Sunday, January 31, 2010

Swedish Editor Accuses “Liberals” of Covering-Up “Israeli Organ Thefts”

31 January '10

Jesús Alcalá—a lawyer, writer and former chairman of the Swedish branch of Amnesty International—recently wrote an article in the Swedish daily newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, titled “The Dangers of Careless Journalism.”

Alcalá has harsh words for the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet’s publication of Donald Boström’s article on “Israeli organ harvesting”—and for Åsa Linderborg, the Aftonbladet editor who continues to stand by the story:
Every year around thirty different human rights organizations – international, Israeli and Palestinian – report on abuses and violations of human rights in Israel, on the West Bank, and in Gaza. The criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is often harsh. But none of these organizations have ever accused or suspected Israel of stealing organs from Palestinians that the Israeli army has killed. Not Amnesty. Not Human Rights Watch. Not a single of Israel’s many Jewish and Palestinian human rights organizations. Not a single one.

I have no reason to believe that Boström is an anti-Semite. I am sure that he is driven by genuine concern for the rights of the Palestinians. His cause is good. I believe the same of Åsa Linderborg.

Still. The end cannot justify the means. The carelessness is dangerous. 
Boström is familiar with the conflict in the Middle East. Is it then too much to ask that he avoids any connection to the myths of Jewish blood libels? Is it not careless to lend credence to rumors that are consequently exploited to strengthen hatred?
 Barely a month after Boström’s article is published; the Algerian paper al-Khabar writes that a Jewish organ trade group has kidnapped a great number of Algerian and Moroccan children.

(Read full post)

Sderot Victim's UN Testimony: Ignored by Goldstone Report

UN Watch
(First posted
16 January '09)

"Are human rights for some, but not others?" Organized by UN Watch, Sderot law student Liraz Madmony testified on Jan. 12, 2009, before the U.N. Human Rights Council emergency session on "Israel's Grave Violations in Gaza." The speech, delivered in name of the EUJS, was covered in the Jerusalem Post and Maariv newspapers, and on numerous Israeli TV and radio programs. UN Watch submitted this testimony to the Goldstone inquiry, but it was completely ignored.


Avi’s heroic mother

Eitan Haber
Israel Opinion/Ynet
31 January '10

I first heard Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s name about 20 years ago, some time after the murder of IDF soldier Avi Sasportas. Ever since then, al-Mabhouh went off the radar screen, until he made his comeback two or three days ago as a lifeless body; a dead man.

The cries and shouts that emerged from this man of terror’s funeral in Damascus over the weekend took me back at once to memories of one of the most noble people I have ever seen in my life; a woman who I never saw cry: Rachel Sasportas, Avi’s mother.

If she did cry, and I have no doubt that her eyes were overwhelmed by tears, she must have done it behind closed doors. During daylight hours, she would walk to the officer of then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin with her head held up high; she was quiet and restrained, almost whispering.

“I have no news for you,” the defense minister kept on telling her 21 years ago. “Your son’s body has not yet been found.” And she, Avi’s mother, listened to every word attentively, as if looking for a hidden treasure, and only said: “I know. I’m certain that the IDF and other security forces are making every effort to find Avi. I trust you.”

(Read full story)

Goldstone Ignores His Own Evidence about Flour Mill

An image from UNITAR of the Al Badr flour mill contradicting Goldstone's
report that Israel targeted the facility with an air strike

31 January '10

In an open letter, CAMERA challenged Judge Richard Goldstone on his findings that Israel deliberately targeted the Al Bader flour mill in a Jan. 9, 2009 air strike in order to deprive the civilian population of a food source. Goldstone declined to address the contradictions of his conclusion, and Elder of Ziyon blogger now observes that the judge even ignored contradictory evidence that he himself commissioned. Elder writes:

(Read full post)

The good cop goes to Auschwitz

By appearing to identify with the concentration camp’s victims, MK Barakei implies an analogy between them and Palestinians.

Sarah Honig
Another Tack/JPost
29 January '10

Arab-Muslim attitudes to the Holocaust are manifold, cunningly complex and often ostensibly contradictory. But these apparent incongruities are predominantly tactical. The endgame is how to best combat the remnants of Europe’s destroyed Jewry and their descendants in Israel. The common denominator for the diverse ploys is an underlying hypocrisy that allows Holocaust-justification, Holocaust-denial and cynical Holocaust-exploitation to thrive simultaneously in Arab discourse.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al), whose parliamentary salary is paid by you and me, not infrequently invokes the old canard that the Holocaust’s true victims were Palestinian Arabs, whom a guilt-ridden West saddled with the unwanted Jewish state. In other words, hapless Arabs paid Europe’s penalty despite their self-proclaimed innocence. Tibi, incidentally, who loses no opportunity to undermine anything of potential advantage to the Jewish state (even acceptance to the OECD), was just voted the most popular politician in Israel’s Arab sector. This was the uniform finding of the three leading Israeli-Arab papers: Panorama, Kul al-Arab and a-Sinara.

The second most popular Israeli-Arab politician, according to all three polls, is Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei, who created a stir with his decision to join the Knesset delegation to the Auschwitz liberation memorial ceremony.

Tibi and Barakei often play bad cop and good cop, respectively. Both, as a preliminary measure to dismantling Israel, wish to replace the Jewish state with “a state-for-all-its-citizens.” Both reject its national anthem, flag, emblem and Declaration of Independence.

Tibi is generally rowdier. As Yasser Arafat’s sidekick, he once headed a delegation of hundreds of Israeli-Arabs to Ramallah, where they shrilly chanted “a million shahids [martyrs] will march on Jerusalem,” and “we will open al-Aksa’s gates with the shahids’ blood.”

(Read full article)

Legal lightweight

Soccer Dad
29 January '10

Judge Richard Goldstone was greeted at Yale University with an article in the Yale Daily News written by Noah Pollak and Adam Yoffie that made short work of his commission's report:
Goldstone accepted a mandate from this council to investigate Israel, and only Israel, over its attack last year on the internationally-recognized terrorist group Hamas. The report he produced is a perversion of human rights and international law. It treats Hamas' allegations with meticulous credulity, but Israeli claims with flippant skepticism. It is riddled with factual errors and twisted accounts of the war. The members of Goldstone's staff have long histories of anti-Israel political activism. The report makes frequent and unsupported editorial declarations against Israel and included testimony from residents of Gaza who feared retaliation from Hamas. Justice Goldstone himself has admitted that nothing in the report would be admissible as credible evidence in a court of law.

However the Pollak/Yoffie op-ed was rather mild in comparison with the treatment Goldstone would receive from Richard Landes in recounting Goldstone's talk later.
Perhaps the single most striking feature of the talk was its staggering superficiality. Goldstone might have a reputation (at least among those familiar with his report) for being biased, but not for being a lightweight. And yet in the less than forty minutes of his formal lecture, at no point did one get the impression that one was listening to a trained legal mind, much less a brilliant one. Most of the lecture could have been written by an undergraduate who combined entries at Wikipedia on International Law, Nuremberg Trials, Geneva Convention, and Rome Treaty, with a warmed over version of "war is not the answer," and "why can't we all just get along and follow the law?"

Landes's account is, at once, entertaining and disturbing. Entertaining because Goldstone's superficiality and acute sensitivity come accross in Landes's telling. Disturbing because of the authority international organizations have invested in this man.

(Read full post)

Israel's First Response to Goldstone

Honest Reporting/Backspin
31 January '10

Israel released a document (pdf format) it sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in response to the Goldstone report.

The 46-page paper primarily defends the integrity of Israel's due process and civilian oversight of the IDF's investigations into 150 separate incidents and reports.

The paper also dismisses four of the Goldstone report's 36 specific allegations.
The destruction of the Namar water wells: The wells were located within a closed Hamas compound in the Jabaliyah refugee. The IDF did not know of the presence of wells there.

Damage to a sewage treatment plant: There was no record of the Israel targeting the site. Investigator couldn't rule out the possibility that the IDF caused some of the damage, nor could they rule out the possibility that a sewage basin was deliberately damaged by Hamas to hamper IDF movement.

Damage to the Bader flour mill: Israeli forces came under intense fire from the flour mill. It was hit by a tank shell, not by an aerial strike as Goldstone claimed. No phone call warning was made to the flour mill as it was not a pre-planned target.

Destruction of the Abu Askar family home: The Jabaliya home was used to store weapons and ammunition, including Grad rockets. Rockets aimed at Israeli towns were frequently launched in the vicinity of the house.

See the full report for more details.

The IDF is also preparing a separate, comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal of the Goldstone Report's allegations.

Giving accreditation where it's due

Amiel Ungar
31 January '10

Defense Minister Ehud Barak's announcement of his intention to implement a five-year-old government decision to recognize Ariel College as a university unfortunately elicited the usual "Judea and Samaria delenda est" (the settlements must be destroyed) invective from the left. Such polemics unfortunately only divert us from addressing the need to reevaluate higher education priorities and policies.

It is difficult to respect the intellectual honesty of critics such as Hebrew University Prof. Yaron Ezrahi (quoted in a report by Or Kashti in Haaretz, Jan. 24), who called Barak's move "a dangerous precedent in which a general is establishing a university," adding that "such a thing only exists in totalitarian countries."

Ezrahi and others who resort to such cheap shots know full well that the army's status as legislator is a byproduct of the unresolved status of Judea and Samaria. If the settlement of Ariel were to be annexed today, Barak would be out of the picture in terms of both higher education and housing freezes there. And if Israel had not legally reunified Jerusalem, the roads to Ezrahi's campus would also be governed by a general.

Ezrahi charges that Ariel College was established to promote the ideology of right-wing settlers. In all the years I taught there, I encountered colleagues from all colors of the political spectrum. However, even the most ideological rightist would never have dared to present a right-wing equivalent to an M.A. thesis branding Israeli soldiers as racist because they don't rape Arab women - a thesis sponsored by the former head of the Hebrew University's Truman Peace Center.

(Read full article)

Who decides in the Middle East?

30 January '10

News item:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a Tehran conference Saturday that whoever controls the Middle East controls the world, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

In a speech during a conference marking 30 years to the Islamic Revolution, Ahamdinejad reportedly implied that Iran is the top power in the Middle East. “Now the question is who has the last say in the Middle East? Well, of course, the answer is clear to every one,” Ahamdinejad said.

Before WWII, the answer was ‘Britain’. And from 1945 until Barack Obama, the answer has been ‘the US’. But in his Cairo speech, Obama more or less announced that the US, like Britain before it, was withdrawing from the region. And his inability or lack of will to resist Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons guarantees that Ahmadinejad will soon have the answer he desires.

OK, you can blame the bungled US reaction to 9/11, which included an unnecessary and hugely expensive war and a remarkably stupid followup to a military victory if you want to pin it on the Bush Administration, but shouldn’t Obama have at least made an effort to turn things around before slinking away?

(Read full post)

The Egypt-Hamas standoff in Gaza: a view from Israel

Shlomo Brom
Daily Star (Lb)
25 January '10

In the course of recent weeks, the relationship between Egypt and the Hamas government in Gaza has deteriorated and their latent conflict has become public. The specific reasons for this state of affairs are two decisions taken by the Egyptian government. The first was a decision to build a new metal wall that penetrates deep into the ground along the Gaza border with the purpose of preventing smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip both above and below ground, through tunnels. The second decision was, first, to delay and then to prevent the entrance into Gaza of the better part of a large convoy of trucks and a delegation organized by Western pro-Palestinian organizations to break Gaza’s isolation. These two decisions led to verbal recriminations between the Egyptians and Hamas, as well as to violent clashes at Al-Arish in Sinai and along Egypt’s border with Gaza in which an Egyptian soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Ever since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Egypt has had difficulty formulating a coherent policy to deal with the resultant dangers. Cairo’s basic attitude toward Hamas as an offshoot and branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is wariness. The Egyptian Brotherhood present the greatest challenge to the Egyptian regime, hence the existence of a territory ruled by a sister movement on Egypt’s border is a problem: it can serve as a model and a base of operations affecting Egypt itself; and it threatens Egyptian sovereignty, as manifested in January 2008 by the breaching of an Israeli-built Gaza-Sinai border wall and the flow of many thousands of Gazans to the Egyptian side.

The close relationship that has developed between Hamas and Iran and Hizbullah has only strengthened the perception of the threat posed by Hamas, especially after the uncovering in Egypt of Hizbullah cells that were part of a network smuggling weapons to Gaza. Evidence that these cells were planning attacks inside Egypt brought home to the Egyptian regime that its worst nightmare was coming true: Gaza was becoming an internal Egyptian security problem.

(Read full article)

Syria Regains Pivotal Regional, Int'l Role – The Triumph of the 'Course of Resistance'

N. Mozes
28 January '10

In a December 29, 2009 speech to the Syrian parliament, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem summed up the achievements of his country's political policy in 2009 by saying, "For Syria, 2009 was a year of political success in every sense of the term, and on all fronts..."[1] Indeed, the past year has seen a significant improvement in Syria's regional and international standing; it managed to extricate itself from its isolation internationally and in the Arab world, and to position itself as an influential regional force. By the end of 2009, the Syrian regime had become self-confident and certain of the effectiveness of its "path of resistance" policy, and was challenging the regional order and the world order and acting powerfully to change both.

The following is a review of Syria's current world view and policy, as reflected in statements by Syrian officials and articles in the Syrian government press.
Syria – From Isolation to Key Player in the International Arena
Until 2008, President Bashar Al-Assad's Syria seemed to be a pariah state. Syria had been isolated by the West and by some of the Arab countries, and was under international pressure that spiked following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri; in the wake of the assassination, it was forced to withdraw its military from Lebanon.

The aggressive anti-Syria line was led by the Bush administration, which saw Syria as part of an "axis of evil" together with Iran and North Korea, and accused it of involvement in terrorism in Iraq. In 2004, the U.S. intensified its anti-Syrian sanctions, and worked in the U.N. Security Council for the passage of Resolution 1559 calling for Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. In October 2008, the U.S. even bombed insurgents on Syrian territory who were suspected of operating from there against Iraq.

The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri was a watershed in Syria's relationship with many countries in the West and in the Arab world, particularly France and Saudi Arabia, who had until then been its close allies. This change was evidently due to the close relationship that Al-Hariri had maintained with then-French president Jacques Chirac, and with the Saudi royal family. Evidence of the severing of relations and of the anger that the assassination evoked in Chirac was clear in an interview he gave in 2007 to the French daily Le Monde. He said: "There were times I used to speak with Bashar Al-Assad. I used to talk with his father [Hafez Al-Assad]. But to be honest, [Bashar and I] do not talk any more. It is he who caused [this halt to the dialogue]. I realized that there was no point [in dialogue]. It is hard to reconcile Bashar Al-Assad's regime with security and peace."[2]

In the Arab world, it was Saudi Arabia and Egypt that led the aggressive line against Syria, and there were even reports that it was they who were behind the establishment of the international tribunal to investigate the assassination.

(Read full report)

Yahoo Wipes "Ariel, Israel" Off The Map, Replaces It With "Jenin, Palestinian Occupied Territories"

29 January '10

Kudos to whatever seething, obsessive anti-Israel organization managed to sneak this in under the radar. Drip drip drip delegitimization of the Jewish State is after all the strategy du jour. But seriously? This is what we're doing now?

Apparently someone has convinced Yahoo to go into their News Weather data, erase "Ariel, Israel" as a valid location, and replace it "Jenin, Palestinian Occupied Territories." The 20,000 residents from Ariel, where the relevant weather station is built, apparently don't deserve their own weather. Yahoo has decreed that it belongs to the residents of Jenin, which is 25 miles north and 850 feet lower. It's absurd that this kind of petty crap even has to be addressed, but inasmuch as it's part and parcel of a broad-based replacement geography campaign it's unfortunately not trivial.

Someone should ask Yahoo if there's a list somewhere: which Israeli cities are Israelis allowed to keep, which do the Palestinians deign to let them share, which are entirely Palestinian, and which are simply unworthy of existing? Because given how they've gone out of their way to divide up Weather Channel data - more on that in a sec - apparently Israel's capital, the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, and the city of Ariel are all in play.

(Read full article)

Threatening Israel Isn’t Enough Anymore

Michael J. Totten
29 January '10

Iran’s tyrant Ali Khamenei posted a comment on his website (yes, even he’s doing it now) predicting the inevitable destruction of Israel, a task he generally delegates to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Definitely, the day will come when nations of the region will witness the destruction of the Zionist regime,” he wrote. “How soon or late … depends on how Islamic countries and Muslim nations approach the issue.”

Israelis should be pleased to hear they’ll be allowed to exist a bit longer if Saudi Arabia dithers. And Saudi Arabia is going to dither for a long time.

According to the Financial Times, a majority of citizens in 18 Arab countries think Iran is more dangerous than Israel. And according to a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a substantial number of Saudi citizens are even willing to support military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.

A third of Saudi respondents say they would approve an American strike, and a fourth say they’d back an Israeli strike. The actual number is almost certainly higher. Supporting Israel is taboo in the Arab world, and that goes double when Israel is at war. This is not the sort of thing most Arabs are comfortable admitting to strangers, yet one-fourth of Saudis just did.

(Intriguingly, a clear majority of Saudis interviewed in the same survey think their own terrorism and religious extremism is more troubling than either Iran or Israel. There may be hope, at least in the long run, for that region yet.)

Iran’s rulers constantly threaten Israel with violence and even destruction because they know the Arabs are against them. They need to change the subject to something they all can agree on. Ever since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in 1979 and voided Iran’s treaty with Israel, regime leaders have believed they’ll meet less resistance while amassing power for themselves in the region by saying, Hey, we’re not after you, we’re after the Jews.

(Read full post)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

‘Corruption will let Hamas take W. Bank'

Dramatic warning delivered by Abbas’s former corruption-buster Fahmi Shabaneh.

Khaled Abu Toameh
29 January '10

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the corrupt officials who used to work for his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, and that’s why Hamas will one day take control of the West Bank, Fahmi Shabaneh, who was appointed by Abbas four years ago to root out corruption in the Palestinian Authority, said on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Shabaneh, who until recently was in charge of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA’s General Intelligence Service (GIS), warned that what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, when Hamas managed to overthrow the Fatah-controlled regime, is likely to recur in the West Bank.

“Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip,” Shabaneh told the Post. “It’s hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority.”

Shabaneh said that many Palestinians in the West Bank have lost hope that the PA would one day be reformed. “The Palestinian Authority is very corrupt and needs to be overhauled,” he said.

(Read full story)

Scoop: Fatah's New Charter Shows Why Peace Won't Happen

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
30 January '10

Many people seem to think that the Israel-Palestinian or Arab-Israeli conflict or the “peace process” is the world’s most important issue. So who's going to determine whether it gets resolved or not? No, not President Barak Obama; no, not Israel’s prime minister; no, not Palestinian Authority (PA) “president” Mahmoud Abbas or Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

That choice is in the hands of Fatah, which controls the PA and rules the West Bank. Only if and when Fatah decides that it wants a two-state solution and a real end of the conflict based on compromise will that be possible. So the fact that Fatah has issued a new charter seems to be a matter of great importance.

Yet up until now nobody has noticed that such a charter emerged from the August 2009 Fatah General Congress. The document was translated by the U.S. government and has just been leaked by Secrecy News. You are now reading the first analysis of this charter.

Secrecy News remarks: “The document is not particularly conciliatory in tone or content. It is a call to revolution, confrontation with the enemy, and the liberation of Palestine, ‘free and Arab.’" But then the newsletter continues:

“But what is perhaps most significant is what is not in the document. The original Fatah charter (or constitution) from the 1960s embraced `the world-wide struggle against Zionism,’ denied Jewish historical or religious ties to the land, and called for the `eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.’ None of that language is carried over into the new charter, which manages not to mention Israel, Zionism, or Jews at all.”

Now here’s an important lesson for you. When a radical group is portrayed as moderate based on some position or statement there has to be a catch somewhere. Here’s the tip-off in this case, a single sentence in the new charter:

(Read full article)

Keeping Zionism's Promise

Caroline Glick
29 January '10

"Never again!"

So declared Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as he spoke at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Wednesday, the 65th anniversary of its liberation.

Netanyahu used his speech at the notorious death camp to nudge what he referred to as "the enlightened nations of the world" to recognize that "murderous evil" has to be stopped as early as possible to prevent it from achieving its aims. Unfortunately, the events of the past week show clearly that evil is on the march, and "the enlightened nations of the world" are on a coffee break from enlightenment.

As Netanyahu addressed the world from the site of the most prolific genocide factory in human history, at the place where over a million Jews were gassed, starved, beaten, raped, frozen, shot and hanged and then burned in ovens, Iran's leaders were declaring loudly that they intend to finish what the Nazis started. They will destroy the Jewish people.

Iran's dictator supremo Ali Khamenei used a photo-op with Mauritania's President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz - who cut his own country's diplomatic ties with Israel last January - to renew his pledge to commit yet another Holocaust. As he put it, "Surely, the day will come when the nations of the region will witness the destruction of the Zionist regime... When the destruction happens will depend on how the Islamic nations approach the issue."

And as he spoke, the ability of "the enlightened nations of the world" to deny that the Iranian regime is building a nuclear arsenal was finally and utterly wiped away. On Monday, Germany's Der Speigel reported that evidence gleaned from document intercepts and from the testimony of two senior Iranian defectors who were involved in the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Iran's nuclear program is not a peaceful one. The Iranians are designing and building nuclear warheads for their Shihab-3 ballistic missiles. According to a summary of the findings now circulating through the halls of power, Teheran will have the wherewithal to build nuclear warheads by 2012.

(Read full post)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Canada pulls the plug on UNWRA

Point of No Return
29 January '10
Posted before Shabbat

This week, the most momentous news to come out of the Middle East in a long time slipped out, virtually unnoticed: Canada's decision to stop funding the Palestinian refugee agency UNWRA. If other western nations follow suit and UNWRA is forced to cease operating, Arab states will be forced to sette the Palestinian refugee problem one way or the other - either by jihad or resettlement. Hopefully it will be the latter, and the Jewish refugee issue will be thrust to the fore as a model of integration. Jonathon Narvey blogs at the National Post:

We learned this week that Canada is the first Western nation to pull the plug on UNRWA, the United Nations-run relief operation for Palestinian refugees of the West Bank and Gaza. The government has been quick to clarify that relief is still on the way. It will now be dedicated to specific projects like food aid; hopefully with enough oversight to prevent mismanagement and inadvertent support to a terrorist organization.

(Read full article)

Hamas frightened of Egypt

Guest Post by Zvi
Elder of Ziyon
28 January '10

Here's how I see this. It's not about the Saudis at all. It's about Egypt.

Hamas knows that if Egypt ever becomes REALLY SERIOUS about hurting Hamas, Hamas is going to be in extremely hot water. Egypt can shut down the tunnels if it wants to do that, both by building as deep and strong a wall as it wants to build, and (if Egypt gets really serious) by arresting or shooting anyone on the Egyptian side who participates in the tunnel "industry."

The Egyptian steel wall sends that signal very clearly. In fact, ever since the news about the steel wall became public, the Hamas leadership appears - to me, at any rate - to have shown increasing signs of panic. I can see why; if it works, then Hamas can't bring in weapons, can't tax the tunnelers and can't smuggle its people in and out. If it works, then Gazans really WILL have a crisis on their hands, and Hamas will be very clearly to blame.

Egypt, for its part, is furious with Hamas for two reasons: 1. Hamas humiliated the Egyptian government when the Egyptians tried to reconcile the factions, and again when Egypt tried to work out an exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel. 2. Hamas has kept parading in front of the world its closeness to Iran, at a time when the Egyptians are absolutely apoplectic to find that Hezbollah was planning for terror attacks against the Suez Canal, which is one of Egypt's primary strategic assets, and against other Egyptian targets. As of last week, Egypt's state prosecutor was asking for the death penalty for the terrorists.

(Read full post including Elder's introduction)

Rights Against Safety

Yaacov Lozowick
Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations
28 January "10

My first post this morning favorably compared Jessica Montell of B'tselem with the rank antisemites who congregate at Mondoweiss, CiF and elsewhere. Well, here's some balance: a demonstration of the weakness in the thinking of Israel's radicals - in this case, Hamoked, Center for the Protection of the Individual.

Hamoked is not a very important organization, but it does have some presence. It's thesis is that Israel is unjust to Palestinian individuals and this must be corrected - so far, so reasonable. When you note that they have no problem criticizing the Supreme Court (High Court of Justice, HCJ, which I have recently mentioned as Bagatz) you begin to see that they're well off the mainstream. Israelis criticize the High Court sometimes, but carefully. The Left, rarely. The far Left, however, don't feel inhibited.

The reason I'm mentioning Hamoked is an e-mail they've sent out. It wasn't meant for me, but e-mails have the habit of washing up at strange shores. This one is an attempt to recruit a writer for their website. They've got eight lines of necessary qualifications, most of them just what you'd expect (English and Hebrew writing abilities, legal background, that sort of thing). Yet it's the first qualification which is telling:

מחויבות מוצקה לנושא זכויות אדם, לרבות במצבים של התנגשות בין זכויות אדם לצרכי ביטחון
High commitment to human rights, especially in cases of conflicts between human rights and security issues (needs).

(Read full post)

Gambling with Israeli Lives

Jennifer Rubin
28 January '10

On January 21, some 54 Democratic congressmen — many familiar names in the never-have-a-good-word-or-positive-vote-for-Israel club — sent a letter to the president imploring him to force the lifting of “the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt” on Gaza. (As Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition points out, it’s troubling to see Rep. Joe Sestak, who is a candidate for U.S. Senate, also on the signatory list.) Citing the great suffering of the people of Gaza, they call for the resumption of access to a long list of materials for the Hamas-controlled territory.

And what if in lifting the blockade once again bombs and armaments flow to Gaza? What about the ordeal of those trapped in hellish conditions thanks to the Hamas overlords who use the misery of children and the deaths of innocents to increase their bargaining power? The congressmen don’t say. Or perhaps the rearmament of Gaza-based terrorists is a price they are willing to pay in order to strut before the “international community.”

Now what’s interesting is the extent of the overlap between the pro-Gaza blockade lifters and the roster of J Street–supported congressmen. The following appear on both the Gaza letter and the recently released J Street list:

(Read full post)

Thinking About Israel’s Appeasement Option

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Weekly Commentary
28 January '10

IDF brass recently re-launched a campaign with Israeli journalists promoting
withdrawal from the Golan in order to avoid the casualties the Jewish State
could expect to suffer should Syria attack.

Granted, there are people in the IDF who religiously believe (that’s
“believe” rather than “think” – because this is a matter of “faith” rather
than “logic”) that withdrawing from the Golan in and of itself would secure
Israel’s northern border since Syria would never attack if it had the Golan

But is there a logic to withdrawal even if you recognize that there are
countless conceivable scenarios under which Syria would opt to strike Israel
even after a beautifully moving signing ceremony on the White House lawn
followed by a complete Israeli withdrawal from every last centimeter of the

Here are some explanations:

There are gizmos on the drawing boards that would significantly reduce
Israel’s casualties in the event of a conflict with Syria. So it is best to
postpone conflict until the gizmos are deployed by leaving the Golan.

Israel would be in a considerably better diplomatic situation being attacked
by Syria after signing a peace agreement and handing over the Golan than if
Syria attacked in order to “liberate” the Golan.

Postponement of conflict in and of itself is worthwhile.

But there are problems with these arguments.

(Read full post)

ECLJ: Goldstone Report's Criticism of Israel Flawed, Biased, Unwarranted

American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
26 January '10

(Strasbourg, France) - The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) - the international affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) - today filed a comprehensive response with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) challenging the objectivity of the UNHRC-sponsored Goldstone Report on Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last year.

The UNHRC authorized a Fact-Finding Mission with a resolution that called for an investigation of “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression...”

The Goldstone Report accuses Israelis of war crimes and encourages states and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to exercise universal jurisdiction to prosecute the Israelis. Last January, the Palestinian Authority filed a “Declaration recognizing the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court” - attempting to accede to the ICC despite not meeting the statutory prerequisite of statehood for doing so.

The ECLJ today filed its Written Statement and supporting Memorandum on its analysis of the Goldstone Report with the U.N. Human Rights Council and will file the documents with the U.N. Security Council in the weeks ahead.

The Written Statement is posted here. And the Memorandum is posted here.

(Read full article)

Sanction What?

Divest This!
26 January '10

While this site has been pretty busy tracking the failures of Divestment and the success of counter-Boycott, the S of BDS (“sanctions”) seems to have gotten short shrift. Partly, this is because no institution that could apply sanctions (economic or otherwise) against Israel is even remotely considering doing so. But it’s also because an analysis of what sanctions could include leads to some discomforting facts for BDS advocates.

The holy grail of the “Israel is Always Guilty” crowd would be the US ending financial support for the Jewish state. Before divestment became such a fad, ending US military and economic aid to the Jewish state was considered top priority since – according to Israel’s critics – US military aid was the only thing that gave Israel an edge over its neighbors and US economic aid was all that kept Israel from financial ruin.

This analysis ignores the fact that Israel’s most impressive period of nation building, between its founding in 1948 through the late 1960s, was during a period when Israel received little to no aid (financial or military) from the US. During this period Israel managed (without Uncle Sam’s help) to build its national institutions, integrate millions of citizens (including over a million Jews expelled from the Arab world), and win three major wars in ’48, ’56 and ’67.

(Read full article)

Power Struggle Means Lights Out For Gaza

Honest Reporting/Backspin
28 January '10

The latest Hamas-Fatah squabbling gives new meaning to Gaza's power struggles. Cuts in EU aid for Israeli fuel used in Gaza's power plant leave Palestinian leaders bickering over how to make up the shortfall.

I don't expect the crisis to be resolved before the power plant shuts down some time today, which would leave the strip without juice for 48 hours. This AP report pretty much sums up what you need to know:
The current crisis emerged when the European Union, one of the biggest donors to the Palestinian Authority, decided to scale back aid, including payment of fuel for the power plant.

(Read full post)

Ending the illusion of peace in our time

Isi Leibler
Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem
28 January '10

It is high time that we ceased indulging in theatrics and spoke the truth. We all desperately yearn for peace, and the vast majority of us do not wish to rule over Arabs. If we could convince ourselves that our neighbors would commit to peaceful coexistence, we would make major sacrifices. But alas, the prospects for a comprehensive settlement in the near future are virtually zero.

Since the Oslo Accords, we have remained in a state of denial, refusing to reconcile with the reality that the duplicitous Palestinian leaders, then Yasser Arafat and today Mahmoud Abbas, rather than seeking to create an independent state, were utilizing terror and diplomacy to dismember the Jewish state in stages. We ignored the relevance of Arafat’s repeated call to his people to heed the passage in the Koran relating to the prophet Muhammad consummating the Al Hudaibiya Treaty with the Koreishi Jews and subsequently reneging and killing them. The message clearly signaled that agreements with Jews and non-Muslims may be violated.

Our passion to achieve peace blinded successive governments into accepting the false premise that Palestinian leaders were peace partners, and repeatedly chant the idiotic mantra that the peace process was irreversible and that “peace in our time” was achievable. This cost the lives of thousands in terror attacks and generated successive wars. In conveying this charade to the world at large, we encouraged the false belief that our conflict with the Arabs was a struggle between two peoples to divide land. We maintained this nonsense even after Arafat and Abbas rebuffed Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who had offered them virtually all the territory previously occupied by Jordan and Egypt.

(Read full article)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Israel Defense Forces: Skillful in Saving Lives — and if It Must, in Taking Them

A former IDF medic praises the tremendous capabilities on display in Haiti, and wishes they only ever had to be in the business of lifesaving.

Lenny Ben-David
28 January '10

Almost all Israelis and Israel’s supporters burst their buttons with pride when they saw the reports of the Israel Defense Forces’ emergency army units in Haiti rescuing trapped victims and treating hundreds of wounded.

“Legendary,” “the Rolls Royce of emergency medical care,” and “amazing” were some of the glowing terms used by U.S. network correspondents. Their reports described the efficiency, enthusiasm, speed, planning, and compassion of the 220-member Israeli team.

Unfortunately, the afterglow will quickly die. This week marks the three-month deadline given by the UN General Assembly for Israel’s response to the Goldstone report on the Gaza war, which charged Israel (and nominally, Hamas) for serious violations of international and humanitarian law. Israel will attempt to defend itself, but it knows that little justice or sympathy will be found in the UN’s kangaroo court or in the media that will sully Israel’s reputation and tarnish the tributes Israel earned in Haiti.

How is it, then, that Israel, so skillful in saving lives, stands accused by the UN of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, willful killings, and willfully causing great suffering”? Israel’s critics acerbically ask how Israelis can fly halfway around the world to help victims but not help Palestinians in Gaza an hour away. Some sick commentators even suggested Israeli doctors were harvesting organs.

Something just doesn’t compute with the images from Haiti.

(Read full article)

Obama’s State of the Union Message Tells Us Far More About the State of Obama

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
28 January '10

Significantly, President Barack Obama’s discussion of foreign policy came only at the end of his State of the Union message. Obviously, domestic matters and especially the economy come first. Yet international affairs are not only vital but often have been the issues on which administrations are judged, no matter how unlikely that seemed at the time.

It is apparently considered impolite to point out that Obama has no previous experience and little knowledge of international affairs. And yet that fact affects the fate of the globe every day. The really interesting question is whether the State of the Union message showed any growth in his ability after one year in office.

Sadly, the answer is “no.”

Here are the themes he expressed.

First, he implies that it is all George W. Bush’s fault, having left him with two wars. Yet there is a strange point here that no one has noticed. These wars, except for Obama's long hesitation about making a decision on Afghanistan, have caused him little trouble or criticism in relative terms. On a list of administration failures during its first year, a long list of other items prevail which cannot be blamed on Bush: embarrassing gaffes, messing up on Iran and the “peace process,” subverting allies in Central Europe, apologizing and undermining U.S. credibility with dictators, mishandling the Islamist terrorist prisoners, and so on.

(Read full article)

The Return of “Defensible Borders”?

Evelyn Gordon
28 January '10

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told foreign journalists last week that under any peace agreement, Israel would insist on maintaining a presence along the Palestinian-Jordanian border to thwart arms smuggling, he provoked some predictably negative responses. Writing in the Jerusalem Post this week, for instance, Ben-Gurion University Professor David Newman termed this “a return to a way of thinking … thought to have disappeared over a decade ago.” Claiming that “most generals” no longer consider this necessary, he accused Netanyahu of simply trying “to hammer the nails even more strongly into the coffin of peace.”

In fact, Newman is almost entirely wrong but through no fault of his own — because the one thing he’s right about is that Netanyahu’s statement “reinserted the defensible border concept into public discourse,” whence it had virtually disappeared. And since Israeli premiers stopped talking about it more than a decade ago, how was anyone to know that every prime minister, and the defense establishment, continued to insist on defensible borders in practice?

(Read full post)

Harvard's Carr Center: Snake Pit on the Charles

J Street Jive
27 January '10

Gregg Carr's fortune spawned by his genius and pioneering work in computer voice mail and early ISP's (remember Prodigy anyone?) has gone a long way in funding Harvard"s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Sadly, most organizations today within the NGO universe bearing the label, "Human Rights" or "Peace", push, among other worthy agenda items, a not so worthy one: Denigrating one country, Israel, to the point of de-legitimization. And Harvard is no exception.

This week was a case in point.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) (oops, there's that label - head for the exits) is a Cambridge based group of physicians and activists whose mission is to "to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them." And investigate they do. But not too hard when it involves Palestinian and Arab violations.

When pressed to report on continual Palestinian violations of international law in the use of ambulances and health facilities as agents of war, they have consistently refused or denied such use in spite of voluminous photographic evidence.

(Read full article)

Aww... Holocaust-Abetting Poles Try To Capture Israeli "War Criminals" On International Holocaust Day

Mere Rhetoric
27 January '10

In fairness it was probably their parents and grandparents who consummated millennia of Catholic antisemitism by turning over Jews to Nazis, denying supplies to Warsaw Ghetto smugglers, pretending that Auschwitz didn't exist, and so on. But still:

Knesset members visiting Poland for ceremonies marking International Holocaust Day were surprised to see ads against Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni in the city of Krakow on Tuesday evening. Posters hung not far from the Israeli lawmakers' hotel read in English, "Wanted for war crimes," offering the public an award of 10,000 euro in exchange for information on Barak or Livni's expected arrival in Europe... "After 65 years, we once again realize that being right is not enough," said MK Hasson. "We must remember this ahead of the next challenges, like Holocaust deniers, Holocaust cursers and different kinds of anti-Semites."

I especially like the part where they offered rewards for any information on where the Jewish delegation could be found and captured.

(Read full post)

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority President

John Perazzo
27 January '10

Click here to view the full Mahmoud Abbas profile.

Excerpts from the Mahmoud Abbas profile:

In the mid-1950s Abbas became involved in underground Palestinian politics, and joined a number of exiled Palestinians in Qatar. While there, he recruited numerous people who would become key figures in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and was one of the founding members of Fatah in 1957.

Through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Abbas travelled with Yasser Arafat and the rest of the PA leadership-in-exile to Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Widely regarded as a pragmatist, Abbas is credited with initiating secretive contacts with leftist and pacifist Jewish organizations during the 1970s and 80s, and is considered by many to have been a major architect of the 1993 Oslo peace accords (evidenced in part by the fact that he traveled with Arafat to the White House to sign the accords).

Short takes — letters, potshards and human rights

26 January '10

The McDermott/Ellison letter

News Item:
Fifty-four members of the U.S. Congress have signed a letter [the text is here -- ed.] asking President Barack Obama to put pressure on Israel to ease the siege of the Gaza Strip.

The letter was the initiative of Representatives Jim McDermott from Washington and Keith Ellison from Minnesota, both of whom are Democrats. Ellison is the first American Muslim to ever win election to Congress.

McDermott and Ellison wrote that they understand the threats facing Israel and the ongoing Hamas terror activities against Israeli citizens but that “this concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.”

“We ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts,” they wrote, adding that the siege has hampered the ability of aid agencies to do their work in Gaza…

Ellison has harshly criticized the House of Representatives decision to reject the Goldstone report, arguing that the report “only presents facts and raises recommendations for the future.” He cast doubt that members of Congress who voted to reject the report even took the time to read it and that the rejection hurt the Obama government’s role as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict.

The letter was also signed by those paragons of pro-Israel-ness, J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

The Anti-Israel Revelation

Mark Tooley
27 January '10

“Emergent Church” guru Brian McLaren is a key figure on the Evangelical Left who is trying shift Evangelicals, who are America’s most pro-Israel demographic, into a more neutralist stance. Currently, he is leading a delegation through Israel and “Palestine” to broadcast the sins of Israeli oppression against Palestinians by “listening, learning, thinking, observing, reflecting.” His blog is providing daily updates of his discoveries, all of which confirm his previously often declared bias against Israel.

“I hope you will start questioning what you think you know about the situation here,” McLaren warned on his blog recently, with the assumption that most readers are deceived by pro-Israel partiality. “I’ve been an avid reader on the subject for quite a while, but being here now, I see how many of my most basic assumptions were skewed from a lifetime of half-truths, unfair and imbalanced news, well-planned propaganda, and misinformation.”

McLaren, of course, used to be a more traditional, conservative Evangelical. So his emergence into the Evangelical Left in recent years, including the requisite negativity towards Israel, is part of an ongoing spiritual rebirth into which he invites his fellow Evangelicals. Of course, McLaren insists that he is not anti-Israel, and certainly not anti-Jewish. He simply wants to liberate both Palestinians and Jews from the enslaving mindset of the “occupation” that holds both peoples captive.

(Read full article)

Israel Prepares to Rebut Goldstone

As Israel prepares to publish its official response to the UN's Goldstone Report, we highlight some more recent analyses and commentaries.

Honest Reporting
Media Critique
27 January '10

(As we approach the next phase of the Goldstone attack, a great deal of information is being posted in preparation. This one in particular is an excellent resource to have on hand. Y.)

As reported by the New York Times, Israel is preparing to release its own rebuttal to the Goldstone Report, some of the contents of which were released to the newspaper:
One concerned the destruction of Gaza's sole flour mill. The Goldstone report asserts that the Bader flour mill "was hit by an airstrike, possibly by an F-16." The Israeli investigators say they have photographic proof that this is false, that the mill was accidentally hit by artillery in the course of a firefight with Hamas militiamen.

The dispute is significant since the United Nations report asserts that "the destruction of the mill was carried out for the purpose of denying sustenance to the civilian population," an explicit war crime.

A second finding concerned the destruction of a wastewater plant, leading to an enormous outflow of raw sewage. The Goldstone report contended that it was hit by a powerful Israeli missile in a strike that was "deliberate and premeditated." The Israelis say they had nothing to do with that plant's collapse and suggest that it may have been the result of Hamas explosives.

(Read full report)

What the AP Doesn't Say about the Palestinians and the Holocaust

27 January '10

In her article about the controversy among Jews and Arabs surrounding an Israeli Arab MK's trip to Auschwitz today, AP's Diaa Hadid reports:
The conflict over the Holocaust dates back to the founding of Israel in 1948.
At this point, readers knowledgeable about Mideast history and the Holocaust may have expected mention of the Palestinian Arabs' close collaboration with the Nazis. Grand Mufti Haj-Amin El-Husseini, with his warm relationship with Nazi leaders, was instrumental in recruiting several SS divisions worth of Bosnian Muslims. It's not for nothing that he's been called Hitler's "Muslim Pope."

But Hadad does not mention the Palestinian Arabs' role in the Holocaust here or anywhere else in the article. Instead she goes on to state:

(Read full post)

The Case Against The Goldstone Report

Alan M. Dershowitz
Hudson New York
27 January '10

The Goldstone Report is much more scurrilous than most of its detractors (and supporters) believe. According to the report, Israel used the more than 8,000 rocket attacks on its civilians merely as a pretext, an excuse, a cover for the real purpose of Operation Cast Lead, which was to target innocent Palestinian civilians—children, women, the elderly—for death. This criminal objective was explicitly decided upon by the highest levels of the Israeli government and military and constitutes a deliberate and willful war crime. The report found these serious charges “to be firmly based in fact” and had “no doubt” of their truth.

In contrast, the Mission decided that Hamas was not guilty of deliberately and willfully using the civilian population as human shields. It found “no evidence” that Hamas fighters “engaged in combat in civilian dress,” “no evidence” that “Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack,” and no support for the claim that mosques were used to store weapons.

The report is demonstrably wrong about both of these critical conclusions. The hard evidence conclusively proves that the exact opposite is true, namely that:

1. Israel did not have a policy of targeting innocent civilians for death. Indeed the IDF went to unprecedented lengths to minimize civilian casualties; and

2. That Hamas did have a deliberate policy of having its combatants dress in civilian clothing, fire their rockets from densely populated areas, use civilians as human shields, and store weapons in mosques.

What is even more telling than its erroneous conclusions, however, is its deliberately skewed methodology, particularly the manner in which it used and evaluated similar evidence very differently, depending on whether it favored the Hamas or Israeli side.

(Read full article)

Hamas' 54 Democratic Congressmen

Daniel Greenfield
Sultan Knish
26 January '10

Keith Ellison, widely hailed as America's first Muslim congressman, could more accurately be described as CAIR and Hamas' man in Congress. Congressman Ellison has been a regular presence at CAIR fundraisers and at pro-Hamas rallies in the United States. As a former member of Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, Ellison has enough anti-semitic and Islamist credentials to satisfy anyone, and had expressed openly anti-semitic beliefs in the past.

Since Ellison got his start with CAIR , his attempt to provide support for Hamas is completely unsurprising. Both Hamas and CAIR are projects of the Muslim Brotherhood, which also helped birth Al Queda. Organizations like CAIR do the same work in America that Hamas does in Israel. The difference is that CAIR does its work on a political level, while Hamas functions on both a political and a military level. Like CAIR, Ellison is careful to cloak his pro-Hamas agenda, which he does by mentioning that all violence is wrong and that Israelis probably shouldn't be shelled-- but the thrust of his agenda is to force Israel to open its border with Hamas.

The entire "Free Gaza" movement is a Hamas propaganda project that allows it to demand that Israel open its borders, without actually using the P word, for peace, since Hamas doesn't even believe in phony peace negotiations. So Pro-Hamas activists, whether it's former Saddam supporter, George Galloway's Viva Palestina or their American flavors talk only about "The People of Gaza", deemphasize Hamas and emphasize the supposed "suffering" within Gaza.

(Read full article)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Israel's Haiti relief elicits both praise and condemnation

Adam Holland
26 January '10

(Adam gives an excellent survey what has been put out there. The good guys on one side and the problematic personalities, as is expected. Y.)

Israel's efforts to assist Haitians at their time of need have, for the most part, been praised. At a time when virtually all Haitians were deprived of health care, Israel was the first to set up a fully operational field hospital, before the U.S., France, the U.N., Red Cross, etc.. They also sent rescue teams to find and extract people trapped in collapsed buildings -- an effort which saved many lives. Predictably, those who are predisposed to do so have found grounds for condemnation in what most observers would call noble efforts and achievements. Here's a sampling:

Richard Silverstein, a Seattle resident who blogs at Tikkun Olam (rough translation: "repair the world"), has found Israel's Haitian relief to be the sort of world-repairing the world could do without. In a strongly worded column he calls "The Zionization of Disaster Relief" (read here), Silverstein writes that sending portable toilets, rather than doctors, medical equipment and rescue teams, would have been more useful to the Haitians. Silverstein condemns Israel's decision to send doctors instead of toilets as being based on public relations considerations.

He also claims without providing a source that a Haitian woman who gave birth in the Israeli field hospital was pressured by the Israelis to name her child "Israel". He captions a photo of the mother and child posted on his blog "A baby named Israel...who, if he reaches adulthood, would never be welcome in Israel". (On the contrary, that child would be very welcome there, but if he does visit, Silverstein will condemn it as Zionist PR.)

(Read full post)

Fighting the Goldstone Report

P. David Hornik
26 January '10

“There are three primary threats facing us today: the nuclear threat, the missile threat and what I call the Goldstone threat.”

So said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech last month to the Knesset. In bracketing the “Goldstone threat” with two military threats, at least one of them existential, Netanyahu was not exaggerating. The report of the Goldstone Commission, led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone under the auspices of the notoriously anti-Israeli UN Human Rights Commission, was published in September 2009 and accuses Israel of committing war crimes in its January 2009 military campaign against Hamas in Gaza. The report thereby hands a major propaganda victory to Hamas and vindicates the terrorists’ strategy of using whole populations as human shields.

Among the best rebuttals to the report that have been published are those by Trevor Norwitz, a New York lawyer, who called it “an abominable travesty of justice,” and a much briefer one by Warren Goldstein, chief rabbi of South Africa, who called it “a disgrace to the most basic notions of justice, equality and the rule of law.”

But the report’s grim impact continues. On the legal front, the UN General Assembly endorsed it in November (though democratic states either voted against or abstained), and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is set to refer it to the Security Council. On the terror front, the fact that Hezbollah is now storing weapons in 160 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon shows how effective the human-shield strategy has become, and how hamstrung Israel will be in future antiterrorist warfare, if it fails to overcome the Goldstone libel.

(Read full article)

Praise for The Case For Israel

26 January '10

Yair Lapid, a popular and influential Israeli journalist, praises The Case For Israel, a documentary with Alan Dershowitz, (DocEmet with co-producers from CAMERA). In his weekend column in the Yediot Achronot magazine "Shiva Yamim," he wrote:

I finally saw this week the movie “The Case for Israel”, about the famous American lawyer, Alan Dershowitz.
“I am pro-Israel,” opens Dershowitz the movie, “I am also pro-Palestinian. I support the two state solution but...”

Dershowitz isn’t a philosopher or a filmmaker; he’s not even from the political right. We got used to the fact that defense statements on Zionism come only from the right, but Dershowitz supports us precisely because he’s a left-wing law professor from Harvard, who deals with human rights.

(Read full post)

When Yemen Meets Gaza

Matthew Levitt
Washington Institute
25 January '10

The Christmas Day pants bomber traveled a well-worn path to global terrorism: through Yemen. From the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in the Gulf of Aden, to the role key Yemenis played in the September 11 plot, to the increasingly prominent role of Yemen-based leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf country has long been a terrorist hot-spot. Now, a small number of Yemeni jihadists have reportedly joined others from Syria, Egypt, France, and Belgium to fight a new war on an old battlefront: Gaza.

According to intelligence officials, up to a few dozen foreign fighters have entered Gaza from Yemen and other Middle Eastern and European countries. Some are experienced fighters there to provide training, while others seek to be trained and experience jihad. Some of the Europeans have even reportedly "come with their credit cards" and financed jihadist activities while in Gaza.

The influx is beginning to have an effect on what has traditionally been a local jihad. Groups such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade weave Palestinian nationalism and radical Islamism together but limit their operations to the Israeli-Palestinian front. Now, under the influence of more worldly jihadists, some Palestinian fighters are signing up for groups inspired by al Qaeda, fighting not for Palestine but for the whole Muslim umma.

Al Qaeda-inspired jihadist groups in Gaza have maintained a local operational focus on Israel and Gaza, but have tied their attacks to global issues like the Danish cartoon crisis or the incarceration of a jihadist ideologue in Britain. The fear among U.S. and Israeli intelligence is that such a "glocal" ideology is serving as a bridge between Palestinian nationalism and al Qaeda's global jihadist ideology. The former theoretically allows for a two-state solution; the latter requires adherents to wage violent jihad against all infidels and apostates until the creation of an Islamic state.

(Read full article)

Lebanon’s next war may also be Syria’s

Tony Badran
Now Lebanon
26 January '10

Media reports in recent days have painted dire scenarios for what is, supposedly, the inevitable conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Of particular note are persistent indicators that the next round, if or when it comes, will very likely involve Syria as well.

For quite a while now, the official position in Israel has been that the next war in Lebanon would be waged against the Lebanese state, not just against Hezbollah. The Israelis have also been warning Damascus that they would not tolerate Syria’s passing on to Hezbollah weaponry that might alter the military balance of power, namely air defense systems.

On that point, two recent reports are of interest. The first, in the Qatari daily Al-Watan a couple of weeks ago, quoted Syrian sources as saying that “there is a strategic decision taken by Damascus not to allow Israel to defeat the resistance movements.” One might have been tempted to dismiss this as rhetorical bluster, but another news report only a few days later called for a somewhat different assessment.

Speaking to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai al-Aam, an unnamed American official sent a shot across Syria’s bow, telling the newspaper that should Syria deliver to Hezbollah anti-aircraft missiles, “a war would doubtlessly break out, and this time Israel would strike targets in Damascus.” The official added that the Syrians, according to intelligence reports, had allowed Hezbollah fighters to train on the SA-2 anti-aircraft (AA) system on Syrian soil. Those accusations were repeated last weekend by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Daniel Ayalon, after his meeting with Michael Williams, the United Nation’s special coordinator for Lebanon.

(Read full article)

Proportionality & Hypocrisy: NATO in Kosovo vs. IDF in Gaza

NATO bombing Kosovo

Martin Sherman
26 January '10

"There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher."
-Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman on BBC News, May 31, 1999

The international furor over the Goldstone Report and the ongoing censure of Israel over its conduct of "Operation Cast Lead" refuses to die down, even against the backdrop of the country's remarkable humanitarian efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti. It is this unending maelstrom of condemnation that imparts particular pertinence to the words with which the official NATO representative chose to respond to criticism regarding the numerous civilian casualties incurred by the alliance's frequent air attacks during the war in Kosovo between March and June 1999.

Shea insisted NATO planes bombed only "legitimate designated military targets" and if civilians had died it was because NATO had been forced into military action. Adamant that "we try to do our utmost to ensure that if there are civilians around we do not attack," he emphasized that "NATO does not target civilians...let's be perfectly clear about that."

Hundreds of civilians were killed by a NATO air campaign, however, code named "Operation Allied Force"-which hit residential neighborhoods, old-aged sanitariums, hospitals, open markets, columns of fleeing refugees, civilian buses and trains on bridges, and even a foreign embassy. (See Table for summary of some of the undisputed major incidents.)

(Read full report)

Peace for Land

Jay D. Homnick
The American Spectator
26 January '10

"So, Sadie, why do you look so happy today?"

"I got a letter from my son Abe in Israel."

"And how is with Abe?"

"He lost all his money in a business, his apartment was damaged by a bomb and he had to wait a month to get a refrigerator."

"Then why so happy?"

"Because mine Abe writes such a beautiful Hebrew!"

This bit of Jewish gallows humor encapsulates much of the modern experience of having coreligionists, often relatives, in Israel. The grind of their everyday battle for survival is tolerated while the astonishing phenomenon of the revenant country and language is celebrated. The perfect metaphor for life in Israel is the ubiquitous habit there of eating sunflower seeds. They jam a fistful of unopened shells in their mouths, then walk down the street spitting the shells while somehow extracting the seeds with teeth and tongue, swallowing only the seeds. Israelis spend their lives dodging shells of one sort or another.

One of these is the shell game of the world-demanded American-sponsored Europe-monitored peace talks with the Palestinians. As matters are currently constituted, these are simply impossible to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. Sounds shocking, but no less true for all that.

(Read full article)