I'll be back on Monday after the holiday ends (in Israel).
Anas Ismail, 29, of Salfit, near Nablus, was found guilty of “libel and slander.”And you wonder why so many 'Palestinians' would rather live in Israel?
Ismail is the second Palestinian to be imprisoned for Facebook activities in the past few days.
He was sentenced to prison on the same day another PA court in Bethlehem sentenced Palestinian journalist to one year in prison for sharing a photo on Facebook that compared PA President Mahmoud Abbas to a villain and the spy of French colonial authorities in a Syrian drama.
Ismail said that the PA’s Preventive Security force detained him for 17 days before he was sentenced to six months in prison.
He said he was accused of clicking “Like” on a status that called for sacking former PA Communications minister Mashhour Abu Daka.
Ismail told the West Bank-based Wattan TV station that he had been summoned for interrogation 10 times in the past six months because of the “Like” on Facebook.
He pointed out that he had been sentenced in absentia last Thursday.
Labels: Palestinian Authority
|This very disturbing pic was taken near Shiloh . What's so disturbing? The guy in the center holding a rock is wearing an EU vest. This is apparently what the EU spends its energies on? Problematic.|
The Pakistani source, which Elgdida quoted, adds that:But don't expect the Obama administration to reduce its aid to Egypt by one cent.
“…the meeting lasted 45 minutes, during which Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi promised to make preparations for Ayman Zawahiri to return soon to Egypt, indicating that some Muslim Brotherhood members would handle the operation, by first smuggling the al-Qaeda leader to a Gulf nation, likely Qatar, and then easily transferring him to Egypt—on condition that Zawahiri disappear lest he embarrass Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood with its American ally, whose security and intelligence agencies consider Zawahiri most wanted.”Morsi is not the only Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figurehead to meet Zawahiri. Daniel Pipes chronicled multiple instances of Tareq Ramadan, the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder Hassan Al-Bana, in which Ramadan interacted with al-Qaeda operatives—including and like Morsi coordinated a meeting with al-Qaeda’s number two at the time, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Which, translated, reads:-Now what did happen, on the eve of Passover, was that Jews tried to bring a sheep to the Temple Mount for the Passover sacrifice, But the people and the sheep were turned away long before they got there.
A number of young Israeli desecration parts close to the Al-Aqsa mosque, when they had carried a range of animals, including pigs, donkeys and goats, and placed them near the mosque during the celebration of Easter...That wouldn't be religious hatred incitement?
The newspaper pointed out that a group of young Israelis and put a group of animals inside the courtyard of the mosque, during the performance of Jewish prayer in front of the Wailing Wall "Wailing", but Israeli police managed to control them and expelled these animals out of the mosque.
Besides being factually incorrect?
Nowadays, he adds, the preferred method is termed ‘shabeh’ – the hooding and tying of the prisoner in a variety of agonising positions for up to eight hours. He does not elaborate on the details, but claims: ‘It works with 95 per cent of the subjects.’ It also takes considerable skill: ‘You have to deal with it as if you were playing a guitar. Each case has its own speciality.’This is nothing compared with what they would do to Jews if God forbid they are ever given the opportunity. And you wonder why we don't want them to set up their reichlet on our borders?
This extraordinary interview is the first admission by a former perpetrator of the widespread torture of Palestinians – not by Israel, but by the Palestinian Authority (PA) which governs the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
It was given to me last week in a dusty Palestinian city. Across the table was a well-dressed, middle-aged family man with an infectious smile – a former PA official.
He spoke only on the strictest condition of anonymity as he feared becoming a torture victim himself should his identity become public. But he wanted to speak out because he was sure that the ends – a Palestinian state and the defeat of extremism – justify the means.
But perhaps the most shocking revelation is that torture sessions still being perpetrated by his former colleagues are financed with Britain’s help. Our taxpayers give £33 million direct to the PA, while £53 million is donated by Britain for various aid projects – more UK aid per head than we give any other nation.
Then again, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, which has officers based in Jerusalem, works closely with the Palestinian agencies that carry out the torture, seeing them as sources of valuable intelligence.
The UK also provides and pays for the training of middle and senior ranking officers from every PA security agency, including the General Intelligence Service or Mukhabarat, the Preventive Security Organisation, Military Intelligence and the ordinary police force. Ironically, the training includes courses on the need to respect human rights and the rule of law.
Yes, the British are very interested in human rights,’ adds the Palestinian security man.
‘They say, “We can’t convince British taxpayers [to continue to fund the PA] if you violate them.” So we do our best. But it happens.’
Just what ‘it’ means was described by a very recent victim, a professional man in his 40s who was freed without charge two weeks ago after more than a month in Mukhabarat detention.
‘For most of the time I was held, they gave me shabeh every day,’ he says. ‘Always I was hooded, and sometimes they tied my arms in front of me and attached me to the wall, leaving me like that for long, long hours, on tiptoes. You have pain in the arms, in the legs and in the body, and swelling in your muscles. Often I could also hear screaming from the prisoners.
‘But it was worse when they suspended me with my arms tied behind me. Your body is curved, like a banana. Most of the time they do not let your feet touch the ground.’ He showed me his arms and hands – they were still puffy and swollen. ‘During the shabeh, they looked much worse,’ he added.
In another variant, the suspect was hog-tied – laid on his back on top of a chair with his wrists and ankles lashed together beneath the seat. Usually the torture happened at night: ‘When you’re exhausted, they take you back to your cell.’
It’s not just Britain that keeps the PA running – the US and EU are also major contributors to a £800 million a year aid package (15 per cent of the EU’s donation of £133 million comes from UK taxpayers).
The reason why a territory with fewer than 2.5 million inhabitants gets so much money is political. The Israel-Palestinian peace process has produced no sign of a breakthrough for the past 20 years, but the international community believes the only way to create a Palestinian state is to build on the PA, which is also Israel’s negotiating partner.
But with about a third of the PA budget being spent on its security agencies, the consequence of Western generosity has been the creation of a police state.
British Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean, who leads Britain’s diplomatic mission to the PA, has raised concerns with President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA prime minister, Salam Fayyad. But there have been no warnings that if the situation does not improve the flow of cash will stop.
Mohammed Jamil, head of the UK-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights, which has published several reports on PA abuse, said such visits were futile. ‘They have been going for years, but nothing has changed. Britain has the power to stop the torture, but it will require much tougher action,’ he said.
The ICHR’s Ms Siniora added: ‘There is no doubt things are getting worse. Last year, we inspected one prison where there was clear evidence of shabeh – we saw the hooks on the walls. But as our 2012 report will say when it is published, not one of the cases of torture that came to light has been properly investigated.
‘There is no accountability. There is a culture of impunity – there has not been a single case of an official involved in torture being prosecuted.’
On Wednesday, she added, she was visited by a senior British official from Jerusalem. ‘I told him, “You are supporting the security agencies and you are training them. You have a very big responsibility for ensuring that your taxpayers’ money is not spent on torture.” ’
But PA torture does not often make UK headlines. And liaisons are close between MI6 and the Mukhabarat, the very agency responsible for the worst abuse.
The National Jewish Democratic Council and the pro-Republican Emergency Committee for Israel both claimed victory and spun the numbers in favor of their agenda.
“I’ve been in Israel since before President Obama arrived and was in the convention center for the extremely well-received speech,” NJDC interim executive director Aaron Keyak said. “The Israeli public has reacted very positively to the president’s visit and his message that the United States has Israel’s back. President Obama sent this message to the Israeli people and made sure it was heard by those who seek to destroy our way of life and the Jewish state of Israel.
This poll is just the latest example of how clearly that strong message was heard.”
Emergency Committee for Israel executive director Noah Pollak said he was not surprised that only one percent of Israelis were persuaded by the visit that the Obama administration was more pro- Israel than pro-Palestinian.
“President Obama said some good, long-overdue things – but he continued blaming Israel for the failure of the peace process,” Pollak said. “Why did he lecture Israelis on peace but not Palestinians? Why did he demand that Israelis see things from the Palestinians’ perspective, but not the other way around? Why didn’t he admonish the Palestinian people to demand that their leaders pursue peace, as he did the Israelis? Israelis know that Obama, at bottom, still promotes key aspects of the Palestinian narrative of the conflict.”Another skeptic is Jewish Home party leader and Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett.
In a lengthy Hebrew post on his official Facebook page, Bennett said the atmosphere during Obama's visit reminded him of the Oslo period. He recalled that during that time in the mid-1990s, there was a feeling that if Israel conceded enough, peace would come.
"There were the usual statements about both sides wanting peace and two states side by side being the only chance for peace," Bennett wrote. "These are nice statements but they are distant from reality."
Bennett noted that in the Second Intifada that followed Israel's concessions in Oslo, hundreds of Israelis were killed in suicide bombings in cafes and on buses in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. He singled out the 2002 bombing of Netanya's Park Hotel on Passover Seder night that left 32 Israelis killed and 160 wounded.
"Back then they also said that there is no military solution to terror and that only diplomatic talks would work, but Operation Defensive Shield proved that they were wrong and that actually only force can defeat terror," Bennett wrote. "We trounced terror."
Bennett said he was proud that he came back from the United States where he was advancing his hi-tech company to fight in the operation in Tul Karm.
"Now that I am a minister, I will act in every way possible to prevent another tragedy, even if it's not popular," he wrote. "I will use my brains and will not drift after conventional wisdom. I want peace with the Arabs no less than anyone else, but giving territory to our enemies is not the answer."
Bennett said he told Obama that the time has come to consider new directions on the Palestinian issue that would be different and creative. He said the president responded that he wanted to meet with him and listen.
"The lesson is never be silent, even if everyone thinks differently," Bennett concluded.I don't think most Israelis were fooled by Obama. But perhaps I run in the wrong circles.
"Today (we begin) independence in Israeli natural gas. It is an enormous achievement for the Israeli economy and the start of a new era," said billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, the controlling shareholder in Delek Group, one of the partners in Tamar.
The gas should lead to a reduction in production costs for state utility Israel Electric Corp as well as a decline in the price of electricity, the Water and Energy Ministry said last week.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netantyahu highlighted the achievement in a statement issued by his office.
"We are taking an important step towards independence in the energy sector. In the past decade we have promoted Israel's gas sector and this will enhance Israel's economy and benefit all the country's citizens," he said.
Tamar is located 90 kilometers off the coast of Haifa and has an estimated 10 trillion cubic feet of gas. Development of Tamar and Leviathan will make Israel less dependent on energy imports but the country has said it will also allow a significant amount of its natural gas to be exported.I wonder if anyone at Israel Electric is listening. Or maybe the government wants to keep our prices as high as they are already, and to use the new gas to provide for the 'Palestinians.'
Members of the crowd, some of them carrying Syrian flags, accused Al Jazeera of being one-sided, and a “propaganda outlet” that supports the Syrian rebels.
The reporter took cover in a local restaurant until he was spirited out shortly thereafter.
While the reporter was inside the restaurant and after, scuffles broke out between pro and anti Assad supporters, with some beating each other with sticks. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and the crowd cleared out.
At no point did police arrive during the fracas, which lasted a little over a half hour.
Some 2,000 demonstrators were joined by Arab MKs, local council heads and religious leaders in Sakhnin..Israel's security authorities had a very busy day on Saturday. Read the whole thing.
The use of the hand grenades that were thrown into Gilad Schalit's tank casts doubt on the view that the main goal of the attack was to kidnap a soldier. If the militants had wanted to kidnap a soldier, it is unlikely that they would have thrown a grenade into the tank. They wanted to kill, to cause as much damage as possible and then get away quickly.
Somehow, Schalit survived the grenade blasts and exited the tank. As he left the tank, he saw the terrorist climbing the front of the tank which on the Merkava is referred to as "the knife."I don't know how the IDF does psychological profiling to assign soldiers to units, but this one was clearly a major mistake. I thought these comments were on point.
In order to climb, the terrorist needed to use both hands, which meant that his personal weapon - a Kalashnikov - was strapped across his back. At this point, he was in close range, making him an easy target. Schalit, who was sitting on the dome of the tank, where the tank commander has a view of the surrounding area, saw the militant climbing toward him but could not see the second militant on the other side of the tank.
The militant had still not seen Schalit, and Schalit could have easily moved his hand 10 cm to take control of the .50 caliber tank machine gun and shoot him, cutting him to pieces in seconds. The .50 cal is not a weapon that you would want to have fired at you - its firing speed is lethal, and squeezing the trigger is quick and easy. But that is not what Schalit did; in fact, he did nothing. It is plausible to assume that if the machine gun had been fired, it would have killed the militant climbing the tank and caused the second man to flee. Even if it had not occurred that way, taking control of the machine gun would still have given Schalit, who was inside the tank with three guns and the main tank cannon at his disposal, a marked advantage over his adversaries.
“You never thought to shoot the terrorist?” Schalit was asked during the investigation.
“No,” he answered, “I was completely confused. I did not think about anything. I was in shock.”
Seconds later the terrorist noticed Schalit at the top of the tank and Schalit shouted to him in Hebrew, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.”
The militant realized that Schalit was handing himself over, and leveled his weapon at him. He then shouted at Schalit in Hebrew, “Come with me.” Schalit climbed down from the tank, shaking wildly. The second militant joined them, the two immediately understanding what a prize had fallen in their laps: a live Israeli soldier who was not fighting back. This was the prize that Hamas had dreamed of for years, and now here it was in front of them.
The three of them, Schalit and his two captors, moved quickly to the Gaza fence. At 5:21 a.m., they blew a hole in the fence and entered a small tunnel underneath. Schalit went with them quickly the entire way, without attempting to slow them down to save time until the second tank or other back up could arrive. He simply went along with them and ran toward the fence.
One of the militants crawled underneath and told Schalit to do the same, the latter complying immediately. The militants told him to move more quickly and he rushed to obey. Afterward, his bullet proof vest was found next to the fence; it appears he took it off in order to move more freely.
After passing under the fence, the three headed deep into the Gaza Strip, with all possible haste. An IDF tank arrived at the scene and at an observation post locked a fix on the three, but permission to fire was not issued. It was still not known that a soldier was being kidnapped. They were already more than a kilometer in Palestinian territory. Finally the tank opened fire, but only with its machine guns.
They did not receive permission to fire heavy weapons, and the machine guns missed their target. Schalit and his captors reached the first line of houses where a tractor was waiting for them. They boarded the tractor, which took them to a car, which in turn took them to another car. On the way, the terrorists stripped Schalit of his army uniform and dressed him in civilian clothing. Schalit was firmly in their hands, and five and a half years of captivity had begun.
Schalit is an introverted young man who is both emotional and fragile. It is likely that he should not have been placed in a tank unit in the first place. Perhaps he simply was not fit for it. When his tank was hit, he went into shock and lost the ability to act. The term "hero", which was given him by IDF Chief Benny Gantz when Schalit returned to Israel, is misplaced. Brigadier General Avigdor Kahalani, a tank commander in 1967 and 1973, was a hero. Major Roi Klein, who died in the 2006 Lebanon War by jumping on a grenade to save his comrades, was a hero. Lieutenant Colonel Avi Lanir, tortured to death by Syrian soldiers during the Yom Kippur War, was a hero. The history of Israel and the IDF is checkered with many stories of bravery, and Gilad Schalit is far from being among them. He is in a way a type of anti-hero. He was a soldier who was placed in a difficult situation and chose a path of submission. There is no heroism in this story. This story is one of humanity that is both sad and touching.The story's author then goes on to say that there is no lesson from Shalit's story. I disagree. The lesson is that we have to make the IDF into a professional army that does what is humanly possible to protect the country, and stop trying to make it into the country's melting pot. The IDF spends too much time making sure that people pass their matriculation exams and trying to assimilate misfits into Israeli society. That ought not to be their job. It's time for the IDF to turn professional, at least in the combat units.
It is possible that Schalit was never fit to serve as a combat soldier. Still maybe it is the very fact that he served in the tank unit and fulfilled his duty to his country even so that is his badge of honor. Yet after all of this, we cannot forget that there is a state to protect, one that is surrounded by enemies. Israel cannot afford to allow herself too many stories of "bravery" like this.
There are signs that Syrian rebels led by the jihadist al-Nusra Front, which Arab sources say has been reinforced by hundreds of foreign Islamists funneled through Iraq, is gaining ground in southern Syria amid growing expectations of a major push on Damascus.
Meantime, Western powers are reported to be moving military equipment to the more secular Free Syrian Army through Jordan, Syria's highly vulnerable southern neighbor.
The Islamist forces, which have made major gains in northern Syria, are largely armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar through Turkey, Syria's northern neighbor.
These events give weight to concerns of a looming showdown in Syria between the rebel rivals that will in all likelihood intensify the tensions already gripping a volatile region torn by political upheaval, insurgencies and sectarian schisms that transcend national boundaries.
The fear is that the growing gulf between the two coalitions in Syria, one Islamist and calling for an Islamic state, the other secular and oriented toward democracy, could lead to a new conflict once the regime of President Bashar Assad is brought down by his overwhelmingly Sunni enemies.
And most observers say that's just a matter of time.
Recent weeks have seen the FSA take political losses relative to Islamist hard-liners. Observers are openly talking about the opposition being in political disarray, renewing concerns that the rebels may lack the organizational capability and military means to defeat the Assad regime and end more than two years of fighting.
Colonel Riad al-Asaad, a founder and key figure in the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), lost a leg this week in an assassination attempt that left him hospitalized but stable. Meanwhile the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front doubled in size after foreign fighters streamed in to fight on behalf of the Islamist group.
Politically the disparity between opposition factions has been even more pointed. Last week the FSA formally rejected the appointment of U.S.-educated Ghassan Hitto to the post of provisional prime minister in the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). SNC head Moaz al-Khatib – who had been prominent in calling on Western powers to arm the FSA and had been seen as a moderate bulwark against hard-line Islamist groups that have increasingly sought to hijack the rebellion – tendered his resignation in response to the appointment.Aren't things just great when America leads from behind? What could go wrong?
Pianist Yossi Reshef was jostled by protestors on arrival last night for a recital at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Members of the audience were kicked and pushed as they entered and a performance of Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata was disrupted with screams, shouts and vuvuzelas. Reshef, who is based in Berlin, is Israeli born.
The university offered a qualified apology:Here's a fuller account:
The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, deeply regrets that a concert held on its campus last night was disrupted by some members of the University community and representatives of external organisations.But:
The diversity of people, programmes and ideas at Wits leads to the richness and robustness of the institution. This is indeed one of the greatest qualities of excellent higher education institutions, and one which Wits cherishes.
Prof. Loyiso Nongxa
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
On the evening of Tuesday March 12th 2013, Yossi was scheduled to play a paid recital at Wits University which was open to the public and fully booked. However, when he arrived at the concert hall on Wits East Campus he was met by a delegation of Sixty plus Anti-Israel and Anti-Zionist protestors which included members of the PSC, the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) and the MSA. He was quickly ushered in by security that was guarding the entrance to the building. When guests began to arrive, the protestors started to become restless and rowdy toward them.
According to eye-witnesses there were a number of unruly incidents that took place, where guests were accosted by the members of the so-called “silent” protest. Among those accosted was a lecturer from the Wits Music Department who was apparently pushed and kicked as he attempted to enter the concert hall. Security had to use minor force to help both the lecturer and a number of other guests get into the hall without being injured by the protesters.
Eventually all the doors were closed and the concert was finally allowed to begin. However, as Mr Reshef began to play the protestors outside were blowing vuvuzelas and chanting loudly as a means of trying to disrupt the piano recital. During this time, the security remained outside to guard the main door. After some time, things became quiet. Suddenly, while Mr Reshef was in middle of playing Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, another door within the concert hall burst open. The protestors started streaming into the venue whilst chanting and making loud noises as they attempted to sabotage the recital. It was later discovered that the protesters had actually broken into a fire exit and come in through that door. Security swiftly arrived on the scene and managed to push the protesters out of the hall for a time. Nevertheless, the protestors became so forceful that the security officers were actually pushed backward and once again they came into the main hall screaming, jumping and blowing vuvuzelas. Yossi Reshef was ushered out of the venue very quickly as chaos began to reign within the hall. An eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous even stated he saw the Vice-President of the Wits SRC, cheer one of the protestors who began to violently hit the piano keys of a Steinway Piano that was being used by Mr Reshef. One of the music professor’s, who was truly horrified by what was taking place quickly, ran over to close this very expensive piece of musical equipment.
By this time, five members of the Wits SRC, including the President were present in the hall watching this all take place but were doing nothing to put a stop to it. The guests were all forced to leave as security was unable to get a handle on the pandemonium taking place within the venue. As the guests left in a hurry, the protesters began to shout in unison “down with Israel.”
Eyewitnesses have described the protestors as “hooligans” who were purposefully trying to destroy a beautiful evening that was supposed to be memorable; unfortunately for the wrong reasons. It must be noted that Yossi Reshef resides in Berlin and is not in any way politically affiliated with Israel. This hate action against Mr Reshef and the guests was done purely because he was just born in Israel.With regard to the last paragraph, is the author suggesting that the action might have been justified if Reshef lived in Israel? Does she see why the fact that Reshef does not live in Israel in no way makes the protest more unjustified than it already was?
So what was the point of Obama’s Jerusalem speech encouraging young Israelis to make peace, a speech the media drooled over? It was mere rhetoric, a sideshow meant to soften the impact on the Arab side of the really important event of Obama’s trip: the major recalibration of his position on the peace process.
Obama knows that peace talks are going nowhere. First, because there is no way that Israel can sanely make concessions while its neighborhood is roiling and unstable — the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egypt, rockets being fired from Gaza, Hezbollah brandishing 50,000 missiles aimed at Israel, civil war raging in Syria with its chemical weapons and rising jihadists, and Iran threatening openly to raze Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Second, peace is going nowhere because Abbas has shown Obama over the past four years that he has no interest in negotiating. Obama’s message to Abbas was blunt: Come to the table without preconditions, i.e., without the excuse of demanding a settlement freeze first.
Obama himself had contributed to this impasse when he imposed that precondition — for the first time ever in the history of Arab-Israeli negotiations — four years ago. And when Israel responded with an equally unprecedented 10-month settlement freeze, Abbas didn’t show up to talk until more than nine months in — then walked out, never to return.
In Ramallah last week, Obama didn’t just address this perennial Palestinian dodge. He demolished the very claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace. Palestinian sovereignty and Israeli security are “the core issue,” he told Abbas. “If we solve those two problems, the settlement problem will be solved.”
Finally. Presidential validation of the screamingly obvious truism: Any peace agreement will produce a Palestinian state with not a single Israeli settlement remaining on its territory. Any settlement on the Palestinian side of whatever border is agreed upon will be demolished. Thus, any peace that reconciles Palestinian statehood with Israeli security automatically resolves the settlement issue. It disappears.I don't consider that such a great victory, because I don't believe that the 'Palestinians' deserve a Judenrein state, nor do I believe that the 'Palestinians' can be trusted to abide by an end of conflict clause or anything else that ensures Israel's security. But it probably doesn't matter, because the 'Palestinians' are unlikely to come back to the table without a 'settlement freeze, including in Jerusalem' and given that the President of the United States is not pressuring Netanyahu on that score, it's more unlikely to happen than ever.
The reality is somewhat different than the official administration account. Jerusalem has long been looking to mend relations with its onetime strategic ally in Ankara. Contrary to popular narrative, it was Erdogan who was intransigent—not Netanyahu. Nor was Obama the prime mover here, “prodding” the Israeli prime minister to do his bidding. If anything, it was Netanyahu who used the commander in chief as something like a blunt instrument to force Erdogan to accept the same deal that his government had first put on the table at least 18 months prior: Israel would apologize; it would pay compensation; but it would not, as Erdogan had demanded, end the maritime blockade of the strip.
From Netanyahu’s perspective, it’s all to the good that Obama is getting the credit for the reconciliation. Bibi got what he wanted from Erdogan and gave Obama a big trophy to put on his shelf. The Turkish premier, despite his bluster, has little choice but to swallow it, and the American president now owes Bibi a favor. Netanyahu—often denigrated as a clumsy politician and preachy ideologue—is in fact a much more adroit statesman than he is typically believed to be.
Clearly Erdogan’s three conditions were not met, a disappointment that he apparently came to terms with last month, when Turkish and Israeli negotiators hammered out the exact terms of the deal that came to pass last week. As the Turkish newspaper Radikal explained, Israel would apologize for “operational mistakes,” pay compensation, and Ankara would drop the demand that Israel lift the blockade. Thus, the stage was set for Obama’s entrance as mediator and his exit as peacemaker. In pocketing the deal until Obama’s visit, Netanyahu’s timing was perfect: He handed an American president a truly wonderful souvenir of his all too brief stay in the Holy Land.
It’s true that Erdogan now seems to be backsliding, claiming that he never accepted a deal without Israel agreeing to end the blockade, though Israeli officials insist that he did. The Turkish prime minister is also now promising to go to Gaza to “monitor” the situation to ensure that Israel fulfills its obligation to lift the blockade. However, this will only make him vulnerable on two fronts.
First, while Erdogan is reportedly one of the world leaders closest to Obama, the reality is that Bibi comes off as the helpful partner in this case—not Erdogan. Any more noise out of the Turkish prime minister and he may find out what’s like to have chilly relations with an American president, which, as Netanyahu can tell him, is not where you want to be.
Second, and perhaps more important, Erdogan’s support of Hamas will expose him to criticism from his domestic rivals. Why is the prime minister of Turkey so eager to show his love for an Iranian client in Gaza when his opposition to Iran’s ally in Syria threatens Turkey’s security?
The percentage of Israelis who consider the Obama administration more pro- Palestinian than pro-Israel fell by a whopping 20 percent since before the visit, the poll, taken on Sunday, found.
But the number of Israelis who consider the administration more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian rose by only 1 percentage point, despite what was billed as Obama’s “charm offensive” to reach out to citizens of the Jewish state.
Obama’s statements in Hebrew about how good it was to return to Israel and that Israelis are not alone apparently failed to make a significant impression on them. Apparently, neither did more substantive steps such as securing funding for Israel's missile defense systems and facilitating rapprochement with Turkey. But the results indicate that the negative feelings that came from Obama’s visit to Ramallah did resonate with Israelis.
Palestinian disappointment with Obama’s pro-Israel message and his not visiting former leader Yasser Arafat’s grave was widely reported in the Hebrew press.
The new poll of 500 Israelis representing a statistical sample of the adult population found that 27% consider the administration more pro-Israel, 16% more pro-Palestinian, 39% neutral, and 18% did not an express an opinion.
By contrast, in last week’s poll, 26% said it was more pro-Israel, 36% more pro- Palestinian, 26% neutral, and 12% did not an express an opinion.
The proportion saying the administration is more pro-Israel in this week’s poll is the highest since May 2009, while the share saying it is more pro-Palestinian is the lowest since that same poll. In a sign that many Israelis’ minds have not been made up, the percentage who declined to express an opinion is the highest it has been in any of the 10 surveys.
After the Obama visit, in which he called upon left-wing students to push their government to make peace, the more dovish Israelis defined themselves, the more likely they were to deem the Obama administration more pro-Israel. Among Labor voters, it was 51%, for Yesh Atid voters 29%, for Likud Beytenu and Shas supporters 27%, and for those who supported Bayit Yehudi 20%.
The proportion considering the administration more pro-Palestinian was 40% among Shas voters, 20% for those who voted Bayit Yehudi, 19% Likud Beytenu, 11% Yesh Atid and among Labor voters 6%.Obama really stuck to the old adage, 'if you can't beat them with brains, baffle them with bull****. Israelis are totally baffled.
[Quoting from al-Guardian]:
Three women who were part of an aid convoy passing through Libya on the way to Gaza have been sexually assaulted in Benghazi, after a group of five British nationals were briefly kidnapped.
The three women, two of whom are sisters, were part of a large aid convoy travelling to the Gaza Strip. It is thought that they were part of a group of five people who were briefly kidnapped near Benghazi in the early hours of Tuesday and they were released some hours later. The group is currently safe in the Turkish consul in Benghazi and is expected to return to the UK.
Libyan security officials said the attacks happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Abdul Barghathi, commander of preventative security in the Libyan defence ministry, said the women had been sexually assaulted, but not raped. "There was no rape, just touching (sexual assault)," he said. "Because there is no British consulate here they were handed to the Turkish consulate." The three women are not badly wounded and are being attended to by consular staff from the UK, he added.
The women were part of a large convoy taking vehicles and aid to the Gaza Strip on a journey that had taken them through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and then Libya. It had intended to cross the border with Egypt but was prevented from doing so by Egyptian authorities. The 10-vehicle convoy is still stuck at the border but the five British nationals returned to Benghazi in eastern Libya late on Monday night in order to return home.I wonder whether these do-gooders will try to make their way back to Gaza again, or maybe this will finally be a wake-up call about the 'respect' that Arab Muslims give women.
In yet another example of academia succumbing to a flawed battering ram of freedom of speech, the Hillel of Greater Philadephia was outsmarted by J Street U which guilted them into providing a home for an event the sole purpose of which is to indict and delegitimize the defense forces of the Jewish State.
On Thursday evening, March 28, Steinhardt Hall - the Hillel building at the University of Pennsylvania – provided the platform for the pro-Palestinian J Street U to defile the integrity of the Israel Defense Forces through a well-funded delegitimization organization known as Breaking the Silence.
The “silence” that the group supposedly “breaks” is the unspoken criticism of Israel and Israel’s military. Yes, that’s right – without Breaking the Silence, one would never hear a negative word about the IDF, because the New York Times, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the EU, the Guardian, the Iranian regime, the Arab League, the Huffington Post, CNN, El Mundo, El Diario or just about any other entity with a microphone or a media outlet never criticizes the IDF.
Well, that’s what the young whippersnappers at J Street U were able to convince the grownups on the board of the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.
Even the indefatigably leftist Haaretz expressed disdain for the repeated claim by Breaking the Silence that it is a human rights organization:
“Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a ‘human rights organization.’ Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the ‘corruption which permeates the military system’ is not a neutral observer.The organization has a clear agenda: to expose the consequences of IDF troops serving in the West Bank and Gaza. This seems more of interest to its members than seeking justice for specific injustices.”
And yet, the board of the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia was conned into believing that Breaking the Silence, whose sponsors include not only J Street U, but also the New Israel Fund, the European Union, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, NDC (funds from Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark), and George Soros’ Open Society Institute was needed to amplify the tintinnabulation of hatred already ringing across U.S. campuses from such groups as the BDS movement and the annual Israel Apartheid Week hate fiestas which vilify every move taken by Israel and the IDF to protect Israeli citizens – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and others – from Arab Palestinian terrorism.
Although the HGP several years ago crafted and approved a policy that explicitly stated it would not lend its space for events or organizations the primary goal of which was to delegitimize Israel, J Street U succeeded in persuading the board that their point of view – that is, explicitly and simply, that the IDF is a terrorist, expansionist militaristic entity – does not get enough play at the University of Pennsylvania. While the HGP board initially refused to allow the event in the building, the board members’ hesitation was eventually drowned out.Read the whole thing.
In a greeting to the Iranian people on the occasion of the traditional New Year (Nowruz) holiday last week, Secretary of State John Kerry exposed a secret that journalists and academics have been agonizing over for the past six weeks: the fact that his daughter has married an Iranian-American who has extensive family ties to Iran.
“I am proud of the Iranian-Americans in my own family, and grateful for how they have enriched my life,” Kerry said in the official statement. Kerry also said he was “strongly committed to resolving” the differences between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, “to the mutual benefit of both of our people.”
Politicians like to keep their families off-limits to the press, a decorum enforced vigorously when it comes to politicians who are in favor with the national media but ruthlessly discarded for others. But in Kerry’s case, there could be larger ramifications.
Since its inception, the FBI has vetted U.S. government officials involved in national security issues, and it generally won’t grant clearances to individuals who are married to nationals of an enemy nation or have family members living in that country, for fear of divided loyalties or, more simply, blackmail.
Behrouz (Brian) Nahed and Vanessa Kerry Nahed are both resident physicians at Mass General in Boston. An Iranian government website first published pictures of the married couple in February, just as Kerry was up for confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Dr. Nahed’s parents live in Los Angeles, but he has relatives still in Iran. The Iranian website reported that shortly after their marriage, the young couple visited those relatives in Iran.
Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) is considering raising electricity rates to Israeli consumers to cover the debts of Palestinians, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to release tax money owed to the Palestinian Authority, which Israel had withheld, in part to pay its debt to the IEC.
Israel currently supplies all electricity needs to the West Bank. Palestinian customers receive the electricity through the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company Ltd., each of which operate in different cities in the territories. The two entities' aggregate debt to IEC currently totals NIS 730 million. Each month, IEC sends a warning letter about the debt, and it is in talks with the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, but no agreement has been reached on payment.
In late 2012, former Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz halted the transfer of tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in response to the UN General Assembly's recognition of the State of Palestine. The withheld funds were due, in part, to pay the Palestinians' debt to IEC. However, following US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel last week, Netanyahu decided to release the withheld funds as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority. Under a decision by the political security cabinet, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid will order the Ministry of Finance to transfer the funds to the Palestinian Authority immediately.
Electricity industry sources told "Globes" that the decision greatly reduces the chances that IEC will collect the Palestinians' debt. If there is no alternative, the utility will have to record the debt in its books as lost debt and ask the Public Utilities Authority (Electricity) to recognize it as an expense to be covered by electricity tariffs.
A rough calculation estimates that a 3% electricity rate hike for one year is needed to cover the current debt in full, but this is not a long-term solution to the non-payment of the Palestinian Authority's debts.Where is Daphne Leef when we need her? Oops - sorry. She loves to raise our taxes and she loves the 'Palestinians.' What could go wrong?
According to the French source, Paris's openness to label the military wing of Hezbollah a terror organization stems from its responsibility for the Burgas attack and its participation in Syria's civil war on the side of Presisdent Bashar Assad.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius discussed the matter with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, according to the report.
According to the source the move is more symbolic than practical because it will not lead the EU to blacklist the "political branch" of Hezbollah, and therefore, will not stop the organization from receiving funds from Europe.
The report came after a criminal court in Limassol, Cyprus, on Thursday sentenced Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, an admitted Hezbollah operative, to four years in prison for plotting to kill Israeli tourists on the island.So they're willing to name Hezbullah a terror organization so long as they can keep on fundraising in Europe, Yellow-bellied cowards.
Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between "Passover" and "Christian blood" ..?!
Or "Passover" and "Jewish blood rituals..?!
Read the whole thing.Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover ...He then quotes a 2007 Haaretz article on a book by a Bar-Ilan University professor that bizarrely claimed that a few blood libels could have had a basis in fact, without noting that the same professor recanted those claims a year later.
The upshot is that a journal run by "moderate" Hanan Ashrawi is pushing the Passover blood libel, and you will be hard pressed to find a "moderate" Arab condemning this article. I couldn't.
Unfortunately, CNN won't think to ask her about this the next time they trot her out on TV.
This story is the story of Gilad Schalit. This is his version, as told to the IDF investigators who questioned him. As stated, he feared his encounters with them; he was ashamed of what he had to tell them, yet he did so with an honesty that truly inspires respect. He didn’t try to conceal the truth; he told them he’d failed and acknowledged that he had not done his duty. He said this willingly, without any coercion or pressure.Read the whole thing.
Schalit has a phenomenal memory, he knows exactly what happened on each day of his captivity, when he was moved from place to place, what he ate, what was done and what happened.
And thus, for his interrogators, Gilad Schalit went over the details of the attack that led to his capture. Here is Schalit’s version, almost in its entirety (which the exception of the details that were redacted by the censor).
The attack took place in the pre-dawn darkness. Schalit’s tank crew was on guard duty outside the Gaza Strip. During the night, the crew took it in turns to rest – two keeping watch and two sleeping.
With the dawn, everyone was supposed to be awake, in his place and battle ready. At this stage, there is a communications check with the rest of the troops in the field, as well as with the operations room, and everyone reports that they are ready. This is what Schalit’s tank team should have been doing.
In reality, just one of the four-man team was awake – the rest were sleeping the sleep of the just. The driver was in the driver’s seat, the gunner (Schalit) was in his place, the comms guy in his and the commander in the commander’s turret.
Schalit was what is known in the army as “rosh katan” (literally, small head, and meaning someone with little or no initiative).
He was assigned for operational duty without knowing what was going on around him, the makeup of the area, or where the enemy lay. He had attended meetings and briefings before setting out on the mission, but had not immersed himself in the details. He was, after all, a member of a team, and trusted in his commander.
If he had listened to the company commander of the sector, who had issued detailed briefings, he would have known that there had been an explicit warning from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) about a possible Hamas infiltration from Gaza, perhaps via a tunnel, and an attempt to kidnap a soldier. If he had been aware that in his vicinity – and just a few minutes away – there were reinforcements, perhaps it could have changed the face of the battle and even prevented the abduction.
In the briefing before the operation, it was clearly stated where everyone was located in the field, the deployment layout and more. A unit from the Engineering Corps had been situated 200 meters from Schalit’s tank, next to the border fence, throughout the night. Col. Avi Peled, the senior commander in the sector, who was suffering from a manpower shortage, had wanted to give back-up to the tanks in the field, and had brought in the team from the Engineering Corps, assigned as a personal favor.
It would have been possible for Schalit to call on this backup, had he known that they were there, but he had not been paying attention when the information was imparted.
“I didn’t listen,” he admitted to the investigators. “The commander was listening, and that was enough. I trusted him.”
When the attack began, he was sleeping in his gunner’s seat, deep inside the tank. His personal weapon was on the floor underneath him; he wasn’t wearing his helmet, his bullet- proof vest was hanging on the back of the chair, and maybe his flak jacket was on.
As it turns out, the vest and the flak jacket saved his life.
Schalit went to sleep at 4:35 a.m. Until then, he had been on guard in the commander’s post, and had been relieved by a team member. Twenty-five minutes later, he was awoken by the impact of a rocket-propelled grenade striking the tank. He looked up to see the tank commander, Lt. Hanan Barak, and the driver, St.-Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, climbing out of the tank at speed.
“Gilad, get out of the tank!” Barak yelled at him. From beneath him, he could hear the voice of Cpl. Roi Amitai, calling “Hanan, Hanan,” but Barak and Slutzker were already out.
The command to leave the tank contravened operational orders. An RPG cannot do significant damage to a Merkava 3 tank, and this was a light strike on the side. Yes, it caused shock and agitation, but even so, this was no reason to abandon the tank – it wasn’t on fire, the grenade had caused minimal damage, the electronic systems were working, and no one on the team had been wounded.
Following the attack, after it was all over, an army technician went to the tank, turned on the engine and drove it away. The tank that Schalit had been in was capable of continuing to fight. A tank like this is a powerful war machine, with an effective, precise and swift cannon; it has three machine guns, primed and ready at the touch of the trigger, not to mention all the other advanced weaponry on board.
And yet the crew fled.
The officers questioning the post-captivity Schalit asked him if he had left the tank.
“No, I didn’t leave,” he replied.
“Why?” “Because the tank seemed safer than there, outside,” he said. “Outside is dangerous.
Inside was protected.”
With the departure of Barak and Slutzker, Schalit heard the rattle of light weapons being fired. It was this gunfire that killed the two crew members, and they fell from the tank onto the ground. Schalit heard them fall, then quiet, and realized that the two, one of whom was his commander, were either dead or seriously wounded.
Cpl. Roi Amitai, who had been fast asleep at the time of the attack, was trapped in his spot in the tank. Schalit understood that he was alone.
He decided to stay in the tank, and not get out and fight.
He had options, however, from inside. There was the machine gun, set up to be operated by the gunner without any need to stick his head out of the vehicle; he could have let off a few rounds and let the world know that the Merkava was still operational and in the fight. Yet he stayed put, in his seat, and hoped for the best.
Outside, at the same time, there were a total of two militants.
At this point Schalit was sitting in the gunner’s seat, praying for it to just be over. Then one of militants approached and threw two or three grenades into the turret. Schalit doesn’t recall the explosion of the grenades, but he does remember the smoke very well.
His bullet-proof vest and his flak jacket, hanging on the back of the chair, absorbed most of the impact. The chair was completely shredded.
Schalit, miraculously, was lightly wounded with shrapnel in his elbow and rear. He was scared, shocked. He stayed in the tank for a minute or two until the smoke spread throughout the turret and he found it hard to breathe. Then he decided, finally, to leave. He left unarmed. His gun, a deadly M-16, he left on the floor of the turret. In military terms, this is called abandoning your weapon.
If only Schalit had taken his gun with him when he left the tank; if only he had seen the militant approach the tank and start to climb up it. He could have taken him out easily, but he was not in battle mode. This is what Schalit himself told the investigators.
Schalit’s tank did not fire a single bullet.
He is reported to have lost consciousness and has been subsequently treated. Horowitz is said to have returned immediately to the festival after treatment. Authorities are estimating that the attack was racially motivated.
Horowitz, who represents Israel, was attacked immediately after the screening of the film by a group of Arab youths. The director lost consciousness and was treated at the festival. After recovering from the blows he received, he returned to the festival area in "good condition".
After the violent incident, Horowitz's film won the Special Prize of the Jury for Best Picture. Israeli singer and musician Assaf Amdursky also received an award for a movie he wrote music.
The film "Rock the Casbah", starring Yon Tumarkin, follows the story of young soldiers in the first intifada in Gaza. The soliders are located on the roof of a Palestinian family whose son is involved in the murder of one of their battalion.But hey - they're just 'youths.' It doesn't mean anything, does it?
Hamamreh, who works for the Palestinian Al-Quds TV station, was found guilty of sharing a photo on Facebook that compared Abbas with a villain who played the role of a French spy in a popular Syrian TV series.
A PA court in Bethlehem found the journalist guilty of publishing a photo “harming His Excellency the President, disseminating lies, libel and slander and publishing material that spreads seeds of hatred.”
In February, a PA court in Nablus sentenced 26-year-old Anas Said Awad to one year in prison for publishing a photo of Abbas on Facebook depicting the PA president as a player for Real Madrid.
Last year, the PA security forces in the West Bank detained a number of Palestinian journalists and activists for posting critical comments and jokes about the PA president and other leaders on Facebook.I'm happy to post any picture you all want of Abu Bluff. But who would want to live in a 'state' in which you're arrested for sharing a picture on Facebook? For this Obama wants to create another state?
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"A third person who is involved behind the scenes" did not want him for the job, Rivlin says, describing personal insult he felt from PM and Likud members.I find Sara Netanyahu's role in the Likud deeply troubling.
"It seems to me that there were three people who apparently didn't want me for the job: The head of Yisrael Beytenu, for his reasons, the prime minister, and a third person, who is a person that is always involved, but behind the scenes. I'm not getting into gossip," Rivlin said in an interview with Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker.
Sources close to Rivlin clarified that he meant the prime minister's wife.
A week ago, Rivlin made comments to Army Radio that could be understood the same way: "I don't think the prime minister took my criticism of him personally, but I'm not talking about his family."
According to sources close to Rivlin, Sara Netanyahu was dissatisfied with his performance as speaker of the previous Knesset, and saw his attempts at neutrality as attempts to flatter the opposition in order to gain support ahead of the presidential election next year.
Rivlin's voice trembled as he described his relationship with the prime minister on Wednesday, saying he is very disappointed because he felt that was tricked by Netanyahu, who was his friend.
"When I would call the prime minister with doubts because of rumors, he would say to me: How many times do I have to promise you, Rubi? Other good friends would visit me at the Knesset Speaker's Office and say clearly 'who else would he choose, why would the party hurt itself?'" Rivlin recounted.
The former Knesset speaker said he and the prime minister have been friends since childhood, and that Netanyahu even told Rivlin's wife that Rivlin is one of the only people he can trust.
"He gave us a good feeling, and I don't think he was bluffing," the Likud MK said. "It's not nice to mislead friends. It just isn't nice."
The reasoning that Rivlin would use his position as Knesset Speaker inappropriately to promote his candidacy for president is "insulting," he said, and pointed out that he ran for president in 2007 at Netanyahu's request.
Rivlin also said that he had stopped bills that could be embarrassing for Netanyahu, and that the prime minister thanked him for doing so.
"What hurt me most, much more than the fact that I was removed from my position – and I see it as a dismissal – is that my friends [in the Likud] did not get up and say even one word in my favor," Rivlin said of the faction meeting in which Yuli Edelstein was elected new Knesset Speaker.