Not surprisingly, the Palestinians who support terror have been coming up with excuse after excuse to avoid taking it down.
Check out here and here for details.
The cabinet has approved the establishment of a special unit to combat incitement and public disruptions in protest of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan.
The unit is the idea of Justice Minister Tzippy Livni, who wants to ensure that the process of prosecuting protesters is streamlined ahead of the mass opposition to the implementation of the withdrawal from Gaza and the northern Shomron and the forced removal of the Jewish residents living there.
The government decision stipulates that the unit will be responsible for, “legal proceedings against incidents of incitement to violence, rebellion and protest activities, including blocking roads, holding unauthorized demonstrations and threats against public servants in the context of the struggle against the disengagement.”
Shabak (General Security Services) chief Avi Dichter told the cabinet that he does not believe the time for using administrative detention (jailing without trial for up to six months) against anti-withdrawal activists has arrived yet.
The Land of Israel Action Committee responded to Dichters statements saying, “The Shabak head’s examples of right-wing incitement all originate from provocations created by the Shabak and police.” The movement’s head, Aviad Vissouly, called upon the attorney general to put all the heads of right-wing groups on trial for incitement. Vissouly argued that the courts must set, once and for all, explicit guidelines as to where the borders of freedom of expression lie.
The Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council criticized the establishment of the new unit, which it termed, "the thought police.” “The new unit's purpose is to shut the mouths of those who are opposed to the expulsion plan and to brand them inciters," the council said. "[Its purpose is to] forbid us to think differently than the government. The democratic right to protest is slowly disappearing in face of the ‘sanctified’ disengagement plan."
The new unit will combat anti-disengagement protests and demonstrations, and will work in coordination with the Shabak to deter activists from engaging mass civil disobedience.
Activist Barch Marzel, who heads the newly-founded Jewish National Front suggested sarcastically that Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan – appointed head of the legal team for the new unit – ask for the death penalty when punishing anti-government activists. "When in a dictatorship, act like you are in a dictatorship," Marzel said. “If someone can have a police investigation opened against him for calling Sharon a dictator, then it is possible for punishments like that to eventually be meted out in the same manner.”
What is "Jews in Green"?
It is a website devoted to Jewish servicemembers: past, present, and future.
Jews in Green (JIG) is an idea I have had for a few years now. After enlisting in the Marine Corps at 18, serving for 9+ years and then making the transition to the officer ranks, I've come to realize that being a Jew in the service presents some unique challenges. My hope is that by creating this website, other Jews serving in our armed forces can learn what resources are available for them, share their experiences with one another, and offer support when needed.
JERUSALEM Feb 26, 2005 — Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Saturday blamed Syria and a Palestinian militant group based there for a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis outside a Tel Aviv nightclub and shattered an informal truce, prompting him to freeze plans to hand over security responsibilities in the West Bank. Syria denied the charges.
Abbas angrily accused a "third party" of orchestrating Friday's attack to sabotage the Mideast peace process, and his security officials said the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, was involved.
In Beirut, Hezbollah, denied the accusations, and Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group with members in Lebanon and Syria, claimed responsibility from the Lebanese capital, reversing initial denials by its members in the Palestinian territories.
If the bombing had been planned and inspired by militants in the Palestinian territory, Abbas would be under tremendous pressure to crack down. But since it looked as if the bombing was linked to Islamic Jihad in Syria, and perhaps inspired by Hezbollah, Israel was likely to give him more leeway.
from another article...
Meanwhile, Fatah and Islamic Jihad members fired shots in the air in celebration following the attack.
The Palestinian security services have recently located and sealed 12 arms-smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi route, on the Gazan-Egyptian border, security sources say.
The Israel Defense Forces are pleased with the Palestinian efforts, which were ordered by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. At the same time, however, the Palestinian successes have strengthened the long-standing opinion in the defense establishment that the arms-smuggling tunnels depend for their existence on the PA's tacit cooperation.
The Egyptians could have posted similar successes against the tunnels on their side of the border, defense sources say, but in practice, their activity against the tunnels has been negligible. Israel and Egypt are still at odds over Cairo's proposal to man its side of the Gazan border with Border Police units, which are considered higher quality than the regular police forces stationed there now.
The Palestinians apparently stepped up their efforts against the smuggling tunnels in order to convince both Israel and the United States that the IDF should leave the Philadelphi route when it leaves the rest of Gaza. (In other words, as soon as Israel is gone, Gaza becomes a gigantic arms warehouse. -EoZ) Currently, the IDF is slated to remain on Philadelphi even after the disengagement from Gaza, to prevent arms smuggling into the Strip. The government has no objection to leaving Philadelphi if an end to the arms smuggling could be assured; the problem is that the current cease-fire is fragile, and should it collapse, the PA is liable to permit large-scale smuggling to resume.
In that case, moreover, the smugglers would probably to try to bring in more sophisticated weaponry, such as Katyusha rockets or shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles, which could change the nature of the war.
Since the intifada began, the IDF has destroyed more than 100 arms-smuggling tunnels around Philadelphi. In the course of these operations, it also destroyed some 1,400 Palestinian houses and suffered many casualties.
While the army praises the PA's achievements on the smuggling tunnels, it says that the PA has been only partially successful in other areas. On one hand, it is trying to prevent Qassam rockets and mortars from being fired into Israel, and recently, there have been several reports of PA troops opening fire on Qassam-launching cells that refused orders to leave the launch zones.
In some cases, PA troops have even arrested cell members, who come mainly from Hamas. These moves are widely supported by the Palestinian public, which is sick of the fighting, and there have even been cases of Palestinian civilians calling the PA security services to report on Qassam cells in their area.
Hamas, understanding the public's desire for calm, has also significantly reduced its activity. The combination of Hamas' restraint and the PA's more aggressive measures has caused the number of attacks on Israeli targets in Gaza to drop by about 85 percent over the last two weeks from the former level of some 100 attacks a week.
Abbas has also ordered his troops to maintain internal law and order. Palestinian policemen have therefore destroyed many illegal buildings in Gaza recently; they have also started issuing traffic tickets.
Nevertheless, due to the PA's desire to refrain from open clashes with the terrorist organizations, it has not confiscated their weapons or taken any action against their other military activities. The organizations are therefore continuing to manufacture Qassam rockets undisturbed, and are also building more rocket and mortar manufactories. In addition, they are giving their members intensive military training.
Overall, however, Israel believes that the trend is positive and hopes that Abbas will expand his troops' operations and impose a genuine cease-fire. Therefore, the army is trying not to respond to any incidences of Palestinian violence, in order to give Abbas time to develop the PA's ability to impose law and order.
HUNDREDS of Iraqi students have demonstrated to protest a government decision to extend the weekend to include Saturday, denouncing the scheme as a "Zionist plot".
Irate high school students marched through Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, denouncing outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's decision to extend the weekend from the traditional Islamic holy day of Friday to include Saturday.
"We don't want Saturday as it is a Jewish holiday," the crowd chanted.
This is not the first time things like this have happened. But have you ever heard a Palestinian call for the elimination of "celebratory" gun firings? It is laughable to even think about it.
A gunman celebrating the release of prisoners in the Jenin area accidentally shot and killed one person. Omar Saleh, 34, from Ejja village near Jenin, was killed when a local man fired into the air to celebrate the release of a prisoner from Israeli jail.
According to a preliminary investigation conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the incident occurred when Eyad Tawfiq, 30, arrived at his house in the village after he had been released from jail.
His brother-in-law, 28-year-old Haibat Taha, welcomed him by firing into the air from his M16 rifle. When he put the rifle back on his shoulder, a number of live bullets hit four men standing nearby. One of them, Salah, was killed by a live bullet in the abdomen.
Terror organizations are planning strategic attacks if the cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority breaks down, Military Intelligence research chief Brigadier-General Yossi Kuperwasser warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.
Kuperwasser said he believed that some attacks have already been planned down to the finest of details, and the groups are capable of launching the attacks almost immediately.
He also told the Knesset members that the organizations are continuing to build an infrastructure to carry out attacks, particularly in the Gaza Strip, despite the cease-fire and recent lull in violence. The panel heard that the militants are continuing to produce rockets and mortar shells, and are continuing to experiment with Qassam rockets and other weapons.
[Ecumenical News International] The World Council of Churches (WCC) on February 21 urged its members to consider economic measures to oppose Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and praised the action of a U.S. denomination that has started a process of selective divestment from companies linked to the occupation.
'Multinational corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes,' the WCC's main governing body said in a statement adopted during a February 15-22 meeting in Geneva. They 'are involved in the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied territory, and in other violations of international law.'
The WCC's central committee commended the action of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in initiating a process of phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation.
'This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in faith, and calls members to 'do the things that make for peace',' the WCC committee said, referring to a biblical text (Luke 19:42). It encouraged the WCC's 347 member churches 'to give serious consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent.'
Why can't Israel elect this guy as prime minister?
Few people can claim to have left as impressive, varied and indelible an imprint on postwar Jewish history as Natan Sharansky.
The man who won fame for having stood up to an evil superpower armed with nothing but conviction, poise and resolve has not only endured lengthy years in prison and solitary confinement, but has also become an icon of the West's victory over Soviet totalitarianism.
Sharansky's eventual arrival here seemed like a natural continuation of his life before making aliya. First as a private citizen, then as a journalist and finally as a politician, he became an advocate for universal freedom. Having been fortunate enough to see his salvation followed by that of the rest of Soviet Jewry, he set out to help the masses of newly arrived immigrants overcome the hardships that inevitably involved their absorption into Israel.
That is how in 1996 he entered politics by establishing an immigrant party, and that is how he became a cabinet minister, a position in which he has been, on and off, for the better part of a decade.
As a politician, Sharansky's main accomplishment has been giving Russian-speaking immigrants a sense of belonging and an address for their many grievances. As minister of trade and industry he fought for consumer rights, demanding that retailers display prices, and as minister of the interior he eased some measures that had been designed to mistreat people whose Jewishness was doubted by the Orthodox establishment.
And yet, as he himself now concedes to the Post, the ticket on which he ran originally has clearly run its course, and happily so. The so-called Russian electorate has joined the Israeli fray and made its own political choices according to national rather than ethnic priorities. That is what the 2003 election showed, when Sharansky won a mere two Knesset seats, which he quickly merged with the Likud.
Back when he entered politics, Sharansky carefully avoided making a choice between Right and Left. Now he has made a clear choice. Not only has he joined Likud, he has, in fact, outflanked from the Right Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose disengagement policy he flatly rejects.
For Sharansky the icon, this is perhaps a gamble, one that makes some wonder whether he is not risking carrying his hitherto heroic biography into an anti-climactic aftermath as a political anecdote, yet another victim of the tiringly familiar, intra-Israeli territorial debate.
However, for Sharansky the dissident this position is a natural one. And he clearly is not disturbed by the prospect that the political part of his career may indeed be close to its end.
Having just returned from yet another US tour, where he spoke at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and met with President George Bush for a discussion of his new book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, Sharansky evidently knows that unlike most others, for him the possibly imminent end of his political career should not be the end of his journey. In fact, the political part of his life already seems to fill him with stoicism and humor rather than charge him with ambition.
"Without a sense of humor," he says, "you cannot survive in a Soviet prison, and without having the experience of surviving in a Soviet prison, it would have been very difficult for me to have survived the Knesset."
The Bush administration has made declarations about its desire to see states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia become more democratic. What concrete steps did you suggest to the president that the United States take to encourage those countries to democratize?
First, we discussed the principle that a dictatorship cannot be a lasting ally. They can be temporary allies - Stalin was a big ally of the West for four years, though before and after he was a big enemy - but they cannot be lasting allies. There is a whole theory about this that is discussed in my book and which the president accepts.
The problem is that with each country you have to build your own road map to democracy. In America, I was asked, "Pakistan is our ally now - do you expect us to start blockading it?"
Of course, a time of war is different. No one would have expected Roosevelt and Churchill in 1943 to say to Stalin, "You are not our ally because you have the gulag." But it was also not said in 1933. It was also not said in 1953, and it was not said in 1963. [There were those who] tried to prevent it from being said in 1973, when senator [Henry "Scoop"] Jackson was saying it. So there must be a differentiation between immediate cooperation and long-term cooperation.
The real problem is appeasement. Look at all the dictators in history you had to fight, whether it was Stalin, Hitler, or even Saddam Hussein... for us it was Yasser Arafat... there was a long period of appeasement, of a refusal to link the guarantee of human rights with the question of security.
I think, already back at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991, America should have linked [military help] for Saudi Arabia to the freedom of immigration. There are so many Americans from Saudi Arabia who are suffering from the lack of freedom of immigration. As the experience with the Soviet Union showed, something as seemingly small as the relative liberalization of the freedom of immigration immediately puts tremendous pressure on a totalitarian regime. In the case of Saudi Arabia, it could be something as small, but very popular in the United States now, as minimal rights for women. It could be permission from some opposition delegations to visit Saudi Arabia.
What approach did you suggest the US take on new PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas?
I told them that what really matters is what the position of the free world will be. If the US, Israel and Europe say, "We will embrace you only if you embrace democratic reforms" - then you have a unique chance. But if the message will be, "Give us stability and then we'll talk," then I think it will be very difficult for him to bring about reforms.
If he does [institute reforms], he will have to fight terror, because the terrorists will resist all of it. But if he delays reform in order to fight terror, then he can have a cease-fire one day and allow terror the next.
If the Palestinians were to create a liberal democracy, what concessions would you be willing to make?
I think we have to start [to make concessions] long before they become a completely liberal democracy. But as of today, I think it would be a big mistake to dismantle even one settlement. We gave them Arafat's autonomy for free. We gave them recognition of a Palestinian state for free. And now we are giving them the disengagement for free. If the disengagement were linked to democratization, I would be the first to support it, rather than vote against it, as I am going to do.
Why do you think Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is so devoted to the disengagement plan?
My theory is that he is desperate because of the fact that, for so many years, Israel has tried again and again to make peace, only to find again and again that we don't have a partner. (On the contrary, we have the main source of terrorist activity.) And that the world is against us. No matter what we do, no matter that the Palestinians keep trying to destroy us, more and more is always demanded. I think Sharon is trying to stop this cycle by saying, we'll make one dramatic step that will be very difficult for us, and we won't link it to any demands [on the Palestinians] because we don't believe that they would fulfill any demands. And then we will get some relief from the rest of the world.
However, I believe not only that we will not gain 10 years [of peace], but that we will not gain even one day. It will just be used as a pretext to say, "Fourteen settlements is not enough, you must dismantle 24," to say that we will have caused further terrorism by not having withdrawn from more land.
As I have said since 1995, the depth of our concessions should equal the depth of the Palestinians' democratic reforms. Not only have our concessions not been connected to democratic changes, but they have been connected to steps that only strengthened and unified the power of Arafat. One-sided concessions, no matter how sincere, cannot bring positive change.
You quit the Barak government over Camp David. What are your red lines for this government, which has disengagement as its goal?
I ask myself that question every morning. I quit the Barak government to stop a dangerous process by bringing down the government and supporting an alternative. This time, I can't go from a left-wing government to a right-wing government. This time the battle has to be fought from inside the government and the Likud. I hope the disengagement can be stopped and I will do everything possible to stop it.
So, there are some very serious things that concern me. But if I am looking for excuses to stay, I have them. This government is not just about the disengagement. This government has also made one of the most important economic reforms in the history of the state, frankly. It has also made the issue of anti-Semitism a very important part of its work.
Regarding anti-Semitism, do you think that the recent attempt in Russia to outlaw Jewish organizations is just an isolated incident, or do you think it's a phenomenon that will spread?
You're talking about this awful, disgusting letter [to Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov in January]... It's very symbolic that 20 members of Parliament felt that it was good for their political careers to sign it... But Jewish institutions are developing, schools and centers are opening; the government is not creating any problems about this.
Putin still thinks that the best thing for him and for his government is to allow the Jewish community to develop. He has problems with some specific Jews; in his fight against the oligarchs he is using the prejudice of the people and saying that most of them are Jewish. But to say that there is a major trend of trying to undermine Jewish organizations, I think, is not right. People who want to be part of the Jewish community have the opportunity to do so.
Does the Yukos case in Russia remind you of "the bad old days" that you knew?
Yukos is a very serious case, and I feel a very deep personal sympathy. I think it should play a part in the contacts that Russia has with the free world.
Remember that for 1,000 years, the Russian empire ruled the very mind of its people, each and every one. Millions worked for the KGB. If your child said the wrong thing in kindergarten, you could end up in prison. It was a country entirely ruled by fear.
Today, we see that Putin is limiting journalistic freedom somewhat, and competition for power, too... but people live without that fear. There's no more gulag. And there's no way that things will return to such a state.
What just happened in Ukraine shows that there's no going back - because there's no more control over people's minds. Once the germ of freedom gets out... you can no longer have Stalin murdering millions.
Of course, that doesn't ensure perfect democracy. Only 12 years after the French Revolution, Napoleon came to power. So, you have to have constant pressure.
As a former dissident and Prisoner of Zion, are you bothered by the increasing use of administrative detention in Israel?
I do think it's very undemocratic, and a big problem. The first time I was approached about this issue was only a few months after I had come to this country [in 1986]. Palestinians approached me and complained that a group of people had been denied trials. At the time they were talking about just 13 people. Now, that's a dream, to have so few.
The problem is, we're at war. And in war, democracy is always problematic... Administrative detention is a necessity, but we must use it carefully. It's important to have laws limiting its use, and to constantly inspect it, under a microscope, with checks and such... because, very easily, we can go from 13 [people in detention] to 30,000.
Is it good? No. Does it bother me? Very much. But do we have a choice? I don't think we do. Does it require constant supervision? Absolutely.
After almost 10 years in the Knesset, your influence is on the wane. Is your political career coming to a close?
It could be... but, you know, I have never viewed my political career as an end unto itself. I never saw the establishment of a political party [Yisrael B'Aliya] as an eternal thing. It's a tool that, for a given period of time, is useful. In 1998, when I founded the party, I said that if we were really successful, we wouldn't exist in five years - because new immigrants would integrate into Israeli society, feel more Israeli and vote for larger "Israeli" parties.
As for my views on a Palestinian state, I'm still saying what I've said all along... that I'm willing to give the Palestinians every right except for the right to destroy me. And what's the only way to ensure that that won't happen? To demand that their state will be a democratic state, a state whose leaders are subject to the will of its citizens. Since 1993, we've gone further and further from that dream by endorsing a [Palestinian] fear society.
Now, we have a golden opportunity to bring about democratic reform because the one man who believes in that just happens to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. So I say, let's seize that opportunity.
THERE IS A SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT
by Martin Sherman
Some time ago, at the Jerusalem Summit, a survey of prevalent attitudes among the Palestinians was made public; it was carried out among a representative sample of the adult population of Judea and Samaria by a well-known Israel institute in collaboration with a respected Palestinian institute. The poll results point to respondents' dissatisfaction with their quality of life, with the performance of their leadership, and with the chances to improve their situation in the foreseeable future.
The survey also showed that more than 40% of the respondents had considered emigrating to another country; only 15% answered that nothing could make them permanently leave their homes. About 70% pointed to some material factor (housing, education, generous financing, etc.) that could bring them to decide to move their permanent place of residency to another land.
For some reason, the survey was received with astonishment. Certain elements, primarily on the Left, tried to cast aspersions on it and even to discount its credibility; it is not difficult to guess why. The findings seriously damage their political philosophy, which is greatly dependent on a myth of the Palestinians' uncompromising attachment to the land. Furthermore, the survey results undermine the argument - currently widespread even among certain segments of the Right - that there is no solution to the demographic problem except retreat from the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
A finding is taking shape, therefore, that points to the fact that the Palestinians are not so different from other people. When their situation is bad, they are interested in finding their future in a different place. That fact has far-reaching political consequences. In effect, the stubborn persistence of the Palestinian problem can be, to a large degree, attributed to the special status accorded the Palestinians as opposed to the rest of humanity.
Take, for example, the matter of the refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is responsible for all the refugees in the world - except the Palestinian refugees. For them, there is a separate and unique body: UNRWA. Each of these bodies has a different definition of "refugee". According to the definition of the High Commissioner, the number of refugees decreases over time; while according to UNRWA's definition, their number continually grows with each passing year.
If the definition accepted for the rest of the world was applied to the Palestinian case, the number of Palestinian refugees would be about 200,000 - less than five percent of the number according to the unique definition of UNRWA, which counts 4,250,000 refugees. As it turns out, the ongoing existence of the Palestinian refugees is in large part the bureaucratic product of an organization whose entire existence is dependent on the perpetuation of the problem it was meant to solve.
It should be pointed out that also in the Arab world, the Palestinians suffer discrimination. For example, about two months ago, Saudi authorities announced the easing of restrictions on citizenship for foreigners living in the country - with the exception of the approximately half-a-million Palestinians who live there. The reasoning given by the Riyadh authorities was their desire to prevent the "destruction of the Palestinian national identity."
The spokesman for the Arab League also explained the discrimination against the Palestinians in the Arab world by reference to the need "to maintain their national identity," adding that "if every Palestinian living in a particular country would be absorbed in that state, he would have no reason to return to Palestine." It appears, therefore, that the non-Palestinian Arabs are much more determined than the Palestinians themselves to perpetuate the Palestinian national identity.
The ongoing failure in facing the Palestinian issue demands unconventional thinking in an attempt to settle it, and the conclusions from the foregoing are obvious. First of all, the Palestinian problem is very much an artificial product of the evilness of Arab states (and the foolishness of the state of Israel). Secondly, it appears that by the combination of two factors would make it possible to bring about a dramatic decrease, by non-violent means, in the size of the "Palestinian problem", perhaps even its solution:
1. Pressure must be exercised by the democratic world on the leaders of the Arab states to desist from the gross discrimination against the Palestinians living in their countries, and to absorb those who so wish.
2. Generous financial assistance must be given to those living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to facilitate their emigration and the building of a new life for themselves and their families in other places in the world.
What could be more liberal and humanistic than the demand to put an end to discrimination against a person because of his background, and giving freedom of choice to an individual - including a Palestinian individual - in deciding the his fate and that of his family?
Martin Sherman was the Academic Director of the Jerusalem Summit, November 2004, and lecturer in Political Science at Tel Aviv University.
Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- After three new attempts on his life, including a firefight in front of his house Wednesday, outspoken Mithal al-Alusi, a Sunni Muslim, is sure insurgents are still out to get him for his views on peace and tolerance.
Al-Alusi's sons were gunned down one week ago in a car in which he decided not to get in at the last minute. Since then, he said his house has been attacked three times, including a fierce firefight Wednesday -- apparently between insurgents and private guards protecting him.
Police were very slow to respond because they don't support his views on peace with Israel, al-Alusi said. The leader of the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation has been outspoken in his belief that Iraq must align with other democratic countries in the Middle East, possibly Turkey and others, to accept the current situation and make peace with Israel.
An IDF force yesterday spotted two armed terrorists approaching the Jewish community of Bracha, overlooking Shechem in the Shomron. The soldiers opened fire, killing both terrorists.
One of the two would-be murderers was Atzam Mantzur, 29. He was apprehended by Israel in October 2001, but was later freed from prison in January 2004 by the Sharon government as part of an exchange for captured Israeli Elchanan Tenenbaum and the bodies of three IDF soldiers murdered by Hizbullah.
The other terrorist was 24-year-old Mahyub Yusef Kiny. Both terrorists were members of the PLO’s Tanzim terror group.
PARIS (AP) - Islamic militants under investigation for allegedly planning an attack on the Russian Embassy in Paris had other targets on their list, including the Eiffel Tower, police and judicial officials said Wednesday.
Three men, all Algerians, were detained Jan. 11 in connection with an investigation into a network of Islamic radicals supporting Chechen rebels, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
In the past two weeks, the officials said, France has rebuffed appeals by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, which would prevent it from raising money in Europe through charity groups. The United States has long called Hezbollah a terrorist organization, but the French, American and European officials said, have opposed doing so, and argue that making such a designation now would be unwise, given the new turbulence in Lebanon.
Israeli and American officials say that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has told them that he, too, regards Hezbollah as a destructive force in the Middle East, one determined to undermine peace talks by supporting militant groups that attack Israelis.
In the first decision of its kind since he succeeded Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ratified death sentences against three Palestinians found guilty of 'collaboration' with Israel.
It is not clear when the three men, whose identities were not revealed, will be executed by firing squad.
However, senior PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that the three were Gaza Strip residents who had been convicted of 'high treason' for tipping off Israeli security forces about the whereabouts of wanted gunmen.
Sakher Bsaisso, a senior Fatah official who also serves as PA governor of the northern Gaza Strip, confirmed on Wednesday that Abbas had authorized death sentences against three alleged 'collaborators.'
Bsaisso said the three had been convicted of assisting Israel in the assassination of a number of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip over the past four years, but refused to elaborate.
He said Abbas also approved death sentences passed against scores of Palestinians found guilty of criminally motivated murders.
Bsaisso said Abbas's decision to carry out the death sentences came after PA mufti Sheikh Ikrimah Sabri authorized the executions as required by law.
WASHINGTON - When a believing Muslim is summoned to the United States due to life's circumstances, Saudi Arabian authorities disseminate through a network of major American mosques, like other religious directives, clear ways as to how one should act in his new surroundings.
Take, for example, a document signed by the cultural attache at the Saudi embassy in Washington that instructs Muslims arriving in the United States not to initiate a greeting when meeting Christians or Jews, and never to convey good wishes marking a Christian or Jewish holiday. In general, the attache recommends that the Muslim believer avoid friendships with the infidels, be careful not to imitate their customs (e.g. not to wear a cap and gown at a graduation ceremony), and try not to remain in the country any longer than required. The Saudis feel that a good Muslim can stay in America only for two reasons: acquiring knowledge and capital to promote the objectives of jihad, and lobbying the infidels to accept Islam.
Bethlehem, West Bank -- In June 1998, somewhere near CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., two rows of men in military fatigues posed for their graduation photo.
All of them were officers in Palestinian General Intelligence Service, charged with hunting down terrorists and preventing attacks on Israel. They had just completed a training course, paid for by the U.S. government, in which they learned firearms and counterterrorist tactics.
But the graduation photo holds a stark warning for the Bush administration as it gets more involved in Middle East peacemaking. Some of the men in the picture later swapped sides and began using the skills they learned in Virginia against the Israelis.
Such training courses, which were suspended with the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000, will be an integral part of Washington's aid package for the new government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"There will need to be some international effort, and the United States is prepared to play a major role in that, to help in the training of the Palestinian security forces and in making sure that they are security forces that are part of the solution, not part of the problem," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier this month on the London stop of her European tour.
Lt. Gen. William Ward, Rice's newly named Mideast security coordinator, will visit the region this month to "start looking at how to build Palestinian security forces," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday.
"What we're really all talking about is helping the Palestinian security forces get organized, get equipped, get trained and get the command structure that allows them to take care of security problems," Boucher said.
The men in the 1998 photo came from Bethlehem, Jericho and Nablus, which all became flash points in the four-year uprising, called the intifada. Kneeling fourth from the left in the front row is Raafat Bajali. In December 2001, Bajali was killed when a bomb he was making blew up in his face. He had become a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said some of his comrades in the General Intelligence unit.
Bajali died in a fourth-floor apartment near Bethlehem's Manger Square, the home of Nedal Zedok, a colleague in the Palestinian security forces who also was moonlighting for Al-Aqsa. Zedok, too, was killed in the explosion.
Standing in the back row, second from the left, is Khaled Abu Nijmeh, from Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, according to two of his colleagues who are also pictured.
By 2001, he had become one of the most-wanted Palestinian militants in the city, suspected of involvement in a string of suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis. In May 2002, he was one of 13 gunmen escorted from the Church of the Nativity siege in Bethlehem, flown to Cyprus and then to exile in Europe. Three of the group, including Abu Nijmeh, were given asylum in Italy.
"I am a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and a first sergeant in Palestinian General Intelligence," Abu Nijmeh, now 36, told The Chronicle from his temporary home in Rome. "I personally received a course in antiterrorism and VIP protection.
"I was not alone. Many Palestinian security people were trained by the Americans. We hope they will continue helping us."
Abu Nijmeh and his 12 comrades will be allowed to return to Bethlehem under the cease-fire agreement reached last week between Israel and the Palestinians.
As Israeli commentators had been warning for years, the CIA inadvertently helped train future adversaries -- as it has done in other countries, including the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan who ended up as Taliban and al Qaeda militants.
"This has proven to be a very risky undertaking," said Israeli political analyst Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University. "Both the CIA and British efforts to train Palestinians during the Oslo process helped strengthen terrorist capabilities."
A U.S. official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said that if previous U.S. aid went to train would-be militants, "obviously steps will be taken so that any future training does not lead to a similar outcome."
The Palestinian security forces were created in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo accords by Arafat to maintain order in newly autonomous Palestinian territories. The recruits were supposed to serve as the police force for the Palestinian Authority and to prevent terrorist attacks against Israel. The CIA and British intelligence services helped provide training and equipment.
But Arafat also used the new police forces to keep himself in power. Based on longtime loyalties within his Fatah political faction, he created 14 separate, often overlapping, security services -- including a naval intelligence unit in the landlocked West Bank.
Palestinian security forces were doubling as militants in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and in Hamas, an Islamic group that has claimed credit for many anti-Israel attacks. Zedok, who was killed by Bajali's bomb, was among those dismissed from the security force after their connections were exposed by Israel. Others, including the Al-Aqsa founder and commander in Ramallah, Khaled al-Shawish, found refuge in Arafat's West Bank headquarters.
Even as it announced it would maintain the current relative calm, Hamas was using the lull in Israel's offensive actions to stock up on Kassam rockets, mines and mortar shells in the Gaza Strip, defense sources said Sunday.
To overcome a lack of raw materials, Kassam rocket makers have begun using pipes that held up street signs. Because of this there is a dearth of signposts in Gaza, military sources said.
'Their efforts to replenish their stocks of weapons have never stopped,' said an IDF officer monitoring Hamas and other groups. 'Not only that, but they are continuing to operate their smuggling rings during this period to bring in weapons and other materiel.' This, despite reported actions by Palestinian Authority forces to uncover tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials Sunday accused Israel of tightening security instead of easing it at the Erez crossing point between Gaza and the Jewish state.
Palestinian Chief of Passages Salim Abu Safiya told reporters that while Israel tells the media it had opened the Erez crossing and allowed Palestinian workers to enter Israel, it was tightening security checks and making the crossing terminal a nightmare for those workers.
Israel had said it was easing its security measures on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, allowng 207 workers and 95 businessmen to enter Israel Sunday.
But Abu Safiya described the Israeli security measures as arbitrary and tough, forcing the workers to go through very complicated security measures by forcing them into x-ray machines that are only used to check metal objects, not human beings.
He warned the x-ray machines cause serious diseases if humans pass through them.
The Palestinian official accused Israel of not showing any signs of commitment to the cease-fire agreement reached in Sharm el-Sheikh last week, which included an Israeli declaration to open the border crossings and remove check-points.
The Palestinian Authority, in its Arabic messages to its people, has always
denied Israel's right to exist and has often presented the peace process as
a tactic leading to Israel's destruction.
This goal was repeated Friday, on the Palestinian Authority television, in
the official sermon. Senior religious figure, Ibrahim Mudyris, explained
that the limitation of the diplomatic process is that it can only achieve
the 1967 borders, and that at a latest stage the Palestinian Authority will
achieve its goal, the destruction of Israel: "the way Muhammad returned
there as a conqueror".
The following is the text of the Friday sermon, February 4, 2005:
Preacher- Ibrahim Mudyris:
"We do not love any land more than the land of Palestine. Had the Jews not
expelled us from it with their plains, their tanks, their weapons, their
treachery around us, we would never leave you, Oh Palestine". (Quotes
Muhammad who promised he would return to Mecca as a conqueror).
"We tell you Palestine, we shall return to you, by Allah's will, We shall
return to every village, every town, and every grain of earth which was
quenched by the blood of our grandparents and the sweat of our fathers and
mothers. We shall return, we shall return. Our willingness to return to the
1967 borders does not mean that we have given up on the land of Palestine.
No! We ask you: Do we have the right to the 1967 borders? We have the
right. Therefore, we shall realize this right with any mean it takes. We
might be able to use diplomacy in order to return to the 1967 borders, but
we shall not be able to use diplomacy in order to return to the 1948
borders. No one on this earth recognizes [our right to] the 1948 borders
[before Israel's existence]. Therefore, we shall return to the 1967
borders, but it does not mean that we have given up on Jerusalem and Haifa,
Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, Natanyah [Al-Zuhour] and Tel Aviv [Tel Al-Rabia]. Never.
We shall return to every village we had been expelled from, by Allah's
will. Why? All the international laws deny the Palestinians their real
borders. We might agree, but in the name of Allah, our grandfathers' blood
demands that we return to them [the borders]. Your father's blood was shed
there, at the villages, at Ashqelon, at Ashdod, at Hirbia [a village
between Gaza and Ashqelon, where Kibbutz Zikim is located today] and at
others places, hundreds of villages and towns. [Their blood] demands it
from us, and it shall curse anyone who will concede a grain of earth of
those villages. Our approval to return to the 1967 borders is not a
concession for our other rights. No!... this generation might not achieve
this stage, but generations will come, and the land of Palestine... will
demand that the Palestinians will return the way Muhammad returned there,
as a conqueror".
|Denying Terrorism By Daniel Pipes, February 8, 2005||
February 8, 2005
* Cross-posted with permission
Editor's note: Readers may also be interested in New Jersey: An Islamic Murder of Coptic Christians?.
Anyone following the investigation into the mid-January slaughter of the Armanious family (husband, wife, two young daughters), Copts living in Jersey City, N.J., knows who the presumptive suspects are: Islamists furious at a Christian Egyptian immigrant who dares engage in Internet polemics against Islam and who attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.
The authorities, however, have blinded themselves to the extensive circumstantial evidence, insisting that "no facts at this point" substantiate a religious motive for the murders.
Somehow, the prosecutor missed that all four members of this quiet family were savagely executed in the ritualistic Islamist way (multiple knife attacks and near-beheading); that Jersey City has a record of Islamist activism and jihadi violence, and that an Islamist Web site, carried multiple threats against Hossam Armanious with postings such as: "We are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you."
Law enforcement seems more concerned to avoid an anti-Muslim backlash than to find the culprits.
This attitude of denial fits an all-too-common pattern. I previously documented a reluctance in nearby New York City to see as terrorism the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge ("road rage" was the FBI's preferred description) and the 1997 Empire State Building shootings ("many, many enemies in his mind," said Rudolph Giuliani). And the July 2002 LAX murders were initially dismissed as "a work dispute" and the October 2002 rampage of the Beltway snipers went unexplained, leaving the press to ascribe it to such factors as a "stormy [family] relationship."
These instances are part of a yet-larger pattern.
The 1990 murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane by the Islamist El Sayyid Nosair was initially ascribed by the police to "a prescription drug for or consistent with depression."
The 1999 crash of EgyptAir 990, killing 217 - by a co-pilot not supposed to be near the aircraft's controls at that time who repeated 11 times "I rely on God" as he wrenched the plane down - went unexplained by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The 2002 purposeful crash of a small plane into a Tampa high-rise by bin Laden-sympathizer Charles Bishara Bishop went unexplained; the family chimed in by blaming the acne drug Accutane.
The 2003 murder and near-decapitation in Houston of an Israeli by a former Saudi friend who had newly become an Islamist found the police unable to discern "any evidence" that the crime had anything to do with religion.
Nor is this a problem unique to American authorities.
The 1993 attack on foreign guests dining at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo, killing five, accompanied by the Islamist cry "Allahu Akbar," inspired the Egyptian government to dismiss the killer as insane.
The 2000 attack on a bus of visibly Jewish schoolchildren near Paris by a hammer-wielding North African yelling "You're not in Tel-Aviv!" prompted police to describe the assault as the result of a traffic incident.
The 2003 fire that gutted the Merkaz HaTorah Jewish secondary school in a Paris suburb, requiring 100 firefighters to douse the flames, was described by the French minister of the interior as being merely of "criminal origin."
The 2004 murder of a Hasidic Jew with no criminal record as he walked an Antwerp street near a predominantly Muslim area left the Belgian authorities stumped: "There are no signs that racism was involved."
I have cited 13 cases here and provide information on further incidents on my weblog. Why this repeated unease acknowledging Islamist terrorism by the authorities, why the shameful denial?
And for that matter, why a similar unwillingness to face facts about right-wing extremists, as in the 2002 murder by a cursing skinhead of a Hasidic Jew outside a kosher pizzeria in Toronto, which the police did not find to rate as a hate crime? Because terrorism has much greater implications than prescription drugs going awry, road rage, lunatics acting berserk, or freak industrial accidents. Those can be shrugged off. Islamist terrorism, in contrast, requires an analysis of jihadi motives and a focus on Muslims, steps highly unwelcome to authorities.
And so, police, prosecutors, and politicians shy away from stark realities in favor of soothing and inaccurate bromides. This ostrich-like behavior carries heavy costs; those who refuse to recognize the enemy cannot defeat him. To pretend terrorism is not occurring nearly guarantees that it will recur.
'The Jews and Christians are Allah's Enemies'
Al-Qarni: "The uproar and the chaos that we see today in the human race – the killing, the acts of aggression, the rape, the robbery, and the disgrace of honor – what causes this is that the banners which are hoisted high are those of the Jews, the Christians, and other religions and faiths, and not the banner of 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Messenger.'
"Let's have a look at what is written in the Koran. What position must we adopt towards Allah's enemies? Is it the position we have adopted? First of all, we must be aware of the fact that at present we see that [the West] doesn't want us even to say the words 'Allah's enemies.' They don't want us to say that the Jews and the Christians are Allah's enemies. They don't want us to say that the Jews and the Christians are the enemies of the Muslims and the enemies of Islam.
"This is fixed and established in the Koran and in the tradition…
"If this is so, if this is something fixed, how is it that we find in the things that we say, among our children, our own flesh and blood, among Muslims, people who are in denial of these things, who deny that there is a great enmity between Muslims and non-Muslims? It is true that we say that Islam's fundamental approach is that of mercy, and that the fundamental principle of Islam is [that it is a] mercy for human beings. But [it is for] he who submits to Allah's religion and extends his hand to allow Allah's religion to spread all over the earth and to make Allah's word supreme – it is toward him that religion is merciful. However, whoever fights against Allah's religion, and fights those who love Allah, distorts the image of Islam and the Muslims and does so much to weaken Islam…
"Let's take a real-life example. Today, the Jews are occupying the Muslims' lands, raping their women, killing their children, and destroying their houses – are these acts being perpetrated by the Muslims or by the Jews?"
Interviewer: "By the Jews, as anyone with eyes can see. This is clear to the entire world…"
Al-Qarni: "OK, and we see that at present anyone who speaks about the Jews is accused of antisemitism, and people are brought to trial for this. OK. Are the Jews not making great efforts to make us quote the Koranic verses proving that they are enemies of the revelation and showing their base character, their lowly character traits, [relating] what they did to the prophets and messengers and their long history of acts of treachery, deceit, conspiracy and treason? They are making great efforts in this…"
'The Terrorists are These Jews and Christians'
Interviewer: "You shouldn't blame them for this. We are the ones to blame if we agree to change the Koran and the tradition to suit them."
Al-Qarni: "The terrorists are these Jews and Christians who implement these policies through the use of force, repression, and tyranny, and to this end make use of planes, tanks, and all manner of deadly weapons."
Interviewer: "Aisha's second question [is about whether] Islam spread by the sword. They always say that Islam spread by the sword. How should we respond to them?"
Al-Qarni: "First of all, we ask by what means is the freedom that the U.S. wants spread? The freedom that it wants now to market?"
Interviewer: "Through missiles and bombs…"
Al-Qarni: "Through B-50s, bombs that the international community has forbidden, hundred of thousands of armed soldiers – this is how freedom has spread."
Interviewer: "And we don't see any freedom. All we see afterwards is subjugation…"
Al-Qarni: "At any rate, if we return to our discussion of the heart of the matter… First of all, we must realize that Allah obligated us to disseminate this religion all over the globe. And first, it should be spread through outreach and calling people to Allah's word, through pleasing words, gently, and through good deeds. Through letting people hear Allah's words and showing them Islam. However, if we run up against someone who opposes this path and attempts to obstruct the spread of the upright religion and the light, and to obstruct their reaching others – in this case it is a duty to fight such a person. And Allah said: 'Fight them until there is no more strife and Allah's religion reigns supreme.'
"We don't agree with those who disavow this completely and say that the religion [of Islam] doesn't use the sword. No. Islam uses the sword when there is no other alternative. Therefore wisdom, as the religious authorities say, consists in utilizing each thing in its proper place. If there is need for the sword, then it is wise to use the sword, and if the occasion requires kind words and outreach, then it is wise to utilize them."
'We Ask Allah to Strengthen … the Jihad Fighters in Iraq … Against Their Enemies the Jews and the Christians'
"We ask Allah to strengthen the spirits of the Jihad fighters in Iraq, and to help them against their enemies, the Jews and the Christians.
"Likewise, I emphasize that the Jihad that the Muslims are fighting in Iraq in order to repel the enemy aggressor, the Jews and the Christians, who are attacking land and honor – I emphasize that this Jihad is legitimate Jihad, Jihad for Allah's sake, and it is considered defense of Muslim countries, their lands and their honor. The doubts that are raised against this Jihad are not correct and are out of place." 
Accuser of 'Confirmed Kill' IDF Captain: We Lied
Captain "R." is on his way to aquittal following a major breakthrough in the trial of the IDF commander accused of intentionally killing an Arab girl.
The prosecution's key witness admitted Sunday to having lied during the investigation.
Two soldiers in R.'s unit had testified that he carried out a point-blank "confirmed-kill" of 13-year-old Arab girl Iman al Hams, who had entered a closed military zone adjacent to the Girit IDF position last October. R. testified that though he and his soldiers had opened fire on someone they assumed to be a terrorist based on intelligence information and the fact that the girl threw a bag toward them - he denied confirming the kill at close range.
Three weeks ago, one of the accusing soldiers admitted that he had not actually seen the shooting, contradicting previous testimony he had given. Now, Lieutenant S., who had been on lookout duty during the incident and subsequently accused R. of shooting the girl at close range admitted during his cross-examination by defense attorney Elad Eisenberg, that he and his fellow soldiers had been lying all along.
Eisenberg asked S. whether it was accurate that following R.'s suspension, S. had bragged to his fellow soldiers, saying, "We managed to get rid of the company commander."
S. answered: "Not exactly. I said it humorously. Most of the soldiers in the company didn't care about the girl who was killed. Many people did it in order ... to get rid of the company commander."
Eisenberg said: "Did what?"
S. answered: "Lied during the investigations."
Eisenberg then accused S. of lying to investigators when he told them that he saw R. confirm the kill by firing two individual bullets, followed by a burst of fire toward the girl.
Repeating the question of whether or not he told the truth, S. said his words were not "intentionally," false, then argued that they were not meant "maliciously" and finally admitted: "I didn't exactly lie ... I said an untruth."
Following the development, the defense requested that the prosecution withdraw the indictment altogether, but the request has been declined so far.
The judge, Lt.-Col. Aharon Mishnayot ordered R., who has been confined to his army base - released, that his weapons be returned to him, and that he be reinstated into the Givati Brigade. "It is an inarguable fact that the dramatic development with regard to the testimony of Lieutenant S., who admitted flat-out that he did not tell the truth during the military police investigation, significantly undermines at least the value of this witness's testimony," Mishnayot said.
R. was in good spirits upon his release. "I have missed my job and my unit, and am happy that in the end justice is being brought to light - what you saw today speaks for itself." R.
Though the story was reported widely in the world press, including headlines such as "IDF Captain Shoots 13-year-old 20 Times," the fact that the facts of the case have been increasingly challenged has been virtually ignored. Already in October, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon told the cabinet that the girl had been dispatched by terrorists as a decoy in order to draw out soldiers and turn them into targets for terrorist snipers. Yaalon also explained that the girl was in a closed military area. In addition, the girl reportedly threw a bag at the soldiers - a suspicious move, under the circumstances, even though the bag was later found to contain only schoolbooks and no explosives.
Bias of Massad Is Being Noted in His Classes
Crisis At Columbia
BY JACOB GERSHMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
February 7, 2005
Here's a quiz.
Israel is: a) a Jewish supremacist state, b) the worst human-rights abuser in the Middle East, c) a major factor preventing the democratization of the Arab region, or d) all of the above.
If you answered "d," you would fit right in at a core-curriculum course at Columbia University taught by an assistant professor of modern Arab politics, Joseph Massad, who is a rising star of the university's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures.
Mr. Massad, author of the forthcoming book "The Persistence of the Palestinian Question," is best known as one of the Columbia scholars whose alleged mistreatment of Jewish students is at the center of a campus controversy that has attracted national attention from Jewish and academic leaders.
Though the dispute has focused on allegations of intimidation and harassment of students, the more common criticism brought up by students of Mr. Massad has to do not with the appropriateness of his conduct, but with the quality and content of his teaching.
Students of his say he is relentless in his condemnations of Israel and America, even in a course he taught in the fall called Topics in Asian Civilization, in which Israel, at least according to the syllabus, plays only a minor role.
Mr. Massad is not without his admirers. For some Columbia undergraduates, Mr. Massad's political convictions are his primary appeal.
"Many students take offense at the very quality that makes Massad such a brilliant academic and honest, effective teacher," one anonymous student posted on a Web site that collects reviews of Columbia professors and courses. "He neither claims nor supports purported academic 'objectivity.' He holds an intellectual conviction and offers rational, clear, and cogent arguments."
For other students, like sophomore Bari Weiss, taking one of his courses can be "suffocating."
In the fall semester, she was a student in Topics in Asian Civilization. Mr. Massad taught the second half and was responsible for covering a history of the Middle East from the beginnings of Islam to 20th-century Arab nationalism.
"The course was supposed to be all about the Middle East," Ms. Weiss said. "The amount of time he spent talking about Zionism or the Jewish nation or Jewish culture was inappropriate."
In previous semesters, Mr. Massad taught a seminar course on the Middle East conflict, but "under the duress of coercion and intimidation" he chose not to teach it this academic year, he wrote on his university Web site. One student who took the course in 2002, Deena Shanker, said Mr. Massad told her to leave the class if she persisted in denying that Israel committed atrocities against Palestinians. Mr. Massad, who refuses to speak to The New York Sun, has denied mistreating any students and has accused his critics of trying to censor his political views.
According to three students' course notes from Topics in Asian Civilization, including ones Ms. Weiss took, Mr. Massad in his lectures repeatedly likened Israel to apartheid South Africa, dismissed its legitimacy as a Jewish state, and almost never addressed human rights abuses in countries such as Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The other two students whose notes were obtained by the Sun did not want their names to be used in this article.
"I was shocked knowing what was going on in the Middle East and the egregious human-rights violations that the professor either glossed over them or ignored them completely," Ms. Weiss, 20, said. She is one of the students who have pressed Columbia to investigate the conduct of professors in the Middle East studies department.
"In nearly all of his lectures, professor Massad found a way to denounce Israel and the West," Ms. Weiss, who received an "A" for the course, said.
"We were not presented with any material that argued that Zionism is not racist," she said.
The Politics of Ideological Apology
By Michael Walzer
Issue Date: 10.22.01
Even before September 11, hardly anyone was advocating terrorism--not even those who regularly practice and support it. The practice is indefensible now that it has been recognized, like rape or murder, as an attack upon the innocent. The victims of a terrorist attack are ordinary men and women, eternal bystanders. There is no special reason for targeting them. The attack is launched indiscriminately against the entire class. Terrorists are like killers on a rampage, except that their rampage is purposeful and programmatic. It aims at a general vulnerability. Kill these people in order to terrify those. A relatively small number of dead victims makes for a very large number of living and frightened hostages.
This is the ramifying evil of terrorism: not just the killing of innocent people but also the intrusion of fear into everyday life, the violation of private purposes, the insecurity of public spaces, the endless coerciveness of precaution. A crime wave might produce similar effects, but no one plans a crime wave; it is the work of a thousand decision makers, each one independent of the others, brought together only by the invisible hand. Terrorism is the work of visible hands--an organizational project, a strategic choice, a conspiracy to murder and intimidate. No wonder the conspirators have difficulty justifying in public the strategy that they have chosen.
But when moral justification is ruled out, the way is opened for ideological apology. In parts of the European and American left, there has long existed a political culture of excuses focused defensively on one or another of the older terrorist organizations: the IRA, FLN, PLO, and so on. The arguments are familiar enough, and their repetition in the days since September 11 is no surprise. Still, it is important to look at them closely and reject them explicitly.
The first excuse is that terror is a last resort. The image is of oppressed and embittered people who have run out of options. They have tried every legitimate form of political action, exhausted every possibility, failed everywhere, until no alternative remains but the evil of terrorism. They must be terrorists or do nothing at all. The easy response is that, given this description, they should do nothing at all. But that doesn't engage the excuse.
It is not so easy to reach the last resort. To get there, one must indeed try everything (which is a lot of things)--and not just once, as if a political party or movement might organize a single demonstration, fail to win immediate victory, and claim that it is now justified in moving on to murder. Politics is an art of repetition. Activists learn by doing the same thing over and over again. It is by no means clear when they run out of options. The same argument applies to state officials who claim that they have tried everything and are now compelled to kill hostages or bomb peasant villages. What exactly did they try when they were trying everything?
Could anyone come up with a plausible list? "Last resort" has only a notional finality. The resort to terror is not last in an actual series of actions; it islast only for the sake of the excuse. Actually, most terrorists recommend terror as a first resort; they are for it from the beginning.
The second excuse is that they are weak and can't do anything else. But two different kinds of weakness are commonly confused here: the weakness of the terrorist organization vis-à-vis its enemy and its weakness vis-à-vis its own people. It is the second type--the inability of the organization to mobilize its own people--that makes terrorism the option and effectively rules out all the others: political action, nonviolent resistance, general strikes, mass demonstrations. The terrorists are weak not because they represent the weak but precisely because they don't--because they have been unable to draw the weak into a sustained oppositional politics. They act without the organized political support of their own people. They may express the anger and resentment of some of those people, even a lot of them. But they have not been authorized to do that, and they have made no attempt to win any such authorization. They act tyrannically and, if they win, will rule in the same way.
The third excuse holds that terrorism is neither the last resort nor the only possible resort, but the universal resort. Everybody does it; that's what politics (or state politics) really is; it's the only thing that works. This argument has the same logic as the maxim "All's fair in love and war." Love is always fraudulent, war is always murderous, and politics always requires terror. In fact, the world the terrorists create has its entrances and exits; we don't always live there. If we want to understand the choice of terror, we have to imagine what must often occur (although we have no satisfactory record of this): A group of men and women, officials or activists, sits around a table and argues about whether or not to adopt a terrorist strategy. Later on, the litany of excuses obscures the argument. But at the time, around the table, it would have been of no use for defenders of terrorism to say, "Everybody does it," because they were face-to-face with people proposing to do something else. Terrorism commonly has its origins in arguments of this sort. Its first victims are the terrorists' former colleagues, the ones who said no to terrorism. What reason can we have for equating these two groups?
The fourth excuse plays on the notion of innocence. Of course, it is wrong to kill the innocent, but these victims aren't entirely innocent. They are the beneficiaries of oppression; they enjoy its tainted fruits. And so, while their murder isn't justifiable, it is ... understandable. What else could they expect? Well, the children among them, and even the adults, have every right to expect a long life like anyone else who isn't actively engaged in war or enslavement or ethnic cleansing or brutal political repression. This is called noncombatant immunity, the crucial principle not only of war but of any decent politics. Those who give it up for a moment of schadenfreude are not simply making excuses for terrorism; they have joined the ranks of terror's supporters.
The last excuse is the claim that all the obvious and conventionally endorsed responses to terror are somehow worse than terrorism itself. Any coercive political or military action is denounced as revenge, the end of civil liberty, the beginning of fascism. The only morally permitted response is to reconsider the policies that the terrorists claim to be attacking. Here, terrorism is viewed from the side of the victims as a kind of moral prompting: Oh, we should have thought of that!
I have heard all these excuses in the past few days--often expressed along with great indignation at the chorus of national unity and determination. But the last two have been the most common. We bomb Iraq, we support the Israelis, and we are the allies of repressive Arab regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. What else can we expect? Leave aside the exaggerated and distorted descriptions of American wickedness that underpin these excuses. There is a lot to criticize in our country's foreign policy over the past decades. Many of us on the American liberal-left have spent the bulk of our political lives opposing the use of violence by the U.S. government (though I and most of my friends supported the Gulf War, which ranks high in the standard version of the fourth excuse). As Americans, we have our own brutalities to answer for--as well as the brutalities of other states that we have armed and funded. None of this, however, excuses terrorism; none of it even makes terrorism morally understandable. Maybe psychologists have something to say on behalf of understanding. But the only political response to ideological fanatics and suicidal holy warriors is implacable opposition.