-Arabiya TV as 'al-Ibriya', meaning 'the Hebraic' in Arabic instead of 'the Arab' (channel), accusing the news channel of promoting American and Israeli interests in the Middle East.
In case you're wondering, Fatah has made similar accusations against al-Jazeera, which is seen as supporting Hamas.
I know - let's give the 'Palestinians' a statereichlet and then they will stop blowing each other up. Then they can concentrate on blowing up Jews instead....
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 33 years and eight grandchildren. Three of our children are married and a fourth is engaged! 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