Monday, August 31, 2009

Madonna in Israel

Madonna exits her van for a tour of Jerusalem's Western Wall, seen in the background, this past weekend.

Madonna Lands in Israel Ahead of Tel Aviv Concerts

Pop music icon Madonna landed in Israel Sunday morning, ahead of her back-to-back concerts in Tel Aviv on Sept. 1 and 2.

Tickets are completely sold out for the first concert on September 1, but are still available for the second concert the following day.

The September 1 concert will be Madonna's second performance in Israel. She first appeared 16 years ago, and visited Israel in 2006 during the Jewish High Holidays along with 2,000 other students of Kabbalah.

Madonna to take new daughter to Western Wall -Itamar Zohar

Madonna plans to take daughter Mercy to see the Western Wall.

"The Wailing Wall is a very sacred place for anyone with links to the Jewish faith, and she wants all the children to see it," a source close to the singer [said].

Madonna, though not Jewish, is intensely interested in kabbala. Mercy was adopted from Malawi earlier this month. Madonna will also be bringing her other adopted child, David Banda.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Israel's Cardiac Innovation

Israeli Cardiac Muscle Patch Succeeds in Animals

Scientists in Israel have successfully grown heart muscle in the abdomen and then used it to patch and repair the hearts of rats after they had suffered heart attack.

This is the first study to show it is possible to improve the health of a heart after it has been damaged through heart attack.

The experiment was conducted by Dr. Tal Dvir, of the Department of Biotechnology Engineering at Ben-Gurion University.
(Medical News Today)

Sweden stokes the fires of anti-Semitism: VideoBite

Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University confronts Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom of Aftonbladet.

Sweden's Shame -Alan M. Dershowitz

As a strong defender of freedom of speech, I am offended by Sweden's craven complicity with evil. Freedom of speech carries with it certain obligations as well. One of those is to condemn false speech. The best answer to false speech is not censorship, it is truthfulness. By remaining silent in the face of the bigoted falsities contained in the Aftonbladet article, the Swedish foreign minister inevitably creates the impression that he sympathizes with the writer, and perhaps even with his conclusions. Silence in the face of evil is not an option.

Take Them to Court -Yossi Klein Halevi

Israel needs to use this affair to challenge the general climate of demonization [of Israel] in Europe, and expose the conceptual links between classical anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Accusations like the Swedish blood libel aren't just a threat to Israel's good name, but could become a physical threat to Jews everywhere, by encouraging the fantasies of genocidal jihadists. Terrorists could take "revenge" for the kind of Israeli "crimes" raised by Aftonbladet. In the current atmosphere, where the most inconceivable conspiracy theories involving Jews are readily believed by millions in the Muslim world, Aftonbladet's recklessness is, potentially, an incitement to murder.
(Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies-Shalem Center)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ahmadinejad: poison spider

The Iran Countdown -Michael Crowley

White House officials are all but resigned to the futility of direct diplomacy with Iran.

Former State Department official Nicholas Burns predicts that "even if negotiations are held this autumn, they will fail." And if that happens, administration officials say, Obama will have little choice but to start to clench his own fist. That means turning the screws on Tehran.
(New York Magazine)

The West Struggles with Iran's Game -Roula Khalaf

What we may be witnessing is a fresh Iranian effort to buy time on the nuclear front while its leaders try to put their house in order.

For years Iran has cleverly played the nuclear game, failing to heed international demands but providing just enough hints of co-operation to persuade Russia and China to block crippling measures at the UN Security Council.
(Financial Times-UK)

Iran Puts More Senior Reformers on Trial -Reza Derakhshi & Fredrik Dahl

Iran put several leading reformers in the dock in its fourth mass trial of people accused of fomenting unrest after June's disputed presidential election.

"Iraq Will Be a Colony of Iran" -David Ignatius

Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, the head of Iraqi intelligence since 2004, resigned this month because of what he viewed as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouria al-Maliki's attempts to undermine the U.S.-trained Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) and allow Iranian spies to operate freely. Without the backstop of U.S. support, Iraqi authorities are now desperately vulnerable to pressure, especially from neighboring Iran.

A top Iraqi intelligence source, pressed about what his country would look like in five years without American help, answered bluntly: "Iraq will be a colony of Iran."
(Washington Post)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gaza dress code

Hamas to Expel Schoolgirls Not Wearing Muslim Dress -Avi Issacharoff

Female students in Gaza will be required to wear head coverings and full-length robes beginning this school year, the Hamas rulers of Gaza announced.

The ministry also has ruled that male teachers cannot teach in girls' schools and women are not allowed to teach at boys' schools.

These guidelines join an increasing amount of reports from Gaza residents saying that modesty patrols were forcing women to wear head coverings, especially at Gaza's beaches, and that they were inspecting isolated cars in order to prevent unmarried couples being alone together.

Monday, August 24, 2009

CloseUp: Is "J Street" really pro-Israel?

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami

J Street's dangerous detour to the White House -Lenny Ben David

Yasser Arafat sought peace with Israel, Jeremiah was a bullfrog, the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale, Brutus was an honorable man and J Street is a pro-Israel organization. Not.

I am fascinated by J Street and grateful for The Jerusalem Post's recent expose "Muslims, Arabs among J Street donors," which raises questions about the group:

How can J Street call itself "pro-Israel" while advocating positions that are at odds with the traditional pro-Israel agenda. Who stands behind the organization? Why hasn't the organization drawn the attention of investigative reporters, or is the press reluctant to challenge an organization that has emerged as US President Barack Obama's "toy Jews"? How did an upstart organization get an invitation to a White House meeting with the president just one year after its founding?

[J Street's] donors also include the Saudi Embassy's lawyer, Arab American leaders, student leaders at Islamic centers around the US, board members of the de facto Iranian lobby in the US and Arabist American foreign service officers. Among the organization's advisory council are former US diplomats and public officials who later became foreign agents in the pay of the Saudis, Egyptians and Tunisians.

[D]o the Arab-American and pro-Iranian donors give because they perceive that the goals of J Street match their goals: to weaken the State of Israel and undermine the US-Israel relationship?

In Jewish law there is a concept of gneyvat da'at - knowingly misrepresenting oneself. Of that, J Street is guilty.
[Jerusalem Post]

J Street: An Anti-Israel Group -Noah Pollak

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and is a very liberal fellow. Yet even for him, J Street's campaign to undermine and discredit Israeli self-defense has gone too far.

Taking J Street out to the woodshed over its statements on Gaza, Yoffie says that the group "could find no moral difference between the actions of Hamas and Palestinian militants, who have launched more than 5,000 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians in the past three years, and the long-delayed response of Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its battered citizens in the south."

It is time that thinking people started calling J Street what it actually is - an anti-Israel group.
[Commentary Magazine]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stranger than Fiction: UN takes stand against...Israeli cows

UN Building Fence to Stop Zionist Cows

The United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is building a fence to surround Baathaiil Lake in southern Kfar Shuba, according to a report by the state-run Lebanese National News Agency.

UNIFIL is building the fence to preventing cows from Israeli flocks crossing the Blue Line and using Lebanese water supplies. The iron fence will be two meters high and surround the lake.
(Daily Star-Lebanon)

A different path to peace

Alternative Paradigm to Achieve Peace -Saul Singer

The idea that pressing both sides is how you make peace has become so ingrained that no alternative is ever considered. There is, however, an alternative paradigm that has never been tried: to recognize, intellectually and publicly, that the engine of the conflict is the Arab refusal to accept Jewish history, peoplehood or sovereignty anywhere in the Land of Israel.

The Arabs will not end the conflict that they started so long as they still have hopes that Israel will become delegitimized and will weaken and disappear. When these hopes are dashed, then the Arab world will see that there is no alternative to making real peace with Israel.

Someday, the U.S. and Europe will, without equivocation, call on the Arab states to lead the way toward ending their conflict with Israel. When that happens clearly and consistently, and provided that radical Islam's bid for an Iranian nuclear umbrella has been defeated, real peace could come more quickly than anyone now imagines.
(Jerusalem Post)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama's talking cure

Talking to the Enemy -Bret Stephens

Iran is bargaining over a nuclear program that it has no right to possess.

In America, we prosecute extortion rackets. We don't recognize, as an unalterable fact, the rights of local mafias to hold neighborhoods hostage. We do so because we know that to do otherwise is to import the law of the jungle into civil society.

The world at large is not America, and we can't bust every extortion racket in it. But neither are we obliged, by self-interest or self-respect, to be played by every extortionist who comes our way...

This is why we know better than to talk to al-Qaeda. This is why we should know better than to talk to the Irans and North Koreas of the world.
(Wall Street Journal)

Is Obama Wasting His Time Trying to Court the Saudis? -Michael Crowley

In Obama's first seven months, the Saudi kingdom has stymied or stalled administration efforts on multiple fronts. The White House is scrambling to win cooperation and avoid affront, but, in the end, the problem may simply be that Obama needs the Saudis more than they need him.

It's true that the Saudis fear Iran and welcome U.S. efforts to stop its nuclear program. But the Saudis are equally suspicious that Obama will cut a deal with Tehran that leaves Riyadh feeling more threatened than ever by Shia power.

At the same time, the industrialization of China and India means that the Saudis have plenty of other customers for their oil. And, if there's anything that motivates King Abdullah and his kin above all else, it is fear of an uprising by the Saudi "street." That means that the Saudis will always take care to champion - and demagogue - the Palestinian cause, making them difficult partners in pursuing Middle East peace.
(New Republic)

Rosa Parks meets Ms. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Women Can Drive, Just Let Them -Wajeha Al-Huwaider

I am a native of Saudi Arabia, a 47-year-old divorced mother of two teenage sons, and an employee of Saudi Aramco. At the border crossing from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, I refuse to present a document signed by my male "guardian," giving his permission for me to travel. I possess such a document, but I am tired of being humiliated solely because I am a woman.

The guardianship rules are only part of a bigger system of subjugating women. Even with the permission of a guardian, a woman may not drive a car.

Women in Saudi Arabia may not go out without an abaya, an ugly black cloak that we have to wear on top of our regular clothes. You can imagine how great that feels in 100-degree heat.
The writer is a co-founder of the Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
(Washington Post)


What's playing on 'moderate' Palestinian TV?

PA Academic: No Jewish Connection to Western Wall -Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook

Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al-Quds Open University, says the Jews invented their connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. "It has no historical roots," he told PA TV on Aug. 11.
(Palestinian Media Watch)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who should be making 'confidence building' gestures?

Building Israeli Confidence -Herb Keinon

The Arab world doesn't seem to get it.

Israel made confidence-building moves by:

1. [L]etting Yasser Arafat set up a Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza following the Oslo Accords

2. [N]egotiating with th[e] PA twice for an almost complete pullback from the West Bank

3. [U]prooting two dozen settlements and withdrawing totally from Gaza four years ago

4. [R]ecently removing dozens of roadblocks in the West Bank.

The Arab world simply doesn't understand that - coming off the second intifada that followed the Camp David talks in 2000, and bouncing back from the creation of Hamastan that followed Israel's pullback from Gaza - Israel now needs its confidence built.

After years of feeling that it was giving and giving to the Palestinians, and not getting anything but terrorism in return, the Israeli public now wants something up front.
(Jerusalem Post)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jerusalem & Jihad: 'turning up the flames'

Is Eastern Jerusalem "Occupied Territory"? -Richard L. Cravatts

The Palestinians now insist that Jerusalem must be divided to give them a capital in its eastern portion as the location of their new state. But these have always been points for future negotiations, at least before the State Department gave public expression to its new view that eastern Jerusalem has already been assumed to be the Palestinian capital.

In The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City, Dore Gold [pictured above] notes that in their desire to accede to Arab requests for a presence and religious sovereignty in Jerusalem, Western states and Islamic apologists may actually ignite the jihadist impulses that they seek to dampen with their well-intentioned, but defective, diplomacy.

"Jerusalem's recapture is seen by some as the launching pad for a new global jihad," Dore suggested.

Far from creating a political situation in which both Israelis and the Palestinians feel they have received equal benefits, such negotiations and final agreements on Jerusalem would have precisely the opposite effect. Those in the West who are urging Israel "to redivide Jerusalem by relinquishing its holy sites," Gold cautioned, "may well believe that they are lowering the flames of radical Islamic rage, but in fact they will only be turning up those flames to heights that have not been seen before."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Brennan speech signals policy shift

Counterterrorism point-man John Brennan [left] with his boss

Fatah's message -Caroline Glick

A central pillar of the Obama administration's Middle East policy paradigm was shattered at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem - but don't expect the White House to notice.

In staking out extremist positions, both Fatah's old guard and its younger generation of leaders demonstrated that Fatah's goal today is the same as it has been since the its founding in 1959: Liberating Palestine (from the river to the sea) by wiping Israel off the map.

Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas remove[d] both his own mask and that of his organization...

For the Obama administration, Fatah was supposed to be the poster child for moderate terrorists. Fatah was supposed to be the prototype of the noble terrorist organization that really just wants respect. It was supposed to be the group that proved the central contention of the Obama White House's strategy for dealing with terror, namely, that all terrorists want is to be appeased.

As Abbas and his cronies were exposing their true nature in Bethlehem, Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan [pictured at right], was giving a speech in Washington where he demonstrated the administration's ideological inflexibility.

Speaking before the Center for Strategic and International Studies last Thursday, Brennan declared that appeasing terrorists and terror-supporting regimes and societies by bowing to their political demands is the central plank of the administration's counterterror strategy.

As he put it, "Even as we condemn and oppose the illegitimate tactics used by terrorists, we need to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and grievances of ordinary people those terrorists claim to represent."

To this end, Brennan stressed that for the Obama administration, the now-discredited Fatah model of conferring political legitimacy and funding on terrorists in a bid to transform them into good citizens must be implemented for every terror group in the world except al-Qaida. In furtherance of this goal, the US government will no longer refer to America's fight against terror as a "war on terror" and it will no longer refer to the enemy it fights as "jihadists" or the cause for which these "violent extremists" fight a "jihad."

As Brennan explained it, referring to terrorists as terrorists is unacceptable because doing so sets the US against terror-supporting regimes that the Obama administration believes are all amenable to appeasement.

Brennan [also] indicated that the Obama administration believes that Hizbullah is well on its way to becoming a respectable political actor. As he sees it, simply by participating in Lebanon's political process, the Iranian proxy has earned the right to be viewed as a legitimate political force. Brennan cited the fact that in addition to active terrorist elements, Hizbullah members today include "members of parliament, in the cabinet; [and] there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hizbullah organization" as a reason to celebrate the group. He further claimed that Hizbullah members who are not actively involved in terrorism "are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion."

Brennan's analysis is factually wrong because at no point has any Hizbullah member ever condemned or in any way criticized its paramilitary or terror cadres. To the contrary, Hizbullah's nonmilitary personnel have gone on record repeatedly praising their terror brethren and have expressed disappointment that they are not among the movement's fighters.

Like Hamas - which Brennan in the past has expressed support for recognizing - Hizbullah entered Lebanese politics with the intention of taking over the country.

The White House continues to oppose placing additional sanctions on Iran. State Department officials said this week that they fear that additional sanctions would cause the Iranian public to rally around the regime. The fact that the Iranian public is in large part now begging Western countries to reject the legitimacy of the regime has made no impact on the Obama administration.

Appeasing terrorists and regimes that support them is the aim of US policy.
[Jerusalem Post]


Counterterrorism in Obama's Washington -Daniel Pipes

Barack Obama's assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John O. Brennan, conveniently outlined the administration's present and future policy mistakes in a speech on August 6, "A New Approach for Safeguarding Americans."

Brennan calls for appeasing terrorists: "Even as we condemn and oppose the illegitimate tactics used by terrorists, we need to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and grievances of ordinary people those terrorists claim to represent." Which legitimate needs and grievances, one wonders, does he think Al-Qaeda represents?

Nor can Brennan think straight. One example, requiring a lengthy quote:

"Poverty does not cause violence and terrorism. Lack of education does not cause terrorism. But just as there is no excuse for the wanton slaughter of innocents, there is no denying that when children have no hope for an education, when young people have no hope for a job and feel disconnected from the modern world, when governments fail to provide for the basic needs of their people, then people become more susceptible to ideologies of violence and death."

Summary: Poverty and a lack of education do not cause terrorism, but a lack of education and a job make people more susceptible to the ideas leading to terrorism. What is the distinction? Woe on us when the White House accepts illogic as analysis.

Implementation of the inept policies outlined by Brennan spells danger for Americans, American interests, and American allies. The bitter consequences of these mistakes soon enough will become apparent.
[Front Page Magazine]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Academia caves in to Jihad

Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book -Patricia Cohen

The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” [will] not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. Yale [will] also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included...

Reza Aslan [pictured at right], a religion scholar and the author of “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam,” is a fan of the book but decided to withdraw his supportive blurb that was to appear in the book after Yale University Press dropped the pictures. He added, “It’s academic cowardice...”

Although many Muslims believe the Koran prohibits images of the prophet, Muhammad has been depicted through the centuries in both Islamic and Western art without inciting disturbances.
[New York Times]

Disgrace: Yale removes Mohammed cartoons from book

This is the scholarship equivalent of Yale donning a burqa. Good work, academia.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Jewish backlash against Obama?

US Jewish Obama backers oppose his Israel policies -E.B. Solomont

American Jewish Democrats are breaking with the Obama administration over its policies in Israel, according to the results of a survey designed by a former [political consultant] for president Bill Clinton.

The survey, initiated by pollster Dick Morris [pictured above], found that the majority of respondents - some 55% - said the president is "naive in thinking that the Palestinians would make peace" and that Palestinians "will just use the new land as a base to attack Israel like they did in Gaza."

[Only] 40% said they believe Obama is doing a good job in his effort to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The survey, conducted by Global Marketing Research Services is based on responses from 500 American Jews who voted for Obama.

"To me," [Morris] added, "this indicates that the jury is still out and that a backlash may yet develop against Obama's policies."

[But] David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council [said], "[w]e do not see any significant weakening of American Jewish support for this administration."
[Jerusalem Post]

Mideast Peace Starts with Respect -Ronald S. Lauder

As the Obama administration outlines its own prospectus for a comprehensive settlement, it would do well to take note of some potential pitfalls.

The administration [should] take heed of the Palestinian Authority's continued refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. A long-term settlement can only be forged on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. To deny the essence of the Zionist project - to rebuild the Jewish people's ancient homeland - is to call into question the seriousness of one's commitment to peace.

The core historic reason for the conflict is the Arab world's longstanding rejection of Israel's existence. The two-state solution was accepted by Israel's pre-state leadership in 1947 when it agreed to the partition plan contained in UN General Assembly Resolution 181. The Arabs flatly rejected it.

The recent rebuffs by Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of efforts by the Obama administration to promote a more conciliatory attitude to Israel offer a salient reminder that those who started this conflict may not yet be in a mood to end it, whatever their rhetoric to the contrary.
The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress.
(Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is Muslim immigration a threat to Europe?

A Fifth of European Union Will Be Muslim by 2050 -Adrian Michaels

Last year, 5% of the total population of the 27 EU countries was Muslim. But rising levels of immigration from Muslim countries and low birth rates among Europe's indigenous population mean that, by 2050, the figure will be 20%, according to forecasts.

Data indicate that Britain, Spain and Holland will have an even higher proportion of Muslims in a shorter amount of time.

The findings have led to allegations that policy-makers are failing to confront the widespread challenges of the "demographic time bomb". Although some polls have pointed to a lack of radicalisation in the Muslim community, little attention is being given to the integration of migrants, with fears of social unrest in years to come.

Europe or Eurabia? -Daniel Pipes

The future of Europe is in play. Will it turn into "Eurabia," a part of the Muslim world? Will it remain the distinct cultural unit it has been over the last millennium? Or might there be some creative synthesis of the two civilizations?

The answer has vast importance.

I foresee potentially one of three paths for Europe: Muslims dominating, Muslims rejected, or harmonious integration...

Amsterdam and Rotterdam are expected, [by] 2015, to be the first large majority-Muslim [European] cities. Russia could become a Muslim-majority country in 2050.

Surveys indicate that about 5 percent of British Muslims endorse the 7/7 transport bombings. [A] reassertion [of] European [identity] will likely lead to on-going civil strife, perhaps a more lethal version of the fall 2005 [Muslim] riots in France.
[The Australian]

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stranger than Fiction: Palestinian "moderates" endorse terror group they 'dismantled'

Fatah: Jerusalem must be made void of Settlers -Khaled Abu Toameh

Fatah's sixth General Assembly approved a resolution endors[ing] the Aksa Martyrs Brigades [pictured above] as Fatah's official armed wing, contradicting promises made by the Fatah leadership that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades have been dismantled.
(Jerusalem Post)

Fatah Moves "to Remove, Defeat Occupation" -Khaled Abu Toameh

Fatah's sixth General Assembly approved a political platform that emphasizes the Palestinians' right "to resist occupation in all forms."
(Jerusalem Post)


The Fatah Congress Spectacle -Editorial

Fatah, which put Palestine on the world's agenda, is heading for the dustbin of history unless it quickly re-articulates a national platform and comes up with a credible leadership - respected by Israelis as well as Palestinians.
(Financial Times-UK)

More U.S. PR Is Not the Answer -Jonathan Tobin

After running into a dead end in its efforts to jump-start Middle East peace talks, the White House will begin a public relations program in Israel and Arab countries to better explain the president's intention to broker a comprehensive peace agreement.

The failure of the Oslo Accords, the July 2000 Camp David summit, the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and last year's effort by former prime minister Ehud Olmert to hand the PA a state on a silver platter all illustrate the Palestinians' lack of interest in signing such a deal. In the clear absence of a credible peace partner, what point is there in bullying Israel to make concessions?

The idea that Israelis need to be convinced to "reflect" on their policies and change their tune is not only astoundingly arrogant, it's frankly wrong. Israelis already want peace, and have shown time and again they are ready to make sacrifices to achieve it.

What is lacking is a similar commitment from the Palestinians.
(Jerusalem Post)


Friday, August 07, 2009

"Sex in the City" star ditched for supporting Israel

Actress Dropped by Oxfam for Backing Israeli Product -Richard Johnson

Actress Kristin Davis [pictured above] is no longer working as a spokeswoman for the human rights organization Oxfam International because she also endorses the Ahava cosmetics line - which is manufactured by Dead Sea Cosmetics in Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank.

The [left wing] women's group Code Pink [pictured at right], has called for a boycott, saying Ahava uses Palestinian natural resources in what it calls "occupied Palestine."
(New York Post)

Will Obama continue to play lightly with Abbas?

Time to Push the Arabs -Benny Avni

It's been 62 years since the UN General Assembly partitioned British-mandated Palestine into two states, defining one as Arab and the other as Jewish.

Yet almost all Arabs remain unified in their "outrage" over Israel's renewed demand for recognition as a Jewish state. It's high time for President Obama to publicly admonish Fatah on this point, just as he pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly declare his adherence to the "two-state solution."

So far, Obama has succeeded only in encouraging PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to wait until Washington delivers endless Israeli concessions. It's time to push to change their mindset. Insisting they recognize Israel as a Jewish state would be a good start.
(New York Post)

Fatah Sets 14 Preconditions for Talks with Israel -Khaled Abu Toameh

Fatah delegates meeting in Bethlehem resolved not to renew peace negotiations with Israel until all Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli jails, all settlement-building is frozen and the Gaza blockade is lifted.

Nabil Sha'ath, a Fatah Central Committee member, said these were some of the 14 preconditions for a resumption of peace talks.
(Jerusalem Post)

Is U.S. Open to Compromise? -Abraham Foxman [pictured below/right]

[T]he Obama administration's approach begins to raise a series of more fundamental questions:

1. Is the administration's outreach to the Muslim world predicated on distancing the U.S. from Israel?

2. Are the unrelenting U.S. demands on Israel regarding settlements giving the Palestinians an excuse to avoid direct negotiations with Israel?

3. Is the continuing focus on settlements creating the perception around the world that the U.S. now agrees with Israel's critics that it is Israel that is the critical obstacle to peace?
(New York Jewish Week)

Understanding Israel bashing

Why Single Out Israel? -Colby Cosh

At the upcoming general council of the United Church of Canada [insignia above], attendees will be asked to vote on a resolution boycotting Israeli academic and cultural institutions.

The language of the resolution says that Israel is "built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners." In view of the 1.4 million Arabs living within Israeli borders, Israel is not much better at ethnic cleansing than I am at cleaning my house.

Using the term "ethnic cleansing" to characterize the founding of Israel makes the term elastic enough to include freely contracted purchases of land by Zionists under the British Mandate, as well as the Jews' refusal to let themselves be starved and exterminated by their Arab neighbors in the 1947-48 intercommunal free-for-all.

Individual Jews are "cleansing" the region literally just by being alive there. The nerve!

The preoccupation with the injustice in the Middle East is nothing but an irrational political fad, helped along by a lamentable tendency to subject Jews to special, incessant scrutiny.
(National Post-Canada)


Canadian Church Group Rejects Israel Boycott

Canada's largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, rejected a series of resolutions calling for a boycott of Israel, financial divestment, and sanctions. The CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, commended the church for rejecting the "misguided and destructive" proposals.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Suggestions for Obama's Middle East moves

Abbas at Fatah Conference in Bethlehem.
An image of Arafat looms over him, and perhaps all of the MidEast

Talking to Israelis -Shmuel Rosner

Words alone will not make Israelis trust Obama. Israelis do not suffer from lack of understanding of the issues; they suffer from peace-fatigue. They are tired of the good intentions of enthusiastic novices, believing that with their youth and their smarts they'll be able to come up with some magic trick that can somehow round a square. What Obama needs is a convincing plan that makes sense. It does not look like he has one.

The president has reportedly sent letters to seven Arab leaders reminding them of "the need for CBMs [confidence-building measures] in exchange for [a settlement] freeze and to [get] peace talks restarted." It hasn't worked very well.

So perhaps instead of the president making the effort of "talking directly" to Israelis with nothing new to say, maybe he ought to put his efforts into convincing someone else to address Israelis - somebody whose very act of speaking to Israelis would be significant in its own right. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia or President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria come to mind.
(New Republic)

Inside the Fatah Convention: VideoBite

Fatah Leaders Applaud Bloodthirsty Terrorists -Hana Levi Julian

Delegates to the Sixth Fatah General Convention in Bethlehem responded with loud applause at the mention by a top Fatah leader of two terrorists who committed the worst terror attack in Israel's history.

The pair, Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, were praised as heroic Martyrs by former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister and current negotiator Ahmed Qurei.

Mughrabi, Abu-Isbah, and 10 other terrorists hijacked a bus in 1978, murdering 37 civilians, including 12 children, in what later became known as the Coastal Road Massacre.
[Arutz Sheva]

The Radicalization of Fatah -Khaled Abu Toameh

[T]here are growing indications that Fatah is headed in the [wrong] direction, as seen in calls by top representatives for a "strategic alliance" with Iran.

By adopting a hard-line approach toward the conflict and blocking reforms, Fatah is sending a message both to the Palestinians and the world that it's still not ready for any form of compromise or reforms. As such, Fatah remains part of the problem, and not part of the solution.
(Hudson Institute New York)

Fatah Aims to Boost Radical Credentials -Tony Karon

Much of the Fatah rank and file and even many in the leadership believe that the only way the movement can be saved is to break with American tutelage and seek to reclaim the mantle of "resistance" from Hamas. The conference will seek to rebrand Fatah with a more radical stance in order to more effectively compete with Hamas.

Where Have All the Palestinian Moderates Gone? -David Schenker

A series of comments by current and former senior Fatah officials undercut the fundamental premise of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking: the renunciation of violence and the acceptance of Israel's right to exist.

The statements have profound implications. The leading faction of the PLO that signed the Oslo Accords with Israel now says it never consented to the terms of the deal.

Fatah's formal rejection of the Oslo terms, essentially constitutes the PLO's renunciation of the entire agreement.
The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(Foreign Policy)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Christians under attack

Eight Christians Burned to Death in Pakistan -Zahid Hussain

Hundreds of armed supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, set alight dozens of Christian homes in eastern Pakistan, burning to death eight members of a Christian family, after allegations that a copy of the Koran had been defiled.

The mob opened fire indiscriminately, threw petrol bombs and looted houses as thousands of frightened Christians ran for safety. Residents said that police stood aside while the mob went on the rampage.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minorities, said that 40 Christian homes were torched in rioting, and that there was no truth to allegations that a Koran had been burned by Christian youth.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Fatah's Death Dance

Former PA Minister: Fatah Should Ally with Iran

The time has come for Fatah to seek a strategic alliance with Iran, the movement's Jerusalem affairs liaison Hatim Abdul Qader said.

Fatah's rival, Hamas, is known to have warm relations with Iran. Abdul Qader encouraged the upcoming Fatah conference to adopt a political program that formulates new relations with Iran due to its strategic importance and influence. He argued that Iran's power in the region ought to be exploited to serve the Palestinian cause.

Last month, the PLO's top negotiator, Saeb Erekat, met with Iran's foreign minister.
(Maan News-PA)

Fatah Activists Sneak out of Gaza for Convention

Some 27 Fatah activists have sneaked out of Hamas-ruled Gaza in recent days to attend the Fatah convention in Bethlehem this week.

One woman put on a veil and long robe and then rode in a donkey cart past the Hamas checkpoint. Others posed as medical patients on their way to treatment in Israel, including a woman delegate who got in a wheelchair and was pushed by three Fatah activists.

Fatah Conference to Harden Party Line -Khaled Abu Toameh

The Fatah general conference is scheduled to convene in Bethlehem on Tuesday for the first time in two decades.

According to a draft "political plan" leaked to some Arab newspapers over the weekend, the Fatah conference will reiterate Fatah's commitment to the "armed struggle" against Israel. Fatah is also expected to reemphasize its opposition to Israel's demand that it be recognized as a Jewish state.
(Jerusalem Post)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Obama strikes out with Arab world

Depressing signs from Arab World -Herb Keinon

Following intensive efforts by US Mideast envoy George Mitchell to relaunch a diplomatic process in the region, the Arab world over the weekend - in three seemingly disconnected events - seemed to give its response, and it sounded like echoes of the famous three noes from Khartoum following the Six Day War.

Back in the summer of 1967, the Arab states - after the war - gathered in the Sudanese capital and said 'no to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiations with Israel.'

[T]here were three significant signals from the Arab world over the weekend, and they were all negative.

Syria's President Bashar Assad said there would be no compromise on the Golan Heights, and that the return of the region was "non-negotiable." Syria has for years been consistent in saying that it would start negotiations with Israel once Israel committed to a total withdrawal from the Golan Heights, leading to the very simple question: If Israel agrees to withdraw before the negotiations, what exactly will the negotiations be about?

The second no, came in the form of Arab press reports over the weekend that Fatah, at its upcoming convention in Bethlehem, will reject Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's call for a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The third no had to be the most disappointing for the Obama administration, because it signaled that the administration's intensive work over the last few months had essentially gotten nowhere. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal stood next to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department [pictured above], and said Israel could forget about getting any gestures, or confidence-building measures, from Saudi Arabia.

Six months after US President Barack Obama took over and began seriously recalibrating the country's Middle East policy, this is what he has to show for it: an Israeli public that, as recent polls indicate, doesn't trust him; and an Arab world that remains unwilling, despite his coddling, to make any practical move or gesture toward Israel.
[Jerusaem Post]

Supporting Moderate Muslims

Muslims Are Not Monolithic -David J. Rusin

[I]n contrast to how they often are depicted, Western Muslims do not think with one brain or speak with one voice. Much of this plurality breaks down along moderate-versus-Islamist lines, as seen in events from the past few months:

*In late May, Islamic extremists marching in Luton, England, were confronted by a group of Muslims shouting, "We don't want you here!" Its leader explained that such protesters have been giving Muslims a bad name and fueling hatred. "We hope they get the message that the law-abiding community is sick and tired of them," he said.

*Somalis took to Minneapolis streets in June to accuse the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of "discouraging local Somalis from cooperating with the FBI," which is investigating the trend of youths returning to Somali to take part in jihad.

*Recent calls by Nicholas Sarkozy and French legislators to outlaw face-covering veils have highlighted divisions among Muslims. While most Islamic advocacy groups quickly slammed leaders for daring to broach the topic, some prominent imams have denounced the niqab and backed a prohibition. Furthermore, Fadela Amara, a government minister and practicing Muslim, boldly described burqa-like clothing as a "coffin for women's basic liberties" and "proof of the presence of Muslim fundamentalists on our soil."

[L]et us recognize the range of viewpoints exhibited by Western Muslims and stand beside moderates in the struggle against a common Islamist foe.
[Islamist Watch]