Is the Obama administration finally tiring of Ahamdinejad's games? Is it acknowledging the reality that if it does not strike Iran, Israel will? If you put three weekend stories together, that certainly seems to be the case. First, there is the deployment of patriot missiles.
The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.
The news that the United States is deploying antimissile defenses — including a rare public discussion of them by Gen. David H. Petraeus — appears to be part of a coordinated administration strategy to increase pressure on Iran.
The deployments are also partly intended to counter the impression that Iran is fast becoming the most powerful military force in the Middle East, to forestall any Iranian escalation of its confrontation with the West if new sanctions are imposed. In addition, the administration is trying to show Israel that there is no immediate need for military strikes against Iranian nuclear and missile facilities, according to administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
By highlighting the defensive nature of the buildup, the administration was hoping to avoid a sharp response from Tehran.
Military officials said that the countries that accepted the defense systems were Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait. They said the Kuwaitis had agreed to take the defensive weapons to supplement older, less capable models it has had for years. Saudi Arabia and Israel have long had similar equipment of their own.
Israeli sources say CIA director Leon Panetta traveled to Israel this past week. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Mossad chief Meir Dagan, one former Israeli official said. The main subject of conversation was Iran, as well as "relations" in general, the former official said.
A CIA spokesman said that they don't as a rule discuss the CIA director's travel. Regional news reports said that Panetta also traveled to Cairo for meetings with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and other officials.
Earlier this month, Obama National Security Advisor Jim Jones traveled to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, accompanied by the NSC's Dennis Ross.
Panetta previously was reported to travel to Israel last May.
Lt . Gen. John D. Gardner, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, will arrive in Israel for a visit Sunday, and will remain here for three days as the guest of Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Gardner will meet with high ranking IDF officers and will be given an opportunity to get a close-up view of the security issues facing Israel. He will also visit Yad Vashem, and participate in the Herzliya Conference this week.
One of the very strange Leftist anti-Israel protest groups in the San Francisco area is called Breasts not Bombs. There's a pictorial of one of their demonstrations here - I don't suggest opening it at work or in front of children. Al-Qaeda is developing its own version of Breasts not Bombs. They call it Breasts with Bombs (Hat Tip: Jammie Wearing Fool).
Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, Underground trains and buses by secreting bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection.
But an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting ‘surgical bombs’ inside people for the first time.
Security services believe the move has been prompted by the recent introduction at airports of body scanners, which are designed to catch terrorists before they board flights.
It is understood MI5 became aware of the threat after observing increasingly vocal internet ‘chatter’ on Arab websites this year.
A leading source added that male bombers would have the explosive secreted near their appendix or in their buttocks, while females would have the material placed inside their breasts in the same way as figure-enhancing implants.
Experts said the explosive PETN (Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate) would be placed in a plastic sachet inside the bomber’s body before the wound was stitched up like a normal operation incision and allowed to heal.
A shaped charge of 8oz of PETN can penetrate five inches of armour and would easily blow a large hole in an airliner.
Security sources said the explosives would be detonated by the bomber using a hypodermic syringe to inject TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide) through their skin into the explosives sachet.
Security sources fear the body-bombers could pretend to be diabetics injecting themselves on airliners, Tubes or buses in order to prevent anyone stopping their suicide missions.
Companies such as Smiths Detection International UK, which is based in Watford, Hertfordshire, manufacture a range of luggage and body scanners designed to identify chemicals, explosives and drugs at airports and other passenger terminals around the world.
These include high-specification X-ray equipment that could identify body bombs.
But one source with expertise in the field said: ‘They can make as many pieces of security equipment as they like but there is no one magic answer that can spot every single potential terrorist passing through.’
No, there isn't. But the Israelis have a darned good track record - much better than anything else that has been tried.
After its smashing success in Iran, 'engagement' to move on to Syria
After 'engagement's smashing success in Iran, President Obumbler is taking the program to Syria where he is about to name a US ambassador for the first time since the 2005 assassination of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri (Hat Tip: Atlas Shrugs).
Manama: The United States will end a five-year diplomatic hiatus with Syria by appointing Robert Stephen Ford as ambassador to Syria, a Lebanese daily reported on Saturday.
Washington has not had an envoy in Damascus since former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recalled Margaret Scobey in February 2005 in response to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and amid tensions between the two countries mainly over issues relating to Iraq and Lebanon.
"US Middle East envoy George Mitchell gave the name of the new US ambassador to Syria in a meeting with Syrian President Bashar [Al] Assad," the Lebanese daily An Nahar said, quoting unnamed American sources.
Mitchell was in Damascus last week as part of a tour of the region that saw him visit several capitals.
Someone remind me what Syria has done to merit the restoration of diplomatic relations with the US.
I don't think he even stammered that much when Dore Gold ripped him to shreds back in November. But since that encounter, Goldstone has refused all requests for debates. Maybe now he will speak to empty lecture halls.
Barry Rubin reports that the good terrorists from Fatah adopted a new charter at their convention in August, and it's finally been translated into English. Change? Here's Barry.
The document was translated by the U.S. government and has just been leaked by Secrecy News. You are now reading the first analysis of this charter.
Secrecy News remarks: “The document is not particularly conciliatory in tone or content. It is a call to revolution, confrontation with the enemy, and the liberation of Palestine, ‘free and Arab.’" But then the newsletter continues:
“But what is perhaps most significant is what is not in the document. The original Fatah charter (or constitution) from the 1960s embraced `the world-wide struggle against Zionism,’ denied Jewish historical or religious ties to the land, and called for the `eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.’ None of that language is carried over into the new charter, which manages not to mention Israel, Zionism, or Jews at all.”
Now here’s an important lesson for you. When a radical group is portrayed as moderate based on some position it supposedly has taken or some statement made there has to be a catch somewhere. Here’s the tip-off in this case, a single sentence in the new charter:
“This internal charter has been adopted within the framework of adherence to the provisions of the Basic Charter.”
Over the next few months, Israel will launch a new satellite, the Ofek 8, which will play a significant role in monitoring Iranian activities.
In an effort to beef up intelligence gathering in the face of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power, will send a new spy satellite into space in the coming months, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Called Ofek 8, the satellite will be launched from and is currently in its final production stages at Israel Aerospace Industries. It will be placed in low orbit by the IAI-made Shavit launcher that was used for the Ofek 7 satellite in 2007.
“This will significantly boost our intelligence-gathering capabilities,” a defense official said.
The Ofek 8 weighs about 300 kg. and can complete an orbit every 90 minutes.
While the new satellite will not represent a significant technological breakthrough – it will carry the same camera as the Ofek 7 – it will provide the IDF with greater flexibility in utilizing its space assets.
This is from a Haaretz analysis which claims that both Egypt and Jordan are coordinating their moves with Israel to an unprecedented extent.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who continues to serve as a de facto Foreign Minister, returned Wednesday from a short visit to Sharm el-Sheikh where he met Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. This is his second diplomatic excursion in the region in less than a week, after his trip to Turkey where he was partially successful in calming the animosity between Ankara and Jerusalem.
In line with an Egyptian request Barak made do with a laconic statement that talks were "productive and extensive. However, where the media is not watching, Israel and Egypt are finding themselves increasingly partners in common and growing interests.
Senior sources in the defense establishment say that the Egyptians are even willing to agree, albeit belatedly, with the Israeli-American conclusion that nothing good will result from Cairo's effort to mediate between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The Obama administration fears that intra-Palestinian reconciliation would only bolster Hamas at the expense of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad.
Palestinian unity has been understood to mean that a joint government would involve Hamas and that would also present the United States with a constitutional problem.
Legislation passed in Congress would prevent the administration from continuing to give aid to the Abbas-Fayyad government the minute it agrees to include Hamas as a partner. Cairo will not admit it publicly but it appears that its reconciliation initiative is dead.
An Egyptian source says that the mediation efforts stopped because "conditions in the area do not permit it." The source said that the Hamas rejection of an Egyptian compromise proposal, in part because of pressure from Iran and Syria, is preventing progress toward reconciliation.
Target claims to be withdrawing globes that replaced Israel with 'Palestine'
In the wake of a demonstration in New York City on Thursday, Target corporation claims that it has withdrawn from its stores globes that replaced Israel with an imaginary country called 'Palestine.'
"It is a very serious thing, its not just a little mistake, we're seeing companies kowtowing to people who live in tyrannical governments who are trying to dictate policy here and dictate how people think and feel," said Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, who led the rally at Zuccotti Park on Liberty Street and Trinity Place in downtown Manhattan.
"We're fighting 'global war on terrorism,' and in this global war we have to 'target' the people who are coming against us," said Moskowitz. "I hope Target did this in error.. and they must have a recall of all these globes."
In a statement, a Target spokeswoman said: "It is never our intention to offend any of our guests and we apologize. We have removed the mini-globe from our shelves, and we are following up with our vendor."
They went on to say that, "The country is labeled on a key on the mini-globe; however, the important issue is that we are no longer selling this product in our stores and we are sorry for offending our guests."
Here's one big Target customer who will stop buying there if those globes show up again.
Good news: Netanyahu to make a 'gesture' to Abu Bluff
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has promised President Obumbler that he will make yet another 'gesture' to 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen in yet another bid to get the recalcitrant 'Palestinian' to come to the 'negotiating' table. Netanyahu promised that he will free hundreds of 'Palestinian' terrorists so that Abu Bluff can pocket yet another concession.
Mitchell proposes that he travel between Jerusalem and Ramallah, relaying messages to the two sides on various core issues, including borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security. At a later stage the talks might be taken over by low-level officials on both sides to evaluate if negotiations can be continued at top levels.
The proposal also included Israeli goodwill gestures that would be carried out at the start of the proximity talks the United States would conduct. The main goodwill gesture is expected to be the release of hundreds of Fatah prisoners to the West Bank.
The senior source in Jerusalem said that these would largely be prisoners with only a little time left in their sentences. Other goodwill gestures involve easing travel in the West Bank.
Netanyahu accepted Mitchell's proposal, according to the Israeli source. However, Netanyahu emphasized that the Palestinians must also agree to the plan.
Mitchell presented his proposal to Abbas but the Palestinian leader has not yet said whether he agrees.
Somehow, Netanyahu missed the fact that President Obumbler did not even mention the 'Middle East peace process' in his State of the Union address on Wednesday, signaling that it's being put on the back burner until after the midterm elections (at least), and that therefore Mitchell has no leverage to ask for more 'concessions' right now.
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Ct) played a major role in getting the Iran sanctions bill through the Senate last Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was under a lot of pressure to pass the sanctions bill out of the Senate, especially after seven senators sent a bipartisan letter to Obama yesterday urging him to get moving on sanctions. The Dodd bill was extremely popular among senators and Reid has enough problems without being seen as weak on Iran.
Reid had promised to get it done before the break, but if he brought up the bill in February, the administration would complain that it was unhelpful in its drive to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iran sanctions, which they are expected to do as soon as France takes over the presidency of the council from China next week.
So tonight was the night, before senators leave town, and The Cablereported earlier today that negotiations were underway. As the deadline loomed, only one Senator was threatening to derail the plan to pass the bill easily: John McCain.
McCain’s proposed amendment would require the president to sanction Iranian officials who have committed human rights abuses or acts of violence against civilians engaging in peaceful political activity. Those listed would be subject to visa bans, freezes on their assets in the United States or within U.S. jurisdiction, and other restrictions on their financial activities.
"McCain's amendment would identify Iranian human rights abusers and make them feel some serious pain,” said another senior Senate staffer.
But Reid didn't want to open a Pandora's Box by allowing McCain's amendment and then having to allow amendments by others seeking to weigh in, like John Kerry and Patrick Leahy. He needed everyone on board to pass the bill by unanimous consent and avoid a protracted debate that would eat up precious floor time he doesn't have.
At the eleventh hour, in swooped Lieberman with a compromise. McCain would agree to withdraw his amendment if Reid agreed to add the substance of McCain's amendment into the conference report on the bill. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both promised to hold up their end of the bargain, and McCain withdrew his objection to proceeding.
I hope McCain's amendment makes it into the final bill. It's the only provision that actually requires the Obumbler to do something.
By the way, didn't the Senate just go back into session on January 20? Why are they going on vacation again?
When I was young, this was a symbol of something that was overdone. Let's go to the videotape.
Yes, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, and the IAEA offer to Iran to trade its low enriched uranium for a higher enriched model is still on the table.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told Reuters the proposal, which would involve Iran sending its low enriched uranium abroad in exchange for more highly enriched fuel to produce medical isotopes, "still can be on the table."
He was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, shortly after Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency which brokered the draft deal on enriched uranium, told reporters in the Swiss ski resort that the offer remained.
"The proposal is on the table. Dialogue is continuing," Amano said in his first public remarks on the standoff since he succeeded Mohamed ElBaradei two months ago.
He left unclear whether "dialogue" meant the IAEA was actively exploring compromises with Iran and world powers. Western officials have stopped short of declaring the plan dead but said Tehran's approach had not been serious.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a Tehran conference Saturday that whoever controls the Middle East controls the world, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.
In a speech during a conference marking 30 years to the Islamic Revolution, Ahamdinejad reportedly implied that Iran is the top power in the Middle East. "Now the question is who has the last say in the Middle East? Well, of course, the answer is clear to every one," Ahamdinejad said.
The Iranian president further emphasized that the Middle East is the most important region in the world. "Now, there are a number of developed countries which even own anti-satellite missiles, yet they are not effective and influential in the world because they do not have a role in the Middle-East," Fars News Agency quoted Ahamdinejad as saying.
So the next time someone claims that the Jews control the World, you can tell them that even our worst enemy doesn't say that.
The daughter of Hamas murderer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was deceased in Dubai on the 20th of January, wants to sue the Mossad for murdering her father.
The daughter of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas operative who, according to the organization's claims, was assassinated by Israeli agents in Dubai this week, is calling for a suit to be brought against Mossad officials at a UK court.
She told Al-Jazeera al-Mabhouh's family had already contacted a number of attorneys for this purpose. "We have seen in the past that organizations and attorneys have filed claims against the Israeli criminals. Now we are demanding these organizations do the same and file a suit against the Israeli Mossad," she said.
Forgetting little legal barriers like proof, and how "the Israeli Mossad" can be arrested even under the UK's insane universal jurisdiction law, am I the only one who finds it strange that when a suicide bomber kills himself the 'Palestinian' Arabs hand out candies and celebrate that the bomber is going to his 'wedding' in heaven with 72 virgins, but when a terrorist leader is killed, one hears no mention of virgins? What, is there discrimination against the terror leaders? How come no one is handing out candies? Are the terrorist leaders denied the pleasures of 72 supple virgins? If not, then why are their families complaining?
Does Senator XX believe that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should have been read his Miranda rights? And does Senator XX believe that Abdulmutallab should be tried in civilian courts?
Three Senators - all Democrats - said that the underwear bomber should have been read his Miranda rights. They are Burris, Roland (D-IL)(President Obumbler's replacement), Leahy, Patrick (D-VT), and Reid, Harry (D-NV) (has he given up on being re-elected?). All 40 Republican Senators said no to both questions.
Some other Democrats gave 'nuanced' answers:
Of the Democrats who responded, many gave thoughtful, nuanced answers that were not directly responsive to the questions. Some, like Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas, expressed views that would seem to place her in the "no" category, while others, like Ben Cardin from Maryland, expressed views that suggested they support the administration's handling of Abdulmutallab. Still others, Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman, said without qualification that Abdulmutallab should not have been Mirandized and should not be tried in civilian courts. (Many Democratic senators have not yet responded to repeated phone calls and emails from THE WEEKLY STANDARD and one staffer, from the office of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, abruptly hung-up on us.)
Ted Bromund notes that Siemens' self-declared embargo on Iran leaves the German telecommunications giant a lot of wiggle room.
That leaves a lot of wiggle room – Siemens is free to conclude new contracts with government entities in Iran, free to carry on with its existing contracts, and free to conclude new ones until its self-imposed deadline of mid-2010 rolls around. And it does nothing to meet criticism from German human-rights advocates that Siemens sells to states like China, knowing that China will then resell to Iran. But it is, at least, a tiny sign that Siemens is feeling the heat. About time too, given Europe’s commercial complicity with the Iranian regime.
As I have noted previously, the fact that Siemens made this announcement just two days before the US Senate passed its own version of the Iran sanctions bill could not have been a coincidence. Bromund comments:
Engagement has been a complete failure, as even Richard Haass now admits. It hasn’t stopped the Iranian nuclear program, reduced the brutality of the regime, or done anything to diminish Europe’s vast trade ties with Iran, which have shrunk in 2009 mostly because of the recession. And yet, as soon as the U.S. Senate looks like it might pass a bill – which still needs to be reconciled with the House version, and for which the President has shown no enthusiasm at all – a major German firm suddenly, mysteriously develops a case of the shakes about cozying up to Tehran. I wonder what they’d do if we really started trying.
Unfortunately, we're not going to find out until it's too late, if at all. The only hope for saving Obama from becoming a more ridiculed historical figure than Neville Chamberlain is an Israeli attack on Iran that puts the Iranian nuclear program out of business.
Hamas terrorist Al-Mabhouh was filmed shortly before his death
On Friday, I reported on the mysterious death in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas terrorist who was behind the kidnapping and murders of IDF soldiers Ilan Sa'adon and Avi Sassportas in the late 1980's. Now comes word that Hamas videotaped al-Mabhouh talking about his role in those kidnappings shortly before his death, and al-Mabhouh was not too pleased about it.
According to the reports, based on testimony from a close friend of the assassinated leader, the senior Hamas figure feared for his life in recent weeks. Apparently, Al-Mabhouh told his friend just before leaving Syria to Dubai, that he suspected there were strange activities going on around him, even in his office in Damascus
The same source said that recently Al-Mabhouh had been very annoyed by pressure from Hamas leaders who urged him to be filmed relating his part in the kidnap of the two IDF soldiers, Aviv Sasportas and Ilan Saadon.
Al-Mabhouh refused to be filmed, claiming that he was wanted by Israel for this affair, and that if the film was released, it would goad the Israeli security services to act. He feared that it would cause increased efforts on Israel's part to locate him and assassinate him.
However, according to the same unnamed friend, the Hamas leadership insisted that the film was vital for the organization. Leaders even promised that his face would be blurred and that the film would remain in the movement's military archives.
Al-Mabhouh was irritable and tense in the last weeks, because he discovered that the film crew had failed to follow security protocols and that his face was clearly visible in the footage. They also failed to hide signs that would reveal his whereabouts.
Hezbullah leaders were supposed to be on Ethiopian flight?
Remember the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed due to weather-related problems shortly after takeoff from Beirut Airport? This one gets more interesting by the minute.
During the week there were a couple of stories that claimed that the crew ignored instructions from air traffic control and headed in the opposite direction to avoid bad weather.
Let's go to the videotape.
Note what they said about the flight being 'off course.' I even saw stories during the week that said that the pilot had flown in the 'opposite direction' of what he was told to fly.
Now comes word that some Hezbullah bigwigs were supposed to be on the flight. Hezbullah denies it.
Hizbullah denied on Wednesday claims that the Ethiopian plane crash was a "deliberate" attack based on the hypothesis that a high-ranking Hizbullah delegation was supposed to be on the plane.
In a statement released by its media relations, the group said that Lebanese daily Al-Liwaa had made use of the circumstances surrounding the expected travel of MP Nawwar Sahili on the plane in order make a claim that has no relation with the truth.
"What the daily said about a high-ranking delegation of Hizbullah supposed to be on the plane is not true and has no actual basis," the statement read.
On Thursday, the Senate passed its version of the Iran sanctions by voice vote.
The US Senate voted Thursday to slap tough new sanctions on Iran, targeting its thirst for gasoline imports in a bid to force Tehran to bow to global pressure to freeze its suspect nuclear program.
“The Iranian regime has engaged in serious human rights abuses against its own citizens, funded terrorist activity throughout the Middle East, and pursued illicit nuclear activities posing a serious threat to the security of the United States and our allies,” said Democratic Senator Chris Dodd.
“With passage of this bill, we make it clear that there will be appropriate consequences if these actions continue,” said Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a key sponsor of the legislation.
And Dodd is an Obama ally. The Senate bill will still have to be reconciled with the House bill, but here are some of its features.
It also requires that the president report to congress when non-US companies become eligible for sanctions, under a 1996 law that punishes investments of more than 20 million dollars in Iran’s energy sector.
Iran gets most of its gasoline imports from the Swiss firm Vitol, the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura, France’s Total, the Swiss firm Glencore and British Petroleum, as well as the Indian firm Reliance.
The measure also expands the 1996 law to cover oil and gas pipelines and tankers, and requires the administration to freeze the assets of any Iranians, including members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, found to be active in weapons proliferation or terrorism.
It would also enable US investors, including states’ pension funds, to divest from energy firms that do business with Iran.
It would prohibit the US government from purchasing goods from firms that do business in Iran’s energy sector, or provide sensitive communications technology to Iran — a measure that could affect telecommunications giants Siemens and Nokia.
And you were wondering why Siemens announced no new deals with Iran this past week.
Each house of Congress has now passed sanctions legislation with a veto-proof majority. On the other hand, there is very little here that requires Obama to act. He has to report when companies are eligible for sanctions and the US government won't be able to purchase goods from firms that do business with Iran's energy sector or provide communications technology. As I have noted before, the only way to enforce sanctions that cut off Iran's supply of refined fuel products is for the US to station ships at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to stop those imports. That's not going to happen.
Charles Krauthammer rips the Obumbler administration for its handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallib (pictured) and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.
Of course, this case is just a reflection of a larger problem: an administration that insists on treating Islamist terrorism as a law-enforcement issue. Which is why the Justice Department’s other egregious terror decision, granting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a civilian trial in New York, is now the subject of a letter from six senators — three Republicans, two Democrats, and Joe Lieberman — asking Attorney General Eric Holder to reverse the decision.
Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins had written an earlier letter asking for Abdulmutallab to be turned over to the military for renewed interrogation. The problem is, it’s hard to see how that decision gets reversed. Once you’ve read a man Miranda rights, what do you say? We are idiots? On second thought . . .
Hence the agitation over the KSM trial. This one can be reversed and it’s a good surrogate for this administration’s insistence upon criminalizing — and therefore trivializing — a war on terror that has now struck three times in one year within the United States, twice with effect (the Arkansas killer and the Fort Hood shooter) and once with a shockingly near miss (Abdulmutallab).
On the KSM civilian trial, sentiment is widespread that it is quite insane to spend $200 million a year to give the killer of 3,000 innocents the largest propaganda platform on earth, while at the same time granting civilian rights of cross-examination and discovery that risk betraying U.S. intelligence sources and methods.
Accordingly, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Frank Wolf have gone beyond appeals to the administration and are planning to introduce a bill to block funding for the trial. It’s an important measure. It makes flesh an otherwise abstract issue — should terrorists be treated as enemy combatants or criminal defendants? The vote will force members of Congress to declare themselves. There will be no hiding from the question.
Here's betting that measure passes. Obama is already looking to move the trial out of New York and my guess is that every representative who feels at all insecure in his or her district is going to vote in favor of that measure.
How much will security cost outside New York? What could go wrong?
Lee Smith looks at the recent attempts in Arab countries to restore former Jewish sites, like the Magen Avraham synagogue in Beirut (pictured) and Maimonides' synagogue in Cairo, and argues that the real power in the Middle East resides in Iran, Israel and possibly Turkey. He argues that the Arab countries recognize this, and that's why they're all waiting for Israel to take out Iran's nuclear capability. And he argues that the Obama administration has failed to recognize it.
Regional power has shifted away from Washington’s familiar Arab partners and toward non-Arab states. The fate of the Middle East no longer depends on the desires of Cairo and Riyadh. The choices that shape the lives of Arabs are now made in Tehran, Tel Aviv, and perhaps a newly ascendant Ankara.
An Israeli strike on Iran may or may not be a mirage, but it is the only possible salvation for Arab states too weak to control their own destiny. Though Washington is still the pre-eminent power in the region, its confused and changing priorities appear to have blinded it to the Middle East’s new configuration, and it is unlikely that America’s continuing political and financial crises will make our vision any clearer.
One reason that the White House’s Middle East peace process has, in Obama’s words, “not moved forward,” is that old Clinton hands like Dennis Ross, George Mitchell, and Rahm Emmanuel believed the Egyptians and the Saudis still had great influence. When events proved them wrong, they appeared simply to throw up their hands and blame the stubbornness of the locals. But something much more profound has changed.
When we wake up to that change we will find that one distinguishing characteristic of the shift in regional power to Iran, Turkey, and Israel is that all three countries are less dependent on the United States than they were five or ten years ago. Iran has troubles at home but is also a rising nuclear power that has been freed from the threat of an American military strike. Turkey was jilted by the European Union and no longer looks to America and the West. Israel has little interest in continuing to spend political capital to help Barack Obama.
The days when Prince Bandar, the longtime Saudi ambassador to Washington, smoked cigars on the Truman balcony have begun to look good when compared to an era in which the significant regional powers are neither Arab nor American, and do not feel the same urgency about returning Washington’s calls. What such a region will look like is anyone’s guess. It may not be very pleasant to live in. But it will surely be interesting to watch.
It's an interesting theory and there is certainly some truth to it. But the 'peace process' isn't failing because of Saudi and Egyptian weakness - it's failing because of 'Palestinian' intransigence and because the Arabs are on the one hand tired of supporting the 'Palestinians,' but on the other hand don't want to give up their favorite distraction.
One gray, frosty morning, our guards ordered those of us still capable of slave labor to line up and marched us out of the camp. We were to be shunted westward, from Poland into Germany. I was beside myself with excitement — and dread. Salvation somehow seemed closer — yet we also knew that we could be killed at any moment. The goal was to hang on a little longer. I was almost 16 now, and I wanted to live.
We marched from camp to camp, day and night, until we and our torturers began to hear distant explosions that sounded like artillery fire. One afternoon we were strafed by a squadron of Allied fighter planes that mistook our column for Wehrmacht troops. As the Germans hit the dirt, their machine guns blazing in all directions, someone near me yelled, “Run for it!” I kicked off my wooden clogs and sprinted into the forest. There I hid, hungry and cold, for weeks, until I was discovered by a group of American soldiers. The boys who brought me life were not much older than I. They fed me, clothed me, made me a mascot of their regiment and gave me my first real taste of freedom.
Today, the last living survivors of the Holocaust are disappearing one by one. Soon, history will speak about Auschwitz with the impersonal voice of researchers and novelists at best, and at worst in the malevolent register of revisionists and falsifiers who call the Nazi Final Solution a myth. This process has already begun.
And it is why those of us who survived have a duty to transmit to humankind the memory of what we endured in body and soul, to tell our children that the fanaticism and violence that nearly destroyed our universe have the power to enflame theirs, too. The fury of the Haitian earthquake, which has taken more than 200,000 lives, teaches us how cruel nature can be to man. The Holocaust, which destroyed a people, teaches us that nature, even in its cruelest moments, is benign in comparison with man when he loses his moral compass and his reason.
Costco is being targeted by 'Palestinian' supporters for selling Israeli products.
Please support Costco’s ongoing sale of Israeli goods. Costco stores in the United States have been targeted for anti-Israel action. Please visit your local Costco and – if available – purchase Israeli products, such as Israeli clementines and Ahava beauty products. Please consider contacting Costco to express your support for purchasing products from Israel.
According to Hamas, the German mediator who has been acting as a go-between for Israel and Hamas in the 'terrorists for Gilad' negotiations is about to quit.
Hamas Gaza spokesman Ayman Ta estimated on Thursday that the German mediator in negotiations for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will resign soon because of what he called "Israeli intransigence".
Hamas politburo member Izat Ar-Rishek said that Hamas agreed with the mediator at one time that the first phase of an exchange would include 270 prisoners serving life terms and that 80 prisoners who were residents of Judea and Samaria would be deported to Gaza. However, he said, Israel demanded to deport 209 prisoners. He said Israel refused to release senior terrorists, including Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat and Ahlam Tamimi.
That's the first time I've seen Ahlam Tamimi on that list. And it's high time. Ahlam Tamimi led the suicide bomber to Sbarro's in 2001.
The English-language Russian web site Ria Novosti is reporting that Iran may announce in early February that it has succeeded in enriching uranium from 3.5% to 20% (Hat Tip: Will).
Iran usually holds a demonstration of its scientific and technological achievements during the celebrations, running annually from February 1 to 11 and led by the country's religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.
This time he is likely to announce 20% uranium enrichment from 3.5%. Iran needs 20%-pure uranium for a Tehran research reactor. Iranian authorities also plan to launch three satellites and to hold large-scale military drills, thought to involve missile tests.
The festivities, known as the "Ten Days of Dawn" will culminate on February 11, the date when revolutionary forces led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini defeated pro-government troops in armed street clashes.
Sanctions are not going to stop Iran. It is too late for anything but military action. And that might not even work.
Former Fatah anti-corruption official: Hamas will take over Judea and Samaria
In an interview with JPost's Khaled Abu Toameh, former Fatah anti-corruption official Fahmi Shebaneh says that Hamas will take over Judea and Samaria because the 'Palestinian Authority' is corrupt.
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Shabaneh, who until recently was in charge of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA’s General Intelligence Service (GIS), warned that what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, when Hamas managed to overthrow the Fatah-controlled regime, is likely to recur in the West Bank.
“Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip,” Shabaneh told the Post. “It’s hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority.”
Shabaneh said that many Palestinians in the West Bank have lost hope that the PA would one day be reformed. “The Palestinian Authority is very corrupt and needs to be overhauled,” he said.
Shabaneh cited several specific cases of alleged corruption within Fatah and the PA in the course of the interview, including asserting that Fatah personnel stole much of a $3.2 million donation given by the US to Fatah ahead of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, won by Hamas, which had been intended to improve Fatah’s image and boost its chances of winning.
“Some of the most senior Palestinian officials didn’t have even $3,000 in their pocket when they arrived [after the signing of the Oslo Accords],” Shabaneh said. “Yet we discovered that some of them had tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in their bank accounts.
Until today we didn’t hear about one official who was brought to trial for stealing money from the PA, although we had transferred many of the cases to the Palestinian prosecutor-general.”
Questioned as to why he had decided to go public now, Shabaneh said: “I’m not criticizing the Palestinian Authority simply because I like to criticize, but because I want to see a state of law, one with no room for corruption. I was offered $100,000 not to expose the last sex scandal, but I chose not to accept the bribe. I’m the one who resigned after my arrest, because after all that I’ve seen I no longer believe that Abbas’s authority can be reformed.
Asked whether PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is working to establish good government, Shabaneh said: “Salam Fayyad is a good man and I have a lot of respect for him. He’s really working to build professional institutions and good government, but the corrupt Fatah people around Abbas are doing their utmost to thwart his efforts.”
He added: “Even Abbas tried in the beginning, but the corrupt officials working with him didn’t allow him to make progress.”
Shabaneh also said he had managed to track down some of the financial aid that went missing during and after the period of Arafat’s death.
“I discovered, for example, that several senior officials had taken millions of dollars from the Palestinian leadership under the pretext that they wanted to purchase land that would otherwise be confiscated by Israel,” he said.
“Our investigations revealed that many of the purported land deals were fictitious transactions and we even forced one official to return more than $800,000. We had another case where a senior Fatah official and his brother pocketed about $2.5m. which they took from Arafat under the pretext that they wanted to purchase land in the West Bank before Israel lays its hand on it.
Asked whether he believed outside donors should stop channeling funds to Abbas, he said his advice to the donor countries “is to follow up on their donations to examine how and where the money is being spent. We caught some officials who stole about $700,000 from the donors to study the atmosphere in . Why do we need to spend such a huge amount of money on something trivial like this when many people are suffering and have nothing to eat or feed their children?”
Read the whole thing. And then just give them a 'state.' I'm sure that will clean up their act. Just like Robert Mugabe.
Gaza's one and only power plant was about to run out of fuel because Hamas and the 'Palestinian Authority' could not agree who would pay for the fuel. Enter Israel, which bought the 'Palestinians' six times as much fuel as the 'Palestinian Authority' ordered.
Israel delivered more than 600,000 liters of fuel to Gaza between Wednesday and Thursday. Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad requested 110,000 Wednesday after the Dor Alon Energy company reduced supplies, following a disagreement between the Fatah-led PA and the Hamas government in Gaza over payment for the fuel.
The European Union paid for the fuel until November. Since then the PA has paid 80 percent of the bill, 10 million Euros a month. Hamas made a committment to pay the rest and collected the money from the public for electricity, but according to the PA, has not given the government in Ramallah payments for three months.
Survivor forgives Mengele for 'experiments' he performed on her
JTA reports on Auschwitz survior Eva Kor for 'experiments' that he performed on her in Auschwitz during the war.
Kor says she has forgiven Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who conducted experiments on her and her twin sister, Miriam, at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
This week, Kor led 55 American teachers and students on a trip to her former place of torment, where she was liberated exactly 65 years ago.
“Here I am, this little guinea pig from Auschwitz, and I have the power to forgive Josef Mengele! And he can’t do anything about it,” the diminutive, energetic woman who will turn 76 on Saturday said this week at Auschwitz. “I stopped being a victim, and that makes me a very powerful person.”
Her forgiveness, too, has its limits.
“If I see anyone who wants to advocate ideas of Nazism, I cannot forgive them,” she said. “And Israel cannot go to guys who are blowing up pizza places or weddings and say we love and forgive you. No.”
Kor’s outspoken forgiveness of Mengele, which she said she decided on in 1995 to free herself, has not been without controversy.
In 2007, the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors called it “abhorrent to forgive this monster, Josef Mengele,” and the group’s president said other Mengele twins were very upset with Kor for talking about forgiveness.
“There will be no forgiveness for him, only a searing memory of how human beings should not behave toward their fellows,” the group said in a statement.
Kor says withholding forgiveness locks them in victimhood.
“If they like being victims, it’s their choice,” Kor said. “I don’t want to be a victim ever again.”
On Jan. 26, standing on the icy steps of a barracks in Auschwitz, Kor recalled seeing Russian Red Army soldiers approaching through whirling snow 65 years ago.
“They were smiling,” she remembers. “They gave us hugs, and chocolate and cookies. And it tasted wonderful."
I got this article via Jeff Jacoby's Twitter feed. Jeff points out, correctly, that although Kor is within her rights to forgive Mengele for herself, she cannot forgive him for anyone else.
Shavua tov, a good week to everyone. Hope you had a meaningful Tu BiShvat.
Jewish groups have rushed to defend conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who was attacked last week by ADL director Abe Foxman for wondering whether Jewish bankers were having remorse over having voted for Barack Hussein Obama.
"There has been controversy recently over statements made by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh about Jewish voting patterns, political ties and the recent Massachusetts election. We are deeply dismayed by the unfounded criticism of the talk show commentator's observations," read a statement issued Wednesday by several Jewish organizations, including American Friends of Likud, the news monitoring group CAMERA, Emunah of America, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, National Council of Young Israel, Religious Zionists of America and Z-Street.
"While one may agree or disagree with Mr. Limbaugh's views on many subjects, his outspoken support for Israel has been eloquent, informed and undeniable. Moreover, in commentary on the Jewish people, he has been nothing short of a philo-Semite. We are grateful for his strong and singular voice on these issues," concluded the statement.
Indeed. Unfortunately, there are no non-Right wing Jewish groups on the list. I don't expect J Street to support Rush Limbaugh, but it would be nice if AIPAC and some of the non-Orthodox groups did. For that matter, where is the OU on this?
A bipartisan group of eight US Senators has sent a letter to President Obama urging him that the time has come to sanction Iran.
Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Casey (D-PA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and David Vitter (R-LA) sent a letter to President Obama today, warning that his own year-end deadline for diplomacy with Iran has now expired, and that it is therefore time to impose "crippling sanctions" against the regime. Given continued Chinese obstruction to sanctions imposed at the UN Security Council, the Senators urge the President to make use of existing authorities under U.S. law to pursue "parallel and complementary" measures to increase pressure against Iran. The Senators also pledge their support for the swift passage of new, comprehensive sanctions legislation currently pending before the Senate, which includes sanctions on the sale of refined petroleum to Iran that 76 Senate cosponsors expect the President to promptly use.
The full text of the letter is here. Don't hold your breath waiting for President Obumbler to act on it.
Hamas sources said that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was killed in Dubai on January 20, was one of the founders of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and was the one behind the abduction of soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon in the First Intifada.
According to Hamas reports, the information appeared in its statement following al-Mabhouh's death last Wednesday. "He planned many heroic operations against the occupation," the statement noted. Earlier, a Hamas official claimed that Israel had assassinated al-Mabhouh.
The brother of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was killed in Dubai last week, told Haaretz on Friday that he was certain that Israel was behind the assassination, and that Israel had tried before to kill his brother.
Fayek al-Mabhouh said that the medical team that examined his brother determined that the latter had died following a massive electric shock sustained to the head, and also found evidence of strangulation.
Immediately after his body was found, his brother said, the family was notified of the ensuing autopsy, and blood samples were sent to France for further investigation. After the tests were complete, the body was transferred to Damascus, where al-Mabhouh's wife and four children reside.
It's a pity that Avi Sassportas and Ilan Sa'adon weren't able to have a hand in avenging their deaths. Notice no mention of virgins. I wonder why. Probably because where this guy's going there's nothing but hot oil.
Fayek went on to say that his brother, who would have turned 50 in two weeks, had been involved in Jihad activity for Hamas for many years. He said that several attempts had been made on his life before.
Al-Mabhouh traveled with no security or body guards, his brother added, explaining that he had taken other precautions. "Some six months ago, he was poisoned," his brother said. "He was unconscious for 36 hours."
The family has set up a mourners' tent at the Jabaliya refugee camp.
Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the PA would not be satisfied with the Jerusalem area village of Abu Dis as the capital of a PA state – an idea that many politicians on the left have touted – but that the PA demanded all of eastern Jerusalem, including all of the Old City, as its capital. In an interview with a Russian TV station broadcasting in Arabic, Abbas said that he did not believe it was necessary to physically divide Jerusalem, and that arrangements could be made to allow free passage between the Israel and PA controlled areas of the city, but that "it must be clear what belongs to the Palestinians, and what belongs to Israel," he said.
Regarding Israel's demand that the PA recognize it as a Jewish state, Abbas said that this was only mentioned in the original UN partition plan, hinting that Israel would have to agree to that plan if it wanted such recognition.
The original UN partition plan, which was accepted by the Jews but not by the Arabs, would have left Jerusalem an 'international city' and would have left Israel without an airport, among other charming differences.
Writing in London's Telegraph, Niles Gardiner complains that President Obama gave scant mention to foreign policy in his 77-minute State of the Union address on Wednesday night.
But the scant attention paid in the State of the Union speech to US leadership was pitiful and frankly rather pathetic. The war in Afghanistan, which will soon involve a hundred thousand American troops, merited barely a paragraph. There was no mention of victory over the enemy, just a reiteration of the president’s pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Needless to say there was nothing in the speech about the importance of international alliances, and no recognition whatsoever of the sacrifices made by Great Britain and other NATO allies alongside the United States on the battlefields of Afghanistan. For Barack Obama the Special Relationship means nothing, and tonight’s address further confirmed this.
Significantly, the global war against al-Qaeda was hardly mentioned, and there were no measures outlined to enhance US security at a time of mounting threats from Islamist terrorists. Terrorism is a top issue for American voters, but President Obama displayed what can only be described as a stunning indifference towards the defence of the homeland.
The Iranian nuclear threat, likely to be the biggest foreign policy issue of 2010, was given just two lines in the speech, with a half-hearted warning of “growing consequences” for Tehran, with no details given at all. There were no words of support for Iranian protestors who have been murdered, tortured and beaten in large numbers by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s thuggish security forces, and no sign at all that the president cared about their plight. Nor was there any condemnation of the brutality of the Iranian regime, as well as its blatant sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the example of Iran showed, the advance of freedom and liberty across the world in the face of tyranny was not even a footnote in the president’s speech. I cannot think of a US president in modern times who has attached less importance to human rights issues. For the hundreds of millions of people across the world, from Burma to Sudan to Zimbabwe, clamouring to be free of oppression, there was not a shred of hope offered in Barack Obama’s address.
Not surprisingly, given how little room he devoted to foreign affairs, the State of the Union address was more remarkable for what he didn’t say than for what he did. This was his message on Afghanistan: “We are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home.” Really? That’s why he sent an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing our troop total eventually to some 100,000 — so they can come home? If that was the goal, why not keep them in the United States? Obviously there are pressing reasons why the lives of these soldiers are being risked in combat, but Obama did not spell them out. He should have, because his West Point address raised more questions than it answered about what end-state the U.S. is seeking and what specific policies should be enacted to achieve it. But he did nothing to dispel that confusion, which is prevalent among U.S. commanders on the ground, as well as among both our allies and enemies in the region.
Nor, predictably, did he offer any objective in Iraq beyond “responsibly leaving Iraq to its people.” He did say something commendable — “We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity.” But he said nothing more about the promise of Iraqi democracy, which so many Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much to bring about. Instead he reiterated his top objective, which is heading for the exits: “But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.”
He then went on to plug his pet project — the utopian goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. He claimed without any evidence that “these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons.” He suggested that North Korea “now faces increased isolation” — hard to imagine given that, if Pyongyang were any more isolated from the rest of the world, it would be located on the moon. He also claimed that Iran is getting “more isolated” and will face “growing consequences” that remain unspecified. The Green Movement in Iran, which offers the best chance of ending Iran’s nuclear program by overthrowing its despotic regime, got barely a mention — squeezed in between the (praiseworthy) effort to help Haiti and a puzzling reference to American advocacy on behalf of “the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea.” Is corruption in Guinea really on a par as an American foreign-policy priority with Tehran’s repression of human rights and support for terrorism and nuclear proliferation?
Rather than offer any specific support for Iranian democrats or call for the overthrow of their oppressors, Obama devoted far more time to promoting “our incredible diversity” at home — including an effort to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which may make sense but is sure to bring him into conflict with substantial numbers of the soldiers under his command.
I know - you're all looking at the silver lining in the cloud and saying "at least nothing about Israel." Well, not really. On Thursday, Obama was in Tampa for a townhall meeting and the first question out of the chute was
Last night in your State of the Union address, you spoke of America's support for human rights. Then, why have we not condemned Israel and Egypt's human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people and yet we continue to support financially with billions of dollars coming from our tax dollars?
Obama blamed internal politics both in Israel and the Palestinian territories for constraining peace diplomacy. He cited problems faced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who the president said "is making some effort to move a little bit further than his coalition wants to go."
Netanyahu's right-leaning government includes pro-settler parties strongly opposed to ceding occupied land to the Palestinians for a future state.
Obama said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "genuinely wants peace" but has to deal with Hamas, a militant group that refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist...
Poor Bibi is constrained by the majority of Israelis voting in a democratic election and Abu Bluff, who has no interest in peace, is constrained by Hamas. What could go wrong?
Hamas 54 Congressman has large Jewish constitutency
Earlier this week, I wrote about the Hamas 54, the 54 Democratic congressmen who wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to pressure Israel to lift the 'blockade' on Gaza to allow terrorists to enter and leave and to import weapons and ammunition.
Reader Mom's Teach informs me that one of the Congressman who signed the letter is Elijah Cummings (D-Md) whose Baltimore district is heavily Jewish. Cummings, who has been in Congress since 1996, has attracted between 73% and 98% of the vote each time he has run.
'Israeli Arab' MK Mohamed Barakeh, leader of the mixed, Leftist Arab-Jewish Hadash party, was visibly shocked upon visiting the Auschwitz death camp on Wednesday.
Hadash Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh, whose decision to join the delegation has sparked an uproar in recent weeks had trouble concealing his shock upon visiting the extermination camp.
"I knew exactly where I was going," He said and added, "But being here, faced with the embodiment of human evil on the one hand, and the unperceivable misery of the victims on the other hand, things take on a different meaning. Everything is mixed into a human catastrophe."
Barakeh also commented on the piles of children's shoes displayed at the museum and said, "Any such shoe was once worn by a baby. Children are a nationality of their own, a nationality of innocence, and I cannot grasp how human beings could do such an atrocious thing."
Perhaps a visit to Auschwitz ought to be made mandatory for all MK's. Another MK on the trip is Comrade Yuli Tamir (Labor), who, as Education Minister, approved the introduction of references to the 'naqba' (catastrophe) of Israel's formation into school textbooks (since reversed by the current government).
1% of Israeli Jews: Peace possible with 'Palestinians'
And you thought Barack Obama had no support in this country.
Only 1% of Israeli Jews believe that peace is possible with the 'Palestinians' according to a poll taken for the Knesset Channel.
The vast majority – 79% - of Israelis believe that the possibility of achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians is next to zero. The poll, conducted by the Panels organization for the Knesset Channel, said that only 1% of Israelis believed that there was a "good chance" peace with the Palestinian Authority could be achieved.
A similar number – 76% - believe that the current Palestinian leadership is not even interested in achieving peace with Israel, while only 17% believe that it is. The poll was released Thursday afternoon by the Knesset channel.
And to think that someone interviewed me this afternoon (more when it's up online) and asked whether I really believed that 67% of Israeli Jews wanted the IDF to go back into Gaza.
Maybe Jews aren't so stupid after all. At least not Israeli Jews.
JPost publishes Alan Dershowitz's condensed summary of his 49-page magnum opus on the Goldstone Report. Here's part of what the Post published.
THE CENTRAL issue that distinguishes the conclusions the Goldstone Report reached regarding Israel, on the one hand, and Hamas, on the other, is intentionality. The report finds that the most serious accusation against Israel, namely the killing of civilians, was intentional (and deliberately planned at the highest levels). The report also finds that the most serious accusations made against Hamas, namely that their combatants wore civilian clothing to shield themselves from attack, mingled among the civilian populations and used civilians as human shields, was unintentional. These issues are, of course, closely related.
If it were to turn out that there was no evidence that Hamas ever operated from civilians areas, and that the IDF knew this, then the allegation that the IDF, by firing into civilian areas, deliberately intended to kill Palestinian civilians, would be strengthened. But if it were to turn out that the IDF reasonably believed that Hamas fighters were deliberately using civilians as shields, then this fact would weaken the claim that the IDF had no military purpose in firing into civilian areas. Moreover, if Hamas did use human shields then the deaths of Palestinian civilians would be more justly attributable to Hamas then to Israel.
Since intentionality, or lack thereof, was so important to the report's conclusions, it would seem essential that the report would apply the same evidentiary standards, rules and criteria in determining the intent of Israel and in determining the intent of Hamas.
Yet a careful review of the report makes it crystal clear that its writers applied totally different standards, rules and criteria in evaluating the intent of the parties to the conflict. The report resolved doubts against Israel in concluding that its leaders intended to kill civilians, while resolving doubts in favor of Hamas in concluding that it did not intend to use Palestinian civilians as human shields.
Moreover, when it had precisely the same sort of evidence in relation to both sides - for example, statements by leaders prior to the commencement of the operation - it attributed significant weight to the Israeli statements, while entirely discounting comparable Hamas statements. This sort of evidentiary bias, though subtle, permeates the entire report.
You'd think Goldstone was out to get us or something (he was).
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-two years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 10 to 30 years and six grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com