'Human Rights Watch' asks Hamas to 'investigate' Islamic Jihad torture
Does it get any more multi-culti PC than this? Human Rights Watch has asked Hamas to 'investigate' the abduction and torture of three 'collaborators' by Islamic Jihad in Gaza on May 20.
The three were seized on May 20 by Islamic Jihad, which said they had helped the Israel Defense Forces kill several militants, including one of its leaders. After making taped confessions , the men were handed over to the Hamas-run Interior Ministry for prosecution.
A ministry spokesman, Ehab al-Ghsain, said the detainees bore signs of torture. Islamic Jihad denied having abused them.
The New York-based rights group issued a statement on Friday calling on Hamas, which took over Gaza a year ago after routing the forces of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to exercise sole responsibility for law enforcement.
"An armed group like [Islamic Jihad's] al-Quds Brigades has no legal right to arrest, detain or interrogate suspects," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division [and Hamas does? CiJ].
"The Hamas authorities in Gaza, who control the governing institutions there, have a duty to prosecute those responsible for these abductions and apparent use of torture," Stork said.
Hamas should charge the three suspected spies "with a recognizable criminal offence and try them in accordance with international standards" or free them, Human Rights Watch added.
Ghsain said Hamas had rebuked Islamic Jihad over the abductions, but no legal action against the group was planned.
'Recognizable criminal offense?' Tell me they're kidding.
By the way, the picture above has nothing to do with this particular story. It's from the August 2006 murder of a 'collaborator' by the 'moderate' Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin. I guess 'Human Rights Watch' hasn't figured out yet that torturing and murdering 'collaborators' is part of the 'Palestinian' culture. Otherwise they would never make such unreasonable requests of Hamas like investigating the torture of 'collaborators.'
More on this story here. You can also find links to 'confessions' by two of the three 'collaborators' (Arabic only) posted (where else?) on YouTube.
'He's a first class politician, and he flies first class'
Israelis have been shocked this week to find out that their Prime Minister lives like an Arab Sheikh, at least when he's traveling. The Saudi royal family doesn't live any better than Olmert.
There was a form in Ehud Olmert's bureau, which was sent out to the various organizations that financed his trips abroad and stipulated the conditions of his lodgings. The document, which was made available to Haaretz, states that the organization inviting Olmert must underwrite a suite in a 'first class' hotel, preferably one in which cigar smoking is permitted. The hotel has to be equipped with a gym.
Olmert's flights, too, always had to be first class. Indeed a flight that he took in February 2005, while serving as industry and trade minister, to a dinner in Palm Beach, Florida, to participate in an event organized by the March of the Living organization with his friend Avraham Hirchson, cost about $20,000. In September 2004, he flew to New York for two days at the expense of the mogul Edmundo Safdie, to attend a reception. The cost of the first-class ticket: $7,600.
On October 2, 2005, while serving as vice prime minister and finance minister, Olmert flew to Washington for a short trip with his wife, Aliza, who was exhibiting a collection of her art in the American capital under the title 'Tikkun' (which in Hebrew means 'repairing' or 'restoring'). Morris Talansky paid about $4,700 for the couple's three-night stay in a hotel.
Some details from Morris Talansky's deposition came out this week. Among them is the following gem, which will be greatly appreciated by many of my readers who keep Kosher:
One meeting appearing on the itineraries of Olmert's trips to New York, which were found by the police, is a get-together with Talansky in a fancy restaurant called Thalassa, in Tribeca on November 2, 2004, at 2:45 P.M. The restaurant specializes in lobster and organic food and has a 5,000-bottle wine cellar. The timetable shows that the Olmert-Talansky meeting lasted only 15 minutes: At 3 P.M., Olmert was to meet his son Shaul and another person for lunch in the same restaurant.
Talansky stated in court this week that 15 minutes was the time Olmert usually allotted him. But when interrogators asked him about the restaurant meeting, he denied it altogether. "Thalassa? How do you spell it?" he asked, adding that he does not frequent nonkosher restaurants. Olmert also denied the meeting took place.
But the most disturbing thing I saw this weekend was the news that the prosecutors have known about Talansky for two years and refused to investigate.
The Talansky affair emerged from a police investigation that dealt with the give-and-take relations between Olmert and attorney Uri Messer. In August 2006, Haaretz Magazine published a report that exposed for the first time Olmert's actions as industry and trade minister on behalf of Messer's clients. It was not until October 2007, more than a year later, after much vacillation and delay, that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered an investigation into the suspicions raised by the Haaretz article and by the harsh report issued by the State Comptroller's Office on the same subject. The police seemed to be in no rush to thoroughly investigate the sensitive information it possessed from the beginning about the Olmert-Talansky ties.
In March 2008, the Fraud Investigations Unit was about to wrap up the Olmert-Messer affair and send the file to the State Prosecutor's Office for a final decision. Already then the police team had evidence that Olmert actively assisted Messer's clients and also promoted a grant of tens of millions of shekels to one of the companies Messer represented. Additional evidence showed that for years Messer supplied Olmert with political and legal services free of charge or for low fees.
One of the police officers who saw memos about the money transfers Zaken recorded in her computer, was certain that those involved would have explanations for them. "They will tell us that it's from the sale of a private property," he said. It is clear today that if Mazuz had not waited so long before deciding to launch an investigation into the suspicions against Olmert, the Talansky affair would have come to light already a year ago.
Could there have been politics involved in slowing down the investigation into Olmert's relationship with Talansky? Could politics not have been involved?
There were also some nice tidbits about Olmert's former bureau chief Shula Zaken. While Zaken - who apparently has the loyalty of a puppy dog to Olmert - has invoked her right to remain silent to date, someone ought to remind the thief that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Zaken is complaining that the 'boss' isn't devoting enough time to her.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out at his police investigators during his questioning last Friday, accusing them of attempting to mislead him and calling their conduct "unfair."
According to a transcript of the conversation aired by Channel 10 on Friday, Olmert opened the session by confronting investigators over the many information leaks in the ongoing probe.
"What has been happening in the last few days is intolerable in a state of law. You are flooding the media and leaking ceaselessly, waging a media battle beyond all accepted norms for a just police," the prime minister shot at the assembled police team.
When Lt.-Cmdr Shlomi Ayalon attempted to interject, Olmert silenced him, saying: "I'm not done. Don't interrupt me please."
The prime minister continued: "You acted unfairly in the first investigation, trying to mislead me. You asked me questions on envelopes with money that I received from [Morris] Talansky. If you had asked me if Talansky covered - once or twice or three times, I don't remember how many - expenses on appearances that I made connected to issues he was involved in, I wouldn't have denied it for an instant." [You mean he thinks it's accepted practice for a Prime Minister to accept envelopes with money in cash with no accounting as long as they're 'to cover expenses?' CiJ]
Olmert then demanded that his answers be written down as well as recorded. Ayalon was opposed to this, saying it would considerably slow down the proceedings, which were already limited to one hour of the prime minister's time. The two then spent several minutes arguing over this point.
I grew up during the Watergate era. I don't remember Nixon or anyone else limiting the investigators' time to one hour or any other time period. Olmert's arrogance is simply insufferable!
Some of you may have noticed that I am not particularly excited by the possibility of Foreign Minister TzipiFeigele Livni becoming Prime Minister. But with Olmert ally Tzachi Hanegbi - the chairman of KadimaAchora's steering committee saying that it's 'impossible' to hold this 'crumbling coalition' together and calling for a 'national emergency' government immediately after Kadima's primaries (whenever those are to take place - as of now they're taking their time and scheduling them for September), it's time to expose the enigma of who Tzipi Livni is. None of this will surprise those of you who are regular readers of this blog, because you know I have been warning about her for months. Basically, she is Olmert without the corruption.
The paradox that is Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was on abundant display late Wednesday afternoon at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. There, standing around the pine-tree shaded grave of David Raziel, the former IZL commander whose 67th yartzeit was being marked, Livni - along with some 25 IZL old timers - sang the Betar anthem, "Tagar" (defiance: "On all obstacles and hindrances/ Whether you succeed or fail/ In the flames of the revolt/ Carry the flame to kindle/ For silence is mire/ Sacrifice blood and soul/ For the sake of the hidden glory."
"To die or to conquer the mountain," the song concluded, and Livni chimed in. "Yodefat, Massada, Betar."
The paradox here is a double one. First the ideological paradox: Livni, chief negotiator of the Israeli delegation reportedly willing to cede 91 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, singing the famous words of Ze'ev ("both-banks-of-the-Jordan") Jabotinsky.
And then there was the more practical, political, paradox. Indeed, one couldn't help but wonder what was going through Livni's mind as she sang the words, "for silence is mire," and "to die or to conquer the mountain."
What they do know they often hear in long, painfully convoluted sentences at press conferences that sound good at first blush, but then on second take don't really mean that much. As a result, if the public backlash against having leaders who could feature in that 1980s television show, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" sweeps Livni into office, the open question is where will she lead the country?
And this is where she falls short. One associate, who said he would vote for Livni, added - in the same breath - that she lacked the "vision thing," is not a particularly good manger and is indecisive.
Colleagues who have worked with her describe a micro-manager who has trust in very few people, and does not give those who work under her a sense that she has faith in their judgment. They describe a person who changes her mind a great deal, and who can take an inordinately long time making a mundane decision, such as filling a personnel vacancy. She has also been described as awkward in personal relations, but not arrogant as it sometimes appears; impatient and somewhat "testy."
An indication of a rather mercurial managerial style is the fact that over the last year eight of her top staffers - people filling positions such as chief of staff, chief political adviser and media adviser - have stepped down. On the up-side, however, she is described as someone who listens and thinks things through.
Regarding diplomatic policy, those on the Right who harbor hopes about the woman who can sing the Betar anthem by heart and has an impeccable Revisionist pedigree (her father and mother were both IZL fighters), will be sorely disappointed if they think her policies toward the Palestinians would be fundamentally different from Olmert's.
The Annapolis process, or better yet the idea of a shelf-agreement with the Palestinians, is an idea she hatched at the tail end of 2006, and then sold in 2007 to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has since taken the ball and run with it.
Unlike Olmert, who diplomatic officials say is skeptical that the agreement can be worked out, Livni - who is heading the negotiations - actually believes it can. There are no major divisions between her and Olmert regarding borders, security and Jerusalem, with the only glaring exception being that she is much more adamant than Olmert that Israel must insist, before an agreement is signed, that the Palestinians completely reject any claim to a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
One diplomatic source said, however, that another difference between her and Olmert is that Livni - ever the lawyer - sees the drawing up of a peace agreement itself as an achievement, that the agreement, the piece of paper, is what is important. Olmert, the official said, places less importance on the document.
As foreign minister, Livni has spent untold hours in conversation with the Europeans, and has grown to appreciate their importance. Livni would certainly not ignore the US, the officials said, but would likely spend more time than Olmert paying attention to the EU and dialoguing with it.
According to one diplomatic official, in this regard, Livni would likely be more like Shimon Peres than Yitzhak Rabin.
"Rabin was 100 percent oriented toward America," the official said. "Peres understood America, but his heart was in Europe. Livni would likely be more like him."
Regarding how to deal with the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, one official said that as a result of her lack of security experience, Livni would probably have more of an inclination to follow the IDF, which itself is currently split on the wisdom of a large-scale military incursion. But if she decided to go in, the official added, knowing her style, she would want to have an exit strategy clearly and carefully mapped out beforehand.
While the polls here are notoriously unreliable (they had Peres winning the election in 1996 against Netanyahu until the actual results came out), every poll taken shows that Kadima headed by Livni would run in a dead heat with the Likud, if not win. In this country, after an election, the President 'invites' the head of the party he deems most capable of forming a coalition to form a coalition. No one who has been invited has ever failed. Shimon Peres is the President. If Kadima (Livni) and Likud (Netanyahu) are close in the election results, does anyone doubt Livni will be 'invited?'
Her parents - the underground Irgun fighters - must be rolling over in their graves.
Around the time that Hamas breached the Rafah crossing into Egypt, there was talk of thousands of 'Palestinians' trying to breach the crossings from Gaza into Israel. Everybody wondered what would happen. On Friday, we found out.
Seven Palestinian protesters were wounded Friday when they were shot by IDF troops during a demonstration at Sufa border crossing, Palestinian doctors reported.
More than 10,000 Palestinians waving Hamas flags approached the crossing calling for an end to the blockade imposed on Gaza. The demonstrators burned tires and chanted anti-Israeli slogans.
Hamas had called the protest march, which began following Friday prayers, and several protesters got within yards of the border fence.
The IDF confirmed troops were on the scene at the demo but did not immediately comment on whether they fired.
The army had issued a directive to soldiers to prevent Palestinian penetration of the Sufa terminal at any cost, even the cost of using live ammunition.
"The IDF will operate with all its strength to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the security fence or the crossing ... and from entering the state of Israel," an Israeli military official said.
During the standoff, Israeli forces shot into the crowd to "make the rioters back off," the official said.
The Israeli army had posted signs before the protest warning Palestinians that they faced "Danger of Death" if they tried to approach the Sufa crossing, used to bring some humanitarian supplies into the coastal territory.
If 'Palestinians' were really shot, Hamas gets two for each one: 'civilian' casualties and - probably - a shutdown of the crossing so they can complain even more about the 'blockade.' But YNet is reporting that the IDF says nothing but warning shots were fired.
The IDF said in response that the soldiers used tear gas and fired warning shots against the Palestinian protestors in order to prevent them from crossing into Israel through the border fence.
Is this another instance of Pallywood? I'm trying to locate videotape. In the meantime, I have the picture above. They don't look much like 'civilians,' do they?
Many Arabs are envious over the money that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert received from Morris (Moshe) Talansky and others. But they're not envious because Olmert got the money. They are envious because of how Israel is handling it. In fact, they wish that their leaders were held accountable in the same way.
"Show me one Arab or Islamic country where a prime minister or a senior government official was ever questioned for financial corruption or bribery," said a reader who identified himself only as Majed.
Majed, like many others, was responding to a news story on an Arab Web site about the testimony in court of American philanthropist Morris Talansky, who told police he had given Olmert more than $150,000 in cash over the course of some 14 years.
Another reader, Sami, commented: "The Israeli regime with all its defects is better than all the Arab 'democracies' and still changes ministers and governments every few years."
A Saudi national named Abdel Karim urged his Arab brethren to stop criticizing Israel and learn something about its democracy. "Before we curse Israel, we must learn from the democratic and judicial system in Israel, where no one is above the law," he wrote.
Khaled, another Saudi national, chimed in: "Although we are talking about Israel, which I have always hated very much, there is still no one above the law there."
Mahmoud al-Bakili of Yemen posted the following response on one of the Web sites: "We want this kind of accountability and transparency in the Arab and Islamic world."
And there was this comment from an Arab who described himself as a Syrian Voice: "Despite my strong hatred for the Zionist regime, I have a lot of admiration and respect for this entity because there is no one above the law. In the Arab world, laws are broken every day and no one seems to care."
Egyptian writer Abdel Aziz Mahmoud said he doesn't believe the day will ever come when an Arab leader will be put on trial for sexual harassment or financial corruption.
"I don't think we will live to see the day when the police interrogate an Arab leader for sexually harassing his secretary or receiving bribes," he wrote. "Nor will our children and grandchildren live to see that day. What happened in Israel can never happen in any Arab country."
Some Arabs went as far as condemning the Arab people for failing to rise against their corrupt dictators.
"There is corruption in Israel and the Arab world," wrote Abu Hadi from Iraq. "But the difference is that the Israelis hold their leaders accountable, while we the Arabs remain silent about corruption."
Jamal, who described himself as the Madman, wrote that "the reason why Israel has lasted for so long is because of its independent and fair judicial system. I challenge the Arabs to have such an independent judicial system."
Many of the readers found it quite ironic that Olmert was being questioned because of "only" tens of thousands of dollars he allegedly received from Talansky.
"They say he received something like $3,000 a year," said Abu Atab from Morocco inaccurately. "This shows that Olmert is a decent man. This is a small sum that any Arab government official would receive on a daily basis as a bribe. Our leaders steal millions of dollars and no one dares to hold them accountable."
Touching on the same issue, a reader from Algeria posted this comment: "In the Arab world, our leaders don't accept less than $1 million in bribes; the money must be deposited in secret bank accounts in Switzerland. Olmert is a fool if he took only a small sum."
Another comment, this time from Ahmed in Jordan, also referred to the alleged amount: "Only a few thousand dollars? What a fool! This is what an Egyptian minister gets in a day or what a Saudi CEO gets in 45 minutes, or a Kuwaiti government official in five minutes. This is what the physician of the emir of Qatar gets every 30 seconds."
One Arab commentator who identified himself as Jasser Abdel Hamid advised Olmert to seek citizenship of one of the Arab countries. "Why don't you seek Arab citizenship?" he asked sarcastically. "There you can take as much money as you want. Even if they discover the theft, they will erect a statue for you in a public square."
A former senior adviser to America's worst President said that he believes that Jimmy the Dhimmi Carter hates Israel because the country does not sufficiently appreciate the 'peace treaty' withsurrender to Egypt that Carter negotiated.
When former President Jimmy Carter revealed that Israel has more than 150 nuclear weapons, he clearly had a motive, according to his administration’s deputy senior adviser, Marc Ginsberg: “I think there’s no doubt — particularly given the vantage point I had in the White House at the end of his administration — that he resents the way in which Israel and the American-Jewish community have failed to express sufficient gratitude for his efforts on behalf of peace in the Middle East.
“In my judgment, there’s no other explanation,” Ginsberg says.
Ginsberg, a former ambassador to Morocco and now senior global affairs analyst for Fox News, says that Carter knows what he said is something never discussed by America or Israel and that disclosing Israel’s nuclear arsenal is due to his growing antagonism towards the Jewish state.
“There’s no doubt he knows exactly what he is doing when he’s making these statements, or making misrepresentations that Hamas has agreed to recognize Israel if certain conditions occur, or to the book he wrote [‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid’] referring to Israel.”
Ginsberg also proposes a couple of other explanations for Carter's anti-Israel behavior:
Ginsberg says Carter’s revelation fits into a pattern of mischief on the part of the former president in recent months, “probably fueled by the amount of money the Carter Center is getting fromArab sources.” [If you follow those three links, you will find that Alan Dershowitz and others have also suggested that Carter is motivated by money received from Arab sources - and that I disagree with that assessment. CiJ].
Israel and the United States have gone on record as saying Carter’s remarks are irresponsible, but Ginsberg says they are “down right mischievous.”
“He drops these mischievous lines and engages in mischievous diplomacy that, I believe, are counterproductive not only to America’s interests in the Middle East, but also, ultimately, to his own legacy,” he says.
“The idea that you drop the number of nuclear weapons Israel may have at a time when it’s been tradition to treat the number from a position of ‘strategic ambiguity’ is not only irresponsible, it also fuels incentives on the part of countries like Iran to justify their own nuclear program.”
Ginsberg also can’t fathom why Carter tries to engage with Hamas, a sworn enemy of Israel, at a time when Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. He says Israel has enormous disdain and contempt for Carter’s actions and believes Carter can never again play a role in the peace process now that he no longer enjoys the impartiality of either side.
“It seems to me to be counterproductive to the legacy he wants to preserve: that he’s a man of impartiality and a man of peace,” he says.
Ginsberg goes on to state the obvious: Carter is not an honest broker when it comes to Israel.
Over the nearly two and a half years I have written this blog, I have seen several explanations for why Carter hates Israel so much. This is the one I find most intriguing. It's from Alan Dershowitz's review of Carter's 'book.'
And it's not just the facts; it's the tone as well. It's obvious that Mr. Carter just doesn't like Israel or Israelis. He lectured Golda Meir on Israeli's "secular" nature, warning her that " Israel was punished whenever its leaders turned away from devout worship of God." He admits that he did not like Menachem Begin. He has little good to say about any Israelis — except those few who agree with him. But he apparently got along swimmingly with the very secular Syrian mass-murderer Hafez al-Assad. Mr. Carter and his wife Rosalynn also had a fine time with the equally secular Arafat — a man who has the blood of hundreds of Americans and Israelis on his hands:
Rosalynn and I met with Yasir Arafat in Gaza City, where he was staying with his wife, Suha, and their little daughter. The baby, dressed in a beautiful pink suit, came readily to sit on my lap, where I practiced the same wiles that had been successful with our children and grandchildren. A lot of photographs were taken, and then the photographers asked that Arafat hold his daughter for a while. When he took her, the child screamed loudly and reached out her hands to me, bringing jovial admonitions to the presidential candidate to stay at home enough to become acquainted with is own child.
There is something quite disturbing about these pictures.
Yes, Jimmy the Dhimmi may actually resent that so many Israelis are secular and not religious. Food for thought.
But I want to come back to that 'peace treaty' for a minute, because our 'lack of appreciation' for it may come as a surprise to many of you abroad. Israelis have a lot not to like about our 'peace treaty' with Egypt. I believe that had Anwar Sadat not been cut down by an assassin's bullet in 1981, things might have been different. But then, that was part of the problem with the Israel - Egypt treaty from the beginning: It was made with a man and not with a country.
The treaty opened up American coffers for huge amounts of American foreign aid to Egypt, most of which has gone for military armaments that are clearly directed at Israel (Egypt's military exercises always assume - like its people do - that Israel is the enemy). The peace is often referred to as a 'cold peace' and all of the 'exchanges' have gone one way: We send Israelis to Egypt, we pump up the Egyptian economy, no Egyptian will set foot in Israel. President Mubarak has been here exactly once during his entire time in office: for Yitzchak Rabin's funeral.
On top of that, the Egyptian treaty set the precedent of Israel giving up every last inch of land liberated in the defensive war this country fought in 1967. That went right down to an international arbitration over the small strip of land known as Taba in northern Sinai. And because Egypt got back every last inch of land it lost to us in 1967, we face uncompromising demands from both the Syrians and the 'Palestinians' to this day. After all, the Syrians and the 'Palestinians' won't take less than the Egyptians got.
But perhaps the greatest indicator of how little there is to appreciate about the Israel - Egypt treaty comes from Egyptians themselves. This comes from the Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey and I quoted from it here and here. Sandmonkey is a very straight shooter.
But then I rememebrd that we- the majority of us anyway- don't want peace with Israel, and are not interested in any real dialogue with them. We weren't then and we are not now. The Entire peace process has always been about getting the land back, not establishing better relations. Even when we do get the land back, it's not enough. People in Egypt lament daily the Camp David treaty that prevents us from fighting. In Gaza they never stopped trying to attack Israel. In Lebanon Hezbollah continued attacking even after the Israeli withdrawel. And the people- the majority of the arab population- support it. Very few of us are really interested in having any lasting Peace or co-existance. I mean, if our left is asking for war, what do you think the rest of the population is thinking?
I think that the Israeli want peace with us because they don't want their lives disrupted. They don't want to have the IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza, rockets coming into their towns from Hamas or having to go to wars against Hezbollah to get their soldiers back. I think they want peace because they want their peace of mind. They view us as if we were a headache. We view them as if they are a cancer.
Still wonder why Israelis don't appreciate Carter's treaty?
"As of yesterday, there is a new reality," Livni said, speaking at a homeland security conference in Jerusalem. "I can't ignore the events of the past two days. This is no longer just a criminal or judicial issue. This is about values and norms that impact the State of Israel."
Livni made a point of not mentioning Olmert by name. Sources close to Livni said she was trying to avoid being seen by Kadima members as attempting to depose him, because undermining a prime minister under fire might help her main challenger for the party leadership, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who has recently allied himself with Olmert.
"Kadima needs to take a decision on what it wants," Livni said. It needs to prepare now for all possible scenarios, including elections. These are the things I've been telling party and faction members. I'm working towards a swift, clean, process."
'Sources within Kadima' lashed out at Livni, accusing her of trying to destroy the party in cooperation with Ehud Barak. One of those accusing Livni is Transportation Minister (and former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff) Shaul Mofaz, who is Livni's main rival in Kadima and who has been mentioned from time to time as a possible returnee to Likud and Defense Minister under Netanyahu.
"This deal among Barak, [political consultant] Reuven Adler and Livni to break Kadima up won't work. Only Kadima people will determine its fate," said Mofaz, who intends to contend for Kadima's leadership.
But Kadima's rank and file is in Livni's court. A survey of registered Kadima members shows 69% in favor of Livni as party leader in the event that Olmert resigns. But 60% also don't want Olmert to step down unless there is 'more concrete' evidence against him.
As to Olmert, he apparently has finally read the writing on the wall. Thursday night, Kadima party chair Tzachi Hanegbi - an Olmert loyalist - started arranging for party primaries. It is highly unlikely he would have done so without Olmert signing off on it. And Olmert is apparently now looking for a 'graceful way' to bow out, which primaries would provide.
According to the proposal, the prime minister would give the authorization necessary to initiate a Kadima primary that would elect his successor.
If Olmert is not charged in the Talansky affair, he would continue to serve as party leader and prime minister until the next general election, and the primary winner would become his heir apparent. If he is indicted and keeps his promise to step down, the winner could either form a new government or lead the party in elections that appear increasingly likely to take place by the end of the year.
"We can remove Olmert without being brutal, while addressing the public outcry against corruption," said a senior Kadima official who is close to the prime minister. "This proposal will give him a chance to prove his innocence, while making sure the party will be ready for any eventuality. The more his senior political allies persuade him to go for it, the more likely he is to accept it."
Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi, who heads the party's steering committee, announced that he would summon representatives of the four candidates to replace Olmert to decide on a mechanism for the primary.
Hanegbi denied reports that he would seek to set a date for the primary next week, but candidates who spoke to Kadima MKs on Thursday said a September race was likely.
"Regardless of what is happening with the investigation, the party has to get ready," he said. "We hope the prime minister will not be indicted, but [Labor Chairman Ehud] Barak began a process when he called for Olmert to leave office that requires steps on our part."
And the government may fall sooner rather than later regardless of what Kadima does. Next week, Shas' Council of Torah sages will convene to decide whether it should leave the government over the government's rejection of its demand for increased child welfare allowances (the monthly payments we receive from the National Insurance Institute for every child under 16).
Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On rejected a demand by Shas to substantially raise the amount of financial support families receive for each child. And Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas's spiritual mentor, had already said that if Shas's demand was not met the party would pull out of the coalition.
Large Jewish families, which make up a substantial part of Shas's traditional, religious constituency, would have been the main benefactors of the child allowance hike. Arab Israelis, who also have larger than average families, would have benefited as well.
But Shas wants elections regardless of whether the larger child allowances are granted.
Shas chairman Eli Yishai said he supported early elections regardless of the new revelations regarding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's purported misconduct.
"I don't see the option of an alternative government that could be formed," Yishai said. "I prefer advancing the election."
Yishai's associates said he would recommend that the council endorse early elections, but not leaving the government yet. When it is clear what is happening in Kadima and other parties, he will convene the council again to determine the fate of Shas and the coalition.
Yishai has said that he will not enter into a coalition headed by Livni, whom he regards as too left-wing.
Former Saudi minister: 'We've been dragged into accepting 9/11 as an Islamic attack. Islam did not do this!'
Following are excerpts from an interview with former Saudi information minister Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani, which aired on Iqra TV on May 25, 2008. In it, he claims that 9/11 was pinned on Islam and that Islam was not to blame for it. He then goes on to claim that the Jewish and Christian Holy books are 'distorted' and that Muslims only want to bring us back to the 'original religion.'
A transcript follows. Let's go to the videotape.
Interviewer: How come calls for dialogue with [the West] were only made following 9/11?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The main reason is that we have inadvertently given in to this accusation, and accepted the fact that 9/11 was pinned on us, as if Islam calls for such a thing, but when acts worse than 9/11 were perpetrated by Christians and Jews...
Interviewer: Such as?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Attacks within America itself... Why wasn't the attack on the White House labeled a "Christian" or "Jewish" attack? We've been dragged into accepting that 9/11 was an Islamic attack. This group [Al-Qaeda] carried it out, and unlike this group, we do not sanction the killing of any human being, because according to the Koran and the guidance of the Prophet, we are not allowed to harm any dhimmi [non-Muslim living under Muslim rule], as long as there is a covenant between us. We have accepted the blame...
Interviewer: Who has?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The Islamic world has accepted the blame, and apologized by saying: "We are sorry for what Islam did." Islam did not do this! Why don't you say that it was carried out by a group that made a mistake, like the men and women among you who make mistakes every day? Why do you pin this on Islam, as if the religion of Islam calls for terrorism, which is absolutely untrue. We were dragged into this, and then they began attacking us, people with vested interests started maligning Islam, and we've begun to give in. So we had no choice but to declare a "Jihad" that includes dialogue with the other side, and to explain the facts accurately, so they would know what Islam is all about, what the Koran is, and who the Prophet is.
The [Judeo-Christian] religion is monotheistic. They did not create it. This religion was sent down to Jesus and Moses...
Interviewer: But Islam got rid of it, in order to remain all on its own.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: It was not Islam that got rid of it. It was caused by the contamination that occurred in this religion. They changed, altered, and distorted their holy books, and Islam came to rectify this. Islam has not changed a thing in the teachings of Moses.
Interviewer: So one of the basic principles of this dialogue is to accept that the [Jews and Christians] have a religion.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Yes, and we respect this religion, but we say to them: "You've changed it, and you know that the books you have are not the divine gospel and the divine Torah. You have changed them. You yourselves admit that your books were written by priests and others who altered them. We want to bring you back to the original religion."
Islam had nothing to do with 9/11. Islam is the 'religion of peace.' I mean, just because the hijackers all said they were doing it in the name of Islam and the Saudi government flew Bin Laden's family out of the US as quickly as possible afterwards, why would that make anybody think that 9/11 was done by and in the name of Islam? Didn't you see all the Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist terrorists on those flights?
Shlomo Slonim describes Colombia's experience fighting the FARC rebels. Let's see how many of you get the parallel with Israel's situation with the 'Palestinians' (I'll bet you all do because if any moonbats read this blog, they usually don't tell me).
This terrorist group has hideout camps in the jungles of Ecuador, from which it has launched murderous attacks into Colombia. Between 2004 and 2008 no less than 40 terrorist attacks were launched against Colombia from Ecuador.
UNDER international law, Ecuador, and other neighboring countries where the camps are located, are obliged to eliminate these camps and put an end to the terrorist activity. Colombia charges that Ecuador, for one, has failed to fulfill its obligation under international law.
At the beginning of March, Colombia launched an air strike against a rebel camp situated close to its border, just a mile inside Ecuador. The information about the camp was supplied by an informer, and the air strike was unusually successful, killing Raul Reyes, the second-in-command of the terrorist group, in addition to some 20 guerrillas.
Under the circumstances, Ecuador might have been expected to be grateful for the elimination from its territory of a guerrilla camp that was seriously harming relations between the two states. Instead, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador charged Colombia with violating its sovereignty, demanded an apology from the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, and a promise that Colombia would never again launch any such cross-border strikes.
THE REGION heated up as Ecuador deployed some 3,000 troops, and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela deployed no less than 9,000 troops, together with tanks and aircraft. For his part, Colombian President Uribe reported that laptops captured in the Colombian action implicated both the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan presidents as actively aiding the rebel movements, and he threatened to take Chavez to the International Criminal Court and charge him with aiding and financing genocidal schemes.
Subsequently, at a meeting at Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Uribe apologized to Ecuador and promised that no such action would be undertaken in the future. This was still not enough for the Ecuadorian president, who demanded that the Organization of American States (OAS) condemn Colombia for its violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty.
At an urgently convened meeting in Washington, all member states of the OAS, with the sole exception of the United States and Colombia, endorsed a condemnatory resolution.
The law, as indicated, was on the side of Uribe: Columbia was a victim of international terror, and had acted in self-defense. But none of this helped him in his moment of confrontation. He had violated a neighbor's sovereignty, and was made to eat crow.
Now, substitute Israel for Colombia, 'Palestine' for Ecuador, Hamas or Fatah for FARC, Syria for Venezuela and Bashar al-Assad for Thuggo Chavez. See the problem? I knew you would.
Iran has a drawing of how to make an atomic weapon
Diplomats attending a closed briefing by the IAEA tonight said that IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen described Iran's possession of a drawing of how to make a nuclear weapon as "alarming" and said that the onus was on Iran to prove that it did not intend to make nuclear weapons. The US said that the evidence increased concern that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
"Today's briefing showed ... strong reasons to suspect that Iran was working covertly and deceitfully at least until recently to build a bomb," Gregory L. Schulte, the chief US delegate to the agency, told reporters.
Rejecting the allegation, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Schulte's Iranian counterpart, again dismissed the evidence as "baseless and fabricated documents and papers."
Separately, a senior diplomat suggested the agency was not accepting as fact US intelligence estimates that the Islamic Republic stopped active pursuit of nuclear weapons five years ago.
Queried on documents in the agency's possession possibly linked to research in such weapons and bearing dates into early 2004, he told The Associated Press that the IAEA was reserving its judgment on whether they indicated nuclear weapons work past 2003 until it finished its own investigations.
The documents, outlined in an IAEA report forwarded Monday to the UN Security Council and agency board members, are part of evidence provided by board member nations to the agency for its investigation into allegations that Iran used the cover of peaceful nuclear activities to conduct research and testing on a nuclear arms program.
One, dated January-February 2004 is linked to high explosives testing of the kind that can be used to detonate a nuclear device. Others, dated into January 2004 - and one as late as March 14 of that year - are part of purported evidence that Iran worked on designs of a missile re-entry vehicle that is normally a part of a nuclear delivery system.
The senior diplomat, who is familiar with agency attempts to investigate the nuclear weapons allegations, said the dates could mean nothing more than a review of activities that ended before 2004 but added the IAEA could make a final judgment only if Iran was forthcoming on requests to explain these and other documents. He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge confidential information.
These documents serve no purpose in a peaceful nuclear-energy program. With the Iranians just months away from increasing their uranium enrichment centrifuge cascades to 6,000, they could produce enough fissile material for a weapon in less than two months. If they have continued design and manufacturing work on a device, they could have a nuclear weapon by Christmas, if not sooner.
Ed's concerned with why the plainly wrong National Intelligence Estimate was issued.
While the IAEA demands answers from Iran, perhaps we could get a few from the American intelligence community. Why were they so intent on dismissing the threat from Iran that they reversed three years of high-confidence assessments of an ongoing nuclear-weapons program to replace it with a moderate-confidence dismissal? How much did politics play in attempting to blunt the White House’s focus on a serious threat?
I believe that it was all politics. But at this point, that question can be left to later. Of more immediate concern to me is what the civilized nations of the world plan to do about Iran. I'm sitting at Ground Zero waiting to hear an answer to that question. Anyone have one?
Speaking from his home in Brooklyn, Wednesday, Finkelstein said it is not his "inclination to pursue the matter," but lawyers in Israel are encouraging him to do so.
"Martyrdom is not my cup of tea, I like to read, write, and speak, but lawyers in Israel say it might be good to pursue it on political grounds," said Finkelstein. "If I can be convinced it's worth my time and energy I might pursue it, but as of now I have not made up my mind."
The author of numerous articles and books, Finkelstein has accused Israel of exploiting the Holocaust for political ends. He was recently denied tenure at DePaul University following pressure by Jewish organizations and a highly publicized tete-a-tete with Prof. Alan Dershowitz.
On Tuesday, the Shin Bet said that if Finkelstein tried returning to Israel it would need to re-evaluate its position. [WHY would the Shin Bet need to 're-evaluate its position? It's already made a decision. Why would that decision need to be re-evaluated if Finkelstein shows up at Ben Gurion again? CiJ] Officials said that he was denied entry due to suspicions about his relationships with hostile elements in Lebanon. The officials noted that during his interrogation upon arrival in Israel, Finkelstein had not provided satisfactory answers to questions regarding these suspicions.
Finkelstein said Wednesday that he visited Lebanon six months ago where he was invited to lecture at a conference at the American University in Beirut. He also was in the country for a book tour following the publication of several of his articles in book form. Finkelstein said he was accompanied by his Arab publisher and representatives of Hizbullah as they toured the south of Lebanon.
On his Web site, Finkelstein has a section called "In Defense of Hizbullah" which contains excerpts from an interview he gave in January [Video link. CiJ] to a Lebanese TV station. In the interview, the academic said he was "happy to meet the Hizbullah people because it is a point of view that is rarely heard in the US." [He also claimed that Hitler would have been happier if he could have accomplished his goals without war. CiJ]
Finkelstein said he is not "dogmatic or fanatic" and believes every country has the right to restrict entry, but said he does not agree with the criteria. "Just as I would oppose the US not allowing people to enter due to ideological beliefs, I would consistently oppose them in Israel," said Finkelstein who denies that he poses any threat to Israel. [He's not a citizen of Israel and therefore he has no right to be here. CiJ]
"I couldn't be [a risk] because of any security threat I pose," said Finkelstein. "The US has as stringent anti-terrorism laws in the books as Israel, and Hamas and Hizbullah are on their terrorist list. If I posed a security threat I should be talking to you from jail. Because no authorities have contacted me there are no grounds for it." Finkelstein did not intend to visit Israel, but had to pass through Israeli customs "by force of circumstance," to visit a friend in Hebron.
"Israel has the right to restrict who enters its country, but the West Bank is not its country," said Finkelstein, who has traveled to the West Bank annually for the last 15 years. "One day the Palestinian Authority may restrict my rights, but that's an issue for the Palestinian Authority."
I know. Let's let Normie enter Gaza from Egypt and see how long he lasts. Heh.
Israel's leading terrorism experts gathered in Jerusalem on Sunday to attend the 2008 Terrorism Trends Conference. The experts included Former Director of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, Director General of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, Brigadier General David Tzur, and Director of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Colonel Dr. Reuven Erlich. The Conference serves as a forum to present cutting edge intelligence data and analysis on Palestinian Terror Organizations, Hezbollah & Global Jihad Networks in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. The focal point of the conference - the rising influence of Iran in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.
Thursday's Washington Post reports that the United States has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to search for at least three more nuclear facilities in Syria in addition to the al-Kibar facility that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes on September 6. The United States has identified at least three potential sites that may have been intended to supply nuclear fuel to the al-Kibar facility, although no indication is given how those sites were identified.
U.S. government officials declined to describe the specific sites that have drawn interest, or to discuss how they were identified. However, the United States and other Western governments have long been interested in identifying possible locations for a facility in Syria that might have supplied nuclear fuel rods for a Syrian reactor. Although the Al Kibar site was described as nearly operational at the time of the Sept. 6 bombing, it had no clear source of the uranium fuel necessary for operation, according to U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats familiar with the site.
In fact, as it turns out, al-Kibar may have just been the tip of the iceberg:
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in an interview that the intelligence community's insight into Syria's nuclear ambitions has deepened since the Israeli raid.
"Do not assume that Al Kibar exhausted our knowledge of Syrian efforts with regard to nuclear weapons," Hayden said. "I am very comfortable -- certainly with Al Kibar and what was there, and what the intent was. It was the highest confidence level. And nothing since the attack last September has changed our mind. In fact, events since the attack give us even greater confidence as to what it was."
He predicted that Syria would "almost certainly attempt to delay and deceive" the IAEA. But he added: "We know what they did."
To date, the Syrians have been 'negotiating' with the IAEA to give it 'permission' to access the al-Kibar site. Actually, they've been stalling. But it's doubtful that the IAEA will find anything there. Recall that the Syrians bulldozed the site shortly after the Israeli raid, and have now built another building on top of it. Here once again are the before and after pictures I posted in October.
All of this has gotten me to thinking again about the Olmert-Barak-Livni-Yishai government's 'negotiations' with Syria and how pointless they really are. Olmert has already made a huge concession to Syria - he has committed Israel to an outcome of the 'negotiations' that will require it to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 lines which will put the Syrians on the Sea of Galilee. Assad will pocket that concession. What Israel is supposed to get in return is normalized relations, a demilitarized border, and an end to Syria's presence in Iran's orbit and to its support for terror groups like Hamas and Hezbullah. In the meantime, Assad's government has reached a memorandum of understanding on a mutual defense agreement with Iran, it has placed a massive armaments order with Russia (paid for with a $5 billion check from Tehran), it has announced that it will continue to maintain its relations with Hamas and Hezbullah, and it may be hiding three more nuclear facilities. This is the road to 'peace?'
Could someone please explain to me how anyone could believe that Syria actually wants peace with Israel? I think I'll answer my own question. No one believes that Syria actually wants peace with Israel. Even Olmert isn't that stupid. The entire 'negotiation' is a spin from Olmert to try to take people's attention away from the Talanskyaffair and his other political problems. But the price for the attempted distraction is not to be paid by Olmert. It will be paid by the State of Israel if it ever makes peace with Syria. And the currency will be land. Olmert must go before he can do more damage to our future.
UPDATE 1:41 PM
Here's a video with more details about this story, so let's go to the videotape.
Note that line at the end of the video: Four countries last year prevented Syria from receiving materials that could be used to test ballistic missile components. I wonder which countries.
Of course, in Israel it would be helpful to those seeking to buy these newfangled cars if the government would give up at least some of its 116% tax on new cars. Then maybe people could afford to trade in those gas guzzlers. I drive a 1996 Mitsubishi L-300. I bought it two years ago. Before that I had a 1993 Mitsubishi L-300 (which I bought 'cheap' with new immigrant rights when we moved here). They don't have the L-300 in the US. It's a boxy minivan type of car. We bought it both times because it was the least expensive car that seats eight. The differences between the 1993 and the 1996 are that the 1996 has a fuel injected engine and anti-lock brakes. Neither car had air bags. In fact, when those were first introduced here, they were so expensive that most cars did not have them. Now, most cars do. Not mine.
And for those who are wondering, the current cost of gasoline (petrol for the Brits) here (based on May 1's exchange rate, which was actually more favorable for the dollar than it is today) is $7.19 per gallon (NIS 6.70 per liter). And it's going up again on Sunday.
Haviv Rettig has a very prescient comment in Thursday morning's JPost about one thing Israelis could learn from Morris (Moshe) Talansky. Here's the bottom line.
American Jewish giving, like American philanthropy generally, is based on a culture of personal generosity that Israelis have never encountered and don't understand. The American philanthropic industry is so large and sophisticated that an entire profession of highly-trained professionals, with advanced degrees in economics and management, exists to assist wealthy people (and literally thousands of American Jewish foundations) in giving away hundreds of billions of dollars each year in effective ways.
For American Jews, becoming wealthy is assumed to carry with it the responsibility to share the wealth and to enable others to make their own way. Couldn't Israelis, who clicked their tongues this week at Olmert's American Jewish contributors and alleged corruption, learn something from this American Jewish culture, particularly now that a "Hebrew tiger" era of strong economic growth has forged a new cadre of wealthy locals who have barely begun to follow American Jews on the road to generosity?
He's 100% right. The nouveau riche here are not people who give away vast (or even small) amounts of money to charity. There is little or no sense of communal responsibility among them. Social services here are funded through the generosity of American Jewry and by a government that is inefficient and insists on giving money to everyone (at everyone's expense) rather than to those who really need it at the expense of those who really don't. And by those who actually have the least but feel an obligation to do what they can anyway. Something ought to change.
British academic union to consider 'moral implications' of ties with Israel
Britain's University and College Union voted on Wednesday to consider the 'moral implications' of its ties with Israel. The vote paves the way for a renewed boycott of Israeli academics and universities despite legal advice that such a boycott would violate Britain's own anti-discrimination laws.
The University and College Union (UCU), the largest trade union and professional for academics and lecturers working throughout the UK, called on its members Wednesday to "consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating."
The motion, which was passed at the UCU's annual congress in Manchester, noted the "continuation of the illegal settlement eneterprise, killing of civilians and the humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU'.
If UCU were to implement the motion, it would encourage its 160,000 members to consider cutting off links with Israeli academic institutions - most of these links are with individual Israeli academics such as research partnerships, peer review of papers, or academic conferences.
Philosophy Professor Tom Hickey, who headed the initiative, said Wednesday that the call was not to boycott Israeli academies altogether, but rather for the lecturers to reevaluate their ties with Israeli institutions, given the situation in Gaza.
The matter, he said, was in the early stages of discussion. The UCU still has to conduct serious discussion prior to any decision on an overall academic embargo.
The implication is that, if they don’t condemn Israel for the ‘occupation’, or practising ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel’s door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won’t be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted. The views they are being bludgeoned into expressing as a condition of their employment are based on lies, distortion, propaganda, gross historical ignorance, blood libels and prejudice. And this in the universities, supposedly the custodians of free thought and inquiry in the service of dispassionate scholarship.
What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Israelis and Jews alone who are being singled out for this treatment. No other group is to be barred from academic activity unless they hold ‘approved’ views; no state-run educational institution controlled by any of the world’s numerous tyrannies is to be ‘grey-listed’. The UCU’s own rules state that it
actively opposes all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.
Well, various Jewish groups in the Stop the Boycott campaign have obtained a legal opinion from two QCs which states that today’s motion constitutes harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination on grounds of race or nationality. It says:
If the Motion is passed it would expose Jewish members of the Union to indirect discrimination... Additionally, the Union faces potential liability for acts of harassment on grounds of race or nationality. The substance of the Motion may also involve the Union in becoming accessories to acts of discrimination in an employment context against Israeli academics...No doubt, if such Israeli academics speak in favour of the Palestinian viewpoint they will be immune from further action; if they are against it or possibly even non-committal they and their institutions are to be considered potentially unsuitable subjects for continued association...
The Union will accordingly be adopting a provision, criterion or practice which will put Jewish members at a particular disadvantage compared to non-Jewish members. That is because Jewish members are much more likely to have links with Israeli academics and institutions than non -Jewish members. To require Jewish members to act consistently with the Motion (if passed) would be to impose a professional detriment upon them as Union members which is based on their race. If they acted inconsistently with the Motion, we infer that they would also be subject to disadvantage or sanction under the Union rules or practices -- an alternative detriment. We do not see how any such detriment would be justified as pursuing a legitimate aim. No proper Union purpose is promoted by imposing this detriment on certain members. Thus the Motion will have the effect of indirectly -- and unlawfully -- against Jewish Members of the Union.
The opinion is thus unequivocal. Today’s motion breaks the law; it breaks the UCU’s own rules; it is prejudiced, discriminatory and unjust towards Israelis and Jews.
If this is what happens now, imagine what will happen in thirty years when Britain is an Islamic state.
In defeat for Ahmadinejad, Larijani elected parliament speaker
In what is viewed as a defeat for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his political rival Ali Larijani (pictured) was elected speaker of the Iranian parliament.
Larijani, a close ally and foreign policy consultant of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanai, won a landslide victory in the parliamentary vote, defeating Ahmadinejad's favorite, former speaker Ghoulam Ali Hadad Adil.
Larijani served as chief nuclear negotiator until late 2005, when he resigned over differences of opinion with the president's non-compromising hard-line view regarding the nuclear program.
The massive support Larijani enjoys within Iran's parliament and the Guardian Council, combined with his powerful position as parliament speaker, will enable him to guide the parliament according to his views, at times at the expense of Ahmadinejad.
His election will give him power to influence Ahmadinejad's policies on many levels, including "the controversial budget next year… the ratification of legislation… and the debate between the Majlis [parliament] and the Guardian Council," Prof. Anoush Ehteshami of the International Relations Department at Durham University in England told The Media Line.
But as powerful as his current position may be, Larijani may regard it as just a launching pad to a much higher position - that of Ahmadinejad's.
While the Iranian president is hoping to secure a second term in office, analysts see Larijani as an obvious candidate for next year's presidential election.
"You have got a front-runner of the conservative camp, close to the [Supreme] Leader, taking on the current conservative president," said Ehteshami.
According to Ehteshami, Larijani's election sends a warning to Ahmadinejad and his considerable support base, particularly within the Revolutionary Guards, that there are other conservative forces that are jockeying for the presidency, and that the president is no longer able to "ride the conservative wave" in the absence of the reformists.
This has been Ahmadinejad's second major hurdle in the last few months, after the election last September of another political adversary - ex-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - as head of the Assembly of Experts.
So does this mean anything regarding Iran's development of nuclear weapons? At this point, Iran may be far enough along that there won't be elections there until after Ahmadinejad has nuclear weapons at his disposal. Can we envision a scenario where Ahmadinejad attacks Israel with nuclear weapons and then calls new elections? You bet. God forbid. Those who want to head off Iran's nuclear weapons should be encouraging Iranian opposition groups. While Larijani's election has to be viewed as a positive development, it's by no means a guarantee of getting the world out of the woods of dealing with a nuclear armed Iran.
Seattle to be first US city to divest from Israel?
The city of Seattle may have an initiative on its ballot in November that would require it to divest from its investments in Israeli corporations. Initiative 97 would prohibit the city of Seattle from "investing its pension funds in corporations that benefit from the Iraq war, or companies that provide material support to the Israeli government within the so-called “occupied territories.” Seattle native and Israeli investment adviser Aaron Katsman explains.
Why the connection?
Is it because the sponsors were worried about human rights violations that they believe both Israeli and U.S. forces are committing? Couldn’t be, could it? After all, I didn’t see any reference to other countries in the region who are role models when it comes to human rights. For example, with all the freedoms they enjoy, we all know that women are living it up in some countries in the mid-east. I even heard that they are now allowed to uncover the bridges of their noses as well as their eyes!
But seriously, I find the sponsors of the measure to be an interesting group. You have the ANSWER Coalition, SNOW, the Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Green Party. The Green Party? When I was discussing this whole issue with my partner Zack Miller, he said,” Isn’t that ironic. Israel happens to be the world leader in GreenTech, CleanTech, WaterTech, and virtually every other environmentally friendly technology that’s being developed. What are the Green’s thinking?”
According to the Seattle-PI: ” The measure would not restrict city investments in The Boeing Co., backers said. Rather, it takes aim specifically at Halliburton Holding Co. and Caterpillar Inc.” Hum… Halliburton must be as a punishment to VP Cheney. But why not Boeing? They do work with Israeli defense company Elbit Systems (ESLT)? What about Microsoft (MSFT)? The software giant has purchased 7-8 Israeli hi-tech start-ups over the last few years and just announced the launch of an R&D center in Israel.
The fact is that pension funds have a fiduciary responsibility to do their best to make as much money as possible for their clients, period. Over the last few years investing in Israel has been one of the most profitable places in the world to invest. If these groups want to make a political stand, let them stand out in front of the Federal building on 2nd Ave. and protest. You don’t like the Iraq policy, vote for Obama. But don’t force money managers to invest in companies that they believe will produce inferior returns and impact the retirement of thousands and thousands of your neighbors, to fulfill your own political agenda.
In any event, divesting won’t help. Without knowing it, we all use Israeli ingenuity every single day of our lives. From voice mail (developed by Comverse), to instant messaging (ICQ), to the firewall that sits on your computer (Checkpoint), to the generic drugs you are taking (Teva Pharmaceuticals) and to the cell phone you just spoke on. Like it or not, your life is powered by Israel.
If you are against the war in Iraq, drop the divestment idea and pick up a picket sign instead. If Israel is your problem, then be consistent; start divesting from the Israeli innovation that you use, unknowingly, each and every day.
I would have added Intel to Aaron's list. That processor that's running your computer right now? Guess where it's made....
Video: Barak calls on Olmert to resign (in English)
For those of you whose Hebrew isn't up to snuff, here's a good chunk of Ehud Barak's press conference from Wednesday afternoon, in which he called on Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert to leave office, with English subtitles.
The New York Times looks at Tuesday's IAEA report on Iran's development of nuclear weapons and finds much about which to be concerned. But their 'solution' is unbelievable: More incentives. Which part of Iran's 'right to develop nuclear weapons' did they not get? Here's what Ahmadinejad said:
"The Iranian nation considers nuclear energy its definite right and does not accept any additional and cruel rules," Ahmadinejad said, alluding to a possible new round of United Nations sanctions.
His speech drew chants of "Nuclear energy is our definite right!" from the crowd.
And here's how the Times responds:
This latest report is alarming, but it must not be used as an excuse by Washington hard-liners to launch another war. There are no good military options.
The United States and the other major powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — have yet to put together a serious package of incentives and sanctions that might persuade Iran to change course. [What were the last three tries? Swiss cheese? CiJ]
That must include a credible American offer of security guarantees and normalized relations if Tehran abandons any nuclear weapons ambitions. If Iran persists, it must face sanctions with a lot more bite than Russia and China have been willing to consider, including a broader ban on doing business with Iranian banks and bans on arms sales and new investments in Iran. [What makes the Times think that Russia and China will ever consider effective sanctions? CiJ]
Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, is scheduled to visit Tehran next month and present an enhanced incentives package. Insiders say it differs little from one proposed in 2006. We hope they are wrong. Before Mr. Solana goes, the major powers need to come up with a more compelling list of rewards and punishments. Too much time has already been wasted.
Well at least we can agree that too much time has been wasted. And the longer this goes on, the closer Iran gets to nuclear weapons and the more the war option becomes the only option other than letting Iran be a nuclear power. And the more costly the war option becomes.
Kennedy understood that evil exists in the world. He saw it in World War II as his generation defeated the evil that gripped Europe and Japan. And he witnessed it as president when Nikita Khruschchev approved building the Berlin Wall and installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, acts that flowed from Khrusch-chev's perception that the young president was weak and inexperienced.
Mr. Obama thinks he can negotiate with evil and transform evil into something else. Initially his foreign policy platform was a naive pledge to meet "unconditionally" with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and other nations dominated by dictators. In recent days he has changed his tune somewhat. He would still meet with the heads of these mini evil empires without preconditions, but "there must be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda."
This leads to an important question: On what basis does a free nation negotiate with nations that are not free? Does Mr. Obama expect leaders who got where they are by undemocratic, even violent, means to embrace press freedom, religious liberty, political pluralism and rights for women? What would evil leaders demand of him? Any concession given to dictators, who are not known for keeping their promises, would surely result in the United States being taken less seriously and contribute to undermining our national security.
Mr. Obama's "strategy" for dealing with evil is the progeny of a secular age that sees everything bad as curable through counseling, good intentions masquerading as wishful thinking and/or pharmaceutical intervention. Prosperity and a sense of entitlement have dulled our senses to what evil looks like. These days, evil is the party to which you don't belong and the ideology to which you do not subscribe.
Evil has a definition. Dictionary.com calls it: "morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked." There is a presumption contained in this definition. It is that a standard exists by which evil (and its opposite, good) may be judged. Too many of us have been taught in government schools and by contemporary culture that such notions belong to another, less sophisticated era. In the Internet age "evil" has become extinct.
One need only consider the flaunted immorality of "Sex and the City" to get the point. Women my grandmother would have labeled "sluts" are now regarded as New York sophisticates who change men as rapidly as they change clothes, during the short breaks between sexual trysts when they bother to wear clothes at all.
In place of an immutable standard, it is in self we trust, not God (Heaven, "if it exists," forbid).
Mr. Obama's only foreign policy strategy seems to be diplomacy, not the defeat of evil. Such an approach when not supported by a credible threat of military power is bound to encourage more evil, not less. Mr. Obama debunks the value of experience, claiming the experience of President Bush and John McCain got us into the lengthy Iraq war.
That war didn't start in Iraq and it won't end there, even if our objectives are achieved. Those objectives are closer to being realized than they were a year ago, but Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats cannot acknowledge progress because they are preoccupied with victory at the polls more than victory over evil.
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