Friday, July 31, 2009

US Funded Palestinian Police: when in doubt, run away

Palestinian Police on the West Bank,
during US funded training


U.S.-Trained PA Forces Can't Even Protect a Music Festival -Aaron Klein

The Palestinian police have received advanced U.S. training and were deployed last year amid much fanfare and claims they would fight crime and terrorism. They are upheld as the force capable of assuming law and order in place of the Israeli army during the creation of a Palestinian state.

[T]his week they could not even secure a few stages at a music festival in Nablus. Halfway into the festival, militants burned down the stages, bringing the event to a screeching halt.

In another incident, about 200 policemen from the elite "Dayton forces" recently attempted to clear out a section of Jenin [which is] a base [for] the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. Witnesses report that within less than 30 minutes of the start of the clashes, "the security men ran away scared. They didn't arrest anyone."
(WorldNetDaily)
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Journalist calls Obama a Liar


Obama Lied Early And Often About Israel -Jonathan Mark [pictured above]

[D]uring the campaign [for President, the] Los Angeles Times wrote: “Even as he won support in Chicago’s Palestinian community, Obama tried to forge ties with advocates for Israel. In 2000, he submitted a policy paper to CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee, that among other things supported a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a position far out of step from that of his Palestinian friends."

The PAC concluded that Obama’s position paper “suggests he is strongly pro-Israel on all of the major issues.” Obama’s campaign volunteers within Jewish organizations and the Jewish media pointed to such endorsements such to assuage Jewish fears about Obama.

Now Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, [is] summoned to the State Department to be scolded because Jews were building a house in Jerusalem.

Obama’s supporters often said “Bush lied.”

Did Obama lie? When he was telling Jewish audiences for the better part of seven years that he believed in a united Israeli Jerusalem, did he mean it?

Either he was telling lies to the Jewish PACS or he was telling lies to American Palestinians. And most Jewish journalists and most Jewish leaders were OK with that. They wanted him to win anyway.

They exerted [no] energy examining and publicizing Obama’s habit of saying one thing to Zionists and another thing to anti-Zionists, such as his friends at Electronic Intifada.

Now that he’s president he’s finally being upfront. Most Israelis don’t like it. Most American Jews don’t care.
The writer is Associate Editor of The Jewish Week, a New York newspaper.
[Route 17]
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Obama's effect on the Middle East


A Jerusalem protest against Obama's Israel policy

Tough on Israel: President Obama's Approach Self-Defeating? -Editorial

One of the more striking results of the Obama administration's first six months is that only one country has worse relations with the U.S. than it did in January: Israel. The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma.

But for nearly three months it has been locked in a public confrontation with Israel.

After Mr. Obama chose to insist on an absolutist demand for a settlement "freeze," Palestinian and Arab leaders who had accepted previous compromises immediately hardened their positions; they also balked at delivering the "confidence-building" concessions to Israel that the administration seeks.
(Washington Post)
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Israel & the rocket threat


The Military Solution to Rocket War Works -Michael J. Totten

In early 2006 an Israeli intelligence officer told me, "Missile war will replace terrorist war." He was right.

Just a few months later, Hizbullah launched thousands of Katyusha rockets into northern Israel and forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee south toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In the Second Lebanon War, south Lebanon was punished much more thoroughly than northern Israel. In Gaza, Hamas ramped up its own rocket war until fed-up Israelis gave Gaza the south Lebanon treatment this past December and January. Now, seven long months later, the rockets out of Gaza have finally stopped. Israelis will no longer put up with indiscriminate attacks on their houses and schools.

A pattern has emerged that should be obvious to anybody. After Israeli soldiers withdraw from occupied territory, Israeli civilians are shot at with rockets from inside that territory.

Another pattern has just been made clear. After Israelis shoot back, the rockets stop flying. Rocket war doesn't work, but the military solution to rocket war does.
(Commentary)
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Tehran reading Obama correctly?

Tehran sees a different image

Tehran: U.S. Already Accepts Nuclear Iran -Amir Taheri

As Tehran sees it, the U.S. administration has already accepted a nuclear-armed Iran as a fait accompli and is only trying to secure some concessions from the Khomeinist regime.

According to an editorial in the newspaper Kayhan, which reflects the views of the leadership in Tehran, the U.S. is "in a state of strategic desperation" in the Middle East and has no stomach for a serious confrontation with Iran. The editorial claims: "They have no long-term plan for dealing with Iran....Their strategy consists of begging us to talk with them."

"America's strategic needs in the region are so intense that the Obama administration is prepared to accept the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran," the editorial said.
(New York Post)
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Gaza creeps towards Orwellian Islamism

Tanning lotion anyone?
Gaza beach scene


Hamas Aims to Make Gaza More Islamic -Diaa Hadid

In Gaza City, police order a lingerie shop to hide its scantily clad mannequins. A judge warns female lawyers to wear head scarves in court. Beach patrols break up groups of singles and make men wear shirts.

It's all part of a new Hamas campaign to get Gazans to adhere to a strict Muslim lifestyle. Having consolidated its hold on Gaza in the two years since it seized control by force, Hamas feels emboldened enough to extend its ideology into people's private lives.

Hamas insists compliance with its "virtue campaign" is still voluntary, but there are reports of alleged offenders being beaten and teachers being told to pressure girls to wear head scarves.
(AP-Washington Post)
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prominent Israeli Lefty spits fire at Obama: next time you're in the neighborhood, stop by


Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel?
-Aluf Benn [pictured at right]

In his global tours and TV appearances, President Obama has spoken to Arabs, Muslims, Iranians, Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Russians and Africans. His words have stirred emotions and been well received everywhere.

But so far, neither the president nor any senior administration official has given a speech or an interview aimed at an Israeli audience, beyond diplomatic photo ops. The Arabs got the Cairo speech; we got silence.

This policy of ignoring Israel carries a price. [N]o Israeli political figure has stood up to Mr. Netanyahu and begged him to support Mr. Obama; not even the Israeli left, desperate for a new agenda, has adopted Mr. Obama as its icon.

Mr. Netanyahu enjoys a virtual domestic consensus over his rejection of the settlement freeze. Moreover, he has succeeded in portraying Mr. Obama as a shaky ally. In Mr. Netanyahu’s narrative, the president has fallen under the influence of top aides — in this case Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod — whom the prime minister has called “self-hating Jews.”

Mr. Obama came to office determined to repair America’s broken alliances in Europe and the Middle East. One way to do this — to prove that he was the opposite of his predecessor — was to place some distance between Israel and himself.

Next time you’re in the neighborhood, Mr. President, speak to us directly. We will surely listen.
Aluf Benn is the editor at large of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
[New York Times]
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Disquieting Report on Arab World


The Arab World: Waking from its Sleep

The UN Development Program last week published the fifth in a series of hard-hitting reports on the state of the Arab world.

Six Arab countries have an outright ban on political parties and the rest restrict them. Despite their oil, two out of five people in the Arab world live on $2 or less a day. Overpowerful internal security forces often turn Arab states into a menace to their own people.

In almost every Arab country, fertility is in decline, more people, especially women, are becoming educated, and businessmen want a bigger say in economies dominated by the state.

A revolution in satellite television has broken the spell of the state-run media and created a public that wants the rulers to explain and justify themselves as never before.

Taken together, these changes are creating great agitation under the surface. The old pattern of Arab government - corrupt, opaque and authoritarian - has failed on every level and does not deserve to survive.
(Economist-UK)
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Another call for Jewish Democrats to confront Obama


American Jews: Stand up -Isi Leibler

Ignore the soothing denials; the reality is that American-Jewish supporters of Israel never encountered anything comparable to the confrontation looming with the Obama administration.

The current situation is especially sensitive because it is commonly believed that Barack Obama's strategy relating to Israel is being orchestrated by two key Jewish members of his administration, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. Worse still, they may have succeeded in dividing the Jewish leadership.

In line with established practice, as political tensions intensified, the Presidents' Conference requested a meeting with the president. The White House agreed, but insisted on determining who would participate.

Without consultation, critics like Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America were excluded while Israel-bashing groups like J Street and US Peace Now were invited.

The administration thus not only provided equal status to fringe groups, it obliged mainstream organizations to share a platform with groups whose raison d'ĂȘtre is to force Israel to make additional unilateral concessions. During Operation Cast Lead, J Street even publicly condemned Israel's campaign against Hamas.

The reluctance of the Presidents' Conference to reject this arrangement may be a major strategic blunder. It provides a mechanism by which the Obama administration can create an "amen" environment free of troublemakers.

A public campaign must be launched. It is crucial that the case for Israel not rest exclusively with Jewish Republicans or Christian evangelicals. Jewish Democrats must be at the forefront if the bipartisan approach which for decades has been the hallmark of US policy toward Israel is to be retained.

Democrat champions like Alan Dershowitz should explain to Obama why [his policies are] immoral and counterproductive.

The burden rests on American Jews. They must stand up and be counted. Jewish activists should make Obama understand that if he continues to appease Arabs by distancing the US from Israel and reneging on prior American commitments, the Jewish community, including many of his most devoted followers, will conclude that he betrayed them.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Useless United Nations


Dump the CEIRPP -Editorial

With the arguable exception of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which in 1947 called for the establishment of independent Jewish and Arab states - and which the Arabs rejected out of hand - just about every subsequent UN stand on the conflict has been to Israel's detriment.

Not once has the GA unequivocally reprimanded the PLO or Hamas for engaging in airline-hijackings, bus bombings and other forms of anti-civilian warfare. Israel, in contrast, is censured at every opportunity.

In 1975 the UN established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Unlike the Kurds, Roma, Copts, Uighur, Tibetans, and others peoples' who plead for international support, only the Palestinian Arabs have a permanent UN-funded body which does nothing but agitate on their behalf.

This newspaper endorses a campaign initiated by the Anti-Defamation League urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to dismantle the committee on the grounds that it is the "single most prolific source of material bearing the official imprimatur of the UN which maligns and debases the Jewish state."

The CEIRPP is an obstacle to peace - it needs to go.
(Jerusalem Post)




If you build it, they won't come -David Solway

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [pictured above] announced that Israel must demolish the wall (which, incidentally, is mainly a fence), now two-thirds completed, between Israel's eastern border and the West Bank.

There is, of course, not the slightest allusion to the families of the more than one thousand Israeli victims of Palestinian terror since the start of the second intifada, who were affected precisely by the lack of such a barrier and who should by rights be receiving Palestinian reparations.

Pillay also has nothing to say about the palisade being built by the government of Thailand, which is higher and longer than the Israeli barrier, to cordon off two million Muslims living in the south of the country. She has nothing to say about the "wall of shame" dividing Morocco from Western Sahara (1,500 miles), the electrified fence between Botswana and Zimbabwe (300 miles), and the soon-to-be-completed, ten-foot-high barrier along the entire border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, built by the Saudis to discourage terrorist infiltration. Security barriers have also been erected by India, Cyprus, and even by the UN, which installed a security barrier to protect Kuwait from Iraq. The U.S. is justifiably constructing a fence along its southwestern border with Mexico to prevent the influx of illegal immigration.

Both the American and Israeli fences have been compared to the Berlin Wall, an accusation which misses the point entirely. The Berlin Wall was intended to keep citizens in, not interlopers out.
(Pajamas Media)
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Straight talk from Palestinian journalist


What the West Bank Actually Looks Like -Michael J. Totten

Earlier this year in Jerusalem, Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh [pictured] told me how much the West Bank surprises visitors:

"The other day someone came for the first time ever to this part of the world, and he called me and asked me to take him to Ramallah....The man was shocked. He said, 'Where are the refugee camps? Where are the mud houses? Where's the poverty?...Look how nice it is.'"
(Commentary)
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

How far will Obama go with Israel?


IDF Mulls Possible U.S. Aid Halt -Yaakov Katz & Herb Keinon

Amid growing tension between Jerusalem and Washington, the IDF and the Defense Ministry have held brainstorming sessions to discuss the possibility that the U.S. would cut military aid to Israel.

The discussion came just hours before a State Department spokesman said that it was still "premature" to talk about financial sanctions against Israel for its refusal to freeze settlement construction.

Israeli defense officials said it was possible to interpret the remark as meaning that at a later date sanctions might be realistic.
(Jerusalem Post)


Netanyahu: Israel Won't Dismantle West Bank Fence

Media reports said the Palestian Authority had relayed a demand to President Obama to remove the fence since the security situation in the West Bank had improved.

Netanyahu told the Knesset: "I hear they are saying today that because it's quiet, it's possible to take down the fence. My friends, the opposite is true....It's quiet because a fence exists."
(Ha'aretz)


The Obama-Netanyahu Relationship -Ari Shavit

Soon after the confrontation in Washington Obama renounced the commitments made by previous administrations on the settlement blocs. He trashed the letter written by George W. Bush and the policies of Bill Clinton.

That is how he taught the Israelis a lesson they will not quickly forget: The word of a U.S. president is not worth much.
(Ha'aretz)
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is the Obama Administration resigned to a Nuclear Iran?



U.S. Considers "Defense Umbrella" for Iran -David Gollust

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capacity, the U.S. will respond [by] offer[ing] to regional allies a "defense umbrella" to prevent Iranian intimidation.
(VOA News)


Israeli Slams Clinton on Iran -Barak Ravid

Dan Meridor [pictured at right], [an] Israel[i] minister, told Army Radio that Clinton's statement regarding "a defense umbrella" for its allies in the Middle East implies a willingness to reconcile with the eventuality of a nuclear-armed Iran.

"I heard the Americans' statement that they will defend their allies in the event that Iran arms itself with an atomic bomb, as if they have already reconciled with this possibility, and this is a mistake. [W]e don't need to deal with the assumption that Iran will attain nuclear weapons, but to prevent this."
(Ha'aretz)
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pipes: Obama displaying "rank incompetence"



[T]he Obama administration's rapid turn against Israel, has had predictable and counter-productive results. These point to further difficulties ahead.

First result: escalating Palestinian demands on Israel. In early July, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat, insisted on Israel shrunk to its pre-June 1967 borders, a Palestinian "right of return" to Israel, and a complete stop to building by Jews in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Second result: The U.S. government takes marching orders from Abbas and passes them along to the Israelis. Abbas complained to the Americans [of] the construction of 20 apartments and an underground garage in eastern Jerusalem. The State Department promptly summoned Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren on July 17 and instructed him to halt the building project.

[T]he Obama administration displayed rank incompetence by picking a fight on an issue where an Israeli consensus exists – not over a remote "outpost" but a Jerusalem quarter boasting a Zionist pedigree back to 1891.

How long until Obama understands his error and retreats from it? How much damage will he do in the meantime?
[Philadelphia Bulletin]
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Israel's national unity transcends politics


Israel's New National Consensus -Barry Rubin

Israel has entered a new era of thinking in which old categories of Left or Right are irrelevant under a national unity government bringing together the two main ruling parties.

This new posture is not one of desperately asserting Israel's yearning for peace, but rather saying: We're serious, we're ready, we're not suckers but we're not unreasonable either. We want peace on real terms, not just more unilateral concessions and higher risk without reward. Not experimenting with our survival to please others. Not some illusory celebration of a two-state solution for a week and then watching it produce another century of violence.

Is it really such a brilliant idea to rush into giving a state without serious conditions to a Palestinian regime which has failed to govern competently what it already has, daily broadcasts incitement to murder Israelis, is profoundly corrupt, and has already lost half its patrimony to a rival whose goal is a new genocide?

Jews outside Israel should rally, putting aside old conflicts about who's more passionate about peace, [and focus] more [on] security.

Finally, this new policy merges both the conservative approach - proper suspicions and demands for security and reciprocity - and the liberal approach - a proper readiness to compromise and desire for true peace - into one package.

Both elements are now blended in the thinking of the overwhelming majority of Israelis. A new national consensus has emerged, strong and durable.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Obama picks new fight with Israel over Jerusalem


U.S. Tells Israel: Halt Jerusalem Construction -Roni Sofer

A senior Israeli official said that Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, was told that Israel must suspend a planned project in eastern Jerusalem near Israel's national police headquarters.
(Ynet News)


"No Difference to U.S. Between Outpost, & Jerusalem Construction"
-Akiva Eldar

The U.S. views eastern Jerusalem as no different than an illegal West Bank outpost with regard to its demand for a freeze on settlement construction, American sources have informed both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
(Ha'aretz)


Prime Minister Rejects US Demand

Jerusalem's decision to leak to the media US displeasure with a plan to build a small housing complex in east Jerusalem was designed to clarify to the Americans that construction in the capital should not be lumped together with any limitations Israel may agree to on building in the settlements.

Israeli diplomatic officials said that Ambassador Michael Oren went to the State Department for routine talks, during which his American interlocutors raised their concern about plans approved last month by the Jerusalem Municipality for 20 apartments to be built at the site of the Shepherd Hotel in eastern Jerusalem, bought in 1985 by American businessman Irving Moskowitz.
(Jerusalem Post)


Jerusalem Housing Project "Not in Middle of an Arab Neighborhood"
-Ali Waked

"The area...is not located in the heart of the Arab neighborhood, but rather on the border between the Sheikh Jarrah and French Hill neighborhoods. It's not as though someone built a Jewish neighborhood smack in the middle of a remote Arab neighborhood," said Jerusalem municipal council member Yakir Segev.
(Ynet News)


If Arabs Can Live in Western Jerusalem, Jews Can Live in Eastern Jerusalem
-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

I would like to re-emphasize that united Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel. Our sovereignty over it cannot be challenged; this means - inter alia - that residents of Jerusalem may purchase apartments in all parts of the city.

This has been the policy of all Israeli governments. [I]n recent years hundreds of apartments in Jewish neighborhoods in the western part of the city have been purchased by - or rented to - Arab residents and we did not interfere.

This says that there is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the western part of the city and there is no ban on Jews buying or building apartments in the eastern part of the city.

We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and purchase in all parts of Jerusalem. I can only describe to myself what would happen if someone would propose that Jews could not live in certain neighborhoods in New York, London, Paris or Rome.
(Prime Minister's Office)
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Call for Jewish Democrats to confront Obama


Democrats should press Obama -Jonathan Tobin

Obama is proud of quarreling with Israel. Indeed, he asserts that his hammering of Israel is merely "honest talk" that should be interpreted as the highest form of friendship.

Though Obama speaks to Jewish groups of equal pressure on the Arabs, everything that the administration has done and said in its short time in office makes it clear that the president's sole target is the government in Jerusalem, not the terrorists running Gaza or the corrupt Fatah functionaries in Ramallah.

[T]he passive response from Jewish leaders to the downgrading of the alliance with Israel cannot be denied.

[T]he overwhelming majority of American Jews who voted for Obama last year did not back him because they anticipated that he would pick pointless fights with Israel to advance a peace process that Palestinians scorn. Most did so because they are partisan Democrats and share his views on domestic issues. But there is no way that he would have won as much as three-quarters of the Jewish vote had not most believed him when he claimed he was a supporter of Israel.

[S]ome of those who vouched for Obama during last year's campaign have said that the president's offenses are not yet egregious enough to warrant a rebuke. Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, a man whose long and honorable record of support for Israel is beyond question, attempted to defend Obama's positions in a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

The question remains what will be the tipping point for Jewish Democrats at which it will be impossible for them to go on pretending that they did not elect [a] president hostile to Israel?

If the current trend continues without a strong negative reaction from Jewish Democrats who raised money for Obama and voted for him, then we are entitled to ask why they are either silent or rationalizing a policy that they know is wrong.
[Jerusalem Post]
[Please consider emailing President Obama at President@WhiteHouse.gov or use the web form at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact]

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Welfare for Terror Prevents Peace


Obstacles to Peace -Col. Moshe Elad [pictured at right]

[T]he bottomless barrel of aid funds to the Palestinians, is an obstacle to peace.

[T]hose billions in contributions only amounted to boosting terror groups in our region. In any other place in the world, the funds donated to the Palestinian Authority would have been sufficient to establish industrial infrastructure, provide employment, housing, and a car to each worker. However, in the "territories" these funds have been swallowed up by terror arms and private pockets. Yet the West believes that it promotes peace in our region.

The obstacle to peace also has to do with the West's double-standards: the calm with which it accepts Gilad Shalit's abduction; the exaggerated pampering of the corrupt Fatah; the understanding shown to the demands made by Hamas terrorists, while only being strict and unbiased when facing our besieged democracy.
(Ynet News)
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is Obama holding secret talks with Hamas?


Ex-U.S. Diplomat Talks with Hamas; Washington Says Nothing's Changed
-Howard Schneider & Glenn Kessler

Hamas officials Bassem Naim and Mahmoud al-Zahar met in Switzerland in June with Thomas R. Pickering [pictured], a former undersecretary of state and U.S. ambassador to the UN.

However, U.S. officials said Pickering had not been asked to approach Hamas and had no official standing.
(Washington Post)
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White House Pow Wow


President Obama addresses Jewish concerns -Peter Wallsten

A private meeting held to ease tensions between the White House and American Jewish leaders included a pointed exchange as President Obama said public disagreements between the U.S. government and Israel are useful in the pursuit of Middle East peace, several participants said.

The president's remarks, surprising to some in the room, came as he was questioned about a perceived distance between his administration and Israel -- specifically in his insistence that Israel halt all settlement construction in the West Bank.

Obama criticized the Bush administration policy of unwavering agreement with Israel as ineffective. "He said, 'The United States and Israel were very, very close for eight years, and it produced very little,' " said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League...

The White House did not release a transcript of the meeting, [b]ut at least four participants confirmed Obama's comments, as did a White House official present at the meeting.
[Los Angeles Times]


Why No Progress in for the Past Eight Years? -Rick Richman

At his meeting with Jewish leaders, President Obama noted that for the past eight years there was "no daylight and no progress" between Israel and the Palestinians.

The following would be my summary of the progress over the past eight years:

After the Palestinians rejected an offer of a state at Camp David in 2000, rejected the Clinton Parameters in 2001, and conducted a terror war against Israeli civilians from 2000-2002, Israel nevertheless agreed in 2003 to the "Performance-Based Roadmap" for the creation of a Palestinian state.

In 2003 and thereafter, Israel ceased all settlement activity.

In 2004, after the Palestinian Authority failed to meet its Roadmap obligation to dismantle terror groups and infrastructure, Israel nevertheless proposed to dismantle every existing settlement in Gaza, remove every Israeli soldier, and turn over the entire area to the PA - in exchange for a written American commitment to defensible borders and retention of the major settlement blocs necessary to insure them.

In 2005, after receiving the American commitment, Israel proceeded to carry out the Gaza disengagement, and - at State Department insistence - further dismantled four settlements in the West Bank as well.

In 2006, the Palestinians elected their premier terrorist group to control their government. Hamas from Gaza and Hizbullah from Lebanon caused two wars and finally convinced Israelis further withdrawals were insane.

In 2007, despite the Palestinian failure to carry out its Phase I dismantlement obligation, Israel agreed to proceed immediately to final status negotiations once again under the "Annapolis Process" and in 2008 offered 100% of the West Bank (after land swaps) for a state, with concessions on other major issues, all of which were rejected.


During this eight-year period, the Palestinian concessions can be enumerated more briefly: zero.
(Commentary)
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Is a backroom deal shaping up, allowing Israel to attack Iran?


World may back Israel striking Iran as part of deal

A deal taking shape between Israel and Western leaders will facilitate international support for an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in exchange for concessions in peace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, The Times reported.

According to one British official quoted by the paper, such an understanding could allow an Israeli attack "within the year."

The report in the UK paper quoted unnamed diplomats as saying Israel was prepared to offer concessions on the formation of a Palestinian state as well as on its settlement policy and on "issues" with Arab neighbors, in exchange for international backing for an Israeli operation in Iran.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Greeks donate 1.7 million to "destroyed" Gaza hospital that is still standing

Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza is still standing

Greek Telethon for Gaza Hospital a Scam -Jean Cohen

A campaign in Greece to raise money to rebuild a Christian Palestinian hospital in Gaza allegedly destroyed by Israel appears to be a scam.

For nearly a week in February, Greece's official state television network inundated viewers about a telethon on Feb. 9 to raise money to "rebuild the Christian hospital in Gaza that Israelis destroyed with their bombs."

The telethon included recorded video messages by Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, along with a parade of Greek politicians, singers, public personalities and trade unionists. Many used the telethon to cast broadsides at Israel.

The campaign raised $1.67 million, according to telethon organizers, who said little Greek children had broken their piggy banks for Palestinians in need. In a six-hour telethon loaded with Israel bashing, the Greek public was deceived that money contributed would go to rebuild a Christian hospital destroyed by the army of the Jewish state.

[H]owever, no Christian hospital was on the UN list of structures damaged in Gaza.

Palestinians living in Gaza reported that the only Christian hospital in Gaza, Al Ahli [pictured above], was used during the war and did not receive a scratch.
(JTA)
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Hamas' paranoid delusion: Arab youths' sex drive boosted by Israel gum conspiracy

Dentyne gum ads
[above and below/right]

Hamas Says Israel Dumping Aphrodisiac Gum on Gaza

Hamas claims that Israeli intelligence services are supplying Gaza with chewing gum that boosts the sex drive in order to "corrupt the young," an official said.

He said Hamas has detained members of a gang that helped bring in the products. "They admitted during the investigation they were linked to the Zionist intelligence services," he said.
(AFP)
[Bruce's Note: This oddity may remind you of Mrs. Suha Arafat's paranoid accusation that Israel made "daily and intensive use of poison gas" against Palestinian Arabs. That incident made press only because Hillary Clinton was present.]
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boom! Hizbullah reveals its cards unintentionally



[A]fter a Hizbullah arms cache hidden inside a southern Lebanese town accidentally exploded, Israel accused Lebanon of violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

The blast occurred inside the village of Hirbet Selm, 20 kilometers north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, south of the Litani River and within the area which falls under the mandate of the UNIFIL multi-national force.

According to Israeli defense officials, the cache was [recently] hidden in a storehouse inside the village and contained dozens of 122-millimeter Katyusha rockets as well as high-powered machine guns. Some of the rockets reportedly flew into the sky.

"This is a major violation of resolution 1701," one official said. "The weaponry was stored inside a village and is proof of our longstanding claim that Hizbullah uses civilian infrastructure to hide its weaponry."
[Jerusalem Post]
[File photo]

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Mousavi misses his moment



The Iranian Regime after the Crackdown. - Reuel Marc Gerecht

The regime has regained control of the streets. Mousavi surely knows that Khamenei has, for now, decisively outflanked him.

Hope for reform again appears a long-term affair.
(Weekly Standard)
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Exposed: Human Rights Watch

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, as pictured by
cartoonist Alex Hughes


Human Rights Watch Seeks Saudi Money - David Bernstein

A delegation from Human Rights Watch was recently in Saudi Arabia to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting HRW's demonization of Israel.

There is something wrong when a human rights organization goes to one of the worst countries in the world for human rights to raise money to wage lawfare against Israel, and says not a word during the trip about the status of human rights in that country.

Its officers see nothing unseemly about raising funds among the elite of one of the most totalitarian nations on earth..."
(Wall Street Journal)
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Hamas rising: women sinking


Hamas Tightens Its Grip in Gaza -Khaled Abu Toameh

Hamas is gradually turning Gaza into a Taliban-style Islamic entity that poses a threat not only to Israel, but also to the Americans, Europeans and moderate Arabs and Muslims.

Young women in Gaza are being harassed and arrested by Hamas' "morality police" for leaving their homes without hijabs. Palestinian women are banned from swimming unless they are covered from top to bottom, and are being banned from entering coffee shops, restaurants and other public places unless they are escorted by male relatives. Young men are banned from swimming in the sea topless.

A Palestinian journalist in Gaza remarked: "The Americans and Europeans are fighting against Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan while Hamas is building a new fundamentalist entity here."
(Hudson Institute New York)
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Palestinians even more incalcitrant


Fatah Official: PA Will Resume Violence When "Capable"

Fatah official Kifah Radaydeh told Palestinian Authority TV on July 7:
"We perceive peace as one of the strategies, but...we do not rule out the possibility of the armed struggle or any other struggle. The struggle exists in all its forms, on the basis of what we are capable of at a given time."

"What exactly do we want? It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; and the goal is Palestine."
(Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)


Israel's Netanyahu Invites Abbas to Talk Peace -Aron Heller

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the Palestinians to sit down immediately to talk peace.

Netanyahu said he already has made a series of gestures, such as the removal of several military checkpoints in the West Bank, meant to improve the Palestinian economy.

Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, spent more than a year negotiating with Abbas, but the peace talks yielded no major breakthroughs.
(AP/Washington Post)


Abbas Says He Won't Meet Netanyahu -Khaled Abu Toameh & Haviv Rettig Gur

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his refusal to resume peace talks with Israel unless Netanyahu's government agreed to freeze all construction in the West Bank.
(Jerusalem Post)


Palestinians Reject Any Israel-U.S. Settlement Deal -Ali Sawafta

Palestinians reject any deal between Israel and the U.S. that would allow even limited Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
(Reuters/Washington Post)


As Hamas Tightens Its Grip in Gaza -Khaled Abu Toameh

PA leader[s] insist on boycotting peace talks with Israel in protest against the ongoing construction in the settlements. But the two did not stay away from the talks when former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were also building in the settlements.

Abbas and Fayyad are waiting for the U.S. administration to deliver...

Palestinian officials in Ramallah explain, why return to the negotiating table with Israel when the U.S. has actually endorsed the Palestinian position and is negotiating with the Netanyahu government on behalf of the Palestinian Authority?
(Hudson Institute New York)
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Vice: Saudi style


Saudi Religious Squad Beefs Up Anti-Vice Patrols

Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police plan a summer anti-vice drive to enforce prayer-keeping and modesty.

With over 5,000 men, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has wide powers to carry out raids in search of alcohol, ensure shops and restaurants are shut at prayer time, enforce the segregation of unrelated men and women in public and ban women from driving.
(Reuters)
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Putting the Arab-Israeli conflict in context


The Real Quagmire in the Middle East
-Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Monthly

I don't see much evidence that Arab Islam can assimilate [the] idea [of] Jewish national equality right now." [T]his is the central animating cause of the conflict.

The question of Israel is the question of what happens to all minorities in the Middle East. The Arab Muslim Middle East has a very hard time treating Coptic Christians with equality, treating Maronites in Lebanon with equality, treating Southern Sudanese in an equal way, treating Kurds in an equal way, and dealing with Jews - not only in their national expression, but even as minorities within their own countries.

Arabs are misreading history if they believe Israel is a temporary phenomenon. Nothing like this has ever happened in history. A dead tribe came back and seized the land it had, and did so after a devastating tragedy. Jews are also good at waiting, apparently. They're a small group, but there's a survival impulse that's embedded in many Jews, and certainly in the Jews of Israel today. It says: 'You want to wait? We'll wait, too.' Jews were an ancient people already when Mohammad appeared on the Arabian peninsula.

I'm negative about the intentions of Palestinians. If their goal were statehood, they could have had statehood. Therefore, you have to give serious credence to the idea that their goal is not statehood, that it's more important to rid the Arab world of Jewish nationalism than it is to have a Palestinian state."
(michaeltotten.com)
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson & other Muslims


Islamists Change their tune on Michael Jackson -Daniel Pipes

A Pakistani Islamist group, I wrote in 1995, had recently "deemed Michael Jackson and Madonna 'cultural terrorists' and called for the two Americans to be brought to trial in Pakistan."

That was then. Now, in the aftermath of Jackson's early death at age 50, Islamists are humming a different tune. IslamOnLine.net, a website overseen by the Sunni scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, ran a story today titled "Muslims Pay Tribute to Jackson" brimming over with accolades and using words such as "love," "thoughts and prayers," and "icon."

This change reflects the rumors since in December 2003, a month after his arrest on child-molestation charges, that Jackson had converted to Islam, rumors with more than a pinch of substance to them.
[DanielPipes.org]
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Iranian General Strike begins




Iran Opposition Calls National Strike -Farnaz Fassihi

The three top leaders of Iran's opposition joined forces and their supporters began a three-day national strike, signaling a resurrection of protests.

Opposition candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi [pictured] and Mehdi Karroubi, joined by former President Mohamad Khatami, met to plot strategy and issued their first-ever joint statement, calling for an end to government arrests and "savage, shocking attacks" on their advisers and supporters.

The opposition has also called for other creative forms of civil disobedience. Protesters have been asked to create a[n] electrical blackout in Tehran by plugging in all their household electric appliances at exactly the same time, and to spray green paint on walls in their neighborhood.

Simultaneously, Iran's government announced an unexpected public holiday for 48 hours due to emergency levels of pollution, attempt[ing] to mask the impact of the public strikes.
(Wall Street Journal)
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UPDATES:

Protesters Clash with Police in Tehran -Thomas Erdbrink

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators were attacked with batons and tear gas by security forces Thursday near Tehran University as they defied warnings from the authorities that they would crush any demonstrations. Plainclothes security personnel shoved people into unmarked vans with blacked-out windows.

In one incident, a student named Hadi said in a telephone interview, "robocop-style policemen attacked a group of people. The crowd ran off, only to be blocked by a group of Basijis [pro-government militia]. Instead of turning away from them, the crowd actually charged the Basijis and started fighting and beating them up."
(Washington Post)

Current Protests Involve a Broad Coalition -Christa Case Bryant

Iran expert Robin Wright, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, notes that the protest movement is driven by a diverse coalition including two former presidents, a former prime minister, the Islamic world's most politically active women, ethnic minorities, sanctions-strapped businessmen, taxi drivers, famous filmmakers, and members of the national soccer team.
(Christian Science Monitor)

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Saudis & Egypt signal unspoken cooperation with Israel on Iran


Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran -Uzi Mahnaimi & Sarah Baxter

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad’s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

[Such] reports were denied by Saudi officials.

The Israeli air force has been training for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear site at Natanz in the centre of the country and other locations for four years.
[Times of London]


A Message to the World -Ron Ben-Yishai

The journey of an IDF submarine through the Suez Canal attests to upgraded security ties between Israel and Egypt as well as to the growing trust between the two states. Permission was granted by Egypt during [Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak's meetings in Cairo [held recently, pictured above].

The very fact that an Israeli submarine sailed through the Suez Canal conveys the message that, from now on, Israel and Egypt will be cooperating on issues beyond the Sinai border.
(Ynet News)


Israeli Sub Sails through Suez Canal, Signaling Reach to Iran
-Dan Williams

An Israeli submarine sailed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea as part of a naval drill, Israeli defense sources said, describing the maneuver as a show of strategic reach in the face of Iran. An Israeli defense source said the drill "showed that we can far more easily access the Indian Ocean, and the Gulf, than before."
(Reuters)
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Cracks in the Wall: Iran's cleric problem


Clerical Leaders Defy Ayatollah -Michael Slackman & Nazila Fathi

The most important group of religious leaders in Iran, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate, an act of defiance against the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the most public sign of a major split in the country's clerical establishment.

"This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Mousavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic," said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. "Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei."
(New York Times)
[Photo: Mosque in Qum, Iran]


UPDATE:

Shiite Clerical Establishment Supports Khamenei -Mehdi Khalaji

While a handful of marginal clerics and religious groups dispute the official result of Iran's recent presidential election, the Shiite clerical establishment as a whole currently supports Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's clerical establishment consists of about 200,000 members, with a thousand ayatollahs and fifteen grand ayatollahs. The ayatollahs in Qom and Isfahan who have criticized the recent presidential election are isolated, with no significant role in the clerical establishment; they lack both financial resources and religious popularity. Various Shiite leaders may not be happy with the Iranian government's policies, but publicizing their differences might jeopardize the social, political, and financial advantages they now receive.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Ahmadinejad accused of being Jewish


'Jewish Ahmadinejad' blogger arrested -Sabina Amidi

The Iranian blogger who claimed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has Jewish roots, is being detained by the authorities, according to sources in Teheran.

Dr. Mehdi Khazali, [the blogger] was reportedly summoned to a special court convened for religious figures, detained and transferred to an unknown location.

The son of a prominent, conservative pro-Ahmadinejad ayatollah, Khazali wrote on his Web site earlier this year that the president - a Holocaust denier and relentless critic of Israel - was of partially Jewish origin, asserting that Ahmadinejad had changed his family name from Saburjian, and calling for the origins of the Saburjian family in the town of Aradan to be investigated.

The assertion featured in the bitter presidential election campaign, when rival reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi challenged Ahmadinejad in a live TV debate, reportedly stating: "My full name is Mehdi Karroubi. What is your full name?"
[Jerusalem Post]
[Note: Mehdi Khazali, the arrested blogger, is the son of Iran's conservative Ayatollah Khazali]
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UPDATE:

'Jewish' Ahmadinejad is a Fraud -Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

According to experts on Iranian history and culture, the
recent Daily Telegraph article purporting to show that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Jewish is a fraud perpetrated by political opponents playing on anti-Semitic motivations.
(IsraelNN.com)
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Straight talk from Lieberman


"Settlements Issue Blown Out of Proportion" -Jack Khoury

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman [pictured] responded to remarks by [the] German Chancellor, that Israel's construction in West Bank settlements jeopardized the two-state solution, saying the world has blown the settlements issue entirely out of proportion.

"The situation in the West Bank and the cessation of settlement construction shouldn't top the international community's agenda." "North Korea fired three missiles today, despite the warnings and the sanctions, and the world is still occupying itself with Yitzhar and Migron" [two Israeli settlement communities].

He added: "We all saw the occurrences and the dramatic events in Iran. Does the attempt to lead a normal life in [the West Bank] top that on the international community's priority list? We have to bring things back into proportion."
(Ha'aretz)
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Can't get Arabs on the peace train


U.S. Can't Get Arabs to Normalizing Israel Ties -Barak Ravid & Cnaan Liphshiz

The U.S. administration has not been successful in securing commitments from Arab countries to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel, a senior source in Jerusalem said. The source said Obama's recent meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not produce a commitment to encourage the other Arab states to begin normalization.

"In such a situation, the Americans can't continue demanding gestures only from Israel, such as the demand that Israel freeze settlement construction," the source said.
(Ha'aretz)


Is "Tough Love" for Israel in America's Best Interest? -Ari Shavit

[T]he question the White House ought to be asking itself is whether riding roughshod over Israel serves its goals. The answer is unequivocal: no.

It is making even moderate Arabs unwilling to contribute anything to advancing the diplomatic process. And without a significant Arab contribution, there will be no diplomatic process.
(Ha'aretz)
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Saddam resurrected by FBI



Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he led the world to believe that his country had weapons of mass destruction because he did not want to appear weak to the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to [newly] released declassified FBI documents.

The former Iraqi president was convicted of crimes against humanity in the Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad and put to death by hanging on December 30, 2006.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Finland Loves Israel


Finland: A Place Where Israel Is Loved -Michael Freund

A deep-seated love and admiration for Israel among large sectors of its public distinguishes Finland from much of the rest of contemporary Europe.

On a recent trip to the country, I found a remarkable level of support for the Jewish state. There are churches where the Israeli flag is proudly displayed side-by-side with the Finnish national colors, and where entire Christian congregations recite Israel's national anthem "Hatikva."
(Jerusalem Post)
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