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Monday, November 30, 2009

Bolton on Iran's new enrichment plants

Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has some blunt comments on Iran's announcement that it is building ten new plants to enrich uranium.
“One consequence of an Iran with ten new enrichment sites is that it dramatically increases the difficulty of countering with a military strike,” says Bolton. “As the chances for using preemptive military force diminish, it becomes more likely that Israel will have to address the issue on their own. The odds that Obama will use force are slim to none.”

“What worries me more than anything else is that many in the Obama administration do not seem as concerned as they should be about Iran getting nuclear weapons,” says Bolton. “They’re saying all of the right things, but there is a school of thought among many that an Iran with nuclear weapons can be contained and deterred. They, of course, prefer that Iran doesn’t go nuclear, but they don’t see that as a dramatically negative outcome. They’re going through the motions. Deep in their hearts, a nuclear Iran is not ideal, but not extremely negative. If that’s true, then that approach is undercutting all of their efforts as they move through Security Council resolution after resolution.”

Why the 'freeze'?

I would have to guess that this is obvious to most Israelis, but for those of you abroad may find it enlightening.
One lesson Netanyahu learned from both his first term as prime minister and his time in Ariel Sharon’s government was the importance of keeping the Israeli Center behind him. He currently faces two major problems — a nonexistent peace process and a likely need to order military action against Iran — that are liable to result in widespread international condemnation, escalated anti-Israel terror, pressure for potentially dangerous concessions, and perhaps even sanctions. To withstand this, he will need solid domestic support, which means he must convince the Israeli majority that neither problem is his fault: that he truly tried to restart peace talks and thereby also spur international action on Iran, given the West’s claim that such action would be easier if peace talks were progressing.

Faced with similar circumstances — a stalled peace process, a looming Iranian threat, growing international pressure, and consequent eroding domestic support — Sharon decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. That achieved its goal: it got the Israeli Center behind him. But the price, in terms of both security and Israel’s image (as January’s Gaza war showed), was horrific.

The settlement freeze is a far smarter means of achieving the same goal. The only security risks it poses are those that stem from being perceived as easily pressured. Yet it is a concession no previous Israeli prime minister ever offered, and a substantial one: it even applies to settlement blocs that Israel wants to keep under any agreement and where even the moderate Left deems continued construction no impediment to peace.

Thus even if it fails to satisfy the Arabs, Europeans, and Americans, Netanyahu’s hope is that it will satisfy most Israelis: that when the world begins condemning Israel for the lack of progress toward peace and demanding additional, more dangerous concessions, the Israeli majority will not blame Netanyahu’s “intransigence” — after all, he has shown great flexibility — but rather the Palestinians’ unwillingness to respond to his gesture, and the world’s unwillingness to pressure them to do so instead of once again pressuring Israel. And it will therefore back him in refusing to make further concessions.
While I'm not happy with the 'freeze,' it's clear to me that's why Netanyahu did it, and I can only hope that it at least accomplishes its goals. The 'disengagement' from Gaza went completely wrong. Let's hope the 'freeze' (which is at least reversible) doesn't.

Israel's top 10 must-have gadgets

For those of you who want to boycott the Jewish state, here are ten more gadgets you can avoid.
1. DiskOnKey
2. Powermat
3. Epilady
4. Modu
5. Boxee
6. Eye-Fi
7. MobileEye
8. Ctera
9. Easy-2-Pick
10. Medical imaging via cell phone
To find out what these things are, read the whole thing.

The funny thing is that I buy DiskOnKeys and have bought Epiladys in the US. They're cheaper there.


Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain

In the Weekly Standard, Matthias Küntzel, a Hamburg-based political scientist, compares US President Barack Hussein Obama to Neville Chamberlain.
Obviously, the new American president would like to be better loved by the global public than his predecessors. Obama sees himself as the anti-Bush. He personifies the attempt to placate anti-Americanism through concessions to America's enemies. He does not want to disappoint the hopes for peace that he repeatedly raises in his speeches and that won him his hollow Nobel Prize. Since Tehran will not change, he prefers to change his view of the Iranian regime. "This is not about singling out Iran," Obama insisted after the negotiations in Geneva. "This is not about creating double standards." The president sounded as if he were trying to convince himself and convince the world that the mullahs' regime is a government like any other.

The West is not deterring the mullahs. Instead, the mere prospect of their nuclear capability is deterring the West. Ahmadinejad and his friends sense their chance. They are putting pressure on the democratic nations to drop Israel in exchange for a tempering of Tehran's hostility. They are using the entire repertoire of intimidation, ridicule, and insult in an attempt to transform the Jewish state into what the Czech Sudetenland was for France and Great Britain in 1938: the price to be paid for "peace in our time."

Similar mechanisms led British prime minister Neville Chamberlain to acquiesce to the Munich Accord that ceded the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany. Chamberlain felt the pressure of the memory of the First World War, while today the memory of the (far less costly) Iraq war weighs on Obama. Chamberlain was well aware of the pacifist mood in Europe that would gain expression in the euphoric celebrations after the signing of the agreement. Of course, Chamberlain wanted to prevent a war. But his policy resulted in the opposite of what it aimed to accomplish. Obama does not want war either. But it is to war that his present approach is leading.

Whereas Chamberlain's policy led to a conventional war, the current policy of the Obama administration is conjuring up the threat of a nuclear war. Nobody can be sure that a nuclear-armed Iran will allow itself to be disarmed and deprived of its power without using its nuclear weapons. In that case, the world may be faced with the choice of either submitting to Islamism or defeating it--albeit at an unimaginable price.
And Kuntzel isn't the only one. A week after calling Obama 'Carteresque' MSNBC's Chris Matthews says that Obama is "too much Chamberlain and not enough Churchill.

Let's go to the videotape.

What could go wrong?

The transcript is here.

Hamastan: Women banned from scooters, dancing

This is not a fun time to be a woman in Gaza.
The Islamic Hamas movement banned girls last month from riding behind men on motor scooters and forbade women from dancing at the opening of a folk museum. Girls in some public schools must wear headscarves and cloaks.

Signs of Hamas’s creeping Islamization are everywhere in Gaza, the Mediterranean coastal enclave that Hamas has run by itself since 2007. Gaza is already politically divided from the West Bank, the Palestinian territory administered by the secular Fatah movement.


At the immigration office at Gaza’s border with Israel, a sign warns that alcoholic beverages, forbidden under Islam, will be poured out “in front of the owner.”

The government’s Islamic Endowment Ministry has deployed Virtue Committee members to preach at public places to warn of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing and dating.


The opening of the Palestinian Heritage Museum on Oct.7 was meant to include a rendition of the dabke, a line dance performed by girls and boys. Except that no girls were allowed.

Black-shirted men from Hamas carrying AK-47s appeared at the gates of the museum, on Gaza’s waterfront, said Jamal Salem, the curator. They said girls shouldn’t dance because it wasn’t religiously proper. Nor could they share the stage for the inaugural speeches, said Salem.

“They are trying to take Palestinian culture and make it all their own,” Salem said. “They say our traditions are against the law. Their law.”

In August, headmasters of several schools ordered girls to don white head scarves and black cloaks called jilbabs. They sent several girls in jeans home, according to Gaza press reports. The Education Ministry later said the orders were unauthorized acts of individual school officials.


“The episodes had an effect anyway,” said Eyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist and human rights campaigner. “What parent wants to be seen to defy Islamic rules?”
They voted for Hamas. As my mother, may she rest in peace, used to say, "you make your mess and then you have to lie in it."

The magic number goes up

On Sunday, I reported that the magic number of 'Palestinian' terrorists to be exchanged for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is 980. Haaretz reports that it's actually more than that. A lot more.
The state prosecution says that both parties have committed to keeping a lid on the details as long as negotiations are underway. The new information, to the extent that there is any, relates to the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel is officially saying will be released in a deal: 980, in two stages: 450 heavy-duty prisoners whom Hamas wants freed, and another 530 terrorists whom Israel will select "as a gesture to the Palestinian people."

Throughout the negotiations, Hamas spokesmen insisted that 1,400 prisoners would be released in a swap. Has Israel gotten Hamas to fold on this demand? That's doubtful. For instance, the state's response doesn't make it clear whether the 530 prisoners include Palestinian women and youths. More prisoners may be released after the first 980. And the state's response doesn't even mention the hundreds of prisoners Israel is likely to release in the future, in a bid to furbish the image of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

In other words, if the Shalit deal goes through, more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners will be released in the coming months, possibly close to 2,000.
What could go wrong?

Hope and change Getting along

The 2009 Pew Global Survey of attitudes toward the United States has been published and - surprisingly to some - it's not a whole lot different than the 2008 survey.

Fouad Ajami notes:
It was the norm for American liberalism during the Bush years to brandish the Pew Global Attitudes survey that told of America's decline in the eyes of foreign nations. Foreigners were saying what the liberals wanted said.

Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn't seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that's reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.

Mr. Obama's election has not drained the swamps of anti-Americanism. That anti-Americanism is endemic to this region, an alibi and a scapegoat for nations, and their rulers, unwilling to break out of the grip of political autocracy and economic failure. It predated the presidency of George W. Bush and rages on during the Obama presidency.
By the way, Israel wasn't surveyed in 2008, but in 2007 it was 78% positive on America, and in 2009 it has dropped to 71%.

Ajami recounts a lengthy list of reasons why the Arab world has stopped applauding Obama. They include Iran (where he refuses to take sides), Iraq (where he has walked away in essence), Afghanistan (where he is trying to walk away), India and Pakistan (where he has walked away) and even the home front (where he refuses to acknowledge President Bush's achievement in keeping the United States safe from terror for seven years after 9/11, and where - Ajami doesn't mention this - he is creating the conditions for a new terror attack with the insistence on holding a civilian proceeding in New York for the 9/11 planners).

In the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl notes that discontent and disappointment with Obama go beyond the issues of war and peace in the Middle East:
For the reformers, a big signal came this month in a speech Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered in Marrakech, Morocco. Clinton was attending a session of the Forum for the Future, a body the Bush administration established at the height of its pro-reform campaign. The idea was to foster a dialogue between Western and Arab countries about political and social reform that would resemble the Helsinki process between the West and the Soviet bloc during the 1970s.

Clinton began her speech by referring to Obama's call in Cairo for "a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities around the world." She then said that after consulting with "local communities" the administration had "focused on three broad areas where we believe U.S. support can make a difference."

These turned out to be "entrepreneurship," "advancing science and technology" and education. As if citing the also-rans, Clinton added that "women's empowerment" was "a related priority" and that "the United States is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East." The word "democracy" appeared nowhere in the speech, and there was no reference at all to the Arabs who are fighting to create independent newspapers, political parties or human rights organizations.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian who is one of the best-known Arab reformers, was part of a group who met Clinton after the speech. He told me that he tried to point out to her that "the next two years are crucial" for determining the political direction of the Middle East, in part because Egypt is approaching a major transition. Parliamentary elections are scheduled in 10 months, and their results will determine whether a presidential election scheduled for 2011 will be genuinely democratic. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's 82-year-old ruler, is under pressure to retire; if he allows it, a truly competitive race to succeed him could pit his son Gamal against diplomatic heavyweights such as former foreign minister Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei, the outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- not to mention Ayman Nour, who was imprisoned for three years after challenging Mubarak in 2005.

Clinton, said Ibrahim, replied that democracy promotion had always been a centerpiece of U.S. diplomacy and that the Obama administration would not give it up -- "but that they have a lot of other things on their plate." For Arab liberals, the translation is easy, if painful: Regardless of what the president may have said in Cairo, Obama's vision for the Middle East doesn't include "a new beginning" in the old political order.
And Jennifer Rubin points out that disappointment with Obama goes far beyond the Middle East to other regions:
Arab liberals aren’t alone. “No new beginning” is really the message of the day in China, Iran, and Russia, too. Human rights have been downgraded. The message is clear that thuggish regimes need not clean up their acts to enjoy robust relations with the U.S. In fact, we won’t even embarrass them or challenge them when our president arrives. They can breathe easier as they proceed to imprison, censor, and brutalize their own people.
But Obama has probably made more of a mess between Israel and the 'Palestinians' than he has anyplace else. This is Ajami again:
Nor was he swayed by the fate of so many "peace plans" that have been floated over so many decades to resolve the fight between Arab and Jew over the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean. Where George W. Bush offered the Palestinians the gift of clarity—statehood but only after the renunciation of terror and the break with maximalism—Mr. Obama signaled a return to the dead ways of the past: a peace process where America itself is broker and arbiter.

The Obama diplomacy had made a settlement freeze its starting point, when this was precisely the wrong place to begin. Israel has given up settlements before at the altar of peace—recall the historical accommodation with Egypt a quarter century ago. The right course would have set the question of settlements aside as it took up the broader challenge of radicalism in the region—the menace and swagger of Iran, the arsenal of Hamas and Hezbollah, the refusal of the Arab order of power to embrace in broad daylight the cause of peace with Israel.
Jennifer Rubin sums up:
It’s not exactly what starry-eyed Obama fans around the globe expected. They thought they were getting someone in Obama who’d motivate young people, cajole old regimes into reforming themselves, and tout the blessings of freedom. They thought all that hope-n-change stuff might apply to them. Instead they have a cynical crowd in the White House who imagines that its role is to be as inoffensive as possible with despotic regimes and avoid confrontation. “Getting along” is now the watchword. “Hope and change” are out.
Indeed they are. What could go wrong?

Derisionist history

The New Republic carries a lengthy and fascinating review by Benny Morris - who has moved somewhat to the Right after being classified as a 'revisionist' historian - of a new book by Avi Shlaim, perhaps one of the most extreme anti-Israel Jewish historians. I'm going to give you three small paragraphs of the review, show you a video about who Avi Shlaim is, and then hope that whets your appetite enough to go get an education. Here are the three paragraphs I wanted you to see from the review.
Zaim ruled Syria from March 30, 1949, to August 14, 1949, when he was deposed and executed by his colleagues. Working through American and U.N. mediators, Zaim proposed peace with Israel, and also that Syria absorb a quarter of a million Palestinian refugees in exchange for Israeli cession of the eastern half of the Sea of Galilee (according to the U.N. partition resolution, the whole sea was to be within Israeli territory) and, by implication, the Israeli-owned strip of land to the east of the lake, which included Kibbutz Ein-Gev.

Israel and Syria were at the time in the middle of armistice negotiations, and Ben-Gurion suspected that Zaim’s move was a ploy to delay Syrian withdrawal from Israeli territory that it had conquered during the war, which Israel was demanding. At the same time Ben-Gurion believed that Zaim was not trustworthy. (The Syrian was apparently a CIA agent and had previously been in intermittent contact with Haganah intelligence officers.) Ben-Gurion was in any case unwilling to give up half of Israel’s major water resource, and to surrender hard-won territory in exchange for a bilateral peace agreement on which the Syrians could at any time renege. He refused to meet with Zaim until the Syrians agreed to withdraw from Israeli territory, and the Syrians rejected the Israeli proposal to negotiate at the foreign ministers level.

According to Shlaim, Zaim gave Israel “every opportunity to bury the hatchet and lay the foundations for peaceful coexistence in the long term,” but an “intransigent” Israel and a “short-sighted” Ben-Gurion “spurned” his offer and “frittered away” a “historic opportunity.” A historic opportunity? I am not so sure, and in the absence of Syrian documentation the seriousness of Zaim’s offer and his ability to carry it out remain unclear. (Itamar Rabinovich, in The Road Not Taken, highlighted Zaim’s internal problems in this respect.) Equally unclear is what would have been the fate, after Zaim’s death, of any agreement that he had signed. It is also worth asking whether a semi-arid country should give up half of its main water resource (and territory) in exchange for a peace treaty of doubtful longevity with a country that has just attacked it. Shlaim, intent on pillorying Israel, does not ask this question.
Those sound like good questions for any peace deal today, don't they?

And who is Avi Shlaim? Let's go to the videotape.

Note that CNN describes Shlaim as an Israeli. Morris would disagree.

Read the whole thing.

The picture at the top is Benny Morris. Apparently CNN doesn't think he should be interviewed anymore.


Outrageous headline of the day

Just in case they take it down, I'm just going to give you this one as a screen capture:

Forced? No further comment needed.

Swiss surprise

Many of you outside the Middle East and Switzerland itself may not appreciate the significance of Sunday's vote in Switzerland to ban new minarets (that's a picture of one in Switzerland at left) next to mosques.

The noontime news broadcasts here in Israel played several Arab news broadcast openings each of which used the word 'surprise' to described the Swiss vote. All the polls indicated that the initiative, which was opposed by the Swiss government, would fail. The country's 300,000 - 450,000 Muslims (among a population of 7-7.5 million) has only four minarets (none of which broadcasts a call to service due to strict noise pollution laws) among its 150 mosques. And yet, the measure passed.

What are the likely results? Robin Shepherd says that the minaret measure could make the Danish cartoons riot look like a walk in the park.
The move is likely to provoke the kind of mass confrontation that followed the publication of a series of cartoons in Denmark in 2005 which linked the Prophet Mohammed to terrorism. In the months that followed, more than 100 people died in unrest across the Muslim world, Danish embassies and shops were burned to the ground and protests erupted by Muslim groups in Europe calling for the censorship of opinions considered insulting to Islam.


It is far too early to draw conclusions about today’s unfolding events in Switzerland and I will comment later when the situation becomes clearer. But it looks as though a backlash against Islam in Europe by nationalist forces energised by the failures of multiculturalist orthodoxies is now really starting to take hold.

It is just such an implosion of the centre-ground in favour of polarising groups on either side that has long been predicted by critics of politically correct, multiculturalist ideology. In other words, if mainstream parties refused to deal with the problem of intolerance and bigotry inside Muslim groups in a civilised manner, it was inevitable that fringe groups would deal with the problem in an uncivilised manner, all the while garnering ever greater support from a wider public disillusioned by the way things have been going. There’s more of this to come. You can rely on it.
We're already seeing results from this vote from Turkey, for instance.
In Turkey, where there is a broad perception that prejudice against Muslims is growing in Europe, the Swiss referendum was watched with concern.

On private television station NTV, Saim Yeprem, a former senior administrator at Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, called the outcome "a result of Islamophobia." Noting that several mosques in Europe were financed by 19th-century Ottoman sultans, he said "it is a sign for the worse that Europe, which in those days tolerated mosque-building, is unwilling today to tolerate minarets."

Turkey is negotiating to join the European Union, but since talks began in late 2005, France, Germany and several other countries have argued the predominantly Muslim country isn't sufficiently European to join. Several areas of the talks have stalled and resentment at the apparent rejection is rising in Turkey.

Cavid Aksin, an Istanbul metalworker, was angered that the referendum coincided with the end of one of the most important religious feasts in the Muslim calendar. "I think Turkey should have a referendum on whether to close down its churches," he said.
That idea is laughable, because there are Muslim countries where churches are illegal (e.g. Saudi Arabia) and many more Muslim countries where synagogues are illegal and where Jews are not allowed entry and cannot be residents or citizens. But given Turkey's attempts to enter the EU - of which Switzerland is not a member - the fact that a measure like this passed on the Continent is a stinging rebuke to Muslims all over Europe and Turkish reaction reflects the insult.

In Switzerland itself, those who pushed the referendum now want to build on their victory.
In Switzerland, People's Party leader Walter Wobman said the group will now fight to ban the burqa as well as to institute a law against forced marriage. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf released a statement saying the government respected the vote, but emphasized it "is not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture."
Of course it is. It's at least a rejection of the Muslim community's efforts to impose its culture and mores on others, or at least of what is perceived as an attempt to do so.

Meanwhile, here in Israel, at least one MK has gotten the idea to do something about our own minarets, which are quite noisy.
The fight against the muezzins - the pre-dawn, loud, mournful calls to prayer by Islamic prayer leaders, or recordings thereof - has reached the Knesset, where MK Aryeh Bibi (Kadima) is promoting a bill to silence them.

Bibi says that the 4 a.m. call to prayer “wreaks havoc in Jerusalem,” awakening people in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. “There is no reason why they can’t do what they do in Turkey, Egypt and elsewhere,” Bibi told Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine, “and that is to have a ‘silent radio station’ which ‘awakens’ every day at 4 o'clock with the call to prayer. This way, those who want to wake up can do so; why do they have to wake up the whole world?”
Yes, they are quite noisy. As someone who goes to bed at 4:00 am from time to time, I cannot tell you how much I don't appreciate the mournful, wailing, "Allah Hu Akhbar" coming out of the minaret that's about 500 meters from my house as I'm trying to doze off for an hour or two.

But that's an issue of noise and not an issue of religious practice. We may have fears of our country being overrun by Muslims, but they are very different from European fears on the same issue.

Sunday's vote is a wake-up call to Muslims to tone it down. But Robin Shepherd is correct that it's also a wake up call to moderate groups in Europe and elsewhere: If you don't stop with the political correctness and address the issues, people who are far more extreme than you are going to address them for you and you may not like the consequences. I hope that several European governments and the Obama administration in the US have gotten the message.

Soldiers' opposition to expulsions continues

Despite attempts by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to stop it, IDF combat soldiers continue to declare loudly and clearly that they will not take part in expelling Jews from Judea and Samaria.
Opposition by IDF soldiers to expelling civilians continues. Soldiers in the Shimshon battalion have printed service stage graduation shirts with the words "Shimshom Doesn’t Expel People From Homesh".

On the back of the shirt appeared the words "You were in Lebanon, you were in Gaza, were you in the newspaper?" The sentence appears beneath a picture of soldiers waving the sign "Shimshom Doesn’t Expel People From Homesh".

In recent days continued expressions of support for IDF soldiers who say they will refuse to expel Jews from their communities have increased. Twelfth Grade pupils recently published a letter in which they declared that they intend to join IDF infantry units, but that they did not intend to obey expulsion orders and orders to destroy Jewish communities.
The government has brought the plague of threats to refuse orders on the IDF. First, the IDF should never be used in police actions (and expelling people from their homes is a police action whether it's legitimate or not). Second, much of the IDF officer corps has relatives in Judea and Samaria. Does the government really believe that soldiers will happily expel their parents, siblings and cousins from their homes? Third, the government and the IDF have turned a blind eye to secular soldiers refusing to serve in the territories or in the IDF so long as it operates in the territories. Do they think no one notices?

Sorry, I could not find the shirt discussed so I took a different one for the graphic.

Third Temple on its way

According to the Vilna Gaon, construction of the Third Temple will start, God willing, on March 16, 2010, which just happens to be the first day of the Jewish month of Nissan this year.
If the 18th-century rabbinic authority the Vilna Gaon was right, on March 16, 2010, construction will begin on the third Temple. His projection states that the auspicious day will coincide with the third completion of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter.

The great day is at hand: On March 15, the reconstructed Hurva Synagogue, considered the most important house of prayer in Jerusalem will be rededicated. It was last destroyed in the War of Independence.
Based on the rest of the article, I have to wonder what kind of hat the Messiah will wear....

A synagogue is a synagogue and not a museum. And by the way, both Rav Kook and Rav Nebenzahl are intimately connected to the National Religious community (something Haaretz would never tell you).

Hamas drops some names

Hamas is complaining to the media that Israel is disclosing names of terrorists it has demanded in exchange for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, and at the same time it is complaining about terrorists Israel refuses to discuss. Hamas accuses Israel of trying to torpedo the deal.
Hamas' public relations supervisor Osama Hamdan told the Al-Hayyat daily that sources in Israel were seeking to make the deal fail by leaking details of the negotiations, particularly with regard to the release of terrorists with "blood on their hands."

The paper quotes Hamas sources as saying that Israel is still refusing the group's demands to release senior militants Ibrahim Hamad, Abdullah Barghouti and Abbas Asayeb.

According to the report, Israel has not agreed even to raise these prisoners' names during negotiations and has rejected Hamas' offers to send them into exile following release.

The newspaper also said that Israel will not agree to release five female Palestinians inmates sentenced to life in prison or other extended terms, even though their names were on the original list of 450 "heavy" prisoners set to be exchanged.

These female inmates included Ahalam Tamimi, who was Abdullah Barghouti's right-hand woman and helped carry out the deadly suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem.
Well, it's good to see that the Israeli government may have found a little bit of spine. Ahlam Tamimi is pictured above and I have discussed her many times on this blog, most recently here. Maybe all the complaints last week about her release did some good.

Abdullah Barghouti was Hamas' chief bomb maker - he made the Sbarro bomb. Ibrahim Hamad was Hamas' military commander in Judea and Samaria during the Oslo War and has the blood of dozens of Israelis on his hands.

Maybe the trade won't happen. I can't see Hamas doing the trade without getting its own senior people out of jail.

Govt. to High Court: Murderers to be released based on 'security and moral' justifications

One of the reasons I didn't become a litigator is that I'm not good at lying through my teeth advocating for positions in which I don't believe. As such, I don't envy the government lawyer who has to make this argument to the Supreme Court sitting as a High Court of Justice on Monday afternoon.
The state prosecutor responded that Israel is weighing the option of freeing 450 prisoners in the initial stage of the deal, "based on security and moral justifications." The unilateral release of 530 more prisoners, to be selected by Israel, is being planned for a later date as a gesture to the Palestinian people. Drafting the criteria for the second stage has yet to begin, nor has a potential list of inmates been compiled.
'Security and moral justification' for releasing 450 murderers? You've got to be kidding. Criteria not yet drafted? Don't believe it. I'd bet that they have an exact count of who those 530 terrorists are and how many of them meet the current criteria for not having blood on their hands.

As for the government agreeing with Hamas to keep the list secret in a bid to quell dissent over the lopsided trade, that's simply beneath contempt.

By the way, remember that last week I reported that the military censor was preventing details of the 'exchange' from being disclosed and that the censor's actions were out of place? The government speaks to that issue too.
The response also noted that the military censor is entitled to prohibit the publication of any piece of information it believes "will significantly damage the possibility of returning Shalit alive and healthy," or alternatively, if it believes publication will compromise national security.

Moreover, it said, it is virtually impossible to hold public negotiations with a "bitter enemy," a terrorist organization holding a soldier captive and seeking the highest possible price in return for his release.

The state prosecutor wrote that ambiguity is essential to Israel's very existence, and that without it, "it is impossible to hold effective negotiations and reach the goal of returning the abducted soldier to Israel."
This reminds me of President Nixon's argument during the Watergate scandal that he was entitled to withhold evidence of his own criminal activity under 'executive privilege' because he had determined that its disclosure would damage 'national security.' The differences are that in America there is a Bill of Rights (we don't have one - if anyone tells you that there is free speech in Israel, they are lying) and 35 years ago the US Supreme Court was far less politicized.

Look for the Supreme Court to throw the petition out by tomorrow morning without requiring that names be released and without requiring the disclosure of the Shamgar Commission recommendations.

The country is in good hands. What could go wrong?

'Palestinian' siege on its way?

Arutz Sheva reports that the 'Palestinians' are planning to besiege Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as part of a third 'intifada.'
The Palestinian Authority is planning to besiege Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, according to recent reports in Arab media. A member of the central committee of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction was quoted by Al-Arab on November 20th as saying that the movement decided during the 6th Fatah convention to ignite a third intifada in the area in response to "Israel's intransigence" and the failure of diplomatic talks.

He said that while it won't use live arms fire, the new campaign will have a grass-roots style, including the surrounding of Jewish communities by thousands of Arabs. An Arutz Sheva reporter notes other senior members of the PA and Fatah have escalated their words about other options, including armed struggle.
What could go wrong?

What the....

Given that the Russians voted in favor of the resolution condemning Iran's nuclear program at the IAEA board meeting last week, you would think that they would not be helping that same nuclear program along. You'd be wrong - at least if the Iranian media is correct.
Russia's energy minister pledged on Sunday a quick completion of Iran's first nuclear power station, Iran's state broadcaster IRIB reported, weeks after Moscow announced the latest delay to the Bushehr plant.

The reported statement, which did not give a specific time for the launch of Bushehr, came as Iran's government announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, in a major expansion of its disputed nuclear program. Russia said in mid-November that technical issues would prevent its engineers from starting up the reactor at Bushehr by the end of the year as previously planned.
Maybe if there are a few more exploding trains, the Russians will get the hint.

Heh. (No, I don't think Israel did it, but Iran might have).

Comment problem

This morning, several of the comments were lost. I have no idea why. I apologize for the mishap (I authorized all of them, but I can see that most of them did not go through). I assume it's a Blogger issue.

Maybe it's time to listen to all those people who keep offering to upgrade my template.

'Palestinian' in hiding after admitting Jewish connection to Temple Mount

'Palestinian moderate' Sari Nusseibeh has gone underground after publishing an article in which he admitted that Jews have a connection to the Temple Mount.
Middle East expert Mordechai Kedar said Monday that Dr. Sari Nusaiba of Birzeit University, north of Ramallah, has had to go underground in the wake of an article that claims an historical connection between the Jews and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Interviewed on Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news journal, Dr. Kedar said that Nusaiba would not be the first prominent Arab to publicize the link.

Dr. Kedar said that Haj Amin El-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, declared in 1929 that the site's association with King Solomon's Temple was beyond all doubt, even though he would become part of the Nazis' efforts against the Jews.
Religion of peace, anyone?

Overnight music video

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!"

Rav Kahaneman - who has a street named after him in just about every major city in Israel - saved hundreds of Jewish children in this manner.

The full Shema prayer is said twice daily in synagogue, and an abridged version is said soon after awakening in the morning and before going to sleep at night - a total of four times a day.

This song is by Yaakov Shwekey.

Let's go to the videotape.


Sorry, I just discovered I posted the same video back in August. You knew that would happen eventually, didn't you?

Baer and Hanson: 50-50 Israel strikes Iran by end of 2010 Q1

Big Government brings us this interview with Robert Baer and Victor Davis Hanson in which an Israeli strike on Iran is a real scenario. Big Government comments.
Either “full of himself” doesn’t even begin to describe our president, or his speechwriters are literally in love with him – which would be cute, were it not so perilous.

Because the world watches. In Israel, they watch and they listen and they don’t like the way the “winds of change” are blowing. They feel america leaving them in the desert. In Europe, they listen and they must, if their ears are working, hear the news that America will no longer play the bad cop to their good cop. If Obama’s America, while dreaming of a world without nuclear weapons, allows Iran to attain the ability to strike German cities, what should the Europeans leaders do? Will the Germans build new weapons of their own? As this interview with two experts on the region reveals, circumstances are rapidly growing too dire to ignore.
Let's go to the videotape.

Unfortunately (and I say 'unfortunately' only because I appreciate the consequences), the odds of an Israeli strike on Iran are growing by the day. No one here is willing to die to keep the price of gas in the US at $2.70 per gallon while that Islamist-loving moron in Washington goes all over the world talking about himself and bowing on America's behalf. He makes Neville Chamberlain look like a brilliant statesman.

I don't give a damn if oil goes to $1,000 per barrel, so long as my family and I are able to live normal lives. Does anyone in Washington get that? Do the 60 Democratic Senators who can bring anything to a vote understand that no one here is willing to die so that they can back 'engagement' with Iran? Or are they still enamored with King Hussein? Do the foolish Jews in the House like Bob Wexler and Gary Ackerman really think Israel is going to take a hit for them?

But deep down, it's impossible to escape the feeling that this may be Iraq or Syria all over again. Will Iran really respond? That seems less real than us hitting them. (Hamas and Hezbullah will respond, but they're like flies compared with Iran). But if we don't hit them, it's clear that they will hit us. There is no choice. Israel will have to act. God will help us.

Netanyahu: Now it's clear who wants peace

At the Eilat Journalism Conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that now that we've agreed to strangle Judea and Samaria for the next ten months (at least), it's clear who wants peace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Eilat Conference for Journalism that it is now clear to every objective observer that Israel wants peace. He noted, however, that he does not see the same willingness or determination on the Palestinian side. "I see other signs. I see stipulating all kinds of preconditions to talks from the first moment," said Netanyahu.
Well, Netanyahu may be right, but we didn't need a freeze to tell us that, and there aren't too many objective observers in these parts. Take quartet envoy Tony Blair for instance. Please, take him.
Speaking to CNN's John King, the former UK prime minister said that there were "many things, positive things, happening on the ground at the moment." He specifically cited growth in the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, as well as the fact that checkpoints were being "opened or removed."

"There's a lot of bustle and activity on the West Bank and in Gaza," he noted.


He said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was "genuine and serious in wanting negotiations [with the Palestinians] to start." On the Palestinian side, he said, people "need to know that negotiations are going to be credible," and that they will "genuinely lead to the two-state solution."
In other words, Blair says that the 'Palestinians' want 'peace' but only if Israel surrenders.

What could go wrong?

The magic number

In a court filing on Sunday, the Israeli government disclosed the number of terrorists it is willing to trade for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit: 980.
In a response to a petition seeking to publish the names of the Palestinians prisoners slated to be released as part of the Shalit deal, the State Prosecutor's Office stated that the release of 450 prisoners is being considered.

It was also stated, "As part of a unilateral gesture to the Palestinian people, an additional 530 terrorists chosen by Israel are to be released." It was noted that such a list has not yet been compiled and no criteria were set for the matter.
The government also asked the court to reject the petition by MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) asking the court to force the government to publish the Shamgar Commission report saying that "there is no cause for the court to get involved."

The country's in good hands. What could go wrong?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Iran building ten new nuclear enrichment plants

Iran gave its response to President Obumbler's pleas for 'engagement' on Sunday and it was not what the President expected.
The atomic body has been ordered to begin building at five new sites earmarked for uranium enrichment plants, state television IRIB reported on its website.

The government also ordered the Iranian body to locate sites for another five over the next two months, the media organisation said.

The new enrichment plants are to be the same size as its main enrichment complex at Natanz.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reported to have said he will not allow an inch of Iranian rights to be wasted.

The cabinet is meeting on Wednesday to discuss plans to enrich uranium up to 20% purity, the president is quoted as saying on the website.

Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran should be producing 250-300 tonnes of nuclear fuel per year, according to IRIB.

The development is likely to add further strain to relations between Iran and Western powers.
John Podhoretz comments:
It would seem logical to assume the purpose of these multiple sites is to make a successful military strike to downgrade or destroy Iran’s nuclear-bomb-making capacity difficult to the point of impossibility. It would be hard enough for Israel or the United States to stage a complex series of simultaneous surprise aerial bombings against four locations; from four to 14 would certainly be beyond Israel’s capacity and would significantly strain our own.

Remember when everybody was saying, including in the Democratic primary for president, that it would be unacceptable for Iran to get the bomb? Remember when President Bush said those who allowed Iran to get the bomb would enjoy the same reputation in the annals of history as the Western leaders at Munich?
Yeah, they're calling him Neville Obama.

Seriously though, this development may speed up the timetable for an Israeli strike. If there are really only four facilities right now, it will be much easier to hit four than fourteen.


Max Boot adds:
Now after almost a year in office we see where Obama’s outreach has gotten us: nowhere. Actually that’s not quite accurate. The administration has made an impact: if the latest pronouncements from Tehran are to be believed, Obama’s policies are making the problem worse, not better, because they are leading to an expansion of the Iranian nuclear program. This should hardly be a surprise. Toothless as the Bush policy was toward Iran, at least there was an element of deterrence as long as George W. Bush himself was in the White House. The mullahs could always sweat a little as they imagined that they might be next in line to feel American military power after Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, there was evidence that they temporarily suspended parts of their nuclear program after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. There is no such concern now. The odds of U.S. military action against the Iranian nuclear program — probably the only thing that could serve as serious deterrent — have gone from remote to nonexistent. Obama’s efforts at glad-handing have been interpreted, correctly, as evidence of American weakness and a further spur to nuclear development. Khameini and Ahmadinejad & Co. aren’t even bothering to be polite as they brush aside offers, such as the one to export their uranium for enrichment abroad. They wear their contempt for the West quite openly because they are not afraid of suffering any repercussions.

It is just possible that the Iranians have overplayed their hand. Perhaps the latest Iranian outrages will prompt a rethink in the White House as occurred during the Carter administration when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan shocked another naive president into realizing that his own goodwill would not be enough to overcome determined adversaries. But at the moment, that is a faint hope. The best we can expect in the short term is more toothless Security Council resolutions with sanctions that will do nothing to slow down the Iranian march toward its nuclear dreams. That, in turn, means that an Israeli strike against Iran is getting more likely, even though Israel probably does not have the capability to disrupt the Iranian program for more than a limited period. In sum: through his determination to avoid a conflict with Iran, Obama is making war more likely.

62 years since the Partition Plan

Big Government's open thread today reminds us that today is the 62nd anniversary of the UN Partition Plan that called for the division of 'Palestine' into a Jewish and Arab state. The Jews rejoiced - as you can see in the picture - while the Arabs just said no.

Foolish Arabs. They would have had much more land under the Partition Plan than they had under the 1949 armistice lines.

But then it was never a state that they wanted, was it?

Help wanted!

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is looking to triple the Defense Ministry's building inspectors.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has put out an emergency call for building inspectors to be hired in order to enforce the government's building freeze in Judea and Samaria. Barak ordered Ministry officials to hire 40 inspectors to ensure that no building takes place in the affected areas. The new inspectors will be trained and on the job within two weeks.

Currently there are only 14 inspectors working in Judea and Samaria. Barak's office said that the inspectors would work in tandem with police, border police, and the civil administration, under the general responsibility of the IDF.
No one in this country is hired or trained for anything within two weeks.

What could go wrong?

Switzerland and its friends

Living near mosques takes getting used to. Five times a day they issue a noisy call for prayer; the first time is approximately an hour and a half before sunrise. I have lived near mosques for years and for the most part they don't bother me (there is one within 500 meters of our home), but I can definitely understand that they bother others. It's a noise that is indescribable.

Reuters reports that Switzerland has voted on Sunday to ban the construction of new minarets, the towers use to project noisy calls for prayer in mosques.
If confirmed, the result would be a huge embarrassment for the neutral Swiss government, which had warned that amending the constitution to ban construction of minarets could serve could "serve the interests of extremist circles."

"The initiative would appear to be accepted, there is a positive trend. It's a huge surprise," French-language Swiss television said, 30 minutes after polls closed at midday.

A majority of voters as well as cantons appeared to have approved the initiative, it said, citing exit polls carried out by the Berne-based Institute Gfs.

Both the Swiss government and parliament had rejected the initiative as violating the Swiss constitution, freedom of religion and the nation's cherished tradition of tolerance. The United Nations human rights watchdog had also voiced concerns.

A group of politicians from the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), the country's biggest party, and Federal Democratic Union gathered enough signatures to force the vote on the initiative which opposes the "Islamisation of Switzerland."
I suppose it would be a 'huge embarrassment,' particularly for Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, pictured above flirting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But in fact, according to Reuters, Switzerland's minarets aren't allowed to issue the loud calls for prayer, and Sunday's vote was a backlash against the Islamization of Switzerland, which now has 300,000 Muslim immigrants among its population of 7,000,000. If today's vote is indicative of change coming in Switzerland, maybe it will mean a change in Switzerland's choice of friends. And such a change cannot come too soon according to Assaf Sagiv.
What a pity, then, that Switzerland’s pastoral image has come at the price of ignoring many of the basic values that any enlightened nation is duty-bound to uphold. In recent months, a series of controversial diplomatic moves have reflected a disturbing eagerness on the part of the Swiss government to appease some of the world’s greatest despots and terrorists, casting doubt (and not for the first time) on the public integrity and political insight of those who advocate a policy of neutrality. Indeed, these actions illustrate the vast moral chasm facing those who may be tempted to follow the Swiss example—a temptation with dangerous implications both for the future of the West and for freedom-loving peoples everywhere.


It might be tempting to chalk Swiss diplomacy up to a case of ovezealous neutrality. Yet it hardly cuts both ways: In July of this year, the official Swiss news agency reported that Ahmadinejad’s congenial hosts had decided to exhibit a more reserved attitude toward the Dalai Lama. Although the exiled Tibetan leader has been a lifelong proponent of non-violent resistance—in stark contrast, for example, to Mahmoud al-Zahar—the Swiss government decided to shun him during his visit to Lausanne in early August. Given that Switzerland is now in advanced negotiations with China over a free-trade agreement, it seems reasonable to conclude that the decision to sidestep the 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was the result of pressure from Beijing. In a radio interview, Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey reluctantly admitted as much. “It’s not a good time, it’s a difficult period, it’s impossible for me, for my colleagues too,” she said.

By contrast, the Swiss have been particularly obsequious toward Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In July 2008, Gaddafi’s son Hannibal and his wife Aline were arrested in Geneva after beating two domestic employees. After posting half a million Swiss francs in bail, the couple was released two days later. The Libyans were nonetheless outraged: Gaddafi the elder immediately slapped a series of sanctions on Switzerland—which he called a “mafia state” at the yearly G8 meeting—including the halting of all oil exports, the cancellation of all flights between the two countries, and the withdrawal of some $5 billion in Libyan assets from Swiss banks. For the Swiss, this was all too much to bear. During an August 2009 visit to Libya, the Swiss president publicly groveled before his hosts, apologizing for Hannibal’s “unjust arrest.”

The Swiss people are noted for several praiseworthy national traits, such as seriousness and precision. Unfortunately, as their leaders’ recent actions and the not-so-distant past demonstrate, they are sorely lacking in one crucial quality: shame.
Sagiv suggests that Switzerland's 'neutrality' has been out of place for the last 70 years.
In the twentieth century, however, the picture changed dramatically. World War II and the ensuing confrontation between the West and the Soviet bloc were not merely geopolitical conflicts between morally equivalent parties. Rather, they were clashes between worldviews, each of which sought to propel mankind in an opposing direction. These battles set open societies against closed ones, democracies against dictatorships, and value systems that promote pluralism and tolerance (albeit often begrudgingly honored) against ideologies that sought to obliterate the “other.” The battle being waged today between the West and radical Islam is no different. The atrocities carried out by extremist Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, and Israel—and let us not forget New York—have made it clear that, now as then, the forces of freedom are up against unconstrained evil.

In such a conflict, there is no place for neutrality—or passivity, indifference, and weakness. The reality of our world demands total commitment to one or the other side. Sadly, Switzerland is not the only state that has chosen to be one of what Dante called “the sad souls… who lived without blame and without praise.” Even among those nations that have proclaimed their willingness to fight to protect their freedoms, many too frequently prefer to avoid decisive action, thus enabling their enemies to gather strength and prepare for the next round. Thus, for example, is Israel obliged to sit back and watch while Iran’s nuclear project, which poses an apocalyptic threat to its existence, moves forward, while in America and Europe—not to mention China and Russia—statesmen talk incessantly of “diplomatic channels” and warn against “burning bridges” with the Muslim world. And when the president of the United States asserts, in his initial response to the presidential election fraud in Iran and the subsequent suppression of popular protest, that “it’s not productive” for his country to intervene, his words recall the advice of Switzerland’s fifteenth-century patron saint, Nicholas of Fle, who counseled his flock: “Don’t get involved in other people’s affairs.”

History shows that at times there is simply no escaping involvement in other people’s affairs—lest we wish them to become our own. Winston Churchill once said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” If we seek to avert disaster, we cannot suffice with not feeding the crocodile. We must also confront those who do.
Read the whole thing.

If Sunday's vote banning new minarets passes, it will be a small but significant step in setting Switzerland's neutrality on the right side of the moral divide. As Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey points out on Twitter,
Switzerland is banning the ... extension of a mosque. Not building the mosque itself. Muslim countries do that, to churches.
Still, a Swiss ban on minarets would be a small but important step in the right direction.

Obama's 'gate crashers' may have been invited after all

In a story that has gotten a lot of attention in the US, but comparatively little in Israel, a couple 'crashed' President Obama's state dinner for the Indian Prime Minister last Tuesday night. The couple turned out to be Michaele and Tareq Salahi. AP described Michaele Salahi as "a reality TV hopeful trying to get on Bravo's 'The Real Housewives of D.C.'" The Secret Service is quite upset about the security breach - the Salahis got into the receiving line and shook hands with President Obumbler and Vice President Biden - and there has even been talk about them receiving prison time for their offense. One reason why they may have succeeded in 'crashing' the party without anyone noticing is that you would have had to check the guest list to realize that they were not invited. You see, the Salahis have met and been photographed with President Obama before. Jim Hoft fills in the details (Hat Tip: Ashan).
From the Polo Contacts Website
“America’s Cup Polo Pre-Event with President-Elect Barack Obama”
From Left to Right is: Randy Jackson, better known as a Judge on American Idol – his previous life he was a bass player for the Rock band JOURNEY, which also performed at the America’s Polo Cup. Others pictured are Black Eyed Peas Rock Band, Tareq Salahi the President of the America’s Polo Cup, President Elect Obama, Fergie from Black Eyed Peas and Michaele Salahi a former Miss USA and SuperModel.
But here's where it gets interesting.
American Power discovered this on the White House party crashers- They belong to a radical anti-Israeli group [unfortunately, ATFP is not considered that radical anymore. Obama's National Security Adviser James Jones spoke to them last month. CiJ]:
Tareq Salahi, the polo-playing intruder, is a Palestinian nationalist with ties to the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) , a pro-Palestine lobby demanding the “right of return” for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The “right of return” has long been considered the backdoor to Israel’s destruction. But not only that: ATFP President Ziad Asali is an America-basher who blamed 9/11 on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Asali was a lead U.S. official to PLO terrorist Yassir Arafat’s funeral in 2004. And in a position paper in 2007, the ATFP called for a power-sharing agreement at the Palestinian Authority, which would have included the State Department’s designated-terrorist group, Hamas.
And, there’s more…
There sure is.

The former Vice President of ATFP is... Rashid Khalidi. Yes, the same Rashid Khalidi whose videotape the Los Angeles Times refused to release before the election (or since) because it showed Khalidi and Obama bashing Israel at Khalidi's farewell to Chicago party. The same former PLO member (when the PLO was classified as a terror organization by the United States government) whom Barack Hussein Obama described as his friend at the University of Chicago. The same Rashid Khalidi around whose table Obama held 'conversations' that forced him to re-examine his prejudices.

Read the whole thing.

Ashan speculates that this might have been the reason that the state dinner was held in a tent. That way, the Salahis could have a conversation with Obama in the reception line and it would be less likely to be recorded. It's an interesting thought.

JNF to plant trees in new 'Palestinian' city

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is planting trees in a new 'Palestinian' city called Ruwabi, which is being built north of Ramallah. On the other hand, the JNF refuses to carry on any activities in Jewish cities and towns that are outside the 1949 armistice lines (Hat Tip: David Hazony via Twitter).
As a first step, the JNF contributed 3,000 tree seedlings for planting in what is meant to be a forested area on the edges of the new city. At the same time, the forestry experts of the JNF have been advising the city planners on the matter.

Suhil Zaydan, one of the JNF's forestry managers, is serving as liaison between the organization and the city planers.

"There have been a number of meetings, both at the location where the city will be built and also at the JNF greenhouses," he says. "We have contributed with our know-how, by advising on how to prepare the ground for the planting and how public gardens should be planned, as well as the best times for planting, and what kinds of trees it is preferable to plant. We did not talk about politics and we shall not talk about it - we deal with trees and understand forestry, botany and greenhouses."

The ambitious project of building a city from scratch has drawn an estimated investment of $800 million, mostly from Palestinian and Qatari sources.

The plan is for 6,000 housing units over a 6,300 dunam area that is supposed to provide housing for nearly 40,000 people and employ some 10,000 Palestinian workers. The project is aimed at the Palestinian middle class.
And that policy?
According to its official policy, the JNF does not purchase lands beyond the Green Line, one reason being to keep it out of political debates liable to have a negative effect on donations.
The Jewish National Fund (Hebrew: קרן קימת לישראל, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael) (abbreviated as JNF, and sometimes KKL) was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine (later Israel) for Jewish settlement. But while buying land for Jews across the 'green line' is liable to have a 'negative effect on donations,' buying and developing land for Arabs (with Jewish money) is perfectly acceptable.

What could go wrong?

By the way, read the whole thing. I guarantee you that there are no other trees in the world that are receiving the care these trees for the 'Palestinians' are receiving.

High Court appeal: Disclose commission recommendations on hostage release

National Union MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) has filed an appeal with the High Court of Justice asking that Prime Minister Netanyahu be ordered to disclose the contents of the Shamgar Commission report. The Shamgar Commission, which was established to recommend principles for 'prisoner exchanges,' looked at the effects of trading terrorists for Israeli hostages, and is believed to have recommended strongly against such trades. Although the report was delivered to the government in 2008, it has never been released to the public.
In the appeal, Katz claimed Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are preventing the publication of the Shamgar Commission's findings until after the deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit is completed.


"Imagine what the outcome of the Second Lebanon War would have been if the Winograd Commission had delivered its findings in advance of the war. How prepared we would have been," he said last week. "Now, we have that opportunity with the Shamgar Commission. Netanyahu must reveal the findings before we make any decision to release terrorists, and he must have a debate in the government and in the Knesset before he reaches any conclusion."
Commission chairman Meir Shamgar is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Yes, of course the report should be released.

The Narrative

There are two surprising things about this article. One is that it appears in the New York Times. The other is that it was written by Tom Friedman (Hat Tip: David Hazony via Twitter).
Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed with modernity and to elect their own leaders.

The Narrative was concocted by jihadists to obscure that.

It’s working. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Ironically, the vast majority of the media outlets targeting these communities are Arab-government owned — mostly from the Gulf.”

This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. And it suits Al Qaeda, which doesn’t need much organization anymore — just push out The Narrative over the Web and satellite TV, let it heat up humiliated, frustrated or socially alienated Muslim males, and one or two will open fire on their own. See: Major Hasan.

“Liberal Arabs like me are as angry as a terrorist and as determined to change the status quo,” said my Jordanian friend. The only difference “is that while we choose education, knowledge and success to bring about change, a terrorist, having bought into the narrative, has a sense of powerlessness and helplessness, which are inculcated in us from childhood, that lead him to believe that there is only one way, and that is violence.”
Friedman asks what to do. He says that he believes that most Arab Muslims know the truth about the Narrative and he urges President Obama to confront them about it. Unfortunately, everything we have seen about President Obama to date indicates that he is someone who appeases Islam, and not someone who confronts it and exposes its flaws.

But perhaps the most telling thing about this article is the fact that Friedman's Jordanian friend asked to remain anonymous. Jordan is a country that is supposedly friendly with the United States and has a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan is a country that is viewed as friendly with the United States, and it has a peace treaty with Israel. Yet a 2008 Pew study shows Jordanian approval of Jews in single digits, while the majority expresses positive views of Hamas and Hezbullah.

Perhaps Friedman should confront his friend with Jordan's attitude toward Jews and ask what can be done about it before asking that President Obama confront Muslims generally. A country's attitude toward Jews and Israel says more about the love for freedom and mankind in that country than anything else.

Is it too late to stop the 'freeze'?

Some people still think the 'freeze' can be stopped. Yisrael Beiteinu's Uzi Landau has submitted a demand for a debate by the entire government.
"This is a central issue in the state agenda, and it is essential that all members of government get a chance to express their opinions," Landau said.
And Likud's Danny Danon has submitted enough signatures to bring the 'freeze' to a debate within his party.
MK Danny Danon handed in a sufficient number of Likud members' signatures in order to demand a debate on the recently imposed construction freeze in West Bank settlements.

Danon said the signatures "express public opinion in the Likud, as well as the opinions of ministers unable to be here".
But watch this interview with Efrat Council head Oded Ravivi - who is a friend of a friend. It will make you wonder whether the 'freeze' has any meaning at all in light of Israeli government policies over the last several years.

Let's go to the videotape.

By the way, this shows just how badly the Obama administration messed up with its freeze demand. Efrat, which is in a 'settlement bloc' that most Israelis expect to remain within Israel even in the eventuality of 'peace' with the 'Palestinians,' hasn't had a new building permit in eight years. That kind of makes you wonder why Obama made such a big deal out of a 'settlement freeze,' doesn't it? And now that one has been imposed, you can bet that when those ten months are up, there is going to be enormous pressure on Netanyahu from Israelis to turn on the faucets and let the construction begin in earnest.

A silver lining exists in the current clouds after all.

NGO: 'Settlements' are legal and we'll go to court to prove it

An Israeli NGO has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatening a class action lawsuit if she continues to call Jewish cities and towns in Judea and Samaria 'illegal settlements.' The letter, which was also sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu, argues that the 'settlement freeze' is illegal under a 1924 treaty in which the United States recognized that Judea and Samaria were part of the British Mandate for 'Palestine.'
The Office for Israeli Constitutional Law, a non-governmental legal action organization, sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, warning that by labeling Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal, she is violating international law.

The little-known Anglo-American Convention, a treaty signed by the US and British governments in 1924, stipulated that the US fully accepted upon itself the Mandate for Palestine, which declared all of the West Bank within its borders.

"The treaty has been hidden," said OFICL director Mark Kaplan. "But if you look at the House [of Representatives] deliberations during World War I, people are saying, 'Look, we've invested a lot of money in Palestine, and we expect that this treaty will be upheld.'"

Though the United Nations' 1947 partition plan declared the West Bank an Arab territory, the mandate's borders still hold today.

"The mandate expired in 1948 when Israel got its independence," Kaplan said. "But the American-Anglo convention was a treaty that was connected to the mandate. Treaties themselves have no statute of limitations, so their rights go on ad infinitum."

"The UN partition plan was just that-a plan," said OFICL chairman Michael Snidecor in a statement. "The General Assembly has no authority to create countries or change borders."

Read the whole thing.

How the US failed to get Bin Laden

In December 2001, the United States had Osama Bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan and allowed him to escape.
By early December 2001, Bin Laden’s world had shrunk to a complex of caves and tunnels carved into a mountainous section of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora. Cornered in some of the most forbidding terrain on earth, he and several hundred of his men, the largest concentration of Al Qaeda fighters of the war, endured relentless pounding by American aircraft, as many as 100 air strikes a day. One 15,000-pound bomb, so huge it had to be rolled out the back of a C-130 cargo plane, shook the mountains for miles. It seemed only a matter of time before U.S. troops and their Afghan allies overran the remnants of Al Qaeda hunkered down in the thin, cold air at 14,000 feet.

Bin Laden expected to die. His last will and testament, written on December 14, reflected his fatalism. ‘‘Allah commended to us that when death approaches any of us that we make a bequest to parents and next of kin and to Muslims as a whole,’’ he wrote, according to a copy of the will that surfaced later and is regarded as authentic. ‘‘Allah bears witness that the love of jihad and death in the cause of Allah has dominated my life and the verses of the sword permeated every cell in my heart, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together.’ How many times did I wake up to find myself reciting this holy verse!’’ He instructed his wives not to remarry and apologized to his children for devoting himself to jihad.

But the Al Qaeda leader would live to fight another day. Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected. Requests were also turned down for U.S. troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan. The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines. Instead, the U.S. command chose to rely on airstrikes and untrained Afghan militias to attack bin Laden and on Pakistan’s loosely organized Frontier Corps to seal his escape routes. On or around December 16, two days after writing his will, bin Laden and an entourage of bodyguards walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area. Most analysts say he is still there today.

The decision not to deploy American forces to go after bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, the architects of the unconventional Afghan battle plan known as Operation Enduring Freedom. Rumsfeld said at the time that he was concerned that too many U.S. troops in Afghanistan would create an anti-American backlash and fuel a widespread insurgency. Reversing the recent American military orthodoxy known as the Powell doctrine, the Afghan model emphasized minimizing the U.S. presence by relying on small, highly mobile teams of special operations troops and CIA paramilitary operatives working with the Afghan opposition. Even when his own commanders and senior intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Washington argued for dispatching more U.S. troops, Franks refused to deviate from the plan.

There were enough U.S. troops in or near Afghanistan to execute the classic sweep-and-block maneuver required to attack bin Laden and try to prevent his escape. It would have been a dangerous fight across treacherous terrain, and the injection of more U.S. troops and the resulting casualties would have contradicted the risk-averse, ‘‘light footprint’’ model formulated by Rumsfeld and Franks.

But commanders on the scene and elsewhere in Afghanistan argued that the risks were worth the reward.
Five years later, Israel failed to learn the lesson of Tora Bora.

Have we learned it since?