Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Lebanon Arm of the Iranian State

Tony Badran..
28 February '13..

The recent death of Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) senior officer Hassan Shateri, alias Hessam Khoshnevis, has cast the spotlight on the direct role the IRGC plays in overseeing Hezbollah’s affairs. While Shateri operated in Lebanon under civilian cover, the revelation of his real identity was met with a general sense of surprise. But the presence in Lebanon of IRGC commanders of such stature is hardly novel. IRGC involvement is pervasive in multiple areas of Hezbollah operations, and has been so since the group’s inception. The increased visibility of the IRGC’s hand, however, should refocus the discussion on the nature and mission of Hezbollah, and serve as a corrective to media and academic characterizations of the group.

Even though the IRGC’s presence in Lebanon became more visible since 2006, and even more so following the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyah, it has nonetheless been longstanding. In fact, Shateri’s assassination brings us back full circle to 1981, when Mohammad Saleh Hosseini, another senior IRGC commander based in Lebanon with the cover of a “political adviser,” was ambushed and gunned down in Beirut by unknown assailants (possibly Iraqi intelligence) while driving his car. Quds Force operatives have long used such diplomatic cover in their overseas operations.

One reason many were surprised to learn of Shateri’s true identity can be attributed to years of willful self-deluding coverage of Hezbollah in academe and the media. The mantra of Hezbollah as a nationalist Lebanese resistance group became so entrenched that it led many analysts to minimize or deny the party’s subservience to Iran. Hezbollah experts dismissed as “anachronistic” the argument that the Party of God was an extension of Iranian regime structures, such as the IRGC. These prevailing views regarding Hezbollah as an autonomous “sub-state actor” had blinded many to a fact made clear in the 2006 war: Hezbollah is an extension of a state apparatus, and that state is Iran.

Third Intifada? Actually, Countdown to the Sixth Intifada

Emmanuel Navon..
For the Sake of Zion..
28 February '13..

The death of Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli jail has raised the fear of a “third intifada.” But if a new intifada were indeed to erupt, it would not be the third. It would be the sixth.

Historically, intifadas have always followed the same pattern: a. the Palestinian leadership comes-up with a lie and deliberately inflames its population; b. once the violence turns lethal, the Palestinian leadership claims it had nothing to do with it; c. the international community steps it, explaining that in order to stop the violence Israel must address the Palestinians’ justified anger and legitimate claims; d. the Palestinian leadership gets from Israel what it failed to obtain at the negotiation table. It always works, so why not keep going?

The first intifada erupted in 1929, when Hadj-Amin al-Husseini spread the lie (with doctored pictures) that the Jews were planning to overtake the Al-Aqsa mosque in order to rebuild their temple. Al-Husseini used violence because he had failed to convince the British to halt Jewish immigration and land purchases. The violence he ignited was lethal: 133 Jews were killed, and the Jewish community of Hebron was decimated. But the strategy worked: in October 1930, Sir John Hope Simpson’s report cleared the Mufti of any responsibility for the violence, and it agreed to curb Jewish immigration. Al-Husseini realized that this was the way to go, so he kept going.

Al-Husseini launched a second intifada in 1936. He wanted the British to repeal the League of Nations mandate and establish an Arab state instead of a “Jewish National Home.” This time, some 400 Jews were killed. Again, it worked: the Peel Commission (1937) recommended the de facto cancellation of the League of Nations mandate, and the establishment of a mini Jewish state in the Galilee as well as on a narrow strip between Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Al-Husseini rejected the offer, however, and intensified the violence. The British made him a better offer still with the 1939 White Paper, which further curbed Jewish immigration and purchasing rights.

Yasser Arafat, who more than once described al-Husseini as his hero and his model, used the very same tactics. On December 8, 1987, an Israeli truck driver accidentally killed four bystanders in Gaza. Although this was a road accident, the PLO decided to spread the lie that it was a deliberate murder. This is how the third intifada (generally and inaccurately known as the “first intifada”) started. Some 200 Israelis were killed. As a result, Israel agreed (in the Oslo Accords) to give the PLO a foothold in the Gaza Strip and in Jericho. Within twenty years, Arafat had managed to implement the PLO’s “phased plan” adopted in Cairo in 1974.

It's time for some chutzpah to bring Jonathan home

Nadav Shragai..
Israel Hayom..
28 February '13..

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). In relations between countries, certainly between allies, a system of ceremony, manners, restraint and diplomatic etiquette is usually employed. But in special cases, a little chutzpah is in order.

The situation surrounding the incarceration of Jonathan Pollard, the man whom the State of Israel sent to spy and then forgot about for years, is a classic example of such a special case. A little Israeli chutzpah has never killed anyone. Now, after we have tried everything else — demonstrating, signing petitions, pleading, kneeling, crying, begging for forgiveness, atoning — it is time to use a little force.

MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beytenu), who recently announced that he would not be attending U.S. President Barack Obama's address at the Knesset, did the right thing. I wish more MKs would follow his footsteps and that several others, the ones with chutzpah, will even raise their voice to Obama. The Americans, who are sensitive to their president's honor, will make some noise, but that is not enough. For Obama, perhaps more so than previous American presidents, America's sentiments toward Israel play a relatively modest role. The only thing that matters is U.S. interests.

In 1998, just ahead of the Wye River talks, then U.S. President Bill Clinton promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would free Pollard. This understanding was ratified on the last night of the summit. It was part of a package that included other understandings — for example, Israel agreed to forgo its pursuit of the commander of the Palestinian Authority military wing, General Razi Jabali. Clinton went back on his word.

Now Obama is coming here, with a list of demands, requests, preferences, desires and interests. The issues on the agenda are well known: Iran, Palestinians, Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Now is the time to wisely, sensitively and tenaciously forge a link between doing something that the U.S. wants and the release of Pollard, which is what we want.

A deadly illusion - A demilitarized Palestinian state

David Kirshenbaum..
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost..
27 February '13..

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s elevation of Tzipi Livni to lead negotiations with the Palestinian Authority constitutes a serious setback to Israel’s efforts to keep its citizens safe, fend off the tide of regional violence and thwart the escalating efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Israel’s Knesset elections took place in a week that featured the continued implosion of Syria and Egypt, the former already bogged down in a bloody civil war and the latter possibly on its way to one. The Israeli electorate utterly rejected Livni’s tired campaign slogans and her worn-out and failed prescription for a Middle East settlement: Israel withdraws from most or all of Judea and Samaria, uproots tens of thousands of people from their homes in the cradle of Jewish civilization and agrees to carve up Jerusalem. An Arab state, the 22nd, is created in the areas from which Israel withdraws, leaving Israel with a nine-mile wide border in its center.

The major upheavals in the Arab world have done nothing to bring about any fresh thinking on Livni’s part regarding this “twenty-second-state solution.”

In the years before Oslo, the widely held position in Israel was that a sovereign Arab state west of the Jordan River would represent a grave danger to the State of Israel.

Even the Oslo accords, which according to its architects were made with a leader that represented the entire so called Palestinian people and with an entity that had sworn off terror, didn’t guarantee the Arabs a state west of the Jordan.

Indeed, in prime minister

The Dreaded Israel Lobby, Jewish Lobby, Strikes Again

There's no question that the Israel Lobby is a truly impressive beast. Every now and then it convinces a bunch of senators to sign a letter calling for peace and a two-state solution while condemning the taxpayer supported terrorists who shoot rockets at Israeli cities. The letter doesn't actually call for ending funding to the terrorists. It just asks the President or Secretary of State to review the situation and strongly urge the terrorists to stop shooting rockets because that endangers the future of the peace process.

Daniel Greenfield..
Sultan Knish..
27 February '13..

The Israel Lobby which controls American foreign policy, but has thus far been unable to get the United States to stop funding the terrorists currently shooting rockets at its 14th largest city, has struck again as Senate Democrats voted unanimously to make Chuck Hagel the next Secretary of Defense.

The dreaded Israeli Lobby, Jewish Lobby, Israel Lobby or any other permutation of the form that you prefer, has largely kept silent during the Hagel nomination. The head of the ADL was heard to mutter something and the AJC suggested that the Senate should possibly rethink the nomination before falling silent again. As if anyone needed more proof that the Zionist Entity controls Washington.

AIPAC and all the other groups who regularly send out envelopes warning of disaster if the check doesn't come in the mail have an amazing track record.

When Israel builds apartment buildings in its own capital city, the State Department, that branch of government which Hagel claimed was an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, denounces the provocative act of putting one brick on top of another. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia arrests Christians for celebrating Christmas and you couldn't pay the State Department to pay attention.

Pakistan was hiding Bin Laden and still rolls in the foreign aid. Egypt's government is torturing protesters. Libya arrested Christian missionaries in Benghazi, but still can't be bothered to arrest those responsible for the murder of Ambassador Stevens. The Palestinian Authority hasn't held an election in forever and is actually paying the salaries of convicted terrorists.

Meanwhile the dominant foreign policy topic is how to convince Israel to make more concessions to the terrorists. To hear them talk, East Jerusalem is the only thing standing in the way of peace in our time. And talk like that is just more evidence that the Israel Lobby really does run everything.

John Kerry, the new Secretary of State, gave Code Pink, the radical leftist Anti-War and Anti-Israel group, a pass to go see Hamas. John Brennan Islamized Jerusalem. Hagel blamed the Jewish Lobby for spoiling his milk. But what do you expect in a Washington D.C. run by the Israel Lobby?

There are constant dire warnings that Israel is about to pull the United States into a war. The number of wars that Israel has pulled the United States into clocks in at zero. The number of wars that the Saudis have pulled the United States into clocks in at three; if you count a Saudi terrorist funded by Saudis using a bunch of Saudis to ram planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The Israeli media’s "third intifada"

The bottom line is that Israel’s media set an agenda this past week – “the third intifada.” The most troubling aspect of this “documentary production” is that when it becomes clear that it presents the facts just as accurately as in the Five Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers, no one in the media will have to pay for their irresponsibility.

Yisrael Medad/Eli Pollak..
Media Comment/JPost..
27 February '13..

To many Israelis, the news coming out of Los Angeles at the beginning of this week that the two nominated Israeli films did not win Oscar awards was received with more than a sigh of relief.

The two Israeli-produced candidates in the Documentary Feature category, the films 5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers are a prime example of how Israel successfully manages to subvert its national ethos and Zionist raison d’être; the two films were funded not only by left-wing sources but also by official state bodies. The question debated, and our local media did reflect it, was how is it that the Israeli candidates for the Oscar/Hollywood professional recognition in recent years all presented a one-sided, less-than-positive view of Israel, its life style and its politics? Or, as one observer noted, “Israel’s domestic films... have long been much more self-critical” than those Hollywood has produced.”

Documentaries are the result of an extended period of filming and creative investment. They are directed, edited and produced and benefit from hindsight.

Funding usually comes from ideological sources, interested in promoting a message. These films are more opinion column than news. Yet they possess the potential to inflict immense damage, since they try to present themselves as “objective” truth. Newspapers, which are published day in and day out, are perceived by the public as having biases. Such bias is much tougher to discern in a one-time “documentary” production. Perhaps it is high time a rating agency for documentaries is created, which would provide the viewer with some indication as to the reliability of the content being presented.

But sometimes agenda-setting by the media is even more damaging. The media can create the material which is the basis for the documentary of tomorrow.

Perhaps the so-called third intifada is a prime example.

Barring BDS from Hillel - Both Clear and Moral

Sara Greenberg..
Times of Israel..
26 February '13..

When demonstrators in Antwerp chant “Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas” and when Jewish children are shot and killed in Toulouse in front of a Jewish school, most of the world recognizes these acts as anti-Semitism.

Unfortunately, it is the more subtle, nuanced manifestations of racism and anti-Semitism that often get overlooked. Natan Sharansky wrote in a 2004 essay, “Seeing Anti-Semitism in 3D,” that:

…whereas classical anti-Semitism was seen as being aimed at the Jewish religion or the Jewish people, the new anti-Semitism is ostensibly directed against the Jewish State. Since this anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of the legitimate criticism of Israel, it is much more difficult to expose.

A group of Harvard students recently launched a campaign protesting a local and international Hillel policy that bans partnerships with student groups that “support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.” In an open letter to the Hillel community, the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), lamented the fact that it was unable to hold an event at the Harvard Hillel co-sponsored by the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, a group that wholly endorses the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel. The PJA, upset by this decision, launched a campaign demanding “Hillel have no policy on the political affiliation of groups, organizations and speakers that it partners with, houses, and hosts.”

The PJA leaves room for one exception. In my conversation with the group’s leaders last week they acknowledge that while Hillel should foster “open discussion, critical thinking and debate… this, of course, does not mean that Hillel needs to provide space for the expression of racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise hateful views.” The PJA understands that while a student group can engage in a dialogue with any person or group it chooses – even if this speaker or group espouses hateful views – a University, a University Department or a campus organization like Hillel cannot be compelled and has the right to refuse to underwrite, sponsor or endorse any speaker or event.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The EU’s Misplaced Priorities

Contrast the vigilance EU diplomats recommend be employed against Israeli companies with the EU’s continued, exasperating, and fundamentally indefensible reluctance to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Seth Mandel..
27 February '13..

In December, I wrote that despite all the misunderstanding and misinformation in the press about Israel’s construction plans for the area around Jerusalem, specifically the E-1 corridor, there was one very illuminating aspect to the controversy. The reaction by Western European leaders and diplomats to the Israeli government’s restatement of the official policy of every Israeli government–right, left, and center–exposed a fault line in EU-Israel relations. The Israeli consensus crosses the EU’s “red line,” and therefore the two are unlikely to find common ground in the peace process.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to read in the Times of Israel that a new EU report recommends the European Union more actively boycott and sanction Israeli products and companies on the other side of the Green Line. Europe’s growing hostility to Israel and its vast ignorance of Mideast geopolitics are frustrating all by themselves, but a thorough report in the Washington Post today on Hezbollah’s operations in Europe put the EU’s manifest lack of seriousness in stark relief. First, the Times of Israel reports:

In a new report sent to Brussels and foreign ministries in 27 member states, the consuls general representing the EU in the Palestinian territories call on the EU to “prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services,” Haaretz reported Wednesday.

The EU’s office in Israel declined to directly comment on the leaked document, but diplomats representing EU member states told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that while the report’s language seemed strong, suggesting a call for active EU divestment from the settlements, it signified no actual change in the union’s policy. The 2012 Heads of Mission report, which will be discussed by policymakers in Brussels but is nonbinding, merely calls for stricter implementation of already existing EU legislation, according to a European diplomat.

Contrast the vigilance EU diplomats recommend be employed against Israeli companies with the EU’s continued, exasperating, and fundamentally indefensible reluctance to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The issue was brought to light again this month as Hezbollah was connected by authorities to last year’s terrorist attack in Bulgaria. Hezbollah has long been among the world’s most resilient and dangerous terrorist organizations, and declaring it as such–as the U.S. and Israel have–would greatly advance security efforts on the continent and would enable increased diligence in tracking and preventing Hezbollah’s funding and communications.

Reporting UN session on Israel that never happened

Nicola Perugini
Hillel Neuer..
UN Watch..
22 February '13..

Nicola Perugini, a UN researcher in the Palestinian territories for UNESCO and UNIFEM (the UN women’s fund), and who has academic positions at Bard College’s Al Quds program and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, should be removed from his UN and scholarly posts on grounds of utter incompetence.

His Feb. 22 Al Jazaeera article on the latest UNHRC report on Israeli settlements tells us all about a session in January which, in fact, never took place:

- “At the end of January, the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) focused on the ‘Human rights situation in Palestine and other Arab territories’…”

- “The session welcomed a report produced by an international fact-finding mission on the implications of the Israeli settlements…”

- “The session was a new chapter in the protracted chain of condemnations issued by international bodies against Israel’s violations of human rights and international law…”

 - Israel “preemptively isolated itself by boycotting this UNHRC session…”

- “[T]he session was not good publicity for Israel…”

- “[T]he fact that Israel boycotted this 22nd session should not surprise us. Tactics are also a weapon of the state, not merely a weapon of the weak.”

Except Perugini’s session could not have focused on anything, welcomed any report, opened any chapter, been boycotted by anyone, or created any bad publicity for Israel, for the simple reason that it never existed.

The Coverage of Arafat Jaradat - What the Media Chose to Ignore

Alex Margolin..
Honest Reporting..
27 February '13..

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

Apparently, when it doesn’t fit the media’s narrative, like the coverage of Arafat Jaradat, who died in an Israeli prison this week.

Jaradat, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was arrested for throwing stones that wounded an Israeli civilian. Five days later, he died of a possible cardiac arrest.

The death became an international story when Palestinian officials claimed the autopsy report indicated he died as a result of torture. Israeli officials countered that the autopsy was inconclusive and what the Palestinians were calling signs of “torture” – bruises on his chest and broker ribs – may have been efforts to revive Jaradat after his heart failure.

Regardless of how he died, the media has an obligation to tell the truth about who he was, not to cherry-pick elements of his biography to give him a particular image. The Los Angeles Times, to its credit, was one of the few media outlets to include information about Jaradat’s terrorist affiliation, noting:

Musa Jaradat said his cousin had never been arrested before, but was a member of the Fatah Youth Movement and, according to Al Aqsa members who attended his funeral, part of the West Bank military brigade.

The Irish Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, and McClatchy News were the only other major publications to note Jaradat’s membership in the terror group.

Beyond those notable exceptions, the media bent over backwards to whitewash Jaradat and even, in some cases, the fact that he committed a violent crime. Here is how the New York Times described Jaradat and what he did:

After weeks of intensifying protests in solidarity with the hunger strikers, attention turned Sunday to Mr. Jaradat, who relatives said worked at a gas station, was the father of a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, and came from a family in which all the men had spent time in Israeli jails. He was arrested last Monday over throwing stones at Israeli cars near a West Bank settlement during November’s conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The Times takes pains to present Jaradat as a family man with two small children and a regular job, but ignores the fact that he was a member of a group designated as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.

Continued on Page 2

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The Iron Dome Success - A Second Look

...the tacit, often unintended message conveyed by deploying defensive systems – that the challenged side is ready to tolerate attacks on its home front – has put Israel in a position of weakness against an enemy that is ready to kill and be killed, and has negatively affected its deterrent posture.

Prof. Avi Kober..
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 199..
February 25, 2013..

In early February 2013 the IDF deployed the Iron Dome anti-rocket system in northern Israel, to fend off potential threats in the area. This system is truly an impressive technological achievement. It was evaluated as an asset, thanks to the system’s ability not only to save lives but to also afford greater freedom of choice for the political and military echelons regarding when and how to respond to attacks on the home front.

Praise for Iron Dome

Even initial critics have admitted that the system’s ability to intercept some 90 percent of the missiles fired at Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in November 2012 – which would have otherwise hit populated areas – is beyond the developers’ expectations and a significant contribution to Israeli defensive capabilities. The system saved lives of civilians and troops, which makes it attractive to Israel’s casualty-averse society, particularly in conflicts that do not endanger Israel’s most vital security interests, let alone its survival. Its high cost is still lower than the damage inflicted by Palestinian or Hizballah rockets on property, let alone the cost in human loss. Each intercepting Iron Dome missile costs approximately $50,000, whereas the damage inflicted by one rocket on Israeli targets is much higher, estimated at around $750,000 for one “average” middle age Israeli killed or $190,000 for damage caused to property. The United States’ readiness to assist Israel in funding the system means that its burden on Israel’s security budget is, and will be, tolerable.

Criticism of Iron Dome

A handful of strategic experts have spoiled the euphoria, raising some doubts regarding the system’s efficiency. For example, some claim that the system can hardly cope with thousands of enemy rockets, particularly with the challenge of multiple rocket launchers, and that it has from the start been technologically unable to defend the communities located close to the Gazan border; such a defense would require other systems, like laser interceptors. They also argue that the effect of Iron Dome is limited because some rockets manage to penetrate the system.

But there are additional negative aspects of the system that should be considered. A major problem is created by the fact that it does not produce deterrence. Iron Dome is unable to destroy the appetite of the Palestinians and Hizballah to attack Israel, as it contributes neither to deterrence-by-denial nor to deterrence-by-punishment. In the former type of deterrence the attacker is expected to pay a high price by being denied by the adversary’s defensive deployment, while in the latter type of deterrence the attacker is expected to pay a high price as a result of the painful offensive retaliation of the adversary. Currently, Iron Dome can do no more than frustrate the challenger, not deter him. Furthermore, the tacit, often unintended message conveyed by deploying defensive systems – that the challenged side is ready to tolerate attacks on its home front – has put Israel in a position of weakness against an enemy that is ready to kill and be killed, and has negatively affected its deterrent posture.

Gaza Exporting Terrorists to Syria - Where Next?

Now that the jihadis in the Gaza Strip have nothing to do, such as fire rockets at Israel, they have started searching for other places to carry out their terror attacks. They have found no better place than Syria to start sending their men to join some of the radical Islamist organizations fighting against Bashar al-Assad's regime. The US and Western countries would do well to pay serious attention; Syria is not where this trend will stop.

Khaled Abu Toameh..
Gatestone Institute..
27 February '13..

The Gaza Strip has begun exporting terrorists to other countries. If the terrorists are not stopped, they will start showing up in European capitals and probably cities in the United States.

In contrast to claims by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships to the effect that the Palestinians are not taking sides in the conflict, Palestinians are involved in the fighting in Syria.

The Palestinians who are heading to Syria have been told their ultimate mission is to liberate Palestine "from the river to the sea." Once they get rid of Assad, they are told, they will move to their next station -- Jordan. From there, their jihad will take them to Israel, where they and their friends in Jabhat al-Nusra [The Support Front] hope to create a pan-Islamic state ruled by Sharia laws.

According to Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip, in the past few weeks alone, dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to Syria through Turkey to join various radical organizations engaged in the fighting against the army of Bashar al-Assad.

Many of these Palestinians have fallen in love with Jabhat al-Nusra, a group recently designated a terrorist organization by the US and, according to reports in the Arab media, believed to be responsible for some of the massacres against Syrian civilians. The organization consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslim fundamentalists from several Arab and Islamic countries. Its declared goal is to topple the Assad regime and create an Islamic state.

Daily News does the work - Separating fact from fiction on BDS

How the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement distorts the reality in Israel

BDS proponent Omar Barghouti
needs fact-checking.
Picture: Julia Xanthos
New York Daily News..
25 February '13..

To shed light on the passions generated by the Brooklyn College program that promoted the so-called BDS movement, the Daily News opens its Op-Ed page to one of the evening’s speakers.

BDS proponent Omar Barghouti writes of the movement’s motivations and goals. We recommend that you read his piece and then return here for the truth.

Barghouti aims in the short-term to undermine Israel’s moral legitimacy on the way to the long-term prize of securing rights for Palestinians that would effectively dismantle the Jewish state.

His dancing around this central point lets Barghouti verge on anti-Semitism while claiming respectability.

Skilled as a propagandist, he piles falsehood upon falsehood to present Israel as relentlessly oppressing the Palestinians in violation of human decency, and to hold Israel exclusively responsible for the ills afflicting them.

And so, he says, Israel must be hit with BDS — a boycott of commerce, divestment from the country’s economy and economic sanctions.

Let’s catalog his distortions:

Palestinian “moderates” relying again on the non-spontaneous outbreak of popular protests

The Al Aqsa group’s rocket launch is a reminder to foreign observers that their assumptions about the peaceful intent of Abbas and Fatah is based on willful ignorance and forgetfulness about the last time the PA decided to play the intifada game.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
26 February '13..

The firing of a single rocket from Gaza today is easy to dismiss as just an isolated incident unworthy of much notice. The rocket was fired at the city of Ashkelon, but fortunately landed in an open field and did not lead to the activation of the Iron Dome defense system. But the attack, which was the first missile launched from Gaza since the cease-fire that ended Operation Pillar of Defense last November, may tell us more about the violent intentions of the so-called moderates of the Palestinians than it does about the Hamas rulers of the strip.

As I noted on Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s plans to launch a new intifada prior to President Obama’s visit to Israel isn’t exactly a secret. The recent outbreak of violent demonstrations in the West Bank isn’t so much a natural response to anything Israel has done as it is an orchestrated attempt to get the world to focus on Palestinian complaints. Thus it is not exactly a surprise to note that the group that claimed responsibility for today’s rocket wasn’t Hamas or any of its Islamist rivals but the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is part of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

The Al Aqsa group’s rocket launch is a reminder to foreign observers that their assumptions about the peaceful intent of Abbas and Fatah is based on willful ignorance and forgetfulness about the last time the PA decided to play the intifada game.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, after all, was created by Abbas’s predecessor, Yasir Arafat, in order to compete with Hamas. In the upside-down world of Palestinian politics, a group or a leader’s credibility is based on how many Jews it kills, not how much it can do to help the plight of their people. That’s why genuine moderates like PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who is so well liked in the West, have virtually no constituency.

New York Times - No Self-defense for Israelis

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
26 February '13..

In its Feb. 26 edition, the New York Times splashes the following headline across four columns: "2 Palestinian Teenagers Hurt Amid Israeli Gunfire at Protest." The immediate impression left by the headline is that Israeli forces used live fire against Palestinian demonstrators who were merely protesting. An obvious case of disproportionate use of Israeli firepower, it would seem.

The first paragraph of the article, written by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, reinforces the basic message of the headline: "Two Palestinian teenagers were seriously injured Monday when Israeli soldiers used live ammunition to disperse a demonstration at a holy site outside Bethlehem." Again, readers are advised that Israeli troops used their firepower to disperse a mere demonstration. Again, a picture of Israel flexing its military muscles against Palestinians who are simply demonstrating.

Except that the headline and the first paragraph do not tell the real story -- not by a long shot. To get a full, accurate picture, Times readers have to plow through Rudoren's article until they finally reach Paragraph No. 11 -- in a 13-paragraph article -- to discover that the reason Israeli forces used live fire is that they were confronted by Palestinians "who were throwing improvised grenades at worshipers near the tomb."

(Video) Anne Bayefsky - The UN vs. Israel
26 February '13..

In the last few decades the United Nations has been obsessed with one country. Is it North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria, China or some other nation with a reprehensible human rights record? Those would all be fair guesses and they would all be wrong. Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Human Rights Institute, answers this riddle and explains the upside down moral universe in which the United Nations resides.

Published on Feb 24, 2013 by Prager University

For more human rights and United Nations coverage see

Human Rights Voices is dedicated to drawing attention to real victims of human rights abuses, bringing to light the record of the United Nations on protecting human rights, and providing an information base encouraging democratic societies to re-evaluate foreign policy directions for improving human rights conditions in the 21st century.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Religious Persecution, Safe Havens and Israel

Many Christians, too, might like to leave places like Egypt or Iraq. But unlike the Jews, they have nowhere to go: No country on earth will automatically open its doors for them–with no questions asked and no numerical limitations–the way Israel does for Jews. And still less would any country do so for Jews if Israel didn’t exist.

Evelyn Gordon..
26 February '13..

In recent months, a new consensus has emerged: For the first time in millennia, Judaism has lost its title as the world’s most persecuted religion; today, that dubious honor goes to Christianity. “Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers,” wrote Rupert Shortt in a 54-page report for the London-based Civitas institute in December, which meticulously documented their persecution on a country-by-country basis. Even politicians have begun grasping this fact: German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly deemed Christianity “the most persecuted religion in the world” in November. In short, as one commentator put it last week, Christians have become the new Jews.

There are two reasons why Christianity has displaced Judaism as the world’s most persecuted religion. One, obviously, is increased persecution of Christians, which stems largely from the rise of radical Islam: Though non-Islamic countries like China also repress Christians, only radical Islamists kill them wholesale. The other is that today, Jews face less persecution than ever before in history. And that is entirely due to the existence of the State of Israel.

Were hundreds of thousands of Jews still scattered throughout the Islamic world, as was true a century ago, they would assuredly face persecution no less severe than Christians do. But they aren’t, because most have relocated to Israel. In fact, for the last 64 years, any Jew anywhere who felt sufficiently threatened to want to leave his country has been able to find sanctuary in Israel, and Israel has repeatedly gone to great lengths to try to rescue those who want to leave but can’t.

What's possibly behind this morning's Grad rocket attack on Ashkelon

Iranian RGC test-fire an Iranian missile. The image
comes from a 
Guardian report from July 2012,
headlined "Iran tests missiles capable of hitting Israel" 
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
26 February '13..

Far too many people claim to understand the daily events of this part of the world. The generalizing and pontificating leave us - as people who watch closely, live in the area and have experienced terrorism far too closely - unconvinced and skeptical. It would be better if the experts were more open to distinguishing facts from press releases and owned up to the frequently mutually-contradictory reports that characterize the terrorists' side of the narrative.

Here's what can be said today with utter confidence: at least one serious rocket - a GRAD - exploded in Ashkelon this morning, as we reported this morning ["26-Feb-13: A Gazan rocket attack on southern Israel this morning"]. That's fact, backed up with photographs and eye-witness reports.

Now to the who, the why and the sometimes mischievous speculation.

Hamas says if there was a rocket attack today, it could not possibly have originated in their territory:

"This is only a lie. None of the Gaza Strip factions claimed responsibility for firing that missile, and the government is checking all the details," Ehab al-Ghussein said in a statement. Israel is attempting to divert attention from its crimes against the Palestinian people, most recently, the death of Arafat Jadarat after being allegedly tortured in an Israeli jail, the statement added. [Source: Maan News, a Palestinian news syndication agency based in Bethlehem, funded by European money and generally not sympathetic to Hamas]

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades which owes its allegiance to the "moderate" president of the "State of Palestine" organization and admits to being affiliated with Fatah, claims its men did it, according to CNN which says it has an email letter to prove it. The Washington Post agrees, and Maan supports them:

"We must resist our enemy by all available means," the group said in a statement emailed to reporters. "We stress our commitment to armed struggle against the Zionist enemy." [Source: Maan News]

Is their claim of 'credit' true? Probably not. The rocket certainly came from a Gazan source, and almost nothing ever flies out of there without the local bully boys from Hamas being fully aware and on top. Hamas has no current desire to give its bitter rivals Fatah any credit for any of the things (terror, in one word) that Hamas claims to be doing better and more often. We think the Washington Post, CNN and Maan are being disingenuous or were fooled.


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Apartheid Week? The Arab States Win Hands Down

Lyn Julius..
Times of Israel..
26 February '13..

Roll up, roll up for Israel Apartheid Week – a global, multimedia extravaganza devoted to cementing the comparison between the new international pariah, Israel, and the old racist regime in South Africa. And it’s coming to a campus near you.

Anyone who knows anything about Israel will tell you that the comparison is invidious and malicious. Israeli law does not discriminate against Arab citizens. Of course there is – there must be – plenty of room for improvement, but show me one liberal democracy where minorities do not claim to experience discrimination and prejudice.

Not only is the Israel Apartheid campaign a monumental lie of gobsmacking chutzpah, but the boot is on the Arab foot. You only have to witness the way that Arab host countries treat their Palestinians, who are denied citizenship. And not only Palestinians - Kuwait has 300,000 Bedouin residents denied citizenship and the right to vote. Thousands of children born in Arab countries are deprived of citizenship merely because their parents were not citizens. Immigrants from South Asia with no rights whatsoever help keep countries like Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates running.

Those who berate the West for its orientalism towards the Third World, quoting the late Edward Said‘s eponymous book, ignore the fact that much of society under Muslim domination was built on the exploitation of women, Jews (and Christians) and blacks. Not only are all Arab countries strong contenders in the Apartheid Oscars, but Saudi Arabia would win hands down. At the bottom of its obscene pecking order are women, non-Muslims and slaves.

Five Broken Cameras? Actually, Five Perfectly Functioning Cameras

Uri Heitner..
Israel Hayom..
26 February '13..

This is a scene worthy of a movie: A man of Middle Eastern appearance steps onto a bus. The camera focuses on his face. He utters a sentence that reveals his Arabic accent. Suddenly, the driver stands up from his chair, grabs the man, ejects him forcefully from the bus and shuts the swinging doors behind him. Cut.

This kind of scene has the potential to teach audiences about the racism that permeates Israeli society, using the driver's actions, throwing a man off his bus just because of his ethnic background — just because he is Arab — as the means to convey the lesson. But what would have happened if just seconds after the cut, the man who was thrown off of the bus detonated an explosive belt? It would turn out that the driver had identified a suicide bomber, prevented a terrorist attack and saved the lives of dozens of passengers.

And that is how you make a documentary, calculating where to "zoom" and when to "cut." That's what it's all about. Whether you're using one functioning camera or five broken ones, the technical devices matter less than the director's decision-making process. The director's decisions express his or her agenda. If the director wants to represent Israeli society as a racist one, then he or she can do that by splicing the picture from the larger context — namely, the context that revealed a racist terrorist attack against Israelis and against Jews, and which was averted thanks to the driver's ingenuity. Over the years, there have been numerous bus drivers who have succeeded in staving off terrorist attacks and saving lives, just as described. Unfortunately, in many cases, this was not how things ended. For a long time, the conversation steered toward the topic of "exploding buses," but the truth is that it wasn't the buses that exploded. Rather, it was people who turned themselves into booby-traps and blew themselves up, hoping to slaughter as many Jews as possible in buses, malls and nightclubs.

The wave of suicide attacks that washed over Israel in the late 1990s and the turn of the 21st century expressed hope, not despair. The leading sentiment among Palestinians was that they had found the ultimate war doctrine, one that the enemy could not cope with, and one that would exhaust, break, crush and defeat the toughness of Israeli society.

A Class Act - NY Daily News Disinfects BDS

Pesach Benson..
Honest Reporting Backspin..
26 February '13..

Here’s something I never saw before: After Omar Barghouti was given op-ed space in the NY Daily News to explain the BDS movement, the paper itself slammed Barghouti with a staff-ed.

It’s one thing to present dueling op-eds. But responding with a sharply worded staff editorial — which represents the paper’s official view — is much stronger. I also liked the staff-ed’s style. Bloggers would refer to the point-by-point refutations as a fisking.

The Daily News even labeled Barghouti as a “propagandist.”

New York Times - Palestinian prisoner tortured. Don't ask questions.

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
25 February '13..

On Sunday, Feb. 24, the Israeli Health Ministry issued the following statement:

This afternoon (Sunday, 24 February, 2013), at the National Center for Forensic Medicine, an autopsy was performed on the body of Arafat Jaradat by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, director of the Heath Administration at the Ministry of Health, and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul.

During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation attempts and a small graze on the right side of his chest.

No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy.

Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest.

Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts.

The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death.

At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.

The New York Times, which provided extensive coverage of Jaradat's death in an Israeli prison, did not use a single word of the Israeli Health Ministry's statement. Not a word about the impact of resuscitation attempts.

Instead, the Jerusalem bureau chief relies on Palestinian versions, which accuse Israel of having tortured Jaradat to death ("Palestinians Dispute Israel's Findings on a Prisoner's death," five-column spread, with two pictures, at top of page 4).

The Times headline is, prima facie, misleading, since Rudoren ignores Israel's actual findings. Here is her lead paragraph:

(Video) EOZ News interviews Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Elder of Ziyon..
25 February '13..

The mayor of Jerusalem has a question for those who want construction to be frozen in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

What do you really mean? Because we've just been investing over a half a billion shekels on infrastructure and roads (in the Arab sector.) We're building 500 classrooms in the Arab sector...And we're registering many, many buildings for the residents of east Jerusalem. My question was, what do you mean by 'freeze.' Freeze everything? Or, God forbid, is somebody hinting, 'Wait a minute. Before you give someone a permit, check him out. If he's Jewish, freeze him, if he is Muslim or Christian give him a license'? ...Is somebody hinting to us to look at the color of his skin, to look at his religion before we give him a permit and a license?

Usually I don't get any answers back.


Also: EoZ interview with NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg

EoZ Interview with Yossi Kuperwasser, head of Ministry of Strategic Affairs (Part 1)

Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook.

Employing language that significantly downplays lethalness

Adam Levick..
CiF Watch..
25 February '13..

Today’s edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’ included a photo, by Atef Safadi of EPA, showing a riot near Ramallah related to the recent death of Arafat Jaradat. Jaradat is a Palestinian arrested on Feb. 18 for committing acts of violence, and whose cause of death on Saturday in an Israeli prison is unknown. (There were three additional photos in today’s edition of ‘Picture Desk Live’ related to Jaradat’s funeral.)

First, here’s the Guardian caption which accompanied the photo:

Israeli soldiers fire tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinian stone throwers, during clashes next to the Israeli military prison Ofer, south of the West Bank town of Ramallah. Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank after the funeral of a Palestinian who died in an Israeli jail. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

Keep in mind the claim that Israeli soldiers were firing rubber bullets on “Palestinian stone throwers” when you see the photo:



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Monday, February 25, 2013

The “Peace Process” and John Kerry

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
25 February '13..

There must be something in the water over at the State Department that leads successive secretaries of state to decide, seemingly on their first day there, that now is the time for a big new push at a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Here we go again. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intends to place the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of his diplomatic activities and to strive to achieve a breakthrough agreement between the two sides during President Obama’s second term in office, according to the assessment of well-placed sources in Washington and New York.

Why? The article continues:

Nonetheless, the overall impression left by the discussions conducted in recent weeks by Kerry and his advisers with European, Israeli and Arab officials, as well as American Jewish leaders, is that the former Massachusetts senator is “determined to the point of obsession,” as one skeptical interlocutor put it, to change the tone and direction of relations between Israel and the Palestinians during his term as Secretary of State. “He sees it as the holy mission of his life,” the source said. Kerry is convinced that his years of experience with the region and his deep personal relationships with many of its main protagonists, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, place him in a unique position to succeed where his predecessors have failed and to bring about not only a resumption of talks but a long-term agreement as well.

Riding the tiger and whipping up the flames a little more

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
25 February '13..

In a rare resort to large-scale pomp and ceremony, the PA leadership is seeking to squeeze every drop of rage and fury out of the death in custody of a prisoner who, as far as the available medical evidence suggests, may have died of heart attack.

This is from the BBC's report: "Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat's funeral held")

The funeral of a Palestinian who died in Israeli custody on Saturday, fuelling riots, is taking place near the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinians say Arafat Jaradat, 30, died from torture, while Israel says a post-mortem was inconclusive and that investigations into his death continue. There were clashes across the West Bank on Sunday, while prisoners refused food in protest at Mr Jaradat's death. It follows days of violence amid protest over Palestinian detainees. Mr Jaradat, from the West Bank village of Saeer, was arrested last week for throwing a rock which injured an Israeli citizen, Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet said. The father-of-two died six days later at Meggido prison, from what the Israel Prison Service (IPS) said appeared to be a heart attack. Palestinian officials, however, said an autopsy, carried out by Israeli morticians, showed he had suffered two broken ribs and had bruising. "[Arafat Jaradat] faced harsh torture, leading to his immediate, direct death. Israel is fully responsible for his killing,'' Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs Issa Karake said. Israel's health ministry said the injuries were likely the result of attempts to resuscitate Mr Jaradat, and that the cause of his death had not been determined by the post-mortem [more]
Do morticians (funeral undertakers) actually carry out autopsies in the towns where the BBC's reporters come from?

The BBC is kind enough to let us see how Mahmoud Abbas' circle are working hard to make the most of the moment as "spontaneous" riots and rock-throwing attacks at Israeli passers-by grow more numerous and more violent...


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Hezbollah remains confident that the spade will not be called a spade

Hezbollah remains confident that the influence of Germany and France will see to it that the EU will not proscribe the group

Magnus Norell..
The Commentator..
25 February '13..

Following seven months of investigation, the Bulgarian government finally announced at the beginning of the month that Hezbollah was responsible for the bus bombing in the coastal town of Burgas in July 2012. This attack, which left five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver dead, demonstrated yet again Hezbollah’s willingness to conduct its terror operations to Europe; a graphic reminder that it has no hesitation about endangering EU citizens in pursuit of its goals.

What’s more, the investigation has revealed the extent of Hezbollah’s activities on European territory in planning further attacks. Last July, a Lebanese-born Swedish citizen was arrested in Cyprus, for allegedly conducting surveillance work for Hezbollah. He has since admitted to being a member of the organisation and his trial is currently on-going in Limassol.

Previously, Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors were linked to attacks in the early 90s against the Jewish community in Argentina and more recently, there was the attempted killing of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US in Washington DC in 2011, as well as a botched attack in Thailand.

Nonetheless, following the Burgas bombing, the EU still refuses to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, though Europe’s own police force, EUROPOL, stores Hezbollah on its database as a “terrorist entity”.

In 2004, The Netherlands placed both Hezbollah’s military and political wings on its terror list, while the UK has designated its military branch, the Islamic Jihad Organisation. Bulgaria seems likely to follow suit. But EU heavyweights, Germany and France in particular, oppose the move on the grounds that it will create instability inside Lebanon in what is a volatile region. Of more concern however is that they believe the organisation has "softened" its approach through political engagement.

Enthusiastically doing what it can to whip up the flames

There remain some optimistic voices
but they all seem to be on
the Israeli side.
Palestinian Arab figures seem intent on
a third chapter in this ongoing
war is already  underway [
Image Source
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
25 February '13..

The first signs of spring are here. But there is no mistaking the dark clouds headed our way from the neighbouring villages, towns and cities of the Palestinian Authority. That's the body formed in 1994 as part of a series of agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and that renamed itself, first, as the Palestinian National Authority and then a few weeks ago as the State of Palestine. A state calling itself that was proclaimed in November 1988 (repeat: 1988).

This matter of what they're called is not so simple. As Wikipedia points out, the PA is not the same as, and should never be confused with, the Palestine Liberation Organization. Only one of those two organizations has a seat at the United Nations under the name "Palestine" and "continues to enjoy international recognition as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people".

That organization happens to be... the PLO.

The entity calling itself "State of Palestine" also does not speak for or represent the Arabs of Gaza who are under the de facto control of a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood called Hamas.

Specialist practitioners of international law can probably explain and separate out the various strands of this description so that it makes sense. For most other people. say 99.999% of the international community, it's confusing, misleading, incoherent and unhelpful. Which is a good way to describe some of the more recent developments.



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