Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ignore Israeli Intelligence at Your Peril, Part 2

Back on October 11, 2004 I wrote a piece in my blog titled Ignore Israeli Intelligence at Your Peril. Here is an excerpt from that post:
Israeli intelligence is among the best in the world, and is probably the best when it comes to what is happening in the Middle East and with radical Islamic terror groups...

I am reminded of another pronouncement from Israeli intelligence sources way back in September, 2002, six months before the U.S. invaded Iraq. It said, in a nutshell, that Saddam Hussein had been successfully contained and the real danger in the region was Iran. President Bush ignored this assessment. He also ignored a CIA report which predicted the Iraqi insurgency before the war, a report which turned out to be prescient. Over 1,000 American service men and women have paid the price for President Bush's decision to ignore both Israeli and CIA reports which simply did not support his decision to invade Iraq.
Once again the United States is foolishly ignoring Israeli intelligence, this time vis a vis Iran. Considering the poor track record of American intelligence in the Middle East you would think that the Bush administration would trust what Israeli agencies and officials have to say just a bit more. Sadly that is not the case.

Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Deputy Defense Minister, MK Ephraim Sneh, have made the case that Iran did halt it's nuclear program in 2003 but then promptly restarted it. Israeli intelligence clearly believes that Iran is still aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. From the Jerusalem Post:
The Mossad claims that the Iranians will be able to develop a nuclear bomb by the end of 2009; Military Intelligence warns that Teheran will cross the technological threshold within six months; and now the Americans are putting the timeline toward the middle of the next decade, or 2013 at the earliest.

Defense officials in Tel Aviv admitted Tuesday that the report would probably embolden Iran, even though the differences between Israel and the US were not so great as a superficial reading of the report might indicate.

In other words, not only is the NIE wrong but it actually makes things more dangerous. The The IDF is sharing it's data with the U.S. military but it is not at all clear that anyone in the Bush administration is willing to reconsider the issue.

Iran is not only a threat to Israel. They will happily share nuclear weapons technology with Islamist groups. When will America wake up and realize that Iran still would like to harm the U.S. or, in Iranian terms, "the Great Satan"? I fear it may only be after an American city is wiped off the map.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Abbas: "No Concessions"

I read in the Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian Legislative Council is in the process of passing a law making it illegal to make any concessions on Jerusalem and defining such concessions as "high treason." From the article:
However, many Fatah legislators have made it known that they too support the law, which states that Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic city and that it is totally forbidden to give up or conduct negotiations about any part of the city.


Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top aide to Abbas, said in response that, as far as the PA was concerned, Jerusalem was a "red line" that cannot be crossed.

Abbas told supporters in Ramallah Thursday that he did not go to Annapolis to make concessions. "There are some people who are trying to distort the truth," he said. "They are saying that we went to Annapolis to sell our cause, negotiate and sign agreements. But we went there to convey our principle and fixed positions."

That's it then. Negotiation over since the Palestinians, both Hamas and Fatah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, say they will make no concessions whatsoever.

Jerusalem, the Old City in particular, is the holiest place in the world to the Jewish people. My father fought to lift the siege of Jerusalem durig the 1948-49 War of Independence. Some things ARE worth fighting and even dying for. If the only way to achieve "peace" is to surrender our holiest sites in Jerusalem then I am opposed to this so-called "peace". Surrendering our history, our culture, our religious heritage, the very heart of the Jewish people is not worth it.

I expect to be called an intransigent right winger for this post. That's fine. I've always voted for liberal candidates, always supported the Oslo peace process prior to 2000 when the Palestinians abandoned it in favor of war, and always thought that accommodation was possible. No more. The Palestinians, through their actions and words, have convinced me. They have a "red line". So do I. I can only hope that the majority of Israelis see the same red line I do.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Hanukkah!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah. Hag Sameach!

Oh, and for your own sake, go easy on the latkes and the sufganiyot. :)

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

No Basis For Negotiation

This week, in the wake of the "peace conference" at Annapolis, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. 60 years ago last week the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 ending the British mandate and specifically creating a Jewish state. Israel's purpose, it's raison d'être, was and is to provide a safe haven for the Jewish people. This, plus the fact that the Jewish people originally come from Israel, was the reason the international community created Israel in the first place. This took place in the wake of the Holocaust and growing persecution in the Arab world.

It's simple: if Abbas doesn't recognize Israel as a Jewish state that means he doesn't recognize Israel as defined and created by the U.N. It means he does not accept U.N. resolutions that are inconvenient for him. It means that he, like Hamas' leadership, wants Israel destroyed. Only his methods are different.

Why don't the U.S.,. the U.N., and the E.U. deal with Hamas? Why won't Israel negotiate with Hamas? Once again, it's simple: Hamas won't recognize Israel. Now it turns out Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas don't either, at least in any meaningful way. It seems to me there is no basis for negotiation. What applies to Hamas applies equally to Fatah. Look, I understand the hasbara (PR) value of Annapolis and going through the motions of a peace process. Having said that there are some principles that can't be bargained away. A nation's right to exist as constituted by it's people is one of them. Prime Minister Olmert should call off the next round of negotiations in Moscow until President Abbas recognizes Israel properly. Nothing less will do.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Annapolis Accomplished For Israel

Today the world press is full of pundits declaring the failure of Annapolis and the probability that nothing will come of the peace conference. Voices in the Arab press, the Israeli press, the American press all seem to share this view. At least we can all agree on this much even if we don't agree on who to blame. All sarcasm aside, I do share this view in the near term, at least as far as any practical accomplishments are concerned. Having said that, Prime Minister Olmert and President Bush did accomplish something important at Annapolis.

For the first time since the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948 all of the Arab countries sat around a table with Israel and talked about peace. They all acknowledged peace between the Palestinians and Israel as a goal to achieve. This is a far cry from the aftermath of the Six Day War and the statement of the Arab League summit in Khartoum in 1967 with it's famous three no's: "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it". By attending the Annapolis conference the entire Arab world did give tacit, though not official, recognition of Israel and the fact that Israel is likely to exist for the foreseeable future. They also endorsed continued negotiation and a final outcome of peace.

Israel has been at war with at least some of it's Arab neighbors for nearly 60 years now. The Jewish people in British controlled Palestine were attacked by and forced to fight the Palestinian Arabs for nearly 30 years before that. Change in the Middle East comes slowly among people with long memories and histories. It took 30 years for Egypt to decide to negotiate with Israel and reach a peace agreement. Another 15 years passed before Jordan made peace with Israel.

Every step, no matter how minute, is cumulative. The Arab nations cannot change the fact that they sat down at the table with Prime Minister Olmert. President Bush, no matter what the eventual outcome, can take credit for helping to make that happen. It may be a small step, a tiny accomplishment. I do not expect a peace agreement next year as called for at Annapolis. Still, the small step taken at the conference in the long run may be seen as very important indeed.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Different Sort of UN Conference

Tomorrow, Sunday, November 18, 2007, there will be a different sort of U.N. Conference. No, it's not another conference by the U.N., but rather one about the goings on at the United Nations and it's constant discrimination and bias against Israel. I received an e-mail from Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN (excellent website, highly recommended) about tomorrow's conference taking place between 9 AM and 6 PM tomorrow at Millennium UN Plaza Hotel (44th and 1st Ave., New York City).

A couple of relevant quotes:

A first-ever conference on UN discrimination against Israel has been organized across the street from UN Headquarters to coincide with the General Assembly's annual adoption of more than 20 resolutions condemning Israel and not one critical of Sudan and its ongoing campaign of genocide in Darfur.

“The discrimination against Israel at the UN has long been an outrage and must no longer go directly unchallenged," said conference organizer Anne Bayefsky, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Director of the Touro Human Rights Institute. "Under the banner of a UN Charter that requires the equality of men and women, as well as member states large and small, the Jewish state and Jewish non-governmental organizations are constantly subject to different treatment than all others."

Highlights will include addresses from John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) (Chairman, House Republican Policy Committee); Ambassador Max Kampelman (Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient); and Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN).

Yep, for the U.N. genocide in Sudan is barely worth a mention. Israel is forever condemned for occupation of the Palestinian territories while China never is condemned for human rights violations or it's ongoing occupation and colonization of Tibet. Israel is under daily rocket fire from Gaza but that's just fine with the U.N. I guess human rights don't apply to people in Sderot, do they?

It's about time a conference like this happens, but I fully expect most of the media, especially the left leaning media, to thoroughly ignore this conference. It was just two weeks ago that CNN, for example, decided to rerun of G-d's Jewish Warriors", their two hour attack on Israel and American Jews. They didn't even bother with the other religions (Islam and Christianity) this time. Don't we all know that there is a far greater threat to the world from Jewish extremists than Islamic terrorists? CNN seems to think so. Their bias and the perpetual bias at the U.N. go hand in hand.

So... it's up to us, the bloggers, to spread the word.

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A Reminder of Why I Want To Make Aliya

Last weekend I went to the local mall with a good friend. It's that time of year again and non-stop Christmas music was playing. I understand that most Americans are at least nominally Christian and I certainly don't begrudge them their music or their holiday. It's all fine -- just not for me.

I'm Jewish. I was raised Jewish and raised a Zionist. I would like to live in a place where Jewish holidays are the dominant paradigm, where "holiday season" refers to Jewish holidays, where my religion and culture are taken for granted, not the odd exception. There is only one place on the earth where that is the case: Israel.

I know that if I had young children and I wouldn't want them to face pressures to fit into what is essentially a Christian society the pull of aliya would be stronger still. Regardless, 2008 will, barring unforeseen circumstances, should be the year for me.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Rockets and Electricity

Yesterday a frustrated Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved a plan to cut electricity to Gaza after each Qassam rocket attack on Israel. Palestinian Spokeseman Saeb Erekat appealed for the international community to intervene. Today Prime Minister Olmert seemed to back away from the plan, promising that Israel would not create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Isn't the constant barrage and the ensuing death and destruction in Sderot and other Israeli cities and towns in the Negev more of a humanitarian crisis than a 15 minute power cut? Why is the international community not concerned with what Hamas is doing in Gaza, both to Palestinian Fatah supporters and to Israelis with their constant rocket attacks?

I also thought that the Palestinians wanted independence from their Israeli "oppressors". Doesn't that include providing for their own energy needs at some point? Why should Israel supply a hostile enemy who is raining death and destruction down on innocent civilians? Yes, some Palestinian civilians may suffer with less electricity. Didn't these citizens elect Hamas, who in turn promised to destroy Israel, in the first place? Don't they bear some responsibility for the actions of the government they support?

I, personally, do not support 15 minute electricity cuts. I support announcing a cut off date, a true independence day for the Palestinians of Gaza. After that day there should be no more supplies of any kind from Israel unless they, like Egypt and Jordan before them, sign a peace treaty with Israel and live up to its terms.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

210 American Jews Make Aliya Today

As I write this I am live on a conference call organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh. The occasion is an aliya flight: 210 American Jews leaving the United States to make a new life in Israel. Six of the olim (new immigrants to Israel) are on the call. The oldest oleh is 93 years old while the youngest is just 5 weeks old. The olim come from 22 American states and include 96 singles. The olim also come from all across the religious spectrum.

According to a Nefesh B'Nefesh spokesman they hope to have helped a total of 14,000 American Jews make aliya by the end of this year. 20,000 more (including myself) are in the pipeline to make aliya within the next three years. 94% of the NBN olim are employed, which is better than the Israeli national employment average. Over 90% of those who have made aliya with NBN have stayed in Israel and made lives there. Some of the olim on the call expressed thanks to Nefesh b'Nefesh for their assistance in making aliya possible.

When asked about what their motivations for making aliya were one woman spoke of wanting to live in a Jewish state.

At this point former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon joined the call. Ambassador Ayalon informed us that Prime Minister Olmert will be meeting the new olim upon their arrival in Israel. Ambassador Ayalon praised NBN for their work which helps insure the future and security of the State of Israel.

According to Ambassador Ayalon the biggest constraint right now on aliya is budget. The waiting list for American olim waiting to immigrate numbers 20,000. Ambassador Ayalon expects to be able to increase aliya, possibly doubling or tripling the numbers, with a goal of 100,000 American olim making aliya by 2016. Ambassador Ayalon reported that he has talked to leaders in Israeli government about the budget issue including the Prime Minister. He also expressed hope that the Jewish Agency can be brought back on board.

I asked if the issue of budget cuts to oleh benefits raised in the Jerusalem Post last month had been resolved. Ambassador Ayalon assured us that the cuts will not take place. Right now the budget allows for bringing 3,200 olim per year to Israel while there is capacity for up to 10,000 American olim per year to be absorbed. He said that he is working to raise the money to increase the numbers next year.

Ambassador Ayalon, when asked what the biggest challenge facing new olim is, raised the issue of employment. He said it isn't just a matter of finding a job but a matter of finding the right jobs, ones suitable for the olim's skills and experience. He expressed thanks to NBN for their assistance in helping olim place themselves within one year.

Postscript: I found the call quite informative and I will post follow up information and photos from Nefesh b'Nefesh when they become available. I am, of course, looking forward to the day when I will be one of the olim rather than one of the bloggers.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lebanese Government, Hezbollah Try to Silence Human Rights Watch

Yesterday Human Rights watch sharply criticized Hezbollah for it's deliberate rain of thousands of missiles on civilian targets in Israel during the war last summer. Many of the missiles were packed with ball bearings designed to kill or maim innocent people. HRW correctly termed this a "war crime". This follows on a Human Rights Watch report last October citing Hezbollah's use of cluster bombs.

Human Rights Watch deserves credit for finally deciding that a war crime is a war crime no matter which side commits the act. Of course both Hezbollah and the Lebanese government reacted with outrage and tried to silence the report.

There was a time I would have accused Human Rights Watch of anti-Israel bias but lately they have been remarkably balanced and fair in their reporting. Perhaps it's time they took a good long look at what the various and sundry Palestinian terrorist groups are doing. As I posted earlier another rocket landed near Sderot today. How many people have died from Qassam rocket fire aimed at the innocent civilians of Sderot? How many have fled their homes? How long has this been going on? Isn't it time Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the various other Palestinian groups who indiscriminately attack Israel civilians be held accountable?

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A 15 Year Old Suicide Bomber

IDF troops from the Golani Brigade arrested a 15 year old Palestinian boy in Gaza. The teenager had two large explosive devices strapped to his body. Thankfully soldiers convinced this would-be 15 year old suicide bomber to surrender and nobody died.

In 2005 Amnesty International did take up the issue of the constant use of child soldiers by virtually all of the Palestinian terrorist groups to little or no press coverage. If an Israeli soldier sneezes in the wrong direction it seems there is an international outcry. Why is there no outrage at this clear and repeated violation of international law? Why isn't the sending of Palestinian children to their death une cause célèbre?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Gaza, Palestinian terrorists launched a Qassam rocket which landed near Sderot.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

CNN's Two Hour Attack On Israel

On Tuesday night CNN had a two hour "Special Investigations" piece called "G-d's Jewish Warriors" hosted by Christiane Amanpour. Rather than being a piece of investigative journalism it was, in fact, a smear campaign attacking Israel, American Jewish supporter of Israel, and Orthodox Judaism in general.

There is no doubt that Jewish extremism exists. It is, however, embraced by very few religious Jews and is unrepresentative of Judaism or Israel. You'd never know it from watching the piece. I would never complain about an objective or accurate report on Jewish extremists within the settler movement in Israel or anywhere else for that matter. There was nothing objective about this report.

Former President Jimmy Carter was trotted out and his now infamous book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" was touted. No mention was made of how many members of the Carter Center's Board of Directors resigned over that book was made. No other former President with different views appeared other than in old film of speeches opposing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Gaza was rarely mentioned and Israel's unilateral withdrawals from Gaza and southern Lebanon were ignored. The terrorism that followed those withdrawals, the daily rocket fire on Sderot or Hibullah's rain of thousands of missiles on northern Israel last year wasn't mentioned either. Never mind that the fear of such attacks on Israel's main population centers from Judea and Samaria was the reason Prime Minister Olmert's plans to withdraw from the West Bank was scuttled. Watching the report one rather got the impression that all Israeli governments, including the current one, intended to hold onto all of Judea and Samaria forever.

Theodore Meron was trotted out to explain his view that settlements violate international law. Israel's view that the territories are "disputed" rather than "occupied" and that Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions don't apply since no prior Palestinian state ever existed was given exactly one dismissive sentence. The fact that borders have never been agreed by anyone was ignored. For the majority of the piece the idea that Israeli settlements, including any and all construction in east Jerusalem, are illegal was taken as an indisputable fact. It clearly is not. The fact that Kfar Etzion was Jewish before 1948 was mentioned as a reason for reestablishing the community was one of the very few bright spots in this abysmal program.

John Mearsheimer explained his view of how the American Jewish lobby unduly influences American foreign policy at length. No credible opposing view was given and the long list of distinguished academics who denounced the Mearsheimer-Walt report or claimed that it failed to meet any acadamic standards were not mentioned. The fact that Christopher Hitchens, a long time critic of Israel, claims that Mearsheimer and Walt overstated the influence of the pro-Israel lobby certainly wasn't worthy of inclusion. It didn't fit CNN's agenda. American Jewish support of Israel was shown to be support of settlements, and by extension, support of extremism or Kach or terrorism.

Every time someone was shown as an avid supporter of Israel or someone was shown moving into the territories a point was made of telling the viewer that they were Orthodox. The impression the CNN report gave was that Orthodox Jews were unanimous, or at least nearly so, in support of settlement activity. One also got the impression that all settlers are religious, probably fanatically so. No mention was made of the fact that religious Jews cover the entire political spectrum. No mention was made of the fact that many who bought homes in Judea and Samaria did so because housing was inexpensive there. There was certainly no coverage of large communities in Judea and Samaria like Ariel, with it's large Russian immigrant population that is overwhelmingly secular. You certainly would never know that most settlers are absolutely horrified by rare acts of Jewish terrorism just like everyone else from watching this program. Indeed, the report gave the impression that Jewish terrorism by settlers is common, widely supported, and a serious problem. After all, CNN is giving Jewish terrorism and Islamic terrorism equal coverage, aren't they?

In the latter part of the two hour report the attack shifted to "G-d's Christian Warriors" who support Israel. Christian Zionists were painted as extremists supporting other extremists. They too, it seems, have undo influence in Washington. Never mind that evangelical Christians make up somewhere around a quarter of the American population and are a truly huge voting bloc, unlike American Jews. Certainly no mention was made of the fact that a rather large majority of Americans, religious or not, support Israel according to every poll taken on the subject this century.

The program presented those who called President Carter or Dr. Mearsheimer antisemitic in a disparaging way. Yet, with it's broad attacks and generalizations not only about Israeli settlers, but about Israel as a whole, about the American Jewish community, and about Orthodox Judaism I couldn't help but feeling that the report was, indeed, truly antisemitic. This from someone who has never called President Carter or Dr. Mearsheimer antisemites.

I talked about "G-d's Jewish Warriors" with a friend this morning. Her response: "What did you expect?" Regarding Christiane Amanpour she added: "Her views are well known." Indeed. If you want a horribly biased report send a truly biased reporter.

I know the blogosphere, expecially Jewish bloggers, are writing extensively about the CNN attack on Israel. I haven't read any of it yet. I wanted this piece to be based solely on my own impressions of the program. I didn't want to be influenced by anyone else's views before I wrote this.

I guess I have to once again add CNN to the BBC as an organization hopelessly biased against Israel. This report was something I would have expected of Al Jazeera. I had hoped CNN had learned from it's past mistakes and repeated apologies and would have tried to really have given a balanced report. Silly me.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Letting The Truth Out Into The Arab Media

What do you do when you are the General Manager of a popular Arabic satellite television channel if you understand the real reasons so many Palestinians live in misery? The station you manage, the popular weekly news magazine you once edited, indeed your entire career as a highly successful and respected journalist in the Arab world has been for organizations who featured blaming Israel for the plight of the Palestinians. Now it's time to tell the world, honestly and truthfully, that what the Arabs have done to their Palestinian brethren is far worse and that Israel's Palestinian-Arab minority actually fares pretty well. How do you do it?

I suppose this was the challenge facing Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, the Dubai-based General Manager of al-Arabiya. On June 9 he wrote an amazing piece in Asharq Al-Awsat, the news magazine where he was once Editor-in-Chief. The first paragraph is doctrinaire: praising the fairness of the Palestinian cause and condemning occupation. The rest of it, though, is a revelation considering the source and is very much part of the sea change in Arab thinking I have been blogging about. Here are some excerpts:What is happening in Lebanon's Nahr al Bared camp today is just one such example where battles have raised an overwhelming number of questions: who are these people? How long have they lived in the camp and how? What are their rights?


Some Arab countries “hosting” refugees ban them from leaving [camps], from occupying a large number of positions and deny them any other legal rights. Some of them have to jump over walls and sneak out to complete their chores or to breathe and experience the outside world. One can imagine these randomly and poorly built houses during the winter chill and sweltering heat of the summer among the sewage and insufficient services. It is a shame.


Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people. The 60 year-old camps only signify our inhumanity and double standards. Israel can claim that it treats the Palestinians better than their Arab brothers do. It gives citizenship to the Palestinians of 1948 as well as the right to work and the right to lead a somewhat normal life
OK, the bit about Israel "stealing land" is traditional Arab rhetoric without historical basis, but the rest, a stinging indictment of the Arab treatment of Palestinian refugees and the 60 year perpetuation of their refugee status for political reasons is right on the mark. It's something I would expect from an Israeli writer. It is tremendously powerful coming from Mr. Al-Rashed.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Lebanese-American Professor On The Plight of the Palestinians

Here are excerpts from an op-ed in yesterday's New York Times written by Dr. Fouad Ajami, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:The Palestinian ruin was a long time in coming. No other national movement has had the indulgence granted the Palestinians over the last half-century, and the results can be seen in the bravado and the senseless violence, in the inability of a people to come to terms with their condition and their needs.

The life of a Palestinian is one of squalor and misery, yet his leaders play the international game as though they were powers. An accommodation with Israel is imperative — if only out of economic self-interest and political necessity... was too much to ask of Mr. Arafat to return to his people with a decent and generous compromise, to bid farewell to the legend that the Palestinians could have it all “from the river to the sea.” It was safer for him to stay with the political myths of his people than to settle down for the more difficult work of statehood and political rescue.

For their part, the Arab states have only compounded the Palestinian misery. The Arab cavalry was always on the way, the Arab treasure was always a day away, and there was thus no need for the Palestinians to pay tribute to necessity. In recent years, the choice was starkly posed: it was either statehood or a starring role on Al Jazeera, and the young “boys of the stones” and their leaders opted for the latter.


For decades, Arab society granted the Palestinians everything and nothing at the same time. The Arab states built worlds of their own, had their own priorities, dreaded and loathed the Palestinians as outsiders and agitators, but left them to the illusion that Palestine was an all-consuming Arab concern.

Now the Palestinians should know better. The center of Arab politics has shifted from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, a great political windfall has come to the lands of the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, vast new wealth due to the recent rises in oil prices, while misery overwhelms the Palestinians. No Arabs wait for Palestine anymore; they have left the Palestinians to the ruin of their own history.

The rise of Hamas in Gaza should concentrate the minds of the custodians of power in the Arab world. Palestine, their old alibi, the cause with which they diverted the attention of their populations from troubles at home, has become a nightmare in its own right. An Arab debt is owed the Palestinians — the gift of truth and candor as well as material help.

Arab poets used to write reverential verse in praise of the boys of the stones and the suicide bombers. Now the poetry has subsided, replaced by a silent recognition of the malady that afflicts the Palestinians. Except among the most bigoted and willful of Arabs, there is growing acknowledgment of the depth of the Palestinian crisis. And aside from a handful of the most romantic of Israelis, there is a recognition in that society, as well, of the malignancy of the national movement a stone’s throw away.

The mainstream in Israel had made its way to a broad acceptance of Palestinian statehood...
Dr. Ajami is nothing if not pessimistic. The U.S. and Prime Minister Olmert pin their hopes on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Dr. Ajami calls "a decent man". Still, he sees far too little difference between Hamas and Fatah and sees Abbas as having far too little power to see any salvation for the Palestinian people.

I fear Dr. Ajami is right. However, as I said in my previous post quoting Saeb Erekat, I am seeing more and more Arab voices who are seeing the situation for what it really is. The only hope is for a change not only in Palestinian thinking but across the wider Arab world.

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Palestinian Suffering: Putting the Blame Where It Belongs

Has anyone else noticed this? There is a real sea change in the discussion of Palestinian suffering in the wake of recent events in Lebanon and Gaza. Yes, I know the expression 'sea change' is grossly overused, but I do mean it in the way Shakespeare first used it: a truly profound change.

For years various Israeli and pro-Israel writers, myself included, have pointed out that the Palestinians could have had a prosperous, independent state years ago. We have pointed out that entirely for political reasons the Palestinian people have endured suffering and oppression not so much at Israel's hands but rather at the hands of their fellow Arabs and their own leadership. When Israeli actions have harmed the Palestinian populace they were almost always as a result of the need to protect Israeli citizens from Palestinian terrorist attacks.

What is truly new is the significant number of Arab and even Palestinian writers and commentators who are suddenly seeing Palestinian suffering in the same way or perhaps are finally publicly willing to admit that it really isn't all Israel's fault. I will be making quite a number of postings featuring Arab and Palestinian voices on the subject of the exploitation of the Palestinian people in coming days.

Let me begin with someone who is well known to most people who have followed the conflict in the region in recent years. Saeb Erekat was the Palestinian negotiator during past peace talks and is a prominent Fatah member. Here is part of an interview he gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition on June 17:I will tell you something, Wolf. I think -- there is a saying in my mind that this region has never missed an opportunity to exploit Palestinians without exploiting them. I really believe that we are being exploited. I really believe that is what happening in Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon, it is part of what is happening in Gaza, what is happening in the bigger picture in this region.

Now, Wolf, do I have evidence to refer to this country or to this group or that? No, I don't. But I know when I see the streets of Gaza, when I see these gunmen, when I see these hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when President Abbas could not pay salaries for our police forces, when our police forces did not have bullets or guns to maintain the rule of law and public order, where did these hundreds of millions of dollars, where did these guns and arms and state-of-art machine guns and heavy equipment come from?

I don't have any evidence, and without evidence, I will not name anybody. But all I can tell you, Gaza is very -- the poorest area on Earth. Gaza doesn't have the means for these hundreds of millions of dollars and these weapons and equipment.

And I believe what is happening in this region is being now played in the streets of Gaza and the streets of Nahr el-Bared in my name, in the name of the Palestinians. We are being exploited again.
I'll say what Mr. Erekat was unwilling to say: Iran and Syria, plus radical jihadists and Islamists, both home grown and foreign. That's who is exploiting and oppressing the Palestinians this time. Others in the Arab world have done the same when it was convenient for them with the Palestinians as the perpetual victims for nearly 60 years.

It is easy for Israel's detractors to dismiss me as a Zionist, as the daughter of an Israeli, as a biased voice. How do you dismiss Saeb Erekat, an ardent Palestinian nationalist who has argued the Palestinian cause for years, and others like him? I don't think you can.

The question that remains is whether or not this sort of change of Arab perspective will last. If not then we're back at square one. If so then this is a true sea change in Arab thinking . It offers the real possibility of Arabs and Israelis, specifically Palestinians and Israelis, finding common ground to stand together against a common enemy that threatens us both.

Am I dreaming? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Only time will tell.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

A Permanent Indictment

The U.N. is issuing a permanent indictment for human rights violations. Is this about genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan? Nope, genocide in Sudan is no big deal Child slavery in China? Nope, that's fine too. All the bloodshed in Somalia? Surely you jest. Nope, the one country being singled out is Israel according to U.N. Watch.

Reform at the U.N.? Absolutely! The U.N. will no longer say bad things about third world dictators. Cuba and Belarus will no longer be considered to be violating human rights at all. Soon such fine upstanding nations as Sudan, Congo, and Haiti will be exempt from criticism. The UN Watch article continues:At the same time, the proposal eliminates the experts charged with reporting on violations by Cuba and Belarus, despite the latest reports of massive violations by both regimes. As for the experts on other countries -- on Burundi, Cambodia, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Burma, Somalia and Sudan -- all of these may soon be eliminated, as threatened by the Council majority comprised of dictatorships and other Third World countries, under a gradual "review" process. Pending their fate, all experts will be subjected to a new "Code of Conduct," submitted by Algeria in the name of the African group, designed to intimidate and restrict the independence of the human rights experts.Now that the U.N. is getting rid of those pesky human rights experts they can concentrate on villification of Israel full time. What reform! What progress!

Yael K., writing in her Step-by-Step blog describes the latest U.N. outrage as:...the latest biased and crazy and, to be quite honest, criminal behavior of the U.N. They are not condemning Darfur for genocide, they are removing Cuba and Belarus from censure despite their continued violations, and they are placing Israel under permanent indictment under a Special Agenda item. They have a special agenda, let me tell you.Why does anyone take the U.N. seriously? It is time to disband the organization and replace it with one limited to democratic nations that respect human rights. Israel would qualify easily. Most of the current members of the U.N. Human Rights Council would not.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Katyusha Rockets Land In Kiryat Shmona... Again

In an eerie reminder of last summer's Second Lebanon War katyusha rockets landed on a factory and on a car in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel today. Most recent reports indicate three rockets were fired and a fourth, later found by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), failed to fire. A factory was lightly damaged and a car was more seriously damaged but thankfully nobody was hurt.

Unlike last summer when Hizbullah seemed to be proud of starting a war and firing over 4,000 rockets into Israel, today they were quick to deny any involvement. It could be that they are telling the truth. Both Israelis and Lebanese seem to be ready to blame some Palestinian terrorist group or another, either with ties to Hamas or al-Qaeda. On the other hand it could just be that Hizbullah isn't quite ready for another war just yet. One thing is clear: southern Lebanon, from which Israel withdrew unilaterally, is once again being used as a base for attacks on Israel and both UNIFIL (the U.N. peacekeeping force) and the LAF are either unwilling or unable to stop it.

Speaking of UNIFIL, they they called the attack a 'serious breach' of the cease-fire which ended last summer's war. I'm certain the usual prompt, decisive U.N. action will follow. You know, a little hand wringing and a few mealy mouthed words designed not to offend. Heck, there may even be an emergency Security Council meeting to find some way to blame Israel for being attacked.

UNIFIL also asked for all parties to show restraint. They were perfectly safe in doing this because an unnamed spokesman for Prime Minister Olmert had already promised Israeli restraint. The terrorists from some unnamed Palestinian group can't be expected to be restrained, can they? Since we don't know who they are they also can't be held to account either for today's attacks or any future lack of restraint, at least for now. As usual the only party that can be held accountable by the U.N. is Israel and I am sure that was calculated into their choice of words for the statement.

Despite my obvious cynicism I actually do think restraint is the right move, at least for the moment. Israel is correctly giving the LAF and UNIFIL a chance to act. The Winograd Commission interim report blamed Prime Minister Olmert and outgoing Defense Minister Peretz for rushing into Lebanon last summer without a plan. We all know how well that went. At least the Prime Minister isn't repeating his mistakes. The best thing to do for now is to watch, wait, see if the Lebanese government finds the will and ability to act, and allow Defense Minister Barak a chance to develop a plan of action in case there are further attacks. At least this time Prime Minister Olmert has a seasoned military man running the Defense Ministry.

I fear Israel is soon going to be forced fight another war against Iran, Syria, and/or their proxies in Lebanon and the territories. Israel needs to be ready for this eventuality but it doesn't need to precipitate full scale hostilities... at least not yet.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Help Keep IBA News On The Air

IBA News in English on both radio and TV is about to disappear. IBA is in financial trouble after years of budget cuts. According to The Jerusalem Post the Israeli state broadcaster may all but disappear. Only one Hebrew radio service, the profitable Reshet Bet, will remain, plus possibly an Arabic language newscast. The Jerusalem Post is asking that supporters of IBA News comment in the talkback section of their article as a form of online petition.

IBA News in English does far more than serve Israeli's small English but non-Hebrew speaking community. Kol Israel Radio's REKA network is also available on the web and their shortwave broadcasts are heard worldwide. NPR and community FM radio stations around the United States rebroadcast Kol Israel news in English. IBA News television broadcasts are offered by satellite and cable channels in the United States as well as on the web.

Link TV is a particularly interesting case in point. Their program Mosaic: World News From The Middle East was originally a collection of excerpts from Arab and Iranian news programs. Arabic and Farsi broadcasts are dubbed in English. Some time back the Jerusalem-born producer of the program, Jamal Dajani, to his great credit, added several minutes of IBA News in English to most programs. Here is a Palestinian journalist who decided to include an Israeli viewpoint into what previously was a broadcast exclusively of Arab/Muslim news with all the anti-Israel material that implies. I may not agree with what Mr. Dajani has to say on many of his Mosaic Intelligence Report commentaries, but I appreciate his efforts to be fair minded and to promote peace and stability in the Middle East. By adding IBA News to Mosaic Mr. Dajani insured that program viewers, many of whom are undoubtedly not sympathetic to Israel, get an opposing viewpoint.

If IBA News in English goes off the air what will replace it? The sad fact is that there isn't anything else that presents a genuine Israeli viewpoint in English. NPR will still broadcast the BBC with it's often strident anti-Israel bias but Israeli news will simply disappear from their stations. Will Jamal Dajani be able to find the resources to bring in a translator for Israeli Hebrew language broadcasts? Will he even have access to Israeli news for his program? I honestly don't know but I fear the answer may be "no". If I'm right about that Mosaic viewers will get all the Arab anti-Israel rhetoric and propaganda with the balancing Israeli viewpoint removed. That won't be Mr. Dajani's fault, will it?

IBA News is vital in that it is the only broadcaster bringing a genuine Israeli perspective to people all over the world. I urge everyone who reads this to click this link and sign the petition. As I write this we have probably no more than 30 hours to make a difference and less than 500 people have signed the petition so far. Please also share this with anyone who you think might be interested.

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The BBC (British Bias Corp.) Strikes Again

The BBC has apologized for referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has promised it won't do it again. Never mind that Jerusalem has been Israel's official capital since 1951. The Beeb can't let little things like facts get in the way of their usual anti-Israel bias, particularly if some Arabs are offended by those facts. Heck, news reporting doesn't really have to be factual, does it? How old fashioned of me to think that it does.

This apology was a response to complaints about a reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital on, of all things, a BBC sports program back in March. Who complained? According to the BBC it was a joint complaint from Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought. According to the Jerusalem Post article:The Institute of Islamic Political Thought is run by Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter and a member of the Muslim Association of Britain, part of the Muslim Brotherhood.So, Hamas and other violent, rejectionist, terrorist Palestinian groups get to decide BBC policy. Very nice. For those of you who have slept through the last few days Hamas just took over Gaza in a violent coup killing dozens of Palestinians in the process with nary a word of protest from the Arab or Muslim world.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev's comments hit the nail on the head:Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. If this is not accepted by everyone today, I am confident it will be in the future.This is hardly the first time I've written about anti-Israeli bias at the BBC and sadly I'm sure it won't be the last. I guess this is par for the course in a nation that won't even teach the Holocaust in schools for fear of offending Holocaust deniers in general and anti-Semitic Arabs and Muslims in particular.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Palestinian Mythology: "Arab East Jerusalem"

With Jerusalem Day tomorrow I thought it was time to debunk the most commonly repeated bit of Palestinian mythology. The idea the eastern Jerusalem is an Arab city, or that Jerusalem as a whole was ever truly an Arab city, is a lie that has been repeated so many times that most of the world seems to believe it. Straight faced reporters on major networks all over the world will speak of "Arab East Jerusalem" as if it is an undisputed fact of history and of present circumstances. It isn't.

During Ottoman rule, from the late 15th through the early 20th century, Jerusalem had either a Jewish plurality or an outright Jewish majority. In 1854 Karl Marx was a reporter for the New York Daily Tribune. His article of 15 April 1854 reported the population as follows:...the sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [Muslims] and 8,000 Jews.At the time Jerusalem was little more than the old, walled city. Jewish settlement outside the walls wasn't permitted by the Ottoman rulers until 1865. The entire Jewish population was in the old city. If we judge east and west from the 1949 armistice line (pre-1967 borders) then the entire Jewish population was in what is now referred to as "Arab East Jerusalem".

What made east Jerusalem Arab? 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation ending in 1967. In 1948 when Jordan captured the old, walled city they destroyed 58 synagogues. 58! I somehow don't think Arabs were worshiping in those synagogues. Yep, in 1948 there were still lots of Jews in "Arab East Jerusalem".

Here is a description of how Jerusalem was divided until the Six Day War written by former Israeli President Chaim Herzog in his 1982 book The Arab-Israeli Wars:...Jerusalem had been divided between two warring elements: barbed wire in profusion, fortifications, trenches and battlements cut through the city...

Mount Scopus
[was] an Israeli enclave on the site of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital; it had been completely surrounded in 1948, but held out against all Arab attacks. The second enclave was Government House, which had been the residence of the British High Commissioner of Palestine...
So... there were Israeli and U.N. enclaves surrounded by Jordanian held territory in "Arab East Jerusalem" rather than a clean east-west, Jewish-Arab devision. Does this sound like workable, defensible borders as envisioned in UN Resolution 242? Not to me, it doesn't.

Yes, the majority of the eastern part of the city today is Arab. That's true, in part, because Jerusalem has grown and swallowed up several Arab villages and, in part, through natural population growth in the Arab community. There are also a number of Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city.

It may be possible, someday, after a period of peace, to separate Arab areas that aren't part of the historical city and place them under Arab rule. Right now, though, I don't see this is practical. I do not support dividing the city again and I do not accept the idea that any part of Jerusalem is intrinsically Arab and must be ceded.

If you, like I, support keeping Jerusalem united you may wish to visit Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. To me, that is something to celebrate and cherish.

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Hamas and the Daleks

Exterminate! Exterminate! Annihilate! Has anyone else noticed that Hamas sounds an awful lot like the Daleks lately? For those not familiar with the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, the Daleks are supposed to be the most evil creatures in the universe. They were introduced in the series' first season in 1963 and have appeared in almost every season since, including the 2006 season. The Daleks scream "Exterminate!" and on rare occasions "Annihilate!". The most frequently heard Dalek utterance: "You will be exterminated!" That's the same promise Hamas made to the Jewish people last month. The Dalek's goal: to commit genocide, killing everyone and everything that isn't a Dalek. Sounds a lot like Hamas, doesn't it?

Hamas does have it over the fictional Daleks in one way: the Daleks never promised to drink their enemies' blood the way Hamas promised to drink Jewish blood. Maybe Hamas members are really the most evil creatures in the universe.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

We Will Annihilate the Jews!

Last month Hamas called for the extermination of the Jewish people worldwide on their website. Now CNN has spent a great deal of time over the last two or three days discussing a children's program on Al-Aqsa Television which, of course, is run by Hamas and broadcasts to Palestinians in Gaza. It seems they have a big mouse named Farfur. He looks almost exactly like Mickey Mouse. His message, though, would horrify the people at Disney. Farfur tells young children "We will annihilate the Jews!" and adds "I will commit martyrdom." Al-Aqsa Television children's programming also shows very young children with machine guns and other weapons. The New York Daily News also expressed it's disgust.

Where is the international outcry at preaching hatred and genocide? Israelis, Jews, and American bloggers have been all over this but most of the rest of the world has been silent. Where is the condemnation of trying to convince very young children to become combatants in Hamas' terror war against Israel? Why are human rights groups almost always mute to Palestinian abuses?

When children are taught to hate and kill and taught that genocide is something to strive for what hope is there that there will ever be peace? In my view there is no such hope and that is the real tragedy of our times.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Disturbing Increase In Anti-Semitism

Monday, April 16, was Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Germany's Deutsche Welle TV news program Journal had excellent coverage of the events of the day, ranging from observances in Israel to footage of the March of the Living at Auschwitz. They also had a truly disturbing report on the worldwide increase in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide. These incidents include not only desecrations and destruction of property but also a shocking increase of violence directed at Jewish people.

Where was the biggest increase? Not surprisingly it was in the U.K. where a recent report detailed that the Holocaust is no longer even being taught in many schools for fear of offending Holocaust deniers. Holocaust denial is particularly popular in the Britain's Muslim minority. Other countries which had large increases in anti-Semitic attacks according to the DW TV report include Australia, France, and Canada. German Jews were quoted as feeling they couldn't live normal lives due to the security measures now needed at schools, community centers, and synagogues.

Why is there such a rise in anti-Semitism? DW TV blamed it on the Arab-Israeli conflict and pointed out that the majority of such incidents are carried out by Arab immigrants to these countries. I guess it really is terrible that we Jews have the chutzpah to insist our country not be wiped out by hostile Arabs or Iranians. If we just let them kill all the Jews in Israel, my family included, there would be no problem, right? Pardon my dripping sarcasm but I am frustrated and fed up with all of it. Arab and leftist media continue to equate Jewish self-defense with Nazism. Funny, we Jews don't want to commit genocide. It's the very people making the accusation who do.

I keep reading over and over again that anti-Semitism is now at levels not seen since the years leading up to World War II and the Holocaust. If "Never again" is to mean anything then world Jewry needs a safe haven. This is why I am such an ardent Zionist and why having a strong Israel is so very important.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What's Happening In Iraq Is All Israel's Fault

What's happening in Iraq, all the violence and the killing, is all Israel's fault. Really, it is. After all Lebanon's Future TV news wouldn't tell anything but the absolute truth, would they?

Future TV ran a news report a few weeks ago which was most enlightening. Do you remember the South Lebanon Army? They were a Lebanese Christian militia allied to Israel. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon 2500 members of the SLA found sanctuary in Israel as well. With Hizbullah firmly in control of southern Lebanon it was that or be killed. Anyway, Future TV reminded us of this militia and reminded us that their leader was sentenced to death in absentia.

Anyway, according to Future TV those 2500 SLA fighters are now in northern Iraq along with agents of the Mossad. They are working for the interests of Israel and the United States, of course. Best of all, it turns out that the SLA and Mossad are responsible for most of the violence in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq? Nah, not mentioned. The Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr? Those must be the good guys. The Badr Brigades? Baathists? Nope, it's all those evil Israelis and expatriate Lebanese Christians causing all the trouble.

In the west very few people believe any of this. OK, Cindy Sheehan claimed that her son died fighting for Israel in Iraq. I guess some on the far left do believe it. So does much of the Arab and wider Muslim world. Conspiracy theories are all the rage there, aren't they? Where will it all end? More anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and conflict that won't be resolved anytime soon.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Perpetuating The Conflict

Satellite television and the Internet are wonderful things. They can give you a window on the world previously unavailable. They can also demonstrate clearly how telling half a story insures the continuation of conflict in the Middle East and makes, at best, a distant dream.

Last Wednesday during Passover al-Arabiya ran a story on how the closure of the territories caused needless hardship for the Palestinians. They interviewed Palestinian Arabs who were having difficulty visiting relatives due to the necessity of passing through Israeli checkpoints. The closure, they reported, was done on the "pretext" of a terror threat, a "pretext" Israel is charged with using at every holiday and occasion. They also showed footage of Palestinians crossing Israel's security fence or "separation wall" and reported that these poor, oppressed people are just trying to make a decent life for themselves with no thought for politics or time to even consider the conditions placed upon them by the international Quartet.

The part of the story al-Arabiya deliberately left out was told on IBA News. The IDF, operating near Qalqilya, recovered two bombs that day which were safely detonated under controlled conditions, thankfully without injury. Right wing website Arutz Sheva reported that the General Security Service averted a major Hamas terrorist attack in Tel Aviv over the Passover holiday, an attack also originating from Qalqilya. What al-Arabiya called a pretext was a real threat and Israel recovered at least some of the weapons intended to murder innocent Israelis during Passover.

I have no doubt that the hardship that Palestinians endure as portrayed by al-Arabiya is very real. I also have no doubt that if there was no real threat of a terror attack there would have been no need for a closure of the territories. If there was no terror there would be no checkpoints, no need for a fence or wall, and all this hardship could be avoided. The conditions which al-Arabiya briefly mentioned are no more than Yasser Arafat agreed to at Oslo: recognition that Israel has a right to exist and a renunciation of violence. All the international community has asked is that the Palestinians agree to live up to the agreements they have already signed.

So long as Palestinians promise to kill Israelis at every opportunity and to continue to do so until Israel is destroyed what is Israel to do? At least the fence and the closure are non-lethal methods of stopping terrorism. At least innocent people on both sides didn't die that day.

The perpetual blaming of Israel for all the woes of the Arab world including all that the Palestinians endure must stop if there is ever to be peace. Sadly left-leaning media in the west tells the story as al-Arabiya does over and over again. Until the Palestinian leadership takes responsibility for the consequences of their own actions there is no hope for anything but more of the same. Until the mainstream media starts telling both sides of the story there is little hope that people will understand the reality of the conflict. All the media, both Arab and international, are doing with their propaganda disguised as news is perpetuating hatred which, in turn, perpetuates the conflict.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Britain No Longer Teaching About the Holocaust in Schools

Yael K., writing in her Aliyah Step-by-Step blog reports that the U.K. will no longer be teaching about the Holocaust in history classes:The Holocaust is out of schools because it might offend holocaust-deniers? Sorry, I find this simply shocking. Well, take a look at what is happening in schools in the UK according to a report by the British government.She quotes the report which says, in part:Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.


The report said teachers feared confronting ‘anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils’.
I don't know if this is anti-Semitism among the teachers and school administrators as well or just political correctness gone mad. I suspect it's some of both. Personally, like Yael, I find this shocking. It is absolutely inexcusable. Shouldn't history be taught honestly with a full presentation of facts?

There have been numerous reports of anti-Semetic attacks in Britain as well. One on CNN some weeks back interviewd a teenage girl who was riding a public bus. She was asked if she is Jewish or English as if you can't be both. Then she was severely beaten and landed in hospital. Nobody raised a finger to help her.

Yael suggests it's time British Jewry leave en masse and make aliya. I hate to say it but I do think she is right.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Iran Is Immune To Diplomacy

We are now over a week into the British hostage crisis in Iran. Iran's government, both in official press releases and in statements by President Ahmadenijad, is calling the entire world community "arrogant" and is threatening to put the captured "British occupier forces" on trial. I guess he can't get enough out of propaganda statements made by his hostages under duress.

An Associated Press article quotes Iranian opposition groups claiming that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered the capture of the British sailors as retaliation for U.N. sanctions. This seems entirely credible to me. It makes sense. In fact, in a way, it's brilliant. Let me explain.

The UN sanctions are in response to Iran's nuclear program. The five permanent members of the Security Council have agreed on further sanctions which are now under discussion at the U.N. Suddenly dealing with Iran's nuclear program is on the back burner as the hostage crisis takes center stage. At the same time Iran's enemies, the United States, Britain, and the European Union, suffer through a period of much higher oil prices. Finally, the oft reported planning for a supposed U.S. strike on Iran is undoubtedly on hold (if it exists at all) so as not to endanger the forces of America's most staunch and loyal ally. At least for the moment Iran benefits in every possible way. Meanwhile they buy time and continue their work to build nuclear weapons with the oft stated purpose of destroying first Israel and then the United States.

Think I'm crazy? I'm not the only one who sees it this way. I just found an article by Mario Loyola published yesterday in the admittedly right-wing National Review that says essentially the same thinge.

It is time the western world in general and the United States in particular stops worrying about being politically correct and starts recognizing that the regime in Teheran as an enemy and, unlike Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq, a truly dangerous enemy with an internationally verified nuclear program.

15 months ago I called for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by the United States. It needs to happen sooner rather than later. Yes, for the moment we should let the British take the lead and exhaust illusory diplomatic options. In reality there are no such options.

Soon President Bush needs to start explaining why an air strike on Iran is nothing like the invasion of Iraq. Then he needs to act. An American surgical strike is far less likely to set the entire Middle East aflame than an Israeli strike. Make no mistake, Israel will not sit around waiting to be nuked and, failing a real diplomatic option, it's either the U.S. or Israel that will act. I prefer the U.S. Less chance of a wider war. Less loss of innocent life. If neither nation acts quickly Israel will be destroyed and the United States will be facing nuclear blackmail.

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