New NBC reporter Jenna Bush Hager should resign from UNICEF
NBC has announced that Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush is going to be reporting for the network and its Today show. I would not have thought that story had a whole lot to do with Israel until I saw Debbie Schlussel's post that made the connection:
My problem with her reporting for NBC is that Jenna Bush Hager has a huge conflict of interest. She remains “Chair” of a UNICEF organization, UNICEF’s “Next Generation,” and she also remains a UNICEF “Young Leadership Ambassador.” Yes, that UNICEF–the anti-Israel organization that “feeds the children” of HAMAS from cradle to grave and which is controlled by the same third-world, anti-American countries which dominate the United Nations. Last year, UNICEF banned large donor Lev Leviev, because he built homes for Jews in the so-called West Bank. (Yes, UNICEF believes in redlining against Jews.) And don’t forget UNICEF’s funding of anti-Israel propaganda, Palestinian camps for kids named for homicide bombers, as acceptance of donations from the Al-Qaeda front group, International Islamic Relief Organization.
I guess it doesn’t bother her that a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Dourade Lahhan, said her father was a “modern-day Hitler,” uttered while Lahhan was a guest of Hezbollah. But it should bother us.
Regardless, Hager needs to resign completely from UNICEF.
I've discussed UNICEF several times over the years (including the Leviev story) and Debbie is 100% right - Hager should resign the position.
There are a couple of interesting comments about Syria over at Contentions. Michael Totten explains why Bashar al-Assad cannot make peace with Israel even if he wanted to - and he doesn't really want to anyway.
Assad’s late father and former president Hafez Assad imposed his dictatorial “emergency rule” on Syria in 1963, and he and his son have justified it ever since by pointing to the never-ending war with the state of Israel. Many Syrians have grown weary of this excuse after more than four decades of crisis, but Assad would nevertheless face more pressure to loosen up his Soviet-style system without it.
An official state of war costs Assad very little. His army does not have to fight. His father learned the hard way in 1967 that Israel could beat three Arab armies, including his own, in six days. Assad can only fight Israel through proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, but that suits him just fine. Gaza and Lebanon absorb Israel’s incoming fire when the fighting heats up.
Assad gains a lot, though, by buying himself some legitimacy with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Syria’s fundamentalist Sunnis have long detested his Baath party regime, not only because it’s secular and oppressive but also because its leaders are considered heretics. The Assads and most of the Baathist elites belong to the Alawite religious minority, descendants of the followers of Muhammad ibn Nusayr, who took them out of mainstream Twelver Shiite Islam in the 10th century. Their religion has as much in common with Christianity and Gnosticism as it does with Islam, and most Syrians find it both bizarre and offensive that the Alawites are in charge of the country instead of the majority Sunnis.
In 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood took up arms against the regime in the city of Hama. The elder Assad dispatched the Alawite-dominated military and destroyed most of the old city with air strikes, tanks, and artillery. Rifaat Assad, the former president’s younger brother, boasted that 38,000 people were killed in a single day. Not once since then have the Muslim Brothers tried to rise up again.
Given that the Obama administration knows all this, one has to wonder about the purpose of its 'engagement' with Syria. Does Mr. Realpolitik, who has totally taken democracy and human rights off the table as an issue, believe that President Assad is going to give up power to 'engage' with the US and make peace with Israel, even if it does get him back the Golan Heights? No way.
More ominously, Emanuele Ottolenghi reports on something that largely went unreported this weekend: What the IAEA had to say about Syria.
The IAEA report says that
Syria has not yet provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to determine the origin of the anthropogenic natural uranium particles found in samples taken at the Dair Alzour site. Syria also did not cooperate with the Agency to confirm Syria’s statements regarding the non-nuclear nature of the destroyed building on the Dair Alzour site and to determine what, if any, functional relationship existed between the Dair Alzour site and three other locations, or to substantiate Syria’s claims regarding certain procurement efforts and its alleged foreign nuclear cooperation.
Even in the bland diplomat-ese spoken and written at the IAEA, this is not exactly an endorsement of Syrian compliance.
It looks like 'engagement' is making a real difference in Syrian behavior, isn't it?
An Israeli in Stockholm comments on the Aftonbladet blood libel
David Stavrou, an Israeli living in Stockholm, criticizes both sides in the Aftonbladet blood libel controversy. His criticism of the Swedes is spot-on. His criticism of Israel seems to be limited to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's comparison of Sweden's behavior now with its behavior in the Holocaust, and while he has a point I'm not sure it's a correct one.
Here's part of what he has to say about Sweden.
Theirs isn't traditional anti-Semitism based on religion (the Jews killed Jesus). It isn't even modern anti-Semitism (the Jews are rich and control the world). This is post modern anti-Semitism. It's all about ratings and it's business orientated. It sells newspapers. Nobody cares about the truth because it's subjective anyway, nobody has time for research and you can definitely count on it that no one will take responsibility. The writer gets his 15 minutes of fame; the paper makes millions. And damn the consequences.
But it's not just about money; it's also about politics too. The never ending and, quite frankly, tedious text Swedish officials use about freedom of speech is not relevant in this case. First of all, despite the claims of various official spokespeople, it is not absolute and untouchable, even in Sweden: witness the Danish Muhammad cartoons, and various regulations, self-censorship and safeguards that protect Swedes from offensive commercials and sensitive publications.
Sweden is very firm when it defends the rights of large minorities or powerful establishments (like Aftonbladet) but much less decisive when it comes to weaker groups or even the general public. This is why authorities in Malmö preferred to defend the right of an angry mob to boycott a tennis match between Israel and Sweden than to defend the right of the general public to watch the match.
Is Sweden's Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, really so naïve that he thinks that freedom of speech in Sweden applies equally to everyone and works equally for every one? I don't think so. When he says that free press and free speech are the best defence against "breaches of judgment, bad taste and transgressions of core societal values", he knows very well that these freedoms can very easily be used to wage attacks on minorities by an aggressive majority. Israel isn't a minority in Sweden but an attack against it is very popular in many circles. This is where Bildt's claims have a cynical twist. Defending freedom of speech in this case earns him the support of many. Especially valuable is the support of many on the other side of the Swedish political spectrum. What politician would object to that?
To be fair, Bildt and Sweden's political establishment didn't have to limit freedom of speech; they weren't requested to close down Aftonbladet or to censor it. Instead of flying empty slogans which hide political interest, all they needed to do was to say they don't believe the allegations and they see them as provocative and irresponsible. That's not taking sides, it's just being fair-minded. Instead of that, Bildt chose to distance himself from Sweden's ambassador to Israel who did exactly that. He did the math: no one gains political points in Sweden from pleasing Israel. Quite the opposite.
And here's part of what he had to say about Israel:
But the cynicism is not limited to the Swedish side. Israel too is responsible for the deterioration of the situation. Every state has the right to defend itself against slander and lies, even if they're published in a paper thousands of miles away. But there must be some kind of discretion in choosing methods of defence and counter attack. I would like to know, for example, who chose to use the holocaust card as the first reaction. Surely, of all the arsenal of Israeli arguments, another one could have been used against a Swedish tabloid, Auschwitz could have been saved for say, states that say they want to annihilate Israel and are in the process of building the weapons to do it. If, according to Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Afonbladet article is like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Bildt's refusal do condemn it is equivalent to Sweden's WW2 neutrality, then what is left for going after terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets and against genocidal, fascist regimes?
This is why he's wrong about Israel. First, this is not the first such incident in Sweden. Stavrou mentions the Davis Cup match in Malmo, and one could add to it the 'art' exhibit lauding the suicide bomber five years ago and many other incidents. Perhaps Lieberman was wrong to raise the Holocaust. But perhaps he wasn't because the behavior Sweden exhibits now is reminiscent of German behavior in the 1930's. Speaking of which, if something like this had happened in Germany, would Stavrou also have argued that it was wrong to bring up the Holocaust?
Second, Sweden has shown time and again that it is an anti-Semitic country. A 2006 survey showed that 41% of Swedes were very or somewhat negatively inclined toward Jews (and were willing to admit to it). 41%! That's a huge number! While Lieberman may come on strong, we are long past the point where something needs to be said about Sweden's attitude towards Jews!
While this may be uncomfortable for Stavrou living in Israel, the fact that a country that holds the Presidency of the European Union has such a history of anti-Semitism (yes, going back to World War II) is a serious issue, and one that Israel needs to make sure is raised again and again with its friends in Europe so that they will be on alert to serve as a counterbalance for Sweden's hostile positions.
Nuclear inspectors reported over the weekend that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges it has, but decreased the number of them that are operating. Iran currently has enough enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons.
The slowdown in the enrichment of uranium — the key ingredient it would need to produce to fuel nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons — was something of a surprise. For reasons the agency could not explain, Iran has reduced, at least for now, the number of centrifuges it is actively using for enrichment, from 4,920 in June to 4,592 — a decrease of 328 machines.
The new report also disclosed that Iran had increased the number of centrifuges that were installed and ready to add to Iran's capacity. It put the new total at more than 8,300 — or an increase of more than 1,100 centrifuges since June.
"Continuing to install large numbers of new centrifuges is significant" since filling them with raw uranium "is a relatively minor step," the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington, said in an analysis of the new report.
Some U.S. intelligence officials have suggested that Iran is trying to build up enough centrifuges that it could "break out" of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at any moment and produce weapons fuel.
The atomic agency also reported that Iran, even with the work slowdown, had substantially increased its stocks of enriched uranium. In June, the total stood at 839 kilograms, or 1,850 pounds. Friday's report listed the enrichment of an additional 669 kilograms of uranium, bringing the new total to 1,508 kilograms, or 3,325 pounds.
The breakout scenario certainly sounds plausible. I doubt Iran has suddenly given up on its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But it may be trying to reduce international pressure on it by claiming that it's not enriching any more uranium.
UPDATE 8:17 PM
Haaretz reports that despite the IAEA covering up some of the more damaging features of its findings on Iran, there is still plenty of evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Among other details was an indication that a foreign scientific expert helped Iran in their efforts to develop a "metallic hemisphere," a reference to a nuclear bomb. Although the scientist was not identified in the report, Haaretz has learned that he is a Russian national. Other findings in the report include the existence of a computer containing blueprints suspected to pertain to calculations of the altitude from which a nuclear weapon should be dropped. After Iran had for years denied the existence of such a computer, and then argued that its contents were a fabrication, Tehran acknowledged its existence but claimed the drawings pertained to a two-stage missile.
The IAEA report also contains findings regarding experiments that Iran conducted on explosive materials to examine chain reactions. The organization believes the experiment was connected to research on a nuclear explosion. The report also contained information about cooperation between Iranian agencies and corporations with military contacts and foreign parties including nuclear research institutes in Russia.
The IAEA report does not, however, say that these findings prove that Iran is working to develop a military nuclear program. It does point out that Iran continues to ignore repeated demands for information regarding past activity that could indicate a desire to manufacture nuclear weapons. It also notes that Iran is ignoring United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for it to stop enriching uranium, which nonetheless continues.
And Obama still thinks that the Russians are going to go along with a sanctions regime? Whom is he kidding? Not Israel, that's for sure.
Good news: 100,000 kids spend summer in Hamas 'training camps'
The IDF reports on its website that 100,000 children spent their summer in 700 Hamas 'training camps' this year. The camps operated under the theme "A victory in Gaza - the glory of Jerusalem." Their only competition in Gaza were camps run by UNRWA, which as we know is not a whole lot better.
According to Arab and Palestinian media, 100 thousand children and teenagers participated in Hamas camps this year. The budget of these camps is estimated to be 2 Million Dollars. The youths were guided by 1,500 counselors that went through special training courses. A marketing campaign of the Al-Aqsa channel of the Hamas and a special internet site encouraged participation of children in these camps.
The children and teenagers in the summer camps undergo semi military training. The pictures and commercials published this year and last summer showed that part of the curriculum included firearm practices and grenades dismantling as well as military drills for the children, while holding life-like weapons.
In addition to that, the camp participants undergo an intense process of political and Islamic indoctrination by counselors and Hamas operatives, which visit the camps. The camp goal is to train the movement’s next generation. According to Mahmud Abu Aeed, the purpose of the camps is to prepare the children for leadership of the organization through "Victory and Freedom".
According to Hamas commercials the camp goal is to “Experience a soldier's life, serving Islam, locating excelling student groups that can operate in the preaching of Allah and Islam, in schools and central mosques." Moreover, the children are taught about the lives of martyrs and carry pictures of them during processions.
Peace is at hand.
The picture at the top is some of the kids' training. Looks just like your kids' summer camp, right?
'Israeli Arab' arrested for plotting to murder IDF Chief of Staff
An 'Israeli Arab' has been arrested and charged with plotting with Hezbullah to murder IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (pictured) to avenge the death of Hezbullah terrorist Imad Mugniyeh. The 'Israeli Arab,' 23-year old Rawi Sultani of Tira, allegedly was recruited by Hezbullah while attending a summer camp for 'Israeli Arabs' that was sponsored by the Balad party, an Arab party that is represented in the Knesset. The camp took place in 2008 in Morocco. The Balad party sponsors the camp every summer in a different Arab country and it includes Arabs from other countries and not just 'Israeli Arabs.'
Sultani has been under arrest since August 10.
During his stay at the camp, Sultani allegedly met Hizbullah operative Salman Harab, and provided him with information about Ashkenazi, particularly his routine at the Kfar Saba country club where the two occasionally worked out together.
The predominantly Arab town of Tira is just north of Kfar Saba, Ashkenazi's hometown.
Harab, a 26-year-old Lebanese Shi'ite Hizbullah operative, met personally with the group of Israeli Balad activists, introduced himself as a Hizubllah member, and gave them a lecture about the conflict and struggle against Israel, read the charge sheet.
Israel Radio reported that the workouts were more than just occasional. The two were both members of the club and because of that Sultani apparently knew Ashkenazi's routine.
Sultani allegedly remained in touch with Harab after returning to Israel from Morocco, through his phone and via the Internet.
The Shin Bet and Israel Police International Serious Crimes Unit learned of the plot by tracking Sultani's email and Facebook correspondence with Hizbullah.
In December 2008, Sultani allegedly flew to Poland and met a Hizbullah operative known as 'Sami.' At the meeting, he is said to have presented 'Sami' with information he had collected about the IDF chief of staff, as well as on different ideas he had conjured about how to assassinate Ashkenazi.
Sultani also allegedly provided 'Sami' with information about other senior Israeli officials and about IDF bases in Israel.
After returning from Poland, Sultani kept in touch with both 'Sami' and Harab, according to the indictment.
Sultani's father is a lawyer and is acting on the son's behalf. He is claiming that the Shin Bet (General Security Service) has blown this out of proportion and that his son did not know that 'Sami' and Harab (whose picture was released by the Shin Bet - an unusual move) were Hezbullah agents.
This story is apparently not connected to the story a couple of weeks ago where a gun was stolen from Ashkenazi's office in the Kirya (the IDF's equivalent of the Pentagon).
Still, one has to wonder what kind of 'security' surrounds Ashkenazi and other senior IDF officers. Why is he working out at a private club and not at the Kirya? When you're in that kind of position, you have a responsibility to take of yourself and not wait for something to happen. This is the second time in a month that Ashkenazi has failed to fulfill that responsibility.
UPDATE 7:23 PM
A later version of the story linked above says that Sultani has been indicted.
Is Bibi a great one? Let's hope and pray that he is. By that definition of greatness, the only one who really springs to mind in the last 20 years is Yitzchak Shamir (Menachem Begin was more than 20 years ago - lest any of you jump me).
The cowardice shown by Yale Press recognizes none of the nuance that filled my conversations in Copenhagen nor discussions I had with Muslims in Qatar and Egypt during the controversy. Many told me they were dismayed at the double standards that stoked rage at these Danish cartoons yet did not question silence at anti-Semitic and racist cartoons in the region's media.
Does Yale realize that it has proven what Flemming Rose said was his original intent in commissioning the cartoons -- that artists were self-censoring out of fear of Muslim radicals?
Yale has sided with the various Muslim dictators and radical groups that used the cartoons to "prove" who could best "defend" Muhammad against the Danes and, by extension, burnish their Islamic credentials. Those same dictators and radicals who complained of the offense to the prophet's memory were blind to the greater offense they committed in their disregard for human life. (Indeed, some of those protesters even held banners that said, "Behead those who offend the prophet.")
Haaretz reports that Yukio Hatoyama and Japan's Democratic party won Sunday's election in Japan. Hatoyama, who called himself the 'Japanese Obama' has already promised to end Japanese support for the United States in Afghanistan, a position that may place it at odds with the US.
Ending Japanese support for Western military operations in Afghanistan could cause tension with the United States and reduce American support for Japan in its confrontation with North Korea. It could also hurt U.S.-bound exports, which are essential for the Japanese economy's recovery. Toyota recently reported a 20 percent drop in worldwide car sales, while Mitsubishi's car sales were down 45 percent.
Unfortunately, Hatoyama's policies on Israel may be right in line with Obama's.
Withdrawing from American guardianship could also change Japanese policy toward Israel. Until now, Japan limited its support for the Palestinians to aiding economic projects, in keeping with American requests. The Hatoyama government is likely to take a more pro-Arab stance, such as by recognizing Hamas and making tougher demands of Israel, such as calling for an end to construction in the settlements. Such a position would be similar to the line taken by some European governments, and will not necessarily lead to a confrontation with the United States. The Obama administration may actually be pleased.
This January, the Israeli ambassador in Tokyo, Nissim Ben-Shitrit, participated in a Democratic Party convention. At the end of the convention, he met with Hatoyama. The party's Web site stated that Hatoyama expressed his deep concern over the Palestinian victims of Israel's Cast Lead operation in the Gaza Strip, and added that he hoped Israel would change its policies toward the Arab world, like American foreign policy had changed with the election of Barack Obama.
Hatoyama called himself the Japanese Obama in his election campaign, and said he would bring hoped-for change. When it comes to Israel, Obama and Hatoyama may coordinate efforts in ways Israel hasn't expected.
Israel cannot be distracted by smaller powers. At this point, the time has come for Israelis (since our government can do nothing of the sort) to work to ensure that the 2010 elections are a resounding defeat for the Obama administration. So far, it's looking good.
EU to help Sweden save face by condemning Aftonbladet article?
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini is trying to resolve the Aftonbladet controversy in a face-saving manner for Sweden by having the European Union - whose Presidency is currently held by Sweden - condemn the newspaper's blood libel at a meeting later this week.
In a telephone conversation with Haaretz, Frattini said he recently met with his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, and the two agreed that at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers later this week, they will work to pass a resolution making it clear that the EU, under the Swedish presidency, strongly condemns anti-Semitism and will take action against any manifestation of it on the continent.
Frattini said he intends to demand that the meeting's summary statement explicitly condemn the article published in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, which claimed that Israeli soldiers harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. He said his proposed statement would declare articles of this sort to be "acts of blatant anti-Semitism."
"There are limits to freedom of the press that stem from respect for the truth and the duty of every journalist to prove his claims," Frattini explained.
The Prime Minister's Office declined comment on the Italian initiative, but the foreign ministry commented very bluntly:
"Every initiative against anti-Semitism is welcome," said Yigal Palmor, that ministry's spokesman. "But if the declaration is general and does not specifically relate to the article in Aftonbladet, it will not resolve anything.
"We did not ask for an apology, or for measures against the newspaper or the journalist," he added. "All we asked of Sweden and the Swedes is that they reject and decry the content of the report. And our position has not changed."
That's certainly reasonable. Let's see if Italy proposes the initiative and whether Sweden votes in favor.
Is Carl Bildt (Swedish foreign minister) still coming here this week?
The Washington Times has a lengthy exclusive in Monday's editions about how eight years after 9/11, the CIA does not have sufficient translators from such languages and dialects as Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Arabic, Pashto, Dari and Kurdish. The reason for the shortage of translators is apparently that the CIA - which has been bashed enough over the past week - did not make knowledge of foreign languages a requirement for promotion. Not surprisingly, what the agency has found is that when they find someone who is proficient in a necessary language, more often than not they cannot get security clearance. Because of that, the CIA has been using outside contractors to translate, and even so, many wiretapped conversations take several days to translate.
The article is lengthy so I will not excerpt it, but I have four comments to make. First, the article implies that the problem is that they cannot find native level speakers in these languages - as if the translators must speak these languages as their first language in order to be effective. In my experience, this is not true. I translate professionally from Hebrew to English, English being my native language, and Hebrew being a language I speak well. I do not translate from English to Hebrew. It seems to me that what the CIA ought to be looking for is native English speakers who speak the language well, and not native speakers of those languages who are more likely to have problematic relatives (yes, that's the article's implication) who will blow their security clearances. People with an aptitude for languages can be trained to speak a foreign language.
Second, the article talks about the use of private contractors. If there is such an issue with security clearances, how are the private contractors passing? Why can they pass when CIA employees cannot pass?
Third, the diplomatic corps may have people who speak these languages. For example, many people in the diplomatic corps speak Arabic. Why not give incentives to people to transfer from the diplomatic corps to the CIA where they are needed?
Finally, if you're going to use private contractors, why not consider outsourcing to friendly countries who have native speakers? For example, Israel has native Arabic, Farsi and Kurdish speakers by the dozens - mostly people who were born in those countries and their descendants (my barber talks to his father in Farsi all the time, even though I don't believe the barber has ever lived in Iran). I'm sure India has some people who speak the Pakistani dialects and possibly the Afghan ones as well. And I can guarantee you that none of those people sympathize with al-Qaeda.
Read the whole thing. It's appalling how screwed up America's intelligence services are eight years after 9/11. What could go wrong?
UPDATE 9:08 PM
Reader Gershon D. comments:
My firm's software does not allow me to comment, but you should be aware that dozens of Syrian Jews from right here in Brooklyn were barred from translation jobs with the unspoken reason that they were Jewish.
Give World Jewish Congress leader Ron Lauder credit for trying. Lauder went to South Africa last week to urge South African President Jacob Zuma to take a stand against attempts to brand Israel an 'apartheid' state. After all, if anyone ought to know what apartheid is - and why Israel doesn't fit the description - it ought to be the black, South African President.
"The people in South Africa should know that Israel is not an apartheid state," Lauder said, and called on South African citizens to "speak out whenever such unfair and biased statements are made."
Lauder asked Zuma "to continue the fight against all forms of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism in South Africa and in the region, and to pursue a balanced, fair and constructive policy with respect to the conflict in the Middle East."
Lauder, wary of South Africa's stance towards Israel's policies, told Zuma that "there are no simple solutions to this complex problem," but remained positive, stating that South Africa has the ability to help "forge policies that are fair and balanced towards both Israel and the Palestinian people."
But when Zuma spoke to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies on Saturday night, the word 'apartheid' apparently did not come up.
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma told the opening of the national conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies on Saturday night that the only "viable" solution for the Israeli- Palestinian conflict was one that "ended the occupation that began in 1967", when Israel occupied Sinai, the Suez canal, West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
"It is a solution that fulfils the aspirations of both parties for independent homelands through two states for two peoples, Israel and an independent, adjoining, and viable state of Palestine," said Zuma.
Zuma said SA supported the United Nations position on the issue and "unequivocally" condemned "all forms of violence from whatever quarter, particularly where civilians are targeted".
In other words, Zuma supports a return to the Auschwitz borders and strikes a moral equivalence between Israel defending itself and 'Palestinian' terrorists blowing themselves up among Israeli civilians. He will also do nothing to defend Israel against charges of 'apartheid' despite the fact that of all world leaders, he is likely in the best position to do so.
Nice try, Ron.
If you want to see real apartheid look at the photo at top left. It's from a South African beach when there was real apartheid in effect. You won't find anything like it in Israel.
DEBKA is claiming that all the back and forth between the Egyptians and Hamas has nothing to do with Gilad Shalit (which fits in nicely with Prime Minister Netanyahu's denial of the weekend report that a deal for Shalit is in the works). According to DEBKA, Hamas is trying to get the Egyptians to open their side of the border (yes, they have one, although you would never know it from the way Israel is being blamed for all the 'starving' Gazans) to allow more supplies into Gaza.
Hamas leader Mahmoud a-Zahar and its military chief Muhammad al-Jabari were ready to reciprocate by guaranteeing the stoppage of arms smuggling through Egyptian Sinai.
This quid pro quo was discussed at length, together with a proposal in some Egyptian intelligence circles to set up joint Egyptian-Hamas patrols to monitor border traffic across their common border and close down the arms smuggling tunnels running under the12-kilometer Philadelphi border strip. If this arrangement worked, Cairo would pledge a flow of essential foodstuffs, medicine, fuel and building materials into Gaza.
In Israel, this prospective deal was greeted with mixed feelings, according to DEBKAfile's military sources. While quite happy to be hand over to Egypt the burden of supplying Gaza Palestinians with essential supplies, Israel does not trust Hamas to keep to its side of a bargain and expects its military leaders to find alternative means for running war material into the Gaza Strip.
A-Zahar and Jabry traveled to Damascus to lay the plan before Hamas' political bureau chiefs and explain its critical importance for the future of Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip.
Since the onset of the Ramadan month of fasting last month, Gazans are grumbling more bitterly than ever before about their hardships, which are exacerbated by frequent electricity outrages induced by fuel shortages.
The Hamas government's dilemma is acute: Maintain the posture of "resistance" and pay the price of an embargo, or look after the needs of the population at large and not just its fighting forces. The Palestinian extremists now have their back to the wall because Egypt is finally taking effective action to block the tunnels which are Gaza's lifeline not only for arms but also for vital goods to stock the shops.
Every time I do a post like this, I get comments from Hamas sympathizers who rant and rave about how the Gazans are 'starving' and it's all Israel's fault (I usually don't let them through, which is why many of you may not have seen them. They tend to arrive after all of you are done commenting and have moved on). This ought to make clear that until now Gazans have not been starving, and if in the future they are, it's because the Egyptians are finally taking the same position that the Israelis have all along.
You might think that if Gaza is supplied from Egypt, Hamas will have little incentive to negotiate Gilad Shalit's release. I would argue that Hamas has little incentive to negotiate Gilad Shalit's release in any event, and will continue to have little incentive so long as the 'prisoners' families aren't pressuring Hamas to obtain their release. Israel can bring about that pressure by worsening the country club-like conditions under which Hamas terrorists are held. So far, it has not been willing to do so. Last week, a protest by Shalit's supporters prevented relatives from visiting Hamas terrorists in prison, but that's about as far as it has gone.
The Israelis aren't bluffing: War preparations continue
A Wall Street Journal editorial points out on Monday, for those who still need to be reminded, that a nuclear Iran is an existential issue for Israel. This country will not let Iran go nuclear without trying to stop it militarily. Ironically, the unwillingness of the United Nations and the Western powers to take serious action against Iran is making it more likely that Israel will attack. Iran recognizes this, and therefore it is seeking to ban all attacks against nuclear facilities. Meanwhile, the Obumbler fiddles.
The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That's a view shared across Israel's political spectrum, from traditional hawks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to current Defense Minister and former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its ballistic missiles—all the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence. Iran's march to the bomb also alarms its Arab neighbors, but it represents an existential threat to an Israeli nation that Iran has promised to destroy and has waged decades of proxy war against.
This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran's stolen election and crackdown. The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is gaining power at the expense of the traditional military and a divided clerical establishment.
On the weekend, Ahmadinejad called for the arrest and punishment of opposition leaders, and last week he nominated Ahmad Vahidi, a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, to become defense minister. Vahidi is wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant for his role in masterminding the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 200 others. Vahidi's nomination shows that when Ahmadinejad talks of wiping Israel off the map, no Israel leader can afford to dismiss it as a religious allegory.
Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration's policy of diplomatic pleading with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European Union and Bush Administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion in July that the U.S. would extend a "defense umbrella" over its allies in the Middle East "once [Iranians] have a nuclear weapon" may have been a slip of the lip. But Israelis can be forgiven for wondering if the U.S. would sooner accept a nuclear Iran as a fait accompli than do whatever is necessary to stop it.
Meanwhile, the weasel ElBaradei tries to protect his 'Iranian brothers' by hiding the most damning evidence that was collected for the report he released on Friday. Israel has demanded that all of the evidence be released. Take it with a grain of salt, but DEBKA is reporting that the US, Israel and four other nations are going to see to it that what ElBaradei tried to hide sees the light of day. If DEBKA is correct, it's a small ray of light being shined into an overwhelming darkness.
The four governments are Britain, France, Netherlands and Japan. All six had provided ElBaradei with new and detailed information on the advances made by Iran in its race to develop a nuclear bomb for inclusion in his last report on Aug. 28 before he retires next month. But ElBaradei, true to his usual custom of blurring Iran's breaches, omitted the new evidence.
In Paragraphs 18 to 20 of his report, he admits to possessing substantial intelligence but regrets he is unable to use it to confront Iran without betraying his sources and so Iran was not able to fully answer IAEA queries.
US and Israeli sources denounce this evasion as a diplomatic scandal verging on fraud.
The material passed to him left no doubt that Iran was engaged in developing a nuclear weapon and revealed for the first time that it reached the final stages, weapon design, of the process. But ElBaradei decided to keep it hidden on the pretext of not exposing sources.
One official told DEBKAfile that passing the new information to the IAEA director had compromised its sources anyway so there was no point in holding it back any longer.
The seven governments concerned will decide very soon which parts of this unpublished information to air. According to our sources, it will not be attributed directly to any government but to "Iranian exiles" who will present it as coming from inside Iran.
And if any of you think Israel has stopped preparing for a strike against Iran, perhaps this story will convince you otherwise.
In preparation for a non-conventional attack on Israel, the National Emergency Authority will hold the largest-ever exercise to train security forces how to respond to a city-wide biological attack.
The drill will begin on January 1 and is being prepared by the NEA, a branch of the Defense Ministry established after the Second Lebanon War to coordinate between all of the civilian and military bodies that provide services during a nationwide emergency.
The threat scenario will include a biological attack on a major Israeli city and will include the IDF Home Front Command, Magen David Adom, the Israel Police, the IDF Medical Corps, the IDF Spokesman's Office and the Fire and Rescue Service.
Syria, according to foreign reports, is believed to have developed offensive biological capabilities. A military facility near the city of Cerin is reportedly suspected of being used for the development and production of biological agents.
Syria also has a significant arsenal of long-range Scud-C and Scud-D missiles that would be capable of carrying the agents.
Diseases known to have been weaponized include Ebola, anthrax, Q fever and smallpox. The exercise will focus on some of these diseases. One possibility that will be considered during the drill will be to close down and quarantine the entire city in the event that the disease spreads.
Israel anticipates that in the event that it strikes Iran, the retaliation will include Syria, Hezbullah and Hamas.
The fact that Israel is willing to chance such a serious retaliation ought to tell the West that we do not intend to live with a nuclear Iran, even if they do. The Obama administration's policy of 'engaging' Iran is an unmitigated disaster that has done nothing but buy the Mullahs more time to develop nuclear weapons. Arguably, even a tough sanctions regime adopted today is too little too late. Obama will go down in history with Neville Chamberlain as someone who has led the world to the brink of disaster.
Can Netanyahu play Winston Churchill? We can only hope and pray that the answer is yes.
Horror: Hamas accuses UNRWA of trying to teach Holocaust; UNRWA denies it
This story is rich.
If this weren't so sadly typical it would almost be funny. But sadly, it illustrates everything that's wrong with the 'Palestinians' and their narrative. You see, they're the only people in the world who have ever been persecuted. So they don't want to hear about anyone else. They're just not capable of seeing the other side of any story.
Hamas is accusing UNRWA of trying to teach about the Holocaust in its Gaza Strip schools. Hamas refers to the Holocaust as "a lie invented by the Zionists." And UNRWA - which ought to be teaching the Holocaust in the schools - denies that it would do anything so horrible. Because UNRWA is there to serve the 'Palestinians' and perpetuate their victimhood status.
Calling the Nazi genocide of the Jews "a lie invented by the Zionists," Hamas wrote in an open letter to a senior UN official that he should withdraw plans for a new history book in the UN schools.
A spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which educates some 200,000 refugee children in Gaza, said the Holocaust was not on its current curriculum. He would not comment on Hamas's statement that it was about to change, Reuters said.
Hamas said it believed UNRWA was about to start using a text for 13-year-olds that included a chapter on the Holocaust.
In an open letter to local UNRWA chief John Ging, the movement's Popular Committees for Refugees said: "We refuse to let our children study a lie invented by the Zionists."
UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said: "There is no mention of the Holocaust in the current syllabus." Asked if UNRWA planned to change that, he declined to comment.
Of course, if the 'Palestinians' weren't so busy deluding themselves (with Barack Obama's approval) that the Jews' only claim to the Land of Israel is because of the Holocaust, maybe they wouldn't be so hostile to learning what can happen when man is inhuman to his fellow man. Maybe they wouldn't be so closed to learning that they are not the only ones to suffer in the world.
On the other hand, it does sound like maybe UNRWA is planning to teach the Holocaust, doesn't it? Those responses are a little bit cagey. Or maybe they're just toying with Hamas. Like they did with these toys:
A cross-section of National Religious and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Rabbis are to meet on Monday to place a ban upon sales of homes in Jerusalem and land in northern Israel to Arabs.
The need for the conference arose, King said, after he began receiving numerous complaints from residents of northern Jerusalem neighborhoods who told of religious Jews who sold their homes to Arabs. King hopes that the rabbinical statement which will be issued Monday will be signed by prominent rabbis like Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef and Rabbi Menachem Porush, and that these will be joined by the rabbis of French Hill and Pisgat Ze'ev. Such a statement will have a meaningful impact on the religious public.
According to King, the economic downturn is causing many Jews in the Galilee as well as in the “socially weaker” parts of Jerusalem to sell their homes to Arabs. In the Galilee, he said, the buyers are wealthy Arabs from foreign countries who purchase the land for political reasons. In Jerusalem, the buyers are Arabs with Israeli ID cards who found themselves on the eastern side of the security fence and who want to move to the western side of the fence in order to make their lives easier. “Olmert in his stupidity thought that the fence would protect us from demography but it only brought demography further inside,” King said.
While Arabs from the eastern side of Jerusalem move west, Arabs from the PA move in and buy the houses that they vacate, even though they are illegal migrants by law and have no right to do so. Lack of enforcement by Israel makes it possible.
But here's the difference between this ban and the Arab ban on selling land to Jews: People who violate this ban won't be subject to the death penalty.
The picture at the top is a home in Pisgat Zev (a Jewish neighborhood) that was for sale or rent to Arabs only two years ago.
Forget that I substantively disagree with Haaretz on all the issues. Just as a matter of media bias, how can Haaretz call itself an objective newspaper that reports facts and then sponsor this sort of thing (Hat Tip: CosmicX)?
Just to give you an idea of how biased this site is, the seven questions in the FAQ all relate to 'natural growth.'
Given that 96% of Jewish Israelis do not believe that Obama is pro-Israel, you have to wonder, who reads that paper anyway?
Obama will learn about Israel's strike on Iran from CNN
Micah Zenko looks back at four prior Israeli military actions - the 1956 attack on the Suez Canal, the 1967 Six Day War, the 1981 attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor and the 2007 attack on Syria's nuclear reactor - and concludes that when and if Israel decides to attack Iran, President Obama will learn about it on CNN. The Israelis won't ask permission.
But if diplomacy fails, the world should be prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently acknowledged: "The window between a strike on Iran and their getting nuclear weapons is a pretty narrow window."
If Israel attempts such a high-risk and destabilizing strike against Iran, President Obama will probably learn of the operation from CNN rather than the CIA. History shows that although Washington seeks influence over Israel's military operations, Israel would rather explain later than ask for approval in advance of launching preventive or preemptive attacks. Those hoping that the Obama administration will be able to pressure Israel to stand down from attacking Iran as diplomatic efforts drag on are mistaken.
These episodes demonstrate that if Israel decides that Iranian nuclear weapons are an existential threat, it will be deaf to entreaties from U.S. officials to refrain from using military force. Soon after the operation, Washington will express concern to Tel Aviv publicly and privately. The long-standing U.S.-Israeli relationship will remain as strong as ever with continued close diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military cooperation.
Should Tehran prove unwilling to meet the September deadline and bargain away its growing and latent nuclear weapon capability, we can expect an Israeli attack that does not require U.S. permission, or even a warning.
I agree completely.
Does the Obama administration recognize this? I doubt it.
Former Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has been indicted in three different corruption affairs: The Rishon Olmert Tours affair, in which he is charged with taking multiple payments for speaking engagements abroad; the Talansky affair, in which he is charged with accepting cash envelopes from Moshe (Morris) Talansky; and the Investment Center affair, in which he is charged with arranging investment center grants for friends while he was Minister of Industry and Trade.
The former prime minister has now been charged with accepting cash envelopes from American businessman Morris Talansky.
He is also suspected of illegally double-billing charities and a government ministry for the same flights he booked through Rishon Tours, sending them falsified receipts for travel expenses and using the surplus to finance personal and family trips abroad.
The Investments Center affair, which was first reported in Haaretz, concerned allegations that Olmert granted personal favors to his old law partner, Uri Messer, who was acting on behalf of a company, an act which would constitute a conflict of interest, breach of trust, and fraud.
The attorney general had earlier this summer decided to close a number of corruption cases against Olmert. In the most recent case, Mazuz cited lack of evidence over allegations that Olmert accepted some NIS 1 million in bribes in exchange for assisting the Laniado Hospital in Netanya.
The Laniado affair was the third case against Olmert to be dropped. The first closed was the Bank Leumi affair, in which Olmert was suspected of trying to help his friend, Australian real-estate magnate Frank Lowy, buy the controlling shares in Bank Leumi. Olmert, who was acting finance minister in 2005, was suspected of trying to change the tender conditions for buying the bank.
Late last month, Mazuz decided to close a separate corruption case against Olmert, involving the purchase of a home on Cremieux Street in Jerusalem. In that case as well, the attorney general cited lack of evidence.
Legend tells that after the Holocaust, R. Yosef Kahaneman zt'l , the Ponevezhe Rov began looking for Jewish children who had survived the war. It was known that some of the children had ended up in churches and were being raised as Christians. The Rov encountered one church that denied the existence and presence of Jewish children within their midst... He was granted permission to enter the children's quarters to inspect for himself -- when he entered he began calling out "Shema Yisroel" and instinctively many of the children raised their hands to cover their eyes and started calling out "mama! mama!"
This is a beautiful video.
Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NY Nana).
There are streets all over Israel named after Rabbi Kahaneman.
Dutch MP Geert Wilders has asked the country's foreign minister Maxime Verhagen to summon the Saudi ambassador over a news report that a father has returned his 10-year old daughter to her 80-year old husband. Wilders asserts that the husband is behaving like a pig, just like Mohamed.
Let's go to the videotape. I'll have more afterward.
The Saudi Arabian Arab News reported the incident of the 10-year-old bride. It said the man denied he is 80-years old, as claimed by the girl’s family, which he accused of meddling in his affairs.
"My marriage is not against Shariah [Muslim law],” he told Arab News. “It included the elements of acceptance and response by the father of the bride." The unidentified man explained that he had been engaged to his wife’s elder sister, who broke off the engagement. In return, her father offered his younger daughter. “I was allowed to have a look at her according to Shariah and found her acceptable," said the elderly man.
Many of you have probably heard the term 'Shabbos goy,' many more of you may not know precisely what it means. I'm going to explain it to you and then give you a specific example. There are certain types of activities that Jews are not allowed to do on the Sabbath. Sometimes, we need those activities performed on our behalf. The person who performs them is called a 'Shabbos goy.'
For example, there was one wintry Friday night when we lived in America that someone bumped into the thermostat and accidentally turned the heat down to an intolerable level. I went next door to the non-Jewish neighbor and asked his 16-year old son to come to our house. The boy came in and I told him that it was cold in the house and the thermostat had been turned down. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said "let me show you how to turn it up." He turned it up to a reasonable temperature. We gave him a piece of cake and sent him on his way.
But finding a Shabbos goy in a neighborhood like our Jerusalem neighborhood - where the entire neighborhood is populated by religious Jews - is much more complicated. So much so that one of the synagogues has taken upon itself to house a Shabbos goy within the synagogue in case someone needs one. We have used the Shabbos goy in the past, but it had been a couple of years. This past Saturday, we needed the Shabbos goy again.
I was preparing a Torah thought to say at the lunch table when my married son (who was visiting us with his wife) called from the kitchen and asked me to come right away. I came into the kitchen and saw that he was holding the refrigerator door slightly ajar. The light inside the refrigerator - the bane of Orthodox Jews' existence - had come on in our 15-year old refrigerator. He could not allow the door to close because it would turn off the light, and because we would not be allowed to open it again until the Sabbath ended. All of our food for the Sabbath was in the refrigerator. I put on my suit jacket and hat (one goes no further than across the street without them in my neighborhood on the Sabbath) and walked down to the synagogue where they have the Shabbos goy.
In the past, the Shabbos goy was always a 'foreign worker' (Thai, Romanian or Filipino), but this time the Shabbos goy knew some Hebrew and almost no English. Clearly an Arab. As we walked the five minutes or so from the (relatively far away) synagogue, the Arab - whom I would guess is 18-21 years old - who was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt (Hard Rock Cafe - Jerusalem) and sandals, insisted on jotting down my name, address and phone number so that he could collect from me after the Sabbath ended. "It's 30 shekels" (about $7.50) he told me. I said "it was only 20 the last time I did this." He said "Shh.... We're not supposed to talk about money on the Sabbath." I told him he was right.
We walked to our house, and he came inside and tried to replace the tape over the light button (which our appliance repairman had suggested, rather than unscrewing the lightbulb and risking condensation getting into the electrical system of our 15-year old refrigerator). My son suggested that maybe he ought to consider unscrewing the light bulb so as to avoid a return trip later in the day. The Arab unscrewed the light bulb.
As he was leaving, I offered him a piece of cake. "I can't, I'm fasting," he responded. "Yes, of course. It's Ramadan," I said, a little embarrassed to have 'forgotten.' (I had no way of knowing whether he was Christian or Muslim, but the odds were high from the beginning that he was Muslim).
After the Sabbath ended, the Shabbos goy called and demanded 50 shekels because it was 'so far' to my house. I have been here long enough not to be taken in. I reached the gabbai (manager) of the synagogue who said to pay him 35 shekels and that no, they don't care whether I put it in the box in the synagogue or pay it to the guy directly. I went and handed him 35 shekels in cash, which seemed to please him. I asked whether he had broken his fast, and he said he broke it at 7:00 (about ten minutes before sundown - have to look that one up someday).
So why am I telling you this whole story? From time to time, you see stories about increasing percentages of Israeli Jews who want to pay Arabs to leave the country. There are Arabs whom we should pay to leave the country. But we will also need our Shabbos goyim. The Torah contemplates that there will be non-Jews in Israel even when Israel is a Jewish country run entirely under Jewish law. They will have a special status. That status is known as ger toshav. Those who wish to live in peace with us need not necessarily be asked to leave.
In preparation for the ger toshav status, Israel treats non-Jews with respect and allows them to worship freely. On Friday, 90,000 Muslims worshiped on the Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in the world to the Jewish people.
Will we hear all about it from Human Rights Watch? Will they find a minute to stop fronting for Hamas over there to acknowledge this fact? Will the Israel-bashing Amnesty International take note? What of the horrified UN? Will it answer for having remained silent about the amassing of Hezbollah weapons caches in Southern Lebanon by speaking up to congratulate the Israelis on their heroic efforts to protect religious freedom, even for those who would exterminate them?
Compare this to the way that Muslims treated Jews during the years that they controlled the Temple Mount. Not only could Jews not ascend the Temple Mount, they couldn't even approach the Western Wall at its bottom, nor enter the Old City of Jerusalem in which they are located. Jews could not enter the entire area during the entire 19 years (1948-67) that Jordanian Muslims ruled the area. The entire Jewish quarter, including all of its beautiful synagogues were destroyed. The Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives - on the Old City's far side - were desecrated, and their gravestones were used for latrines and for paving the walkway to the Intercontinental Hotel.
When the Messiah comes, the Temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount, and Muslims will no longer worship there. However, we will still need some Shabbos goyim to live here, so non-Jews (who abide by certain Jewish precepts) will live here. Can the Arab-Islamic countries - which won't even allow Jews entry - say the same?
Who is better off: My Shabbos goy under my people's rule, or me under his people's rule? The answer seems obvious.
Roger Simon is currently traveling in Europe and found himself in a hotel where the only English-language news available came from al-Jazeera. Here's some of what he has to say about it (Hat Tip: Instapundit).
I expected the worst, of course, but was soon astonished. Except for those stories when the “I”-word was prominent (you know, that little country south of Lebanon), Al Jazeera was clearly better, more honest, more informative and more entertaining than CNN International or the BBC. And kinder to the US. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Also, since much of the news they reported was coming from the Middle East, they seemed better informed about such things as the death of the Iraqi Shiite leader Hakim (they referred to Saddam Hussein flatly as a fascist, something you rarely hear on CNN) and the Al Qaeda suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia (they had nothing but withering contempt for Al Qaeda – no pussy-footing “insurgent” rhetoric for them).
I'm curious just how much worse they are on Israel the Zionist entity. I suspect that they're not too much worse than CNN or al-Beeb. At least when one watches al-Jazeera talking about Israel, unless one is totally clueless, one knows to take their 'news reports' with a grain of salt.
This is slightly off my usual fare, but it caught my eye because my Mom a"h (may she rest in peace) suffered greatly from bed sores during the last years of her life. Mom was immobile in the last years of her life and quite simply, nothing helped the bedsores. Contrary to what many of you may believe from their name, 'bed sores' don't just come from lying in bed. Ask anyone who uses a wheelchair for a prolonged period of time. Now, there's hope.
Freeman said that Dermastream has already passed clinical trials in Israeli hospitals and may be available in the U.S. within the next year.
Dermastream employs a special solution developed at Freeman's TAU laboratory, thus offering a new approach to chronic wound care- a specialty known as "continuous streaming therapy."
"Our basic idea is simple. We treat the wound by streaming a solution in a continuous manner. Traditional methods require wound scraping to remove necrotic tissue. That is expensive, painful and extremely uncomfortable to the patient. And while active ingredients applied with bandages on a wound may work for a couple of hours, after that the wound fights back. The bacteria build up again, creating a tedious and long battle," said Freeman.
Dermastream "flows" under a plastic cover that seals the wound, providing negative pressure that promotes faster healing.
The active biological ingredient, delivered in a hypertonic medium, works to heal hard-to-shake chronic wounds.
Freeman said that while traditional bandaging methods may take months to become fully effective, Dermastream can heal chronic wounds in weeks.
Dermastream is intended for use in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics and homecare. Freeman has founded a company that is currently collaborating with a Veterans Association hospital in Tucson, AZ, to bring the technology to the U.S. market.
I wish it had been available 5-6 years ago. Mom passed away a little more than four years ago. That's her picture at the top holding my youngest son (who is now five-years old). She would have been happy to use something that came from Israel that would have given her a lot of relief.
Hebron's Jews called the 'definition of Zionism' by... The Wall Street Journal
The picture at left is a nice picture of Meorath haMachpeila (the Cave of the Patriarchs); the caption that came through with it is unfortunate.
Last Sunday and Monday were the 80th Gregorian calendar anniversary of what's known here as "airuei Tarpat" (the events of 5789). In honor of the anniversary, The Wall Street Journal published this op-ed, which I thought nailed it regarding Hebron: Tarpat extinguished the most ancient Jewish community in Palestine.
With synagogues destroyed, Jewish property converted into storerooms and barns for livestock, and the ancient cemetery desecrated, few signs remained that there had ever been a Jewish presence in Hebron.
But nearly 40 years later, after the Six-Day War of 1967, a small group of religious Zionists returned to Hebron to rebuild the destroyed community. "What was in the past in Hebron," declared their matriarch Miriam Levinger, "is what will happen in the future. Always!" So it would be.
The Jewish community of Hebron—some 700 people—recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of their return. This month they commemorate the 80th anniversary of Tarpat. All the other ancient peoples mentioned in the Bible have vanished. But Jews, a community of memory, still live in Hebron.
Hebron Jews are relentlessly vilified as fanatics who illegally occupy someone else's land. As religious Zionists, they are the militant Jewish settlers whom legions of Jewish and non-Jewish critics love to hate. It is seldom noticed that their most serious transgression—settlement in the biblical land of Israel—is the definition of Zionism: the return of Jews to their historic homeland.
Number of 'Israeli Arabs' doing national service quadruples
Israel has a concept of national service, which essentially means that post-high school men and women volunteer for a year or two. In the Jewish community, it's mostly done by women who don't serve in the army for religious reasons and by men who don't serve in the army for medical reasons.
Most 'Israeli Arabs' don't serve in the army. Over the last few years, efforts have been made to encourage them to vounteer for national service instead. Those efforts have apparently been paying off.
It appears that the number of Arabs seeking to apply for national civic service has quadrupled over a period of only four years and demand exceeds the supply, according to Public Affairs Coordinator in the Administration for National Civic Service Lior Shohat.
"Whereas in 2004-2005 there were only 240 Arab volunteers for national service, years 2008-2009 have seen 1,050 volunteers. The numbers certainly speak for themselves," Shohat said.
Employees of the Administration for National Civic Service which was founded 18 months ago are currently busy with preparations for the new recruit year targeting the Israeli public as a whole and the Arab sector in particular.
"Currently the demand is exceeding the amount of vacancies we can offer. I can safely say that if we had more vacancies the number of volunteers would have been much higher.
"The will of Arab youths to volunteer is far greater than the message being conveyed by their public leaders," Shohat added. He also wished to emphasize that there will be nowhere to direct new volunteers if they start encouraging more volunteers.
The message being conveyed by their 'leaders' is a deeply negative one.
Leaders of the Arab community have made negative statements in the past regarding national service. Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka stated two years ago that young Arabs who will join national service will be regarded as lepers and will be ostracized from the Arab community.
While that number is still small in absolute terms, the trend is certainly positive and seems to reflect a desire to live in peace with Israel, despite the fact that (later in the same article) they still make reference to their 'Palestinian brothers.'
Eighteen months ago, when the push to encourage 'Israeli Arabs to do national service started, there was a survey done that showed that 'Israeli Arabs' are nowhere near as negative about the State of Israel as their 'leaders.' Caroline Glick reported:
A poll carried out by University of Haifa last month revealed that 75 percent of Israeli Arabs between the ages of 16 and 22 support voluntary national service. The poll also found that the vast majority of the Arab public is unaware of the national service. 77.4 percent overall and 79.6 percent of youth said they know little or nothing about the program. Moreover, the poll found that once given basic information about conditions in the national service and its goals, not only were Israeli Arab youth supportive of the idea, but so were 71.9 percent of all Arab men and 83.8 percent of all Arab women. In contrast, some 80 percent of members of Arab political parties opposed national service.
This is certainly good news, but I have to leave you with the same question that I asked a year and a half ago when I first reported on this story: If this is true, why do 'Israeli Arabs' continue to return the likes of Ahmad Tibi, Taleb-a-Sana and - until recently - Azmi Bishara (pictured) to the Knesset?
Foreign Ministry: IAEA still hiding material on Iran
The IAEA released a report on Iran's nuclear activities on Friday that was 'critical,' but according to Israeli foreign minisry spokesman Yigal Palmor, it wasn't critical enough.
IAEA officials said Iran was stonewalling the agency about "possible military dimensions" to its program. In the report, the IAEA said it has pressed Iran to clarify its uranium enrichment activities and reassure the world that it's not trying to build an atomic weapon.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a prepared statement that the latest IAEA report, released Friday, "accuses Iran of defying [UN] Security Council decisions, but at the same time hides actual Iranian violations on its path toward military nuclear capability," "This is a harsh report, but it does not reflect all the information possessed by the IAEA on Iranian efforts to advance its military program, on its continuing efforts to hide and deceive, and on [Iran's] noncooperation with the IAEA and the demands of the international community," the statement read.
"The IAEA is the only body recognized by the international community that can prevent the games of deception being played by Iran as it works to build nuclear weapons," a senior Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post Saturday.
If the Israeli foreign ministry knows something that can be disclosed without compromising intelligence sources, they ought to come out and say it. It's too late to be beating about the bush.
Australia confirms ship had weapons heading for Iran
Bloomberg is reporting that Australia has confirmed that the ANL Australia had weapons headed for Iran (Hat Tip: Saeed via Twitter).
Australia confirmed weapons on a ship bound for Iran from North Korea were found on an Australian freighter, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing a government minister.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are investigating the circumstances around this event,” Anthony Albanese, minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government told the Nine Network, the Herald reported.
The United Arab Emirates seized the ship, carrying North Korean-manufactured munitions, detonators, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades bound for Iran in violation of United Nations sanctions, diplomats said yesterday.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are investigating the circumstances around this event," he told the Nine Network.
DFAT yesterday confirmed that a number of containers aboard the ship ANL Australia were offloaded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and inspected by local customs authorities.
The Australia-owned, Bahaman-flagged ship was said to have been carrying a cache of banned rocket-propelled grenades and other arms from North Korea.
"I can confirm that is the case," Mr Albanese said.
"Certainly in terms of the next step forward, we are investigating as to whether there have been any breaches of Australian laws. If there have been, that will be referred to the appropriate police authorities."
A new blog has been started to expose "errors, bias and propaganda in Reuters' Middle East reporting."
It's called Reuters Middle East Watch and you can find it here.
It is not affiliated with Reuters.
To those who - like me - thought that most of the wire service bias in this region can be chalked up to local stringers who are 'Palestinians': Not one stringer is mentioned in the posts currently on the site. Hmmm.
If you guys want to exchange blogroll links (once you get a blogroll), let me know.
I don't normally expect to find Alan Dershowitz writing in FrontPageMagazine. But to his credit, he was there this week, condemning Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt for his hypocritical refusal to condemn the blood libel published by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.
I have devoted much of my life to defending freedom of speech and consider myself something of an expert on the matter. Nobody is talking about censoring the Swedish press or imprisoning the writer of the absurd article. What we are talking about is expanding the marketplace of ideas to include a completely warranted condemnation of sloppy journalism and outrageous accusations that foment an already increasing anti-Semitism in Sweden. Freedom of speech is based on an open and vibrant marketplace of ideas. No journalist is immune from criticism for bigotry and defamation, even from high ranking government officials.
Recall that virtually every government official in Europe went out of their way to condemn the depiction of perfectly innocent cartoons that offended some Muslims by portraying Mohammed. (More recently, the Yale Press withdrew these cartoons and other classic art depicting Mohammed out of fear of violent reaction.) Without getting into the business of comparative offensiveness, no reasonable person could argue that depicting a long-dead religious figure comes anywhere close to falsely accusing contemporary Jews of murdering innocent Palestinians to steal their organs.
The reality is that the Swedish government, long known for its cowardess, simply does not want to get into a fight with the Muslim world, much like it didn’t want to get into a fight with the Nazi’s during the Second World War. Sweden is perfectly willing to sell out the Jews in the name of neutrality, or in this case, in the false name of freedom of expression. Its silence is beneath contempt.
When doesn't anyone care about dead 'Palestinians'?
When doesn't anyone care about dead 'Palestinians'? When they're killed by other 'Palestinians' of course.
You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, Hamas put down what it called a revolt by an al-Qaeda-linked organization - Jund Ansar Allah - that claimed that Hamas was 'not Islamic' enough. Well, Hamas proved that it is definitely Islamic enough. This looks like a gangland execution, not a war.
Thirty Palestinians killed. Women and children caught in the crossfire. Missiles fired at a Mosque. Muslim prisoners 'executed' in cold blood. A massacre. Media restrictions.
A familiar tale? Indeed. International outrage and demonstrations in the streets of London? Nope.
And why might that be? Why it's simple. The Palestinians were were killed by Palestinians and, it would appear from the lack of reaction that in those circumstances their lives are cheap, but when they are killed by Israelis it is an outrage.
And where is the outrage about these murders. The marches, the petitions, the calls for a boycott, the conspiracy theory of a war against Muslims, ad infinitum? I hear just the wind blowing across the freshly dug graves. Because unless the Israelis kill them, people don't care.
Why do you think so many 'Palestinians' are just jumping for joy at the prospect of living in a 'Palestinian state'?
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