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Sunday, October 31, 2010

British authorities say explosives meant to detonate in midair

British authorities now believe that a bomb that was discovered on a UPS cargo plane at an intermediate stop between Sanaa, Yemen and Chicago was meant to explode in midair a la Lockerbie and not meant for a Chicago synagogue.
Security chiefs initially believed the bomb, which was to be activated via a timer, was destined for a synagogue in the US.

But Mrs May said: “We do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when it was planned to explode.”

Speaking at Chequers, David Cameron said: “We believe the device was designed to go off on the aeroplane.

“We cannot be sure about the timing when that was meant to take place.”

Had the plane exploded and crashed on to Nottingham, Leicester or Derby, all within a 10-mile radius of the airport, hundreds of lives would have been lost.

The alert was triggered by intelligence from a unit of GCHQ surveillance experts stationed in Afghanistan, the Sunday Express can reveal. Operating from a converted shipping container in Helmand, the team picked up the words “A wedding gift is being delivered”.

The phrase is an Al Qaeda code meaning a bomb is in transit.

With the help of Saudi agents, GCHQ alerted MI6, which raised the alarm in London and Washington.

Counter-terror police intercepted the United Parcel Service plane bound from Yemen to ­Chicago when it stopped to refuel at East Midlands Airport at 3am on Friday.

The suspect package was found with wires protruding from it and connected to mobile phone components. A similar device was found on board another plane in Dubai.
Maybe Bush was onto something with that Global War on Terror thing. Hmmm.

Video: How the West has misread the Iranian mentality

Here's Dr. Harold Rhode speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about how we've messed up dealing with Iran. It's a fascinating lecture.

Let's go to the videotape.

Busted: Leftists caught cutting olive trees in Samaria

An undercover unit sponsored by the Jewish residents of Samaria photographed Leftists and 'Palestinians' cutting down olive trees on Friday near the Jewish town of Neve Tzuf. The 'vandalism' was then blamed on 'settlers.'
Photographs showing Palestinians and leftwing activists cutting down Palestinian olive trees using an electric saw were released on Saturday by a group claiming the images were part of a campaign to accuse settlers of vandalism.

Ynet reported that the photos, taken on Friday near Neveh Tzuf, were made by Tazpit Unit members, an organization identified with the settlers which documents news events in the territories.

Tazpit photographer Ehud Amiton told Ynet that the olive grove was located east of Beit Zayit, located near Route 60.

“I immediately saw that it was no ordinary pruning. It was done very aggressively... Some of the branches broke, and other trees were cut off entirely. When I approached closer with my camera, the Palestinian man waved his saw at me threateningly. I felt uneasy, so I backed off,” Amiton said.

Tazpit unit director Amotz Eyal told Ynet that “during every olive harvest season, just like this one, there are many cases of Arab farmers cutting down olive branches and later blaming it on the settlers.

“Time after time, photos prove that these Arabs are not holding back; they provoke in order to tarnish the image of Jewish settlers,” he said.
More on the self-inflicted vandalism and more photos here.

Korb urges declassifying Pollard documents

In what is apparently a continuing drive to make amends to Jonathan Pollard, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb has urged that the documents that were used in determining Pollard's prison sentence be declassified and made public.
Korb said there was no reason not to hand over the documents. But their declassification is considered very unlikely.

Since he was sentenced, Pollard has never been allowed to challenge the claims in the documents in court. His security-cleared attorneys have never been allowed access to the secret portions of his sentencing file, though those who oppose his release have had access and used it against him.

New York Senator Charles Schumer and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who have seen the documents, have said publicly that there was nothing in them to justify the life sentence Pollard has been serving for 25 years. But Pollard cannot return to court, because all his legal avenues have been exhausted, so he is seeking clemency from US president Barack Obama.
I've noticed that since Korb started speaking out, there have been less hostile comments when I've posted about Pollard. Maybe people are finally starting to get it after 25 years?

Republicans urge Obama to oppose unilateral 'Palestinian' declaration

A group of 115 Republicans in Congress led by Representative Tom Price of Georgia has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to oppose a unilateral declaration of statehood by the 'Palestinians.'
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia wrote Obama on behalf of the 115-member Republican Study Committee on Thursday, asking the president to push back against reports suggesting that Palestinians are considering appealing to the UN rather than negotiating with Israel.

“Any support for such a measure would create a serious barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” the letter stated.

Price also pressed Obama to back Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
I would expect to see lots more initiatives trying to push President Obama to push back against the 'Palestinians' in the months ahead. Whether Obama goes along with them will depend on where he sees himself on Wednesday morning and thereafter.


Iran Air says it is planning to sue Western firms that refuse to refuel its aircraft.
The head of Iran's state airline says the company plans to sue Western firms that refuse to refuel its aircraft.

The official IRNA news agency quotes Farhad Parvaresh as saying Saturday that Iran Air has already started legal action against the unnamed Western companies.
Good luck with that.

Israelis escape shooting attack unharmed

Remember the story I posted three weeks ago about driving through Walajeh?

Well, get a load of this from Saturday night. More here.

But since they escaped, you won't hear a whole lot about it.

Jewish Chronicle: Not our post about Caterpillar

I got an email from the London Jewish Chronicle on Sunday morning that I'd like to share with all of you.

I'm the editor of the Jewish Chronicle. FYI, we are not reporting the Caterpillar story. It's a blog on our social network site. And the blogger is very anti-Israel. I have no idea if his claim is in any way true.

Hmmm. Maybe the London Jewish Chronicle shouldn't be giving blogging space to people who are 'very anti-Israel.'

/Just a thought

Suicide bomber in Istanbul wounds 22

It was just this morning that I reported that the Turkish Red Book had declared Israel to be the 'central threat' to Turkey. Perhaps this will make them reconsider (Hat Tip: Will).
A suicide bomber attack in İstanbul's main square has caused a number of injuries. The explosion occurred Sunday morning on Taksim square, close to a spot where police are stationed. A witness says ambulances have arrived on the scene and medics are attending to the injured. According to first reports, 15 people were injured.

Turkish TV channels say the explosion occurred Sunday on Taksim square, close to a spot where police are stationed.

A witness says ambulances have arrived on the scene and medics are attending to the injured.
Here's a later report.
A suspected suicide bomber wounded 22 people including 10 police officers in the centre of Turkey's biggest city on Sunday in an attack targeting police.

"It was a suicide bomb and it appears as if the bomber blew himself up. It appears to be a male body," İstanbul police chief Hüseyin Çapkın told reporters.

Twelve civilians and 10 policemen were wounded in the attack in Taksim Square, İstanbul, local governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters. No organisation has claimed responsibility.

A taxi driver told CNN Türk news channel he saw a 30 to 33 year-old man approach the police to ask directions, at which point the bomb detonated.

Another witness said two men had approached the police.

CNN-Türk said a second bomb was found close to the dead bomber, but state-run Anatolian news agency said parts of a bomb were found and it was unclear if it was part of the exploded bomb or a second device.

Taksim square is a major tourist attraction and transport hub, surrounded by restaurants, shops and hotels, and at the heart of modern İstanbul. It houses the Republic Monument which was built in 1928 to commemorate the creation of the Turkish Republic.
The article goes on to list the prime suspects as being al-Qaeda and the Kurdish PKK. Amazing they haven't blamed Israel, isn't it?

But don't worry. We're still the central threat to Turkey anyway.

By the way, there are some pictures at that last link (aside from the one I posted). They're lucky it's Sunday so the streets were likely relatively quiet.

How to give something for free without giving something for free - Part 2

Here's why I've been wasting a lot of time today. A couple of weeks ago, Bezeq International, which unfortunately became our internet carrier when they took over our beloved Actcom (which had been our carrier since 1994) a couple of years ago, called up and said they had a great deal for us: They are increasing our capacity and giving us a new router - for free. All we have to do is show up at the Bezeq store and pick up the router.

There are only two Bezeq stores in Jerusalem. One is in an Arab neighborhood, so that's not really an option. The other is next to the Central Bus Station, where there is almost no on-street parking, and where you will wait in line for quite some time. So Mrs. Carl and I have been avoiding going there to get the router for the last two weeks.

This morning, there was a flicker from our horrible electricity (the general contractor who built our apartment swore he would never work with the electrician again because the guy was so awful), and while it didn't shut the house down like it usually does, it was just enough to shut off the router and our internet connections. When I couldn't get it to restart, Mrs. Carl had a 'great' idea - I should go to the Bezeq store and switch the router.

So I went to the Bezeq store, parked a ten-minute walk away, waited 30 minutes on line, and discovered that - surprise! - it's not free after all. You see the router costs NIS 600 (a bit more than $150 these days), but you pay it in 24 payments for which you receive an offsetting credit, so long as Bezeq continues to be your internet provider for the next 24 months....

I get it home, Mrs. Carl starts hooking it up (she has the Masters in Computers - not me) and it doesn't work. So she spends half an hour on hold for a technician, and then another half an hour on the phone, and lo and behold the router is hooked up. Except that when I go to log in on my laptop... there's no network recognized.

So I spend half an hour on the phone with another technician, and he tells me to press the reset button on the router, but the reset button doesn't work. The technician informs me that I have a defective router (which of course only happens once in several thousand routers - lucky me!) and I have to come back to exchange it. I said the hell I'm coming back, send it with a messenger. He says that will take a few days (they have messengers that distribute phone bills - they claim that the post office does it but the phone bills always arrive separately from the mail so I don't buy that). I decided to try hard wiring the laptop to the router - which succeeded - and told him that I could wait a couple of days and he could send the router by messenger.

I won't tell you the rest of the story because I then made a demand and told him that if my demand was not fulfilled, the story would go on my blog.... They fulfilled the demand....

How to give something for free without giving something for free

For reasons I'll discuss a little later, I'm working on a different computer right now (which is not letting me upload pictures...). So I'm going to give you a couple of lessons in Israeli bureaucracy and how they make like they're giving you something for free but never really do.

I wasted a good couple of hours driving around town today. While I was driving, I saw an Egged bus with a notice on the side: "This bus provides free wireless internet service." The bus was bus number 402.

I doubt most of the non-Jerusalemites got what's so funny about that. The 402 is a Haredi bus between Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, and 99% of its passengers likely don't have laptops with internet access....

47% of DEMOCRATS want a primary challenger for Obama

Usually, an incumbent US President doesn't expect to have a serious challenger in his party's primaries. In fact, the last one who did was Jimmy Carter in 1980, and he went on to lose the general election. Well, guess who may have a challenger in 2012....
Among Democrats, 47 percent say Obama should be challenged for the 2012 nomination and 51 percent say he should not be opposed. Those favoring a contest include most who backed Hillary Rodham Clinton's unsuccessful faceoff against Obama for the 2008 nomination. The poll did not ask if Democrats would support particular challengers.
I wonder what those numbers will look like come Wednesday morning. Hmmm.

The racist Left

It's well-known here in Israel that the Left is racist. The Left cannot live with any Arabs and therefore pushes for a Judenrein 'Palestinian' state to which they can be sent. For years and years, the Labor party consisted (virtually) entirely of Ashkenazi Jews - the Sfardim voted Likud or for one of the religious parties. Even today, Shaul Mofaz must feel like the odd man out in Kadima with all those Ashkenazim. (For the uninitiated, Ashkenazim are Jews from northern and central European countries, while Sfardim come from southern Europe, North Africa and the Arab countries).

I guess it's a universal illness, because the Left in the US is also racist.

Haunted Netanyahu offers 'Palestinians' 'interim solution'

Apparently haunted - by Abu Mazen? - Prime Minister Netanyahu has proposed another 'interim solution' to the 'Palestinians' according to a report in Saturday's al-Hayat.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is making efforts to convince the Obama administration to accept a plan by which a Palestinian state would be established within temporary borders for a period of ten years, leaving difficult issues such as refugees and Jerusalem to be decided in future negotiations, London-based Arabic language daily Al-Hayat reported on Saturday.

According to Palestinian sources quoted by Al-Hayat, the temporary borders of the Palestinian State would coincide with the current security fence.

Under the proposed plan Israel would be allowed to maintain control over the Palestinian state's eastern border, on the western border with Israel, on Jerusalem and on water sources.

According to the Palestinian source "what Netanyahu proposed to us is a gradual solution which will continue for more than 10 years, that will leave Jerusalem and the big settlements under Israeli control, that will lease Israel the Jordan Valley for 40 years and will leave Israeli army bases at the entrances of Palestinian cities."

The plan would leave some 40% of the West Bank under Israeli control during the ten year interim period.
Ultimately, the 'security fence' is a horrendous border for Israel. It would leave us in a permanent state of 'hunkering down,' with no high ground and no water sources.

I've shown this video before, but it's worth another look. Let's go to the videotape.

YNet adds:
Another Palestinian official said that Netanyahu's plan is based on two aspects: Security and geography. On the geographical level, Israel will withdraw from Palestinian cities and leave settlement blocks under Israeli control. On the security level, Israel will keep army bases in the Jordan Valley and in entrances to West Bank cities. The two sources did not say what the Palestinians think about the plan.
Until now I thought tried to convince myself that Netanyahu was trying to call the 'Palestinian' bluff by showing that there was no solution they would accept. And I suppose that there will be those who will argue that Netanyahu's offer is undoubtedly full of conditions that would allow him to cancel withdrawals if 'Palestinian' terror continues. But the ultimate borders are not defensible.

Over the weekend, Caroline Glick wrote:
The challenge that Washington now poses to Israel is not unprecedented. Indeed for Netanyahu it is familiar.

During his first tenure as prime minister, Netanyahu faced a similar predicament with the Clinton administration. In October 1998, thenpresident Bill Clinton was about to be impeached. The Republicans stood poised to expand their control over the House of Representatives. Paralyzed domestically, Clinton turned to Israel. He placed enormous pressure on Netanyahu to agree to further land concessions to Yasser Arafat in Judea and Samaria. In what became the Wye Memorandum, Clinton forced Netanyahu to agree to massive concessions in exchange for which Clinton agreed to free Jonathan Pollard from prison.

At the time, Israel’s allies in Washington enjoined Netanyahu not to succumb to Clinton’s pressure. They argued that in his weakened state, Clinton had limited capacity to harm Netanyahu. Moreover, they warned that by caving to his pressure, Netanyahu would strengthen Clinton and guarantee that he would double down on Israel.

In the event, Netanyahu spurned Israel’s allies and bent to Clinton’s will. For his part, Clinton reneged on his pledge to release Pollard.

Netanyahu’s rightist coalition partners were appalled by his behavior. They bolted his coalition in protest and his government fell. Rather than stand by Netanyahu for his concessions, Clinton and the Israeli Left joined hands to defeat him in the 1999 elections.

The lesson Netanyahu learned from this experience was that he cannot trust the political Right to stand by him. While not unreasonable, this was not the main lesson from his experience. The larger point is that Netanyahu must not delude himself into believing that by falling into the arms of the Left he will win its support.

The post-election Obama administration will make the lives of Israel’s leaders unpleasant. But Netanyahu and his ministers are not powerless in the grip of circumstances. They have powerful allies and supporters in Washington and the confidence of the Israeli people. These are formidable assets.
Netanyahu ought to take Glick's advice. Unfortunately, he appears to have learned the wrong lesson from his first term in office.

A race worth watching: Minnesota 04

In Minnesota, pro-Israel Teresa Collett is running against Hamas 54'er Betty McCollum. McCollum said in a debate last week that she doesn't believe that al-Qaeda is a threat to the United States anymore.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Hot Air).

At the moment, Collett has no money to put this ad on television. Those who are able to donate, please do.

Will Obama let the 'Palestinians' avoid negotiations?

A disturbing editorial that appeared on Friday in the Christian Science Monitor (which has a well-deserved reputation for being unfair to Israel).
President Obama may soon have an unusual chance to serve the cause of Middle East peace by remaining silent.

He could quietly acquiesce to a move being considered by Palestinian leaders to ask the United Nations to recognize a state of Palestine.

Such a request would only be necessary in one case: if Israel effectively ends any hope of renewed peace negotiations by continuing to build Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Mr. Obama has good reason to give a quiet wink to such a Palestinian request. He is deeply frustrated that Israel renewed its settlement construction last month. That move forced Palestinians to quit bilateral peace talks. It also caused them to contemplate the prospect that the US is no longer a reliable mediator or able to press Israel to make concessions.

As a last resort, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is considering asking for Obama’s support in seeking recognition by UN bodies of Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Seeking statehood this way is not ideal. Israel could retaliate by cutting off many vital services to Palestinians, such as trade to the outside world. And there is a possibility that China or Russia, facing calls for independence by groups within their own countries, might veto a Security Council resolution on Palestinian independence.

At the least, however, allowing the issue to be debated in UN bodies may force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land.

If the UN declarees a state of Palestine, Israeli settlements would then clearly be in violation of international law.
There's more too.

But Obama would not accomplish anything by doing this. As Martin Kramer points out, the very existence of a dialogue at the Security Council would have no effect on Israel. And if the Obama administration actually failed to veto such a resolution, it would prove to those Israelis who don't believe it yet that the Obama administration is not to be trusted. It would finally and completely burn any bridges that remain between the State of Israel and this administration. There would be no more negotiations until there is a change in Washington - and in New York.

For the record, no one 'forced' the 'Palestinians' to quit the peace talks. They're not babies and no one forced them to do anything. They decided all by themselves to quit the talks as a result of Obama's attempt to be more 'Palestinian' than the 'Palestinians.' But no one took away their freedom of choice. It's time that the 'Palestinians' be held accountable for their own actions. No one is forcing them to do anything.

Obama to disengage from Syria?

After yet another interview filled with anti-American venom, this time with al-Hayat, Ed Stein wonders whether the Obama administration has finally had it with the chinless ophthalmologist.
What was surprising, however, was the U.S. reaction. Rather than downplay these provocative remarks, State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley replied in kind, pointing out that “Recent Syrian behavior and rhetoric has had a destabilizing effect on Lebanon and the region, has contributed to recent tensions.” In addition to arming Hezbollah with deadlier weapons, Syria continues to obstruct the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s investigation of the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, carried the baton further yesterday. Rice singled out Syria, declaring that it has “displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Lebanese government.” Although it is too early to tell, these strong words may signal the beginning of a more confrontational Syria policy.

Instead of signaling an interest in reconciliation with the West, Damascus has pursued even greater cooperation with both Hezbollah and Iran. And although many on Capitol Hill have pointed to Syria’s provocations and cried foul, the Obama administration has continued to push engagement as its policy, leading lawmakers to delay the confirmation of Robert Ford, the proposed ambassador to Syria.
Yeah, but.... If what really bothers Crowley and Rice - and presumably their bosses in Foggy bottom and the White House - is that Assad is cozying up to Ahmadinejad, why does the Obama administration continue to try to 'engage' Ahmadinejad through repeated efforts to re-start the P 5+1 talks, and continued declarations that the hand is still outstretched? Obviously, it's because the US fears that Ahmadinejad is crazy enough to go to war, while the Syrians are seemingly more 'rational.'

But what's really needed is stop the party that has the power to make war - Iran - not to shake one's finger at the party that's powerless - Syria. Obama is afraid to do what needs to be done. And America's enemies know it.

Turkey's red book defines Guess Who as its central threat

Turkey has defined one country as a 'central threat' to it. Can you guess who it is? Uh huh. The Joooos.
The Turkish National Security Council approved a few days ago significant changes in a document which contains threats against Turkey claiming that Israel is now a major threat to the country, Turkish media reported Saturday.

Israel was redefined as a "major threat" in the document called "The Red Book."


At the same time the Council decided to remove Syria, Bulgaria, Georgia and Armenia from the list of countries that pose a threat to Turkey.

Iran, which was previously a major threat to Ankara was also removed from the list of countries.

The document is valid for five years.

Greece is still defined as a threat against Turkey, however Turkey's neighbor is considered an external threat. "
So why do we keep behaving toward Turkey as if it's business as usual?

Caterpillar withholding bulldozer deliveries to IDF?

There's something very strange going on here. The London Jewish Chronicle is reporting (supposedly based on Israeli sources - I haven't seen any, but I can't possibly read everything that's published here) that Caterpillar is holding up the delivery of about $50 million worth of armored D-9 bulldozers to the IDF. Let me give you the story (it's short) and then I'll come back to what I find to be strange about it. My bottom line is that I don't buy this story.
The Israeli press is reporting that Caterpillar is withholding the delivery of tens of D9 bulldozers—valued at $50 million—to the Israeli military.(1) These are weaponized bulldozers that are used to illegally destroy homes and orchards of Palestinian families. And they are the very same bulldozers as the one that killed a 23-year-old American peace activist named Rachel Corrie seven years ago when she tried to protect the home of the Nasrallah family in Gaza.

That's why the next part of the story is even more amazing. The news reports say that the deliveries have been suspended now because Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing a civil suit against the government of Israel in a court in Tel Aviv.(2) The deliveries are to stop during the length of the trial. We take this as an indirect admission by the company that these bulldozers are being used to violate human rights and to violate the law. The Corrie story is sadly just one of thousands of stories of loss and pain.
Yeah, the Corrie's are suing the Israeli government. That's an old story. But Caterpillar actually won a lawsuit against the Corrie's in the US. So why would Caterpillar suddenly suspend sales? And why 'for the duration of the trial'?

How about this (the article was removed and the link is to the cached version)?
Caterpillar, the Illinois-headquartered construction and farming equipment company, has said it will delay shipments of D9 bulldozers to Israel during the Rachel Corrie trial. Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist from Washington state, was killed by an Israeli Defense Forces soldier who ran over her while driving a D9 to demolish a Palestinian home in Gaza in 2003. Her family is suing Israel, and Corrie has become an iconic figure in pro-Palestinian circles. (One of the boats in the aid flotilla bound for Gaza that Israeli troops stormed this summer, killing nine, was named for Corrie.)

Previously, the Corrie family sued Caterpillar in U.S. court, but a federal court of appeals ruled that the company "cannot be held legally liable for the use of its bulldozers in Israeli military operations because the equipment is paid for with American government funds and represents an extension of American foreign policy, a federal appeals court ruled," reported the New York Sun.
I added the emphasis. So is the sale of D-9's to Israel no longer American foreign policy? Or was the article removed because it was inaccurate? Here are a couple of paragraphs that were missing at the previous link.
For years, Caterpillar has taken heat for supplying bulldozers to Israel. "Caterpillar claims that selling military equipment to Israel and other countries amounts to only 0.06% of its sales," says Lynn Pollack of Jewish Voices for Peace. "Too many homes, trees, and lives in Palestine have paid dearly for that meager 0.06%. It is high time for Caterpillar to be less greedy and more ethical."

And while a few institutions -- Hampshire College, the Church of England -- have divested from the company (whose sales rose 53 percent during the third quarter of this year), Caterpillar has, until now, not bended to pressure to suspend sales to Israel.
That still doesn't explain why now. So I went to Caterpillar's press releases. After all, if they were going to do something like this, wouldn't they want their shareholders and the public to know about it? There was no press release. Is someone perpetrating a fraud on Caterpillar? I'd bet on it.

It's the Jews, stupid!

Lee Smith explains what's behind the apparent attempt by al-Qaeda to send explosive packages to Chicago Jews.
These two explosive devices, directed at the president’s hometown on the eve of midterm elections, constitute an information operation. While the message is not particularly sophisticated, what makes it interesting is that the perpetrators seem to have come to a perfect understanding of their target audience. After all, what do two synagogues in Chicago have to do with anything in Yemen?

President Barack Obama, Homeland Security chief John Brennan, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs all carefully declined to take the opportunity of the well-publicized threat to make any comment whatsoever about the fact that American Jews were being specifically targeted by terrorists, to reassure the Jewish community that it was being protected, or to denounce the planned attacks on Jewish places of worship.

And yet, in the next few days, someone in the media—I don’t know exactly who, but someone—will argue that these synagogues were chosen because the president’s former chief-of-staff, a Jew, wants to be the next mayor of Chicago. Hence, this is, in reality, a message to the White House to stop targeting Yemeni militants.

Absurd? Sure it is. But it is more plausible than the notion that American Jews and Jewish houses of worship in Illinois were targeted because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, or Shaaba Farms, or because of the existence of the State of Israel itself. Someone is surely going to make that argument, because almost all Arab terror against Jews is now attributed to—and excused by—the Arab conflict with Israel, which has become a free pass to commit acts of terror against Jews.

Terror, violence, and bloodshed against Jews now come pre-packaged with a sanctimonious justification. It’s not seen as crazy, sick, irrational violence. It’s political violence. Terrorist violence is irrational and incomprehensible—unless the victims are Jewish. Why do terrorists bomb America, bomb London, bomb Madrid, bomb Casablanca, burn Mumbai? Because they’re crazy, that’s why. With the Jews, well, there’s the occupation. There’s Israel. There’s America’s support for Israel. Terrorism may be abhorrent, but when it comes to the Jews the terrorists themselves have a lot to be angry about. Accordingly, we’re supposed to regard these acts with both horror and reason at the same time—“sure, it’s not pretty, but we get it.” In other words, terror against Jews may produce violence and bloodshed, but not moral revulsion.

The target of this attack was Jews, but the target of the information operation is all Americans—including the Americans who rationalize terror attacks against Jews. We created the context for operations like this one and we will see many more of them, bombs and much worse, against Jews and non-Jews alike, for our enemies have taken stock of our character. We are looking for excuses not to fight them. And we accept their phony justifications for the killing of Jews.
Indeed, we do.

Overnight music video

Here's Meydad Tasa singing Im Yesh Gan Eden (If there's a garden of Eden).

Let's go to the videotape.

Another lucky break in the war on terror

I'm sure a lot of you had the same experience that I had listening to radio news this evening and hearing something about an attempt to send explosives from Yemen to Chicago.

The story broke just as the Sabbath was about to start in the eastern US - and long after it started in Israel.

This is as good a summary as I have seen anywhere. The one detail it's missing that I know of is that Laura Rozen reported on Politico on Friday afternoon that one of the packages was addressed to the Chicago Jewish Federation.

I also suggest you look here for an account from someone who was flying from Sanaa to Dubai at around the same time as one of the packages.

There's been at least one arrest made in Yemen.

Aren't you glad Sheriff Obama is on duty watching out for terrorists? They were quite lucky to have stopped this one.

'Death to America, death to Israel'

On Friday, the 'Palestinians' in Gaza did what they do best: Hundreds of thousands of them took to the streets to chant 'Death to America, death to Israel.'
Tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers of the terrorist Palestinian Islamic Jihad group were reported to have rallied in the streets of Gaza on Friday to show their opposition to the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The crowds were heard chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."

PIJ's exiled leader Ramadan Shallah sent a recorded message from Damascus commemorating the 15th anniversary of the assassination of former leader Fathi Shiqaqi in Malta, suspected to have been carried out by the Mossad.

"Israel will not bring peace to the region, it will only bring war and destruction and therefore, the slogan of all should be that Israel must be wiped out of existence," said Shallah. He warned of a "third Nakba" should the peace negotiations continue to fruition.

Senior Hamas leaders also joined the event.

"The choice of negotiation has reached deadlock, and we are wondering why is there such an insistence by the Palestinian Authority on negotiation with the enemy," said Shallah.
But President Obama still thinks he can change their attitude. What could go wrong?

IDF hiring 'Palestinians' to demolish Jewish homes

The headline on this story is wrong. It's outrageous that 'Palestinians' beat Jews while destroying their homes in Ramat Migron. It's more outrageous that the IDF(!) is hiring 'Palestinians' to do this kind of work in the first place.
Palestinian Authority workers who were hired by the IDF Civil Administration to destroy Jewish homes turned violent when Jews resisted, according to a complaint filed by the Judea and Samaria Human Rights Organization. [If you go to that link, you will see that it doesn't mention that the employees involved were 'Palestinians.' That's why it didn't raise a lot of eyebrows two weeks ago. CiJ].

The PA workers were hired to deal with the physical aspects of demolition, primarily taking apart makeshift buildings. However, Human Rights Director Orit Struk said in a letter to Civil Administration head Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai that the workers did not stop there.

“An initial investigation based on photos and testimony that have reached us shows that as Ramat Migron was cleared out last week, workers hired by the Civil Administration to destroy the buildings exceeded their authority and hit and attacked demonstrators in the area,” Struk wrote.

“This is a very serious incident, and it must not repeat itself,” she continued. “The authority to enforce the law on protesters belongs solely in the hands of the police, and in extreme cases, the military – never in the hands of (PA Arab!) workers.” Struk asked Mordechai to respond and clarify what steps are being taken to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

The Civil Administration has yet to respond to the complaint.
Nearly five years ago, we nearly had a pogrom at Amona when the IDF turned over 'settlement clearance' duties to the heavily non-Jewish Yasamnikim. Apparently that lesson has not been learned.

RivkA's funeral

I have been to a lot of funerals in Jerusalem. I've been to very few where the funeral parlor was so crowded that people were standing outside listening via a microphone (in Jerusalem, there are almost no seats in funeral parlors - you are expected to stand the entire time).

The funeral started at 10:00 and unfortunately they had scheduled another funeral for 10:30. That didn't happen.

RivkA was an amazing woman. May her family be comforted among all mourners for Zion and Jerusalem and may they know of no more sorrow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hezbullah is not confined to Lebanon

Tony Badran reports that the Wikileaks documents released this week about Iraq explode the myths that Hezbullah's activities are confined to Lebanon and that Hezbullah is not a state actor.
The classified military documents obtained by WikiLeaks, which disclose Hezbollah’s role in Iraq under the direct command of the Iranian regime, may not be particularly surprising or even groundbreaking. However, they serve as a reminder of the reality of Hezbollah – all myths aside – as a brigade of the Islamic Revolutionary guard Corps. They also help keep in focus the nature of the strategic threat facing the US in the region: the alliance system led by Iran.

Fans of Hezbollah in the Western media are fond of asserting that the Party of God has become “Lebanonized.” Consequently, and contrary to claims by the US, according to this view the group does not possess “global reach” and has long stopped being involved in attacks against American targets, being focused instead on the narrower issue of Lebanon’s territorial dispute with Israel.

The documents, published by The New York Times, detail, among other things, Iran’s and Hezbollah’s direct operational involvement in training and supplying militias in Iraq. As such, they chronicle yet another chapter in the ongoing, decades-long war by the Iranians against the US in the region – a war in which Hezbollah has been the spearhead.


This leads to the implosion of another myth, popularized especially in the last decade, and that is the notion of “non-state actors,” which is how Hezbollah is often referred to. However, it’s always been clear that the group and its mission were very much a state enterprise.

For instance, after the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut, the US understood that this was an act of war by the Iranian and Syrian regimes. Indeed, when President Ronald Reagan asked the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draw up target lists for retaliation, they included “the Syrian defense ministry and other command targets in Syria” as well as “selected ‘snatches’ of Syrian officers based in Lebanon who had helped carry out the operation.”

It was in that vein that former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, called in 2008 for using “military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this.” Yet the US did not pursue that option in 1983, nor has it done so today. That has allowed states such as Iran and Syria to strike at American targets without fear of retaliation. So much so, in fact, that, as detailed in the French Le Figaro on Monday, Syria feels confident enough to host Hezbollah arms warehouses on its own territory.

Instead of making clear the exorbitant price of such actions, we have come to entertain myths about the transformative powers of diplomacy that would ostensibly “incentivize” America’s adversaries to adopt more “constructive” behavior. Similarly, the myth of a “Lebanonized” Hezbollah persists, as does the legend of it being a “non-state actor,” when all evidence shows that it continues to be what it always has been: a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

It's a pity that Reagan didn't hit Iran and Syria in 1983.

Read the whole thing.

Like South Korea?

When I wrote earlier this week that I was not crazy about Eric Cantor's idea to make aid to Israel a separate item from the rest of the foreign aid budget, what bothered me was the possibility that President Obama - or some future President - would have a line-item veto over aid to Israel, and there at least exists the possibility that at some point in the future, that veto will not be overridden by Congress.

But Caroline Glick describes Cantor's proposal differently, and assuming her description is correct, I am much more favorably disposed to it, and you ought to be too.
Specifically, Israel should adopt three basic policy lines. First, Israel should request that US military assistance to the IDF be appropriated as part of the Defense Department's budget instead of the State Department's foreign aid budget where it is now allocated.

This change is important for two reasons. First, US military assistance to Israel is not welfare. Like US military assistance to South Korea, which is part of the Pentagon's budget, US military assistance to Israel is a normal aspect of routine relations between the US and its strategic allies. Israel is one of the US's most important strategic allies and it should be treated like the US's other allies are treated and not placed in the same basket as impoverished states in Africa.

Second, this move is supported by the Republicans. Rep. Eric Cantor, who will likely be elected Republican Majority Leader has already stated his interest in moving military assistance to Israel to the Pentagon budget. The Republicans wish to move aid to Israel to the Pentagon's budget because that assistance is the most popular item on the US foreign aid budget. Not wishing to harm Israel, Republicans have been forced to approve the foreign aid budget despite the fact that it includes aid to countries like Sudan and Yemen which they do not wish to support.

When the government announces its request, it should make clear that in light of Israel's economic prosperity, Israel intends to end its receipt of military assistance from the US within five years. Given the Republicans' commitment to fiscal responsibility, this is a politically sensible move. More importantly, it is a strategically critical move. Obama's hostility demonstrates clearly that Israel must not be dependent on US resupply of military platforms in time of war.
I'd like to hear more details about that last paragraph (which I suspect is based on some inside information that Caroline has that I don't have), but moving aid to Israel from the State Department budget to the Defense Department budget certainly seems like a reasonable move.

To see the other policy directions Caroline proposes, read the whole thing.

RivkA Matitya a"h

For those of you who don't read the comments, RivkA Matitya a"h passed away on Friday morning.

Funeral details may be found here.

Mughrabi gate on the verge of collapse

The Mughrabi gate, which is the only entrance to the Temple Mount through which non-Muslims are allowed (by the police and the Wakf) to enter, is on the verge of collapse.
Jerusalem District Archaeologist Yochanan Zeligman recently addressed a letter to Israel Antiquities Authority Director-General Shuka Dorfman, in which he warned that “a danger exists to the crowd in the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza, as well to those who walk on the temporary bridge, should stones fall from above.”

The temporary bridge to which Zeligman referred is a wooden pedestrian pathway to the Temple Mount which was constructed in 2007 after a landslide two years earlier made the earthen ramp leading to the Mugrabi Gate unsafe and in danger of collapse. Zeligman’s letter was based on a report he submitted which determined that since the construction in the Mugrabi Gate has not yet been completed, there are sections which are unsupported and could endanger visitors to the site.

Archaeologist Dr. Gabi Barkai, Jerusalem Prize Winner, member of the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, and lecturer at Bar Ilan University, spoke with Arutz7 on Thursday and expressed his sorrow that the Mugrabi Bridge is not being maintained for illogical political reasons.

“There was a plan to build a permanent bridge and digging began to place the ‘legs’ for the new bridge,” said Barkai. “Unfortunately, the moment the Antiquities Authority began the work, commotion erupted. Sheikh Raed Salah incited the world against us, claiming that we were damaging the holiness of Islam and harming the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque, which was a false and stupid statement.”

Barkai went on to describe commotions that took place and recounted how a delegation from Turkey determined that Israel was indeed damaging a holy Islamic site. Subsequently, said Barkai, the digging stopped after Knesset Minister Raleb Majadele intervened.
The fascinating story of the Mughrabi gate may be found here.

Ridiculous: Israel to lease land in 'east' Jerusalem

A report in the London-based pan-Arabic daily a-Sharq al-Awswat on Friday claimed that Israel may lease land in 'east' Jerusalem from the 'Palestinians' for 40-99 years under a future 'peace agreement.'
The US is negotiating the future borders of the Palestinian state with Israel, according to a report released by Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.

One option is reportedly that Israel would lease land in east Jerusalem from the Palestinian state for 40-99 years.

Palestinian sources confirmed to the paper that the US and Israel are discussing borders and settlements, but PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not yet know the details.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office refused to confirm or deny the reports, and State Department sources told the paper that Israel and the US are discussing matters "as a part of the the close relations between the two countries."

Asharq Al-Awsat also reported that Israel and the Palestinians discussed the option of leasing land in talks at Taba in 2001, but they discussed leasing for 6-9 years, and not 99.
There are two problems with a lease. One is that it implies that the lessor or landlord owns the land. The 'Palestinians' do not own 'east' Jerusalem or any other part of our eternal capital.

The other problem is that leases expire.

I cannot believe that our government is even having this discussion.

Both YNet and Arutz Sheva adds that similar discussions are underway regarding the Jordan Valley. No, I don't favor that either.

IDF bringing jobs to Ohio

The IDF has awarded General Dynamics a contract to build 600 Namer (pronounced nah-mer and means leopard) armored personnel carriers over the next eight years. The APC's will be manufactured in Lima, Ohio.
The competitive procurement process was for the production of Merkava APC hulls, material kit sets and integration of the kits to the vehicle chassis. General Dynamics expects to complete contract negotiations by the end of this year.

Production will be performed at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. The base contract will be completed by March 2015 or extend to November 2019 if all options are exercised.

Battalion 13 of the Golani Brigade has already been outfitted with the Namer and a senior Defense Ministry official said that the remaining three Golani battalions would receive the APC over the next three years.

The decision to issue the Namer tender in the US was made due to budgetary constraints.

If the Namer is made in the US, the IDF will be able to pay for the production with the foreign military financial aid it receives annually from the US and most of which needs to be spent in America.
Here's the Namer in action. Let's go to the videotape.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sabbath music video

It's Parshath Chayei Sarah and there's only one video that I could have picked. It's Mordechai Ben David singing Chevron.

Let's go to the videotape.

The Jewish answer

The Torah tells us at the beginning of the book of Shmoth (Exodus) that the more the Egyptians oppressed the Jewish people, kein yirbe v'kein yifrotz, the more numerous they became. The Rabbis comment in the Medrash on that chapter that each Jewish woman gave birth to six children from each pregnancy!

The Jews of Judea and Samaria have apparently been taking lessons from our forefathers in Egypt. No, I don't think they're having six children at a time, but they are managing to continue to increase the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria despite the adverse conditions of the last six months.
The growth of the settler population slowed slightly in the first five months of 2010, but the numbers still rose at almost three times the national average, according to Central Bureau of Statistics data released this week. This despite the government’s efforts to dramatically curb construction in settlements.

Based on the figures for January 1- June 1, the CBS projected a 4.8 percent rise in the settlers’ numbers for 2010 as a whole, down slightly from 5.3% in 2009. The projected rise for 2009 was similarly down to 4.9% when measured in September of that year, but the rate had risen by the year’s end.

The nationwide population rose by 1.8% in each of the two years.
May the Jews of Judea and Samaria continue to follow in the path of our forefathers. Heh.

Outrageous: UNESCO 'recognizes' Rachel's tomb... as a mosque

The picture is Kever Rachel (Rachel's tomb) as it looked until about ten years ago, when the government turned it into an armed fortress to counteract 'Palestinian' terrorists firing upon it.

Earlier, the government almost gave the tomb away.
"During the Rabin administration, Kever Rachel was slated to fall into 'Area A', that is, under full Arab civil and military control. Upon seeing this, Knesset Member Chanan Porat [National Religious Party. CiJ] decided that he must speak with Rabin in the hopes of changing his mind. As Chanan Porat was walking to Rabin's office, Knesset Member Rabbi Menachem Porush [United Torah Judaism. CiJ] asked Porat where he was going. Hearing that Porat was about to fight for Kever Rachel, Porush asked to join in the meeting. At Rabin's office, Chanan Porat was diligently explaining the ins and outs of the security situation at Kever Rachel and making rational arguments that did not seem to move Rabin.

"Suddenly Rabin looked at Porush and saw that he was crying. Porush held Rabin's hands and with tears streaming down his face, said: 'Yitzchak, it's Mamma Rachel, Mamma Rachel.' At that moment Rabin's heart opened, and he altered the map so that Kever Rachel would remain in Jewish hands."
Now UNESCO has recognized Kever Rachel as a site worthy of historical preservation... as a mosque.
The executive committee of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) a few days ago, recognized the tomb of Biblical matriarch Rachel, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, as the Mosque of Bilal Ibn-Rabach according to a Friday report by Yisrael Hayom (Israel today). The recognition was approved by a large majority despite Israeli opposition and a United States vote against the proposal.

Research by reporter Nadav Shragai shows that while there is a Muslim cemetery surrounding the facility, it was never used as a mosque and always referred to by local Arabs as "Rachel's Tomb", until the Temple Tunnel disturbances of 1996, when they started using the name recognized by UNESCO. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz of the Western Wall and other holy places called the UNESCO decision an outrageous distortion of history and said Israel should think seriously about future cooperation.
Indeed. We should have 'thought about it' and stopped cooperating a LONG time ago.

Let's go to the videotape.

LATMA video: The tribal update interviews Tom Friedman

Here's the weekly LATMA tribal update with special guest, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

Let's go to the videotape.


Netanyahu doesn't have a majority to renew the 'settlement freeze'

Prime Minister Netanyahu does not have a majority in favor of renewing the 'settlement freeze.' Anywhere.
Sources who have spoken to many ministers in recent days said Thursday, however, that Netanyahu had given no indication that he had decided whether to bring a renewed freeze to a vote at all, and if so whether he would attempt to do so before the full complement of his 30 ministers or the 15-member security cabinet.

The 10-month freeze that ended in September was passed in the latter forum.

Legally, aides to the prime minister acknowledge, Netanyahu would have to bring a further freeze to a vote in either the cabinet or the security cabinet. Such a vote would be necessary in order to require the commander of the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria to issue another injunction barring housing starts. The seven-member inner security cabinet has no statutory role.

Multiple security cabinet ministers who voted last November for the first freeze have indicated in closed conversations that they would not now vote for another. The moratorium last year was backed by 11 of the 15 ministers, including right-wing Likud ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Bennie Begin and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beiteinu.

Israel Beiteinu’s Uzi Landau was the only minister who voted against the move. Shas’s two ministers absented themselves from the vote, and the Likud’s Silvan Shalom was abroad.

Ya’alon, Begin, Shalom, Lieberman, Shas chairman Eli Yishai and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Beiteinu) have all indicated that they would join Landau in voting against another freeze now, for a total of seven definite votes against in the security cabinet.

The five definite supporters of a renewed freeze in the security cabinet would be Netanyahu, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman of Likud, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of Labor.

Netanyahu would then need all three remaining votes in order to pass the freeze. Two remaining Likud ministers are loyal to Netanyahu but have come out publicly against a renewed freeze: Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. A source close to Sa’ar said he would only make a decision if another offer were on the table.

Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias has said he would not stand in the way of passing another freeze as long as construction afterward would be unlimited. This is unlikely to be the case, but even if it were, the best he could do would be to absent himself from the vote like he did last time, not cast the deciding eighth vote in favor.

In the 30-member cabinet, the 16 definite votes against a renewed freeze would be the five Israel Beiteinu ministers, Habayit Hayehudi leader Daniel Herschkowitz, at least three out of the four from Shas, and the Likud’s Begin, Ya’alon, Shalom, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon and Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled.

Sa’ar, Steinitz, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz have also publicly opposed another freeze, even though their votes are less definite.

Since the seven-member inner security cabinet has no statutory role, it could not be used to pass a freeze even if there were a majority.

But four ministers there oppose a renewed freeze: Begin, Ya’alon, Lieberman and Yishai.
I suppose Netanyahu could always pull an Ariel Sharon and fire the ministers. But there's a lot less support for renewing the freeze in the general public than there was for the move Sharon fired ministers to accomplish - the Gaza expulsion. Sharon's move worked out so poorly in retrospect that it's not likely to be repeated again.

MA 04 goes from "likely Democratic" to "leans Democractic"

Wow! Another upset in the making in Massachusetts?

Former Weinberger assistant goes public: Free Jonathan Pollard!

Lawrence Korb, who was Assistant Secretary of Defense under Caspar Weinberger calls on the Obama administration to free Jonathan Pollard.
After his arrest and indictment by a grand jury, Pollard agreed to plead guilty to one count of giving classified information to a U.S. ally. In return for his guilty plea — which spared the government the embarrassment of conducting a trial involving highly sensitive information — and his cooperation with the U.S. government, the U.S. attorney pledged not to seek a life sentence for Pollard.

This seemed like a reasonable resolution. The average sentence meted out to individuals convicted of giving classified information to an ally is seven years, with average time served about four years.

Despite the terms of the plea bargain, in 1987 Pollard was sentenced to life, a sentence generally reserved for spies such as Aldrich Ames, who pleaded guilty to giving classified information to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, information that led to the loss of many lives.

The question is why Pollard received such a harsh sentence and why he still languishes in prison despite the pleas of hundreds of U.S. legislators, dozens of distinguished attorneys (including a former solicitor general), a former CIA director, one former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and several Israeli leaders to have him released.

There are at least three reasons for this state of affairs.

First is the victim impact statement of my former boss, Caspar Weinberger, the secretary of Defense at the time of Pollard's arrest. The statement, much of which remains classified, implied that some of the information that Pollard had supplied to Israel made its way to the Soviet Union. Weinberger argued that Pollard was no different from spies who provided information to the Soviets and was guilty of treason.

Second, at the time of his arrest, the Israeli government refused to acknowledge that Pollard was one of its agents, claiming that he was part of a rogue operation. Not surprisingly, the Israelis also steadfastly refused to return the reams of documents that Pollard had delivered to them or debrief the U.S. about their contents. This added fuel to the notion that Pollard was working for the Soviets or another U.S. enemy rather than for an American ally.

Third, Pollard was an unsympathetic character. He not only took about $45,000 from the Israelis in exchange for the information he handed over, he gave two highly publicized interviews from jail before his sentencing, one with Wolf Blitzer and another with Mike Wallace. In these interviews, which the government claimed were not authorized, he didn't express remorse but instead attempted to rationalize his behavior.

But none of these conditions exists now. Weinberger's contention has been debunked. Information that Pollard gave to Israel did not make its way to the USSR. Instead, the information that the Soviets received during the 18 months Pollard was spying for Israel most likely came from Ames and Robert Hanssen, a onetime FBI agent who spied for the USSR and Russia from 1979 to 2001.
Read the whole thing.

I hope it has an impact.

J Street's misleading headline

J Street has opened a branch in St. Louis. Here's the headline they got into the local Jewish newspaper.

So who's the 'ambassador'? Well, if you guessed Michael Oren, Israel's current ambassador to the United States, you're wrong (although given his recent behavior, I have to wonder why they didn't get Michael Oren).

The 'former ambassador' is Colette Avital (yes, that Colette Avital), who is best known as Israel's Consul General to New York from 1992-96 (she was actually booed more than once at the Salute to Israel parade). She was ambassador to Portugal from 1988-92 - not quite the same prestige as the US.

The article itself is a puff piece, but let me highlight one small part of Avital's 'talk' (there's also one from J Street director Jeremy Ben Ami - I'm amazed he's not ashamed to show his face in public).
She said both parties in the conflict have largely come to accept a pragmatic view of the situation. Israelis realize land must be traded for peace and the West Bank cannot remain in the Jewish State's hands indefinitely.

"Left, right and center this realism exists in the State of Israel," she said. "This also exists on the other side. Even if they do not like it, the Palestinians understand that there is a State of Israel. They also had dreams of a greater Palestine and discovered when you want all you get nothing."
It's funny how that 'pragmatism' hasn't led the other side to any concessions yet - especially not on the 'right of return.' Maybe they'd like the Jewish state to be a web site.

Will J Street wither away once the Obama administration is gone? I sure hope so.

Finally, Israel defeats Turkey diplomatically

Israel handed Turkey a diplomatic defeat on Thursday at the Parliamentary Assembly for the Mediterranean.
An Israeli representative MK Majalli Whbee (Kadima) and a French representative were elected as vice-chairmen on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean in Morocco on Thursday. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, thwarted efforts to elect the Turkish representative for the role, and told assembly participants that he would "quit the organization if the Turkish representative was chosen".

Rivlin said that "Israel is a member of the assembly in order to promote cooperation and not so that it would have to defend itself from constant attacks". The Egyptian representative is expected to be elected as the assembly's president.
It's about time someone in Israel stood up to Turkey's arrogance. Two can play this game.

If you're going to Jordan, leave your yarmulka at home

If you're going to Jordan, be prepared to have your yarmulka impounded at the border. It's a 'security concern.'
A., an Israeli businessman who visits Jordan often was amazed when he was asked to leave his yarmulkes in a safe on his most recent visit to the country. "We know tefillin are confiscated and we recently heard brimmed hats were being taken, so we came with regular hats," he told Ynet.

"The man in the counter asked us to take off our hats and we thought it was standard procedure for passport control. But when the man saw the yarmulkes, he took us to the tourism police. The officer there said that the ban to wear yarmulkes was 'for our own benefit,' put it in the safe and gave us a form with which to receive the yarmulkes when we return."


A. said that in light of such limitations he makes a point of not staying in Jordan for more than a day in each visit. "I don’t carry tefillin so I can't stay the night," he said. "What's really annoying about the whole thing is that together with us at the border crossing was a group of post-army youngsters with IDF training t-shirts who were so obviously Israeli citizens. They didn't give them any hard time, while with us they insisted."

Yossi Levy, director of Israeli communications at the Foreign Ministry confirmed there were "disagreements with our Jordanian counterparts in regards to Jewish religious objects entering the Hashemite Kingdom".

"We receive a growing number of complaints by Israeli visitors who report of religious items being confiscated at the border crossing 'for security reasons.' They explain this by the need to protect visitors carrying 'obvious Israeli identification means.'"

Levy said that the Jordanians have been told that Israel objects to the singling out of religious Israeli tourists as opposed to other Israelis. He noted that "we continue our dialogue with candidness and trust."
I've never been to Jordan and I have no desire to go there. But this really is absurd.

Understanding the souk

Just about every major city in the Arab and Muslim-populated parts of the world has a souk. A souk is an open-air marketplace filled with stalls, where the merchants sit outside and hawk their wares. The attraction of the souk is the bargaining. No one takes the first price they're offered.

But the buyer cannot get up and walk away and then offer the seller even less than he was offering before. Oh, he can. But the seller will be insulted and laugh at him. If the bargaining is to end in a deal being made, both sides must move toward the middle. That's why it's unrealistic to think that there's going to be peace in our region anytime soon (our best offer was put on the table and the 'Palestinians' said no). And that's why it's unrealistic to believe that the Obama administration is going to cut a deal with the Iranians to make them stop trying to enrich uranium.
The new offer would require Iran to send more than 4,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium out of the country, an increase of more than two-thirds from the amount required under a tentative deal struck in Vienna a year ago. The increase reflects the fact that Iran has steadily produced more uranium over the past year, and the American goal is to make sure that Iran has less than one bomb’s worth of uranium on hand.

Iran would also have to halt all production of nuclear fuel that it is currently enriching to 20 percent — an important step on the way to bomb-grade levels. It would also have to make good on its agreement to negotiate on the future of its nuclear program.

The failed 2009 accord was scuttled by hard-liners in Tehran. A later analysis by intelligence analysts concluded that Ayatollah Khamenei personally rejected the deal, reversing the judgment of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

For that reason, many officials suspect that this latest initiative is likely to fail. But they say that it fulfills President Obama’s promise to keep negotiating even while the pressure of sanctions increases.
But while they keep bargaining, Iran keeps enriching. A year from now, they will have to try to get Iran to put away even more uranium. And we're assuming that we actually know about all the uranium that Iran has produced. Do we really know?

What could go wrong?

Can Joel Pollak win?

Shmuel Rosner spent some time on Wednesday with the Joel Pollak campaign in Skokie, Illinois. You will recall that Pollak is running against J Street Jan. Here are some of Shmuel's impressions.
6. There was also consensus in the room that the voters of the Jewish community were “wrong to be one Party supporters”, as rabbi Weisberg, leader of To Protect our Heritage Pac explained. The pac had recently endorsed Pollak, after an evening with the two candidates in which both answered questions about the US-Israel alliance. Some people believe this was a major victory for Pollak – others believe this was obvious that Pollak will be the one getting the endorsement. Doesn’t matter. There were quite a few Democrats in the room, and they agreed with rabbi Weisberg that it is time for Jews not to be afraid to split their votes between the parties when necessary. No wonder that Tevi Troy had made Pollak an example of possible change in the community in his recent Politico article about Jews moving rightward:


7. Pollak wants to win and believes he has a chance. But what if he doesn’t win? Naturally, this isn’t a good time to ask this question. But here’s what I think he’ll say in case he looses: We sent a message, we made clear that actions have consequences, Schakowsky now knows that people are watching her every move on Israel and are ready to challenge her if she doesn’t show that support they expect from her.

8. Of course, if Schakowsky wins J Street will take credit for her victory. It will be annoying, but understandable. Picking the right battles to support is one way of making sure that one is perceived as influential.

9. If she looses they can always say this was a bad year for Democrats – also true. However, in this case, no one will be able to ignore the specific message related to Israel. If Schakowsky looses it will be about the economy, and jobs, and Obama, and bad-year-for-Democrats, but it will also be about Israel. And it will add to the mountain of evidence showing that Jewish Americans are indeed uncomfortable with the policies of the Obama administration.
My own feeling is that Joel Pollak has a chance to win. Those of you who vote in Illinois 09 should go out and vote for him.