Olmert says Israel must give up everything; 'Palestinians' say not enough
There's a 'legacy interview' with Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert - who is still Prime Minister until a new government is formed - in Monday's Yediot Aharonot (the Hebrew side of YNet). In the interview, Olmert says that Israel must give up all of Judea and Samaria, including 'east' Jerusalem, and also all of the Golan, in order to make 'peace.' But for the 'Palestinians,' even that is not enough.
In an interview with 'Radio Palestine,' 'Palestinian' spokesman Yasser Abd Rabbo said that Olmert's words were a change of thinking, but he should have said it earlier, and it's still not enough for them. They want no less than to go back to the 1967 border and displace some 500,000 Jews.
"Ariel Sharon spoke about painful costs and refused to elaborate," Olmert told the daily. "I say, we have no choice but to elaborate. In the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the sameterritories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel."
"I think we are very close to an agreement," Olmert added.
These comments were the clearest sign to date of Olmert's willingness to meet key Palestinian demands in peace talks.
Olmert actually tried to give everything away - including areas within Israel's pre-1967 borders - just before he switched from being Prime Minister to being an 'interim' Prime Minister until the next government is formed (which could still take months). Under Supreme Court rulings there are limits on what an 'interim' Prime Minister can do which would probably prevent Olmert from signing an agreement.
Olmert offered Abbas Israeli land inside the pre-1967 borders, including areas near Gaza and Beit She’an, as well as the Jordan Valley, in exchange for certain Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria.
In a last-minute attempt to forge an agreement with the Palestinian Authority before he must leave office, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to give away Israeli land inside the pre-1967 borders, including areas near Gaza and Beit She’an, as well as the Jordan Valley. At his last meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Olmert nearly signed a final agreement in which whole blocks of Jewish settlements inside the pre-1967 borders would be surrendered to the Arabs in exchange for Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria, IDF Army Radio reported.
According to the Sunday morning report, Olmert conducted a series of secret meetings with Abbas, in which the two came close to signing a complete land-swap deal that would determine the “final” borders of a much smaller State of Israel.
In Olmert’s offer, Israel would give up areas within the 1967 borders, including land in the western Negev adjacent to Gaza and the Porah agricultural area near the northern town of Beit She’an.
Olmert also offered to give away the entire Jordan Valley, including the numerous Jewish settlements in it, as well as the land in the Southern Hevron Hills area.
In return, according to the agreement, Israel would be able to retain certain Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria, including the Samaria town of Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim to the east of Jerusalem and the Etzion Bloc of communities southwest of the capital.
The report said that the deal foundered over disagreements over the status of Jerusalem and the so-called “right of return” of Arabs who left Israel in 1948 and 1967. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the negotiations with the PA.
Forgetting for a minute about Israel's historical and cultural attachment to Judea and Samaria - areas in which most of the biblical narrative takes place - one would think that the security implications of giving away those areas would be daunting for an Israeli 'leader.' But not for Olmert.
I read what our (reserve) generals say and I say, how can it be that they haven't learned anything and haven't forgotten anything? By them everything is tanks and land and controlling territory and territory under control and this hill and that hill. All of these things are valueless...
The real threat that we face today in the North, in the South and the center is rockets and missiles. We need an answer for them, but we won't reach an answer by arguing over 200 meters. .We can go another two kilometers and the range of the rockets will increase another 10 kilometers.
I say, there is no need to wait to make a decision. Either I will complete it or Tzipi Livni or whoever comes after her.
So Olmert is willing to put Jerusalem, the coastal plain and Ben Gurion Airport in easy firing range, because he believes that they're already in firing range already. That's sick - life is pretty normal here in Jerusalem (bli ayin hara) and it most definitely would not be normal if we surrendered all the land that's over the 1967 line (not to mention that I would be homeless).
Besides, if you want to prove the value of land, look at how many rockets fell how far in the area of the 'Gaza envelope' in the Negev before 2005 and look how many have fallen since.
But the 'international community' agrees with Olmert. In a statement issued by Condi Clueless at the State Department earlier this week, the 'quartet' decreed that Israelis have no right to know what their government has promised the 'Palestinians' and no right to approve it.
In a statement released via the US State Department, the Quartet "noted the significance of this process and the importance of confidentiality in order to preserve its integrity."
Referring in the next line to the "irreversibility of the negotiations," the Quartet also took it upon itself to determine that the current formula whereby Israel can test different offers to the Palestinians without actually committing to future concessions will no longer fly.
Israel's core position since direct high-level peace talks started in 1993 has been that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This principle underlined the ill-fated 2000 Camp David talks where former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made far-reaching offers to try to entice Yasser Arafat into a peace deal, but insisted that all offers were off the table the moment the summit ended. That position was supported and even echoed by their host, former US President Bill Clinton.
But the international community is starting to understand that the Palestinians will settle for nothing less than 100 percent of their demands being met. The only way to achieve that is to make all Israeli offers binding, no matter how tentative, and then stockpile those offers over a period of time until the Palestinians are satisfied.
The Quartet's goal appears to be to change the rules of the game, even to the point of denying Israeli voters the ability to participate in the peace process in any meaningful way. With a public kept in the dark and an opposition unable to campaign on a platform of alternative approaches to peace because all past offers are binding, the current leadership is far more likely to remain in power.
Olmert is similarly pacifist when it comes to Syria.
With regard to the Syria track, Olmert added that a future peace agreement required a pullout from the Golan Heights, an area under Israeli control since the 1967 Six-Day War.
"First and foremost, we must make a decision. I'd like see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights."
"It is true that an agreement with Syria comes with danger," he said. "Those who want to act with zero danger should move to Switzerland."
And Olmert will do just that - move to Switzerland (or France) if he ever succeeds - God forbid - in giving our country away.
So as you head to synagogue to pray tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday, please pray for us here in Israel. Please pray that we awaken from our catatonic stupor and throw Olmert, Livni and Co. out on their rear ends. Please pray that Bibi Netanyahu means it when he says that he would 'resume settlement activity' (I don't believe it). Please pray that God saves us from the Iranian threat - because our clueless leaders and the Americans and their allies won't.
And please pray for a year of peace and prosperity for yourselves and for all of us.
A bus carrying soldiers was targeted at 7:45 Monday morning near a Lebanese army post in Bahsas in northern Lebanon. Some accounts place Bahsas in Tripoli. According to the latest reports at this writing (see headlines above the fold), five people have been killed and 17 have been wounded. On Saturday, a car bomb in Damascus killed 17 people and wounded 14. The two events may be connected: last week it was reported that Syrian troops were massed on Lebanon's northern border with Syria. This is also the second bomb in northern Lebanon targeting troops in less than two months. Eighteen soldiers and civilians were killed by a roadside bomb on August 13. AFP is now reporting six people killed (no link) and Lebanon's LBC television is reporting that the bus, which can carry up to 24 people, was thrown a long distance. More details when I have them.
UPDATE 8:54 AM
A possible target? This is from the first link above:
8:48am Voice of Lebanon radio station: Among the victims was adjutant Fouad Qadaweh who was taken to al-Haikaliya hospital.
I have no idea who Fouad Qadaweh is or what an 'adjutant' is, but he seems to be significant.
UPDATE 9:03 AM
In its infinite wisdom, Google has now decided that Naharnet.com is an 'attack site' and despite my having cleared it as an exception in Firefox, I cannot access the articles, only the headlines.
A car bomb exploded near a military bus carrying troops to work in northern Lebanon on Monday, killing and wounding at least 15 people, Lebanese security officials said. Most of the casualties were soldiers, the officials said. The officials said the car was booby-trapped and parked on a roadside. The bomb was detonated by remote control as the military bus drove by at the southern entrance to the northern city of Tripoli. The explosion happened during morning rush hour, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Local TV showed soldiers sealing off the area and preventing people from approaching. The blast shattered windows in several cars parked in the area.
UPDATE 10:24 AM
I now have raw video from Lebanese telvision (no sound) so let's go to the videotape:
Naharnet is now reporting six dead and thirty wounded.
There are elections being held in Austria on Sunday, and Austria's relations with Israel hang in the balance. The polls indicate that the Orwellian-named 'Freedom party' could garner as much as 20% of the vote and be a part of the ruling coalition. If that were to happen, Israel would likely break diplomatic relations with Austria.
Heinz-Christian Strache, who leads the Freedom Party, took part in paramilitary activities with neo-Nazis in the late 1980s and has been known to use the Nazi salute.
In 2000, the inclusion of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government prompted Israel to recall its ambassador to Vienna.
Then-prime minister Ehud Barak said the party's presence in the government "should outrage every inhabitant of the world."
"The Jewish people, wherever it may be, led by the State of Israel, will never allow the world to conduct business as usual in light of the events in Austria and their possible implications," Barak said at the time.
In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post last week, Dan Ashbel, Israel's ambassador in Vienna, said, "We are very concerned about the situation and parties who are xenophobic and base their policies on xenophobia. It is a danger and it is a very sad fact that this repeats itself."
The Freedom Party is campaigning using anti-immigrant slogans, such as "Asylum fraud means a flight home," and is exploiting anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments to win votes.
But like all modern-day anti-Semites, the 'Freedom Party' claims that it isn't anti-Semitic - it 'just' opposes Israel. And it has a useful idiot named 'rabbi' Moshe Aryeh Friedman who serves as its token Jew.
"The rabbi is a good friend of mine... Why, we've even had him over to the house!" said John Gudenus, a Freedom Party politician who has been convicted of denying the Holocaust. In Austria, it is unlawful to cast doubt on the extermination of European Jewry as a historical fact.
On Tuesday, the Freedom Party held a press conference to announce a parliamentary inquiry into the expulsion of Friedman's children from Vienna's oldest Jewish school. Raimund Fastenbauer, general secretary of the [Jewish] community, told the Post "the Freedom Party is giving assistance to Mr. Friedman."
Does the name Moshe Aryeh Friedman ring a bell for any of you? Recall this picture:
And guess why Friedman's kids have been expelled from the local Jewish school. Friedman is a modern-day kapo.
Fastenbauer said the move was justified because Friedman failed to pay school fees and because of his participation in the World Without Zionism conference.
Friedman "is educating his children with Holocaust revisionist views. He is not a chief rabbi and has no followers. He is a crook," Fastenbauer said.
Ariel Muzicant, president of the Austrian Jewish community, said the Freedom Party, as "a party with closeted Nazis, is not acceptable as a governing partner."
I know many of you may be wondering why the name Jorge Haider has not appeared yet in this post. Yes, you recall correctly, Haider did found the 'Freedom Party.' But he broke off from it in 2005 and founded a new party called the 'Alliance for Austria's future.' Their slogan is 'Austria for the Austrians. For your sake.' A Gallup poll shows them garnering 8% of the vote - double their total in the 2006 elections.
The problem with the Austrians is that for 65 years, the World has allowed them to cling to the myth that they too were 'victims' of the Nazis. Unlike the Germans, their Austrian cohorts were never made to pay reparations and were never punished for their willing and eager role in the annihilation of much of World Jewry. The myth of victimhood that the Austrians - who raised and nurtured Adolph Hitler YMS"H (may his name be obliterated) - have perpetuated as part of their national psyche has now come full circle. The Austrians - together with Iran - are apparently ready to try again.
The SORA Institute for Social Analysis and Research said the Social Democrats had 29.8 percent of the vote, according to its preliminary projections after 82.7 percent of ballots had been counted.
In second place was the People's Party, with a projected 25.6 percent of the vote, followed by the country's two right-wing groups - the Freedom Party with 18 percent, and the Alliance for the Future of Austria with 11 percent.
The institute said the margin of error for its projection so far was plus or minus 0.5 percent - putting the combined results for the two right-wing parties close to the count for the Social Democrats.
At this point, the two right-wing parties were not expected to join forces due to resistance from Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache.
However, Joerg Haider, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Austria, has suggested it is something worth thinking about. And Strache on Sunday suggested he was interested in becoming chancellor.
With no party projected to win an outright majority, a coalition would need to be formed.
Social Democrat leader Werner Faymann has rejected the possibility of joining forces with either right-wing party.
That isn't going to leave him too many choices, is it? Especially when you take into account that his coalition with the People's Party just broke up! But what's worse is that many Austrians are pretending that the vote for the extreme right parties isn't meaningful:
"We don't have more right-oriented voters than in 2006, when they gained 15 percent together," political commentator Peter Filzmaier said in an pre-election interview. "It's because of a negative mood of frustration, of political mistrust of the grand coalition."
Yeah, right. Can you imagine what would happen in the US if the Klan ran on the ballot and got a third of the vote? I didn't think so.
Just like every Sunday morning, Dr. Pat is up and about this morning and she has already put up the weekly Carnival of the Insanities. So while Dr. Pat eats her pile of pancakes, go on over and check out all the latest and greatest insanities from all over the Internet. Carnival of the Insanities - it's INNNNNSSSSAAANNNE!
P.S. I have no idea what Dr. Pat eats for Sunday morning breakfast. I made that up. Maybe I'll stop in on her the next time I'm in Michigan and find out. But given that it's been about 20 years since the last time I was in Michigan - and all I did then was drive through.... Ah, the age of the Internet....
A car bomb carrying 200 kilograms of explosives exploded near the Palestine branch of Syrian Military Intelligence, the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat reported.
The identity of the high-ranking military officer, who was reportedly killed as a result of the explosion, has not yet been revealed.
The Palestine branch of Syrian Military Intelligence is headed by Gen. Suleiman Dayoub, a close ally of President Bashar Al-Asad's brother-in-law, Gen. Asif Shawkat, who heads Military Intelligence and is considered one of the strongest men in the Syrian regime.
Now I know I said that if there was a non-civilian target, it could be that Israel was behind the bombing. But there are indications that Israel was not behind it.
The Media Line's analysts indicate this has been the second incident this year directed against a security target. Earlier this year, Al-Asad's top security adviser Muhammad Suleiman was assassinated in Tartous. The investigation into his murder was not made public.
Saturday's attack may be connected to Suleiman's assassination and to a behind-the-scenes battle within the top Syrian security command. Various unconfirmed reports over the past few months indicated that Al-Asad may have begun to worry about Shawkat's increasing power.
Syria, of course, is not revealing any such internal disputes, and is trying to place the blame on outside elements.
That's not the only source that pegs Saturday's bombing as an inside job. But the second source makes it sound more like a work accident.
An opposition group is claiming it has an eyewitness who saw the vehicle enter the street from a building belonging to a group related to Syrian intelligence just before it blew up. The group, the Syrian Reform Party, claims those killed by the presumably premature blast were members of Syrian intelligence, and not civilians as the government is reporting.
One of the reasons supporters of Israel have such a hard time making their case abroad is that lots of people in the West don't recognize the threat that radical Islam poses to them and to their way of life. Take Portland, Oregon.
The local newspaper, the Oregonian, is scheduled to distribute free copies of the DVD Obsession in Sunday's editions. Several local businessmen, along with a former mayoral candidate, are afraid that this will lead to imaginary 'Muslim bashing' and 'Islamophobia' and are trying to convince the Oregonian not to distribute the DVD. Let's go to the videotape.
A U.S. Muslim advocacy group last week asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the Clarion Fund is a "front" for an Israel-based group with a stealth goal of helping Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Another organization, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, is a partner with the Clarion Fund in "The Obsession Project," which will also include research publications and issue forums.
Ari Morgenstern, a spokesman for that group, said targeting swing states was designed to attract media attention, but is not meant to influence the election result. He said the film "makes a very clear and upfront distinction between the majority of peaceful followers of Islam and those people who subscribe to a radical Islamic ideology."
Under federal election law and the tax code, nonprofit groups are restricted from getting involved in candidate races and foreign nationals may not contribute to American campaigns. The DVD's distributors say their efforts are issue-based and don't break election laws.
"We are not telling people who to vote for," said Gregory Ross, spokesman for the Clarion Fund. "We're just saying no matter who gets in office, the American people should know radical Islam is a real threat to America. We don't feel radical Islam is getting its fair share of press."
So once again, an organization dedicated to combating radical Islam is being threatened. When will Americans wake up to the threat?
By the way, Obsession is scheduled to be distributed to some 28 million households via paid advertisements in 70 newspapers (mostly in 'battleground states') in the US on Sunday. If you receive it, I urge you to watch it. If you do not receive it in your local newspaper and would like to obtain a copy, please go here.
Defense News is reporting that as promised, the United States has deployed the FBX-T radar system - popularly known as the X-band - at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel. And as promised, it's an American deployment under American control, just like in Japan.
The Raytheon-built FBX-T system is the same phased-array radar that was deployed to northern Japan with the U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in 2006. The high-powered, high-frequency, transportable X-band radar is designed to detect and track ballistic missiles soon after launch.
Its ancillary gear included cooling systems, generators, perimeter defense weaponry, logistics supplies and dozens of technicians, maintenance specialists and security forces to operate and defend the U.S. installation.
EUCOM has repeatedly deployed troops and Patriot air defense batteries for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime contingencies, but has never before permanently deployed troops on Israeli soil.
A EUCOM spokesman declined to comment. MDA officials referred to the U.S. State Department, which did not provide comment by press time.
An Israeli military spokesman said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enjoys longstanding strategic cooperation with all branches of the U.S. military.
"This cooperation is varied and comes in multiple forms, and it is not our practice to discuss details of our bilateral activities," he said.
Nevertheless, in previous interviews, U.S. and Israeli officials confirmed that the X-band deployment plan was approved in July, first by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi; and then by. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
This system is a key element in Israel's defenses against Iran. Here's why.
The radar will be linked to the U.S. Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS), which receives and processes threat data transmitted by U.S. Defense Support System satellites. According to U.S. and Israeli sources, JTAGS will remain in Europe, but its essential cueing data will stream into the forward-deployed X-band radar, where it instantaneously shares information with Israel's Arrow Weapon System.
Once operational, the combined U.S. and Israeli system is expected to double or even triple the range at which Israel can detect, track and ultimately intercept Iranian missiles, according to Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.
During a visit to Israel in early August, Obering said the X-Band radar could add precious minutes to the time in which Israel has to respond to incoming missile attacks.
"The missile threat from Iran is very real, and we must stay ahead of the threat ... that's why we're working so hard with all our allies to put the most optimized, effective, anti-missile capabilities in place," Obering said.
"In the context of Israel, if we can take the radar out here and tie it into the Arrow Weapon System, they'll be able to launch that interceptor way before they could with an autonomous system," he added.
Ilan Biton, a brigadier general in the Israel Air Force (IAF) reserves and former commander of the nation's air defense forces, could not comment on the latest developments associated with the X-band radar. However, he said that an IAF air defense brigade established during his 2003-2006 tenure has continuously demonstrated its ability to interoperate well with American forces.
"We advanced tremendously on multiple levels and have developed very impressive cooperation," Biton said at a Sept. 22 conference in Herzliya. Referring to bilateral Juniper Cobra air defense exercises and the 2003 deployment of Patriot batteries prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Biton noted: "At the human level, we've developed a common language and at the technical level, we've put in place the interfaces that allow our systems to speak to one another."
The end result, according to Biton, is a combined ability "to manage battles, execute debriefs and implement corrections, all in real time."
The Americans are hoping that by deploying the X-band system here, they will send a message to Iran that the US will defend Israel against that country, while sending a message to Israel that it can live with a nuclear Iran if it has to.
DEBKA, which first broke the story of the Israelis being unhappy with the lack of Israeli control over the system, points out that Israeli personnel are barred from the X-band facility, but on the other hand says that the link with the JTAGS system will improve Israel's missile detection capabilities.
This is the first time an Israel Defense Forces facility housing an American weapons system has been closed to Israeli military.
The X-band radar has been deployed with cooling systems, generators, perimeter defense weaponry and dozens of technicians and security forces to operate and defend the installation.
The Raytheon system can detect a flying object the size of a baseball at a distance of 4,700 km, fix on its speed and trajectory and convey the data to the Israeli Arrow anti-missile battery. This equals detecting an Iranian Shehab-3 ballistic missile 5.5 minutes after its launch, which means that it is picked up halfway on its 11-minute flight from Iran to bomb targets in Israel, adding precious minutes to Israel’s response time for incoming missile attacks.
Israel has furthermore been given improved access to US satellites capable of identifying missiles at the instant of their launch. Israel will now be directly linked to the satellites - albeit through the US Joint Tactical Ground Station – JTAGS in Europe.
The first picture in this post is of a land-based X-band system of the type deployed in the Negev desert. The other two pictures are of sea-based systems of the type deployed in Japan.
There is no question that Israel is better off with X-band than without it regardless of who controls the system.
Israeli police trained Chinese counterparts before Olympics
Remember how quiet the Beijing Olympics were? Do you know why? Guess who trained China's police for the Olympics.... Uh huh, the 'evil Zionist entity.'
Israel Police held secret training for Chinese police officers ahead of the recent Olympic Games, Haaretz has learned. The approximately six-week course was held in Israel for about 20 selected officers of the People's Armed Police Force, to use Israeli experience to train them for possible scenarios involving terror and civil disturbances at the Games.
The training involved, among other things, how to neutralize terrorists with their bare hands, how to deal with a crowd that riots on the playing field, and how to protect VIPS and remove demonstrators from main traffic arteries.
The Chinese officers arrived in Israel last May for the training, at the request of the Chinese public safety ministry. Brigadier General Bentzi Sau was appointed head of the project and designed the training program.
And guess where the Chinese police stayed: In the occupied territoriesSamaria.
The Border Police base at Beit Horon was set up to accommodate the guests, including lessons in Chinese cuisine for police cooks.
For purposes of the training, the Kiryat Eliezer soccer stadium in Haifa played the part of the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing.
The officers learned how to take over a hijacked bus and identify a car rigged with explosives, and trained with M-16 rifles and Jericho pistols.
Although the main focus of the training was to give the Chinese police the tools necessary to handle terrorist attacks, they also learned how to handle mass civilian demonstrations.
But best of all, this may lead to more cooperation in the future.
Haaretz has learned that the commander of the People's Armed Police Force, General Wu Shuangzhan, has expressed an interest in continued cooperation between Israeli and Chinese police following the success of the course. The police has declined to comment on the matter.
But read the whole thing, because apparently the Chinese didn't want this reported in the media. Maybe they were afraid it would damage their relations with Iran?
The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a draft resolution again urging Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear fuel work but offering no new sanctions and merely reaffirming existing ones.
Resolution 1835 calls on Iran "to fully comply and without delay with its obligations (under relevant UN resolutions) and to meet the requirement of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) board of governors."
US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad immediately welcomed the adoption of the resolution by all 15 council members.
"It shows that the world community is united on this issue, that Iran must cooperate," he added, stressing that the nuclear standoff with Tehran should be resolved "through diplomacy, through the two-track approach" of dialogue, including the offer of economic incentive by six major powers, and sanctions.
The resolution also reaffirmed the council's "commitment to an early negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," and welcomes the "dual-track approach" by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, the six powers trying to clip Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The United States and its European allies had pushed for new, tougher sanctions against Tehran but have run into resistance from Russia and China.
Time is running out. And the world continues to dawdle. Unfortunately, so does Israel.
An IAF pilot driving to work in southern Israel on Thursday was harassed by two Bedouin who tried to cause an accident. Eventually, the Bedouin managed to force the pilot to the side of the road, where they were in for a little surprise.
When the pilot got out of his car, one of the Bedouins attempted to slap him. Unfortunately for the attackers, it turned out that the pilot is not only proficient in flying aircraft, but also in hand-to-hand combat. After a short struggle, both Bedouins were on the ground, moaning in pain.
As the pilot arrived at the Nevatim army base, he reported the incident to his commanding officer, who informed police. When police officers arrived at the scene, both Bedouins were not there, supposedly carried off by their friends. According to information acquired by police, the two were badly beaten up.
The Negev District Police said that the incident is being investigated and that efforts are underway to locate the two attackers.
Israel and the US are responsible for the car bomb which exploded in Damascus, killed 17 people and wounding 14 others, several Syrian political commentators and media outlets claimed Saturday.
The explosion, they said, was aimed at Iranian nationals, Army Radio reported. They based their allegations on the fact the street on which the car exploded led to Saydah Zeinab, a pilgrimage site for Shi'ite Muslims from Iran or Lebanon.
The car packed with 200 kilograms of explosives blew up in a southern neighborhood near the junction to the city's international airport, shattering car and apartment windows, TV reported. The charred booby-trapped car was seen sitting in the street near a primary school as firefighters stood near a wide crater believed to be caused by the blast.
Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdul-Majid called the bombing a "terrorist act" and said all the victims were civilians. Anti-terror units were investigating.
"We cannot accuse any party. There are ongoing investigations that will lead us to those who carried it out," Abdul-Majid told state TV.
I don't believe Israel did it. If we had, we would have gotten a significant target. Israel has no interest in killing Iranian civilians. Here's a video of the aftermath (the tape came from Russian television, so unless you speak Russian you will not understand it). Let's go to the videotape.
Palin: 'We can't second guess Israel on its security'
Shavua Tov, a good week to everyone.
A lot of knee-jerk Democratic voting Jews are trying to question Sarah Palin's support for Israel. I heard a lot of it when I was in Boston. Those people are all wrong. This is Palin telling off Katie Couric who seems generally concerned by the fact that Palin would give Israel free reign when it comes to its own security.
You must register to vote in the US Presidential election
Some of you may have noticed some new advertising at the top of this blog.
Israel has the largest community of American expatriates in the world. Some 23% of American expatriates worldwide live in Israel. But if you want to vote in the US Presidential election you must register and you must do it by October 6.
Vote From Israel is a non-partisan (unlike me), nonprofit dedicated to getting Americans in Israel to Vote in the upcoming US elections for President.
To vote from overseas, you MUST be registered. If you aren't registered, you can't vote. Period. Registration ends October 6, 2008 (in a little more than a week!!!).
So what if the US turned down Israel's 'green light' request
Al-Guardian reported Thursday night that in May the United States turned down an Israeli request for a 'green light' to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.
The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush's trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state's founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added.
The sources work for a European head of government who met the Israeli leader some time after the Bush visit. Their talks were so sensitive that no note-takers attended, but the European leader subsequently divulged to his officials the highly sensitive contents of what Olmert had told him of Bush's position.
Bush's decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran's likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.
The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran's nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.
Consider the source of this story. Al-Guardian is long-known as a virulently anti-Israel newspaper. My guess is that the "European head of government who met the Israeli leader some time after the Bush visit" is Britain's own Gordon Brown, who met with Olmert in July. Brown is no Tony Blair, and while he may be cooperative on sanctions against Iran, he is less likely to be cooperative on striking Iran's nuclear facilities.
But as Caroline Glick pointed out last week, Israel may no longer have a choice as to whether to act, even if the only damage is to set Iran back a few years. Note how dispersed Iran's nuclear facilities are in the map below and read on.
Today, there is only one way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Israel must bomb Iran's nuclear installations. Such a strike will not end Iran's nuclear program. It will not overthrow the regime. It will not cripple Iran's economy. It will not end Iran's active support for international terrorist groups.
All an Israeli air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities will do is set its nuclear program back for a couple of years. Such a strike will buy Israel and the rest of the world time. And during that time, Iran will no doubt expand its diplomatic, terror and political offensives against Israel and the US. But if Israel and the US are wise, they can use the time as well.
If Israel and the US are wise, they will use the extra time to ratchet up international economic sanctions on Iran. They will use the time to conduct covert operations against nuclear and regime targets. They will use the time to increase international pressure on countries that do business with Iran and sell it arms. And they will use the time that an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities will buy to support Iranian democracy movements and so weaken the regime and perhaps eventually topple it.
It is clear today that the Bush administration will not take action against Iran. This week five former secretaries of state said that the US should pursue diplomatic ties with Teheran regardless of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. There will be no will in Washington to act against Iran until after Iran has attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.
So it is up to Israel. Too bad we don't have a government in Jerusalem.
I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that what Glick is proposing is Samson committing suicide and taking as many Philistines as possible with him. But I believe that she is right that even if the costs of a strike against Iran are high, and even if they outweigh the benefits in the short-term, there may no longer be any choice. As I noted yesterday, sanctions are a dead letter.
For the record, Olmert spokesman Mark Regev has denied the Guardian's story:
Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, tonight reacted to the Guardian's story saying: "The need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is raised at every meeting between the prime minister and foreign leaders. Israel prefers a diplomatic solution to this issue but all options must remain on the table. Your unnamed European source attributed words to the prime minister that were not spoken in any working meeting with foreign guests".
And there is every indication that if Bush said no in May, it did not convince Israel to abandon the military option against Iran:
Three weeks after Bush's red light, on June 2, Israel mounted a massive air exercise covering several hundred miles in the eastern Mediterranean. It involved dozens of warplanes, including F-15s, F-16s and aerial refueling tankers.
The size and scope of the exercise ensured that the US and other nations in the region saw it, said a US official, who estimated the distance was about the same as from Israel to Natanz.
A few days later, Israel's deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, told the paper Yediot Ahronot: "If Iran continues its programme to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear programme."
The exercise and Mofaz's comments may have been designed to boost the Israeli government and military's own morale as well, perhaps, to persuade Bush to reconsider his veto. Last week Mofaz narrowly lost a primary within the ruling Kadima party to become Israel's next prime minister. Tzipi Livni, who won the contest, takes a less hawkish position.
The US announced two weeks ago that it would sell Israel 1,000 bunker-busting bombs. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a consolation prize for Israel after Bush told Olmert of his opposition to an attack on Iran. But it could also enhance Israel's attack options in case the next US president revives the military option.
The guided bomb unit-39 (GBU-39) has a penetration capacity equivalent to a one-tonne bomb. Israel already has some bunker-busters.
When it comes to Iran, there is wall-to-wall agreement in this country that we cannot allow Iran to go nuclear. Even Livni understands that. Here's what to watch for: If Netanyahu and the Likud go into a government headed by Kadima, an attack against Iran is coming. Just like Menachem Begin brought the Likud's predecessor into the Labor-led government just before the Six Day War in 1967.
While George Bush may have said no in May, he may feel differently toward the end of the first week in November. And Israel has always had a contingency plan for attacking Iran that did not require a flyover of Iraq.
"The reason that Syria has been late in providing additional information (is) that our interlocutor has been assassinated in Syria," ElBaradei told a closed-door session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board. A recording of his remarks was obtained by AFP.
He did not provide any further details about the identity of the man or circumstances of the assassination.
But according to Arab media reports last month, a brigadier general thought to be the Syrian regime's liaison with Hezbollah in Lebanon was assassinated.
The Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat said the victim was a senior Syrian officer "in charge of sensitive files and closely linked to the Syrian top brass."
Al-Bawaba, an Arab news website, named the officer as Mohammed Sleiman, saying he was "Syria's liaison officer with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement."
The Lebanese anti-Syrian daily al-Mustaqbal quoted a Syrian news site as saying Sleiman was the head of security at the presidential palace in Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad's "right-hand man."
ElBaradei's revelation came on the fourth and final day of the IAEA board meeting, where Syria was the final matter of debate.
It's also very curious that Sleiman, who was known to be quite close to Bashar al-Assad and to Hezbullah, was the IAEA's man in Syria. That ought to tell you something about the (lack of) reliability and neutrality of the IAEA's contacts among El-Baradei's 'Syrian brothers.'
And finally, it's also curious that Memeorandum took down this article quite quickly. I was lucky to have seen it.
I had a cup of coffee with Noah Pollak several months ago, and we've been in touch regularly ever since. Noah is now in graduate school at Yale, where he seems to be determined to make himself the most hated man on campus. Yale has long been known for its hostility to Jewish students (a more subdued version of Columbia) but today, Noah ripped the mask off something Yale calls its Council on Middle East Studies (CMES) and shows that its upcoming conference will be a festival of Israel-bashing at which Israel will have no defenders on the panels.
The taxpayer-funded Council claims itself "a central resource for the Yale community, the region, and the nation on issues pertaining to the Middle East" that organizes programs and events "designed to advance understanding of regional issues." It is fair to ask whether CMES's annual conference furthers these objectives.
Several things are remarkable about the list of conference participants on the program. The keynote speaker--you can tell a lot about who the organizers of a conference wish to identify themselves with by the choice of the keynote--is Robert Malley, the controversial former Obama adviser whose work over the past several years has been notable in its effort to absolve Yasser Arafat of blame for the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000 and his attempt to convince anyone who will listen that the key to peace in the Middle East is for Israel and Abu Mazen to go hat in hand to Hamas. This is CMES's choice to headline its conference.
The panel on "Peacemaking in the 21st Century"--this presumably refers to the various Israeli-Arab conflicts--amazingly does not feature a single person on it who has a positive, or even balanced, thing to say about Israel. The "Israeli" voice is Avi Shlaim, who lived in Israel for a few years in childhood and today says that Israel looks "like an 'Ashkenazi trick' of which [I don't] feel a part." Shlaim rose to fame as a relentless and often unhinged critic of Zionism and Israel; his life's work is dedicated to the proposition that there has never been an Arab offer for peace that was not sincere, and an Israeli offer for peace that was not a deception. He favors an arms embargo and economic sanctions against Israel. The organizers of Yale's conference on the Middle East apparently could not find a single professor in a relevant discipline to speak without rancor or fanaticism about Israel's place in the region. So what about government officials? Sallama Shaker, an Egyptian foreign minister, will be at the conference, after all. But apparently the Israeli consulate in New York, an hour-and-a-half drive from New Haven, was considered too far away.
So, Avi Shlaim will hold forth on the myriad injustices of Zionism; Rob Malley will tell us that we must bring Hamas in from the cold; Trita Parsi will apologize for the Iranian regime; Murhaf Jouejati will apologize for Bashar Assad; Daoud Kuttab, who three days after 9/11 blamed the attacks on American support for Israel, will lecture on the illegitimacy of Israeli self-defense; and Marwan Khawaja, the pro-Hezbollah Yale professor, will tell us what Lebanon needs, although this time, ensconced in New Haven, he will probably not say that Lebanon needs Hezbollah to slaughter more Zionists, as he did in 2006.
Read the whole thing. And if you're someone who gets asked for money by Yale University, the next time you should just say no.
Official 'Palestinian' television denies existence of Jewish Temples
This week, the official television station of the 'Palestinian Authority' denied the existence of the two Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in an effort to deny the Jewish connection to the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel. Let's go to the videotape of the music video that was shown by the 'moderates' from Fatah on their official television station this week:
A music video currently broadcast on Palestinian Television denies any historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem: "Oh [Sons of] Zion, no matter how much you dig and no matter how much you destroy, your imaginary Temple will not come into being". The repeated refrain, "Al-Aqsa is ours," is meant to emphasize this statement, as the Al-Aqsa mosque is built on the site of the Temple, destroyed in the year 70 during Israel's revolt against the Roman Empire.
The video images focus on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and praying Muslims, and together with the lyrics repeat the Palestinian fabrication that Israel is planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and therefore it needs protection: "Oh God, protect Al-Aqsa, Oh Allah, Al-Aqsa is ours, [protect Al-Aqsa] from every thief and every oppressor."
The clip includes pictures to identify the "thief and oppressor" - Jews wearing skullcaps, Israeli police and military, Israeli excavations of Old Jerusalem, the Israeli flag, and the Western Wall. The clip sings for another Saladin, the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem in 1187, to appear: "How you [Al-Aqsa] suffer! How you have bled for years! How you scream! How you call out to the millions! What are you hoping for, who are you crying for? Saladin!"
The video was broadcast this week on Palestinian TV, the same day that a Jerusalem Arab injured 20 Israelis in a terror attack in Jerusalem. PA TV, which is under the authority of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas TV have shown this clip intermittently during the last 18 months, and it constitutes part of a prolonged hate campaign against Israel. The campaign denies the historical fact of the connection between the Jewish people, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, while infusing hatred and fear by pretending that Islam's holy site, as well as its adherents, are in great danger.
These are the complete words of the song:
"Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, Oh Muslims, Al-Aqsa is ours, our Al-Aqsa screams and shouts, Al-Aqsa is ours. Oh Arabs and Muslims, no, no, Al-Aqsa is ours. Oh [Sons of] Zion, no matter how much you dig and no matter how much you destroy, your imaginary Temple will not come into being, Al-Aqsa is ours. Al-Aqsa is ours, Oh Muslims, Al-Aqsa is ours. My land, my Jerusalem, my blood and my honor will not be scorned. Al-Aqsa is ours, how you suffer! How you have bled for years! How you scream! How you call out to the millions! What are you hoping for, who are you crying for? Saladin [Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem in 1187] ! Al-Aqsa is ours. Oh Lord, protect Al-Aqsa, Oh Allah, Al-Aqsa is ours, [protect Al-Aqsa] from every thief and every oppressor. Oh Allah, Al-Aqsa is ours. Al-Aqsa is ours, Oh Muslims, Al-Aqsa is ours."
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
By the way, for my Christian friends, if there were no Jewish Temples, where did Jesus meet the moneychangers? It's not just our history the 'Palestinians' are denying - it's yours too (and yes, Jews believe that Jesus existed: there are references to him in the Talmud, many of which were wiped out by censorship over the years, but we still know where they belong).
A small bomb exploded Thursday morning outside the home of moonbat Hebrew University Professor and Israel prize winner Zev Sternhell (for those who don't know who he is, please follow those links). Sternhell, who has advocated violence and declared war against the 'settlers' in the past, was 'lightly wounded'.
Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily reports that a flier was found near the scene that offered a NIS 1.1 million reward for the murder of members of PeacePiece by Piece Now, which advocates turning over most of the State of Israel outside of North Tel Aviv to the Arabs. Already the images of violence by the 'enemies of peace' are being conjured up, and extra police protection has been placed outside the home of 'Peace Now' director Yariv Oppenheimer.
Police sources told Israel Radio on Thursday that signs increasingly point to extreme right-wing elements who may have been responsible for planting the explosive that wounded Sternhell.
Senior political figures expressed outrage at the news of the attack on Sternhell, which has touched a nerve given the country's sensitive history of politically-oriented violence. In November 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv by a right-wing extremist opposed to his peace policies.
"We are returning to the dark spectacle of pipe bombs that are aimed at people, in this case against a very gifted person who never shies away from expressing his opinion," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.
"We won't let any elements, from any dark corner of Israeli society, to harass people who let their clear, lucid, unique voices like that of Ze'ev Sternhell be heard," Barak said.
"The attack on Professor Sternhell is a cowardly, terrorist act of those with no sense of justice," the chairman of the Knesset's internal affairs committee, Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz, said.
"I call on the police and the Shin Bet security service to make every effort to locate the perpetrators quickly and to make sure that they be put under lock and key for many years."
"They better not talk to us about a few bad weeds," Meretz chairman Haim Oron said. "These phenomena spring up on the right-wing [of the political spectrum]."
"This thuggish and dangerous act is the result of the continuing see-no-evil approach toward the vicious violence against soldiers and police officers and anyone else who doesn't agree with the brutish section of the extreme right wing," Oron said.
I do not favor violence. But my cynicism about this story stems from matters that became public knowledge after the murder (by whom?) of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (important videos at that last link). In particular, a General Security Service (Shin Bet) 'operative' named Avishai Raviv (code name 'Champagne') was ordered by the (Shin Bet) to perpetrate a series of dirty tricks worthy of Donald Segretti in order to discredit Rabin's political opponents. The Shin Bet is under the Prime Minister's direct command. Among Raviv's 'tricks' was the creation of the t-shirt below, which was handed out at a rally in Jerusalem.
Raviv, who 'hung out' with Yigal Amir - the man serving a life sentence for murdering Rabin - never was punished for his actions. But a 19-year old girl who was totally innocent sat in jail for six months for 'failing to prevent' Rabin's assassination. Last year, Ami Ayalon, who was appointed the head of the Shin Bet after Rabin's assassination, admitted that then-19-year old Margalit Har Shefi was sent to jail based on lies told by Ayalon and others.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney is doing a concert in Tel Aviv Thursday night, 43 years after the Beatles were banned from playing in Israel (ostensibly because the government feared they would 'corrupt the morals' of Israel's youth, but according to JPost editor David Horovitz, more likely because of 'protectzia' by a rival promoter who was shut out of the concert). Here's a CNN report about McCartney's appearance. More after the report.
They didn't manage to do it on Monday night when I was there (thanks Lance!), but on Tuesday night, while I was airborne, my beloved Red Sox managed to clinch a playoff spot for the fifth time in six years, defeating the Cleveland Indians 5-4 (thanks NY Nana for making sure I found out about it when I landed in London on Wednesday). I think that calls for another rendition of Sweet Caroline!
And here AL MVP Dustin Pedroia sprays some of the Fenway faithful with champagne during the onfield celebration (why couldn't they have done that the night before?).
You just knew this would happen again sooner or later. The Times of London reported on Wednesday that Syrian troops are massed on the Lebanese border and the Lebanese - at least those of them who are not in Syria's pocket already - fear yet another takeover of their country by the Syrians.
Although Damascus insists that its forces are conducting an antismuggling operation, the Lebanese Government is eyeing the moves with unease, believing that the unusual scale of the deployment has more to do with tensions between the two countries over recent sectarian clashes in northern Lebanon.
“People around here are worried. We don’t know why the Syrians have arrived like this,” said Ali, 18, a farmer in the tiny hillside hamlet of Hekr Janin overlooking the border.
Much of Lebanon’s northern border with Syria follows the Kabir, or Great river, which despite its name, is little more than a trickle after the hot summer months. Lined by trees and bamboo thickets, the river meanders through a narrow floodplain of meadows and crop fields flanked by steep hills of black basalt.
The Lebanese media report that between 8,000 and 10,000 Syrian special forces have taken up positions along some of the hills overlooking the Kabir.
Their surprise deployment comes after several months of clashes in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, pitting the majority Sunnis against the minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
The small Alawite community in Lebanon is a close ally of the Syrian regime. President Assad of Syria is an Alawite and most top positions in the Syrian security and military apparatus are filled by them
Much of northern Lebanon is populated by Sunnis, the majority of whom are supporters of the Future Movement, which is headed by Saad Hariri, the son and political heir of Rafik Hariri, whose 2005 assassination is widely blamed on Syria.
But the world remains convinced that all the Middle East's problems would be solved if only there were a 'Palestinian' statereichlet.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev said on Wednesday that the cancellation of a meeting that was to discuss the imposition of further sanctions on Iran, and the warm welcome that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad received at the United Nations on Tuesday, spell the 'end' of sanctions against Iran (I put the term 'end' in scare quotes because I question whether there was ever truly a beginning) over its nuclear program.
"We don't see it working or leading anywhere," [Shalev] told The Jerusalem Post.
She said she was especially surprised by the warm welcome Iranian President Ahmadinejad received from the General Assembly, whose members the next day were equally warm toward President Shimon Peres.
"It was very upsetting, the whole atmosphere - yesterday they were hugged and applauded," she said.
Russia's refusal to discuss further sanctions against Iran apparently stems from its anger over US criticism of its invasion of Georgia.
"We do not see any sort of 'fire' that requires us to toss everything aside and meet to discuss Iran's nuclear program in the middle of a packed week at the United Nations General Assembly," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement.
"On the contrary, there are more urgent questions - for example, the situation in Afghanistan and along the Afghan-Pakistan border - but our Western partners for some reason aren't rushing to discuss these," he said.
One senior American diplomat said on Wednesday that "there clearly is spillover of the difficulties created by the Georgia crisis, difficulties with Russian behavior that we have to work through."
Russia's move is a blow to the US, which wants to maintain cooperation amid their dispute over the Georgia conflict, and to France, whose Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced plans for the meeting.
Another Israeli 'government official' holds out little hope for further sanctions against Iran without Russian support.
"We hope that it is not Russia's last word, and that they will change their mind. But we have no influence on them on this issue. We are not a factor whether they do or not participate; it all has to do with their relationship with the US."
Another Israeli government official said that the Russian decision will force other countries to decide whether to impose harsher sanctions on their own against Iran.
Up to now, the official said, the sanctions proposed were "the lowest common denominator," because the idea was to get Russia and China to agree to them.
The official said it was also quite possible that the countries interested in a fourth round of sanctions would bring a resolution to a vote in the Security Council even over Russian objections, and that such a resolution would probably pass by a 9-7 margin.
The official said it was not a given that Russia or China would veto the resolution, because it does not directly touch on their interests.
The previous sanction resolutions had been adopted by consensus.
The official added, however, that it isn't clear that all the countries in Europe would be willing to back much harsher sanctions, though England and France could be counted on.
But sanctions imposed by individual countries would just drive Iranian purchases elsewhere. Given the business interests of countries like Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland in Iran, without a UN umbrella, sanctions are even more useless than they have been up to this point.
I'm sure glad I came back through London rather than Paris today (and did not fly El Al this time in any event). An El Al 767 was accompanied by French, Greek and Israeli fighter planes on the entire four-hour flight from Paris to Tel Aviv this afternoon and evening after - according to Israel Television's nightly news magazine - an anonymous email was received by El Al last week indicating that a bomb was to be placed on today's flight. And best of all - the passengers knew nothing about it.
Before taking off from Paris, French authorities had checked the plane and ruled out the possibility of a bomb on board, however nevertheless it was decided, in consultation with Israeli authorities, that two French fighter jets would be dispatched to accompany the plane.
As the 767 approached Greece, the French accompaniment was replaced by Greek jets, which were subsequently replaced by IAF F-15 fighter jets as the plane neared Israel. The Israeli jets took off from Tel Nof air force base.
I have to say that I don't understand the rationale of this. What would the fighters done if a bomb had exploded on the plane (God forbid): sprayed fire extinguisher? Either the plane had a bomb in which case it should not have been allowed to take off, or it did not have a bomb in which case the entire 'show' should not have been necessary.
An attempt by the Iranian mullahs to create two Islamic Barbie dolls named Dara and Sara has apparently lost out to the real thing, as Iranian students started school on Tuesday with Barbie, Spiderman, Shrek and other 'infidel' characters on their school bags.
Iranian authorities are disappointed that the children’s writing tools are decorated by Hollywood animation figures which are most likely more successful in attracting the Iranians than the local products.
Fewer and fewer children are interested in seeing simple pictures depicting nature, fruit and animals on their school supplies.
Here and there, the local stars “Dara and Sara” were noticeable. The Iranian dolls were created years ago as a substitute for the American Ken and Barbie dolls.
“Dara and Sara” are a brother and sister duo dressed modestly in an attempt to promote traditional Islamic values.
The Iranian Fars news agency reported that “Barbie managed to find a place in the hearts of Iranian school girls.”
Another report stated that Spiderman, Shrek, Superman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are making more and more appearances on children’s belongings.
The news agency also passed implicit criticism on Iran’s cultural institution. “If the country’s cultural officials act the way they should, the local dolls will take the place of Western ones.”
If you can't brainwash kids, how will you brainwash their parents?Hmmm.
Greetings from the Holy City of Jerusalem. I'm home.
The design rules were issued for the 2012 London Olympics on Wednesday, and I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that all of the thousands of Muslims attending the Olympics (men's events only) will have at least some toilets available to them that won't face Mecca.
Members of the Olympic Delivery Authority said they wanted the Olympic and Paralympic games to be inclusive of people with different faiths and individuals with disabilities. Other design requirements include wide paths with smooth surfaces and seats at regular intervals.
"The Olympic Park will be at the heart of the celebrations and people of all cultures, faiths and ages and disabled people will find London 2012's Olympic Park welcoming and easy to use," authority chairman John Armitt said.
The organizers sought input from a range of communities before coming up with the design requirements.
Muslims face Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, when they pray and generally do not believe they should do the same when using the toilet.
Of course, toilets facing Jerusalem are okay because Jerusalem is only holy to Muslims when it can be used as a club against the Jews.
For the record, Jews don't worry about which direction a toilet faces, although we are not allowed to pray opposite an exposed toilet that we can see.
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! 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