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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Good news: Obama administration withdraws from Durban II

The Obama administration acknowledged reality on one front on Friday: It announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Durban II conference on destroying Israel and that it would have nothing else to do with the preparations. The reason for the decision - according to American officials - is that during the American presence at the preparations a bad document got worse.
Last week, the State Department sent two US representatives to Geneva, where the final document to be issued by conference participants at the end of the conference is being negotiated, the US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not yet been made.

The representatives - Betty White, a former US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council, and Felice Gaer, the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom - held 30 meetings with representatives of different countries and attended the negotiations, the US official said.

While the US presence was warmly welcomed, the US official said that in the negotiations, a bad document got worse.

The United States has decided that it will not participate in further negotiations on the outcome document and will not participate in the conference itself on the basis of the latest text, the US official said.

The Obama administration would reconsider its position if the document improves in a number of areas including dropping references to any specific country, references to defamation of religion which the US views as a free speech issue, and language on reparations for slavery. It also wants a shorter text and does not want the final document for Durban II to reaffirm the final document from the 2001 Durban conference, the US official said.
I'm sure the Durban II people will get right on it.


Grad rocket hits Ashkelon school

A school in Ashkelon was heavily damaged by a Grad-type Katyusha rocket on Saturday morning. Because the school was closed at the time, no one was hurt. Israel Radio reports that the students at that school will be taken on an all-day activity in Tel Aviv on Sunday (which is a school day in Israel). All other schools in Ashkelon will be open. Here's more from JPost.
Following the rocket fire, the Ashkelon Municipality reactivated its emergency command and control center, situated in a bomb shelter adjacent to city hall, where situation analysis meetings have been scheduled for Saturday.

The center had served as a hub for coordinating emergency responses to the large numbers of rockets fired at the city during Operation Cast Lead.

"In light of the situation, we can say with certainty that the school struck by a rocket will not be open tomorrow. We will have to find an alternative solution for students. The remainder of the schools will open on Sunday," Deputy Mayor Shlomo Cohen said.

Cohen added that the municipality "shared the concerns of parents in light of the deterioration of the situation, but we must remember that carrying on in a routine manner means bolstering the education system and the whole of the city of Ashkelon."

A tour of the school by Ashkelon Municipality safety officials found that shrapnel damage had reached parts of the building which had been designated as safe zones by the Home Front Command.

The municipality has been waiting for two weeks for the Ministry of Defense to approve rocket reinforcement construction plans drawn up to protect schools in the city, Cohen said, adding that the school struck in Saturday's attack was on the list of school waiting for protection.

"Ashkelon Municipality has demanded that the school be equipped with inexpensive basic rocket protection reinforcement. The reinforcement plans have been approved by the municipality and the Home Front Command. They have been sitting on the desks of Defense Ministry officials for two weeks, waiting for approval," Cohen said.

On Saturday evening, the Ashkelon Municipality, together with the city's parents' council decided that although the no classes would be held in the damaged school on Sunday, other schools would hold classes as usual.
Will the next government also leave the job of destroying Hamas unfinished?

Hamas clenches its fist (again) and Israel's 'Right' extends its hand

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

Hamas is managing to destroy all the goodwill in its favor from the United States and the 'Palestinian Authority.' US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday regarding Hamas
They must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and abide by previous commitments, otherwise, I don't think it will result in the kind of positive step forward either for the Palestinian people or as a vehicle for a reinvigorated effort to obtain peace that leads to a Palestinian state.
'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen at least knows on which side his bread is buttered, and has piped up in agreement with Clinton.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said that a Palestinian unity government with Hamas must support a two-state solution, reiterating a call by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Islamic group to recognize Israel.

In a Ramallah speech, Abbas said progress was being made toward establishing a Palestinian unity government "that will be committed to our values and will respect agreements previously signed by the Palestinian Authority," Army Radio reported.
But Hamas spokesman Aiman Taha says that his group will never agree to sit in a 'government' that recognizes Israel.

Meanwhile, those who claim to be Israel's 'Right' are falling all over themselves to show the Americans their commitment to a 'Palestinian' state reichlet. This is from an interview with Israel's likely next Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in Saturday's Washington Post:
What do you say when asked if you believe in a two-state solution as George Bush outlined in 2002?

Substantively, I think there is broad agreement inside Israel and outside that the Palestinians should have the ability to govern their lives but not to threaten ours.

Didn't you say that the recent Gaza operation did not go far enough and that Hamas should be toppled?

Hamas is incompatible with peace.

So what do you do about that?

I hope that the Palestinians in Gaza find the ability to change this regime because we want to have peace with all the Palestinians. Right now, what we should do is enable humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza but not in such a way as it enables Hamas to buy more rockets.


You're not the right-wing hawk they describe in the papers?

I'm the person who did the Wye agreement and the Hebron agreement in the search for peace. I think a lot of people at the time thought the problem was the Israeli government, specifically my own, and that Arafat was the solution and not the problem. That view has undergone some changes since then.
And then there's Avigdor Lieberman, who has decided that he wants to be foreign minister (told you so!).
What portfolio would you like?

I think I can hold every portfolio—defense, finance and Foreign Ministry. I think personally I'd like the foreign office.

Do you think you would have a problem with the international community, living in a settlement and having very hard-line views?

I've met everybody—Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, Javier Solana. They know me. I don't see that it would be an obstacle.

But you have George Mitchell here as the special envoy for Middle East peace, who wrote a report in 2001 calling the settlements an obstacle to peace.

We must explain to Mr. Mitchell that his … is the wrong view. [Settlements are] only one part of the problem.

If you become foreign minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's government, will you continue the peace process?

Of course, but we will put things in the right line. Not to start with a final agreement, [but] to [go] step by step. You can't start with Jerusalem or the evacuation of the settlements. You must start with the security and the economy. You must strengthen the Palestinian Authority.
And then there's this interview in Sunday's Washington Post with Lieberman (all three interviews were with the same writer):
Do you agree with President Bush that there should be a two-state solution?

It was a big dispute between Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon and me before disengagement [in 2005]. I said you go to establish a Palestinian state without even one Jew, we will become a binational state with more than twenty per cent minority. It won't work. . . . It is really a state and a half for the Palestinians and a half-state for the Israelis. . . .

Our proposal was exchanging territory and population, exactly like the Cyprus model.

You would take the territory where the Jews live in settlements on the West Bank and Israeli Arabs live and swap them?

Of course. Here is a picture of my settlement behind you, Nokdim, in the Judean Desert. I even agree to vacate my settlement if there really will be a two-state solution. What does the leader of the Israeli Arabs say? They're not interested in any Palestinian state. Even the Palestinians aren't interested in a Palestinian state.

You think they want all of Israel?

They want one country from the Jordan River to the sea. [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak gave a very crazy proposal to go back to the 1967 borders. [Yasir] Arafat said no. Also, Sharon gave up all of the Gaza Strip. And at [the] Annapolis [peace conference in 2007], a left-wing government gave very strange and crazy proposals. Even so, the Palestinians didn't accept. Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert tried to jump from the first stage [of the roadmap] to the final stage. It didn't work, it's impossible.
Lieberman almost seems to get it at the end there. This dispute is not about land. If it was, it probably would have been settled a long time ago. This dispute is about the existence of a Jewish state on the historic Jewish homeland. The 'Palestinians' Arabs cannot accept any Jewish state. Abu Mazen would wipe out the Jewish state in a second if he could. The only difference between him and Hamas is a tactical one. Every Arab country would like to wipe out the Jewish state (yes, including Egypt).

On the other hand, giving up land in Judea and Samaria would place Israel's cities within short missile range of 'Palestinian' terrorists and within easy flight range of the Arab countries. This is from a US Joint Chiefs of Staff report from 1967:
Israel would need a defense line generally along the Bardala-Tuba-Nablus-Bira-Jerusalem axis, and then to the northern part of the Dead Sea. This line would widen the narrow portion of Israel and provide additional terrain for the defense of Tel Aviv.

The report also provides support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli control. To defend Jerusalem, the Joint Chiefs concluded, Israel would need to have its border positioned to the east of the city.
That's pretty much all of Judea and Samaria.
Israel's return to its pre-1967 borders, which the Arab states want to reimpose, would sorely tempt potential aggressors to launch attacks on the Jewish State — as they did routinely before 1967. Israel would lose the extensive system of early-warning radars it has set up in the hills of Judea and Samaria. Were a hostile neighbor then to seize control of these mountains, its army could split Israel in two: From there, it is only about 15 miles — without any major geographic obstacles — to the Mediterranean.

At their narrowest point, these 1967 lines are within 9 miles of the Israeli coast, 11 miles from Tel Aviv, 10 from Beersheba, 21 from Haifa and one foot from Jerusalem.
It's not politically correct to say it, but agreeing to a 'Palestinian' state is signing Israel's death warrant.

Friday, February 27, 2009

This may yet come back to haunt Israel

In Friday's JPost, Herb Keinon reports that the 'war crimes' charges against Israel are piling up and no one is doing anything about them. The reason: Ambivalence towards the 'Palestinian Authority' by the Olmert-Barak-Livni government. This is going to end up being really bad news for Israel. We needed a jump start at responding to these charges. We're not getting it.
"[Attorney-General Menahem] Mazuz is involved, and a committee has been set up to deal with any lawsuits filed, but these are all defensive measures," one government source said. "We are not taking the offensive."

The best example of this, the official said, was Jerusalem's silence when the Palestinian Authority urged the ICC to investigate Israel's alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

Some 210 groups, including the PA, have urged the ICC to deal with the matter and the ICC's prosecutor has said a "preliminary analysis" is underway.

Israel could have come out and said this was not the way the country's peace partner should act, but instead remained quiet, the government source said.


One Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that it would have been possible to sharply reply to the PA's actions, but because of Israel's pre-election, and now post-election, transition period, there was "no one to take the initiative."

The official further said that neither Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who spent much of his tenure developing a relationship with the PA, nor Foreign Ministry Tzipi Livni, who led negotiations with it, had a political interest in publicly attacking it.

The official said that the policy was also dictated by other considerations, foremost that Israel did not want to give these petitions any more momentum, and a widespread feeling that the best way to "ride out" the current storm was to avoid giving the petitions more publicity.

"There is a consideration that the more you fight it, the more you raise the issue in the public consciousness, and that it's better to deal with it on a back burner," the official said.

The official pointed out that despite all the petitions and reports of imminent lawsuits, nothing concrete had emerged, and that when it seemed that something was about to, the Foreign Ministry responded.
Well, maybe. Except that the Spanish suit has not yet been officially dropped, and later in the article Doron Almog, one of its targets, says he's been advised not to travel to Spain.

The current government has really dropped the ball on this question (maybe even intentionally) and a lot of IDF officers may yet pay the price for that.

Taking it personally

He's right, but I don't think he needed to say it.

Is it time yet?

I think it's time to break these out.

Ordering information here.

Chas Freeman in the Corner

NRO's the Corner blog has some astute comments about Chas Freeman, the Saudi shill who has been named by the Obama administration to head the National Intelligence Council. Here are excerpts of some of the comments.

Jonah Goldberg:
...let's see whether and how new york's senior senator - who is not known for avoiding comment or being branded as a supporter of israel - responds to the freeman appointment...

i mean, if we're going to criticize folks for 'politicizing intelligence,' this is about as egregious an example as one could find...( a la your namesake)

next appointment? john mearsheimer to the defence policy board...don't forget: he's from chicago, too...
Jeffrey Goldberg as quoted by Jonah Goldberg:
Freeman is well-known for his hostility toward Israel, but what's more substantively troubling about this report is the obvious inappropriateness of hiring a well-known advocate for the interests of Middle Eastern autocracies to produce national intelligence estimates for the Obama Administration. It would be inappropriate to appoint an official of AIPAC to run the National Intelligence Council (though it must be said that AIPAC doesn't receive any funding from the Israeli government) and it seems inappropriate to give the job to a Saudi sympathizer as well.
Mark Steyn (quoting this article Steyn wrote seven years ago):
Charles Freeman, a former ambassador to the kingdom and now president of something called the Middle East Policy Council, offered a fine example of the genre the other day when he revealed that Crown Prince Abdullah, the head honcho since King Fahd had his stroke, was 'personally anguished' by developments in the Middle East and that that was why he had proposed his 'peace plan'. If, indeed, he has proposed it - to anyone other than Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, that is. And, come to think of it, it was Friedman who proposed it to the Prince...

The advantage of this thesis to fellows like Charles Freeman is that it places a premium on their nuance-interpretation skills. Because everything the kingdom does seems to be self-evidently inimical to the West, any old four-year-old can point out that the King is in the altogether hostile mode. It takes an old Saudi hand like Mr Freeman to draw attention to the subtler shades of meaning, to explain the ancient ways of Araby, by which, say, an adamant refusal to arrest associates of the 11 September hijackers is, in fact, a clear sign of the Saudis' remarkable support for Washington. If the Saudis nuked Delaware, the massed ranks of former ambassadors would be telling Larry King that, obviously, even the best allies have their difficulties from time to time, but this is essentially a little hiccup that can be smoothed over by closer consultation.
Michael Rubin:
Well, Chas Freeman has officially been appointed to head the NIC. A lot of unsourced praise out there for the former ambassador's analytical abilities, although there have been few if any examples of Freeman's analysis out there to substantiate the praise.


The Obama administration has shown it isn't so interested in vetting, but perhaps it's a fair question to ask such a brilliant analyst such as Freeman what books he thinks best on U.S. strategy, the Middle East, East Asia, or any other region of concern.
There are several more comments there. I'd suggest that you go to the Corner's home page and scroll down. You may find other things there that interest you as well.

Livni says no

Kadima leader Tzipi Livni has refused finally Binyamin Netanyahu's entreaty to join a Likud-led government after a two-hour meeting between the two today.
"Two states (one for the Israelis and one of the Palestinians) is not an empty slogan," Livni said as she left the meeting. "Unity is not just sitting in a government together. It also means sharing a way."

"I came to meet with the Likud chairman for a second time in order to hear about his vision and the way he wishes to implement. Israel is facing challenges. I told him Kadima would support any right moves by the government.

"In order to deal with the challenges I wanted three fundamental things which you are aware of," she said. "Two states is not an empty slogan. It's the only way Israel can remain Jewish and fight terror. It's a matter of principle.

"We discussed the issues. I didn't see any commitment on Bibi's part to these issues. The meeting ended without any understandings, and we cannot be part of Netanyahu's government," Livni stated, vowing to act as "a responsible opposition".
Israel Radio reports that Netanyahu offered Livni the opportunity to draft the new government's guiding principles together, an equal number of portfolios (ministries), and the 'quality' portfolios, including the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry. Netanyahu said that he had negotiated with the 'Palestinians' for 'peace' in the past and would continue to do so in the future. He sent Silvan Shalom (who would likely be foreign minister in a narrow government) and Gidon Sa'ar (who would be a candidate for justice minister in a narrow government - Yisrael Beteinu's desire for the current Justice Minister to remain in his position) to the media to express their desire for a 'national unity' government. According to Israel Radio, Netanyahu will - and has every right to - blame the failure of the 'national unity' negotiations (which most Israelis wanted to succeed) on Tzipi Livni.

On Sunday, Netanyahu will meet with Labor's Ehud Barak, who is the current Defense Minister and who is preferred by 55% of the country to stay in that position, but the results are likely to be the same. Israel Radio (which is generally not sympathetic to politicians on the Right) says that although Netanyahu sincerely wanted a 'national unity' government, he has put himself in a position where Livni and Barak are entirely to blame for that not happening.

In the meantime, as I noted earlier today, it is not a foregone conclusion that Netanyahu will be able to put together a narrow government. And all the polls indicate that new elections would bring similar results (90% of Israelis surveyed said that they would not consider changing their votes). Aside from the issue I discussed this morning, there are other problems with a narrow coalition:
[I]n the ultra-Orthodox camp, Shas and United Torah Judaism tried to form a "Haredi bloc," but with the start of coalition talks this week the two parties began battling each other. In talks with Likud negotiators this week, both parties demanded the housing portfolio, which the ultra-Orthodox parties seek due to their constituency's housing shortage.

Both parties' rabbinical leaderships ordered their lawmakers this week to put housing at the top of the agenda and demand cabinet decisions on perks for homebuyers and the establishment of an ultra-Orthodox city. Shas has demanded and expanded housing portfolio that would include the Israel Lands Authority.

UTJ chairman Yaakov Litzman told Haaretz after meeting Likud representatives that "there are serious problems" in the coalition talks. He mentioned competition from Shas for the Housing Ministry.

Likud negotiator Gideon Sa'ar Thursday told Habayit Hayehudi representatives that "the choke hold created by the outgoing government on the Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria must be released and construction there thawed."

Habayit Hayehudi has also demanded that Israel not withdraw from the Golan Heights in any peace agreement and that no Palestinian state be established. The party also seeks increased Judaism studies in public schools and a promise that no changes be made to the state-religion status quo without the agreement of all coalition partners. The party demanded the education portfolio and a deputy minister in either the interior, social affairs or finance ministries.

Likud representatives also met with members of National Union; its chairman Ya'akov Katz said there was a positive atmosphere in the meeting. He said that in just a few weeks there will be a government that is "more Israeli, more Jewish, more Zionist and different in its directives than the present government."

National Union wants illegal West Bank outposts declared legal and permission for construction in the territories. The party is also opposed to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights or a Palestinian state.
And that's without even considering all the issues with Yisrael Beiteinu.... Netanyahu probably needs to be reminded again why he wanted this job in the first place.


JPost has more on what Netanyahu offered Livni.
Despite Livni's claim that the new government's platform would not be to her party's liking, Netanyahu insisted that he had offered her "full partnership" in setting its guidelines.

"I also offered to give Kadima two of the top three ministries [undoubtedly the foreign ministry for herself and the defense ministry for Shaul Mofaz. CiJ], I said peace talks would progress, and that we would act to introduce electoral reforms and to solve the conversion issue," he continued.

"If there's a will, there's a way; and if there is a will there is unity," he continued. "Unfortunately, she totally rejected unity, and refused even to set up dialogue team in order to strike a partnership."

Netanyahu had made efforts over the last few days to reach out to Livni and persuade her that his government would pursue peace with the Palestinians and that there was no ideological basis for not joining the coalition.


An MK who met with Livni this week said she had already made it clear that there was no chance Kadima would join Netanyahu's government.

President Shimon Peres has met with Kadima MKs over the last few days in an effort to push the formation of national unity government. Many Kadima MKs have said in closed conversations that they believed the party should join Netanyahu's government, but the only MKs who have said so publicly are Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz [who would be defense minister in a unity government. CiJ] and his ally, Ronit Tirosh [who would probably be education minister - she's a former director general of the education ministry. CiJ].

Sources close to Mofaz had left open the possibility that if Livni formally closed the door on a unity government Friday, some of the MKs who agreed with him would vocalize their discontent. But they expressed doubt that the MKs would risk angering Livni, who could decide who receives portfolios in a future government.

Kadima MK Marina Solodkin said she had a difficult time explaining to Russian immigrant activists in the party why the party would remain in the opposition.

"I tell them that it's only temporary and that when the challenges Israel is facing intensify, the government will fall," Solodkin said. "I also tell them that as Marxism teaches, things often happen against the will of humanity."
By the way, Kadima claims to have a poll that says that 70% of its voters want it in opposition as opposed to the Shvakim Panorama poll that was on Israel Radio on Thursday that claimed that 85% of Kadima voters wanted the party in a national unity government under Netanyahu. A little confusion there....

Ruh-Roh: Bibi's 'narrow coalition' may be in trouble

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the pre-eminent halachic (Jewish law) decisor of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, has issued a ruling that there may be no compromise on the question of civil marriages in Israel, even for non-Jews. The practical application is that United Torah Judaism's five MK's will not go into a coalition that adopts the compromise on civil marriage that was being discussed between Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas (the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party) earlier in the week, leaving Netanyahu with only 60 of the Knesset's 120 MK's for his 'narrow' coalition (Likud 27 + Yisrael Beiteinu 15 + Shas 11 + National Union 4 + Jewish Home 3 = 60).
Rabbi Elyashiv explained that if civil marriages between non-Jews were to be allowed, it would send a dangerous precedent to the High Court, which might allow civil marriage between Jews, as well.

Rabbi Elyashiv's ruling was seen as a blow to coalition talks between Likud and the hareidi-religious United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party. Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) has demanded legalization of civil marriage as a condition for joining the Likud coalition, and if Likud accepts, the decision may leave UTJ with no choice but to sit in the opposition.

Rabbi Elyashiv explained that it is precisely now, when a narrow right-wing coalition appears to be forming, UTJ must not allow changing the status quo preventing civil marriage. “If the government would become established by our support, this would be considered as if we allowed the civil marriage law with our own hands,” the rabbi said.

A close confident of Rabbi Elyashiv explained the rabbi’s consideration. “If a wide-based coalition would be established, we wouldn’t be able to have an influence on the decision, and we would oppose it. When the establishment of a government is dependent upon us, the rabbi opposes our entry if it would allow civil marriage [legislation] to pass.”

The source furthermore stated that it was preferable to publicize Rabbi Elyashiv’s position in advance. That is to avoid charges that negotiations were stonewalled due to differences related to UTJ’s budgetary demands. Nonetheless, during coalition talks between Likud and Shas, it was decided that the religious party would keep a low profile regarding civil marriage so as not to arouse opposition from Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, which sees the civil marriage issue as one of their bargaining chips.
Hmmm. Those of you expecting me to argue with Rav Elyashiv have come to the wrong place. I certainly see his concern based on past rulings of the 'Supreme Court.'

For more on why there is currently no civil marriage in Israel, please go here.

Interview with Richard Hellman of the Christian Lobby for Israel

In this interview, Matt Cooper talks with Richard Hellman of the Christian Lobby for Israel at the CPAC convention on February 26, 2009. Can someone please explain to me why so many Jews can't get it the way Hellman does?

Let's go to the videotape.

Shame on the Central Conference of American 'rabbis'

For three years, Los Angeles' Simon Wiesenthal Center fought a bitter battle against the Islamic Movement's Northern Front in an effort to build its Museum of Tolerance in a central Jerusalem location that will revitalize the city and make the museum a central tourist location. I have discussed that battle on several occasions. (Here and here too). (Click on the image at left to enlarge it and see a Muslim site plan for the area dating to 1931).

After trying to avoid the issue for three years, and causing the Center to run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses, Israel's Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of the Wiesenthal Center three months ago in an unprecedented 119-page decision. On Thursday, the Central Conference of American 'rabbis,' the 'rabbinic' body of 'Reform Judaism,' passed a resolution urging the Wiesenthal Center to move the museum anyway.
"We would protest, in the strongest terms, not only the desecration, but any removal of a Jewish cemetery, no matter what the purpose. Therefore, it is self-evident that we must oppose the removal of another people's sacred burial ground, no matter how worthy the purpose," reads a resolution passed by the Central Conference of American Rabbis meeting in Jerusalem.

"While the Israeli Supreme Court has permitted the Wiesenthal Center to move ahead, an organization with high-minded goals like those of the Museum of Tolerance cannot be satisfied with mere adherence to the law."


"We are not building on the Muslim cemetery but on a Jerusalem municipal car park which for the past 50 years has served Jews Christians and Muslims, including Reform Conservative and Orthodox rabbis as well as priests and imams," said Rabbi Marvin Hier.
The Reform 'rabbis' are a bunch of hypocrites. The Reform movement's own Jerusalem headquarters, Hebrew Union College, is across the street from the cemetery and may sit on land that was at one time part of the cemetery. Run your mouse over the bottom right of this map.

Systematic anti-Semitism in Venezuela

Ariel Dumas reports on the systematic encouragement of anti-Semitism by the Chavez government in Venezuela, citing numerous examples (link translated from Spanish) of blood libels against the country's Jews. Here's one example:
Think that the Zionist settler Venezuelan? (Sic)

Desde su independencia, Venezuela no ha sufrido más de estos atropellos en forma objetiva. Since independence, Venezuela has suffered over these violations in an objective manner. Claro está, siendo un poco realista, comprenderíamos que el colonialismo contemporáneo del que hemos sido victima los venezolanos, como también el resto de los pueblos del mundo, excepto Cuba, ha sido el omnipresente Dios secularizado del sionismo israelí, el Capital. Of course, being a little realistic, understand that contemporary colonialism that we have been a victim of the Venezuelans, as well as the rest of the peoples of the world, except Cuba, has been the omnipresent God secular Zionism of the Israeli capital.

Sumado a esto, la situación en que se encuentra sumergido el pueblo hermano de Irak, la desgracia de los pueblos árabes en general, aumenta, y todo gracias a la necesidades imperiosas de un capital con ansia reproductiva que enfrenta un mercado copado de grandes competidores, una elite capitalista-judía que descubrió en la religión la manera más eficaz de enajenar a todo un pueblo, y hacer de ellos mercancías en pro de sus inhumanos y depravados intereses, que preconiza el racismo, la superioridad y divinidad de sus pueblos sobre otros. El sionismo israelí es, sin duda, la expresión contemporánea del nazismo alemán. In addition, the situation in the submerged brotherly people of Iraq, the plight of the Arab peoples in general, increases, and all thanks to the capital needs of a forward facing reproductive cornered a major market competitors a capitalist-Jewish elite who found religion in the most effective way to alienate an entire people, and goods made of them for their inhuman and depraved interest, which advocates racism, superiority and divinity of their peoples over others. Israeli Zionism is, without doubt, the contemporary expression of German Nazism. Y es que, a cada etapa del desarrollo histórico de las fuerzas productivas y del capital, una ideología se corresponde con sus necesidades. Indeed, every stage of historical development of productive forces and capital, an ideology matches their needs.

Nota aparte: Separate note:

¿Que pensaría nuestro pueblo al ver aquellas estruendosas marchas de un importante numero de judíos, realizadas en días recientes, organizadas por los colonos y liderizadas por el sionista Meir Kahane con atuendos y camisas de color naranjas, como eco distante de la “Marcha sobre Roma” de los “camisas negras” de Benito Mussolini de 1920? What do you think our people to see those gears clatter of a large number of Jews in recent days, organized by the settlers and the Zionist led by Meir Kahane to dress shirts and orange as distant echo of the "March on Rome "from the" black shirts "of Benito Mussolini in 1920?

I hope it's This Year in Jerusalem for Venezuelan Jewry. There's not much reason to remain in Venezuela anymore.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

New York's WCBS television is reporting that the regions 'Jewish leaders' are outraged at the 'change' they have observed in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). The 'change' is that Mrs. Clinton is hammering Israel to speed up aid to Gaza.
"I am very surprised, frankly, at this statement from the United States government and from the secretary of state," said Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News and member of the NYC Jewish Community Relations Council.

"I liked her a lot more as a senator from New York," Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, said. "Now, I wonder as I used to wonder who the real Hillary Clinton is."

Clinton's decision to hammer Israel comes as the Clintons and President Barack Obama are planning to give the Palestinians $900 million toward the rebuilding of Gaza in the wake of the Israeli offensive that was sparked by Hamas rocket fire.

"We are working across the government to see what our approach will be," Clinton said.

"I don't believe that we should be in a position at this point to do anything to strengthen Hamas," Zuckerman said. "We surely know what Hamas stands for as I say they are the forward battalions of Iran."

For some, Clinton's change of position is upsetting.

"I feel it's unfortunate that they don't continue the policy of the Bush administration, which was much more pro-Israel," said Akiva Homnick of Jerusalem.

"I happen to have a lot of family who live in Israel and I feel, personally, when you are dealing with people who are very strong against you, you have to stand up to them," said Tami Davudoff of Kew Gardens.
I fail to see the 'change' of which Zuckerman and Hikind complain. Hillary was always 'pro-Palestinian' as the picture above (of her kissing Suha Arafat in 2000 right after Mrs. Arafat accused Israel of poisoning the 'Palestinians' water) shows. As Glenn Reynolds points out, she seems about the same to me.

At the Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg thinks the 'Jewish leaders' are 'over-reacting.'
Do I have to point out that this doesn't make her George Galloway? I understand Israel's hesitations here -- it has a kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, in Gaza -- but a comprehensive easing of tensions might make Shalit's release more, and not less, likely.
I don't know if I would say that the 'Jewish leaders' are 'over-reacting.' I don't believe there is any greater chance (and in fact, there is probably less of a chance) that Shalit will be released if that release is not tied to the reopening of the crossing points into Gaza. But then, what do I know? I'm the one who said that Shalit's release should have been a goal of the operation while the IDF was still in Gaza.


Soccer Dad takes down a Jewish political pundit who is as shocked as the 'Jewish leaders.'

Words and deeds, extended hands and clenched fists

Excellent analysis from Jonathan Spyer in Thursday's JPost. Except for the conclusion.
In words and deeds, the response of Iran and Syria to the Obama approach is also becoming apparent. Since the election of Obama, Iran has this month carried out two high-profile acts indicating that its drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability has - so far at least - failed to be swayed by the new era. At the beginning of the month, Teheran announced that it had successfully launched its first satellite into orbit. The launch was testimony to the advances made by Iran's long-range ballistic missile program. It was also testimony to the importance the Iranian regime attaches to acts of open defiance and demonstrations of strength.

This week, Iran announced that it is to begin a test run of its Russian-built light water reactor at Bushehr. The plant, which began construction in 1998, is due to begin functioning in the first half of this year. Russia has resisted international calls to suspend involvement. The test run, which coincides with a visit to Teheran of the head of Russia's state atomic energy corporation, represents an additional message from the Iranians regarding their position on the relative importance of extended hands and clenched fists.

Under the radar, there is concern at the increasing opacity of the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranians have chosen a unique interpretation of their obligations vis-à-vis the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and its investigations. More and more, Iran simply declines to provide information. The result is that there are now real fears that a secret uranium enrichment site in addition to the site at Natanz might have been constructed. Regarding the not-yet-operating heavy water plant at Arak - again, Iran is simply refusing to answer questions. Teheran's impunity derives from a reading of the current international atmosphere which is probably correct.

The courting of Syria, meanwhile, is showing no signs of being knocked off track by the latest revelations from the IAEA regarding just what it was that the Israeli air force bombed at al-Kibar in September, 2007. A report from the agency issued last week dismissed Syrian attempts to claim that traces of uranium found at the site were residue left by Israeli munitions. Inspectors have complained that Syria is denying access to parts of the site, and has failed to provide requested documentation concerning the site's use. Syrian spokesmen have explained the reluctance to grant access as deriving from fears that Israel might try to use information provided to gain knowledge of Syrian "military installations."

As if on cue, and in the latest evidence of the Syrian regime's feline sense of humor, a missile facility has now appeared at the site bombed in 2007. The facility will no doubt, in addition to defending Syria's skies from its enemies, serve an additional function as a reason why the site cannot be made open to inspectors from the IAEA.

Despite all this, the charm offensive is continuing. In addition to three high profile congressional delegations to Damascus, a series of quieter gestures are signaling to the Syrians that the sanctions regime put in place by the previous administration may be discreetly wound down. The Treasury Department last week permitted $500,000 to be transferred to a Syrian charity. The Department of Commerce approved the supplying of spare parts to Syria's superannuated Boeing 747 aircraft, and so on.
Read the whole thing.

I mentioned at the top that I did not agree with his conclusion.
The new era of engagement thus appears so far to be providing the Iranians with valuable leeway for the pursuit of their nuclear ambitions, and the Syrians with similar space to avoid being brought to account for their own apparently now discontinued program. In addition, the new era is giving the spokesmen of both dictatorships plenty of opportunity for engaging in the scolding and proclamations of moral superiority of which they are so fond. It is unlikely that this is what the new US president had in mind. It is therefore probable that the new era will be an unusually short one.
For all we know, Obama may have had this in mind. Or he may have believed it could never happen. Or he may not appreciate that he needs to put a stop to it.

I don't believe Obama will put a stop to it until it hits him - and us - in the face.

Obama notifies Congress: Freeman's in

The Obama administration has notified Congress that it is appointing former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman as its head of the National Intelligence Council. That's all they have to do - this isn't a position that requires Congressional confirmation. Ben Smith's Politico apparently thinks this is a good thing.
The Obama administration has notified Congress that Chas Freeman has been appointed chairman of the National Intelligence Council, demonstrating a willingness to rebuff pro-Israel activists and an embrace of a more realist foreign policy line.
At The Weekly Standard, Michael Goldfarb bluntly calls Freeman a 'Saudi puppet' (in the headline no less!) (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
What the release doesn't tell you: Freeman has been a shill for the Saudis ever since leaving government, making outlandish claims like,"It is widely charged in the United States that Saudi Arabian education teaches hateful and evil things. I do not think that is the case." Or, "I believe King Abdullah is very rapidly becoming Abdullah the Great."

The left has defended Freeman's views on Israel -- even when his statements seem designed only to inflame and provoke controversy. What the left is unable to do is defend Freeman's views on China, where he unapologetically supports the bloody crackdown on democracy activists who dare protest in the streets of the capital, and Saudi Arabia, which as far as Freeman is concerned is something like Berkeley in the desert. The left spent years bemoaning the close ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royals -- and it was a relationship that few on the right were eager to defend. Now the left can have their turn defending a man who is so closely tied to the Saudi Kingdom that in the weeks after 9/11 he wouldn't even consider halting his business with the bin Laden family.

The man who will be "providing substantive counsel to the DNI and senior policymakers on issues of top national security importance" is in the pocket of the Saudis. Contrary to the expectations of Marty Peretz and others, Obama has enlisted in his administration a number of individuals with views that are hostile to Israel. One more won't matter too much. What makes Freeman different is that he actually defends the corrupt Arab states that foment and support terror while at the same time condemning a democratic ally of this country.

It's a disgrace.
It sure is a disgrace. But you had to be blind during the campaign not to see this coming. I guess a lot of people were blind....

/Martin Peretz's mea culpa coming in 4... 3... 2... 1...

'Good terrorists' threaten 'armed struggle' if they don't get what they want

The 'good terrorists' from 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's Fatah organization have threatened once again to resort to 'armed struggle' if they are not able to get what they want at the negotiating table.
Addressing a pro-Fatah rally of more than 100,000 people in the Samaria city of Shechem (Nablus), the PA Mayor Jamal Muhsein threatened: "Whoever thinks that negotiations are the only choice for Fatah is wrong. On the contrary, all options are open, including armed struggle, as long as we seek peace and others do not. Jerusalem is the gate to peace as well as the gate to war."

Another high-ranking local representative of Fatah, which is headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told the crowd that his organization is "renewing its pledge to the PLO as it had done before."
The more we offer them open hands, the more we get back clenched fists.

Pipe bomb thrown at Caracas Jewish Community Center

Israel Radio has just reported that a pipe bomb was thrown at the Jewish Community Center in Caracas, Venezuela today. No one was hurt but there was property damage. Israel Radio did not give any more details.

I found this report from al-AP:
Representatives of Venezuela's Jewish population say a community center has been attacked by unidentified assailants who threw an explosive at the building.

Abraham Garzon is president of the Jewish Community Center located in downtown Caracas. He says a small explosive resembling a pipe bomb was lobbed at the building before dawn. The explosion damaged the doors to the center, but nobody was injured by the blast.

On January 31, a Caracas synagogue was vandalized. Venezuela broke diplomatic relations with Israel last month over Operation Cast Lead and President Thuggo Chavez is considered a close ally of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Israel will take out the S-300?

One of the things that may be pushing Israel into attacking Iran sooner is the Iranians taking delivery of the S-300 air defense. I've discussed the S-300 many times, including the drill that the IDF conducted against it over the Mediterranean in June 2008.

Last week, I showed you a really neat video of a 'suicide drone' called the Herod. For those who have forgotten, please go here and watch it again.

Two weeks ago, a specialized aviation publication called Flight Global did a short blurb about an Israeli drone called the Harop (or Harrop). The blurb includes lots of details.
Israel Aerospace Industries [should be Israel Aircraft Industries? CiJ] is developing new versions of loitering weapon systems for suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions.

The Harop is a bigger, improved version of IAI's Harpy anti-radiation drone and is equipped with an electro-optical sensor, enabling the operator to select targets during the loitering time over the target area.

The 2.5m (8.2ft)-long drone, powered by a heavy-fuel engine that drives a pusher propeller, is launched from a canister and its foldable wing has a 3m span. It is equipped with a 23kg (51lb) warhead and can hit static and moving targets.

A satcom data link enables the selection of targets throughout the 6h endurance of the Harop, which is launched from ground or sea launchers, but can be adapted for air launch.

The 135kg, delta-winged Harpy is still offered as a baseline loitering system.
DEBKA claims that the Harop is to be used to attack the S-300:
The Israeli air industries first unveiled its new Harop "loiter drone" for taking out ground-to-air missiles at the annual Aero-India 2009 air show which closed recently at Bangalore.

The Iranian media were first to disclose that this sophisticated Israeli drone is capable of targeting the Russian radar-equipped S-300 anti-air missile before it enters attack mode .

DEBKAfile's military sources report that while Iran has contracted to buy from Russia five S-300 batteries worth $800 m to defend its nuclear sites against potential aerial attack, India and Turkey are interested in Israel's Harop killer-drone. Our sources report that the Tehran media made much of the new Israeli drone as a means of pushing Moscow to set the new batteries' delivery dates which the Russian suppliers have so far withheld.


The Harop is an expendable unmanned aerial vehicle which can sustain a mission of several hours over an assigned area. Operated by electro-optical sensors, Harop can detect weapons systems in inert mode, weapons on the move and radar installations switched off to avoid detection.

Our military experts maintain that once it penetrates Iranian airspace, this drone can silence surface-to-air batteries and open the skies to aerial and missile attack.
If you look up the Herod (as it was called in the video I posted last week) on Wikipedia, you will be redirected to the Harop (which is here).


Send them a message

The 'Palestinians' are selling the right to put messages on their side of the 'security fence' for 30 euros or $40.
It costs 30 euros ($40) per message and they can be as solemn or wacky as you want. Everything goes, except for obscene, offensive or extremist hate speech. Clients get three digital pictures of the finished product.

The taggers at www.sendamessage.nl are members of the Palestinian Peace and Freedom Youth Forum, which set up the scheme in collaboration with a Dutch Christian organization.

"It is a new way to speak with the people, that we the Palestinians exist," says graffiti artist Yusef Njm.

"We are not only throwing stones and clashing. We are alive. We think in a new way to tell them that we are alive."

Organizers stress that revenue does not go to buy weapons for the Palestinians. It is intended to support grassroots social and cultural projects in the West Bank.
How many of you are willing to pay 40 bucks to get them to write "There's no such thing as Palestine" on the fence?


Iran - Israel endgame approaching?

In a thoughtful piece in Thursday's JPost, Edwin Black argues that the endgame between Israel and Iran is rapidly approaching. Black cites four events that have brought the endgame closer in recent weeks: Iran's satellite launch, the discovery of a 'mistake' that means that Iran has more uranium than originally thought, Iran's ramping up its program with thousands of additional centrifuges and the ascension of Binyamin Netanyahu to be Israel's Prime Minister. Black calls the consequences of this confrontation 'apocalyptic.'
THE CONSEQUENCES for this confrontation are apocalyptic because Iran's full partner in this enterprise is Russia. The Russian company Atomstroiexport has provided most if not all of the nuclear material for the 1,000 megawatt Bushehr reactor, along with thousands of technicians to service and operate it.

Following its invasion of Georgia, Moscow forged ahead with final delivery plans for the S-300 advanced air defense system which can track scores of IAF airborne intruders simultaneously, whether low-level drones or high-altitude missiles, and shoot them down. But the S-300, the linchpin of Iran's defense against Israel, will not be fully operational for several months, creating a narrow window for Israel to act. Indeed, Russia has just announced a pause in missile deliveries for the system in fear that it will accelerate an Israeli response.

Iran, of course, has repeatedly threatened to counter any such attack by closing the Strait of Hormuz, as well as launching missiles against the Ras Tanura Gulf oil terminal and bombarding the indispensable Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq which is responsible for some 65 percent of Saudi production. Any one of these military options, let alone all three, would immediately shut off 40% of all seaborne oil, 18% of global oil, and some 20% of America's daily consumption.

America's oil vulnerability has been back-burnered due to the economic crisis and the plunge in gasoline prices. However, the price of gasoline will not mitigate an interruption of oil flow. The price of oil does not impact its ability to flow through blocked or destroyed facilities. Indeed, an interruption would not restore prices to those of last summer - which Russian and Saudi oil officials say is needed - but probably zoom the pump cost to $20 per gallon.

American oil vulnerability in recent months has escalated precisely because of oil's precipitous drop to $35 to $40 a barrel. At that price, America's number one supplier, Canada, which supplies some 2 million out of 20 million barrels of oil a day, cannot afford to produce. Canadian oil sand petroleum is not viable below $70 a barrel. Much of Canada's supply has already been cancelled or indefinitely postponed. America's strategic petroleum reserve can only keep that country moving for approximately 57 days.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, like the Bush administration before it, has developed no plan or contingency legislation for an oil interruption, such as a surge in retrofitting America's 250 million gas guzzling cars and trucks - each with a 10-year life - or a stimulus of the alternate fuel production needed to rapidly get off oil. Ironically, Iran has undertaken such a crash program converting some 20% of its gasoline fleet yearly to compressed natural gas (CNG) as a countermeasure to Western nuclear sanctions against the Teheran regime that could completely block the flow of gasoline to Iran. Iran has no refining capability.

The question of when and how this endgame will play out is not known by anyone. Israeli leaders wish to avoid military preemption at all costs if possible. But many feel the military moment must come; and when that moment does come, it will be swift, highly technologic and in the twinkling of an eye. But as one informed official quipped, "Those who know, don't talk. Those who talk, don't know."
Other than the Israelis, does anyone know? Don't bet on it.

When Bibi meets Tzipi

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni will be meeting Friday for what Netanyahu calls a 'decisive' meeting on whether or not there will be a 'unity government.'

In the meantime, a 'unity' meeting of a different sort is going on Thursday in Cairo. That meeting is between the 'good terrorists' from Fatah and the 'bad terrorists' from Hamas. They are also trying to make up.

And in a third headline in Thursday's media, Netanyahu says that if the Hamas - Fatah talks are 'successful,' Israel will not negotiate with the resulting entity. All three stories are connected. Here's how.

Hamas and Fatah are getting back together. And the result is going to be Hamas taking over Judea and Samaria. This is from Ma'an.
The five committees of Hamas and Fatah negotiators will hammer out the details of a plan to restore unity to Palestinian politics after nearly two years of division. The panels will address the formation of a transitional government, the timing of elections, reform of the security services, the integration of Hamas into the PLO, and other issues.

Radwan said that several Palestinian factions would be involved in the PLO committee, which will reform the PLO based on a 2005 Hamas-Fatah agreement. Currently Hamas and Islamic Jihad are barred from the organization.

Radwan said Hamas views the Egyptian-sponsored talks with Hamas “positively,” welcoming Fatah’s pledge to release Hamas political prisoners in the West Bank. He said the prisoners should be released soon if the talks are to succeed. He also said it would be critical for the Palestinian Authority to reopen Hamas-linked educational, charity, health and media institutions that had been shut down in the West Bank.
Once the prisoners are released and those institutions are opened, Hamas will take over Judea and Samaria (except for where the Jews are).

Hamas and Fatah are getting back together because Hamas cannot rebuild Gaza otherwise. The 'international community' is more comfortable sending money via the 'Palestinian Authority' (which Hamas will accept so long as Hamas is a part of it) and a marriage between Fatah and Hamas will make it easier for that to happen. Both Hamas and Fatah have bought into the Israeli Left's screaming about the 'extreme right wing government' that is about to take power here, and they are genuinely afraid that they will spend the next four years with Gaza shut off to the world and Israel not even maintaining the facade of a 'peace process.' So Hamas and Fatah are getting back together in the hope of reopening Gaza and allowing arms and money to flow through.

Binyamin Netanyahu is already threatening that he will not talk to a 'Palestinian' entity in which Hamas is a part. He plans to try to convince Hillary Clinton and the United States not to talk to a combined entity either.
Zalman Shoval, one of Netanyahu's five primary foreign policy advisers, said the Netanyahu diplomatic team was "trying to persuade whomever" that a Palestinian Authority unity government is a bad idea.

"We shall try to convince our American friends that this is not something that would help the peace process, and that it would only make it easier for all sorts of other players - the Europeans and the Russians - to deal with Hamas," he said. "To return Hamas as a partner is not what America is interested in."
History is on Bibi's and Shoval's side (Shoval was the ambassador to the United Statesin Yitzchak Shamir's government).
Shoval said history had shown that when there was an amalgamation between a moderate and an extremist party, it was only a matter of time before the extremists called the shots. He used as an example the Nazi party's union in 1933 with the German National People's Party. He noted that within a year the latter party had disappeared and concluded that the end result of a Hamas-Fatah merger would not be a more moderate Palestinian political entity, but a more radical one.

"The idea is the wrong one," he said, adding that Netanyahu's camp believed the right approach was to continue to isolate Hamas.

"I'm not saying we can prevent it, but we should try," he said.

Another adviser to Netanyahu said that the international community had laid out three conditions for Hamas to accept, and that it was necessary for Hamas to accept them and not sweep them under the rug.

Those conditions are recognizing Israel's right to exist, forswearing terrorism and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
But Netanyahu knows that the Europeans are waiting for just such an opening to talk to Hamas. For example, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband:
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that speaking to Hamas was "the right thing to do," but Egypt and other parties were best suited to talking directly to the group.

In an interview with Reuters in Cairo, Miliband said Egypt was acting on behalf of the whole world in its dealings with Hamas.

"Egypt has been nominated... to speak to Hamas on behalf of the Arab League but actually on behalf of the whole world," Miliband said. "Others speak to Hamas. That's the right thing to do and I think we should let the Egyptians take this forward."
Netanyahu knows that even the US can no longer be counted on now that the Obama administration is in power (think of Power as a double entendre). Netanyahu needs an insurance policy to make sure that there is no effective opposition to him when he refuses to talk to the 'new' 'Palestinian Authority.' And as a bonus, he wants an insurance policy to make sure that there is no meaningful opposition in Israel when he goes after Iran, which he knows and we know that he is going to have to do. That insurance policy's name is Tzipi Livni.

If Livni is in the government when Netanyahu refuses to talk to the combined Hamas - Fatah entity, the only parties that will object will be the Arab parties and possibly Meretz. "What about Labor" you might ask? Labor may be going into the government too. We;ll talk about that in a minute.

Netanyahu is going to make Livni an offer she cannot refuse on Friday. He won't offer her a rotating Prime Minister's office. He doesn't have to for reasons I will go into after looking at what the offer will be:
Various sources who spoke with the Likud leader said they were uncertain whether he was optimistic ahead of the meeting. However, one source said that "it appears he intends to further accommodate Livni. He genuinely wishes to bring Kadima into the government and establish a broad coalition."

Meanwhile, sources close to Livni said she may change her position on joining the coalition should the prime minister-designate unequivocally clear up three issues: His support for the two-state solution, changing the government system, and civil marriages.

"The two most significant main issues are the diplomatic and religious ones," a Livni associate said. A senior Kadima official said that "if Netanyahu will back the two-state solution and offer a rotation, it will be difficult to say no to him."
Livni will drop the rotating Prime Minister and go into the government as Foreign Minister because 85%(!) of Kadima's voters want her to do just that. Yes, you're reading correctly, 85%. That's the number in a Shvakim Panorama poll on Israel Radio this morning. 85% of Kadima's voters want Livni to go into a government headed by Netanyahu. And Netanyahu will bring her in because somewhere on the order of 60% of Likud's voters want him to bring her in. They will agree easily on changing the government and civil marriage. And they will even agree easily on the 'two-state solution.' Why? Because if Hamas and Fatah are merged, there isn't going to be a 'two-state solution.' Netanyahu is going to say that he won't talk to the merged entity and Livni will agree with him because almost no Israeli Jews are willing to talk to Hamas. Netanyahu will say he accepts the 'two-state solution' but only with a Fatah-only entity. And Livni will agree because if she doesn't her career is over and her party will disintegrate.

As to Barak, 76%(!) of Labor's voters in the same survey want to be in a government with the Likud under Netanyahu's leadership, and 56% of Likud's voters want Labor inside. If Labor comes in (for a 68-seat government), Netanyahu no longer needs Avigdor Lieberman with all the discomfort he causes. If Labor doesn't come in, they will either put up with Lieberman (for a 70-seat government) or they will bring in Shas (for a 66-seat government).

Bottom line: By reconciling, Hamas and Fatah will pave the way for Likud and Kadima to reconcile and form a national unity government and they will probably set back a 'Palestinian' state reichlet by 10-20 years, if not more. If the Hamas - Fatah talks flounder for some reason, Netanyahu and Livni will have a shelf agreement, Netanyahu will say that he accepts a two-state solution provided Fatah cleans up the terror first (which they cannot and will not) or some similar figleaf so that he is not ostracized by the Obama administration, and Livni will remain in opposition until the Fatah - Hamas merger happens (which it will eventually) and will back Netanyahu when he attacks Iran.

Who are the losers in this scenario? Depending on how civil marriage is set up, the religious parties and public may be losers. If civil marriage is limited to non-Jews and to those who are not permitted to marry freely under religious laws (such as people who were born in an out-of-wedlock relationship involving a married woman who has not been properly religiously divorced), then the religious parties may not object. But if civil marriage is going to allow anyone to marry anyone freely, then the religious parties will be losers.

The small parties will be losers if the electoral system changes. Perhaps this would be a good time for the four religious parties - who would have had thirty seats in the Knesset had they combined according to surveys - to think about getting together for the next election. Those parties are Shas (11), United Torah Judaism (5), National Union (4) and Jewish Home (3) for a current total of 23 seats. Otherwise, all but Shas may find themselves on the outside if the electoral system changes.

And the 'Palestinians' will be losers. Once again, they will have taken advantage of an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

But for the Likud, Kadima and Labor (or Yisrael Beiteinu), it will be a win-win situation.

Shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater?

Last week, an Oklahoma City man was pulled over by police for having an anti-Obama sign on his car. The sign said "Abort Obama, not the unborn." Police pulled the man over and confiscated the sign, even though the motorist said that he believed the sign to mean that Obama ought to be impeached.

Here in Israel, we're way ahead of that. During the Oslo War, there was a very popular bumper sticker here that said "Ain Aravim, ain piguim" (if there are no Arabs, there are no terror attacks). The bumper sticker embodied the fact that all (or nearly all - there are two incidents that happened in this country in the last fifteen years in which Arabs were attacked by Jews) of our terror attacks were carried out by Arabs against Jews. Some interpreted the bumper sticker as calling for the expulsion of Arabs from the country.

On Wednesday, for the second time, a resident of the Samarian town of Yitzhar, 37-year old Neria Ofan, was convicted of 'incitement to racism' for driving his car near his home with such a bumper sticker (which I will not reproduce on this blog for fear of being prosecuted for the same 'crime' [UPDATE - I have now reproduced it. If the JPost can publish it, so can I. CiJ) in 2004. The last person convicted - David HaIvri (who I believe reads this blog) - was sentenced to six months of community service. Ofan hasn't been sentenced yet. The 'wheels of justice' turn slowly in Israel.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court in the case of Schenk v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919)
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
That has become the standard for measuring free speech in the United States. That's why, for example, the Mohammed cartoons were not banned in the United States. That's why that case in Oklahoma City constituted such a stir last week, even though the motorist was apparently not arrested or charged.

Is putting a bumper sticker on a car that says 'if there are no Arabs, there are no terror attacks' like shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater when there is none? Is it a 'clear and present danger' to bring about a substantive evil that the Knesset has a right to prevent? Does it endanger anyone other than the car's driver and his passengers? Or is prosecuting someone for displaying such a bumper sticker a selective prosecution to 'protect' a politically correct minority who'd rather not know what the rest of the world thinks of them? In Israel, it is most certainly the case that the prosecution is a selective prosecution to protect a politically correct minority who would rather not expel the terrorists from among them. Here's some proof.

Fifteen years ago there was a popular bumper sticker that said "dros kol dos" (run down every dos - dos being a derogatory term for ultra-Orthodox Jews). Throughout the '90's people drove around with stickers on their cars that said "yamutu ha'kanaim" (death to the zealots - the zealots being understood to mean the revenants or the ultra-Orthodox Jews). Guess what: No one was prosecuted for those stickers.

Prosecuting bumper sticker bearers from Yitzhar convinces Israelis that the country's laws are unjust and unevenly enforced. And unfortunately, they often are unjust and unevenly enforced. After prosecuting bumper sticker displayers, the next step is prosecuting people who publish uncomplimentary cartoons of Mohamed (oops - sorry - we've done that already too) and barring Dutch lawmakers who point out the truth about Islam from entering the country. It's just plain wrong. It brings about disrespect for the law and for those who are charged with upholding it.