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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ads in Friday papers to attack Netanyahu

Advertisements to be placed in Friday's newspapers (which are still widely read here in hard copy because of the prohibition to be online on the Sabbath) by the revenant movement will attack Prime Minister Netanyahu over the 'settlement freeze' in a bid to keep him from agreeing to an extension in Washington next week.
Ads placed in the Israeli media Friday will state, "Netanyahu is trampling on the settlements."

They will also state "Netanyahu is the first prime minister who has completely frozen construction in Judea and Samaria."

The Binyamin and Samaria Citizens' Committee launched the initiative in hopes of preventing Netanyahu from extending the 10-moratorium on new settlement construction beyond its September 26th expiration date.

It has sponsored ads set to run in Friday's media attacking him for stopping new construction in east Jerusalem, even though that section of the capital is not included in the freeze.

Netanyahu's has insisted that he has not stopped nor does he plan to stop construction in east Jerusalem. Still the settlers have accused him of doing so and state as much in their ad.

In a statement released to the press Tuesday night the Citizens' Committee said that their ad campaign marks the first time since Netanyahu took office in March 2009, that they directed their attacks against him.

In the past, they have focused their attacks primarily on Defense Minister Ehud Barak who heads the Labor Party and who was charged with enforcing the moratorium.
And we can be assured that Netanyahu will continue to do Obama's bidding since that's what the Likud Central Committee (which kept itself in power for another three years last month) wants him to do.

What could go wrong?

Obama messes up relations with yet another ally

Maybe he just didn't bow low enough or something.
Yet the pleasantries conceal what some analysts see as a widening gulf between the two allies, as Saudi Arabia hedges its relationship with the West over concern about the growing influence of Iran amidst a feeling that the US isn't doing enough to stop Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writing on foreignpolicy.com, said the "distancing" going on in the US-Saudi relationship was also clear in the case of oil policy.

The talk on oil comes at time when the US is in the midst of reassessing its energy policy. Earlier Tuesday Obama held a bi-partisan meeting with nearly two dozen lawmakers with the aim of pushing forward comprehensive legislation to move Americans away from fossil fuel and towards greener alternatives.

"Though for many years, in a clear statement of diplomatic priorities, the kingdom was the largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States, it has now slipped behind Canada and Mexico," he noted.
If it wasn't for the Iran factor, a distancing of the United States from the Saudis would actually be a cause for celebration. But the Iran motivation shows that the Saudis don't believe Obama will act on Iran and that they are angry about it too.

What could go wrong?

Did he say the same thing to Obama?

I'd love to know whether Saudi King Abdullah said the same thing to President Obama in their meeting this week and how Obama responded (Hat Tip: Elder of Ziyon).
The Saudi monarch, who met Tuesday Barack Obama in the White House, did not mince his words the recent trip by the French Minister of Defense Hervé Morin to Jeddah. "There are two countries in the world who do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel," said King Abdullah, on June 5.

This diatribe against the two designated enemies of Arabia has been confirmed by two French sources, diplomatic and military, in Paris. It is unclear what the reaction of the Minister of Defence was, - he was surrounded by a handful of diplomats and high-ranking officers in the audience with the king, culminating a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.
That makes me rethink the Tabuk story even more.

Mullen's mouth

Last week, President Obama fired General Stanley McChrystal for saying too much about the US strategy in Afghanistan in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Emanuele Ottolenghi argues that Michael Mullen's comments on Iran at the Aspen Institute on Monday were equally as damaging.
What is remarkable, and remarkably shocking, about this procession of military and intelligence personnel coming to say what politicians have now said for a while, is that they do not seem to appreciate how these comments have damaging consequences.

Perhaps a military strike is not in the cards anymore — who knows? Perhaps the risks involved are considerable. Maybe the hour is late. Understandably, there is little appetite for war. And, frankly, one should underestimate neither the operational difficulties nor the political fallout.

But there is a world of difference between entertaining skepticism about the military option in private and ruling it out in public. Whether it is politicians or uniformed personnel, their public dismissal of the military option — perhaps the only thing Iran’s regime truly fears — undermines the effectiveness of all non-military alternatives.

Besides, it is not the job of military personnel to dismiss or even fret publicly about the consequences of a military operation. Their job is to find the best way to accomplish a mission they are tasked with by their civilian leadership — and, if that mission entails negative consequences, they can certainly let it be known and factor them into their plans. It should not be their business to comment on these matters on the record. McChrystal, anyone?

Incidentally, government officials in Europe have been adopting this characteristically thoughtless approach for a while now, failing to understand that a threat is more powerful than its actual manifestation when it carries credibility. Now America has joined the bandwagon. To see U.S. leaders publicly depriving themselves of a fundamental policy tool and tell Iran that, no matter what they do, nobody will attack them, is a truly myopic act — and it will achieve precisely the opposite of what its perpetrators wish it to accomplish. By reassuring Iran that no attack will come their way, the West has removed the last pressure tool from its arsenal. The reiteration of such a message will embolden the Iranians to become more defiant and more aggressive and convince the Israelis that they stand alone and have little time left.
All true. But I don't think anyone here needs any more convincing that we stand alone and time is running out. The rumors about a war this summer are getting stronger by the day.

Really wonderful news: US deportation case against Mosab Hassan Yousef dismissed

'Son of Hamas' Mosab Hassan Yousef, the most prolific informant Israel has ever had, will not be deported from the United States (Hat Tip: Republican Jewish Committee Headquarters via Twitter).
EMET has just received word directly from Mosab that the Government has officially dismissed its deportation case against Mosab Hassan Yousef at a federal detention center in San Diego.

Mosab has told us that it was thanks to the efforts of EMET that the government decided to dismiss its case and grant him political asylum.

EMET is enormously grateful to all those who played a part in standing with Mosab during this time, and helping the Department of Homeland Security come to understand what a grave error deporting Mosab would have been.

A special thank you is due to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who authored a letter to DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, co-sponsored with 21 other Representatives. We wish to thank each and every representative who added their names to this call for sanity and to do right by a man who has stood up to terrorism and hatred, at a great personal cost.

Thanks also to former Ambassador R. James Woolsey, who also wrote a letter on Mosab’s behalf, and to all those who called, wrote, or emailed their congressional representatives and the White House on behalf of seeing justice done.
Finally some good news. Why and how things ever got to a deportation hearing is an examination left for tomorrow.

Kagan claims to admire Barak's contributions to Israel, not his judicial philosophy

US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan told Senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday that she admires former Israeli Supreme Court justice Aharon Barak for his contributions to Israeli society and not necessarily for his judicial philosophy.
"I admire Justice Barak for what he's done for the state of Israel and ensuring an independent judiciary," she said.

"He was central in creating an independent judiciary for Israel and in ensuring that Israel - a young nation, a nation threatened from its very beginning in existential ways and a nation without a written constitution - he was central in ensuring that Israel, with all those kinds of liabilities, would become a very strong rule of law nation," she continued.

But she stressed that she would not look to his judicial method as a model, saying her admiration didn't stem from his judicial philosophy or specific decisions.

Kagan called Barak "my judicial hero" and said he was the judge "in my lifetime whom I think best represents and has best advanced the values of democracy and human rights, of the rule of law and of justice" when introducing him before an awards ceremony in 2006. The comments, which she delivered while dean of Harvard Law School, have been widely cited at the hearings, which began Monday, by Republicans.

At another point, she noted, "I gave introductions to many, many people. If any of you came to Harvard Law School, I would have given you a great introduction too."
I wonder what she thinks of how Barak controlled membership on Israel's Supreme Court and about his (lack of) tolerance for dissent on the court.

Unfortunately, those things are probably irrelevant to her qualification for the court and therefore will not come up at the hearings.

Syrian army hit by epidemic

MEMRI translates a report from a Syrian opposition site (link in Arabic) that indicates that the Syrian army has been struck by a virus-like epidemic.
A Syrian opposition website reports that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad mid-month ordered a halt to training in military units following widespread digestive disorders among the troops, particularly among new recruits.

Military sources rejected claims that foreign intelligence forces were involved in the outbreak of the epidemic.

One soldier reported on harsh conditions in military courses – including only one shower allowed every two weeks, an allocation of half a liter of water per day, and minimal food.

The website reported that the Syrian military numbers 600,000 troops and that its budget is 35% of the country's budget, which is about $6 billion excluding arms deals.
If those numbers sounds a little high to you, it's because they are. Here are some more interesting statistics about the costs of the Syrian army.
With Assad spreading his wings of hate to far reaching countries like Brazil and Venezuela, this act of sabotage is a signal of how weak his regime is. MEMRI reported that Assad spends 35% of Syria’s GDP to defend his rule. If you compare it to the 4.7% the mighty US spends on its defense budget, you would have an idea just how volatile the Assad regime of terror is.

The Syrian budget does not include any cyclical armament renewal program, which means 43% (2,150 tanks) of our T-55 tanks have been first manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1947, 20% (1,000 tanks) are T-62, manufactured beginning 1961, 32% (1,600 tanks) are T-72, which were manufactured starting 1970, and the remainder 6% (300 tanks) are T-80 which entered service in 1976.

The average age of a Syrian tank is: 48.7 years. Almost as old as the country of Israel.

Next time you read a story about Syrian SCUD being transferred to Hezbollah to defend Damascus, do believe it because Assad knows even more how weak Syria has become over the last 40 years under the Assads.

Another important index to take into account is the % of GDP (or aggregate number) Syria spends on its military divided by the total population number of Assads’ enemies to obtain the $ amount spent for every enemy-person per year (EPY). In this instance, Assad spends $6b annually and the population of Israel is 7.54m, which yields an EPY index of $81,588. In other words, Assad spends $81,588 per one Israeli person per year to defend his rule.

Israel, on the other hand, spends 9% of its budget on defense with a GDP of $207b annually (Its Defense budget is $18.6b). But its EPY is simply amazing. Even if we assume the number of 300m enemy-people Israel is surrounded with, its EPY comes to: $30. In other words, Israel spends $30 a year per enemy person to defend herself and Assad spends $81,588. For every $1 Israel spends, Assad spends over $2,720 for the same purpose.
And on top of all that, the Jews go and give them food poisoning. Isn't it amazing what a difference having an economy that produces something makes? Heh.

Avigdor Lieberman spoke the truth

Avigdor Liberman is being raked over the coals in the media for saying in a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday that there is absolutely no chance that there will be a 'Palestinian state' by 2012.

Jonathan Tobin points out that Lieberman doesn't deserve the abuse: He is telling the truth.
But contrary to the assumptions of Israel’s critics, the reason for this has nothing to do with the “hard-line” nature of the government in which Netanyahu and Lieberman serve. Both have expressed their willingness to accept a two-state solution. The problem is that Abbas and Fayyad, those alleged peace optimists, have no intention of signing a peace deal with Israel no matter how many concessions on land or any other issue Netanyahu and Lieberman are prepared to make.

The extent of the disingenuousness of this discussion, in which Israel is blamed for the dim prospects for peace, cannot be overestimated. Had the PA’s goal been simply to have a state alongside Israel, there would have been no need to wait for 2012. Unmentioned in the account of Lieberman’s gaffe is the fact that in 2008, Abbas and Fayyad rejected Israel’s offer of a Palestinian state that would have included virtually all the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem. Their predecessor Yasir Arafat rejected similar offers in 2000 and 2001. These refusals made it clear that the dynamic of Palestinian political culture made any peace agreement, no matter where the borders were drawn, impossible as long as it required the Palestinians to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state.

The current situation finds Abbas and Fayyad afraid to anger the Palestinian street by making such a pledge and unwilling even to negotiate directly with Israel. At the same time, the Islamists of Hamas are not only still firmly in control of Gaza but the international isolation of their terror regime is also breaking down in the wake of the aid flotilla incident, a development that weakens Abbas. Under these circumstances, it is hard to see how any serious person could possibly believe that peace efforts have any sort of chance no matter what concessions might be dragged out of the Israelis by the Obama administration. But rather than face these unpleasant facts, it’s much easier to blame it all on Lieberman and Israel.

A 'no fly' zone for Tehran

Here's an interesting idea for dealing with Iran's nuclear aspirations: The creation of a 'no-fly zone' over Iran as was done with Iraq from 1991-2003.
A no-fly zone is the legal equivalent of a naval blockade, but it can be used selectively to stop all military flights and all rocket launches. Because all of Iran’s neighbors are now on 15-minute notice against massive missile attacks with an expanding target radius that will soon encompass Europe and the United States, the crucial point is to stop Iran’s missiles from being launched in the first place. If someone is pointing a gun at your heart, make sure they aren’t able to pull the trigger.

The only way to stop a large-scale strategic attack is at the source. Ballistic missiles have to fight gravity on their way into space — they are a big fat target. Even jet planes and cruise missiles have a giant heat signature when they launch. If somebody can’t be stopped from firing a gun at you, you can only strike and take cover. The strategic equivalent today is a fast strike at known nuclear facilities in Iran, plus slamming a heavy lid on any military flights.

A single launch of a plane or rocket should receive instant, overwhelming retaliation. That can be done by using massive radar and satellite coverage over the complex topology of Iran, and with routine overflights by U.S. and allied air patrols.

A no-fly zone is relatively harmless to civilians — Iranian exports and imports could continue by land and sea, and sea shipping could be inspected for WMDs by the U.S. Navy.

If Iran chose to challenge the airspace blockade, its nuclear industry could be knocked down in a matter of weeks. From a threat, the nuclear sites would become a point of high vulnerability. No missile testing could take place, and any effort to commit aggression could be stopped at the source. It is even possible that Iran’s heroic, modernizing Green Movement would feel encouraged to overthrow the regime. Iran’s constant threats to its neighbors would be reduced.

Of course, getting the Obama administration to agree to do this would not be easy.

'Palestinian extremists' accuse UN camps of corrupting Gaza youth with human rights lessons

It's summer time and just like your kids are either in camp or going to camp in the next week or so, so are the children of Hamas. In Gaza, there are two camp systems: One run by Hamas, and the other run by UNRWA. Hamas doesn't like competition or rivalries. And earlier this week, the UNRWA camp was vandalized (Hat Tip: CAMERA).
A UN spokesman says assailants have vandalized a UN summer camp for children in Gaza.

It's the second such attack in as many months.

Hamas has launched an investigation into the previous incident. Elements in the Gaza Strip told Ynet that under the current situation only Hamas armed personnel have the ability to carry out such attacks.

There was no claim of responsibility.

However, Islamic extremists have accused the main UN aid agency of corrupting Gaza's youth with its summer program of games, sports and human rights lessons for some 250,000 children.

The UN's main competitor is the Islamic militant Hamas, which operates camps for some 100,000 children and offers lessons on Islam and military-style marching.

Local UN spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna says vandals broke into a camp site in central Gaza early Monday. He says they burned down tents and damaged facilities, but gave no further details.
Gee, I wonder who did it.

Hamas teaches different lessons about its Jewish neighbors at its camps.

Let's go to the videotape.

We can't corrupt those poor innocent children with human rights now, can we?

But of course, don't expect the Obama administration to stop chasing Hamas just because of this. It just makes them more attractive to him.

The 'Palestine' quiz

This is too good not to share:

Hat Tip: Seraphic Secret

More here.

'Thousands' protest for 'Palestinian' rights in Lebanon

The true tragedy of the 'Palestinians' is not that they left their homes in Israel 62 years ago, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The true tragedy is that 62 years later they are largely still in refugee camps because the Arab countries are holding them hostage in the hope of sending them back to what is now Israel. Compare that to Israel, which absorbed more than 800,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab countries in the 1950's and 1960's.

Each Arab country has its own way of making sure that the 'Palestinians' who live in that country never feel at home. In Lebanon, that is done by excluding them from work in nearly every profession. On Sunday, there was a protest in Beirut to demand basic rights for the 'Palestinians' who live in Lebanon. After 62 years, could they be waking up?
"As Palestinians in Lebanon we have no rights. We just want to live with dignity," said Palestinian Imtithal Abu Samra, 29, who lives in the Beddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

Some 425,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees in Lebanon by UNRWA, the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. Many live in 12 camps across Lebanon in conditions the U.N. has described as deplorable and appalling.

Palestinians in Lebanon are barred from working in dozens of professions and are generally paid lower wages than their Lebanese counterparts when they do find jobs. They are not allowed to benefit from public social or medical services.

Proposals for a draft law due to be debated in parliament in a few weeks would give Palestinians the right to own a residential apartment and would legalise work rights.

The protesters had planned to demonstrate in front of parliament but Lebanese soldiers prevented them from congregating there. Instead they gathered in front of U.N. headquarters, a few hundred metres away.

"Palestinians have been here for 62 years. Their (condition) is unacceptable," said Dalia, a Lebanese assistant researcher. "Civil rights should be given to anyone regardless of their religion, sect or nationality," she said.


The issue of granting Palestinian more rights has raised worries it would promote 'naturalisation', which some politicians fear will upset Lebanon's delicate sectarian and demographic balance. Most Palestinians are Sunni Muslims.

The proposals have faced hurdles in parliament because of Christian lawmakers' fears that granting these rights would eventually lead to their permanent resettlement, an allegation refugees and civil rights activists say is not true.

"Lebanon has marginalized Palestinian refugees for too long," Human Rights Watch's Beirut director Nadim Houry said in a statement last week. "Parliament should seize this opportunity to turn the page and end discrimination against Palestinians."
And the world calls Israel an 'apartheid' state.

How to train children to be suicide bombers

Here's a video showing how the Taliban brainwash children to be suicide bombers.

Let's go to the videotape - more below the video.

Hamas has much slicker methods for indoctrinating children. You can watch them here.

'Son of Hamas' hearing in San Diego on Wednesday

'Son of Hamas' Mosab Hassan Yousef, on the right in the picture above with his Shin Bet handler Gonen ben Itzhak, appears for a deportation hearing in San Diego on Wednesday.

The very idea that Yousef may be deported from the US is beyond absurd. National Review gets it right:
In 2007, he came to the U.S. and applied for asylum. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service denied his application in 2009, on the grounds that he provided material support to a terrorist organization. This is madness.

The department bases its argument on Yousef’s autobiography, Son of Hamas. In it, he reports that when Shin Bet agents showed him pictures of Hamas members who were suspected of involvement in a March 2001 bombing, he told the agents that he’d driven some of the members to safehouses. Of course, this is the kind of thing that spies do routinely — assist the enemy when asked, especially in small ways, so as not to blow their cover. Common sense indicates that our material-support rules don’t apply to support that’s provided — at the behest of a U.S. ally — within a broader attempt to bring down a terrorist organization.

If Yousef returns to the West Bank, he risks execution. Obviously, DHS doesn’t believe he’s a threat, or it would detain him; in fact, the FBI has advised DHS that Yousef is not a threat. He has converted to Christianity and has become vocal critic of Islam.

Yousef has a hearing tomorrow at which a judge will decide on his appeal for asylum. This shouldn’t be a complicated call for the judge or anyone else — Yousef deserves asylum. If our immigration system can’t distinguish between him and a true terrorist, it’s more witless and perverse than even we imagined.
Someone on Twitter actually asked me why Israel doesn't give Yousef asylum. I said it was Yousef's choice to live in the US. If you had the choice between living 9 miles or 9,000 miles away from people who really, really want to kill you (as opposed to all other people they'd like to kill at random), which would you choose? The answer seems obvious to me.

Justice, 'Palestinian' style: 10 years hard labor for selling land to Jews

They're going soft on 'crime' in the 'Palestinian Authority' these days. Really soft.
The Palestinian Authority Court of First Instance on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian man to 10 years imprisonment on charges of selling land to Israel.

The accused, identified only by the initials AF, 44, from Qalqiliya in the occupied West Bank, was convicted in accordance with the 1960 article 144 of the penal code number 6.

AF's original sentence was reduced from 15 years to 10 years with manual labor.

Selling land to Israeli settlers is considered collaboration with an enemy state under the law and in Palestinian society, which deems such transactions detrimental to Palestinian national aspirations.
And they call Israel an apartheid state?

I suppose that the guy should be thankful that for now he's not being executed.

But here's the real question: If God forbid there ever is a 'state' of 'Palestine,' will it have laws like this one on the books?

Obama buddy accuses Jews of 'anti-black behavior'

President Obama's confidant Louis Farrakhan has accused the Jewish community of 'anti-black behavior' in a series of letters sent to Jewish organizations in the United States (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
In the letter, dated last Thursday, the Chicago-based Nation of Islam leader said he sought a dialogue with Jews. He sent the letter to groups including the Orthodox and Reform movements, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the American Jewish Committee, a New York-based advocacy and humanitarian nonprofit that spearheads inter-religious dialogue.

"This is an offer asking you and the gentiles whom you influence to help me in the repair of my people from the damage that has been done by your ancestors to mine," he writes. "Your present reality is sitting on top of the world in power, with riches and influences, while the masses of my people ... are in the worst condition of any member of the human family."

In the past, Farrakhan's most inflammatory comments have included referring to Judaism as a "gutter religion" and calling Adolf Hitler "wickedly great." Recently, he has railed against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which he claims is conspiring to trap the U.S. in a war with Iran.

Farrakhan echoed similar comments last Saturday in an Atlanta speech titled, "Who Are the Real Children of Israel?"

He did not respond to several messages seeking comment Tuesday. Farrakhan has over the years denied claims of anti-Semitism, arguing his remarks are often taken out of context and that criticism of Jews in any light automatically earns the "anti-Semite" label.
Read the whole thing.

What's most disturbing about this is that Farrakhan was a confidant of the President of the United States until Obama threw him under the bus when he became a political liability to Obama's campaign. Anyone think that Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright (who popped up again last week) aren't still an influence on Obama's thinking?

Where's the outcry over the forged passports used by the Russians?

Merrill Yourish points out that the group of Russian spies arrested in the US on Monday used forged and stolen passports.
Criminal complaints filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday read like an old-fashioned cold war thriller: Spies swapping identical orange bags as they brushed past one another in a train station stairway. An identity borrowed from a dead Canadian, forged passports, messages sent by shortwave burst transmission or in invisible ink. A money cache buried for years in a field in upstate New York.
Don't hold your breath waiting for any Russian diplomats to be expelled by England, Australia or Ireland, nor for any Russians to be arrested by Poland or extradited to Germany.

After all, no one cared that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had a stolen passport or two either.

Read it all.


Just what 'starving' Gaza needs: Another prison.
The Gaza government inaugurated a newly-built prison on Monday in the southern Gaza district of Khan Younis.

Built on lands of the evacuated Israeli settlement Jani Tal, the prison is able to hold up to 800 inmates, Gaza Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said at the opening ceremony.

"The law is above everyone. There is no immunity for anyone, regardless of their political affiliation ... law enforcement in Gaza applies to everyone without exception," the minister told reporters.

Defending Gaza security forces, Hammad said violations of the law were not "a policy but there are some individual discrepancies, which will be brought to an end."

The new central prison was built to replace the former jail destroyed by an Israeli airstrike during the first few minutes of Operation Cast Lead.
I wonder what they did with all those beautiful homes in Ganei Tal.

Remember when Liberals cared about human rights?

Once upon a time, Liberals used to care about human rights. That's not true in the Age of Obama. Now, Liberals cozy up to dictators seeking to atone for America's sins as if America and the West are the serial violators of human rights.
Obama has responded to Hosni Mubarak’s crackdown on political dissidents and extension of the “emergency” laws not with condemnation but with billions in new aid. The president responded to the stolen Iranian election and brutal repression with silence, and subsequently cut aid to groups documenting human rights abuse. He has offered to engage Burma despite its atrocious human rights record but failed to take any significant step after another phony election. Aung San Suu Kyi remains imprisoned, and Burma is now pursuing its own nuclear program. His envoy to Sudan is widely ridiculed by Darfur activists, who are dismayed that he has not carried forth on campaign promises to crack down on the genocidal regime. And so it has been since Obama took office.

There is no more eloquent description of Obama’s sorry record than this:
It’s been a rough seventeen months for Americans whose calling is to fight for the rights of people who’ve been stripped of them by force—young men and women beaten to death in full view of the world by the agents of their oppressors for daring to demand that their votes be counted; others hacked to death with the complicity of the autocrats in power over them for having been born the wrong color or to the wrong tribe; girls subjected to the lash, or, worse, murdered by their own mothers, fathers, or brothers for appearing in public in the wrong company; believers imprisoned for professing faith in the wrong god or the wrong political system; non-believers sentenced to death for “wronging” a wrathful, vengeful religion.
And it is also worth considering why Obama and his secretary of state, when they do muster some concern for human rights, focus not on the world’s worst offenders but on their own countrymen, whose shortcomings on race, inequality, and the like never escape their exacting eyes.

It is not simply a case of misplaced priorities or even moral obtuseness. Hillary Clinton at times can wax poetic on human rights, proving once again that hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue. The problem stems from Obama’s conviction that the U.S. and the West more generally are the world’s problem children and that it is our arrogance, ignorance, and track record of interference in other countries’ affairs that are the source of the world’s ills. The apology tour (which covered everything from dropping the atomic bomb to our supposed lack of simpatico with the “Muslim World”) was perhaps the most heartfelt expression of Obama’s worldview and explains his cockeyed human rights record.
Read it all.

Here are two stories about egregious human rights violations in the Arab world. Note that neither is sourced in the United States. Here's what happens to women who report rape in Abu Dhabi. And here's what happens to bloggers who criticize the government in Egypt.

Obama is too busy bowing to these countries' leaders to criticize him. And the damned Liberal hypocrites in the US (including 78% of the Jews) are too busy singing hosannas to Dear Leader to even notice. They talk about the 'Liberal values' they claim are part of being Jewish, but apparently those values only matter when they decide that Jews are violating them.

Hard questions from a 'Palestinian' on the 'proximity talks'

In an earlier post, I wrote that the 'proximity talks' are a waste of time that are not addressing the issues that are most critically urgent for our region. If I didn't persuade any of you, maybe hearing a 'Palestinian' question where those talks are going will persuade you. Here is Khaled Abu Toameh.
[T]he first and most important question that decision-makers in Washington and European capitals need to ask themselves these days is: Is there a majority of Palestinians who are prepared to make far-reaching concessions in the context of a peace treaty with Israel? Is there a Palestinian leader who is willing to make compromises on explosive issues such as Jerusalem, settlements and the "right of return?"

Frankly, there is no way that Palestinian Premier Mahmoud Abbas could accept anything less than what his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, rejected at the botched Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. Back then, Arafat refused to sign a document pledging to "end the conflict" with Israel unless he got 100% of his demands.

In addition, there are serious doubts as to whether Abbas would be able to persuade a majority of Palestinians living in refugee camps in the Arab world to accept any peace agreement with Israel that did not include the "right of return" to their original villages in pre-1948 Israel.

Abbas, however, is not in a position to accept even a "partial" agreement on the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. No Palestinian leader has thus far dared to publicly make the slightest concession on this issue.

Further, Abbas could not sign any deal that excluded the Gaza Strip; he would then be accused of "solidifying" the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Moreover, although the Palestinian Authority has said it would consider land swap, apparently many Palestinians are opposed to it.

The second question that Washington needs to ask is: Do Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have enough credibility and support among Palestinians to be able to sell to a majority of them a peace deal with Israel?

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority cannot go to the Gaza strip; they have limited control over the West Bank, and are still lacking in credibility, at least as far as many Palestinians are concerned.


The third question that the US Administration needs to ask itself is: Where is Abbas supposed to implement a peace agreement with Israel? In Tel Aviv?

So what is the point in launching "proximity talks" between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority while ignoring the fact that the partner in Ramallah would not be able to deliver his side of an agreement?

Also, why do the Americans and the Europeans continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that the Palestinians already have two states – one in the Gaza Strip under Hamas and the second in the West Bank under Fatah?
Read it all. Which part of "no" does Obama still not understand?

Someone willing to fight our mainstream media

At least there's someone out there who is willing to fight our mainstream media's orchestration of a terrorists for Gilad trade:
Bereaved parents whose children were killed in terror attacks in Haifa clashed with activists taking part in a rally in the city for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

The parents arrived on the site in order to protest against the release of terrorists in a potential deal with Hamas that could secure Shalit's release.
Let's hope that as they move south there are more counter-protests. There are many more terror victims' families in Jerusalem (R"L - God save us) than there are in Haifa.

Hamas is a threat to the 'Palestinian' cause says....

... would you believe Richard Cohen?
It's a pity that Israel, while substantially loosening its grip on Gaza, will continue to enforce a blockade when, with just a little imagination, it could insist on a deal with the activists once again steaming its way: You can proceed to Gaza if, once you get there, you demand that Hamas cease the persecution of women, institute freedom of religion, halt the continuing rocketing of Israel, release an Israeli hostage, ban torture and rescind an official charter that could have made soothing bedtime reading for Adolf Hitler. This may take some time.

In fact, these demands would never be met. Gaza is a mean and brutal place with a totalitarian government steeped in a cult of violence and death. This hardly means that the government does not have a measure of popular support and did not, as some of the activists naively point out, come to power by democratic means. So did the Nazis.

The term "Islamic fascism" gets thrown around a lot. I initially recoiled from it because I prefer to reserve fascism for fascists. The term is too loosely employed -- New York City cops were called fascists by Vietnam-era peace demonstrators -- but Paul Berman, in his new book "The Flight of the Intellectuals," makes a solid case that it can, with justice, be applied to Hamas.


The irony is that Israel is often called a colonialist power. In some sense, the charge is true. But the ones with the true colonialist mentality are those who think that Arabs cannot be held to Western standards of decency. So, for this reason, Hamas is apparently forgiven for its treatment of women, its anti-Semitism, its hostility toward all other religions, its fervid embrace of a dark (non-Muslim) medievalism and its absolute insistence that Israel has no right to exist. Maybe the blockade ought to end -- but so, too, should anyone's dreamy idea of Hamas. It's not just a threat to Israel. It's a threat to the eventual Palestine.
So here's my question for Richard: If Hamas is such a threat to 'Palestine,' why has Fatah made such a priority of 'reconciliation' with Hamas? Why doesn't Fatah insist on defeating Hamas once and for all? When you understand that, you will understand why an 'eventual Palestine' (God forbid) is a threat to the Jewish state of Israel's continued existence.

Mullen, running interference, sounds confused?

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen was in Israel for a quick visit on Sunday. On Monday, he spoke to the Aspen Security Forum. Which statement doesn't fit?
A military strike against Iran would be "incredibly destabilizing" to the region said the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. He believes Iran will continue to pursue nuclear weapons, even if sanctions against the country are increased.

Speaking Monday at the Aspen Security Forum, Mullen said it would be "incredibly dangerous" for Iran to achieve nuclear weapons, and that there's "no reason to trust" Iran's assurances that it is only pursuing a peaceful nuclear program, especially after the discovery of a secret nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom.
Well, obviously, if you interpret "incredibly destabilizing" as "we won't do it," that statement does not fit. But that is not what Mike Mullen is saying.
Mullen said there was no reason to expect Iran to conform to international norms, given its past behavior, but he declined to describe what measures the US was considering. He has often said that all options remain on the table.

He explained that the hardest part about trying to decide what to do about Iran is how much the US does not know about the country's nuclear progress.

When asked whether he thought Israel would give the United States time to see whether tougher sanctions or talks would produce more cooperation from Iran, he would only say that he believes the US and Israel are "in sync" with their current policies.
Well, I can tell you that the IDF has had spies in Iran for quite some time (a friend recently confirmed to me that people in his unit had been in Iran). So is Israel feeding the US information about Iran's nuclear progress that is going to convince the US that "incredibly destabilizing" is a necessary and acceptable risk when compared to the alternatives?

Here's Mullen meeting with IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Sunday. Let's go to the videotape.

They look quite comfortable together, don't they?

And here's Mullen meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Let's go to the videotape.

It's perhaps worth noting here that Mullen's entire visit to Israel was unplanned - he was in Afghanistan on Saturday and they suddenly announced Saturday night that he was coming here on Sunday. I'd take that as yet another indication that something is happening on Iran.

He's never seen Israel like this

I don't have the sense that most Israelis are spending a lot of time talking about Iran. If you listen to the radio here, you hear the same headlines that you hear in the US, but what to do about Iran isn't really a subject for debate here. We have debates about how to handle the 'Palestinians,' what price to pay for Gilad Shalit (if any), what to do about the schools in Emanuel and whether and by how much our taxes will rise this year. But I don't have a sense that people are debating what to do about Iran.

In fact, other than a phone call I had last week with a friend who has just been discharged (due to his age) from an elite army unit - who told me that there's going to be a war and probably a lot of casualties, and that people in his unit had been to Iran - I don't even have a sense that there's a lot of preparation going on here either. There's been no public push to distribute the new gas masks that people started getting a couple of months ago. There certainly hasn't been any reserve call-up that I've seen. Thank God, there also hasn't been any preparation of mass graves as happened before the 1967 war (are we more confident this time?). Silence. Because we all know what has to be done. For Israelis, it's just a question of who will do it and when.

Keep that in mind from an observer on the ground as you read William Galston's report of his trip to Israel.
Never before have I sensed such a mood of foreboding, which has been triggered by two issues above all—the looming impasse in relations with the United States and a possible military confrontation with Iran.

In response to American pressure that began shortly after President Obama took office, the Netanyahu government agree last November to a temporary and partial freeze on construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which averted an immediate crisis. The freeze expires in September, however, and it will not be renewed. As I write, the central committee of the Likud Party is meeting to consider a resolution supporting renewed construction in all parts of the country. Netanyahu has signaled that he will not oppose the resolution, which its proponents describe as a way of pinning him down and removing all ambiguity about Israel's future course. The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the United States in early July and to meet with President Obama. In the face of an Israeli stance that will torpedo the current proximity talks in the fall, what will the president say to him? If Netanyahu leaves Washington without a clear sense of the U.S. stance, he and everyone else will interpret it as a signal that he can stay the course at minimal price.

There are persistent rumors here that the Obama administration hopes to bring down the current Israeli government and replace it with a more tractable coalition. Don't hold your breath. The potential new coalition member--the Kadima Party headed by Tsipi Livni—will not join unless Netanyahu fundamentally alters his stance in the negotiations with the Palestinian. Headed by Avigdor Lieberman, the hardline forces in the current coalition will not accept Kadima unless it accepts a tough government platform including the transfer of Israeli Arab villages to a new Palestinian state in return for the incorporation of major West Bank settlements into Israel. Netanyahu's stated position is that he will accept Kadima as an addition to the coalition but not as a replacement for Lieberman and Company. To bring about a new coalition without the hardliners, the Obama administration would have to threaten Israel with measures at least as tough as the ones George H. W. Bush and James Baker implemented two decades ago against the Shamir government, risking a huge domestic political backlash.

Looking farther east, most Israelis—including many who are very dovish vis-a-vis the Palestinians—believe that only military force can prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power in the near future, and they cannot understand why the United States resists this conclusion. According to Ha'aretz, eyewitnesses on the ground support a recent report from the Times of London that Saudi Arabia has agreed to open its airspace to Israeli aircraft "as part of preparations for a possible attack on Iran." (Israel refused to comment on this report, which the Saudis of course have denied.)
Obama's priorities regarding this region are misplaced to the point of being irrelevant. He's now been in office for nearly 18 months and he's still acting as if there's hope to 'engage' Iran and as if the top priority for our region is the 'Palestinians.' They won't and it's not. If Obama insists on spending the entire summit with Netanyahu next week discussing the 'Palestinians,' I hope Netanyahu has the you-know-what's to get up and walk out. Because if that's what Obama wants to discuss (and by the way, I think Galston has it right both on the freeze and on the prospects of Livni replacing Lieberman and the Right in this government - it's not going to happen), Bibi is wasting his time in Washington and ought to be back here preparing the country for the reality of a strike on Iran.

Jennifer Rubin adds:
As Galston observes, “the sand in the hourglass is running down quickly. Some time this fall, an administration headed toward a midterm election with a faltering economy and negative developments in two war zones may confront a genuine Middle East crisis. We can only hope that its contingency plans are in place and that they’re better than BP’s.” Unfortunately, we know — thanks to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — that there really isn’t much contingency planning going on.

.... There is foreboding in Israel because the realization is sinking in that the Obama administration in all likelihood will not be there to defend the Jewish state — either diplomatically or militarily — when Israel needs America most. You would think American Jewry would be gripped by the same sense of foreboding as their brothers and sisters in Israel – and motivated to do something about it. But like Obama, they are, in Galston’s words, “playing for time.” I hope that they at least have a contingency plan better than BP’s and a sense of urgency to put it into action.
I don't think anyone here ever expected Obama to do anything for us militarily. If Bush didn't do it (regardless of whether he was tricked out of doing it by the 2007 NIE), Obama certainly was never going to do it. But Israel has never asked the US to fight its battles. If there's a sense of foreboding here regarding Obama and the US, it's over the lack of diplomatic cover. The sense of foreboding derives from the way the Obama administration has piled onto Israel over the flotilla, over the 'peace process,' over the 'Human Rights Council' and over a slew of other issues that have come up over the last year and a half. They've been subtle about it. But in Obama's bizarre world, exercising a veto at the UN is a sign of failure. If we attack Iran, will we be looking at a Chapter 7 resolution in the Security Council (mandatory action by all states) to try to force us to stand down? Will we be made into a pariah state like apartheid South Africa of the 1960's and 1970's? No one can say.

What can be said is that after November, our prospects with Obama can only get worse. If the midterm elections are a bloodbath, Obama may see himself as a one-term President and figure he has nothing to lose by coming down on us harder. If the Democrats hold their own, Obama is likely to figure he has nothing to lose in continuing to behave the way he has until now. That argues for an Israeli attack this summer or fall - before the US midterm elections.

Jennifer keeps harping on the American Jewish community. I understand why she does that, but I have no real expectation that the American Jewish community is going to do anything to help us. I'm also not sure anything they can do with this President in office has a shot of being effective short of withholding campaign contributions (as happened six weeks ago). After all, this is how the American Jewish community behaved in the 1940's during the Holocaust. So much of the younger generation there is intermarried and doesn't see any importance to a state of Israel anyway. How could we rely on them?

Yeshuath Hashem k'heref ayin (God's salvation is like the blink of an eye). We can only hope and pray that we merit it.

To free Gilad Shalit, weaken Hamas

As I mentioned earlier in the week and as I am sure many of you have read elsewhere, there is currently a 10,000-strong march making its way from northern Israel to Jerusalem to demand that Israel free Gilad Shalit 'at any cost.' The problem with this march, which is largely being incited by Israel's mainstream media, is that it demands that Hamas be strengthened. Caroline Glick argues that the only way to gain Gilad Shalit's release is to weaken Hamas.
The truth that Yediot and Ma'ariv's marketing departments ignore is that Schalit's continued captivity is a function of Hamas's growing strength. To bring him home, Israel shouldn't release a thousand terrorists from prison. It shouldn't strengthen Hamas.

To bring Gilad Schalit home a free man, Israel must weaken Hamas. And this is an eminently achievable goal. Gilad's father Noam knows it is an achievable goal. That is why last week Noam Schalit was the most outspoken critic of Netanyahu's decision to abandon Israel's economic sanctions against Hamas-controlled Gaza. That is why over the past four years the Schalit family has staged countless protests against Israel's massive and continuous assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

If anything positive is to come from this march, then when the Schalit family arrives in Jerusalem they should abandon the newspapers' demand that Israel surrender to all of Hamas's demands. They should acknowledge that doing so will only guarantee that more Israelis will be kidnapped and murdered by Hamas and its allies.

If the Schalits wish to criticize the government, they should criticize Netanyahu and his government for the steps they have taken to strengthen Hamas. The Schalits should demand that the government reinstate and tighten Israel's economic sanctions against Gaza. They should demand that Israel end its supply of electricity and gasoline to Gaza and take more effective action to block smuggling into Gaza through the tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border. All of these actions will weaken Hamas, and so contribute to the prospect of Hamas being forced by the Gazans themselves to release Schalit to his family.
Glick goes on to argue that there is someone else whom Israel needs to weaken: Barack Hussein Obama.
When Netanyahu entered office last spring his desire to appease Obama was understandable. At the time, he was operating under the hope that perhaps Obama could be appeased into ending his onslaught against the Jewish state. But the events of the past year have made clear that Obama is unappeasable . Every concession Israel has made to Obama has merely whetted the US President's appetite for more.

The policy implications of this state of affairs are clear. First, Israel must strive to weaken Obama. Since Israeli concessions to Obama strengthen him, Israel must first and foremost stop giving him concessions.

Weakening Obama does not involve openly attacking him. It means Israel should act in a way that advances its interests and forces Obama to reconsider the desirability of his current foreign policy.
Read the whole thing.

US said to be 'frustrated' with pace of 'proximity talks'

The US is said to be 'frustrated' with the pace of the 'proximity talks,' and guess who is being blamed.
U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is frustrated by the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the proximity talks with the Palestinians. Mitchell, who is due in Israel on Thursday for another round of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, has expressed to Netanyahu his wish to see more progress by Israel on core issues.


A senior U.S. administration official told Haaretz Monday that Mitchell is interested in seeing more "seriousness" in talks on the core issues. "We want things to move faster and that there will be more progress on a number of issues," the senior U.S. official said. "To date there has been insufficient progress."

The senior U.S. official also said that the administration would like Netanyahu to show more willingness for substantive discussions on core issues, and to see the Palestinians moving toward direct talks with Israel.

There have been four rounds of proximity talks so far, during which Mitchell shuttled between Ramallah and Jerusalem. During talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu, the two informed the U.S. envoy of their positions on the various core issues. However, the Palestinian side has presented far more detailed positions.
I assume you all realize that 'progress' = Israeli concessions.
A senior Israeli source updated on some of the content of the proximity talks said that the American frustration stems from the fact that Netanyahu has so far not given any clear answers on the borders of the future Palestinian state. During the past three rounds of proximity talks Netanyahu opted to dedicate much of the meetings to relatively peripheral issues, like water, the economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian state, and the development of a "culture of peace" in a future Palestinian state.
I'm with Netanyahu on this. Why should Israel give ANY position on a major issue except in direct talks and as part of an overall settlement. That's absurd!

There are two problems with this. One is the lurking US threat to blame Israel for the collapse of the 'proximity talks,' which is unlikely to be carried out until after the November midterm elections. The other is that the US accelerates threats in a bid to force Israel to bow to its will. Again, that won't happen explicitly until after November, but if Obama gets the sense that he's only going to be a one-term President anyway, watch out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Turks claim they didn't know a blockade means you can't enter?

Here's an article written by two of the Turkish Jews who translated for passengers on the Mavi Marmara.
Israeli media labeled all those on the boat as Islamist radicals. Turkish and Arab media portrayed them as a group of peace activists massacred by Israeli villains, akin to Nazis. According to what we saw, there were both activists and radicals on board, but the majority of the passengers fell into neither category. They were simply religious people motivated by their consciences to help the Gazan children whose pictures they had been seeing on television for years. Their humanist desire does not make them political activists nor does their faith make them Islamists.

We discovered from listening to the Turkish passengers that many of them were recruited through local humanitarian and civil society organizations and not the IHH, the Turkish group that organized the flotilla. The IHH, Insani Yardim Vakfi or Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms in English, is a Turkish NGO. In international media, some describe the IHH as a humanitarian organization offering services in over 100 countries while others describe it as a charity that funnels money to terrorist organizations. In any case, the IHH organizers understood the politics of the flotilla.

Most of the people actually onboard the ship, however, were not affiliated with the IHH, and did not have a political agenda. When we talked with them, most had no idea that an embargo actually bars entrance to Gaza. Many asked us in astonishment: “Isn’t Gaza a country of its own? Does Israel control Gaza?” When asked why they came on this mission, their answer was “To bring humanitarian aid.” One seriously injured man we spoke to in the hospital said that he was an orphan and boarded the ship to help Gazan orphans. The people we talked to were fellow Turks familiar to us–they were no radicals.
This sounds like the people on the lower deck and not like the terrorists on the upper deck. Still, portraying them as that naive strains credibility. This part strains credibility even more.
Keeping in mind this summary characterization of Turkish and Israeli perspectives, the events on the Mavi Marmara look different. When the Israeli engagement began, what devout Turkish Muslim passengers saw were armed Israeli “baby-killers” dropping onto their ship from helicopters. When masked Israeli commandos opened fire, the Turks did not know that the weapons were paint-ball guns; all they saw and heard were “non-stop gun shots.” Crucially, many of the passengers’ wives were below the deck. Not only were the men afraid for their own lives, but they also felt the need to protect their wives and honor. In the scenarios familiar to them from Turkish television, vicious Israelis would kill them all, rape their wives and use the humanitarian aid to celebrate. So the passengers attacked the Israeli soldiers, with the only weapons they had: sticks, kitchen knives, and metal rods that they “cut off the ship.” When these people were being processed in Ashdod, we even heard some who refused to drink Israeli water because they truly believed that it had been poisoned.

From the Israeli perspective, the commandos, armed only with paint-ball guns and pistols (the latter to be used only in self-defense), were dropped into a mob of angry people. What the soldiers saw were Islamic terrorists, since in their minds, aggressive Muslim men with long beards and long sticks can only be terrorists. Under very real attack, the soldiers resorted to using their only actual weapons, their real guns.
Except that we've all seen the video and we know that the metal rods were cut hours before any Israeli commando dropped onto the ship. And we know that the electric saws were brought to cut those pipes in the first place. I can buy the first item I quoted - with a bit of difficulty. I don't buy the second one.

What do you all think?

AOL blocking Israel Matzav?

I just got an email indicating that AOL is blocking Israel Matzav. The block will be removed in 24-48 hours. The person found out when someone sent an email to him with a link to one of my posts and the post would not open.

And I thought traffic was lower today because I took the morning off....

Huckabee to run in 2012?

Will Mike Huckabee run for President in 2012? We won't know for sure until sometime in November, but based on this interview (which Huckabee himself tweeted on Twitter), I'd bet the answer is yes.

Let's go to the videotape.

Mike Huckabee is a great friend of Israel. I would have no problem voting for him.

Construction begins for Jewish housing in Sheikh Jarrah

Construction began this week at the site of the former Shepherd's Hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzadik) section of Jerusalem. Twenty Jewish housing units are being built on the site once owned by the founder of 'Palestinian' nationalism and Nazi-lover Haj Amin al-Husseini. Al-Husseini was Yasser Arafat's uncle.
While the project is not a municipal initiative and is instead being advanced by US businessman Irving Moskowitz, a private investor, the plan for the Shepherd's Hotel – namely to convert the building, which was once used as a villa by Haj Amin al-Husseini, into 20 new housing units for Jewish residents – has in the past drawn criticism from the US, which has made clear its opposition to further Israeli construction in the eastern neighborhoods of the capital.


At the Shepherd's Hotel on Monday, a vehicle performing geo-technical engineering tests at the site was visible in the parking lot of the fenced-off compound, where it was drilling large rods into the ground.

"This is the second day we've been out here," one of the workers told the Jerusalem Post.

"This is the first step, we're performing different tests in the soil," he said. "No other work has begun inside the compound itself."

Nonetheless, the start of construction has already drawn criticism in Israel where Peace Now, which released a statement on Sunday regarding the plan, said that "the mayor of Jerusalem and his right-wing partners are continuing to determine facts on the ground and harm Israel's political status."

"Netanyahu must order [Jerusalem Mayor Nir] Barkat to stop the construction in Sheikh Jarrah immediately," the statement said.

In response, Stephan Miller, a spokesman for Mayor Barkat told the Post on Monday that the Shepherd's Hotel investors had received final approval for the plan in March, and after finalizing their payments to the municipality for the proper building permits, it was up to the investors as to when and where they would start construction.

"There's nothing new here," Miller said. "The investors presented their plan [to the municipality] in July 2009, they received final approval in March of this year, and after paying the final fee to municipality, any private resident, citizen or contractor can begin to build whenever they want."

"Once any construction project in the city of Jerusalem has completed the permit process and paid all relevant fees to the municipality, it can begin construction, irrelevant of the race, religion, creed and gender," he added.
There is no legal basis for stopping construction. But don't be too sure that construction will actually continue. This is Israel, where anything is possible.

Iran threatens family of Iranian nuke scientist

Iran has threatened the family of Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist who defected to the United States earlier this year, who has been a key source of information about Iran's nuclear program.
The high-stakes spy saga is being played out online, where both the Iranian intelligence agency and the CIA have posted dueling videos of the scientist. In one video, he claims the U.S. kidnapped him, in the other he says he is happy to be in the U.S.

Behind the scenes, the situation has become so grave that American officials fear Amiri could re-defect, according to the people briefed on the situation....


CIA officials pushed for Amiri to flee the country out of fear that his disclosures might expose him to Tehran as a spy.

Amiri vanished last year during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The Iranian government claimed then that their scientist, a professor at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, had been kidnapped by the CIA. In fact, say U.S. officials, the CIA, with the help of the Saudi government, whisked Amiri to the U.S., where he was to permanently resettle.

A few months after Amiri arrived, the Obama Administration announced that U.S. intelligence had discovered a second, hidden nuclear enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Qom.

Both the CIA and the White House have refused to comment on Amiri.

Complicating the defection is the fact that he left behind a wife and child. Since arriving in the U.S., and being secluded in Arizona, U.S. officials say Amiri has struggled with his decision to flee Iran.

Then came the alleged threats by Iranian intelligence, which set off the bizarre battle of dueling videos that were released earlier this month. The first, which was broadcast on Iranian state television, shows Amiri speaking to a computer camera and announcing that the U.S. had drugged and kidnapped him and forced him to Tucson, Arizona.

He appeared to be looking down at a script as he spoke.

According to the two current U.S. officials, Amiri called home earlier this year because he missed his family. On a second call, Iranian intelligence answered and threatened to harm his son, unless he taped an internet video saying he'd been kidnapped. Amiri, fearing for his family, agreed, according to a person briefed on the case.

"He missed his son," said the person. "And he couldn't help calling home to speak to him."

Within days, the CIA learned that Amiri had given the Iranians a video and moved quickly to produce a version of its own. The second video shows Amiri well-dressed and manicured with a globe - turned to North America - and chess set behind him as he appears to read from a teleprompter. He says, in Farsi, that he is happily living in the U.S. and going to school. He also denied having worked in the Iranian nuclear program and made a plea to his wife and son. "I want them to know that I never abandoned then, and that I will always love them."

According to one U.S. official, the CIA intended to produce the video and launch it on the internet before the Iranians had a chance to air their version.

Instead, the video languished at CIA headquarters for weeks, according to a senior intelligence official. Then, earlier this month, Iranian state television aired the Amiri video. Within a day, the CIA posted their Amiri video on YouTube, with a user identification of "shahramamiri2010."
Let's go to the videotape (sorry - Farsi without translation but look at his mannerisms).

One Iranian defector warned that Amiri has some tough decisions ahead. Reza Kahlili, who still uses a pseudonym to protect his relatives whom he left behind in Iran, told ABC News that Amiri is likely making life or death decisions.

Defecting, Khalili said, "becomes very emotional, and at times you question your sanity and the decisions that you've made."

"If he went back…he would be tortured." Khalili said. "And then he would certainly be executed."
Khalili is the guy who wrote the book. Like Amiri, he worked for the CIA while still in Iran.


Why do they so want to stay?

On Friday, I reported on the expulsion from Jerusalem of three Hamas legislators and a former Hamas minister. Now, a deal is in the works to allow the four to stay if they renounce their membership in Hamas. Huh?
Israel has agreed to reconsider its decision to deport four Hamas representatives from Jerusalem if they declare that they do not represent the radical Islamist movement and cut off their ties with it, an Israeli security official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The four men are legislators Mahmoud Abu Tir [pictured. CiJ], Ahmed Attoun, Mohammed Totah and former minister Khaled Abu Arafeh.

They have reportedly accepted the Israeli condition and are now said to be willing to make a public statement in this regard so that they could stay in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem police had confiscated the Israeli-issued ID cards of the four men after the Ministry of Interior revoked their status as permanent residents of the city, paving the way for their expulsion.

The official explained that the decision to reconsider the deportations was largely designed to "boost" the standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and undermine Hamas.

"The Hamas officials have apparently chosen to stay in Jerusalem with their families and enjoy all privileges as residents of Israel," the security official told the Post. "Their readiness to distance themselves from Hamas is an important step that could lead to the cancellation of the deportations."

He added that the decision to deport the four men would be canceled once they sign a written statement disowning Hamas.

"We want an unambiguous statement that leaves no room for double-talk," he said. "We want to send a message to the Palestinians that if they renounce Hamas and terrorism they stand to benefit."

One of the legislators, Abu Tir, who was recently released from Israeli prison after serving a 50-month-sentence, was instructed by the Jerusalem police to leave the city by last Friday midnight.
Stupid Jews. Does anyone really believe they're going to stop associating with Hamas?

Report: Israel massing planes for attack on Iran in Georgia, Azerbaijan

Could it be that the Iranians are getting paranoid or is this for real?
Israel is massing warplanes in the Caucasus for an attack on Iran, it was revealed yesterday.

Preparations are underway to launch the military attack from Azerbaijan and Georgia, reports our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej, quoting military sources.

Israel was, in fact, training pilots in Turkey to launch the strike and was smuggling planes into Georgia using Turkish airspace, they said.

However, Turkey was unaware of Israel's intention of transferring the planes to Georgia, the sources said.

The unexpected crisis between Israel and Turkey following an Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza Strip hit Israeli calculations.

Azerbaijan-based intelligence units, working under the cover of technicians, trainers and consultants, have helped with the preparations, the sources said.

Military equipment, mostly supplied by the US, was transported to a Georgian port via the Black Sea.

Georgian coastguard and Israeli controllers are co-operating to hide the operations from Russian vessels, said the sources.
By the way, this report also confirms the report of American troops being massed in Azerbaijan (from an Azerbaijani source).

Read the whole thing.

Iran surrounded by US troops in ten countries, Israeli nuke subs to be deployed in Persian Gulf

Energy and Capital reports that Iran is surrounded by US troops in ten countries.

Energy and Capital (apparently an oil industry trade publication) is also reporting that Israeli nuclear submarines are to be stationed in the Persian Gulf.
Earlier in the week, the Pentagon confirmed that an unusually large fleet of U.S. warships had indeed passed through Egypt's Suez Canal en route to the Persian Gulf. At least one Israeli warship reportedly joined the American armada. There are also Israeli nuclear armed submarines.

According to PrisonPlanet.com:

Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.

The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military organization in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.

The submarines of Flotilla 7 — Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan — have visited the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.
More on this story here.

Erdogan's embarrassing company

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is becoming embarrassed by the company he keeps.
The al-Siyasseh Kuwaiti newspaper reported yesterday that the Turkish Embassy in Damascus has sent a report indicating that pictures of Assad with Erdogan, Ahmadinajead, Nasrallah and Meshaal all together were starting to appear on walls in Syrian cities.

Erdogan’s office was not pleased considering that a raging campaign in the US media has taken a life of its own after the Gaza flotilla incident in which it was clear that Erdogan may have facilitated and taken advantage of its outcome to show a level of outrage foreign to most leaders. Even the US Congress is weighing-in against Turkey with threats of new laws.

Orders were sent to the Turkish Ambassador to Syria Omar Ohanon to alter from this course. Ohanon made the call to Walid al-Moallem, Syria’s foreign minister, asking that Erdogan’s pictures not be posted on walls.