The ruling, based on laboratory tests, was presented during a scientific symposium on nuclear energy held in Lebanon on Monday. The symposium was aimed at informing the Lebanese public of lab tests carried out on more than 100 sites bombed during the war.
The weapons used by Israel, in particular cluster bombs which caused the injury and death of Lebanese civilians, have come under heavy criticism since the war.
The NEW TV Lebanese satellite station reported that the symposium was attended by representatives of several Arab and international delegations and organizations, as well as representatives of the Lebanese security organizations.
In November, a United Nations official said that a team carrying out an environmental assessment of Lebanon after the war confirmed that the Israeli military used artillery containing white phosphorous but found no evidence of depleted uranium.
At FrontPageMagazine.com, David Hornik recounts US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice's anger with 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen over the Mecca Accord at last week's pointless summit, and wonders what it will take for Rice (and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert) to realize that Abu Mazen is not the answer to the question of peace.
America is supposed to be fighting a War on Terror. Would it openly embrace as an ally someone who had worked in close cahoots for years with Bin Laden or Hassan Nasrallah? Would it expect such a person to behave peaceably and responsibly and then be shocked when he openly formed an alliance with other terrorists?
Whatever the extent of Rice’s frustration, it is not yet great enough for her to kick the Abbas-habit. She told the “traveling US press” that “both the U.S. and Israel want to deal with [Abbas’s administration] for as long as they can, in the hope that it will eventually bring about a change” in the Hamas-dominated government and legislature. Olmert, for his part, said “both he and his staff would keep meeting Abbas and his staff.”
One wonders what Abbas would have to do for Rice and Olmert finally to see him differently. Meanwhile, the ongoing Abbas-delusion is a large part of why a U.S. administration sworn to fight terror keeps encouraging the weakest tendencies in Israel, why the jihadist buildup in Gaza continues undisturbed, why Israel keeps living in hair-trigger peril with suicide bombings thwarted almost daily. Does this policy at least influence Washington’s “Arab allies” toward what it views as moderacy? Ask the Saudis.
Unfortunately, the answer is that there is probably nothing Abu Mazen can do that would make Rice and Olmert see him differently, unless, like Arafat, he is caught directly paying for terrorism. And even then, he would just be replaced as the "good guy" by one of his cronies just as he himself replaced Arafat after the Karine A weapons smuggling incident.
Joel Leyden reports that according to an Israeli security official, Iran's recent launch of a missile into space "illustrated a direct threat to both Europe's and US national security."
Hat Tip: Radical Ron
On February 25, Iran launched a missile reaching space. "Iran has successfully launched its first space missile made by Iranian scientists," the head of Iran's aerospace research center, Mohsen Bahrami, was quoted as saying. On Saturday, Iran Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Iran was planning to build a satellite and launcher.
"Iran has no plans to land a man on the moon," Col. Adam an Israeli security source told the INA. "The same technology is used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles. This Iran space launch is not a threat to Israel. The Iranians need not reach a space orbit to attack Israel, but such a high orbit would be needed to deliver a nuclear payload into Europe or the US."
"Take a look at the news media, you don't see a word about this launch today," said Adam. "Western governments were not prepared for Iran to have a nuclear delivery system up and running. Intel is hard to come by regarding Iran. It is very difficult to have real time Intel coming from Iran as it is difficult for operatives to penetrate Iranian society. Most of our Intel comes from external sources, and these sources are reactive, passive, not proactive."
But the West - including Israel - continues to delude itself that if only the sanctions were strong enough, Iran would change its mind:
"If we don't see severe economic sanctions coming from Europe in the next few weeks, we will witness a catastrophe," said a source at the Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The source would not give his name because he would lose his position, but the matter of urgency had him staring at this writer praying to get the message out. [Now there's a way not to encourage open discussion. CiJ]
"We have two options. The West can attack Iran which would provoke both Iran and Syria to respond with chemical weapons or we can place immediate and severe sanctions on Iran, thereby reducing their ability to create and use atomic weapons against the West. One should understand Iranian fundamental mentality. These people are not threatening the "infidels" of the West, they are promising to attack as soon as they have both the delivery and nuclear weapons capability."
Sorry folks, but Iran cannot be convinced to stop - it must be stopped. The question is, will anyone wake up and stop them before it's too late?
Eye on the UN reports that a report issued by the UN's "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967" John Dugard claims that the Jews (note - not Israel - the Jews) are seeking 'racial domination.'
The IDF inflicts serious bodily and mental harm on Palestinians...Palestinians throughout the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territory] are denied freedom of movement. Can it seriously be denied that the purpose of such action is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group (Jews) over another racial group (Palestinians) and systematically oppressing them?
Dugard's UN mandate is to demonize Israel. Palestinian human rights violations were deliberately omitted from the job description, first drafted by the UN Human Rights Commission in 1993 and continued by the "reformed" UN Human Rights Council. Dugard, a lawyer, not only accepted the one-sided mandate, he relished the opportunity to become an advocate of a one-state solution in the name of human rights. What Dugard fears most is not hate and the terrorism it fuels, but "Judaization" – the idea of a Jew living in claimed Arab land. Deliberately mirroring Nazi imagery, his report refers to Israel's security fence this way: "The Wall being built in East Jerusalem is an instrument of social engineering designed to achieve the Judaization of Jerusalem..."
The "Judaization" problem stands side-by-side with this UN champion of the Hamas government. According to Dugard, Israel has no right to refuse to transfer funds to the Hamas government. Why? "Predictably, Israel justifies its action on security grounds, but the real reason seems to be a determination to effect a regime change." A look at the Hamas Charter might help determine the wisdom of regime change: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it...There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad..." But according to this UN expert the problem is not a government dedicated to killing Jews, but the Jews themselves.
The primary tool of the UN's point-man for whipping up modern-day anti-semitism is to pillory the Jew as racist extraordinaire. Israel is the evil equivalent to apartheid South Africa. Referring to apartheid 24 times in his report, he proclaims: "Israel's laws and practices in the OPT certainly resemble aspects of apartheid." He fails to mention, predictably, that one-fifth of Israel's population is Arab – citizens who vote and hold seats in the Israeli parliament – while Arab countries are Judenrein. And Israel is the apartheid state?
But what really matters is Bayefsky's bottom line:
American tax dollars were used to pay for the Dugard report and its dissemination worldwide by the UN. Isn't it about time the tap was turned off?
She's right of course. It is time. With a Republican President in power who does not have to face re-election, now is the time to push to shut the UN off.
Peretz met with Friedmann on Monday and told him that Labor would vigorously oppose the bill, which he said violated a clause in the coalition agreement ensuring the maintenance of the status quo on the power of the courts.
"The bill is against the defense minister's outlook," Peretz's spokesman said. "Coalition crises are things that develop. Whether this will lead to one is a matter of speculation."
Yes, of course Peretz opposes the bill. As the head of the Histadrut General Labor Federation (think the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters and the Mafia rolled into one organization), Peretz and his predecessors and successors have routinely shut down the entire country with 'general strikes' that have been upheld by the 'Supreme Court.' On the other hand, when the revenants tried to block a highway intersection, the Court allowed the police to go bash their heads in (literally).
But Peretz is considered such a joke these days that even his own party does not take him seriously:
Other Labor ministers also said they opposed the bill, but they criticized Peretz for repeatedly issuing empty threats.
You expect anything but empty threats from a windbag?
There are no anti-Semites Neturei Karta doesn't love
Hot off kissing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinadinnerjacket in Tehran, Neturei Karta is engaging in activities a bit closer to home here in Israel. Yesterday, Neturei Karta's local leader, Israel Hirsch (who did not go to Tehran) went to visit the protest test of the Islamic Movement - Northern Front's leader Sheikh Raed Sallah. Sallah is 'protesting' the fact that Israel is trying to prevent the ramp leading up to the Mughrabi gate entrance to the Temple Mount from collapsing by building a new ramp, which requires excavations first. Hirsch arrived in the Wadi Joz neighborhood of Jerusalem - which is within walking distance of Hirsch's home (and mine for that matter, although I would have a longer walk) - to visit Sallah with five other Neturei Karta members, continuing their warped 'Judaism' which has no basis in Judaism's tenets. It seems that for Neturei Karta, anyone who wants to kill Jews in Israel is a friend.
During the visit, Israel Hirsch, from the strictly Orthodox Mea Sheraim neighborhood, gave a rallying speech expressing his support for Salah, who also spoke at the meeting.
Earlier this month Salah was arrested at the Mugrabi excavation site after forcibly breaking through the police line guarding the area along with several of his followers. A court slapped him with a restraining order and he has since maintained the required 150 meter (500 feet) distance from the walls of the Old City.
"The Zionists have no right to change Jerusalem," Hirsch told Ynet on Tuesday. He also said that Salah and his followers greeted the Neturei Karta members "with joy and warmth."
Read the whole thing. The only inaccuracy in the full article is that Satmar had disowned Neturei Karta long before December.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting this evening that six 'Israeli Arabs' have been arrested for a series of gang rapes committed against Jewish women and girls in northern Israel out of 'revenge' for IDF actions in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The rapists are all from the Galilee town of Bir al-Maksur, a Beduin village near the Hamovil Junction.
"We are raping Jews because of what the IDF is doing to the Palestinians in the territories," one of the six suspects told investigators from the Northern District Central Investigative Unit (CIU) during questioning. During their questioning and their brief appearance at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court Tuesday, none of the four main suspects indicated that they felt remorse for their actions.
Police said they were aware of four attacks carried out by the gang, but they believed there were probably other incidents that had gone unreported by the victims.
In all four cases, police said, the rapists' modus operandi were strikingly similar - all of the attacks were directed against young women who were waiting at bus stops or designated hitchhiking points in the western Galilee and the Haifa area.
In all of the cases, the attackers forced their victim into a car and drove together with the victim to an isolated spot, where they raped her.
Residents of the village expressed 'shock and horror' over the crimes:
Hasan Gadir, a village leader, said he called an urgent meeting with all northern local council representatives to be held Wednesday, in order to decide how to address the issue.
"We are shocked and horrified," he said. "This was a dark day for all of us and we cannot take its implications seriously enough. Our tribe is known for its good temper and spirit, and we denounce those youths' actions. We will never accept this sort of behavior. For us, this is worse than a murder."
Gadir said he spent the day Tuesday with Cmdr. Dan Ronen, Northern District Police chief, and at the detention center, where he met with the suspects and their parents.
"I don't know the suspects personally but I know their parents. They are all from good families, but none of us can even think why and how it happened," he said. "We are going to examine the cases more deeply and draw conclusions, so that this will never happen again. I took it personally and it made me sad and shocked. This village has made me proud in the past, and I hope I will be proud of it again."
I could make some suggestions as to how and why it happened. Look at the 'Palestinian' media for starters.
But what I really wondered about is if it's okay in Islam to murder the infidel Jews, and Muslims get seventy-two virgins as a reward for doing so, is it okay to rape infidel Jews? You all probably can guess the answer.
What does rape, then, have to do with these religious conflicts? Unfortunately, everything. The Islamic legal manual ‘Umdat al-Salik, which carries the endorsement of Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, stipulates: “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.” Why? So that they are free to become the concubines of their captors. The Qur’an permits Muslim men to have intercourse with their wives and their slave girls: “Forbidden to you are ... married women, except those whom you own as slaves” (Sura 4:23-24).
After one successful battle, Muhammad tells his men, “Go and take any slave girl.” He took one for himself also. After the notorious massacre of the Jewish Qurayzah tribe, he did it again. According to his earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad “went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for [the men of Banu Qurayza] and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches.” After killing “600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900,” the Prophet of Islam took one of the widows he had just made, Rayhana bint Amr, as another concubine.
Emerging victorious in another battle, according to a generally accepted Islamic tradition, Muhammad’s men present him with an ethical question: “We took women captives, and we wanted to do ‘azl [coitus interruptus] with them.” Muhammad told them: “It is better that you should not do it, for Allah has written whom He is going to create till the Day of Resurrection.’” When Muhammad says “it is better that you should not do it,” he’s referring to coitus interruptus, not to raping their captives. He takes that for granted.
They don't call it the religion of piece by piece for nothing. And now we can add religion of rape to its calling card.
The 'Palestinians' have long had a problem accepting that the Holy Temple existed on the Temple Mount two thousand years ago. By failing to accept the Temple's existence, the 'Palestinians' have denied much of the history of both Judaism and Christianity.
Now, another part of Jewish history is being denied. But the deniers this time are not the 'Palestinians.' The deniers are the Egyptians, with whom Israel has a 'peace treaty' and to whom the United States annually provides more than $2 billion in foreign assistance. Egypt's Supreme Council of the Antiquities is denying that Jewish slaves built the pyramids.
"It is well known that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids; they regarded these structures as a national project for ancient Egypt," said Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Hawass filed an official complaint to the Egyptian attorney general of Egypt against a Cairo high school for teaching the students that it was the Israelites who built the pyramids.
Hawass, prominent figure in Egyptian culture and around the Arab world, criticized the school curriculum for "insisting that the Jews built the pyramids and highlighting the fact that those who refused to partake in the building were physically tortured."
I suppose they now also deny that Jews were ever slaves in Egypt - a fact documented by the Bible and by the Talmud. But apparently, this debate has been going on full force for the last thirty years since the first official Israeli delegation visited Egypt in 1977:
The longstanding debate over who built the five pyramids of Giza, West of Cairo, was rekindled at the first official visit of an Israeli delegation to Egypt, in 1977.
"We built the pyramids," said the late Prime Minster Menahem Begin at the National Museum in Cairo. He spurred fury among Egyptian historians and archeologists. Subsequently, the Egyptian press was full of protest articles.
YNet also notes that the Egyptians object to a plan by a group of American Rabbis to renovate Jewish historical and religious sites in Egypt, including synagogues and cemeteries.
I was in Egypt in 1978 shortly after Camp David was signed and while Anwar Sadat was still alive (probably the only time in recent history that it was relatively safe for a Jew to go to Egypt). Every time we asked to see a Jewish site, our 'guides' tried to avoid it. But we did get them to take us to the Rambam's synagogue outside of Cairo (we had to drive through several slums to get there and spent but a few minutes inside), to the modern synagogue in the center of the city (which was guarded by two soldiers with machine guns with machetes on the end, and which was open only on the Sabbath and holidays) and to a synagogue in Alexandria (which we saw only from a distance). I have pictures of these sites, but they are old color prints - long before the days of digital. The Egyptians have a real problem with having Jews in their midst. This is 'peace'?
One person in history saved tens of millions of people from starvation and homelessness, the Great Humanitarian, US President Herbert Hoover. He was also known as the Great Engineer and had an engineering plan to relieve the plight of the Palestinian Arabs and also benefit Iraq. Hoover's plan called for an extensive damming and irrigation program for Iraq to create adequate arable land for Palestinian settlement -- for their good, and Iraq's.
His 1945 plan is even more relevant today: Palestinians' current economic and security state is desperate. A November 2004 survey done in cooperation with the reputable Palestine Center for Public Opinion showed that 71% of West Bank Palestinians would emigrate with certain financial inducements and 40 % have considered emigrating permanently even without such inducements. A Birzeit University survey conducted by veteran pollster Nader Said shows that in September 2006, over 50% of young Palestinian men are willing to relocate.
Hoover's plan would guarantee a better life for the Palestinians and also help Iraq, since Palestinians excel in agriculture and construction. It would provide the relocated Palestinians good homes, respectable income, good education for the children, and security.
Pulitzer Prize winning author and political analyst Leslie Gelb and the Council of Foreign Relations maintain that a three-state solution is needed to provide this security. Iraq must first be divided in three: Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite. The necessary population transfers have already begun with the internally displaced Iraqis who left their homes in hostile areas for safer abodes. Once the border lines are drawn on the map, these borders should be made impregnable to insurgent passage, much as the border fence the Saudis are constructing along their own border with Iraq. Presidential hopeful Joseph Biden and other US Congressman agree with CFR's recommendations: divide Iraq and bring our troops home.
The Democrats will be happy seeing their desired withdrawal, likewise the homebound American troops and their families. Since Hoover was the spokesman for Republican Party principles for much of the 20th century, the Republicans should be happy implementing his plan, humanitarian and -- at the same time -- face-saving.
Most importantly, Iraqis and Palestinians will be happy.
New Justice Minister seeks to limit Supreme Court power to nullify laws
New Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann announced yesterday (Sunday) that he will introduce a law in the Knesset that will seek to limit the Supreme Court's power to use the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity and the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation to nullify laws passed by the Knesset. Israel has no constitution, and the Supreme Court under former Chief Justice Aharon Barak invented the right to nullify Knesset legislation under these two "basic laws" that require supermajorities for repeal, but that were in fact passed with only small numbers of MK's present (32-21 and 23-0 respectively; the Knesset has 120 members). The "basic laws" were originally intended to form the foundation for a constitution, but that has not happened.
According to the Jerusalem Post, two bills have already been prepared to reduce the Court's unfettered discretion to annul Knesset legislation. One, by Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz (who actually supports the Court's power to nullify laws) would restrict the Court's ability to do nullify laws to cases heard by at least nine of the Court's nineteen justices. The other, by Israel Beiteinu MK and new Minister of Tourism Estherina Tartman, would void the Court's power to annul legislation. Under the Israeli system, the Knesset is purported to be the supreme law of the land, unlike the American system (and there's a reason why I'm using the American system - you'll see in a minute) where there is a balance of power between three co-equal branches, each of which has certain rights and powers and none of which is made supreme to the others.
Very few pundits have commented on these bills yet - either in the mainstream media or in the blogosphere. One who has is Jewlicious, whose comment made it into the Jerusalem Post's blogcentral. She gives an accounting of the current corruption in Israel, which is well worth reading and with which I mostly agree (I disagree with her accusation that Justice Minister Friedmann is acting out of a personal vendetta against the Court because of an unnamed protege who was not elevated to it (Ruth Gavison?)). But I cannot agree with her summary:
Once upon a time there was Zionism and it drove the leadership to act. While that remains true for a few, most politicians have become cynical caricatures of their predecessors. In fact, it is sadly becoming true that the Israeli government is becoming a corrupt caricature of a functioning democracy, if corruption is a barometer - more like a banana republic. Fortunately, there remain some people who are able and willing to investigate and challenge Israel's leaders, but the public cannot trust that its leadership will care about the welfare of the state instead of their own welfare. Even the IDF is beginning to stink a little and everyone is just hoping that the new chief of staff will be able to clean house and change the established and institutionalized weak spots.
It is to these folks that Daniel Friedmann wishes to leave the truly important decisions about Israeli society. Instead of leaving the final recourse regarding the fairness of laws to justices, who may not adhere to rules of impartiality perfectly, but at least try, and are immune from many of the pressures that exist for the politicians regularly, this man with the personal ax to grind, has determined that those people who have proven themselves corrupt, indecisive, ideologically inconsistent, opportunistic, swayed by influence and money and who are not even directly elected so that their actions face no serious consequence if they know how to play the game within their own party...that these people should be the first and last stop for all laws of the land. He believes that these people should decide instead of impartial jurists who have few such outside influences.
In the United States, the Supreme Court and the judiciary stand equal to the two other branches of government. It would be hard to claim that the US Supreme Court isn't independent and that its decisions regarding the constitutionality of laws aren't extraordinarily important and valued within society. It would also be hard to argue that the very finest legal minds are always the ones who make it to this court, since, as we all know, politics and timing play a critical role in who gets picked and who makes it in. Still, the importance of this institution is incalculable and I would argue that Israel's Supreme Court is no less important. Perhaps, in some ways, in light of the corruption and party system in Israeli politics, it is even more important to the stability and honor of Israeli democracy for it stands as the last line of defense for those who are not represented in the mainstream or who do not have power brokers who can negotiate with the politicians on their behalf. To those people and organizations, there is one address however, where they will receive a hearing and a fair ruling: Israel's Supreme Court.
Let's hope Daniel Friedmann fails in his attempt to change the system. I've seen an article in the Jerusalem Post covering this topic, although I'm sure others exist.
Allow me to list the reasons why any comparison of the Israeli Supreme Court with the Supreme Court of the United States fails miserably, and why I hope Friedmann will succeed in changing the system:
1. To be selected as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, one must be nominated by the President and confirmed by a two thirds majority of the Senate. Those are two strong checks against cronyism and poor legal scholarship. Remember Robert Bork (who has actually written a book that is critical of the manner in which Israeli Supreme Court justices are selected)? Clement Haynsworth? G. Harold Carswell?
Currently, new justices are chosen by a nine-member panel consisting of two ministers, two Knesset members (one coalition and one opposition), two Bar Association representatives and three sitting justices, including the court president. This structure would inevitably let the justices dominate the process even without the ironclad tradition whereby other panel members defer to them: The justices, chosen by the court president, consistently follow his lead; the elected officials are divided, coalition-opposition; and the Bar representatives are reluctant to antagonize justices who will decide their future cases.
The result is that never has a new justice been chosen over the sitting justices' objections, and only rarely have the justices' candidates been rejected.
2. In both the US and Israel, the Chief Justice sets the Court's agenda. But in the US, the Chief Justice has to go through the confirmation process I noted in item 1 (even if he is already a member of the Court!), while in Israel, the most senior justice on the Court automatically becomes the Chief Justice. This means that in Israel, the same cabal can impose its will upon the Court and the country for years to come, which is exactly what former Chief Justice Barak attempted to do.
3. In the United States, two key legal concepts called standing and justiciability are used to restrict the Court's ability to make laws. The concept of standing means that one may only bring a case before the Court if one is directly affected by it. To put that question into practical terms, it would mean that every time 'Peace Now' wanted to challenge a 'settlement' location as being on Arab land, it would need to find the Arab who claims ownership to the land and make him the plaintiff. Today, in Israel, no standing is required.
Justiciability says that there are certain cases (generally 'political questions') that the Court won't touch because they were within the purview of a different branch of the government. For example, earlier this year the Court took upon itself to pass judgment on whether the Winograd Commission was an appropriate forum to examine the failures of last summer's war. But the Court had no business examining the question at all without first concluding - as it did not - that the government had abused its discretion under the law establishing commissions of inquiry by not establishing one. In the United States, that case would have been barred at the courthouse door - the petition for certiorari (the petition that is filed with the US Supreme Court asking for a hearing) would have been denied.
The results of abolishing standing and justiciability have gotten the court involved in the following clearly political cases:
AND, JUST as Barak intended, the court is indeed now deciding virtually every major issue. It is determining the route of the separation fence, which may well define Israel's future borders; dictating immigration and citizenship policies (both by defining who is a Jew, and thereby entitled to automatic citizenship, and via various cases dealing with naturalization); setting budgetary priorities (in one pending case, it has already asserted the right to set a minimum level for government welfare payments; in another, it asserted the right to expand national health insurance coverage); intervening in sensitive family matters (from recognition of gay couples to criminalizing spanking); and even dictating wartime military tactics (with regard to both specific operations, such as one in Rafah in May 2004, and general policies, as in a pending petition against targeted killings of terrorists).
In every one of those cases, under the American system, the Court would only have the right to determine whether the government abused its discretion or violated someone's rights (and if it violated those rights, what the compensation ought to be). The Court cannot, for example, determine the route of the fence currently being constructed between the United States and Mexico. But in Israel, the Supreme Court decided the route of the security fence! Who made them the arbiter of our security? Who declared them to be military experts?
The Winograd Commission decision highlights another major problem with the Israeli Supreme Court. It is one of the rare cases in which there was a dissent.
4. There are very few significant dissents in Israeli Supreme Court decisions. As Yale-trained lawyer Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in the Jerusalem Post in 2001:
Before Americans embrace the efficiency of this system – the judicial equivalent of Mussolini’s getting the trains to run on time – however, they should consider the system’s drawbacks. As one would expect, it has resulted in a Court remarkable in its ideological uniformity. The titanic struggles between rival judicial philosophies that characterize American Supreme Court history – e.g., Hugo Black vs. Felix Frankfurter – are absent from Israel. There is not one justice on the Israeli Supreme Court who serves as a mediating influence on Justice Barak’s jurisprudence, and it is rare for a decision of major impact in Israel to be decided by a narrowly divided Court.
Barak’s dominance of the judicial selection process chills dissent throughout the legal system. Any lower court judge, academic, or attorney-general who aspires to judicial advancement knows that his or her fate is in Barak’s hands. Former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin found out to his surprise that what leading academics, practitioners, and judges told him in private about various court reforms proposed by Barak differed sharply from what they were willing to say in public.
Jewlicious lauds what she claims to be the Israeli Supreme Court's impartiality and decries the alleged political influence on the United States Supreme Court. But a court is by definition a political actor. Its justices' values must reflect society's values across the entire - or almost the entire - spectrum. The vicissitudes of political pressure ensure that a court does not tilt too far one way or the other. By contrast, Israel's Supreme Court has become a monolith whose judges act alike, think alike and rule alike. They protect some minorities but not others. Large segments of Israeli society have no voice in the Supreme Court. That is a recipe for true corruption. It is a recipe for tyranny.
Israel's Supreme Court's unfettered power to nullify laws, combined with a selection process that produces a single way of thinking, has led to an unchecked judicial tyranny over Israeli society. At least until the selection process can be reformed and a more balanced court that better reflects the range of values in Israeli society can be appointed, the Supreme Court should not have the right to overrule laws passed by the Knesset.
Brit Zedek v'Shalom defends hate-filled PA textbooks
At Palestinian Media Watch, Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook report that according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Brit Zedek v'Shalom - Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace is defending the new 12th grade textbooks published by the 'Palestinian Authority as encouraging "a peaceful resolution of the conflict," and as being "better than those used in most of the Arab world because they 'endorse democracy.'
Marcus and Crook tell us what those textbooks really say:
As to when there will be peace with Israel? Never, according to the schoolbooks: "[Palestine's] residents are in a constant struggle with their enemies, and they are found in Ribat until Resurrection Day."
Israel's right to exist is denied and Israel's founding is called a theft: "Palestine's war ended with a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people from their cities, their villages, their lands and their houses, and established the State of Israel" (Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, grade 12, p. 104). Israel is called: "the Zionist entity," and "Zionist Enemy." Israel's existence since 1948 is an "occupation" (ibid pp. 104, 122).
The conflict will eventually end -- not with peace, but with Israel's destruction, effected by Palestinians of all ages and abilities: "Palestine will be liberated by its men, its women, its young and its elderly" (Arabic Language and the Science of Language, grade 12, p. 44).
THE BOOKS anticipate this future destruction of Israel by painting a picture for the Palestinian child of a world in which Israel already does not exist. The place of Israel is marked as "Palestine" on all maps, and "Palestine" is defined as a dawla -- the Arabic word for "state," not a geographical region.
This "state" is said to have water access to both the Mediterranean and the Red seas, a situation possible only in a world without Israel. (Physical Geography and Human Geography, grade 12, p. 105) Likewise, the size of "Palestine," the "state," is said to be more than 10,000 sq. km., a situation possible only if Israel does not exist, since the West Bank and Gaza Strip together total only 6,220 sq. km.
Because Israel has no right to exist, and must be fought and destroyed for Islam, violence and terror against Israel since its founding are justified and glorified as muqawama, resistance: "The tragedy of Palestine of 1948... and afterward the muqawama in which the inhabitants carried acts of most glorious heroism and sacrifice" (Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Commentary, grade 12 p. 105).
THE WORLD cringed in horror at the Iranian Holocaust denial conference. But the new PA schoolbooks teach World War II without the Holocaust. There are extensive details about the history of the war, lessons about the Nazi "race theory" and even mention of "an international court to bring to trial the senior Nazi leaders as war criminals." (The History of the Arabs and the World in the 20th Century, grade 12, p. 46). However, the books fail to mention why the Nazis were on trial, or that their "race theory" involved elimination of Jews and other minorities.
It is clear that the newest PA schoolbooks are a tragic recipe for incessant war. Israel is presented as an illegitimate enemy to be hated, fought and destroyed. Even the most well-meaning student is left with no justification or religious option to accept Israel as a neighbor to live beside in peace.
US Senator Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that this curriculum, together with PA media targeting children, "basically, profoundly poisons the mind of these children" and that these books are "an indoctrination," not an education.
But an American Jewish group, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom-Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace has rushed to defend these hate-filled schoolbooks. As reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the group wrote Clinton urging her to "re-examine claims that the Palestinian schoolbooks indoctrinate hate." The group argued that the books encourage "a peaceful resolution of the conflict," and are better than those used in most of the Arab world because they "endorse democracy."
And these people aren't even the left wing of the Jewish community since they purport to favor a 'two-state solution'....
Update 2:45 AM
Richard Landes at The Augean Stables implicitly accuses Brit Zedek v'Shalom of coloring their view of the 'Palestinian' textbooks to suit their own agenda. I could hardly agree more.
Jihad Watch points out that today is the 14th anniversary of the first World Trade Center attack in which six people were murdered and more than 100 were wounded.
Over eight years later, Islamic jihadists brought down those same Towers.
One might have been forgiven for thinking, in the interim between February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001, that the problem of "terrorism" was under control, and that the 1993 strike was a lucky hit that would not be repeated.
These days, likewise, I am frequently asked in radio interviews whether I think there is really a problem with terrorism on American soil, since, after all, there has not been a terrorist attack here since September 11. Well, this has not been for want of trying, as the archives here abundantly illustrate. But what's more, we should note that those who grew complacent between 1993 and 2001 were wrong to do so, and so are those who have grown complacent now.
Robert might have gone further in the opposite direction as well, to point out that El-Sayeed Nuseir, one of the terrorists convicted in the first World Trade Center attack, murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D in 1991. If Rabbi Kahane's murder had not been ignored because of the victim's identity, both World Trade Center attacks might have been avoided.
A Jewish Israeli was murdered yesterday near his home in Bat Ayin in the Etzion bloc. 42-year old Erez Levanon had gone walking in a remote area to meditate - a common activity for his Breslov Hassidic sect - when he was confronted and stabbed by 'Palestinian' terrorists sometime around 6:00 PM yesterday (sunset here is around 5:40 these days). His body was found late last night.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. Sunday, the victim was reported missing by a friend who was waiting to travel with him to Tel Aviv. Security forces found the Israeli's body later that night in a wood just outside the gate of his hometown of Bat Ayin. He was pronounced dead at the scene, having been stabbed and possibly attacked with an axe. The victim's car was stolen by the killers and used in their flight from the scene of the attack.
The victim was later identified as 42-year-old Erez Levanon of Bat Ayin. He was married and the father of three children. It is assumed that he went off by himself Sunday evening near his home to meditate in solitude, as is the custom of those affiliated with the Breslov Chassidic sect. Levanon was the sexton of the Breslov synagogue in Bat Ayin.
Eliyahu Mendelovitch, a neighbor of the victim who participated in the search and retrieval of Levanon's body, told Israel National News that the murder took place within what is defined as the municipal boundary of Bat Ayin, approximately 400 meters from the last house of the town. According to Mendelovitch, who was in the past a member of the Bat Ayin civilian security unit, the killers most likely waited in ambush for their victim, as Levanon regularly went into the same spot in the woods at the same hour every day to meditate.
The mainstream media's reaction to the murder has been to try to disparage Levanon by dismissing him as a 'settler' or by attempting to locate Bat Ayin next to Hebron (it's a good twenty minutes away by car and Levanon was murdered within walking distance of his home). In the minds of Israel's leftists 'settlers' are a lesser category of humans and those who live in Hebron are the worst 'settlers' of all. (Those of you who have been readers for a while know that I don't use the term 'settlers' because of its negative context among Israelis). As of a few hours ago, Haaretz was still reporting that his family did not want Levanon's identity revealed. It's much easier to forget about a victim who does not have an identity.
Gush Etzion Regional Council President Shaul Goldstein told Arutz Sheva what the mainstream media does not want to hear:
In reaction to the news of the murder, Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, attacked the government policy of removing checkpoints in Judea and Samaria. He said that the murder should force officials to reevaluate the policy of removing checkpoints as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority. The fact that checkpoints were removed, according to Goldstein, is what allowed Levanon's killer or killers to arrive in the area, and to escape quickly after committing the murder.
Yes, but you can't really 'reevaluate' something honestly when your mind is made up regardless of the consequences. And besides, Levanon was 'only a settler' in the mind of the NIMBY-afflicted Israelis of Tel Aviv.
Update 6:45 PM
Two 'Palestinians' from the nearby village of Beit Omar have been arrested and charged with Levanon's murder.
The two suspects were identified as Khader Abu Daya and Moussa Khalil.
Following up on the lead, security forces raided the building and found the suspects. They were arrested and transferred to Shin Bet custody for interrogation.
According to defense establishment estimates, no official Palestinian organization was behind the attack, which was initiated by the two suspects.
In their interrogation, the two confessed to carrying out the murder, which they said was planned earlier, including patrols of the area. On the day of the attack, the two left their village in possession of knives, and after spotting Levanon they ambushed him and stabbed him to death for nationalistic motives.
Pamela at Atlas Shrugs has also posted a comment about this story.
The Times of London reports this morning that Hezbullah has set up a new stronghold on land just north of where UNIFIL forces are located that has been purchased for it by Shiite 'businessman' Ali Tajiddine. Because this is taking place just north of the area that UNIFIL patrols, UNIFIL is ignoring the buildup:
“There have been no instances of attempts to smuggle weapons into the area,” said Milos Strugar, Unifil’s senior adviser, adding that no armed fighters had been seen since September. Instead, Hezbollah’s fighters are preparing a new system of fortifications and expanding old positions in the mountains on the northern bank of the Litani. Residents say that the activity has increased lately, and peacekeepers confirm this. “We can see them building new positions. There’s a lot of trucks coming into the area as well,” a Unifil officer said.
The area being used is a rugged, mountainous area just north of the Litani River, about 25 miles north of Israel's border with Lebanon. Hezbullah has brought long-range rockets to the area, parts of which it also used for rocket fire in last summer's war:
A veteran Hezbollah fighter told The Times that long-range rockets were fired at Israel during the last clash from underground platforms in the surrounding hills. A Western diplomat said: “We have evidence to support their presence there. It seems to be an expansion of what was there before the war.”
Hezbollah readily admits that it is rearming. Three weeks ago a lorry loaded with rockets and mortars was stopped by Lebanese customs police on the edge of Beirut. Hezbollah said that the weapons were intended for its military wing and asked for their return. The Lebanese minister of defence said they would be handed to the Lebanese army. This month Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said that weapons were being transported to “the front” in south Lebanon. “We have weapons of all kinds and quantities, as many as you want. We don’t fight our enemy with swords made of wood,” he said.
And so, as I have predicted several times in the past year, UNIFIL has become a group of human shields. Indeed, it is a much more prestigious - and dangerous for Israel - group of human shields than any 'Lebanese civilians' could ever be. After all, Lebanese civilians don't threaten to shoot down Israeli planes.
Hezbullah will likely initiate a war with Israel as soon as the weather gets warm, and for Israel to try to knock Hezbullah out, it will need to go over or through UNIFIL forces. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah couldn't wish for a better scenario.
Meanwhile, here in Israel, with the exception of IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the entire failed leadership from last summer remains in place. Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert continues to play his fiddle, Defenseless 'defense minister' AmirComrade Peretz has shown us how blind he really is, and Foreign Minister TzippiFeigele Livni continues to pretend that she is a diplomat. And Israel continues to burn.
Hamas claims to be broke as a result of the worldwide boycott that has denied it financial assistance since it was elected to govern the 'Palestinian Authority' in January 2006. But that hasn't stopped it from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade its Internet sites and television stations according to a report at Israel National News.
Hamas media feature anti-Israeli incitement as well as propaganda against the rival Fatah faction.
More than 20 sites in eight languages operate, the English site has been upgraded and a new satellite channel operates 24 hours a day.
Currently, the EU focus is on the tiny Jewish community of Hebron, about 500 Jews who live among 80,000 Muslims. The EU has sent at least seven German intelligence agents to gather information on the Jewish community to determine whether they could be evicted over the next two years.
The Germans have been operating under the cover of diplomats and were working with anti-Israeli activists who have worked to foment Arab-Jewish violence in Hebron. The intelligence agents were said to be working in coordination with the CIA, which has also intensified monitoring of Hebron.
This is as good a time as any to tell you all that the one and only Pamela Geller, who is likely the most passionate blogger in the entire blogosphere, has invited me to become a guest author at Maverick News Media, and I have accepted. You will be able to see me posting there soon!
Pajamas Media has a fascinating interview by Michael Totten with Michael Oren about Oren's new book, Power, faith and fantasy in the Middle East. The book is a fascinating recap of the history of United States policy in the Middle East going back to the founding fathers, and the interview, which discusses the book (which Oren is now in the US promoting) is full of fascinating tidbits that I never knew and I'm sure most of you never knew either. Here's a sample:
MJT: So tell us, Michael, why does America’s involvement in the Middle East 200 years ago matter today? What does it have to do with September 11 and Iraq?
Oren: Well it matters, Michael, because many of the same issues that Americans are facing today in the Middle East were confronted by America’s founding fathers – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington. For example, they had to confront the issue of state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. They had to face a threat to the United States, and decide whether to generate military power and then project that power thousands of miles from the United States. They had to decide whether to involve the United States in an open-ended and rather expensive bloody war in the Middle East. This was, of course, the Barbary War, America’s first overseas military engagement and America’s longest overseas military engagement. It lasted from 1783 to 1815. During the course of this engagement, as my book shows, the United States was confronting a jihadist state-sponsored terrorist network that was taking Americans hostage in the Middle East. It’s very similar to what is going on today.
MJT: You write that the American government was paying these North African states, bribing them basically, to stop taking our ships and enslaving our civilians; paying at the rate 20 percent of the federal budget at one point?
Oren: The Adams Administration in 1790s was paying about 20 percent of its federal revenues in bribery to the Middle Eastern pirates. Thomas Jefferson was from the opposing school. He said that the more you paid off the pirates the more bribery they would demand. Jefferson said that any treaty signed with any individual pirate ruler – whether they be from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, or Libya – that treaty would only be good as long as the ruler’s life.
We can see how American leaders later on in American history didn’t heed Jefferson’s advice. Take Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He sold Iran arms in an attempt to induce the Iranians to kidnap fewer Americans in Lebanon. He basically violated Thomas Jefferson’s first rule in the Barbary Wars.
MJT: Do you think there’s a similarity with the United States paying the Egyptian government 2 billion dollars a year? Some say this is a way of preserving Egypt’s cold peace with Israel.
Oren: It’s more to keep the Egyptian government, Hosni Mubarak, in power. There’s a very large Muslim extremist Brotherhood in Egypt that is a contender for power. It hates the government, it hates America, it certainly hates Israel. They hope that by giving Egypt this money – and Egypt is a Third World country, this money is needed literally to buy bread – they can keep Mubarak in power. One of the benefits of keeping Mubarak in power is the maintenance of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, but that’s not the only benefit.
MJT: You wrote about how Americans 200 years ago were thinking of the United States as their own Zion and comparing themselves to the Israelites. This long predates the founding of the state of Israel. This idea is much older than [founder of the Zionist movement] Theodore Herzl.
Oren: Much older. This goes back to the time of the Puritans, to the 17th Century. The Puritans had appropriated the biblical narrative. They saw themselves as the new Israel. They had escaped bondage in England, in Egypt, you know? They crossed the Atlantic Ocean, which was their Sinai. They inherited a promised land, which was the New World. They gave one thousand biblical names to their cities and towns. They gave biblical names to their sons and daughters. They made Hebrew a required language at their universities. James Madison was a Hebrew major.
As a result Americans felt a particular kinship with the old Jews, as though they were sort of cousins. They felt a very strong attachment to the old promised land of Palestine. And they concluded that as good Christians and good Americans it was incumbent on them to help God fulfill his biblical promises to the Jews to rescue them from exile and to restore them to the promised land. This was the notion of Restorationism. It was very common in colonial America well into the 19th Century and even into the 20th Century. And it’s the origin of today’s Evangelical support for Israel.
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky said people were interested in the houses as an investment and as a possible home for themselves, ``as well as to make a public statement that there are Jews in the world who believe, want to send a message that, the land belongs to us, to the Jewish people, and we make that statement without any shame, any hesitation.''
Aliza Herbst, a representative from Amana, said the company was turning to North American Jews to buy homes so it can rent them out to young Israeli families who want to move into the West Bank, but can't afford to build.
One person who left the Teaneck event with plans on buying was Jack Forgash, 60, of Teaneck, who said he would see the purchase not only as an investment.
``I would consider it generosity, charity, a form of giving somebody a chance to live in a house, not be homeless,'' said Forgash, who described himself as a business executive.
``I don't see a problem with Jews living there because I recognize the fact that over a million Arabs are living in Israel proper, and they came to be happy with their lives,'' Forgash said.
But the media chose to focus on the protesters:
Opposition groups, however, contend that increased settlement damages efforts to create a Palestinian state, a goal backed by the U.S. government.
``Every settler who is added to the West Bank makes the realization of President Bush's vision of a two-state solution more difficult,'' Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, the sister organization of Israel's largest peace group, Peace Now, said last week.
Aaron Levitt, a member of Jews Against the Occupation, said the sale was deliberately inflaming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
``The enemies of the U.S. are able to use the Israeli occupation as a rallying cry,'' the 37-year-old Queens, N.Y., resident said as he took a break from protesting in a crowd of about 25 people. [When is 25 people a 'crowd'? When they have gathered to protest against Israel of course! CiJ].
Samer Khalaf, a member of the New Jersey Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee who was also protesting, said his group wants to make sure ``discrimination doesn't rear its ugly head in New Jersey.''
``This country, decades ago, got away from selling land to someone based on their religion, ethnicity or race. That's essentially what's going on,'' the 39-year-old Paramus attorney said, adding that his group also wants to discount the argument that the land can be sold because it is not occupied.
An Israeli entry called 'West Bank Story' is one of five finalists in the "best Short Film - Live Action" category at the Oscars tonight in Los Angeles. The film sounds like a humorous but hopelessly naive view of the situation here:
West Bank Story, one of five nominees for best Short Film - Live Action, is 21 minutes long and taglined "A little singing, a little dancing, a lot of hummus." The title is a riff on Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, which is a musical takeoff on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In this case, though, the confrontation is between competing West Bank falafel stands, the Israeli Kosher King and the Palestinian Humous Hut.
Their weapons are falafel and humous (made from chickpeas with seasonings), folded into a pita, the soul food loved by all Middle East factions.
Into this delectable mix stir David, a handsome Israeli soldier, and the beautiful Fatima, who works at the Hummus Hut, and you can probably figure out the basic plot line.
Amidst catchy tunes, finger-snapping dancing, and a mugging camel, David and Fatima fall in love. After both eating establishments are set on fire, the lovers persuade the rival owners to join hands and hummus to feed their hungry customers.
Sounds like a dream alright. The film already has quite a history:
West Bank premiered at Sundance in 2005 and got a warm response. Next came a screening in Jerusalem. With two-thirds of his goal fulfilled, Sandel wrote an impassioned letter to the Dubai Film Festival and to his amazement, the film was accepted in a category labeled "Bridging Cultures."
"The Dubai festival is sort of a Middle Eastern Sundance, only you get much more of a VIP treatment," Sandel told The Jerusalem Post. Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, is a rapidly modernizing city, but officially no Jews live there and no one had ever shown a movie depicting an Israeli soldier as anything other than a bloodthirsty killer.
So when West Bank screened in Dubai's biggest venue before 1,000 Arab dignitaries and movie producers, Sandel was understandably nervous.
The post-film Q&A session started badly. One Arab rose to protest that the film failed to portray the suffering of the Palestinian people, and half the audience applauded. Another man was unhappy with the lack of scenes depicting Israeli brutality.
Finally a woman stood up, identified herself as an Arab refugee from Gaza, said she loved the movie and asked how she could get a copy for her friends and relatives.
With such a Palestinian imprimatur on the record, the audience turned friendly and the evening was deemed a considerable success.
Somehow I think that the initial reaction in Dubai is much closer to the likely reaction in Gaza City - if they go to the movies there at all.
A report in yesterday's London Daily Telegraph claims that Israel has sought United States permission to fly over Iraq in order to reach Iranian nuclear facilities by air:
A senior Israeli defence official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an "air corridor" in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons.
"We are planning for every eventuality, and sorting out issues such as these are crucially important," said the official, who asked not to be named.
"The only way to do this is to fly through US-controlled air space. If we don't sort these issues out now we could have a situation where American and Israeli war planes start shooting at each other."
Calling the report "baseless," Sneh, the highest-ranking Israeli official to comment Saturday, claimed that the publication was meant to divert the world's attention from the need to impose sanctions on Iran. The international community's focus should be on imposing economic sanctions on Iran for defying UN Security Council resolutions, he said.
"No request to coalition forces was made by Israel," Sneh said. "This publication is meant to try to make Israel the one responsible for solving the Iranian problem."
According to the report, a diplomat from one of the gulf states visiting Washington on Saturday said the three states, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have told the United States that they would not object to Israel using their airspace, despite their fear of an Iranian response.
Al-Siyasa further reported that NATO leaders are urging Turkey to open its airspace for an Attack on Iran as well and to also open its airports and borders in case of a ground attack.
One country that apparently won't be asked is Jordan, with which Israel has a 'peace treaty.'
While Sneh rejected the validity of the report, the quickest and most convenient route to Iran would be over Jordan and Iraq. According to Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom of the Institute for National Security Studies from Tel Aviv University, Israel would be best off flying the longer route over the Indian Ocean with minimal penetration of other states' airspace. Israel could also jeopardize the entire mission by asking Jordan or the US for permission prior to the flights.
"Flying through Jordan without the explicit or implicit permission of the Jordanians would hurt relations with a friendly Arab state," Brom wrote in a recent article in the book Getting Ready for a Nuclear Iran. "Flying over Iraq without coordination with the United States would lead to a clash with US interceptors."
I don't think Sneh's denial is credible. No one here believes sanctions will work. The only question in most Israelis' minds is whether the US will play along or whether we will go it alone. For the Bush administration, passive support for an Israeli attack may be the best way out of a quandry in which on the one hand they want to do something about Iran, while on the other hand the President lacks the domestic support to do the job himself for at least the next year to year and a half. Jordan won't be asked because the rump king Abdullah fears that his 'Palestinians' will rise up and overthrow him if he even tacitly supports an Israeli operation. Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates are all US allies and wealthy countries that have much to fear from Iran, and they may actually want Ahmadinadinnerjacket to know that they won't sit by and allow him to threaten them.
That doesn't mean that I expect an attack next week. Indeed, I find it hard to believe that the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government will attack at all. But I expect a war with Hezbullah late this spring, and if the Iranians interfere (and I believe they will), I would look for an attack on them in the late summer or early fall.
Hell hath no fury like the curse of a woman scorned
Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards had a difficult week this past week. On Monday Variety.com quoted Edwards as saying that the greatest short-term threat to the world is the possibility that Israel might bomb Iran's nuclear reactor:
The aggressively photogenic John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the "I" word -- Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.
I note that the post date on the blog post quoted above was January 19; I have no idea why it suddenly became an issue this past week to the extent that YNet has its post date as February 19.
What happened? According to Bart, Edwards was asked to name the greatest threat to world peace at the moment. Instead of the simple answer, wars, Edwards had to be a smarty jones and say the increasing likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran was the primary current threat. You know, because then Washington would start bombing somebody, and Syria/Lebanon would get involved, and Russia would start threatening everybody, and it would be a nuclear war, etc.
But stating anything so obvious requires taking your lips off Israel’s ass for a few seconds, and that’s fatal for any American politician with presidential ambitions. This isn’t because Jews get upset or Israel’s feelings will get hurt or anything. It’s because of batshit insane evangelical American Jesus Freaks who have to love and protect Israel so Jesus will come back and destroy it.
"Senator Edwards did not say nor does he believe that the greatest short-term threat to world peace is the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. Senator Edwards said, as he has in the past, that Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon is one of the greatest short-term threats to world peace," Prince explained.
In a post that was cross-posted at both Israpundit and Soccer Dad, Soccer Dad votes for the Flipper syndrome, pointing out that Edwards has appointed longtime Congressional Israel basher David Bonior as his campaign manager.
Mikhael is from an old Ramallah family, one of the original families. "We have about 40,000 people from Ramallah living in the United States, and only 2,000 people from the original families still live here."
Depending on your perspective, that could be good news or bad news. Here's a little more about Ramallah:
Ramallah currently has a population of about 60,000. The city is always growing, though, because of internal immigration.
"In 1948, refugees came here from Ramle and Lod and other places in occupied Palestine. In 1967, after the occupation, many people left, but many villagers migrated to the city. During the last intifada people came from all over Palestine to live in Ramallah."
There are, however, some advantages to all the migration.
"Ramallah is a liberal city, because it is open. Different kinds of people come here, move here," she says. Although she questions how long the internal Palestinian cease-fire will last, she says that "Ramallah will be better than other places" because of its openness.
The immigration has turned this once Christian town into a mixed city whose skyline boasts both crosses and minarets with crescents.
She says that historically the local Christians and Muslims have gotten along well. And she may be the proof of the local solidarity. When she ran for the city council, her independent list did not win a majority and she required the votes of the Hamas council members to be mayor.
She took the job because "I love my city and I want to improve it."
Israel's 'defense minister' AmirComrade Peretz looked through a set of binoculars that had the lens caps on at least three times during a briefing by new IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in the Golan Heights. What the heck was he thinking?
That's Peretz on the right. Al-AP reports that "The photographer said Peretz raised the capped binoculars three times, nodding as Ashkenazi explained what he was "seeing."
What a perfect metaphor for Peretz's tenure at the Defense Ministry!
Many of the videos have been seen by tens of thousands of viewers, and some by hundreds of thousands, on YouTube, Google Video and LiveLeak.com. Some show footage from terror attacks, including close-ups of badly burned children. Others give a slide show of photographs depicting exploded military vehicles and dead American soldiers, while Arabic victory songs play in the background.
What does this have to do with Israel? Tom Gross of London's Sunday Telegraph explains:
This is a potentially dangerous development for the fight against terrorism in the West.... It makes it far easier for freelance, go-it-alone jihadists and suicide bombers in western Europe and elsewhere to access information, techniques and propaganda without having to know in advance where to find such material, which was previously only available on obscure Web sites.
And it's not just the Iraqi insurgency that has gotten into the game:
Surprisingly, some of the videos of battle scenes in Iraq are taken by US soldiers, who upload the products of their helmet-mounted cameras to the Internet. One such video, showing US soldiers in a humvee speeding through the streets of Baghdad and forcing other cars and pedestrians out of their way in order to avoid becoming the target of a missile or bomb attack, was viewed on YouTube over half a million times in just three weeks. Such videos have found their way into footage distributed by the insurgents themselves.
Many of those uploading the videos are not in Iraq. Most insurgency videos are listed alongside personal videos of Internet users in the West, many of them Arab or Muslim, and were posted by these Western Internet users. These videos usually target Western audiences with political messages.
And those aren't the only offensive videos on the Internet:
One popular video on Yahoo! Video discusses purported Jewish control of American foreign policy leading up to the Iraq War, saying it served the interests of Israel, "a hostile, apartheid state."
If you don't read past the headlines today on the websites of the Jerusalem Post and YNet, you would think that war is unlikely in 2007. But if you read between the lines, you find out that the opposite is true. War is very likely in 2007, and if I were betting I'd look for it late in the spring when the weather gets warm. Here's why:
1. Hezbullah has returned to its pre-war strength. When the head of Israeli military intelligence told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee about that fact earlier in the week, he was forced by 'Defense Minister' AmirComrade Peretz to retract. But all the retractions in the world are not going to change reality. And reality is that Hezbullah is stronger than last summer.
The American argument is that even "exploratory talks" would be considered a prize in Damascus, whose policy and actions continue to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and the functioning of its government, while it also continues to stir unrest in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. presence there.
While there is some argument over whether Syria really wants peace (I agree with the Mossad that they do not, but Military Intelligence thinks they do), there is nothing to deter them from making war, and it would certainly be in Iran's interest for Israel to fight Syria - it would distract the world from Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. And Iran controls Syria now.
3. YNet admits that any 'irregular incident' could set off the Gaza Strip. But with the 'Palestinians' moving towards reconciliation, it is likely that once they are reconciled they likely will, as 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen has suggested in the past, turn their guns on Israel. So don't let anyone kid you. Unfortunately, it's likely to be a hot summer here forty summers after the Six Day War.
At the American Thinker, David Singer tells us the truth about why the 'Palestinians' and their Arab sponsors have not declared Gaza to be a State and why the 'quartet' made a mistake by not stepping in:
Sadly statehood is the last thing that Gaza wanted because it would put an end to the claim of statelessness, terminate the claim to refugee status by a large proportion of its population and signal the end of the perpetual financial support received from UNWRA since 1948.
Furthermore statehood might be taken to be an abandonment of further claims to any land that was formerly comprised in the Mandate of Palestine.
The reticence of the Arab League in these circumstances was misplaced. True, Statehood for Gaza would pull the rug from under the feet of this cartel and put pressure on it to end its refusal to recognize or negotiate with the State of Israel. But the League's policy of inaction and its' failure to call for statehood has seen Gaza's population become a killing field of ever growing proportions.
The Quartet however need not have been so coy. It had a different agenda aimed at solving "the Palestinian question" which it considered to be the most intractable problem in the Middle East.
The unexpected removal of all Jews from Gaza presented the Quartet with the opening it had been desperately seeking to take a giant step forward in solving this problem. Yet the Quartet faltered dismally in failing to demand that the Parliament in Gaza declare statehood within the boundaries that separate it from Israel and Egypt.
This single act could have been the circuit breaker towards ending 130 years of conflict resulting from competing claims by Jews and Arabs over the same land.
Instead the Quartet focused its efforts on attempting to achieve an overall rather than a partial solution to Arab claims in the West Bank and Gaza in fulfilment of its' misconceived Road Map aimed at misguidedly creating a third State in Mandatory Palestine between Israel and Jordan.
The Quartet has now paid the price for its' folly.
It has created a void into which Hamas has stepped making it impossible now to achieve statehood in Gaza until Hamas is removed from power.
The frantic shuttle diplomacy and endless meetings continue to be held . They achieve no positive outcome other than the accumulation of frequent flyer points for their participants.
Meanwhile the killing and mayhem in Gaza continue to head the news bulletins.
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-two years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 9 to 30 years and five grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son 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