Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

I just want to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah!

To my Christian friends: a very Merry Christmas!

To anyone who celebrates something else or nothing at all: a very happy holiday season.

I haven't forgotten this blog and yes, I have lots to write about.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gmar Hatima Tov

Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and the most solemn day in the Jewish year, starts at sundown this evening. (As of this writing it has already started in Israel.) For Jews around the world it is a time of fasting, prayer, and repentance. In Israel everything shuts down for Yom Kippur, from television and radio stations, to public transportation, to all non-emergency government services. Most Israeli Jews, even those who normally consider themselves secular, will be in a synagogue for Kol Nidre services tonight.

For everyone who observes Yom Kippur I wish you an easy fast and a meaningful observance.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shana Tovah!

Shana Tovah! I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and sweet new year!

I hope that I'll be able to be actively blogging again after the Rosh Hashana holiday.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Change To Google Earth Requires Corroboration For User Entries

Last week I wrote an article for O'Reilly News and for this blog documenting alleged anti-Israel political bias and the posting of false information at Google Earth. Similar charges had been previously made about Google News. The main point of the article was to question the integrity of the data provided by Google and questioning if, in effect, Google was losing the trust of its wider user community by making decisions which suited a specific political agenda.

While the article appeared on Friday, August 29th it was actually sent to Google for comment more than 24 hours earlier. While I received no directly reply an article in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, August 31st reported changes at Google Earth:
A new super-layer of geographic information in the popular Google Earth program now requires corroboration before user-generated content can be added to the default map display. The move means that anti-Israel markings placed by a Jenin resident are no longer visible to users when they first open the program.


Key to the new layer are special algorithms that corroborate information received through one source with the other sources. According to a company statement, this will make "it easier for users to learn about a given place through photos, videos, and annotations contributed by users around the world."

But it will also allow Google Earth to automatically corroborate any information received from users before displaying it on the default layer. Only information appearing in more than a single source will be displayed in this layer.

It appears that Google has made changes which do address the concerns of the company's critics on this issue.

I don't know if this is the result of nearly two years of criticism in the Israeli press and the pro-Israel blogosphere or if my effort to raise the issue in another forum, in the tech community to be specific, made a difference. One thing I am sure of: all of us who wrote to raise this issue deserve some credit. That includes both reporters and bloggers. Google is no longer in the business of delegitimizing Israel because we made our voices heard. Such efforts need to continue, calling into question every bit of misinformation and outright falsehoods that are published about Israel. The change at Google Earth proves that we, as a group, can make a difference and stand up for the truth.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Google Earth Delivers Geographic Data, Satellite Imagery, and Political Bias

NOTE: This piece was written for O'Reilly News in an attempt to reach an audience outside the Israeli, pro-Israel, and Jewish media where the ongoing issue of bias at Google has not been widely reported.

Last Friday Media Backspin, the weblog of, reported that Google Earth had removed a notation which falsely claimed that the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Yam was built on the ruins of Ghawarina, an Arab town which supposedly has been destroyed during Israel's 1948-49 War of Independence. Google, which researched the notation made by Dr. Thameen Darby, a Palestinian physician living in Jenin, used maps dating back to 1880 to justify the change. A new notation on Google Earth reads:
The 1880 Palestine Exploration Fund map designates a region by this name east of Acre. This area is populated with Israeli Arabs. The map does not have any towns here.

Translation: Ghawarina was someplace else and Arabs still live there today.

At first glance it looks like Google corrected an error and all is well. Sadly, it took two years and a libel suit by Kiryat Yam to get the error corrected. An Associated Press report on February 11 about the complaint quoted Professor Yossi Ben-Artzi of Haifa University:
That's simply complete nonsense. Kiryat Yam was built on sand dunes, and there wasn't any Palestinian village in the area. The lands were bought in 1939 by the Gav Yam construction company.

This isn't an isolated case. On June 26 Andre Oboler of the Jerusalem Center For Public Affaris published a report titled Google Earth: A New Platform for Anti-Israel Propaganda and Replacement Geography. In the report Dr. Obeler states, in part:
...sites known to be ruins in 1946 are claimed to be villages destroyed in 1948. Arab villages which still exist today are listed as sites of destruction. The Google Earth initiative is not only creating a virtual Palestine, it is creating a falsification of history.


The inclusion of virtual Palestine, superimposed on Israel in the core layer of Google Earth, is an example of replacement geography advanced by technology. Those wishing to find directions, explore the cities of Israel, or randomly wander across this small piece of land are immediately taken to a politically motivated narrative unrelated to their quest.

What makes Obeler's report compelling is not the fact that users have altered history and geography to suit their political purpose. Rather, it is that Israel, unlike other nations, has had this information included into the default display.
"Generally, Google allows all kinds of organizations or individuals to create overlays with their own information on its map. These overlays are only available to those who specifically request them, but they are not automatically incorporated into the core map of Google Earth that every user entering its website can see. Disturbingly, Google has incorporated the Palestinians' overlays and their accompanying narrative into its core maps of Israel. As Google maintains editorial control over its core layer, it has responsibility for its content, which it clearly has not adequately exercised."

The crux of the issue is Obeler's charge that Google made a deliberate decision to place pro-Israeli content in one user layer which is not displayed by default and pro-Palestinian content in another user layer that is displayed by default overlaying the core layer. Obeler is charging that Google, the company, has made a deliberate and conscious decision to use Google Earth to promote a specific political agenda. This charge of explicit bias by Google can be substantiated today even after the Kiryat Yam correction.

A July 1st Jerusalem Post report actually claims that anti-Israel posting on Google Earth increased in the wake of Obeler's report.

Google's overall response has been less than helpful. From the Jerusalem Post article:
Google spokesperson Jessica Powell said on Tuesday that Google has no plans to restrict the application's content, despite claims that Israel is being uniquely and malevolently targeted.


"This layer reflects what people contribute, not what Google believes to be true [...] While we recognize that some may find the user-generated content objectionable, we are careful to balance the integrity of an open forum with the legal requirements of local governments," Powell said. "

Obeler, who was interviewed for the Jerusalem Post article, challenged Powell's assertions:
The orange dots posted by Darby can be immediately found on the map, while other pro-Israel and corrected postings have to be downloaded separately. A user has to actively seek for another perspective on the map.

The core layer is what people get when they download and install Google Earth. It is there by default. The problem we have here is that the core layer is being used to promote propaganda, and this is being done openly and without penalty. If we treat Google Earth as the primary geographic information tool in the world, having such propaganda included becomes a problem.

On July 15 the Zionist Organization of America sent a letter to Google executives asking for changes. ZOA President Morton Klein added:
Google markets Google Earth as a reliable resource and teaching tool. It even publishes a Web site for teachers to use in the classroom. The company can't have it both ways. It can't benefit from a reputation as a credible source of information and yet take a hands-off approach when users post information on the map of Israel that is false and hateful. Google exercises editorial control over some of the content on Google Earth, but not when it comes to anti-Israel falsehoods.

The claim of anti-Israel bias at Google also stretches beyond Google Earth. For years right wing and pro-Israel websites and bloggers have claimed that Google News showed the same bias in their editorial selections. took Google News to task on the issue back in 2004.

For those of you who share Google's political perspective I ask you to imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. What if the West Bank was shown on Google Eath only as Yehuda and Shomron (Hebrew for Judea and Samaria), as integral to Israel, and covered with orange dots which only refer to the Palestinian people as terrorists while describing the area as solely Jewish in history? Would the Palestinians and their supporters be up in arms? Of course they would and rightfully so. Google Earth should only show factual information with user commentary available on demand, not one sided commentary shown by default without fact checking.

There is a wider issue for all of Google's hundreds of millions of users. Google has built a reputation and a successful business based on trust. Google users trust that when they do a search, look at Google Earth, or use any of Google's other services that accurate data is being provided to them. I have no evidence that Google's search engine, for example, is in any way tainted by politics Despite that I find myself double checking the results Google provides with new search engines like Cuil and Mooter and even the venerable Alta Vista. Google has already lost the trust of many Israeli, Jewish, and pro-Israel users. What happens to Google's business if this lack of trust spreads to the wider user community as they become aware of the charges of political bias?

Google is best served by insuring the trust of their user community regardless of politics. Using Google Earth or Google News as a platform for political advocacy is destructive to their business.

Obeler and Klein made a reasonable suggestion which would restore trust while allowing Palestinian users and their supporters largely uncensored access. They propose that Google treat the Virtual Palestine user layer exactly the same way they treat other user layers. Don't display the information by default overlaying the core layer. Make it available for download by request. Google also has a responsibility to investigate complaints about false and malicious content as they did in the Kiryat Yam case. Google's actions last Friday are a model for what needs to be done. It just shouldn't take a lawsuit for them to act.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Barack Obama and Israel, Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 I acknowledged that Senator Barack Obama, now the likely Democratic nominee for President, has generally been supportive of Israel and has a solid voting record during his four year tenure in the U.S. Senate. I expressed deep reservations, however, about his choice of foreign policy advisers, specifically Robert Malley and Zbigniew Brzezinski, both of whom are stridently anti-Israel and have a history of blaming all the ills of the Middle East on Israel in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Even more worrisome is Obama campaign co-chair and chief military adviser, General Merrill "Tony" McPeak. Writing about McPeak in the conservative American Spectator Robert Goldberg describes the General's views:
He also has a penchant for bashing Israel or, more particularly, Jews who oppose negotiating with terrorists.

McPeak has a long history of criticizing Israel for not going back to the 1967 borders as part of any peace agreement with Arab states. In 1976 McPeak wrote an article for Foreign Affairs magazine questioning Israel's insistence on holding on to the Golan Heights and parts of the West Bank.

In a 2003 interview in The Oregonian newspaper, when asked why efforts at peacemaking between Palestinians and Israel have failed McPeak had the audacity (to borrow Obama's favorite term) to blame it on American Jewry. Asked where the problem lies, McPeak responded:
New York City. Miami. We have a large vote - vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.
McPeak also blames Jewish and Christian Zionists of manipulating U.S. policy in Iraq:
Let's say that one of your abiding concerns is the security of Israel as opposed to a purely American self-interest, then it would make sense to build a dozen or so bases in Iraq.

While Senator Obama has recently started distancing himself from Zbigniew Brzezinski and has clearly staed that he disagrees with Brzezinski on Israel he has made no similar statements about McPeak. Quite the contrary. In the run up to Tuesday's Oregon primary television commercials with Obama and McPeak together appeared. (McPeak is an Oregon native.) Obama turned to McPeak to boost his credibility as a future Commander-In-Chief.

McPeak clearly doeen't believe that Israeli interests and American interests coincide in the Middle East. If Obama's top military man is McPeak can an Obama administration be trusted to do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons? Would McPeak simply dismiss any calls to do so as another attempt at manipulation of U.S. foreign policy by Jews and Christian Zionists? Would Obama take his advice? I don't know for certain but I certainly don't want to find out.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Barack Obama and Israel, Part 2

In Part 1 I acknowledged that Barack Obama's record supporting Israel during his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate has been excellent. Despite that I am extremely worried about what an Obama administration would mean for Israel because he has surrounded himself with a foreign policy team that is openly hostile towards Israel.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. The ex-President has famously written a book equating Israeli policy to South African apartheid. As I frequently point out accusing Israel of apartheid is reserved for people who are either totally ignorant both about Israel and what apartheid in South Africa meant or else simply want to spread propaganda with no regard for facts. President Carter certainly isn't ignorant and neither is Brzezinski. In addition to serving as a senior foreign policy to Senator Obama, Brzezinski has made a career of writing scathing attacks on Israel and making the rounds of the talk show circuit eloquently explaining to Americans why Israel is at the root of all evil in the Middle East and probably beyond. I cringe every time I see him on TV.

Brzezinski is the only senior American official, past or present, who has openly supported John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's claim that the "Israel lobby" has shaped American foreign policy to the detriment of the United States. Alan Dershowitz cited Brzezinski's views as damaging to the Obama campaign:
It is a tremendous mistake for Barack Obama to select as a foreign policy adviser the one person in public life who has chosen to support a bigoted book.

More recently, in response to the Annapolis peace conference Brzezinski signed a letter calling on the Bush administration to open a dialogue with Hamas terrorists, the same people who daily fire rockets and mortars into southern Israel, in part to scuttle any chance for peace. Brzezinski also blamed American and Israeli foreign policy rather than Hizbullah for the 2006 Lebanon War.

Brzezinski's quickness to attack any Israeli government as an obstacle to peace was demonstrated in 1996 appearance on PBS's The Newshour With Jim Lehrer when he had signed a letter urging pressure on the then new government of Binyamin Netanyahu. Brzezinski gave this assessment of the Israeli Prime Minister:
In my view, there is the real danger that Netanyahu is pursuing a policy not of peace with security, which is what he was elected to pursue, but of peace with territory, which is what the Likud has stood for, for a long time--peace with territory, which really means security with territory, and peace being sloughed off.

Prime Minister Netanyahu went on to negotiate, sign, and implement the Wye River Agreement and pulled out of most of Hebron in an attempt to push the Oslo peace process forward. We may have already seen some of Brzezinski's antagonism toward Netanyahu expressed by Senator Obama in his statement that supporting Israel doesn't mean supporting Likud.

How damaging is Brzezinski to Obama with supporters of Israel? Just ask Mark Siegel, who served as Jewish liason for President Carter until 1978:
Brzezinski was a major obstacle to bridging the divisions between the president and the Jewish community. I’m very, very surprised that someone would have him directly involved in a presidential campaign.

Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to fail to capture a majority of the Jewish vote. With foreign policy advisers like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Malley I think it is very likely that Obama will follow in Carter's footsteps. The loss of supporters of Israel, Jewish, Christian, and other, could easily cost Obama a close election is he is the Democratic nominee.

In Part 3 of this four part series I'll introduce one more adviser that's even more worrisome than Brzezinski.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stop Canadian Apartheid Now!

I think I'm going to start a campaign against Canadian apartheid. After all, in Canada's reserves (native villages) you have to be a native to live there. Isn't that a form of apartheid? The Inuit people, part of Canada's First Nations, live in territories rather than provinces. Why the unequal status? Why are these natives treated differently? Isn't this apartheid?

Accusing Canada of apartheid is patently ridiculous, of course. It's every bit as ridiculous as accusing Israel of apartheid. Either example shows a profound ignorance of the country in question (Canada or Israel) and is an insult to those in South Africa who truly suffered under the apartheid regime.

Despite this every year the University of Toronto hosts Israel Apartheid Week, filled with all sorts of propaganda that goes beyond anti-Israel into outright anti-Semitism. From the description in the Jerusalem Post article:
In 2006, Toronto's IAW featured, among others, Ward Churchill, who has argued that the murder of European Jews was not at all a "fixed policy objective of the Nazis"; As'ad Abu Khalil, who has said that "Israel will have to submit to the will of the Palestinians"; and Ilan Pappe, an Israeli professor who supports Hamas and has called for the dissolution of Israel.

There is some good news in the article: 125 faculty members ran a full page ad in the National Post calling on the University to stop hosting the annual event. They noted:
"...the university would not tolerate homophobia, racism and Islamophobia on campus, and questioned why the school continued to host IAW."

Kudos to these conscientious faculty members and all the other Canadians who have spoken out against this. Perhaps, if the effort to end Israel Apartheid Week fails we can organize Canadian Apartheid Week to point out how ludicrous this is. I can see the banners: "Stop Canadian Apartheid Now!" Hopefully the University of Toronto will come to its senses and no such campaign will be needed.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Barack Obama and Israel, Part 1

During his three years in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's voting record and statements have generally been quite supportive of Israel. In an op-ed piece which appeared in the New York Times on February 11, Roger Cohen quotes Obama and seeks to reassure Jewish voters that the Illinois Senator is, indeed, a supporter of Israel.

Shortly after launching his own Presidential campaign Ralph Nader, speaking on CNN, complained that Obama was pro-Palestinian prior to entering the Illinois Senate and urged the candidate to abandon his support of Israel. He followed that up on NBC by claiming that Obama is too pro-Israel. That Nader, who is of Lebanese descent, is staunchly anti-Israel is old news. The question he raises isn't: Is Barack Obama, in his heart of hearts, more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to Israel? Is his support for Israel a position he adopted for the purpose of running for public office rather than something he truly believes? Would an Obama administration continue the special relationship between Israel and the United States or would it condition that relationship on Israeli concessions that would seriously undermine Israel's security in the short term and its survival in the long term?

Senator Obama has precious little foreign policy experience of his own. He will undoubtedly depend heavily on his key foreign policy advisers. I think the best way to answer the questions I've posed is to take a look at the positions and records of his foreign policy and military advisers.

Robert Malley was a special assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs under President Bill Clinton. He is also the only member of President Clinton's negotiating team at Camp David in 2000 who places the blame for the failure of the Oslo preace process squarely on the backs of the Israeli government. Prime Minister Sharon, who took the oh-so-controversial step of a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was repeatedly accused by Malley of "unswerving goals [...] for the last 30 years, to vanquish Mr. Arafat, and more recently, to undo the foundations of the Oslo agreement" while presenting Arafat as a man unswervingly dedicated to peace in spite of all evidence to the contrary. He also blames Israel and American foreign policy, not Hizbullah, for the 2006 Lebanon War. Malley has repeatedly called for providing Hamas with international aid and has equated the policies of Hamas terrorists with those of the Israeli government. Malley has called for a radically different approach to the Middle East, an approach which would not be supportive of Israel.

Would you want a man with these views to have the ear of the President of the United States? Malley has been touted as a possible Secretary of State in an Obama administration. I find that prospect worrying indeed. Yet, of all of Obama's close foreign policy and military advisers, Malley is the least objectionable to supporters of Israel. In Part 2 we'll take a look at those advisers: people who will inform Obama's decisions on how to deal with what they consider to be "an apartheid state."

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Latest Threats From Iran & Reactions Inspired By The Ostrich

Yesterday Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, speaking in Bushehr, where an Iranian nuclear facility is expected to come on line in October, promised Israel's "imminent demise". Oh, he didn't use the name Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize, but rather referred to the "filthy Zionist entity". Here's some of what Ahmadinejad had to say:
"...abandon the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached the end of the line.


...stop supporting the Zionists, as [their] regime reached its final stage. Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end. What we have right now is the last chapter [of Israeli atrocities] which the Palestinians and regional nations will confront and eventually turn in Palestine's favor.


It has lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers' days are numbered."
That last bit is a threat aimed at the United States, of course.

Yet thanks to a National Intelligence Estimate that contradicts Israeli intelligence reports, the Bush administration is pretty much ignoring Iran these days. Certainly action in this election year now seems highly improbable at best. Prime Minister Olmert, who has been singularly responsive to U.S. pressure to act or not act based on American interests, seems unlikely to do anything about the Iranian nuclear program in general or Bushehr in particular.

For the first time in a long time I'm wondering if aliya really is a good idea. Yes, I'd like to live in Israel. I have no desire to die there in a nuclear holocaust anytime soon. Right now both American and Israeli policy towards Iran seems to have been inspired by the ostrich: ignore Ahmadenijad and maybe the problem will go away. It won't.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Republican Presidents Haven't Been All That Good For Israel

I originally wrote this in somewhat different form as a comment rebutting Tom's post on Blogs of Zion claiming that electing a Democratic President this fall would be "trouble" for Israel. History, including very recent history, suggests otherwise. It's also dangerous to take one statement out of context and assume that all of the Democratic party ascribes to far left positions. Anyway, here is my rebuttal in edited form:

Traditionally Democrats have been far better than Republicans for Israel, the sole exception in my lifetime being Jimmy Carter. The only Republican President who was a true friend of Israel was Richard Nixon. Dwight Eisenhower forced the return of Gaza in 1956 which directly led to another war. George H.W. Bush froze loan guarantees to Israel in 1992, a move repeated by the current President Bush in 2003. I could write a whole book on how President Bush has pushed Israel into actions contrary to the Israeli national interest. The latest NIE report is an example of the James Baker school of foreign policy. Who can forget Mr. Baker’s comment: “F-ck the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway.” Both Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of Defense Gates are Baker proteges. At least Prime Minister Sharon had the backbone to remind this President that Israel cannot be treated the way Czechoslovakia was in 1938. Prime Minister Olmert lacks the backbone to do even that.

The anti-Israel view Tom describes as belonging to “the left” only belongs to the far left. Most Democratic leaders strongly support Israel. Since neither Dennis Kucinich nor Mike Gravel will win the nomination you probably have nothing to fear from a Democrat.

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OK, Make That Hillary Clinton For President

Today two friends of Israel, John Edwards and Rudolph Giuliani, dropped out of the race for the White House. Senator Edwards was the only candidate I really felt good about -- one I would vote for because I believe he'd make an excellent President, just not that he'd be less of a disaster than the opposing candidate. Mayor Giuliani was the only Republican in the race that wasn't totally unpalatable to me. There are a lot of Giuliani's positions that I'm uncomfortable with but from the Republican field he was the best available.

Of the choices remaining I have no doubt that Senator Hillary Clinton would make the best President. She is a two term U.S. Senator with what I consider an excellent voting record on the issues important to me. If I go by issues and not personality or campaign style there is no question that she has the qualifications and experience to be President. I don't believe the same can be said for Senator Obama.

The number one key issue to me is support for the State of Israel. I believe anyone who doesn't understand Israel's importance to the United States as a strategic ally in the Middle East doesn't have much of a clue about foreign policy. Since entering the Senate Hillary Clinton has been a steadfast supporter of Israel. She admitted early in her first term that it wasn't always so and many on the right will never forgive her for a certain meeting and photo op with Suha Arafat when she was First Lady. Senator Clinton claimed after entering the Senate that studying the issues in the Middle East forced her to alter her position. Whether that change was heartfelt or a political necessity for a Senator from New York I simply can't say. I can say that her voting record, her speeches since then, and her actions show that she understands the importance of Israel now. Once again, I am not sure I can say the same of Barack Obama. There isn't much of a record there.

Perhaps in four or eight years I'll be convinced that Senator Obama is ready for the Presidency. Perhaps then I will look at his record and extol his virtues. I can't do that yet and in a dangerous world we need an experienced leader. Senator Hillary Clinton is the best remaining candidate with the credentials to be that leader.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

John Edwards On Gaza

The following is from the Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards on October 5, 2004. Senator Edwards made perhaps the best, most concise, clearest defense of the Israeli government and it's fight against terror. He did so during an IDF incursion into Gaza which drew major international criticism, a situation which is being repeated now. This first appeared in this blog on October 6, 2004. Current events demonstrate that nothing has changed in the last four years and that Senator Edwards ' statement is as timely now as it was then.

First, the Israeli people not only have the right to defend themselves, they should defend themselves. They have an obligation to defend themselves.

I mean, if I can, just for a moment, tell you a personal story. I was in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, actually three years ago, in August of 2001, staying at the King David Hotel.

We left in the morning, headed to the airport to leave, and later in the day I found out that that same day, not far from where we were staying, the Sbarro Pizzeria was hit by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed. Six children were killed.

What are the Israeli people supposed to do? How can they continue to watch Israeli children killed by suicide bombers, killed by terrorists?

They have not only the right but the obligation to defend themselves.

Now, we know that the Prime Minister has made a decision, an historic decision, to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. It's important for America to participate in helping with that process.

Now, if Gaza's being used as a platform for attacking the Israeli people, that has to be stopped. And Israel has a right to defend itself. They don't have a partner for peace right now. They certainly don't have a partner in Arafat, and they need a legitimate partner for peace.

And I might add, it is very important for America to crack down on the Saudis who have not had a public prosecution for financing terrorism since 9/11. And it's important for America to confront the situation in Iran, because Iran is an enormous threat to Israel and to the Israeli people.
Replace Arafat with Abbas and that might have been a speech yesterday rather than four years ago.

I am supporting John Edwards for President, just as I did four years ago. Of the three main contenders for the Democratic nomination he is the only one who has shown consistent, unwavering heartfelt support for Israel throughout his political career. Ignore the pundits who have pronounced his campaign as all but dead. These are the same folks who assured us Senator Obama would win big in New Hampshire. The latest polls show Senator Edwards in a statistical dead heat with Senators Obama and Clinton in Nevada. A win in the Nevada caucuses could propel him to a win in South Carolina, the state where he was born and a state which he won in 2004. If a Democrat is going to win the White House in 2008 lets make sure American Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, help select the right Democrat. I believe that's John Edwards.

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Another "Massacre" That Wasn't

On Tuesday approximately 50 rockets and mortars slammed into Israel from Gaza wounding five Israelis. Yesterday 40 more rockets were fired into Israel, injuring 10 people, all civilians. The Israeli Air Force responded and eight Palestinians, including three civilians, were killed in air strikes yesterday.

In recent days the usual suspects have been crying "massacre" and blaming Israel for derailing the peace process. For those who always blame Israel for all the ills in the Middle East the facts simply don't matter. It doesn't matter that Israel wouldn't have taken any action against Gaza at all if rockets weren't raining down on Israeli cities and towns. It doesn't matter that the Israeli military never deliberately targets civilians and that most of those killed in Gaza recently were Hamas gunmen or Islamic Jihad terrorists who were firing the rockets. It doesn't matter that the Qassam and Katyusha rockets are always aimed at Israeli civilians. After all, there was no international outcry when a Qassam rocket struck a kindergarten near Ashkelon. If a Palestinian child is tragically killed, though, the world cries and condemns Israel. Why does nobody condemn the Palestinian terrorists who fire on Israel from heavily populated civilian areas? International law clearly places the brunt of responsibility on those using human shields.

Despite President Bush's rather delusional assertion that peace could be achieved in a year I don't think anyone in Israel believes anything like that is remotely possible. Perhaps Prime Minister Olmert is shrewder than we give him credit for being. He makes all the requisite conciliatory speeches to keep President Bush and the American Congress happy while adding that there will be no peace while terrorism continues. He knows there is, at present, no Palestinian leader strong enough or even willing to do anything about terrorism.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bush Administration Opposition To Har Homa Contrary To U.S. Law

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has expressed the Bush administration's absolute opposition to construction in Har Homa:
Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning.
She went on to explain that "the United States doesn't make a distinction" between settlement activity in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. This position completely flies in the face of U.S. law which, since 1995, demands that the U.S. Embassy be moved to Jerusalem and which also explicitly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Yes, folks, that includes east Jerusalem, which in turn includes Har Homa. The Dry Bones Blog did an excellent little piece on this yesterday. The entire text of the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act can be found here.

What is especially galling about the Bush administration's new found support for Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem is that Bush himself promised to move the U.S. embassy to the site the U.S. owns for that purpose during his 2000 election campaign. Guess where that site is? Yep, it's in the eastern part of the city. He also expressed strong support for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital at that time.

I'd also like to invite everyone to reread my post on the history of east Jerusalem from last year. Palestinian claims to the city fly in the face of history as well.

I can only hope Prime Minister Olmert shows some backbone on this issue and stands up to the Bush administration on the issue of Jerusalem. A cooling of relations with President Bush won't mean much after a new President takes office a year from now.

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