.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Lebanon?

I do not place much stock in anonymous Hezbollah terrorists, but this story is still interesting:
The cease-fire acted as a life jacket for the organization [at the end of the Second Lebanon War]," a Hizbullah officer said in an interview aired by Channel 10 on Tuesday. The officer shown on Channel 10 said the organization's gunmen had been running low on food and water and facing rapidly diminishing arms supplies.

In the interview, the unnamed officer said Hizbullah gunmen would have surrendered if the fighting last summer had continued for another 10 days.

The officer also said that many Hizbullah commanders were ordered to hide before the war started, and that the gunmen who remained were forced to fire Katyusha rockets from inside urban populations because of the IDF's efficiency in destroying launchers minutes after a launch had been detected.

He said that when the gunmen relocated to cities and villages, they knew innocent civilians would be hurt as a consequence.

The quick arrival of IAF jets at rocket-launch sites, sometimes only four to five minutes after a Katyusha was fired, "surprised" Hizbullah, the officer said.

If this is true, it is more evidence that stopping a war too soon is almost as bad as defeat.

A Psychological History of Palestinian Arabs, part 11

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
December, 1948 was notable for one other event: the passing of UN General Assembly Resolution 194. The non-binding resolution has been cited innumerable times by Arabs as the source for Israel's obligation to accept all Palestinian Arab refugees. It says nothing of the sort.

The resolution included a number of parts, none of which has ever been implemented:
  • Protection of all holy sites in the area and allowing free access,
  • Placing Jerusalem under UN control,
  • Allowing free access to all parts of Jerusalem by everybody,
  • And, most famously: "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

This paragraph does not only apply to Arab refugees but to Jews as well.

Throughout the succeeding decade, Israel steadfastly emphasized the section saying "refugees wishing to...live at peace with their neighbors" and the Arab world equally steadfastly ignored that phrase. Israel's position was that the Arabs who fled, by and large, were not willing to live in peace with a ruling Jewish government, and it felt that this provision could only be implemented in the context of a full and comprehensive peace plan with all neighboring Arab states. Not surprisingly, the Arabs rejected that interpretation.

Meanwhile, most of the Palestinian Arab refugees suffered at the hands of their respective host countries.

In 1949, the UN appointed an Economic Survey Mission to the area, headed by Gordon Clapp, former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Its findings suggested that the UN create a set of development and public works projects meant to employ Arab refugees, increase their standard of living, improve the economies of the host Arab countries and thereby increase the chances for peace. As a result, the UN created in December, 1950 the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, to implement these recommendations as well as to continue to provide direct aid to (Arab) refugees that had been done by other interim UN agencies.

In April, 1949, King Abdullah officially changed the name of his country to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, clearly planning to annex the West Bank and to implement his initial plans for a Greater Syria. Sure enough, a year later Jordan did annex the West Bank and offered citizenship to all the Palestinian Arab refugees in Jordan, making it the only Arab nation ever to offer citizenship to Palestinian Arabs.

Back in 1947, right before the UN partition vote, King Abdullah secretly met with Golda Meir and they agreed to a peace treaty and probably agreed to divide up the Arab partition of Palestine between them. This agreement was effectively abrogated when the Arab Legion attacked the new state of Israel as soon as it announced independence. Now, King Abdullah was unilaterally implementing his own annexation of part of Western Palestine, although almost no nations recognized this as legal.

It is not clear how ordinary Palestinian Arabs felt about being in the middle of all this political activity. Time magazine in 1949 stated that most Arab refugees had an "aversion" to returning to their homes similar to Jewish attitudes to returning to Europe. But by the early 1950s, the UNRWA reported that most Palestinian Arabs did want to return to their homes. Both accounts may be right.

From the Arab perspective, the UN Resolution 194 gave them a huge incentive to make Palestinian Arab lives miserable. The language states "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." This meant that the refugees who didn't want to return to their homes would have to settle in other Arab countries, something that the Arab leaders did not want. (Again, Jordan was the exception, willing to take in the Palestinians as long as it gained land as part of the deal.) The Arab leaders therefore dragged their feet in implementing any of the UNRWA suggestions on building up large public works projects, as the only possible result would be that the refugees would get more comfortable in their new lands and want to stay.

Even though they signed agreements with the UNRWA on development and employment programs for the Palestinians, the Arab states continuously opposed those same programs as being a back door through which Palestinians would be resettled in their lands. For its part, the UNRWA intended exactly that, as it deemed the chances of Israel allowing all the refugees back to be exceedingly low.

Palestinian Arab refugees who had wanted to move and start new lives in other Arab lands were forced to stay in near-starvation conditions in refugee camps - and were told by their Arab hosts that Israel had the sole responsibility for their well-being, and that they can only move back to Israel. Given such circumstances, it is no wonder that most Palestinian Arabs would choose to move to Israel rather than stay in refugee camps indefinitely.

The Arab states continued to use the Palestinian refugees as pawns in their attempts to destroy Israel. Even after Jordan offered citizenship to 500,000 refugees and their children, the Arab nations continued to lobby for Israel to repatriate them to Israel. The Arabs would also tell the UN, year after year, that Jewish immigration to Israel needed to be stopped, under the pretense of refugee welfare.

The UNRWA continued to try to build its public works program through the early 1950s but it met with little success as the Arab nations continued to stonewall. It had other formidable obstacles as well - many Palestinian Arabs would lie to census takers and "borrow" children from friends to increase their ration cards, and the UN had a very difficult time determining the number of refugees truly in need. UNRWA recognized in 1951 the efforts of organized "troublemakers" to try to indoctrinate the refugees, at that time with only limited success. There was also a concerted anti-UN campaign in the Arab world designed to hurt UNRWA, both in the press and from a series of bombings, which the UN believed to be centrally managed. The bulk of its budget came from the United States.

The Arab opposition to an economic solution to the Palestinian refugee problem meant that the UNRWA morphed from its original goal of using economic means to eliminate the refugee problem into an almost-purely aid organization. To facilitate its mandate to provide relief to the refugees, the UNRWA was forced to create a working definition of "refugee" that is totally at odds with any legal definition. While no official document defined them this way, the UNRWA working definition is "Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948."


When the UNRWA initially included children of refugees as being refugees themselves, it was no doubt for practical reasons as it ensured that they could continue their relief efforts. Over time, though, as no other definition surfaced, the UNRWA's working definition has taken on its own life and paradoxically it has ensured that the Palestinian "refugee" problem would only increase over time, as opposed to every other refugee problem in history.


The agency continued to try to provide jobs to Palestinian Arabs, and not surprisingly, the UNRWA hired many Arabs itself. This had the effect over time of turning the UNRWA from its original purpose of helping solve the refugee problem to one that more recently only helps perpetuate it, and the early warnings that it gave about the dangers of an entire people at the mercy of welfare has come true under its own watch. The Palestinian Arabs throughout the 1950s changed from a proud, independent people who wanted more than anything else to honorably raise their families into a defeated and despised people who were utterly dependent on outside, Western help just to eat.


Israel showed far more flexibility on the refugees than it is given credit for nowadays. Its first proposal, in mid-1949, was to act like Jordan intended - to annex Gaza and take responsibility for all 200,000 Gaza refugees, making them all citizens of Israel. This was rejected outright by the Arab nations.

Israel then proposed, in August 1949, to accept 100,000 Arab refugees (increasing its Arab population to 250,000) as long as this acceptance was part of a comprehensive solution to the refugee plight, including Arab resettlement of the remainder. This was also considered unacceptable to the Arabs. All Arab counterproposals involved either Israel accepting practically all refugees or Israel compensating the Arab nations with land in exchange for some responsibility for refugees.

There was a stark contrast between how Israel handled refugees from 1948 within its borders and how Arab nations handled their refugees. Israel ended up with some 48,000 refugees under UNRWA care within Israel's borders after the 1948 war (17,000 Jews and 31,000 displaced Arabs) by 1952 Israel agreed with UNRWA that its services would no longer be needed and the remaining refugees would be taken care of by Israel alone. The UN described Israel's feelings of taking handouts for its citizens, Jewish and Arab, as "repugnant."

Beyond that, Israel also allowed some 30,000 additional Arabs to come into Israel and become citizens as well, mostly in the interests of family unification. These 30,000 also became citizens and integrated into Israeli society. Israeli officials pointed out that if the Arab world would have accepted the same proportion of Arab refugees to their own population, there would have been no refugee problem at all.

Unfortunately for the Palestinian Arabs, such a solution was not forthcoming. Even many of the Jordanian refugees were kept in camps. Not only that, but continuous Arab incitement against Israel started raising up a rootless population indoctrinated in hate for the Jewish state, far beyond any antipathy the Palestinian Arabs felt towards Zionists before 1948.

Palestinian Arabs started terror attacks against Israel from neighboring states shortly after the war ended. The "Fedayeen" were actively supported by Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, although primarily trained by Egypt. Effectively, these Palestinian Arabs were encouraged to engage in a crime and terror campaign against Israel - the first raids were more aimed at stealing equipment than at murder, but by 1952 it had morphed into a full-blown terror campaign. More than 400 Israelis were killed and 900 injured during these terror operations from 1949-1956. The Egyptians did not deny their involvement behind these attacks, they even boasted about it in their media although the raids were in clear violation of the 1949 Armistice Agreement.

Iranians learning Hebrew, Israelis learning Farsi

From YNet:
The "intelligence war" between Iran and Israel is gaining momentum, as both countries' intelligence services are increasing efforts to recruit Hebrew and Farsi speakers to their ranks.

The Iranian regime needs Hebrew speakers to work as translators, intelligence agents and as part of its propaganda machine against Israel. The main source of Hebrew speakers is Palestinian students studying abroad or Palestinian terrorists sent for military training in Iran and Lebanon.

One of the most prominent centers for Hebrew studies is located at Iran's embassy in Beirut, where Hizbullah members learn Hebrew at the Islamic Culture and Education Center.

The embassy owns a vast library of Hebrew newspapers and books, including even children's' books. It was there that Hizbullah had trained, with the aid of Palestinians, a large group of fighters who were placed in charge of tapping Israeli communication systems, in a bid to collect intelligence on the "Zionist enemy" before and during the Second Lebanon War.

According to the Shin Bet, Israeli Arab students studying out of the country are an attractive target for Hizbullah, because it is easier for the organization to recruit and train them abroad.

Only recently a young Israeli Arab woman who was studying dentistry in Jordan was arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing on suspicion of collaborating with Hizbullah. The woman admitted in her investigation she was contacted by the group's agents in Amman and was offered to serve as its agent in Israel.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the Mossad has recently published an ad in the newspaper inviting Farsi speakers to apply for "an interesting, challenging position," which apparently includes listening in on Iranian transmissions and translating materials published in Iran.

For the rest of us, we have to survive using automated translation tools. Although the only Farsi-English tool I've seen is very poor.

Olmert crosses another Israeli "red line"

In diplomacy, one of the worst things you can do is abandon your principles, even for a second. Once you allow even a theoretical exception to a previously iron-clad rule, there is no going back.

There was a time when Israel referred to the territories, consistently, as "disputed" and not "occupied." There is a major difference between the two in international law and Israel was on unpopular but strong legal ground to maintain that position - and the US supported it. Sharon's and Olmert's rush to abandon the territories and evacuate all Jews has fatally undermined that policy, and one hardly hears the word "disputed" anymore from Israeli officials. As a result, Israel's attempts to hold on to large settlement blocs while giving up most of the territory has no legal basis whatsoever, and relies entirely on nonexistent Palestinian Arab and "good faith."

There was a time when Israel could tell the world unambiguously that Jerusalem was its undivided, eternal capital. Then Ehud Barak, now considered one of the more hawkish members of Olmert's government, offered to share Jerusalem with Yasir Arafat. It may have been under very a specific context but that is irrelevant now - the issue of Jerusalem is considered "negotiable" forever.

One after another, red lines have fallen. Paradoxically, these falling red lines have worked against any chances of peace, as they strengthen the resolve of Israel's enemies towards the next set of red lines.

The latest red line was Olmert's seemingly symbolic allowance of 41 Iraqis who consider themselves Palestinian (appears that they have never lived there themselves) to immigrate into the West Bank. This "goodwill gesture" crosses yet another red line in longstanding Israeli policy, and rather than promoting peace, it gives the PalArab "right of return" legitimacy - it strengthens the Arab "red line" on not allowing Palestinian Arabs, even after many generations, to ever integrate into any other society:
The minister of information of the caretaker government, Riyad Maliki, on Monday stated that he views the return of the 41 Palestinian refugees from Iraq as a first step in the return of all of the Palestinian refugees in Iraq to the West Bank.

Speaking from Cairo to Ma'an, he stated that the Palestinian government is to pursue the issue and to make the necessary consultations with the Israeli government to persuade it to let all of the 18,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq return.

The minister was glad to announce that he "succeeded in returning part of them," adding that the government is doing everything in its power to relocate all of the refugees to the West Bank.
Ironically, not only does this hurt Israel immeasurably, but it also hurts the millions of so-called Palestinians who live in Arab countries as their chances of ever becoming citizens have just dropped even further: the Arab governments can continue to wash their hands of any responsibility for the events of 1948, now that Israel has symbolically taken that same responsibility.

A goodwill gesture has no legal or political benefits, and its only possible wishful reciprocal benefits evaporate almost immediately. But the negative repercussions from such gestures can last forever.

A wise leader would know this.

Freedom of the press, PalArab style (VI)

On Monday, Hamas tried to show its best face to foreign journalists:
'Gaza today is better,' Ismail Haniyeh, still calling himself Palestinian prime minister, told dozens of foreign reporters who joined a bus tour of the coastal enclave that took in a prison, a church, border posts and security installations.


'But the strangling siege ... has affected Gaza very much,' he added, two days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice embarks on a new round of peace diplomacy in Israel and the West Bank. 'I hope on your visit you have seen the suffering and will convey to the world the reality of the suffering.'
...

A Hamas official, acting as tour guide, drove home the point the party wished to make: 'You can see now Gaza is more calm,' he said as the buses drove through Gaza. 'Everywhere in Gaza is under control. Everyone bids you welcome. You can go anywhere.'

Journalists were shown round a prison which once housed Hamas political prisoners and now, Hamas officials said, houses only common criminals who in turn spoke well of their treatment.


One said he was serving six months for drug offences but he expected remission for learning to recite from the Koran.

But at the same time, Hamas was seizing newspapers that it didn't think were pro-Hamas enough:

Hamas militiamen on Monday prevented the distribution of three Fatah-affiliated newspapers in the Gaza Strip and briefly detained the local agents of the dailies.

This is the first time that the newspapers, published in the West Bank, were prevented from distribution in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian journalists said thousands of copies from the three newspapers were seized by Hamas's paramilitary Executive Force on the Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing. The newspapers were taken aboard a truck to a Hamas security installation nearby in the town of Beit Hanan.

According to the journalists, six Palestinians working for the newspapers were detained by Hamas for questioning. Two of them, Hatem Kishawi and Samir Jaber, work for the Fatah-controlled Al-Ayyam, which serves as a mouthpiece for the Palestinian Authority. The other four work for the PA-funded Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda and Al-Quds, a pro-Fatah newspaper owned by a family from east Jerusalem.

Islam Shahwan, spokesman for the Executive Force, announced that the move was aimed at sending a warning to the newspapers to stop inciting against his force and Hamas. "They are publishing many lies about Hamas and the Executive Force," he charged. "In addition, they are ignoring the achievements of the Executive Force in imposing law and order in the Gaza Strip."

The three newspapers have been highly critical of Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip and have openly supported Fatah in its power struggle with the Islamist movement.

Some Hamas leaders recently called for banning the distribution of the newspapers in the Gaza Strip because of their anti-Hamas stance and in response to the PA's ongoing crackdown on Hamas figures and institutions in the West Bank.

Hamas's capture of the Gaza Strip has forced most Palestinian journalists and editors there to toe the line and refrain from criticizing the Islamist movement.

Gaza-based news Web sites that were once critical of Hamas have begun publishing stories that reflect negatively on Fatah.

Then again, why shouldn't Hamas try to control the news? Hezbollah managed quite well last summer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The most '60s song

I was just on hold waiting for some technical support and I heard Red Rubber Ball by The Cyrkle. It made me wonder what song is most emblematic of the '60s - the song that when you hear it you are instantly transported back to that era, not necessarily the most popular song of that time. And maybe not even a song you like - for example,the awful Convoy might be very representative of the '70s.

My vote would go to Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock.

At the risk of looking like a blogger just trolling for comments...what do you think?

The IDF's miserable hasbara failure

Here's the text of a letter sent to the IDF by Omedia:

To: Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, IDF Chief of Staff

From: The Omedia Editorial Board

Subject: Information Failure – A Danger to Israel

July 15, 2007

Dear Sir,

Countless words have been written on the importance of Israel's information policy. The State Comptroller's report of 2002 proclaimed the need for a new media doctrine and noted the dangers inherent in the IDF's fixed mindset. In recent years information has become one of the primary arenas on the new battlefield, an arena that can strengthen or weaken Israel's legitimacy around the world.

Despite the tumultuous warnings it seems nothing has been learned – neither from the Intifada nor even the Second Lebanon War. Omedia's monitoring of military information policy consistently reveals a severe failure in the IDF Spokesperson's approach to the information field, both in managing data and failing to implement lessons learned so far.

A representative study we conducted (attached in an appendix to this letter) yielded the following findings:

  1. The IDF Spokesperson is not utilizing the Internet as an essential information tool: It has no information infrastructure, has no ready material on its various activities, is negligent in supplying data concerning the Intifada and the recent war and translation into English is of poor quality. The IDF Spokesperson's website is updated with laconic messages, no more, and is far from meeting media standards, even compared to websites run by Palestinian terror organizations – both in terms of information provided and update frequency.
  1. There is no professional response to journalistic queries: The slow response to information requests from the IDF Spokesman's Unit is detrimental to military interests. As part of this failing, the IDF does not provide data, tables, and figures concerning the conflict. The result: the system lacks credibility.
  1. There is no IDF website in Arabic: This is tantamount to ignoring a major audience in the battle. In contrast, note the success of the Foreign Ministry's Arabic and Persian websites.

Here are a numbers of recent examples, conveying the scope of this failure:

1. Having been unable to find any data or photo (posted by the IDF) concerning Bil'in on the Internet, we approached the IDF Spokesperson for background material: documentation, photos, numbers, data – whatever the unit could provide in writing on the Palestinian village. Our goal was to try and counter accusations the IDF has been using "deliberate violence." The IDF took 11 days to answer our questions. The reply included a few poor-quality photos unworthy of publication. The IDF provided us with little information on the matter, contenting itself with a short, laconic table concerning the dates of the protests, the number of protestors and a three-word note whether IDF forces were injured or not. The IDF admitted it did not think of sending documentation teams and professional photographers to capture the protestors injuring soldiers. The IDF Spokesperson only sent in unskilled NCOs.

2. An Omedia representative approached the IDF requesting information on Qassam strikes inside Israel – how many rockets landed within Israel, how many injuries they caused, how many civilian structures were damaged, etc. It took seven days of work and dozens of phone calls to receive a partial and ineffective list. Despite years of rocket attacks the IDF website has never – including now – posted any information about it.

3. Our representative approached the IDF Spokesperson to request an up-to-date photo of the Head of the Intelligence Directorate for an article to be written in cooperation with a foreign newspaper. A soldier of the unit referred us to Google, and noted that the IDF has no picture available. Needless to say that no picture worthy of publishing was found on the IDF Spokesperson's website.

4. A recently published report by Amnesty International lodges harsh criticism of IDF soldiers. No official response by the IDF was found on the Internet, so the organization's remarks are perceived as unvarnished "truth." Was the IDF unready for the publication of the report? And if it was, why is there no available information on the matter?

5. Tables and data concerning thwarted terror attacks in recent years, the numbers of injured, casualties, the identity of the Palestinian terrorists – does not exist on the IDF website. The website is only up-to-date as of 2005. Following a request to the IDF Spokesperson, a few details were updated, and months later, nothing has essentially changed.

6. The IDF website has no historical material on the start of the second Intifada. No tables or presentations, no summaries or messages.

Conclusions

1. It seems the IDF Spokesperson's Unit must be swiftly converted to a new technological age, providing information rather than merely responding, serving as an "independent news agency" rather than providing only short, laconic messages and demonstrating an ability to stand up to the information deluge produced by the enemy and cope with a situation that places the very legitimacy of the State of Israel's existence at risk.

2. A new IDF Spokesperson's website will soon be posted. But it is not enough to make it look enticing – there must be a comprehensive information revolution in the IDF Spokesperson's unit.

Omedia intends to continue reporting on this matter and providing follow-ups.

Furthermore, on all the above issues, the IDF provided explanations but did not remedy the faults in practice.

Sincerely,

The Omedia Editorial Board

cc:

  • State Comptroller Judge Micha Lindenstrauss
  • The Winograd Commission
  • Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai
  • The Military Aide to the Prime Minister
  • IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Miri Regev
  • Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
This is right on the money. I don't want to be the one who keeps track of Qassam rockets - the IDF should be. The silence on Bil'in, the Amnesty report and other failures show that the IDF is woefully incompetent at publicizing its side of the story. Even last year I found myself posting - and editing - IDF videos to YouTube because they would only work with certain browsers and most people couldn't view them.

The IDF should not rely on amateur bloggers, sympathetic columnists and Google to provide hasbara. I hope that Omedia keeps pressuring the IDF on this issue.

The extremism and bigotry of PA "moderates"

One never hears the word "extremist" associated with the Fatah-led PA West Bank government. That word is relegated to Israeli settlers and groups like Islamic Jihad. In the Western media, the PA is uniformly considered "moderate."

There has been a lot of press lately about (possibly illegal) PA "prime minister" Fayyad taking the word "resistance" out of the PA cabinet platform:
Radical groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad Sunday accused moderate Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of abandoning Palestinian "resistance" by omitting mention of it from his cabinet program.

The Fayyad government "has abandoned the mother of all principles of the Palestinian people, accepted and recognized by everybody," the groups said in a statement.

Fayyad, a respected economist and former employee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, was appointed to head the Palestinian cabinet after the Islamist Hamas overran the Gaza Strip in a bloody takeover June 15.

The cabinet program, which was published over the weekend, does not contain the term "resistance," used by the Palestinians to describe armed struggle against Israeli occupation.

The term was included in the program of the previous Palestinian cabinet headed by Hamas premier Ismail Haniya.

The text says that among the top priorities of the government will be "working to put an end to the occupation, and to create an independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on all lands occupied in 1967."

The two groups railed against the omission of the term.

"This condemnable position shows the true face of this government and of its members, who have abandoned the resistance, the blood and the suffering of the wounded and prisoners."

The statement said the cabinet took such action "with the aim of satisfying the Zionist enemy and the biggest devil in the world, America, and to receive dollars."
Certainly, compared to what Islamic Jihad is saying, the PA position is more moderate. But is it truly moderate?

Fayyad is unquestionably the most reasonable Palestinian Arab ever to gain a position of power, even if large numbers of PalArabs do not accept his unelected position. Even so, his platform is the non-starter of evicting some 475,000 Jews from Israel and the West Bank (this number includes Jews in the Jerusalem area that Israel never counts in its census of "settlers.") For some reason, the forced transfer of nearly a half-million Jews is not considered an "extremist" position by the international community.

The equally "moderate" Mustafa Barghouti, who has fought passionately against Fatah corruption, has this to say:
Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghuothi the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative faction confirmed today that the Israeli allegations of the peace initiative are simply deceiving. Adding, it is just another way of by passing the final status of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The Palestinian official said that no Palestinian will accept the creation of a Palestinian state, without sovereignty over Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. He also reiterated the hazards of creating a Palestinian temporary state, without the dismantling of all illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank in addition to the Israeli withdrawal of all the lands it occupied in 1967. The new Israeli peace plan according to Al-Barghuothi is meant to disrupt the idea of an independent Palestinian state turning it to cantons, following example of the South African apartheid regime.

Al-Barghuothi pointed out that Bush was convening an international meeting and not an international peace conference, highlighting the most serious campaign statements made by Bush and Olmert in an attempt to separate the Palestinian state on the final issue. This will mean converting a fully sovereign Palestinian state into a state within temporary boarders.[sic]
Fayyad's statement is a platform, but Barghouti's statement is far stronger - he self-righteously declares that "no Palestinian" would accept a state without these maximal demands being fulfilled. This does not leave any room for compromise, and it is the exact opposite of moderate. (I would love to see a poll of real PalArabs that asks them this question.)

The gap between the most liberal PalArabs and the real world is huge, and the most moderate of them explicitly advocate a racist state that they do not want to set up until the area is ethnically cleansed of all vestiges of Jews - exactly how Jordan treated the area in 1948-49. Except in 1948, there were some 17,000 Jews expelled from Arab areas, and today's "moderates" want to see 475,000 of them forcibly evicted - a number not too much lower than the entire number of Palestinian Arab refugees in 1948.

Why does the free world choose to ignore the explicit and admitted racism and bigotry of these so-called "moderates"? Why does Israel itself choose to prop up people who will tell anyone willing to listen that their red-line demands are not "only" the settlers, but also most of the Jews living in the Jerusalem area?

UPDATE:
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has said Palestinians have a legitimate right to resist Israeli occupation, even if the phrase does not appear in his new government program.

"We are certainly an occupied people and resistance is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people as an occupied people," Fayyad told reporters in Cairo, where he is leading the Palestinian delegation to an Arab League meeting on Monday.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gaza - the new Riviera?

The Hamas tourism industry has its job cut out for it:
If you think of the Gaza Strip as a volatile, violent battleground run by fanatic Islamist militants bent on destroying Israel, Hamas wants you to think again.

Think: "Safe, clean and green."

One month after seizing the Gaza Strip in a military rout that shattered brittle Palestinian unity, Hamas is embarking on a radical marketing campaign to promote what it calls "the new face of Gaza."

They call it the "Gaza Riviera."

Lime-green Hamas banners flutter over Gaza City with a message in English for aid workers and journalists worried about being kidnapped: "No more threat for our foreign visitors and guests."

I wonder what Gilad Shalit has to say about that.

Bearded gunmen in blue-gray camouflage uniforms who helped seize control of Gaza now rush to settle routine neighborhood squabbles and family disputes.

Once-deserted Mediterranean beaches now are filled with dozens of families holding picnics to escape the summer heat until long after midnight.

Monday, Hamas is planning to take journalists on a special tour, from the packed beaches to the bullet-scarred security compounds its Islamist fighters overran last month when they ousted Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"This is our new Riviera," boasted Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. "This is the most secure period in the history of Gaza."

Let's just ignore the time periods from 1967-1989 and 1993-2000, shall we?


Using a mix of military force and political persuasion, Hamas has succeeded in creating a sense of safety in the Gaza Strip. But many Palestinians don't believe this quiet will last long.

Sitting on a southern Gaza Strip beach, Ahmed Yousef, the Hamas leader behind the "safe, clean and green" slogan, said his group has no plans to impose strict Islamic rule on the 1.5 million residents.

"If we succeed here, the people in the West Bank will keep looking to this model," Yousef said. "We don't want to promote the way of the Taliban."

Another article about the new beach culture in Gaza adds a telling detail:

Still, there is enough business for at least one boutique hotel, designed to resemble a Moroccan villa. The Al Deira hotel offers spectacular sunset views and wireless Internet service on the grand terrace, but no meaningful mini-bar in the rooms, because alcohol is banned.
I guess Hamas' definition of "strict Islamic rule" is a little different from most Westerners'.

But I wish them luck. I can't wait to see thousands of Hamas sympathizers from the ISM, UK professors and MPs and other "progressive" groups change their vacation plans to go to the new Riviera in Gaza. Seeing them frolicking in the waves, covered in their burqas, will do wonders for the Hamas tourism industry. After all, we know that they are ideologically aligned with Hamas' misogynistic, repressive, pro-gun, anti-gay and anti-alcohol agenda, and that their support for Hamas has nothing to do with anti-semitism.

(H/T: Zionist Spy)

Google News seems to have removed "The People's Voice"

The last time this happened it was short-lived, but the "People's Voice" hate site seems to have been de-listed by Google News since our last posting highlighting yet another anti-semitic article published there.

A tiny victory, that I don't expect to last, but thanks to those who complained to Google and especially to joem at discarded lies who publicized the issue.

Breathtaking stupidity by the US

Ha'aretz published an editorial saying that "everybody wins" with the US decision to sell $20 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia and to increase defense aid to Israel to maintain Israel's military edge.

While Ha'aretz is perhaps right in the sense that Israel could not have successfully opposed the Saudi deal, this is hardly a "win."

Events over the past twelve months in Israel show how the next Arab/Israeli war is likely to play out, and by any reasonable measure this "evenhanded" arms sale is only a "win" for US defense contractors.

The Hamas coup in Gaza shows the fragility not only of the pseudo-moderate Fatah but also the strength of the fundamentalists, not only in the territories but throughout the Arab world. Saudi Arabia's royalty may be cozy with the US today but her citizens are most assuredly not. The House of Saud maintains order with repression (and a bit of bribery), and it encourages terror against other nations implicitly by continuously exporting Wahhabi-fundamentalism to mosques and schools worldwide.

The putative reason for arming the regime is to act as a counterbalance against Iran, but the lazy Saudis can't even maintain their own society without importing workers - they have no fighting ability to speak of, no matter how many high-tech weapons they have. It is also far from clear that in the case of a larger conflict between Iran and the West whose side their soldiers would be on.

It is very possible that the arms Saudi Arabia are receiving will only be used by terrorists.

The reason Hezbollah is thought to have "won" last summer's war is because the goal was not to defeat Israel but to hurt her, with rockets. This is the nature of an asymmetric conflict, where the nation who cares about its civilians is at an automatic disadvantage and international law only ends up hurting the nations that care about collateral damage. It is simply impossible to defend a nation against$20 billion of weapons in the hands of jihadists next door. There is no such thing as a "qualitative" advantage in an asymmetric war.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will never use these weapons in any way that the US intends. But it is, unfortunately, likely that the weapons will be used.

This weekend's Gaza honor killing

It is so nice to see that Gaza has turned into such a calm place since Hamas took over. It used to be that most of the people killed were young jihadists, now they are mostly young women, and everyone knows that their lives aren't worth much:
The corpse of a Palestinian woman in her twenties was found in the Al Bureij area of the central Gaza Strip with numerous knife gashes on Saturday.

Palestinian medical sources stated that the corpse was delivered to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital for examination.
As we saw last week, the "examination" will concentrate on determining the victim's lack of virginity, at which time everyone will be satisfied that justice was served.

Our PalArab self-death count for the year climbs up to 493.

UPDATE:
An officer in the Palestinian intelligence services was killed Monday in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Eyewitnesses and medical sources said Ismail Mashoukhi, 35, appeared to have been tortured.
494.

UPDATE 2:
23-year old man murdered near Qalqiya. 495.
UPDATE 3:
A 38-year old assassinated near Gaza City. 496.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fatah shows its appreciation for Israel releasing terrorists

The "goodwill gesture" just keeps giving and giving - almost like a cycle of generosity. Today, grateful Fatah members tried to shoot mortars at Israeli towns from Gaza. Thoughtfully, Israel responded back with its own special brand of love, as Ma'an nicely put it:
The Israeli forces on Saturday killed two members of Fatah's military wing, the Al Aqsa Brigades, while they were en route to carry out a shelling operation targeting Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian medical sources stated that 24-year-old Yahya Barakat and Tamir Al-Khatib, aged 23, were assassinated by Israeli soldiers near the former Israeli settlement in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip.

The spokesperson of the Al Aqsa Brigades told Ma'an that the two activists were on a "jihad" mission; they were going to launch mortar shells at Israel from Gaza.
And as we all know, "jihad" means an internal struggle for good.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still working on next PalArab history post

I find myself with less and less free time, but I am still working on the Psychological History of Palestinian Arabs series.

Today I have been researching the UN's role during the 1950s and it is fascinating. The UN at the time did make an honest effort to solve the refugee problem in very fair and realistic ways, and was stymied by a combination of Arab intransigence and Palestinian Arab fantasies about returning to their homes (stoked by the Arabs who didn't want them).

The UNRWA stands for UN Relief and Works Agency, and the "Works" was the important part initially - it was meant to create a Marshall Plan for the Middle East where work projects would provide jobs to Palestinian Arab refugees and also pump up the Arab economies so they could afford to absorb a majority of them. In classical Western style, the UN tried to create a win/win situation, thinking naively that a solution where everyone ends up ahead is something that the Arab countries would embrace as well. The UNRWA only intended to provide relief for a short time while the Palestinian Arabs would resettle or repatriate.

They didn't count on Arab hatred for Israel as well as Arab hatred of their Palestinian brethren, who reminded them of their own impotence in 1948. Even as late as 1959, the Arabs were complaining to the UN about Jewish immigration into Israel! They said that this was "the principal factor which has been the source of danger and anxiety in Palestine for the past thirty years", neatly blaming Jewish immigration for the 1929 Arab riots and every Arab atrocity since then.

Some time during the next couple of decades, the UNRWA was going to turn into a self-perpetuating terrorist-supporting entity, but during its first ten years it did not reflexively take the Arab side and it really tried to solve the refugee problem.

Israel saving the world - again

From AP:
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced plans to buy enough electricity to power 400,000 homes from a massive solar park covering up to nine square miles (23 square kilometers) in California's Mojave Desert.

The San Francisco-based utility signed a 25-year contract with Solel Solar Systems, based in Beit Shemesh, Israel, to purchase 553 megawatts of electricity — equivalent to the amount generated by a large coal-fired power plant. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Mojave Solar Park, estimated to cost $2 billion, would dwarf the largest solar plants operating today, which generate less than 100 megawatts of electricity.

Solel, which would build and operate the park, still needs approval from California's Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission and other state and local agencies. But Solel and PG&E officials said they were confident state regulators would support the project because it would help California reach its clean-energy goals.

"Preliminary research suggests the environmental impact will be minimal," Keely Wachs, a spokesman for PG&E, said Wednesday. The utility supplies electricity to 5.1 million customers in northern and central California.

This is not one of those flashy but tiny solar power plants - this is the equivalent of a good-sized traditional power plant.

No pollution and no lining the pockets of people who support terrorists - what's not to love?

And the fact that Solel is based out of Beit Shemesh is too funny. (For the Hebrew challenged, "shemesh" means "sun.")

Al-Ahram weighs in on "Jewish psychosis"

As someone who pretends to be able to examine the Arab psyche, it is always interesting to see how intellectual Arabs examine the Jewish psyche. Turnabout is fair play, right?

From a Ph.D. in political science from Oxford, in Egypt's Al-Ahram, comes a typically rambling article, complete with incoherent examples and some hilarious asides. First, he sets the mood to show that he is smarter than the typical reader, to soften them up with his brilliance:
The closing of the Jewish mind
How long will Jewish psychosis be tolerated, even vaunted, and its brutal consequences ignored, asks Issa Khalaf*

O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!

-- John Milton, Samson Agonistes (1671)

In March of last year I wrote, in other pages, that: "The events overtaking Palestine are eerily reminiscent of 1948. Unfolding today in the occupied territories is another disaster of historic proportions, evocative of Nietzsche's eternal recurrence. Israeli expansion, colonisation and consolidation of what is left of historic Palestine are reaching a culmination in the next several years. The Israeli goal, short of another 1948 or 1967- like event that would provide cover for further mass expulsions, is the complete political and social annihilation of Palestinian will and society... "

The Zionist programme to overtake the land and empty it of its indigenous people is so relentless and uncompromising, so openly implemented, so strikingly lacking in decency and humanity, that I'm trumped for categories to explain it. ...

Then he slowly builds what he believes is a thesis, and the projection of his attitudes on his enemies is really funny to watch:
I'm inclined to think that the worst is brought out in the American imperial impulse by Zionist organisations. Though the application of imperial power is conceivably tempered by pragmatism and calculations of self-interest and the need for stability, which would include the resolution of regional conflicts on a reasonably equitable basis, Palestine is an exception. Apparently, nothing short of complete surrender will satiate Jewish Israelis and the organised American Jewish community, who've managed to make US Middle East policy an extension of themselves and render synonymous in the American mind and institutions US and Israeli needs and interests -- and even then the Palestinians or Arabs will not appease them....

The result is a chronic American Jewish inability to see Arabs and Palestinians in all their complex humanity. Instead, Arabs are distant myths and images; culturally defective Muslims, unreformed savages and anti-semites ruled by their passions of hate, the only legitimate response to whom is crushing violence. What otherwise explains the shrieking escalation of the creed "Israel right or wrong," the infinite desire to satisfy Israel's every need, to achieve totalitarian conformity in support of it even if the consequences include taking the world down with it?

...And there were these two: a Jewish man and his college-age daughter, sitting atop a picnic table, each facing opposite directions, bracing and balancing each other with their backs. I observed them with fascination as Ashrawi spoke, including their expressions and almost unconscious, incoherent mumbling and heckling as they rocked back and forth like an agitated seesaw, furiously chewing gum throughout a long talk, livid as they listened to Ashrawi say, well, virtually nothing about Palestine. I realised then the profound shutdown of the American Jewish mind.

...This episode for me is a metaphor for self-fulfilling tragedy. I decided then there was nothing at this moment in history that could be done to rectify a yawning myopia. ... The Holocaust, always replayed and pushed on Western publics, is corrupted and appropriated by narrow ethnic imperatives. A persecuted people persecuted no more seem to have lost their senses, so fossilised are they in their Shoah, the culminating event of Jewish history. Compassion, remorse, guilt for the Palestinians eludes them.

I wonder how the millions who died in the Nazi death camps would perceive the new, defiant, death- insensate Israeli Jew, forged through this sanctified entity called Israel, "purifying" others like animals.

How long is one to extend sympathy to Jewish psychosis in the face of this obvious self-righteous folly? Neither American Jews nor Israeli Jews, brilliant people overall, seem capable of understanding outside themselves, so gripped are they with the rectitude of their own past suffering. There is perhaps nothing more noxious than Jewish assumption of morality in the context of obscene inhumanity towards victimised Palestinians. No, I don't believe Zionist Jews who unqualifiedly support Israel can speak with authority on this issue, despite the illusion of a superior Jewish morality.

...As I've previously argued in this newspaper, in the face of such power and influence -- and as truly tenuous, illusory and counterproductive this power may ultimately be -- rationality is all but lost. Power is used to impose a Jewish-Zionist defined reality, particular to its own perceptions and experiences and histories and psychologies, forcefully disengaged, oblivious, from others, ignoring actualities for the sake of chasing illusion, confusing rationalisation for rationality. It perpetuates delusions, choking a group's ability to see themselves as others experience them. Because of this distortion, action and its consequences remain devoid of introspection, humanity and reason. Cruelty is sanctified; imagination is impaired. The essential outcome, in the context of a narrow ethno-religious identity and messianic nationalism and militarism, is a most dangerous and fatal blindness.

The Palestinians are strikingly unburdened by the pathologies of their oppressors, not least of all because they do not reciprocate their occupier's widespread racism. Their responses to their sadistic dispossession and unbearable suffering run the gamut from peaceful to violent resistance, including the desperate barbarity of suicide bombings. Yet unlike their tormentors, they've not lost their humanity and essential decency, their acceptance of their enemy's humanity, their cultural generosity of spirit and life, their respect for the sacredness of all life, their sanity. I can't imagine that Palestinian soldiers would cruelly and coolly remain unmoved -- devoid of an abiding sense of rescue -- by a Jewish mother dying in her house as her children watched in fear and horror.

...My hope is dimmed, as Milton's words were meant to evoke.
Sure, Palestinian Arabs can send in suicide bombs to blow up women and children - but they are really decent people! Unlike the psychotic Jews!

The whole thing should really be read as a classic example of rabid anti-semitism and Arab projection of their own attitudes disguised as Arab intellectualism. The readers of Al-Ahram can find a pseudo-scholarly, quasi-rational basis for the hatred they already have towards Jews and everyone is happy.

And if you think that my last sentence is just a different manifestation of the generalizations that this author is applying to Jews, remember that last year's Pew global research study found that 97% of Egyptians had "unfavorable" opinions towards Jews, worse that any other country besides that other moderate state of Jordan.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gazans happy three girls are dead

A followup on the three sisters killed in Gaza over the weekend, from Newsweek:
When I asked him about the case of the Juha sisters, he grimaced and seemed almost as dismissive as his counterparts from Hamas. "Look, we have information from intelligence sources that they have been committing sins," the attorney general explained. He told me that he had taken a personal interest in the case, and ordered "forensic work" to be done on the bodies. "After the work was done, it was determined that they were not virgins," he continued. "We could detect that there were recent sexual relationships." He lifted his hands and cocked his head, as if to say: case closed. "Of course, this is not a pretext to kill them," he added. "Nobody is allowed to take the law into his own hands." The attorney general sounded very much like he was trying to convince himself.

After two days of asking around about the case, I realized that I knew almost nothing solid about the lives of the three young women. I stopped by the apartment complex where they had lived, a split-level gray cinderblock structure in the heart of Gaza City. A neighbor who identified himself as Abu Ahmad said that the three had lived alone; their father had died years before of a heart attack, an older brother had been killed as an Israeli collaborator in the 1990s, and their mother had also been murdered. "They used to talk to boys in the street," the neighbor recalled. "They used to go without a headscarf. Now we're rid of them." Relatives I visited were no more helpful or sympathetic. Not a single family member was willing to talk about the girls. Mahmoud Juha, the family mukhtar—the head of the clan—explained that he would have nothing to say about the young women or their murders. When we stopped by his home, he told my translator firmly: "I advise you not to talk to anyone else."

The article shows that both Fatah and Hamas members are equally blasé about the murders.

If you are a non-virgin single girl in the Palestinian territories, you very well may get killed.

UPDATE: An-Najah student dies of wounds from intra-university fighting earlier this week. The PalArab self-death count for the year is at 492.

Harry Potter, Zionist Plot

You just knew this would happen.

From MEMRI blog:
In an article, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is identified with Iranian Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei, criticized Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry for approving the distribution of the new book in the "Harry Potter" series.

The paper said that "Harry Potter" was a Zionist project in which billions of dollars had been invested in order to disrupt the minds of young people.

Source: Kayhan, Iran, July 26, 2007

Congress tried to stop UNRWA support for terror in 1961

I just stumbled across a fascinating tidbit of American history.
In section 301(c) of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act (PL 87-195) as amended, Congress has directed that "No contributions by the United States shall be made to [UNRWA] except on the condition that [UNRWA] take all possible measures to assure that no part of the United States contribution shall be used to furnish assistance to any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerrilla type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism."
Apparently, organized Palestinian Arab terror predated the PLO by a few years, enough so for the US to recognize that it was potentially funding terror by funding the UNRWA.

In 2003, this law was dusted off and the General Accounting Office started making reports as to whether UNRWA funds are going to terrorists. So far, from what I can tell, the results have officially been too inconclusive (or perhaps politically inconvenient) for them to make that determination, so the funding continues. UNRWA's response was pretty much "hey, we don't ask the people we help if they are terrorists." But from the definition above, even that is inadequate - the law stipulates that the UNRWA take "all possible measures" to assure that no "refugees" who are members of terror groups get any help.

In addition, Israel informed the US of actual employees of UNRWA who had been convicted of terror activities, and while it is noted in GAO attachment 5, it did not stop the US from continuing to fund UNRWA.

It seems pretty clear that by continuing to fund UNRWA, the US is effectively breaking its own laws.

I wonder if anyone is looking at Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon to see if their members were getting aid through UNRWA.

Today's anti-semitism in The People's Voice

Fans of the People's Voice - get ready to cry about "censorship" again, as I reveal yet another piece of Jew-hating filth on its Google News-indexed website:
Abe Foxman's outrage at Catholic prayer for his conversion candidly expresses his Jewish attitude toward the basic heart of Christianity. He is threatened and incensed that some believe (and dare to say) we all--Jew and Gentile, male and female, foolish and wise--must convert and become like small children, humbly trusting the mercy of our Maker to be saved from sin. In a word, he is outraged by Christ.

To unconverted Jews like Foxman, the gospels are every bit as abhorrent as the Catholic mass. In their minds, the apostle Paul is a traitor who deserved his persecution. In reality, Paul deeply and tenderly loved his Jewish brothers and sisters. Witness his heartbroken words, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh..." ( Rom. 9:2,3)

Before Christ confronted him on the road to Damascus , Paul acted as a sincere Jew ... by persecuting Christians. Afterward he acted as a sincere Christian, by peacefully and zealously preaching for the conversion of eternal souls, whether carried by Jewish or Gentile bodies. If you sincerely believe Christ is our only hope against God's scorching anger, you can do no less! For his trouble, Paul was mobbed, flogged, imprisoned, and driven through countless hardships.

Today, the message Paul spread in self-sacrificing love is treated as hate speech by Abe Foxman and other activist Jews. If the ADL succeeds with hate crime legislation, all Christians who express such "hateful" concern--who witness to the most central heart of our faith, as compelled by conscience--will be locked up and silenced.

Through hate crime laws, modern, organized Jewry (led by ADL/B'nai B'rith) thus seeks to excommunicate Christianity from public life. Catholics are the first target, because they are in some ways the easiest. They are lesser in number than evangelicals. They have been historically plagued with scandals and abuses of power. They hold some beliefs considered odd even by other Christian denominations.

But--most galling--Catholics have frequently been the only Christian source of real criticism of Zionism, the state of Israel , western Jewish activism, and the neocons' Mideast war agenda. As Catholics are targeted, evangelicals should not feel safe. The moment they awaken to the real nature of racist, Christ-persecuting Talmudic Judaism--and speak against it--they too will be called the enemy.

Previous examples of outright anti-semitism at TPV can be seen here, here and here. A previous complaint to Google News resulted in the de-indexing of a single article, and for a couple of days the site wasn't indexed altogether but Google relented when the nutcases complained.

If you want to complain to Google about indexing this filth, click here.

UK inching towards Hamas acceptance

In the Guardian today, Ismail Haniyeh states that Britain has increased diplomatic ties with Hamas:
The British government has expanded its links with Hamas in recent weeks, according to the militant organisation's leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

Mr Haniyeh, who was the Palestinian prime minister until last month, claims that contacts between Hamas and Britain have increased since they worked together to free Alan Johnston, the BBC Gaza correspondent, who was held captive in Gaza for almost four months.

"I cannot deny that there are now other contacts, other channels of communication with the UK and these involve people of high rank, although I am not personally involved," he claimed in an interview with the Guardian.

"The main aim of the contacts is to improve our democracy and governance. This is just part of the many contacts that are going on with other governments around the world."

He added that Britain wanted to keep the contacts secret.

Officials at the Foreign Office and the British consulate in Jerusalem denied that there had been political links with Hamas and insisted that any contacts had been purely "humanitarian and consular". They said it was possible that Mr Haniyeh had misunderstood the work of British non-governmental organisations such as Forward Thinking and Conflicts Forum, which have established contacts with Hamas. Both groups work with former government advisers and civil servants and members of the House of Lords.

Actually, Conflicts Forum includes a member of the House of Lords.

Conflicts Forum is interesting from another perspective. It recognizes that Islam is political Islam, and wants to talk with both "non-violent" Islamists and terrorists. Reading a little further into the website it is apparent that it does not only want to engage in dialogue - it is meant to be a cheerleading section for terrorists. Its last newsletter said: "Western leaders can neither match nor relate to Haniyah's stature as a politician and a human being."

Forward Thinking, on the other hand, "aims to promote a more inclusive peace process by engaging the religiously motivated Palestinian and Israeli political parties who have been previously excluded from ... dialogue." Yet from its website I could not find a single reference to them speaking with any religiously motivated Israeli parties, nor any pictures of them speaking to any Jews in yarmulkas. It also appears to be a front for advocating Islamist interests under the guise of peaceful resolution.

But let's look further into what the Guardian has to say:
The British government has sanctioned unofficial visits to the UK for senior Hamas officials in Gaza over the past 18 months. In one of the first Ghazi Hamed, the former editor of Al Risala, the Hamas newspaper, visited the BBC and the Guardian. Ahmed Yusef, an adviser to Mr Haniyeh, has also visited the UK.

The Johnston kidnapping forced Britain to change its policy of not publicly meeting Hamas officials. Richard Makepeace, Britain's consul general in Jerusalem, twice travelled to Gaza City to request Mr Haniyeh's help in freeing Johnston. Mr Haniyeh assured Mr Makepeace that he would do everything in his power to free Johnston and Mr Hamed was asked to head the negotiations with the kidnappers.

In May Mr Hamed was again invited to the UK and attended a Hay festival event that was also attended by Gordon Brown, then chancellor. The two did not speak.

Johnston was freed on July 4 after Hamas surrounded the compound of the Dogmush family, the kidnappers.

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, thanked Hamas for its help in freeing the BBC correspondent. Mr Haniyeh said he was pleased with the respect and gratitude shown by the British government and organisations for Hamas's assistance.

"The deputy consul came to thank me personally and the consul general and the foreign minister thanked us in press conferences that were broadcast all over the world. In addition we have received thanks from the Johnston family, British NGOs and the British media. They have shown us a lot of respect," he said. "In addition, 20 members of the British parliament signed a motion to renew contacts with Hamas."
And he's not lying about the 20 MPs who want to talk to Hamas, either.

All in all, it appears that Haniyeh is telling the truth and the British denials are ringing hollow.

And what does Britain get out of this relationship? Haniyeh again:
Mr Haniyeh said that Hamas intended to enforce law and order in Gaza but admitted that the kidnappers of Johnston, who also kidnapped two journalists from Fox TV in Gaza last year, remained free. "But they are being watched closely and are subject to other controls which I can't tell you," he said.
Ah, they are under double secret detention!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Time magazine implies Israel is the obstacle to peace

In an article about the pseudo-Arab League meeting in Israel, Time magazine says:
The problem with Olmert's approach is that the Arab world has run out of patience. It is well aware that the Oslo process floundered, at the end, not over customs arrangements and the Palestinian economy, but over borders, Jerusalem and refugees, and those issues are the ones that must be resolved if the process is to be about anything more than marking time.
Time is not saying that this is the Arab world's perception - it is saying that it is a fact that the Arab world is "well aware" of.

In other words, Palestinian Arab terror attacks, daily rocket attacks, infighting, constant incitement, Hamas' election and takeover of Gaza have no bearing whatsoever on whether there should be a continuing "peace process." No, Time believes that the real issues are "borders, Jerusalem and refugees": the Arab demands and Israel's refusal to acquiesce to them unilaterally are the only issues stopping progress towards peace!

Similarly, look at this paragraph about Syria implying again that Israel is the obstacle to peace with Syria:
Likewise, time may have run out for peace between Israel and Syria. Since the end of last year, Syria has been repeatedly calling for a resumption of the peace talks of the late 1990s premised on Israel returning the Syrian Golan Heights, captured in 1967. But while Olmert has largely evaded the overtures — questioning their sincerity, quibbling about who if anyone should mediate — Syria may have given up. Last week, the Israeli press was filled with rumors that Iran gave Syria $1 billion to purchase weapons in return for abandoning peace overtures towards Israel.
Syria's providing arms to Hezbollah, its deals with Iran, its threats about its own ballisitic missile capability - all ignored by Time. Only Israeli intransigence is at fault.

The entire article does not mention the word "terror" even once.

More on PalArab survey

More from the Pew research survey:

62% of Palestinian Arabs have a favorable opinion of Hamas (more than any country but Bangladesh)

76% have a favorable opinion of Hezbollah (far more than any other country, Lebanon was at 35%)

56% percent say that the influence of religious leaders in the territories are good.

79% have confidence in Hassan Nasrallah as a leader in world affairs, far more than any other country

Once again, the polls show that ordinary Palestinian Arabs are far more extremist than they are portrayed in the Western media.

Let's reward them with a state!

Palestinian Arabs overwhelmingly support terror and Bin Laden

A new survey done by the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that, almost alone among all Arabs, Palestinian Arabs solidly support terror:
Among the most striking trends in predominantly Muslim nations is the continuing decline in the number saying that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justifiable in the defense of Islam. In Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, the proportion of Muslims who view suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians as being often or sometimes justified has declined by half or more over the past five years.

Wide majorities say such attacks are, at most, rarely acceptable. However, this is decidedly not the case in the Palestinian territories. Fully 70% of Palestinians believe that suicide bombings against civilians can be often or sometimes justified, a position starkly at odds with Muslims in other Middle Eastern, Asian, and African nations.

The decreasing acceptance of extremism among Muslims also is reflected in declining support for Osama bin Laden. Since 2003, Muslim confidence in bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs has fallen; in Jordan, just 20% express a lot or some confidence in bin Laden, down from 56% four years ago. Yet confidence in bin Laden in the Palestinian territories, while lower than it was in 2003, remains relatively high (57%).

Opinion about Hezbollah and Hamas varies among Muslim publics. Views of both groups are favorable among most predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia. And Palestinians have strongly positive opinions of both militant groups. But majorities in Turkey have negative impressions of both Hezbollah and Hamas.
...
Palestinians See Suicide Bombings as Justified

But support for suicide bombing is widespread among Palestinians: 41% say such attacks are often justified while another 29% say it can sometimes be justified (no comparative data from 2002 are available). Only 6% of all Palestinians say it is never justified, by far the smallest proportion in any Muslim public surveyed.

Acceptance of extreme terrorist tactics in the Palestinian territories is remarkably uniform across major demographic groups, including roughly equal proportions of men (44%) and women (38%), Palestinians under the age of 30 (41%) and those 50 years old or older (47%), as well as among those who are the most committed to Islam (38%) and Palestinians who are less religious (45%).
This is remarkable. The rest of the Muslim world is recognizing that supporting terror is a dead end, but PalArabs overwhelmingly support it - across demographic lines! Young and old, religious and secular, men and women - they have managed to create a culture that is not only at odds with all of civilized society, but also at odds with the rest of the Arab world.

The reason is that decades of the worst kinds of incitement in Palestinian Arab media glorifying terror have paid off. Palestinian Arabs have managed to create their own unique identity in the Arab world - and that identity is based on support for violence. Now, they are truly a people.

This explicit support for terror would be the ideological basis for a Palestinian Arab state.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Relativistic terror

Another magazine has noticed the new chumminess between the UN and Hezbollah:
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was increased from 2,000 to 13,300 peacekeepers after the month-long war last summer between Israel and Hizbullah. The UN peacekeepers are led by elite European troops and are charged with helping the Lebanese Army ensure that the tense border remained calm.

But a year on, UNIFIL still finds itself under threat, not from the Shiite Hizbullah, but from suspected radical Sunni militants possibly inspired by Al Qaeda. And in a bizarre twist, some UNIFIL contingents are now seeking the cooperation of the powerful Hizbullah, which also views militant Sunnis as a threat, to help provide tacit security for the peacekeepers, Hizbullah and UNIFIL sources say.

Last month, six Spanish and Colombian soldiers serving with UNIFIL's Spanish battalion were killed when a car bomb exploded beside their armored vehicle, the deadliest attack in UNIFIL's 29-year history.

Last week, a UNIFIL jeep was damaged when a small bomb exploded nearby, confirming fears that last month's bombing was not a random act. In both attacks, radical Sunnis are the prime suspects.

The growing threat of attack by Sunni radicals apparently spurred the leading European troop-contributing states to seek the Shiite Hizbullah's cooperation. According to UNIFIL sources, intelligence agents from Italy, France, and Spain met with Hizbullah representatives in the southern city of Sidon in April. As a result, some Spanish peacekeepers subsequently were "escorted" on some of their patrols by Hizbullah members in civilian vehicles, the UNIFIL sources say.

A day after the six peacekeepers were killed last month, Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos spoke with Manucher Mottaki, the foreign minister of Iran, Hizbullah's main patron. According to a Hizbullah official in south Lebanon, there has been at least one meeting between the Shiite party and Spanish UNIFIL officers since the bombing.

So while Hezbollah may not have changed its pro-terror positions one iota, since a supposedly worse terror group has emerged, they are now considered pretty good by comparison.

A similar phenomenon is happening in Gaza. Both Fatah and Hamas are claiming that the other side is hosting Al Qaeda in Gaza, and the existence of that group there - or any other group that can be claimed to be more extreme than Hamas - ends up bolstering those who want to ease up on Hamas terrorists, like these parliamentarians in the UK.
In a report to be published on Tuesday, a subcommittee of the House of Lords' European Union Committee said that the EU should avoid an "undesirably rigid" approach to dealing with Hamas that would risk undermining progress in building viable and democratic Palestinian institutions, a prerequisite, they say, for any peace settlement.

Still, in the report, entitled "The EU and the Middle East Peace Process," the committee asserts the EU is "right" to require Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing agreements.

A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs subcommittee, one of seven subcommittees of the European Union Committee, said that Hamas must be "clear on renouncing violence" and that while pressure should be put on the group to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements, "progress should not be scuppered because of this."
This should not be surprising. Fatah is an extremist terror organization by any objective yardstick, but compared to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it is "moderate." Say the word "moderate Fatah" enough times and people start to believe it.

But if you imagine Jews who hold symmetric positions as Fatah - that only Jews should live in the territories, that the Arabs should move, that 100% of the territories are Jewish, that no compromise is possible, that those who kill Arabs are heroes - they would be considered extremist, militant, terroristic and racist to boot. So would saying the same things about Israel.

This lack of objective standards is one of the major problems in the Middle East. Behavior that any civilized nation would consider beyond the pale is welcomed when done by Arabs - because many of their compatriots would act even worse. Rather than expecting and enforcing a single standard for human behavior, the West is willing to give Arabs much more slack, with the unspoken bigoted assumption that Arabs just don't have the ability to act the way enlightened human beings do.

Here's a short guide on how to make terrorists look moderate without forcing them to actually change their positions, or even to lie:
  1. Have them wear ties and jackets.
  2. Put someone even more bloodthirsty next to them.
  3. Have them elected to any office.
  4. Teach them to use ambiguous language (like "Of course we recognize that Israel exists.")
  5. Have Jimmy Carter, or any of the "Elders," praise them.
Voila! Instant moderation!

Syria occupying 4% of Lebanon - today

A scary followup in the Wall Street Journal to an earlier report from Michael Totten of Syrian occupation of Lebanon:
As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.

The news comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border just produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists. But its findings cannot be ignored.

In meticulous detail--supplemented by photographs, satellite images, archival material and Lebanese military maps predating Syria's 1976 invasion (used as a basis of comparison with Syria's current positions)--the authors describe precisely where and how Lebanon has been infiltrated. In the area of the village of Maarboun, for instance, the authors observed Syrian military checkpoints a mile inside Lebanon. In the Birak al-Rassass Valley, they photographed Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. On the outskirts of the village of Kossaya they found a heavily fortified camp belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in violation of U.N. resolutions and Lebanese demands.


...Last September, Mr. Annan paid a visit to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad after the latter had declared he would treat any attempt by the U.N. to deploy peacekeepers along the Lebanese-Syrian border as a "hostile act." To defuse the impasse, Mr. Annan simply accepted Mr. Assad's assurances that Syria would police its border and prevent arms smuggling. "I think it can happen," said the diplomat at a press conference. "It may not be 100%, but it will make quite a lot of difference if the government puts in place the measures the government has discussed with me."

What happened, predictably, was the opposite. In May, Fatah al-Islam, a terrorist group whose leadership was imported from Damascus, attacked Lebanese army outposts outside the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahr El-Bared and Biddawi, causing a bloody standoff that continues till this day. In June, current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report citing numerous instances of arms smuggling from Syria to Hezbollah and the PFLP. Yesterday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that he once again has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv--missiles he could only have obtained via Syria. Israel confirms his claims.
Mr. Ban's report is notable for its clarity and seriousness. Taken together with the border report, it paints an alarming picture. Though the land grabs are small affairs individually, they collectively add up to an area amounting to about 4% of Lebanese soil--in U.S. terms, the proportional equivalent of Arizona. Of particular note is that the area of Syrian conquest dwarves that of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. The farms, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and which amount to an area of about 12 square miles, are claimed by Hezbollah as belonging to Lebanon--a useful pretext for it to continue its "resistance" against an Israeli occupation that ended seven years ago.

Needless to say, Hezbollah--which purports to fight for Lebanese sovereignty--makes no similar claims against Syria. For his part, Mr. Assad refuses to agree to a demarcation of his border with Lebanon, just as he refuses to open an embassy in Beirut. The ambiguity serves him well: He can seize Lebanese territory without anyone appearing to take notice, supply terrorist camps without quite harboring the terrorists, and funnel arms to Hezbollah at will--all without abandoning the fantasy of "Greater Syria" encompassing Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Israel itself.

It would, of course, be nice to see the Arab world protest this case of illegal occupation, given its passions about the subject. It would also be nice to see the media report this story as sedulously as it has the controversy of the Shebaa Farms. Don't hold your breath on either score. In the meantime, the only countries in a position to help Lebanon are France and the U.S. They could strike a useful blow by closing their embassies in Damascus until such time as Damascus opens an embassy--with all that it implies--in Beirut.

The author makes a great point - Hezbollah will arm itself with tens of thousands of Katyushas under the pretext of Lebanese sovereignty from an expansionist aggressive Israel, but when Syria grabs land that is unquestionably Lebanese this concern holds no water.

Tisha B'Av, 1948

(I am keeping this post on top until the end of Tisha B'av on Tuesday night.)
Tonight and tomorrow, Jews worldwide will commemorate Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem as well as other calamities throughout Jewish history.

Jews in Jerusalem have commemorated Tisha B'Av for centuries by visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem and crying over the Temple's destruction and the daily desecration of this holiest of Jewish sites by the Muslims who built their mosques on its site as a symbol of Muslim supremacy.

But in 1948, for the first time in recorded history, Jews could not visit the Wall. While for the previous two years the British disallowed visits to the Wall during the fast day, there were always at least a few who managed to get through.

In 1948, for the first time in the history of the city, no Jews were allowed to live in the Old City of Jerusalem and no Jews were allowed to visit.



Old Jerusalem was Judenrein. Dozens of synagogues had been destroyed by the Jordanians within days of their occupying Jerusalem, including the famous Hurva synagogue.



The Jordanian commander reported to his headquarters, "For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews' return here impossible."




Even after the synagogues were destroyed, the BBC on June 5 "reported" that the Jewish holy places were safe:



This was how Tisha B'Av was for Israel's Jews in 1948.

These actions of the pro-Western, pro-British Transjordanians in 1948 are irrefutable proof that Arab animosity towards Jews had little to do with Zionism and everything to do with Jew-hatred. This is besides the facts that other synagogues in Arab countries were being destroyed at the same time, that Transjordan defiled hundreds of Jewish graves, that Jews were being killed and expelled in Arab countries and all the other anti-semitic crimes by Arabs that occurred in the years surrounding Israel's independence.

Is there any doubt in even the most clueless leftist's mind that, given the opportunity, the Palestinian Arabs would do exactly the same to the synagogues of Jerusalem that their Jordanian forefathers did in 1948?





Today, the Hurva synagogue is being rebuilt yet again:


May it be for the last time.