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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The wicked son of Yitzhak Ben Ami

Yitzhak Ben Ami is probably rolling over in his grave over the actions of his son, J Street co-founder Jeremy Ben Ami (left in the picture at the top of this post).

Yitzhak Ben Ami z"l (of blessed memory) died nearly thirty years ago. But you can learn a lot about him if you go here.

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Thanks for all your prayers!

You all must have done a great job of praying last night, because I got an email from my brother a short while ago reporting that my father is fine after hydration overnight!

He woke up, ate breakfast, and was even talking and trying to say the doctor's name.

Please pray that he continues to improve, and thanks again to all of you who prayed, and who sent me wishes for his recovery (there were many emails, tweets and comments to last night's post, and I have not had the chance to acknowledge them all).


Of course: Journalists' association to protest Blau indictment

The Jerusalem Journalists' Association is going to hold a demonstration to protest Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision to indict Haaretz reporter Uri Blau. This is from the first link.
In a statement released Thursday, Jerusalem Journalists Association said the decision to indict a journalist for holding classified documents set a dangerous precedent for press freedom in the country and called on all its members to join the protest on Sunday.

The attorney-general said he had carefully considered arguments Blau’s attorneys had put forward, but had decided to reject them.

Blau is to be charged under the Penal Code with aggravated espionage, which stipulates that obtaining, collecting, preparing, recording or keeping secret information without authorization, but without intent to harm state security, is punishable by seven years in prison.

In a statement, Weinstein noted that though Blau was being charged under the “aggravated espionage” clause, the indictment would not attribute the offense of “espionage” to him in the traditional sense of that term.

As a result of Weinstein’s decision, the Tel Aviv district attorney is expected to file an indictment against Blau in the Tel Aviv District Court within a few weeks.

The attorney-general explained that before deciding to indict the reporter, he had taken into account “all the relevant considerations,” which he said included the need to preserve the character of a free press and allow the media to carry out its “essential role” in ensuring the public’s “right to know.”
If the mainstream media here were really interested in the public's right to know and not in pursuing an agenda, I might be more sympathetic. But the mainstream media here pursues a radical Leftist agenda, and having a reporter - particularly from Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily - holding a classified document, is a danger to state security. That is a precedent that cannot be allowed to be set.

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Immoral to honor terrorists?

Here's an interview Aaron Lerner did with a 'Palestinian Authority' official who defended the PA's decision to honor the dead terrorists whose bodies were returned by Israel on Thursday in an obscene 'gesture' on Thursday.

Let's go to the videotape.

Nice people, huh? But they'll stop honoring terrorists if we give them a 'state.' What could go wrong?

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The Flame and the Angry Birds

We need to get into the mood for this, so let's go to the videotape.

YNet comments on the use of the LUA programming language for the computer virus Flame. Lua is a language that is a favorite of game programmers, including those who programmed the Angry Birds.
The "Flame" computer virus, which wreaked havoc on several major Iranian computer systems, is related to none other than the "Angry Birds" game, Fox News reported Thursday.

According to the report, "Flame" – dubbed "the most sophisticated cyber-weapon ever" – was written in LUA computer language, which the incredibly popular game was written in.

Fox quoted cyber experts as saying Flame's complexity indicates that it contains some 250,000 lines of code or more, yet it was constructed using LUA, which is favored by game programmers due to its ease of use.

"The people who developed the malware found an ingenious way to use a code not part and parcel of a hacker's normal arsenal, and that made it harder to detect," Cedric Leighton, a former Air Force Intelligence officer told the American news network.
Here's the Fox News report.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Beit El and Gush Katif

Despite his promise to freeze plans to expel the Jewish residents of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood from their homes, Prime Minister Netanyahu's Civil Administration has made plans to house those residents in caravillas (mobile homes) should they be expelled from their homes on June 30.
Ynet has learned that the administration is working on a plan through which Beit El land would be allocated for caravillas which would be constructed for the use of the evictees.

Over the past few weeks the defense establishment has held deliberations over possible temporary housing solutions that could be offered to the Ulpana residents after the eviction.

At first, they raised the possibility of temporarily housing the evacuees in hotels, yet new plans reveal the intention of settling them in caravillas until a permanent solution is arranged.

The Civil Administration's settlement sub committee is set to meet on Thursday in order to approve the construction of 30 temporary housing units for evacuees.


At the beginning of the month the High Court denied the State's petition to review the case and postpone the evacuation, imposing a July 1 deadline for its razing.

Prime Minister Netanyahu managed to convince right wing MKs to remove deliberations on the Arrangements Law from the agenda; they agreed to freeze promotion of the bill in order to give the government time to settle the issue.

Netanyahu then instructed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to halt all demolition preparations. Yet the defense establishment is apparently ignoring this directive and has been continuing to prepare for the July 1 deadline.

Beit El residents have expressed their anger over the fact that plans for evacuation are continuing, ignoring the prime minister's directives.

The IDF Spokesman said in response: "The IDF is holding ongoing discussions with the settlement leaders…mainly over the issues of defense and security aspects. Naturally these meetings are private and we will not address what was said (in the meetings)."
For the Jewish state to expel Jews from their homes is a disgrace, and residents of Judea and Samaria have been holding a hunger strike against the decree in a protest tent outside the Supreme Court. Of course, you won't see that covered in the New York Times, but I haven't seen it covered in the Jerusalem Post or YNet either. Here's a picture I was sent (Hat Tip: Varda N).

The only silver lining in this cloud is that the caravillas, which are far more likely than not to become permanent homes for a lengthy period of time, are going to be located in Beit El. Perhaps this is the time to look at some statistics regarding the Jewish refugees from Gaza, who were expelled from their homes seven years ago this summer. This is from a United Nations report(!) from June 2011.
About 230 of the 1,450 families from Gush Katif (16 percent) have moved into permanent homes, according to a December 2010 report released by the Gush Katif “committee”.

Unemployment among former Gush Katif residents is running at about 18 percent, while under-employment is 20 percent, said the “committee”. Before the withdrawal, unemployment was 5 percent, with 85 percent working in Gush Katif, according to JobKatif, an NGO created to help former residents rebuild their livelihoods.

While unemployment is much worse in Gaza, the unemployment rate among the evacuees is about double the rate of the general Israeli population. Children have faced adjustment issues and the divorce rate increased, along with financial problems, say former residents. Government compensation that was received, was lower than the value of the land and did not allow farmers to re-establish their farms, according to the “committee”.

Shilat Kahalani, spokesperson for the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council which covers 42 Israeli settlements in the West Bank (known as Judea and Samaria to Israelis), told IRIN that many former Gush Katif residents wanted to rebuild their homes and lives in the West Bank, but were prevented from doing so by a building moratorium which was only lifted in September 2010, having been in force for 10 months.

About 380 farms existed in Gushi Katif (of which 240 were operational), but only 28 percent of the owners of agricultural land have resumed farming. Most business owners, too, have not returned to their trade and were not appropriately compensated, according to the “committee”.

“Disengaging a community is not something that can be rebuilt easily, and many families never received promised full financial support,” Kahalani said.

A June 2010 report on the findings of the Israeli “State Commission of Inquiry into the Handling of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria by the Authorized Authorities”, placed blame on the state of Israel.

“The State of Israel failed in its handling of the evacuees,” it said. “Five years after, most of the evacuees are still living in temporary caravan sites; the construction of most of the permanent housing has not yet commenced; and the decisive majority of the public structures in the evacuees’ new settlements have not yet been built.”

“It was a mission of the government to settle people in Gaza,” said former Gush Katif resident Debbie Rosen, and “there must be a solution for every settler”. She received half the value of her home in Gush Katif, and she and her six children are still waiting for their new house to be built, she added.
And for those who think that the Ulpana neighborhood is going to be 'evacuated' quietly with the soldiers called in to do the job embracing the residents in tears, consider this.
“People in my community are unwilling to be evacuated because on a personal level they witnessed the awful outcomes of such a disengagement on the lives of the Gush Katif evacuees,” Binyamin council spokesperson Kahalani said.
If this expulsion actually goes ahead, we will likely be looking at another Amona.

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, May 31.
1) J-Street without the makeup

The New York Times, featured an advertorial for J-Street, Lobbying Group Builds on Moderate Take on Israel. At the end of the article was a correction:
Each mention of the word "moderate" should be replaced with "left wing fringe."
There really was a correction; that wasn't it.

However, I'd like to rewrite selected paragraphs to show how a newspaper - as opposed to an advertising agency - would cover J-Street. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to compare with the actual newspaper copy.

Second paragraph:
No longer. While America remains a strongly pro-Israel country, others, aware of this — led by J Street, a Washington lobbying group — take a more confrontational approach focusing their activism on criticisms of Israel while cynically using the "pro-Israel" label to pretend that they have mainstream support.
Fourth paragraph:
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, said in an interview that “the assumption has always been that to be pro-Israel, you have to run to be supportive of Israel in the Middle East. We've changed that and adopted the ‘Israel mostly wrong’ position.”
Seventh paragraph:
In the past, some Congressional candidates were reluctant to take J Street’s money because of charges from some American Jewish leaders and Israeli officials that the group’s extreme positions — it supports less accountability for the Palestinian Authority, increased risk taking by Israel and continued aid to the Palestinian Authority regardless of its commitment to peace — made it “anti-Israel.”
Ninth paragraph:
Josh Block, another former Aipac official, accurately called J Street “a gnat” in the Israel debate and “a fringe organization with no credibility.”
Tenth and eleventh paragraph:
Capitol Hill critics say J Street has been unnecessarily divisive, more interested in demanding ideological purity than in building a working coalition leading to friction with onetime supporters like Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat of New York, who broke with the group last year over its support for a United Nations resolution criticizing Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal.
For J Street defenders in denial, such as this newspaper, the vitriol is a sign that the group is beginning to have an impact.
Seventeenth paragraph:
So far this year, J Street is endorsing and raising money for more than 60 candidates — all Democrats — including such well known anti-Israel candidates Representatives John D. Dingell of Michigan, and Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Last September, Representative Ellison wrote an op-ed in this newspaper advocating the unilateral declaration of independence of the Palestinian state - a position even more extreme than the stated editorial position of this newspaper.
Nineteenth paragraph:
J Street's conference drew a record number of attendees — 2,500 — but was limited to having the keynote speech given by Ehud Olmert, the disgraced former Israeli prime minister who is universally despised in Israel, and other irrelevancies. But it could not compete for global news coverage or firepower with AIPAC’s conference, which featured policy-defining and inspirational speeches defending Israel’s security by Mitt Romney and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as well as by J-Street's one time advocate President Obama.
Twenty third paragraph:
While the anti-Israel philanthropist George Soros gives J Street about $500,000 a year - without which the group could not survive - it has not managed to cultivate the same loyal following among donors.
Twenty fourth paragraph:
Still, leaders of J Street and politicians aligned with the group say they believe they have helped obfuscate the debate in Washington, as they have taken an uncritical stance supporting the Palestinian Authority and misleadingly passed it off as both “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace.”
Final two paragraphs:
J. J. Goldberg, who has been responsible for changing The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, into a pro J-Street advocacy newsletter and author of “Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment,” said he was impressed by the inroads that J Street had made politically and financially.
“I’m stunned that there are so many members of Congress willing to take their money,” Mr. Goldberg said. “The fact that they’ve got 60 candidates who aren’t afraid to accept their ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ argument is a real breakthrough in deceit. I'm proud to have done my part, along with the New York Times, of giving prominence to this group of anti-Israel activists out of proportion to their actual numbers or influence.”
2) An Islamist and a general in the runoff

In this week's elections for president in Egypt, the top two vote getters were Muhammad Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmad Shafiq an ex-general who served under Mubarak.

Barry Rubin writes in Egypt’s Presidential Election is a Defeat (Perhaps Only Temporary) For the Islamists:
Note well that the three non-Islamist candidates had a majority. This means that if voters stay within these two camps, Shafiq will be elected president.
The main irony is that their leading candidate shows support for the kind of rule being delivered by the army junta now and even by the (supposedly) despised Mubarak regime. A lot of Egyptians want quiet and order. And Shafiq outpaced the alternative “establishment” candidate Amr Moussa because he is even more bland and moderate.
Again, though, note that Shafiq could be a president with few powers facing a parliament that is handcrafting a constitution intended to bring Islamism. Moreover he has no political organization.
Or does he? Perhaps he has one that can be called the Egyptian army. A key point: If the Brotherhood doesn’t make the army very happy (financially), there might be some serious confrontations. In the longer run, there could even be a coup and that would return Egypt back to where it was politically before the whole “Arab Spring” business began!
In Reports of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated, Eric Trager describes the Muslim Brotherhood's organizational:
It is not merely that the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s “best organized” group, as many commentators frequently note. It is the only organized group, with a nationwide hierarchy that can quickly transmit commands from its Cairo-based Guidance Office (maktab al-irshad) to its 600,000 members scattered throughout Egypt. The hierarchy works as follows: The twenty-member Guidance Office sends its marching orders to deputies in each governorate (muhafaza), who communicate with their deputies in each “sector” (quita), who communicate with their deputies in each “area” (muhafaza), who communicate with their deputies in each “populace” (shoaba), who finally communicate with the leaders of each Brotherhood “family” (usra), which is comprised of five Muslim Brothers and represents the organization’s most basic unit. This chain of command is used for executing all Guidance Office decisions, including commanding Muslim Brothers to participate in protests, organize social services, and—during the most recent elections—campaign and vote for Mohamed Morsi.
There are two additional elements of the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal structure that ensure that the Brotherhood leadership’s commands are followed. First, the social lives of members are deeply embedded within the organization. Muslim Brothers meet with their five-person Brotherhood “families” at least weekly, where they study religious texts, discuss politics, organize local Brotherhood activities, and share their private lives with one another. Muslim Brothers’ deepest personal relationships thus emerge within the organization, and there is a great disincentive to buck the Brotherhood leadership’s commands, since doing so risks alienation from their closest friends and mentors.
Second, the very process of becoming a Muslim Brother ensures that only those who are deeply committed to the organization and its principles become full-fledged members. Indeed, becoming a Muslim Brother is an intricate five-to-eight-year process, during which each member is gradually promoted through four tiers of memberships before finally becoming a “working Brother” (ach amal). (In order to attain the third level, a rising Muslim Brother’s supervisors must affirm that he has studied the works of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna; memorized specific chapters of the Qur’an; and shown himself to be “a good follower of the Muslim Brotherhood organization’s decisions,” as one young Muslim Brother engaged in this process told me last March.) Those who become Muslim Brothers are highly unlikely to turn their backs on an organization in which they have invested so much time and energy in joining.
The editors of the Washington Post hail Egypt's firm step toward democracy:
If confirmed, the choice between Mr. Morsi and Mr. Shafiq will not be a happy one. A victory by either one would pose the risk of accentuating the conflict and chaos that has plagued Egypt in the last 15 months. But the unfortunate result should not lessen the significance of what occurred last week: the freest and fairest vote for president in Egyptian history. Though three leading presidential candidates were disqualified, a dozen others openly campaigned for the job; despite complaints by the losers no evidence of significant fraud has surfaced. In what has been a seesaw battle over the future of the most populous Arab nation, the election represents another step toward democracy.
The results showed that Egypt is hardly polarized between Islamists and the former military-backed regime. According to the preliminary results Mr. Morsi and Mr. Shafiq received, together, less than half the vote; Mr. Morsi’s total of about 25 percent was far below the more than 40 percent won by the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections just five months ago. Secular candidates received considerably more than half the vote. Mr. Sabahi, who espouses the Arab nationalism of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, was reported to have placed first in Cairo.
A victory by Mr. Morsi in the second round would give Islamists control of both the presidency and parliament. The Brotherhood has vowed to respect democratic norms and women’s rights, to pursue free-market economic policies, and to maintain peace with Israel. But Mr. Morsi, 60, is a conservative who has vowed to steer the country toward Islamic law. Mr. Shafiq is even more worrisome: He could seek to restore the former autocracy, backed by the military and its intelligence services. Egyptians are already talking about the possibility that the second round could provoke more turmoil in the streets or a military coup.
I would be more skeptical of Morsi than Shafiq, because if both the executive and legislative branches of government are controlled by the Brotherhood, the chances of another free and fair election would be less likely.

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Iran's nuclear shell game

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) presented the satellite images above on Thursday as evidence that Iran is continuing its efforts to destroy evidence of the existence of nuclear weapons development activity at its Parchin military base.
The UN nuclear watchdog stated that "based on satellite imagery, at this location, where virtually no activity had been observed for a number of years, the buildings of interest to the Agency are now subject to extensive activities that could hamper the Agency’s ability to undertake effective verification."

Western envoys who attended Wednesday's briefing said that two small side buildings at the Parchin military facility had been removed and ISIS said that they "have been completely razed."

The disclosure followed inconclusive talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad last week to address concerns about the nature of its nuclear activities, which Iran says are aimed at generating electricity.

"Heavy machinery tracks and extensive evidence of earth displacement is also visible throughout the interior as well as the exterior of the site's perimeter," the think-tank said.
Iran, which once again dismissed the allegations, has been denying IAEA inspectors access to Parchin for months.

But there's a far more interesting question: Even if Iran destroyed the buildings in question, the nuclear development activity that was carried out there is highly unlikely to have been stopped. Where did it go? My bet is on Fordow (near Qom), which is an underground facility. If I'm right, the focus on Parchin, while potentially important, is more likely a distraction from current nuclear weapons building efforts.

What could go wrong?

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Two Americans kidnapped by Beduin in Sinai

If you're going to come to our region, please stay away from Sinai.
Armed Beduin tribesmen kidnapped two American tourists in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian police said on Thursday. The perpetrators are demanding the release of a fellow tribesman recently arrested in a drug case.

The Palestinian Ma'an news agency identified the tourist as Jonathan Shizarlasky and Carter Brabon, both of whom are 31 years old. They were seized while driving near the resort of Dahab.

"There are negotiations now between the security forces and the armed gunmen to release the tourists," a police source said, adding that the Beduin were seeking the release of one of their tribe who has been jailed in a drugs case.
And they're probably safer than a lot of people hanging out in 'resorts' in Sinai.

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Scary: 'Security cabinet' opposes Iran strike

Keep in mind the possibility that this is just a little interference running because I find it hard to believe this story is true. YNet is reporting that Israel's 'security cabinet' is now 6-3 against a military strike against Iran at the present time because IDF Chief of Staff Benny Ganz (no great surprise) is opposed.
Although officially, Israel's stance on the matter is that all options are viable, political sources told Ynet on Wednesday that IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz, Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo and several top section chiefs in the Mossad are against a strike at this time.

Such opposition has been noted within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's special nine-minister security forum.

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman support an attack on Tehran's nuclear facilities, but Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon, Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz and ministers Dan Meridor, Benny Begin, Eli Yishai and Yuval Steinitz are against it.

"Without Gantz' support the chances of mounting a strike are slim," a political source told Ynet. "Israel has to push the international community to impose further sanctions on the Iranian economy. That's what's important right now."

Israel, he added, must urge crippling financial sanctions against the Islamic Republic: "The sanctions should reduce the Iranian economy to rubble. The United States and Europe still seem hesitant on that, mostly for political reasons and a fear of soaring oil prices.
What could go wrong?

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Fly the exploding skies!

If you have ever thought about flying Iran Air, this ought to make you think again. Iran is using passenger jets to smuggle weapons to Syria and Hezbullah.
Citing Western security sources, ZDF said that Iran Air and Yas Air have repeatedly used aircraft designated as passenger planes to transport weapons to the Assad regime and Hizbullah.

The mastermind behind the operation is Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which supports the regime of President Bashar Assad and the Lebanese party, the sources told ZDF.

According to the broadcaster, Turkish security officials found weapons and explosives on board a Yas Air passenger jet in March last year.

The freight was allegedly being shipped to Damascus.
What could go wrong?

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Blue-only Florida shuls raise red flags

Adam Kredo reports that some Jewish South Floridians - including Democrats - are concerned about the way that the region's synagogues are being used for partisan politics.
“I see a trend here in South Florida where some synagogues of late are only presenting prominent speakers who represent partisan policy perspectives, and other points of view are silenced,” Florida Rabbi Sam Intrada, a self-described lifelong Democrat, told the Free Beacon. “The liberal idea of pluralism is grossly lacking in these situations.”

“This trend to keep out centrist, moderate, mainstream concerns about Israel and stifling discussion about them is very painful to me,” he added, pointing out that “many people in these synagogues are troubled about the situation.”

“I do not know who is applying pressure to prohibit such discussion, but it is a travesty,” Intrada said.


Wasserman Schultz gave a speech to Reform Congregation Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, Fla., during Rosh Hashana last year, according to a temple representative. She made an appearance at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in mid-April.

Sources present at the Aventura religious service say that it featured pro-Obama talking points and failed to offer an opposing viewpoint.

Wasserman Schultz “spent time talking about the Obama-Israel relationship,” said Eytan Laor, a Miami resident who attends services at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. “This is an effort to reassure these [Jews] who are on the fence, who have concerns that [the president] is not a friend to Israel.”

Wasserman Schultz told the crowd, “Behind closed doors, Israel has had no better friend then Barack Obama,” Laor recalled.

The event prompted concerns that “the alternative side is not being given a chance to talk,” Laor said. “There’s not really any debate allowed. The only ones allowed to speak are members of the administration.”

Laor cited his unsuccessful months-long attempt to bring Rep. Allen West to the religious center for a discussion with Holocaust survivors.

The B’nai Torah debacle from earlier this month, however, is perhaps the most notable comingling of religion and politics.

During an event featuring Ambassador Susan Rice, a delegation of Jews, some of them elderly, were removed from the synagogue for balking at Rice’s pro-Obama politicking.

The senior leadership of B’nai Torah has long been tied to the upper echelons of team Obama and the Democratic Party.

The synagogue’s senior rabbi, David Steinhardt, is said to be an Obama booster and defender of his policies towards Israel.

B’nai Torah is also the spiritual home of Mark and Nancy Gilbert, who are closely tied to the White House and Wasserman Shultz and whose daughter is a Democratic National Committee staffer who posted a provocative photograph captioned “Jewbags” and “Jew Cash Money Team” on Facebook.

The Gilberts and the synagogue’s executive director did not respond to requests for comment.
Read the whole thing. My own hope is that these strong arm tactics will result in a backlash against the Democrats. Comments - particularly from those on the ground in South Florida (I know there are some of you) are welcome.

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This is rich: 'Palestinians' to boycott UNICEF because only Israel knows how to...?

You will recall that last Friday I reported that the 'Palestinians' are seething because contracts to rebuild Gaza had been awarded to Israeli companies. As a result, the 'Palestinians' are threatening to boycott UNICEF, and UNICEF is on the run for cover.
The Palestinian Contractors Union denounced UNICEF and warned Palestinians against cooperating with Israeli firms.

The head of the union, Osama Kahil, said he received complaints from Palestinian contractors who told him that Israeli firms had asked for their cooperation in carrying out construction work in the Gaza Strip, offering them half of the revenues.

“We contacted the head of UNICEF and held a meeting with her after which we decided to boycott the agency until it backtracks on its decision,” Kahil said. He added that Palestinians were outraged that Israelis, who were “responsible for destroying the Gaza Strip,” were being offered the opportunity to help carry out important projects.


UNICEF spokeswoman Catherine Weibel said that no contracts had been awarded to any firms. She explained that UNICEF Special Representative in the Occupied Palestinian territory Jean Gough had met with the Palestinian Contractors Union on Tuesday.

“The priority and policy of the UNICEF office in the Occupied Palestinian territory is to purchase goods and services from qualified Palestinian manufacturers, authorized dealers and companies. We only buy from other providers when goods are not available,” Gough said.

Weibel explained that the project in question was a desalination plant.
Well, that sure explains a lot, doesn't it? Israel is a world leader in desalination. The 'Palestinians' don't know how to make anything other than suicide bombs.

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Orthodox American Jew held without charges in Evo Morales' Bolivia

Jacob Ostreicher, an Orthodox American Jew, has been held without charges since 2011 in Evo Morales' Bolivia. As you might recall, Morales is a buddy of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, and of American dictator Barack Hussein Obama. This is from the first link.
Ostreicher was arrested by Bolivian authorities in 2011 and is accused of laundering drug money after he started a rice cultivation business in the country. Ostreicher told ABC News that even though he cooperated with authorities, he was still placed under arrest. Bolivian authorities are questioning the money that was collectively raised from the venture, and for all intents and purposes have assumed that Ostreicher is conducting an illicit business.


Ostreicher’s wife Miriam Ungar has been interviewed on national television pleading for her husband’s release, but her requests fell on deaf ears until Ungar spoke with Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), wife of Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL), who indicated that she was “eager to help.” Bono Mack told Ungar that she would put her in touch with her husband’s office, and she followed through on her promise.

Congressman Connie Mack is the Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, and he’s launched an inquiry into the matter. Mack’s office has attempted to reach out to Bolivian authorities and is fully engaged on the case. Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey is also getting involved in the case, but to date no member of the Democratic caucus in Congress has spoken out about the issue.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also been noticeably quiet about the matter, and given that many within Jewish community in South Florida are very much aware of the situation, they are beginning to question the Wasserman Schultz’ silence.
Read it all.

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Overnight music video

Here's Avraham Fried with Father Don't Cry.

Let's go to the videotape.

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The happiest day of his life

The happiest day of his life. A true win-win situation (Hat Tip: Soccer Dad via Twitter).

Let's hope to see Ahmadinejad like this soon.


Israel to make obscene 'gesture,' 'Palestinians' to make obscene gesture

Sometimes the idiocy of this country's politicians exceeds expectations. This is one of those times.

Out of the blue, and for no particular reason, our political echelon has decided to make an obscene 'gesture' to the 'Palestinian Authority' by releasing the bodies of more than 90 dead terrorists - suicide bombers and others who murdered hundreds all over the country. As of 1:00 am, the release is being held up due to an appeal to the Supreme Court by Almagor, the terror victims' group. But as we know, those appeals never succeed.

The 'Palestinian Authority' has decided to make an even more obscene gesture. It plans to hold a celebration of the terrorists' release, and to dance on the blood of Israel's terror victims.
The IDF will deliver the bodies to representatives of the PA on Thursday, PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Issa Qaraqi, said.

He said that the PA would hold a "national rally" in the Mukata presidential compound in Ramallah in honor of the "martyrs." The rally will be attended by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, PLO leaders and families of the Palestinians who were killed in suicide bombings and other terror attacks over the past three decades.

Qaraqi said that after the ceremony the bodies will be sent to their hometowns, where each one will be buried in a military funeral.

He said that 17 bodies whose hometowns were unknown will be buried in a Ramallah cemetery, also in full military funerals.

Another 12 bodies will be transferred for burial in the Gaza Strip, the minister added.

Qaraqi called on Palestinians to consider Thursday a day of celebration for the return of the "martyrs" to their families.

The repatriation of the bodies is part of a goodwill gesture to Abbas.
The list of terrorists whose bodies are being handed over includes "several suicide bombers who carried out the attacks at Cafe Hillel and the no. 2 bus in Jerusalem." My eldest daughter's classmate Nava Applebaum HY"D (May God Avenge her blood) and her father Dr. David Applebaum HY"D were among those murdered at Cafe Hillel. My insurance agent's two-year old granddaughter was among those murdered on the number 2 bus, whose perpetrator purposefully stood among a group of children before detonating himself.

The list of terrorists being handed over also includes the terrorists who carried out the Savoy Hotel attack in 1975, killing eight hostages.

There are many others as well. Read the whole thing.Why were are handing over this scum, who should be buried at the bottom of the sea wrapped in pig's lard, is simply beyond me.

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Ahmadinejad: 'We love death'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told France 24 on Wednesday that he is not afraid of an attack by Israel.
He said that only Israel wants to attack Iran, but that the West does not and if the "Zionist regime" does not "attack Iran, there is no problem."

Israeli officials have hinted at the possibility of an airstrike against Iran's nuclear program if ongoing negotiations between Iran and western powers do not lead to a deal which includes Iran ceasing all uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad hit back at demands that Iran cease enriching uranium to 20 percent, claiming that 20% enriched uranium was no more threatening than 3.5% enriched uranium.

He posed a question to the West as to why it was pressuring Iran about 20% enriched uranium when western nations already have the atom bomb. In that light Ahmadinejad asked "who is more dangerous," Iran or the West?

He noted that the West had started most of history's wars and that Iran should be complaining about the West's insults.

Ahmadinejad pointed out that Iran has a right under international law to enrich uranium to 20%, which benefits Iran separately from the issue of weapons. If any party wishes Iran "not to have the benefit" of 20% enriched uranium, "they must explain why," said Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad also stated that Iran always can "inspire fear in its enemies" and knows how to deal with any threat.
What could go wrong?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

IDF threatens to act to stop Syrian weapons smuggling to Hezbullah

IDF Northern District Commander Yair Golan told a conference at the Begin-Sadat Center on Wednesday that Israel may intervene militarily if it feels that it needs to stop Syria from arming Hezbullah.
Speaking at a conference marking the 30th anniversary of the First Lebanon War at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Golan said that the first challenge for Israel would be to obtain intelligence that such a transfer has taken place, but that once Israel knew it would need to consider action.

"Would it be wise to intercept such a transfer or would this be nonsense," Golan asked, presenting the dilemma Israel would face.

The senior officer said that Syria was a "failed state" and that terrorists were already "flourishing" within the country.

"Terror is already flourishing in Syria and the terror threat towards Israel is forming," he said. "It will not happen tomorrow but we need to be prepared. It is not hard to think of a reality in which al-Qaida elements already in Syria and fighting the regime will start to act against us. It is also possible that without a clear regime, Syria will also become another area of operations for Hezbollah."

Golan said that Iran was deeply concerned with the possibility that Bashar Assad will fall and is providing Syrian security forces with support, directly and via Hezbollah.

"Iran is here and we are fighting a daily war indirectly against Iran from Islamic Jihad in Gaza to Hezbollah in Lebanon," he said. "Iran's influence in Syria is also felt. It is very concerned with the future of its ally Bashar Assad and is trying to help him directly and via Hezbollah."
Meanwhile, a new IDF assessment predicts that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will remain in power through 2013.
The IDF had originally predicted that Assad would fall by within the first year of the uprising in Syria which has already entered its 14th month. The most extreme prediction was voiced by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who repeatedly said over the past year that Assad will fall “within weeks”.

“We were wrong,” a senior IDF officer admitted on Wednesday. “We now understand that he will probably survive 2012 and maybe 2013 as well.”

The officer predicted the possibility that Syria will fall into disarray and that while Assad might lose control over certain parts of the country, he would remain in power in Damascus, protected by the military.

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Obama declares himself an expert on Judaism

President Obama told 'Conservative Jewish leaders' on Tuesday that he knows more about Judaism than any other President (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). I assume that 'Conservative' here means members of the US Conservative Jewish movement, and not politically conservative Jewish leaders (Hat Tip: The Weekly Standard via Memeorandum).
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Obama and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew met about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders, thanking them for the work they do to improve communities around the country and discussed their shared commitment to rebuilding the U.S. economy.

The U.S. president, according to a readout of the session also reiterated his unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and steps his Administration has taken to enhance it - including unprecedented security cooperation and the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran.”

There were some questions directed at the presidents concerning his thoughts on the role of religious leaders in a more civil political dialogue, which then lead to the inevitable question - how does he feels about Israel? Obama joked that Lew always warns him it will get to "the kishkes question."

"Rather than describe how deeply I care about Israel, I want to be blunt about how we got here," Obama said, reminding his guests that he had so many Jewish friends in Chicago at the beginning of his political career that he was accused of being a puppet of the Israel lobby.

In the Senate, he said, his support for Israel's qualitative military edge has been unwavering.

Obama added that people judged his support for Israel because of the differences between a center right government in Israel and center-left in the U.S. - because he pressed Netanyahu too hard in his belief that it was time to seize the moment and pursue peace initiative.

Obama also stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it - and wondered how come no one asks Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner or Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel about their support to Israel.
I imagine that the next thing we will hear is that The One studies Daf Yomi (the daily Talmud folio whose cycle is to be completed in another two months).

As to Obama's Jewish friends, we already know who they were, don't we? Is that authentic Judaism? Not in my book.

YNet adds:
During the meeting, Obama told the rabbis that when he was running for Senate some accused him of being the Jewish lobby's "puppet" because of his many Jewish associates in Chicago. Now, he said, the Republicans are trying to portray him as not being supportive of Israel by stressing the fact that his father was Muslim and he has a Muslim name, as well as by claiming that he had been overly aggressive in pushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promote the peace process with the Palestinians.

According to the US leader, he had Israel's best interest in mind.
Where have we heard that cheap shot about his Muslim name before?

Bill Kristol adds:
1. The reason no one asks John Boehner or Mitch McConnell about their support for Israel is ... because they really do support Israel. The reason people ask Barack Obama about his support for Israel is because his support for Israel has been equivocal.

2. It's truly pathetic that Obama has to reach for the tired (to say the least) trope that some of his best friends were Jewish. Actually, one wishes more of his best friends were pro-Israel Christians. They might have had more luck convincing him, a fellow Christian, that he should be pro-Israel.

3. And the claim that Obama knows more about Judaism than any president? His vanity boggles the mind. One could begin by citing Adams and Madison, who knew Hebrew, or Harry Truman, who knew Jewish history ... but it's silly to dignify this claim with a rebuttal. In thinking about the presidents since Truman, though, I'd guess the president who knew the most about Judaism was Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school and had a deep interest in religion. So let's stipulate that of the modern presidents, Carter and Obama "know" the most about Judaism. But what is it they know? In Obama's case, one could ask whether what he “knows” is what he learned from Rashid Khalidi and Jeremiah Wright.
And what's most pathetic here is that the American Jewish community is actually falling for this. Simply pathetic.

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Please pray for my father

I've been on the phone much of the evening, because my father, whom I just visited in Boston last week, has had a 'significant decline' over the last few days. I'd like to ask you all to please pray for Reuven Yerachmiel ben Nechama.

The picture is my father with my granddaughter, and it was taken a year ago. My granddaughter is named after my mother a"h (may she rest in peace), who passed away seven years ago this summer.

Again, please pray for Reuven Yerachmiel ben Nechama.



Ha'Aretz lost in translation

The key to understanding the significance of this post is to maintain awareness that although Haaretz's English website gets a lot of traffic, its Hebrew newspaper and website are among the least read Israeli newspapers. I used to work in an Israeli government agency with a lot of Leftists, and we used to have to require companies to put legal notices in the newspapers. One of the Leftists once complained about the fact that companies were putting notices in Haredi newspapers. They were told by another Leftist to keep quiet, because the Haredi newspapers had higher circulation than Haaretz.

With that in mind, the significance of the fact that Haaretz 'loses' pertinent facts in translation from its Hebrew edition to its English edition should be obvious.
There’s Ha’aretz in Hebrew and then there’s Ha’aretz in English, and it’s not just language or circulation which sets them apart. (The Hebrew edition of Ha’aretz has a very low circulation in comparison to other Israeli newspapers; its influential English site is the go-to portal for Western journalists, policymakers, diplomats, and a vast public.)

Close reading of both print editions over the course of years has revealed an ongoing pattern. In preparation for the English edition, the Hebrew articles (most Ha’aretz stories are written first in Hebrew) are not merely translated – they’re often also whitewashed. In sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle cases, time and again, information appearing in the Hebrew original concerning Palestinian militancy, violence and other Arab wrongdoing is downplayed or omitted entirely. In some instances, the English account is completely at odds with the original Hebrew.

For instance, on Jan. 11, 2011, Zvi Barel wrote in Hebrew about a plan by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to link the eviction of Jews residing in an illegal building in the neighborhood of Silwan to the eviction of Arabs also living in illegal buildings in the same neighborhood: “A house in which Jews live illegally will be exchanged for a house in which Palestinians live illegally.” (Emphasis added.) The Hebrew report was factually correct.

The English translator, however, whether intentionally or not, gave the sentence an entirely new – and false – meaning, rendering the “illegal” Palestinian house “entirely legal.” The English read: “A house in which Jews live illegally will be exchanged for a house in which Palestinians live entirely legally.” (Emphasis added.) Is this either an entirely innocent slip of the pen or perhaps subconscious editorializing on the translator's part? It's impossible to know, but the introduction of the word "entirely," which does not appear in the Hebrew original, suggests something perhaps more deliberate at play. (The English edition, online and print, was subsequently corrected after Presspectiva, CAMERA's Hebrew site, contacted editors. See "Presspectiva, CAMERA's Hebrew Site, Prompts Improvements," below.)

This case would be striking enough as a stand alone item, but unfortunately it is consistent with a clear trend, which CAMERA has begun to document on its blog (blog.camera.org) but which warrants an extensive published study.
Read it all.

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Flashback: May 30, 1972

Forty years ago today, three Japanese terrorists boarded an Air France flight from Paris to Tel Aviv via Rome. Upon arrival in Israel, they passed through security, customs and police without being detected as suspicious or threatening (they did not belong to a high risk ethnic or racial population). At the baggage claim area, they opened their luggage, pulled out automatic weapons and hand grenades from what looked like violin cases, and opened fire on everyone in sight. Twenty-six people were murdered and 80 were wounded in what was later referred to as the Lod Airport Massacre.
On that day, 40 years ago, three inconspicuous Japanese men dressed in business suits disembarked Air France Flight 132 from Rome and strolled into the baggage claim area. After retrieving what appeared to be violin cases, the men pulled out machine guns, opened fire and threw grenades indiscriminately at the crowds of people. One of the three, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, ran out onto the tarmac and began shooting at passengers descending the stairs from an El Al plane before taking his own life.

The gunmen killed 26 people: 17 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, one Canadian citizen, and eight Israelis, and 80 people were injured. Among the Israelis killed was renowned scientist Aharon Katzir, whose brother, Ephraim Katzier became president a few years later. Gunman Yasuyuki Yasuda was also shot dead during the attack - it is unclear whether by his own weapon or that of his partners or security forces. The lone surviving gunman, Kozo Okomato, was injured, arrested by security forces and given a life sentence. He was later freed in the 1985 prisoner swap known as the Gibril Deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a document cited by Puerto Rican online newspaper Primera Hora, Pablo Tirado related that his father, who was injured in the attack, “came out of the baggage claim area and walked to the bathroom,” while Camelo Calderon Molina, who was killed in the massacre, “was waiting in the baggage claim area with others standing nearby.” He said the terrorists ran through the airport shooting and throwing grenades until they ran out of ammunition.

Molina’s daughter Ruth Calderon Cordona cried as she gave her testimony, 37 years after losing her father: “He always told us he didn’t want to die until he saw the land where Jesus walked - but he never saw it, because he died in the airport,” Primera Hora quoted her as saying.


The Lod Airport Massacre shocked Israel into making serious changes in its airport security system and there have not been any successful terrorist attacks within the airport grounds since. The meticulous security measures serve as a constant reminder to the Israeli public of past tragedies, while half way across the world, the Puerto Ricans commemorate yearly the victims they lost at the hands of international terrorism.
You will recall that three weeks earlier, terrorists took over a Sabena flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv via Vienna, and the passengers on that flight were rescued by the IDF.

I have mentioned before that I flew that same Sabena flight to Israel in late June of 1972 to come spend the summer in Israel on a tour. In retrospect, I am amazed that my parents let me go.

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Ruh Roh: IAEA notes 'new activity' at Parchin

A newly-released image from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shows new ground scraping activity at Iran's Parchin military base.
The base is suspected of being used for nuclear weapons testing in the last decade. The UN nuclear watchdog showed new satellite imagery on Wednesday indicating that Iran may be cleaning a site where inspectors suspect it has carried out tests relevant to developing atomic bombs, participants at a closed-door briefing said.

One person who attended the presentation by senior UN nuclear agency officials for diplomats accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency said a May 25 image showed "ground scraping activities" at the Parchin military site.

Another envoy said one building also appeared to have been removed from the site, compared with earlier images of the same place.

Last week, the IAEA said in a report issued to member states that satellite images showed "extensive activities" at the facility southeast of Tehran.
The better question is to where have they moved the operations? Fordow?

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Barak has been through everything and learned nothing

Just a few moments ago, I received an email from his yeshiva about an event marking 30 years since the 'disappearance' of Zechariah Baumol in the battle of Sultan Yaqub. That battle was commanded by none other than the current Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who is rumored to have gone to sleep while the battle was raging. Baumol is one of five soldiers from that battle whose fate was unknown for many years. He is one of three from that battle who are still missing.

Barak - along with Shimon Peres - is a politician about whom it can be said that he has been through everything and learned nothing. It was Barak who fled a training accident at Tzehilim, leaving IDF soldiers to die as he left in his helicopter. It was Barak that tried unsuccessfully to reach a deal with Yasser Arafat at Camp David twelve summers ago and got a violent intifada in return for his flexibility. It was Barak who left an IDF soldier to die while he sought 'permission' from Yasser Arafat to rescue the soldier on Rosh HaShanna twelve years ago. It was Barak who continued to try to give away the store to Arafat, while that intifada raged, in a bid to save his seat as Prime Minister. And it was Barak who, as Defense Minister, passed on the opportunity to finish off Hamas during Operation Cast Lead.

I suppose we should not be surprised that Ehud Barak now wants to 'unilaterally withdraw' from Judea and Samaria.
Israel should consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the Palestinians fail, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday.

Barak received support for his position from Amos Yadlin, the former head of Military Intelligence who now serves as director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.

Yadlin presented a report at a conference at the think tank claiming that the chance for a peaceful negotiated resolution with the Palestinian Authority was not attainable in the near future and therefore needed to consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank.

Yadlin said that INSS decided to recommend unilateral action due to an understanding that the PA leadership was not willing to compromise on the right of return for refugees and was also unlikely to recognize Israel's identity as a Jewish state.

"If it turns out that it is not possible to reach an agreement, we need to consider an interim arrangement or alternatively a unilateral step," Barak said at the conference. "Israel cannot permit this to remain in deadlock."
But here's where it gets rich: The 'Palestinians' are unwilling to 'accept' a unilateral withdrawal (also here).
Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh Wednesday told WAFA that any Israeli unilateral measure leading to the establishment of a state with temporary borders is unacceptable.

Abu Rudeineh’s statements came in response to earlier statements by the Israeli Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, that Israel should consider unilateral moves and withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the Palestinians failed.

This Israeli policy leads to the continuation of the conflict; it does not lead to a solution, rather it ends the concept of the two-state solution, added Abu Rudeineh.

He emphasized that the Palestinians are “committed to a just and comprehensive solution of a state within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and without Jerusalem nothing will be accepted.”
In 2009, we were told that Prime Minister Netanyahu 'needed' Ehud Barak to show that his was not 'just' a rightist government. But Barak now controls only five Knesset seats, and is the leader of a party that is unlikely to pass the threshold in the next Knesset election. And so, unless he is taken into the Likud, he will not even be an MK after November 2013. In light of Barak's continued argument for Leftist positions that most of the current government opposes, and in light of the presence in Netanyahu's own party of Moshe 'Boogie' Yaalon, who is also a former IDF chief of staff, one has to wonder why Barak remains Defense Minister.

Unless, of course, Netanyahu really is a closet Leftist.

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The new Israel Day Parade

Indeed (via Jewish Press).

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, May 30.
1) Stupid headline of the day

If it weren't so tragic, the headline Supporters and Critics of Annan See Crisis in Syria as a Threat to His Legacy would be hilarious. Look at how his career is summarized:
His diplomatic successes included the effort to repatriate hundreds of international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. From 1995 to 1996, as under secretary for peacekeeping, he oversaw a difficult transition of that responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the United Nations to NATO. He is considered responsible for defusing a number of conflicts in Africa, notably a 2008 agreement that halted a civil war in Kenya.
But Mr. Annan also is known for having weathered some spectacular lapses. He led the United Nations peacekeeping operation when it failed to halt the Rwanda genocide in 1994 — for which he personally accepted some blame — and the Srebrenica massacre and the collapse of Somalia in 1995. The Darfur genocide in Sudan, which began in 2003, occurred on his watch as secretary general.
His career as secretary general was also marred by a corruption investigation into an oil-for-food program in Iraq administered by the United Nations. Although a panel of inquiry found that Mr. Annan had not influenced the awarding of a contract to the company that employed his son, Kojo, it criticized him for not looking more aggressively into that company’s United Nations ties.
"[D]iplomatic successes" on one hand; "spectacular lapses" on the other. Other would call those lapses, "failures."

Instapundit preserved a few key paragraphs from an expose of Annan that appeared in London's Sunday Times in October, 2006:
Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.
Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.
It's remarkable that Annan's failures as head of DPKO somehow qualified him to serve two terms as Secretary General. At the UN, apparently, nothing succeeds like failure.

The only way that his failure in Syria hurts his reputation is that the numbers of dead don't quite match the totals that his dereliction of duty caused in the 1990's. Yet.

Ehud Barak had a good line yesterday about Assad:
“I don’t think that Assad lost an hour of sleep last night because of those people leaving,” Mr. Barak said of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. “More concrete action is required,” he added. “These are crimes against humanity and it’s impossible that the international community is going to stand aside.”
2) Stupid headline of the day II

The threat to global health from the hunt for bin Laden by David Ignatius
As an intelligence operation, it must have seemed like pure genius: Recruit a Pakistani doctor to collect blood samples that could identify Osama bin Laden’s family, under cover of an ongoing vaccination program. But as an ethical matter, it was something else.
The CIA’s vaccination gambit put at risk something very precious — the integrity of public health programs in Pakistan and around the globe. It also added to the dangers facing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a world that’s increasingly hostile to U.S. aid organizations.
I might be sympathetic to this argument if the countries where American NGO's were endangered weren't actively spreading hatred of America and helping America's enemies. There are plenty of imagined conspiracy theories out there alleging America's evil intent. This is simply an effort to obscure Pakistan's role as America's enemy.

3) The tunnels of Gaza

A new New York Times correspondent tells of her tour of a tunnel going into Gaza:
As I stepped onto three wobbly bricks leading into the tunnel, the first thing I heard was “Watch your head.” This phrase would be repeated many times during the 1,000-foot walk to the Gaza side. After about the 10th warning, I yelled up the tunnel, “I’m much more worried about being bombed than grazing my head!” My guide, who, like the others I spoke with here, refused to give his name for fear of the authorities, guffawed. It took him half a minute to recover from the “ridiculousness” of my concern.
“This is our life,” said one of the workers, his face iced in a layer of white dust. “Life is expensive, and Rafah is even more high-priced than Cairo. So we are forced to work and live underground.”
Despite her regularly expressed fear of being bombed, according to an earlier account from the Times, there is evidence, that Israel knew which tunnels aren't used for munitions:
But with the Israeli bombing, and, unspoken, the heavy Egyptian police and military presence that the crisis has meant for the town, the tunnel trade has stopped for now, the residents said. “Nothing is going in now,” said Nader Sayed, 28. “It’s impossible now.”
Hamas, the residents said, controls other tunnels, conduits for guns, cement, explosives and fertilizers for explosives.
Muhammad al-Zarb said that the Israelis somehow seemed to know which tunnels were commercial and which were run by Hamas, and that they seemed to be selective in their bombing. “If someone has a tunnel for Chipsy, it seems O.K.,” he said. “When a Hamas guy has a tunnel for weapons, they bomb it.”
If the new correspondent seems to have a flair for the dramatic, it could be that she's had a previous career as an activist, as CIF Watch documents: (h/t Daled Amos)
When Ruqaya Izzidien is not minimizing the threats posed by radical Islam, or decrying European Islamophobia, for the English website of the Muslim Brotherhood, blogging for the extreme anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, or contributing to Al Jazeera, she serves as the UK correspondent for Bikyamasr, an online magazine which focuses on “Egypt and the region” – a site which has, on the sidebar of their home page , a “resistance to occupation” video ...
4) Oh! To be a ZOG!

Barry Rubin recommends this interview with Edward Luttwak. There's a lot to read and learn, but I loved this exchange:
There have been many different explanations given over the past 10 years for the strength of the American-Israeli relationship, ranging from the idea that Israel has the best and most immediately deployable army in the Middle East, to the idea that a small cabal of wealthy and influential Jews has hijacked American foreign policy.
You mean the Z.O.G.? The Zionist Occupied Government?
Personally, from an emotional point of view, myself, as me, I prefer the Z.O.G. explanation above all others. I love the idea that the Zionists have sufficient power to actually occupy America, and through America to basically run the world. I love the idea of being a member of a secretive and powerful cabal. If you put my name Luttwak together with Perle and Wolfowitz and you search the Internet, you will get this little list of people who run the American government and the world, and I’m on it. I love that.

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Uri Blau to be charged with espionage

Uri Blau, the Haaretz reporter who received thousands of classified documents from former IDF soldier Anat Kam, and published many of them, is to be charged with aggravated espionage. After a plea bargain, Kam received a four-and-one-half-year jail term, whose length she is appealing. Blau had reached a plea bargain with the prosecutors, but they allege that he violated its terms. If convicted, Blau could face seven years in jail.
Blau will be charged under the Penal Code with aggravated espionage, which stipulates that if a person obtained, collected, prepared, recorded or kept secret information without authorization, but without intent to harm state security, he will face a maximum seven years in prison.

Significantly, Blau will not be charged with intending to harm state security, which attracts a maximum 15 year prison term.

The district attorney also emphasized that while the offense with which Blau will be charged under the Penal Code is "aggravated espionage", the indictment will not attribute to Blau the offense of "espionage" as it is usually understood.
The prosecutors could have gone further.


YNet reports that Blau violated his agreement by not returning all of the documents in his possession.
Some two months ago, the Tel Aviv District Prosecutor's Office said it was withdrawing its agreement with the journalist. It claimed that Blau had falsely made it appear as though he returned all of the classified documents that had been in his possession. Blau had previously handed over some 50 documents he had received from Anat Kam to the Shin Bet.

The prosecution further stated that the State had provided Blau with the necessary sum needed for a new computer after it had destroyed his PC. "Blau had blatantly broken the agreement signed with him, allegedly lied to investigators and handed over only a small part of the stolen military information he had obtained.

Blau, a journalist with Haaretz, returned to Israel after a long period abroad following an agreement with the State Prosecutor's Office. He said he had turned over all of the documents he received from Kam to the State and had pledged to forward any secret document he had otherwise obtained over the years.

According to the agreement, the authorities would shred the documents without checking the source. Blau also committed to being investigated by the Shin Bet and police and declared he was no longer in possession of any of the documents. As part of the agreement the journalist also pledged to undergo a lie detector test.
I don't know why the government agreed to a ridiculous deal where they would shred all the documents without checking their source. Maybe that's why they are charging Blau with a lot less than he deserves.

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Tunisia's Israel Derangement Syndrome

Michael Totten visits Tunisia and discovers that the natives are obsessed with... Israel.
My colleague Armin Rosen and I were supposed to be conducting the interview. Instead, we were put on the defensive before we could even ask our first question.

“Of course not,” I said.

“Nope,” Armin said. “I don’t have a Zionist bone in my body.”

We were at the headquarters for the UGGT, Tunisia’s biggest labor union, in the small city of Kasserine just down the road from Sidi Bouzid where the revolution—and the region-wide Arab Spring generally—began at the tail end of 2010 when fruit vendor Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest crooked and onerous government regulation.

Four men sat in the union office with us. Armin and I wanted to hear about what happened in the early days of the revolt against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s autocratic regime, but they were in no mood to share such information with Zionists.

Our translator Ahmed Medien, a young and—shall we say—more cosmopolitan journalist based in the capital, Tunis, sat with us.

“What if we were Zionists?” I said, directing my question to Ahmed as much as to our interlocutors.

“They wouldn’t talk to you,” he said.

I was annoyed and tempted to say, never mind then, we’re done here. How would they feel if I opened an interview by asking if they were terrorists? Part of me wanted to get thrown out of their office, not because I itch for fights on the job, but because I learn as much from one interview that goes off the rails as I do from six that are predictable. But I don’t sabotage interviews. That’s up to the folks on the other side of the table. And anyway, conversations like this one that merely go wobbly, rather than implode catastrophically, can also be more revealing than typical ones.

Did I lie when I said I wasn’t a Zionist? What’s a Zionist, anyway? A person who thinks Israel has a right to exist? If so, then, yes, I suppose I’m a Zionist, or perhaps just a Zionist sympathizer since I am not Jewish. But these working-class mustachios in Tunisia’s back-of-beyond have another, more phantasmagorical, definition of the notorious Z-word. I’m certainly not a Zionist as they define one. Neither is Armin Rosen.

“We are not against Jews,” said the man behind the desk in whose office we sat, “but Zionists didn’t go to Palestine to coexist peacefully with Arab nations. They went there to take land from Palestinians and kill them. This is not a country that wants to peacefully coexist. This is a country that wants war between Arab nations.”

This is nonsense on stilts, of course, and since he and his colleagues wanted to know if Armin and I support that, then, no, neither of us lied, not really, when we said we weren’t Zionists.

Tunisia is moderate and even liberal compared with other Arabic-speaking countries, but the place still suffers from a heady case of Israel Derangement Syndrome. More than half the people I interviewed complained about Israel at least once even when I didn’t ask about it. Not a single one of these people—not a one—based their complaint in reality. They were jousting with a fantasy Israel that only exists in their minds.
The rest of the post is typical Totten with fascinating narrative and gorgeous pictures. Read the whole thing.

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