.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

So there is a Jewish satellite channel!

And its name is...Al Jazeera!

From Ya Libnan:
About 100 supporters of Syria’s president, Assad, gathered in front of the Damascus offices of Al Jazeera TV. The crowd accused the satellite TV station of supporting the opposition movement in Syria.

The Qatar network, according to Assad loyalists, broadcasts “lies” and “exaggerates” the nature and the volume of the anti-regime protests.

Al-Jazeera, Jewish satellite TV”, was written on several banners, while others incited the, “people of Qatar, rebel against the Emir” of Qatar al Khalifa, where the network has its headquarters. .

(h/t Challah Hu Akbar tweet)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Moroccan journalist arrested

A respected Moroccan journalist named Rachid Nini, who also runs the AlMassae newspaper, has been arrested by Moroccan authorities who were evidently unhappy with how he was exposing corruption.

The charge was "compromising the safety and security of the homeland and citizens."

Ahmadinejad in political trouble? (UPDATED)

From Al Arabiya:

Iran’s president was missing from a cabinet meeting on Wednesday for the second consecutive time adding to speculation that the rift with the country’s supreme leader was widening on Wednesday, agencies reported.

The rift is over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to dismiss Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi last week, a decision that was revoked by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr. Moslehi was present on Tuesday at a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, the body that regulates educational and cultural issues, and which he chairs, Agence-France Press reported.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s absence in that meeting was particularly noted, as he is known for never missing any opportunity to appear in the media and delivery fiery speeches, AFP said.

No reason was given for his absence by the state’s media.

Earlier on Saturday, in a speech that aired on state TV, Mr. Khamenei said he would intervene in government’s affairs “whenever necessary”—a rebuke to the president for challenging his all-encompassing authority.

The power struggle between the two leaders could be indicative of a serious political crisis in the making—especially ahead of legislative elections scheduled for March 2012. The presidential election will take place in 2013.

Analysts told The Associated Press that Mr. Ahmadinejad is looking to control the intelligence ministry in a bid to influence the next parliament as well as to determine the next president.

However, Mr. Khamenei is also seen as intent on helping shape a new political team, free of Ahmadinejad loyalists, to lead the next government.
It looks like the ayatollah is flexing his muscles to remind Mad Mahmoud exactly what "supreme leader" means.

UPDATE: After I wrote this, AP wrote this up about the topic:
A hard-line cleric warned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday to end an escalating power struggle with Iran's supreme leader, calling it a religious obligation to do so and accusing the country's enemies of trying to sow rifts among its leadership.

The split threatens to destabilize Iran at a time of tension with the West over Tehran's disputed nuclear program and appears to center on a battle for influence between the two men over next year's parliamentary election and a presidential election in 2013.

"Obedience to the supreme leader is a religious obligation as well as a legal obligation, without any doubt," said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami. He did not mention Ahmadinejad by name, but it was clear he was referring to the president.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final word on all matters of state in Iran, and hard-liners consider him above the law and answerable only to God.

As David G wrote in the comments, "'Obedience?!' What does he think Ahmadinejad is? A woman?"

A hundred corpses in Daraa. Where's Jimmy Carter? (updated)

From Now Lebanon:

Al-Jazeera television on Friday reported that more than 100 corpses were seen on the streets of Daraa.

“In Daraa, more than 100 bodies have been seen on the roads and more than 150 [people] are missing,” an eyewitness told the TV station.

“Electricity is still cut and there is lack of water supplies and baby milk,” he added.

The eyewitness called on humanitarian organizations to save the people of Daraa.

“People from the villages around Daraa came to support the city but they were shot at by security forces.”
Syria has imposed a siege on Daraa, stopping all travel, communication and humanitarian aid.

The last time Jimmy Carter was in Syria, he eerily predicted this crisis by saying "The blockade is one of the most serious human rights violations on Earth."

Oh, sorry, he was talking about another blockade, one that didn't involve any civilians being targeted. He hasn't said a word about what is going on in Syria for the past month.

In fact, the Carter Center website is curiously silent about all the things happening in the Arab world nowadays. Nothing on Bahrain, Syria, or Yemen, and the only recent mention of Egypt was to congratulate them on helping bring a terrorist group into the Palestinian Authority government.

Could it be because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given over a million dollars to the Carter Center?

And so has the Saudi BinLadin Group?

And the The Saudi Fund for Development?

And the Government of The United Arab Emirates?

And the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development?

And the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation?

And the The OPEC Fund for International Development?

And the The Sultanate of Oman?

And His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said also of Oman?

No, perish the thought. No doubt Jimmy Carter is not swayed at all in his important humanitarian work by such considerations.

It is more likely that he would never have said a bad word about Arab repression anyway, and this is the reason that he gets so many Arab donors, rather than the other way around.

UPDATE:

In 2009, Jimmy wrote an article on behalf of his team of old busybodies called "The Elders' view of the Middle East." In it he says

During the past 16 months I have visited the Middle East four times and met with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.

Yet the entire article only talks about "Palestine." Apparently the Elders couldn't imagine that their gracious Arab hosts were anything but wonderful to their own people as well.

Latest Latma (4/29/11)

A bedtime story about moral purity.

10,000 Muslim clerics: "Arab uprisings might be a Zionist plot"

From Arab News:
KOTTAKKAL, Kerala: The ulema conference organized by the Samastha Kerala Jam’iyathul Ulema, a body of Islamic scholars, has warned against the possibility of the uprisings in Muslim nations into the hands of Zionists.

“The Zionists and colonialists are doing everything at creating cracks in the unity of Ummah on the ethnic and nationalist lines. The Muslims should be cautious about this trap,” a resolution adopted by the three-day conference attended by more than 10,000 scholars said.
It's difficult to find the pattern of Zionist plots, but I think I cracked the code:

Anything going on in the world that you, personally, are uncomfortable with, is a Zionist plot.

Don't thank me, I'm glad to help.

Palestinian Arab leaders disclose their strategy (NewsRealBlog)

My latest post at NewsRealBlog:

The entire impetus for the Fatah-Hamas “unity” agreement is the September attempt to get “Palestine” to be internationally recognized at the UN.

And today Fatah freely admits it:

Senior Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi said Thursday that the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation will promote Palestinian interests ahead of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ planned statehood bid in September, making it “more important than peace with Israel.”

“We want this reconciliation to arrive at the UN General Assembly united. Appealing to the United Nations will be done with the support of all Palestinian factions and all the nations that have recognized a Palestinian state until now.”

Fatah and Hamas hate each other and have no desire to cede their respective power. They will keep things together just long enough for September and their hoped-for international recognition. This is exactly what they have done in the past.

And here is how the PA is planning to incorporate Hamas while pretending that “Palestine” accepts Israel’s right to exist:

T
irawi dismissed concerns voiced over the possibility that a future Palestinian government with Hamas in it will refuse to negotiate with Israel, saying that the Palestinian government will have “no say” in such peace talks, since “the only body allowed to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people is the PLO.”
So this is the game:

The PLO is the party that negotiates with Israel, and the party that officially recognizes Israel.

The PA is only responsible for governing the Arabs in the territories, not with any foreign relations.

The PA, despite claims of being democratic, reports to the PLO.

The fake Hamas/Fatah reconciliation is meant to only address the PA, not the PLO. They won’t hold any elections until after September, if ever.

So the PLO will claim to still recognize Israel and be peaceful, as it will claim that from its perspective nothing has changed.

The instant that Palestine is declared a state that is recognized by the world, in part because of these assurances that it is a peaceful state that recognizes Israel, Hamas and Fatah (and all the other terrorist parties that decide to join the government) will immediately take over the PLO’s foreign affairs, as that is what nations do. The PLO’s foreign affairs role will be superseded by “Palestine.”

Which means that the very minute that Palestine is recognized as a state, it will be by definition a terror state that no longer recognizes Israel! And indeed it will not need to. The entire peace process since Oslo has been a sham in order to gain territory, with peace being a tactic, not a strategy.

Hamas will insist that “Palestine”‘s foreign policy adhere to minimal Hamas demands, which is pretty much to insist that all of Israel is occupied territory–a position that the PA and PLO wholly agree with even if they will not say it in English. Their maps and logos show it to be true.

So instead of helping peace, this “unity” agreement is a recipe for prolonging and accelerating a six-decade war between the Arab world and Israel. A new “Palestine” would not help solve any of the real issues–like Jerusalem, “refugees,” water, Gilad Shalit, incitement to terror, actual terrorism. Hamas’ inclusion ensures that it will not be a peaceful state.

Will the West wake up in time to stop this recipe for disaster?

Photos of Arabs setting fires outside Joseph's Tomb last Sunday

Wire services actually published pictures of Arabs from Shechem (Nablus) setting fires at Joseph's Tomb last Sunday - a Jewish holy place that they, unbelievably, say is holy for them as well.

Is this how you treat a holy place? 

Getty Images


Reuters

And here they are vandalizing the Tomb:

Reuters 

Palestinian rioters set fire and break facilities in Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus April 24, 2011

Video can be seen here. And here's an article about the world's silence on the murder of a Jewish worshipper.

(h/t Yerushalimey, Vandoren)

Morning links (updated)

Hot Air: Syria gloats over US failure at UN

Guardian: Syria funding St. Andrews University causes embarrassment

    --Is anyone embarrassed over this much larger 2008 gift to Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities from Saudi Arabia?

Toameh at Hudson-NY: The New Middle East

J-Wire: The Israel Embassy perspective on Hamas/Fatah reconciliation

Der Spiegel: Security breach at UNESCO exposes thousands of records

Ha'aretz: A previous royal wedding (I had to find an angle to mention this story, didn't I?)
---
The Guardian uses Sri Lanka's secret mass murders to bash...Israel.

(h/t Ian, Silke)

The Gaza "siege" is over. Where are the celebrations?

From Ma'an:
Egypt will permanently open the Rafah border crossing as part of its plans to ease the blockade on Gaza, Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi said in an interview with Al-Jazeera Friday.

Arabi said his country would take "important steps to help ease the blockade on Gaza in the few days to come," according to the Arabic-language satellite channel.

He said Egypt would no longer accept that the Rafah border -- Gaza's only crossing that bypasses Israel -- remain blocked, describing his country's decision to seal it off as "shameful."

Egypt has largely kept Rafah closed, opening it exceptionally for humanitarian cases from the besieged Gaza Strip.
The thing is, Rafah has been open since last June, allowing people and supplies through.

No matter. What's important is that the cruel Israeli blockade has been smashed once and for all, and now all those "humanitarian aid" organizations can easily coordinate with their Egyptian friends to send much needed supplies to Gaza and ease the humanitarian crisis there.

But for some unexplainable reason, this news is not on the Free Gaza website. They are not celebrating, nor can I find any plans to send flotillas to El Arish so the massive amounts of aid they like to bring can come to the Gazans unhindered.

One would think that an organization that says it cares about Gazans would be ecstatic at this news!

Could it be that they really don't care about Gazans, and want to destroy Israel instead?

Nah, that's crazy talk.

Video: How Arabs Repress the Press (HonestReporting Canada)

An important video:


One of the best parts of Michael Totten's book was where he described exactly how Hezbollah tries to intimidate and threaten reporters - and how reporters are reluctant to report this story.

There are two reasons for this, Totten says. One is that the intimidation often works. The other, simpler reason is that editors will not allow journalists to be part of the story. (p. 157)

Even though readers need to know the context of how a journalist obtained his or her information, so we can evaluate how accurate it is likely to be, it is the rare journalist like Totten who actually explains the situation. So we see a very skewed view of the world in closed societies.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tonight's picture of Gazans' intense pain and horrible deprivation

From AP via Daylife:
A Palestinian family rides a tourist boat with a flag of the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona, in the Mediterranean sea off the beach of Gaza City, Wednesday, April 27, 2011.
I'm surprised that Gaza, with its citizens having to suffer under such gut-wrenching activities as these just to stay barely alive,  didn't make the top ten list of humanitarian crises by Doctors Without Borders. Those pushy Congolese grab all the headlines instead.

A small incident in Gaza

From PCHR:

At approximately 20:00 on Wednesday, 27 April 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians, including women, spontaneously gathered in the Unknown Soldier Yard, in support for reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas movements declared in the Egypti... At approximately 20:30, 4 police vehicles arrived at the area, and immediately many police officers, some of whom were wearing civilian clothes, stepped down. They violently beat, insulted and chased the participants. They also arrested 5 of the participants, including Mr. Jamal Farawana, a defender of prisoners’ rights, who was violently beaten, and Mr. Talal Abi Zarifa, a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

And what was the spontaneous demonstration for?

To support the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah!

Britain's tough sanctions against Syria

From the BBC:
The Foreign Office says the invitation for the Syrian ambassador in London has been withdrawn following reports that up to 400 pro-democracy protesters have been killed in Syria by security forces in recent weeks.

A Foreign Office statement said: "Buckingham Palace shares the view of the Foreign Office that it is not considered appropriate for the Syrian ambassador to attend the wedding."
Bashir Assad must be quaking in his boots in the face of such strong Western opposition to his murdering hundreds of civilians.

Muslim woman in Playboy causes fury

From The Sun:
A MUSLIM actress has caused a storm by posing naked for Playboy.
Click to see cover (NSFW)

Sila Sahin has been branded a "whore" and a "western slut" after appearing topless on the cover of the German edition of the men's magazine.

And Islamic fanatics have posted threatening internet messages.

Sila, raised in Germany by conservative Turkish parents, says she fears being "spat at" and "shamed".

Her parents are said to have reacted with "horror" at the 12-page coverage, and her mother has apparently cut off all contact.

Sila, 25 - star of German soap Good Times, Bad Times - claimed the shoot was a reaction to the "slavery" of her youth.

She added: "What I want to say with these photos is, 'Girls, we don't have to live according to the rules imposed upon us'.

"For years I subordinated myself to various societal constraints. The Playboy photo shoot was a total act of liberation."

But Islamic internet sites are being monitored by the BND - the German intelligence agency - after threats were posted about her "shaming Muslim womanhood" and "prostituting herself for money".

A kebab shop owner, asked on German TV what he would do if Sila were his daughter, replied: "I would kill her. I really mean that. That doesn't fit with my culture."
Tolerance!

(h/t DavidG)

Dialogue with a Western Leftist - The Video

I mentioned in the Nick Cohen article I had quoted earlier today that it would be perfect for one of those XtraNormal videos that have popped up all over the web.


Reader Angrybell actually made it!



I like his choice of actors.

Honor killing in the West Bank: A slight twist and a light sentence

Firas Press reports that a West Bank man who murdered his daughter for "honor" has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

His sentence was reduced from life imprisonment because he is older and the head of a large family, as well as (if I am interpreting it correctly) his "fury" showed that it was a real honor crime, a crime of passion and not just an ordinary murder.

One twist: Not only did he kill his daughter because of his suspicion that she was involved with a man who was not her husband, but he also thought that she was involved in giving intelligence to Israel!

I'm not sure if that was a factor in the light sentence, though.

Hamas instructs its media not to report on Syria

Firas Press and other Arabic news sources are claiming that Hamas is putting a news blackout on events in Syria:

Reliable sources close to media officials in Hamas that they have issued strict instructions to all departments, editors of all news sites, forums, and radio TV that belongs to them not to cover or publish any news about events taking place in Syria and massacres there against unarmed citizens.

The sources said that instructions have been issued from the leadership of the Hamas political bureau living on Syrian territory to pursue all of its networks and not to offend any news of the Syrian regime and affect the feelings of the Syrian government.

The sources said the Hamas political bureau wanted to maintain its position with the Syrian regime, which embraced it many years ago.

And a Hamas Palestine network yesterday blocked news about the split within the Syrian army.
This may be a Damascus Hamas directive; the Gaza Hamas sites have some Syrian news and indeed they are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood portion of the uprising.

Those Jewish extremists trying to pray again

Official Palestinian Arab news agency WAFA reports:
A group of Jewish settlers prayed at Joseph’s Tomb on Thursday, east of Nablus in the north West Bank, under the protection of Israeli forces.

Local sources said the worshippers snuck into the site under the protection of Israeli soldiers, prayed until the early hours of the morning and left, with no confrontations reported.

Israeli radio said forces stopped and arrested some 13 settlers while they were on their way to the tomb, although another group managed to enter the site despite the road blocks the Israeli army had set up.
I always wonder how they know that the worshipers are "settlers." Oh, right - all Israelis are "settlers"!

Hamas' Palestine Times in Arabic is a bit more strident - and fanciful:
In a new level of arrogance, about twenty Zionist extremist settlers blew up a roadblock Thursday east of Nablus and stormed Joseph's Tomb, where they performed Talmudic rituals, under the protection of the Zionist army, which was spread extensively in the vicinity of the region amid flying reconnaissance planes nearby.

Witnesses said that the settlers went to sabotage public utilities, destroying the electricity grid and throwing dirt and rubbish on the street nearby. They also burned tires during their withdrawal.
Israeli media is apparently not aware of any visits to the tomb last night, saying only that the IDF stopped dozens of would-be worshippers.

Tell PayPal not to support terrorism

One of the groups that is promoting a "third Palestinian intifada" has a webpage where they solicit donations - through PayPal.

PayPal's policy prohibits it providing services to those "who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism."

So complain to PayPal and get the funding for today's terrorist supporters stopped. Use words like terrorism, complaint, breach of contract, PayPal policies. You do not need to be a PayPal customer to do this.

(h/t Daphne Anson)

Lying Free Gaza co-founder visits my blog

I received a comment yesterday from Mary Hughes Thompson, co-founder of Free Gaza, about my post on the terrorist gun-running archbishop who spoke at the funeral of terrorist-supprting Vittorio Arrigoni:

I know this gentle man. Israel tried to frame him, as it has framed thousands of innocent Palestinians. Nobody believes a word that comes out of the mouths of any Israeli leader. Archbishop Capucci is a gentle man, as my friend Vittorio was a gentle man. Israel's lies can never harm men like these. God bless you Vittorio. Your star will shine long after zionist Israel is no more.

Thompson is a serial liar. As far as Hilarion Capucci is concerned, the Washington Post on November 4, 1977 wrote after his release from prison:

There seems to be very little question that Capucci was in fact smuggling arms for the Palestinian Liberation Organization and at least one Israeli is thought to have died as a result. The PLO denies his guilt and has declared him a martyr, but privately many PLO members do not bother to deny his guilt and deplore his carelessness in getting caught.

During his questioning, Capucci tried to weasel out of his crimes by claiming that the PLO “forced [him] into guerrilla service by threats of blackmail.”

During the Iran hostage crisis, Capucci visited some of the American hostages. Here's what one of the hostages said:
From his home in Olyphant, Pa., Michael J. Metrinko, political officer, criticized Archbishop Hilarion Capucci of the Melkite Church of the Eastern Rite. He said the Archbishop, who made one trip with Father Rupiper [another priest who had visited the hostages], had seen a few well-treated prisoners ''and spent the rest of the time enjoying himself with the guards.''

''I tried to tell Capucci what things were like, and he just went into a diatribe about how bad things were in Israeli prisons,'' Mr. Metrinko said.

Thompson's lies are not limited to what she writes here about these two, terrorist supporting, "gentle men." She also had written in 2007 that "Palestinian children are killed every day by bombs and bullets from Israeli occupation forces," a statement that is provably ridiculous, as the link shows.

Moreover, she wrote concerning the Mavi Marmara:

I stayed up throughout the night to monitor the spot beacon signals coming from our boat CHALLENGER and the live streaming from the Turkish boat, and to wait for the onset of daylight. Suddenly we began to receive repeated distress signals from the spot beacon, and shortly thereafter we watched in horror and disbelief as vivid color images appeared on the video stream of masked and heavily armed troops firing weapons as they descended onto the deck of the MAVI MARMORA. Israel claims it used paint guns, but no paint was in evidence. Perhaps initially they used stun guns or tasers, though we doubt that too. Passengers were seen trying to get away from the line of fire, screaming in panic and fear. Immediately it became apparent that passengers had been shot as we saw bodies falling and bleeding everywhere, as others tried to render aid to them and move them out of the line of fire. We saw no signs of any resistance.

Later we and the rest of the world began to see the images supplied by the IDF which showed a completely different version of what happened. While showing that the IDF commandos did in fact board the MAVI MARMORA, they deleted the portion showing the violent attack by the troops, showing instead pictures of resistance by some passengers. Clearly there was resistance, as panicked and no doubt angry passengers who had witnessed the wanton shooting of several dozen passengers apparently picked up whatever they could find with which to defend themselves against Israel’s clear intent to continue its murderous rampage. IDF is trying to claim that this resistance from passengers actually preceded the violence from the commandos. Anyone seeing the uncut footage streamed from the MARMORA could have no doubt as to who was responsible for all of the violence, the injuries and the deaths.
The original footage that Thompson was watching was from a satellite feed and it was widely available immediately after the raid on the ship, showing that the passengers were armed ahead of time with iron bars and other makeshift weapons. Other videos also showed that they were prepared well ahead of time. So Mary Hughes-Thompson once again lied.

And she now says that Israeli officials are the liars!

Come back anytime, Mary. It's fun exposing hypocrites, and you're such a easy target.

Let's play some Persian Golf

There has been a long battle between Iran and Arab oil states countries over the name of the gulf that they surround. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies call it the Arabian Gulf, while Iran and most of the rest of the world call  it the Persian Gulf.

This conflict gets personal.

Iran is hosting some sporting events in coming weeks where Arab states will compete, and people who want to popularize the name "Persian Gulf" are going to hang banners to bug the Arab sports teams and players. Arab delegations have also been harassed with these taunts.

Here's one of the banners, shown by Al Arabiya:

I didn't even know Iran had any golf courses!

This is not a unique case of "Persian Golf" sightings. See this webpage and this Facebook page made by overzealous but spelling-impaired Iranians with the same slogan.

The extreme touchiness over this issue has been noted here before.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who ya going to believe - the caption or your lying eyes?

DayLife has a series of photos from Gaza, taken by Getty Images, each with the identical caption:

Christian Orthodox hold up candles lit from the 'Holy Fire' as thousands gather in the Church in Gaza City on April 24, 2011.
Most of the photos look like this:


A couple of dozen people at most in these photos, nto exactly "thousands."

But one of the photos looks like this:

Now, Gaza has maybe 3000 Christians altogether. The idea that "thousands" celebrated at this church seems more than a little far fetched. And from this last photograph, it looks like the church is far from full.

How many times do wire service captions shape the story more than the photos themselves?

Did Abbas recognize the existence of "The Jewish Nation"?

I reported a couple of months ago that one of the released "Palestine Papers" included this comment from the Negotiations Support Unit of the PLO:

Recognizing the Jewish state implies recognition of a Jewish people and recognition of its right to self-determination. Those who assert this right also assert that the territory historically associated with this right of self-determination (i.e., the self-determination unit) is all of Historic Palestine. Therefore, recognition of the Jewish people and their right of self-determination may lend credence to the Jewish people’s claim to all of Historic Palestine.

So did Abbas goof in his Passover tweet to the "Jewish nation"?

If there is a Jewish nation, does it not have the right of self-determination?

And if there is a Jewish nation, where is its land? It is obviously in the Biblical Land of Israel, which includes the entire West Bank.

So was this a gaffe, or just another of a long line of English language doubletalk by Palestinian Arab leaders? I could not find any Arabic version of his Passover holiday wishes for this year (in 2009 he gave a more generic message to Jews worldwide, which raised eyebrows among some Islamists.)

(h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Dialogue with a Western Leftist (Nick Cohen)

This should probably be made into one of those XtraNormal animations....

"You say you support the Palestinians?"


"Yes."

"Which Palestinians?"


"What do you mean 'which Palestinians'? I support all Palestinians. Their oppression by Israel is the great injustice of our time. Western hypocrites ignore racism, and use false accusations of antisemitism to stop legitimate criticism. The Zionist-controlled media label resistance 'terrorism', while ignoring the state terrorism of Israel which is the root cause of all the violence in the Middle-"

"All right, stop there. You still have to choose. Do you support the Fatah leadership in the West Bank, which may be corrupt and unpleasant but is at least presiding over an economic boom and allowing some freedoms, or Hamas, which tortures its enemies and tramples on the rights of women."

"Hamas won Gaza in free elections. Palestinians must unite against the colonial enemy and the Israel Lobby in the West."

"But they cannot unite. Religious reactionaries from the extreme right - and 'the extreme right' is the correct term, by the way - who are building an Islamic emirate in Gaza and want a caliphate to cover the whole world, do not mix with democratic politicians, however imperfect they may be. You saw what happened in Gaza. The Islamists won one election, cancelled all future elections, and threw their opponents from high-rise blocks. If David Cameron threw Ed Miliband off the Post Office Tower, would you still say that he was worthy of support?"

"It is not for us to intervene in Palestinian affairs. Hamas is an issue the Palestinians must resolve themselves."

"Listen to yourself. 'It's not for us to intervene?' You and your friends intervene all the time. You close down Jewish shops, oblivious to the ghosts of Kristallnacht that thuggish policy raises from the grave. You lobby to stop Israeli academics visiting our universities, and don't worry that the last movement to ban Jewish intellectuals was-"

"I knew it, I knew it! I knew you would accuse me of antisemitism. Your kind always does. It's a dirty trick to silence legitimate debate."

"I agree it can be sometimes. But when you will not condemn Islamist movements that lift Jewish conspiracy theories direct from the screeds of European fascism, I am entitled to suspect that you suffer from a severe case of Judeophobia at the very least. Your repeated references to the 'Israel Lobby' and 'Zionist-controlled media' don't reassure me on that score either."

"I am a left-winger, how dare you accuse me of racism? I have fought racism all my life, and don't ignore the Islamophobic racism of Israel and her friends, as you do. If there are antisemitic elements in the Islamist movement, they are a rational response to Western oppression. You would hate Jews if Israelis were doing this to you."

"Dear God, where to begin with that. Do you really believe there's no racism on the left, and that extremism can be rationally explained? In any case, it's not just antisemitism you excuse, is it? You have abandoned internationalism, secularism and, most disgracefully, the struggle for the emancipation of women. Your friends in Gaza have even banned women from sucking on hookah pipes - and, let me tell you, I don't need to have a psychiatry degree to understand the male sexual hysteria that lies behind that telling prohibition. Here's a test. The Palestinian Authority is about to declare the territories an independent state. The Israelis hate the idea, what do you think?"

"I worry that a two-state solution will not be full and just. The expelled refugees must have a right of return."

"That is a recipe for war without end. Israelis will never allow millions of Palestinians to swamp their state. Your trouble is that you are a voyeur. The violence of bearded reactionaries with a Koran in one hand and a Kalashnikov in the other excites you. You prefer their thrilling intransigence to the arguments of boring men in suits in Ramallah, who are willing to compromise for a better life. You need the burning corpses of Palestinians and Jews to bring light to your empty life."

"And your trouble is you are a sly apologist for imperialism. You never condemn Israeli atrocities, but use nit-picking points of detail and clever rhetorical tricks to distract attention from crimes against humanity. You are a neo-con and a zio-Nazi, and I am never going to speak to you again."

"Don't worry, there are millions more like you out there, and I'll be having this conversation for the rest of my life. Send in the next one on your way out."

Terrorist bishop spoke at Vittorio's funeral

At Hamas-supporter Vittorio Arrigoni's funeral in Bulciago, Italy, one of the speakers was Archbishop Hilarion Capucci of the Greek-Melchite Catholic Church. (Italian media said he is the archbishop of Jerusalem, but that appears to be wrong.)

Capucci said, "For us Vittorio is a martyr, a hero and a saint, a bishop who has defended the his flock and the flock was the Palestinian people."

And who is Hilarion Capucci?

From Wikipedia:

On August 18, 1974 [Capucci] was arrested by Israeli police for smuggling weapons into the West Bank in a Mercedes sedan.[2] He was subsesquently convicted by an Israeli court of using his diplomatic status to smuggle arms to the Palestine Liberation Army and sentenced to 12 years in prison.[3][4] Capucci was among the prisoners whose release was demanded by the Palestinian hijackers of the Kfar Yuval hostage crisis in 1975 and of the Palestinian hijackers of Air France Flight 139 in 1976. He was released two years later due to intervention by the Vatican.[2] The governments of Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria have honored Capucci with postage stamps.

This man of peace has also publicly sided with Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on civilians in Syria:

Archbishop Hilarion Capucci of Jerusalem in Exile on Monday stressed that the conspiracy against Syria aims at undermining its pan-Arab principles and firm stances towards the just Arab issues and its support to the just Palestinian Cause.

In his statement on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of Evacuation Day (Syria's Independence Day), Capucci said "President Bashar al-Assad's decisions and directives were appeasing on all levels," expressing pride in Syria's leadership and its steadfastness in the face of hatched conspiracies.

Capucci expressed his belief that Syria and the Syrian people with the wisdom of President al-Assad would foil all conspiracies.
You can see how this fake supporter of human rights would fit right in with Vittorio Arrigoni.

(h/t Rudi)

Hamas, Fatah initial a fake agreement

From JPost:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement hammered out an agreement with rival group Hamas on Wednesday, setting the stage for forming an interim government as well as fixing a date for a general election.

"The consultations resulted in full understandings over all points of discussions, including setting up an interim agreement with specific tasks and to set a date for election," Egyptian intelligence said in a statement.

Spokespeople for both Hamas and Fatah confirmed that "all differences" have been worked out between the long-feuding Palestinians political movements.

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas has agreed to hold elections within a year, a part of the reconciliation deal it signed in Cairo.

A Hamas spokesperson said that "all points of differences" between the rival groups have been overcome. He added that officials in Cairo will soon invite top Hamas and Fatah officials for a signing ceremony in the Egyptian capital.
Here is where it is useful to know a little history.

Palestinian Arabs have long been able to put together temporary, paper agreements and truces to achieve larger political goals. Inevitably, Westerners are consistently  fooled by these, stupidly believing that short-term absence of violence indicates a long-term shift in attitudes.

In 1947, in the months before the UN Partition vote, virtually all Arab terror against Jews stopped. Amazing! The Arabs were proving to th world that they could act responsibly and run an Arab-led Palestine where they would protect the Jews as Islam requires them to, and they were puching this as an alternate plan to partitioning Palestine.

But within hours of the UN vote to partition Palestine, the Arabs gave up their pretense of peacefulness and started attacking Jews (in those days, they didn't bother with calling them "Zionists.")

In the months before Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas managed miraculously to reduce rocket fire from Gaza, and the rocket count dropped dramatically from 1157 in 2004 to 417 in 2005 as Israel implemented the plan. The next year, the number of rocket attacks increased back up to nearly the pre-disengagement levels.

Now the Palestinian Arabs are faced with another deadline.

The PA is putting all of their eggs in the unilateral recognition basket, that they are hoping the world provides to them in September. The biggest obstacle to that recognition was the simple fact that the PA and Hamas are hopelessly split - ideologically, physically and politically. There is no way that sympathetic Europeans can overlook that problem and support the establishment of a state where there are two competing rulers.

Hamas also recognizes the immense political value that recognition would bring them - something that, like the disengagement, would happen once and would likely never be reversed.

So even though Fatah and Hamas have been negotiating for years over the exact same issues without being able to come to an agreement, they now are agreeing to paper over their differences with vague wording that is just enough to convince the credulous, wishful-thinking West that they major obstacle to Palestinian Arab independence has been removed.

Note the little we do know: "Hamas has agreed to hold elections within a year." You can bet that the elections  will be scheduled after September, because the result of elections beforehand - either way - would torpedo any chance for a unity government.

Vagueness will be the hallmark of the agreement - just enough to fool the world into thinking that these two groups can work together. Hamas can play the unity game until September, and, if the world is sufficiently fooled, for a few months afterwards. Then the elections, or absence of elections, will start to rock this false alliance.

By then, they hope, Palestine will already be de facto recognized as a state, and Israel will be on the ropes politically anyway. The world will be cheerleading the PalArab insistence on ethically cleansing the heart of the Land of Israel of Jews, and Hamas-Fatahstan will blame all of their new problems on Israel. They will say things like they cannot accept Palestinian Arab "refugees" in their new state as long as Israel holds any of "their" land. The ever present threat of them exploding in a new terror war will cause the West to pressure Israel, as always, as they insist on Israeli concessions to solve their problems.

The outline of what is coming is clear. Because we've seen this game before. Unfortunately, Western amnesia will help ensure that it plays out the way the PalArabs are planning it.

UPDATE: Barry Rubin concurs.

What did you learn online today? (Music video - HuffPoMonitor)

Nice:

Why is Amnesty hosting a Hamas apologist? (Michael Weiss)

An op-ed in The Telegraph by Michael Weiss of Just Journalism:
When Amnesty International sacked the brilliant feminist Gita Sahgal for pointing out the obvious human rights bloomer in her organisation’s partnership with Moazzem Begg – a man who, the Telegraph reveals today, was once claimed by the US authorities to be “a confirmed member of al-Qaeda” – the official Amnesty explanation was that Begg was a swell guy. The unofficial rationale, I suspect, was that, as a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, he hated the Bush administration even more than Amnesty did.
But now Amnesty has taken the next step in its easy-breezy attitude towards religious fundamentalism. The celebrated NGO has cosied up to a Hamas-friendly magazine based in London known as Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO). On May 23, Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre will co-host what promises to be a ripping debate on “Complicity in Oppression: Does the Media Aid Israel?” The other co-hosts are MEMO and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
In case you aren’t familiar with the vagaries of British Islamism, let me provide a short course.
MEMO is run by one Dr Daud Abdullah, the deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain and a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration. This gothic document states that it is the obligation of the “Islamic Nation” to “carry on jihad and Resistance” against Israel and to fight “by all means and ways” any “foreign warship” attempting to block arms smuggling to Hamas, which, last time I checked, was still a terrorist organisation according to EU and UK law.
Though it’s true that “all means and ways” could refer to a strongly worded Facebook campaign, try running those semantics by the Royal Navy, which blocks arms smuggling to Hamas.
MEMO has published some sterling contributions to the discourse of social justice in the Middle East. Take Khalid Amayreh, who in a MEMO essay entitled “Netanyahu’s Lebensraum” described all Israelis as “pathological liars from Eastern Europe, who lie as much as they breath oxygen”, an accusation which at the very least is unfair to the Sephardim.
Just last week, the MEMO website presented Sheikh Raed Salah’scontemplation on “The ‘Jewish state’ and us”. By “us”, Salah means a very select group, since his cod-history of Zionism argues that “Israel has never negotiated with the Palestinians”.  (MEMO thinks the Palestinian Authority, as led by Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, is illegitimate because of its negotiations with Israel.)
More interesting than Salah’s history is his CV. He’s the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel and an ex-con who did two years in the clink in Israel for raising money for Hamas. Salah thinks Jerusalem is the designated capital of the new Islamic caliphate and in 2007 he was charged with incitement to violence and racism for suggesting that Jews use the blood of gentile children to bake bread.
So who is coming to this wondrous festival on media tendentiousness? A cohort including former Guardian associate foreign editor Victoria Brittain and former BBC Middle East Correspondent Tim Llewellyn.
Here’s Llewellyn on the subject of veteran White House Arab-Israeli peace negotiator Denis Ross: “What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Denis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist, a long-time Zionist… and now directs an Israeli-funded think tank in Washington. He is a Zionist propagandist.”
Can this really be the natural constituency of Amnesty International? Why not ring them up and ask: +44 (0) 20 7033 1500.
Amnesty would no doubt argue that the Human Rights Action Center is public space available for rent.

However, they state that "The rooms are open to the public and are available for hire by organisations working in the field of human rights and social justice."

Exactly how does the extremist MEMO, which is explicitly dedicated to disseminating pro-Islamic, pro-Palestinian Arab propaganda, get defined as such an organization?

I would love to see Hadassah or a similar Zionist organization try to book space at the HRAC, say for a conference on medical care for Ethiopian Jews in Israel, just to see what Amnesty would do.

Syrian tanks headed towards Daraa; Syria headed for seat in UNHRC

Via Now Lebanon,  here is a video taken this morning that says it shows tanks being transported towards Daraa, Syria, the center of the anti-government protests.


Other interesting updates:

A tweet from CNN's Hala Gourani: Eyewitness in #Daraa tells CNN some 35 tanks in and now around city. Says people forced to stay home bc of snipers on rooftops.

Twitter user @wissamtarif tweets that many water tanks in Daraa were emptied after being shot, adding that more people—Including a 6-year old child—were killed overnight in the city.

Most towns and cities in the Houran province (which includes Daraa) have run out of wheat.

A senior US State Department official on Tuesday said that Washington will limit its response to the violent crackdown on civilian protests in Syria to diplomacy and possible sanctions, AFP reported.

Meanwhile...
The brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad may finally be getting the attention of world leaders -- but apparently not enough to stop Syria from becoming the newest member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The UN needs a laugh track to accompany everything it does.

Arabs notice Arabs treat Arabs worse than Israel does

An interesting article by a Syrian journalist in Gulf News:

Funnily enough, comparing the number of Arab people killed during the wars between Israel and Arab countries with the number of Arabs killed locally, one will notice that Arab dictatorships have killed more people.

Sadly enough, some Arab armies and security services have proved to be much more brutal than the Israeli army.

When we compare the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza with the number of Arabs being killed these days by Arab dictators, we will be horribly surprised.

In fact, the Sudanese regime killed hundreds of thousands of its own people in Darfur. The so-called Janjaweed gangs in Sudan used to annihilate the people of Darfur like flies simply because the latter clamoured for their basic rights. An Arab satirist once commented that an Arab dictator would not accept the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza even as an appetiser!

Recently there were reports that deposed Tunisian president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali ordered his air force to bombard a civilian area in the Al Qasrain region because the people there demonstrated against his regime. Thankfully, the army refused to carry out his order.

Take Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. WikiLeaks has revealed that his ‘chairmanship' gave the green light to American aircraft to bombard civilian areas to quell a local revolt. Add to this, of course, his brutal handling of the Yemeni revolution.

Other Arab despots are reported to have asked their security forces to aim their guns at protesters' heads. Have you ever seen an Israeli officer torturing a Palestinian civilian to death in the street for everybody to see? Definitely not. Many of us have seen that in some Arab towns lately.

It is true that Israel is forcing an embargo on Gaza, but I do not think that the Israelis are preventing the Palestinians from getting their daily bread, whereas the security services in some Arab countries stopped cars carrying food from entering certain areas. Nor are the Israelis cutting off electricity, telephone and other communication services from houses, hospitals and schools.

It has been reported that the security services stopped nurses and doctors from treating the injured during certain Arab demonstrations as a punishment for rising against the ruling regime. The thugs contracted by the police to help quell protests went even further. They shot at ambulances.

Unlike in some Arab countries, Arabs living inside Israel can organise sit-ins very comfortably. And when the Israeli police intervenes, they never beat demonstrators to death. And if we compare how Israel treats Shaikh Raed Salah with the way some Arab dictators treat their opponents, we will be horribly surprised, as the Israelis are very much less brutal.

Israel can always claim it is facing an enemy, whereas Arab dictators are facing their own people. Let us end with a succinct verse from the late poet Omar Abu Risha: ‘‘No one can blame a wolf when it preys on a sheep if the shepherd himself is the enemy of the cattle''.

PA MP calls for giving medal to murderer of Jewish worshipper

Palestine Times reports that a Hamas MP in the West Bank has called for rewarding the policeman who shot and killed Ben-Yosef Livnat as he was returning from prayers at Joseph's Tomb in Shechem (Nablus.)

Sheikh Hamed Al-Betawi, MP for the "Change and Reform" party (Hamas), says that the killer should be released and he should received the Order of Pride Medal, apparently a top PA prize.

He also bitterly complained that PA negotiators were prepared to give the Jews rights to the Western Wall, which he insisted is purely Muslim.

Pew poll: Egyptians want to scrap Camp David, prefer sharia law

A new Pew Research poll of Egypt shows some worrying trends.

No dividend emerges for the United States from the political changes that have occurred in Egypt. Favorable ratings of the U.S. remain as low as they have been in recent years, and many Egyptians say they want a less close relationship with America. Israel fares even more poorly. By a 54%-to-36% margin, Egyptians want the peace treaty with that country annulled.

The military is now almost universally seen (88%) as having a good influence on the way things are going in Egypt. Fully 90% rate military chief Mohamed Tantawi favorably.

Egyptians are welcoming some forms of change more than others. While half say it is very important that religious parties be allowed to be part of the government, only 27% give a similar priority to assuring that the military falls under civilian control. Relatively few (39%) give high priority to women having the same rights as men. Women themselves are more likely to say it is very important that they are assured equal rights than are men (48% vs. 30%). Overall, just 36% think it is very important that Coptic Christians and other religious minorities are able to freely practice their religions.

Egyptians hold diverse views about religion. About six-in-ten (62%) think laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran. However, only 31% of Egyptian Muslims say they sympathize with Islamic fundamentalists, while nearly the same number (30%) say they sympathize with those who disagree with the fundamentalists, and 26% have mixed views on this question. Those who disagree with fundamentalists are almost evenly divided on whether the treaty with Israel should be annulled, while others favor ending the pact by a goodly margin.
If more than half of those who favor Shari'a law are not sympathetic to "fundamentalists," this means that the Arab definition of "fundamentalist" is much different than the Western definition. After all, wanting to have the nation ruled by religious law is, by definition, a fundamentalist position.

This means that Western journalists and pundits who try to paint the Muslim Brotherhood as outside the mainstream of Egypt are missing the real story.

Only 20% of Egyptians hold a favorable opinion of the United States, which is nearly identical to the 17% who rated it favorably in 2010. Better educated and younger Egyptians have a slightly more positive attitude toward the U.S. than do other Egyptians.

Looking to the future, few Egyptians (15%) want closer ties with the U.S., while 43% would prefer a more distant relationship, and 40% would like the relationship between the two countries to remain about as close as it has been in recent years.
So in what sense is Egypt considered an "ally" of the US again?

Egyptian attackers again explode gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan

From JPost and BBC:

Saboteurs on Wednesday blew up a pipeline running through Egypt's North Sinai near the town of El-Arish that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan, a security source told Reuters.

"An unknown armed gang attacked the gas pipeline," the security source said, adding that the flow of gas to Israel and Jordan had been hit.

"Authorities closed the main source of gas supplying the pipeline and are working to extinguish the fire," the source said, adding there was a tower of flame at the scene.
--
Neighbouring Jordan depends on Egyptian gas to generate 80% of its electricity while Israel gets 40% of its natural gas from the country. Syria also imports gas from Egypt.
Israel's Tamar and Leviathan gas fields can't go online fast enough.

Jordan starts trial of Danish cartoonist for blasphemy

From Al Arabiya:

A Jordanian court has begun blasphemy proceedings against Danish artist Kurt Westergaard for a controversial cartoon he drew of the Prophet Mohammed.

“A court in Amman began today the trial in absentia of those who insulted the Prophet, including Westergaard and Danish newspapers which published his offensive cartoon,” said Tareq Hawamdeh, lawyer for local journalists and activists who brought the suit. The proceeding started on April 25.

“Judge Nathir Shehadeh adjourned the trial until May 8 to hear the witnesses,” Mr. Hawamdeh said in a statement.

In 2005, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a feature with several different artists’ drawings under the heading “Faces of Mohammed.” The most controversial of the cartoons was Mr. Westergaard’s depicting the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

The Jordanian court subpoenaed Mr. Westergaard on April 14 after accusing him of committing “the crime of blasphemy.”

A Jordanian prosecutor summoned Mr. Westergaard for questioning that year after 30 independent newspapers, Websites and radio stations in Jordan sued him over the cartoon, which was published in at least 17 Danish dailies, sparking violent protests in a number of Muslim countries, including Jordan.

“These judicial steps should serve to prevent future attempts to insult Islam and stir up racial hatred towards Muslims across the world, particularly in Europe,” said Zakarya Sheikh, a spokesperson for the group of local media who is suing Mr. Westergaard.

Mr. Sheikh, who is the editor of an Islamic weekly newspaper in Jordan, sued Mr. Westergaard in 2008, saying: “I will do everything in my power to bring him to trial. He deserves the harshest punishment available within the law.”

Mr. Westergaard, 75, told Agence France-Press after the subpoena that “I have not heard about this trial and have not been informed.”

“In any case, I have no intention of going even if I am asked to,” he said, adding, “I do not want to risk becoming familiar with the Jordanian prisons, which would be hell.”

Jordanian legislators have demanded that the government sever ties with Denmark. Amman has condemned the caricature, warning that it could spark further extremism and harm relations between Denmark and Muslim countries.

In 2010 a man with ties to Somalia’s hard-line Islamist group al-Shabab was arrested after attempting to kill Mr. Westergaard in his home with an axe.

Mr. Westergaard is currently living under around-the-clock police protection.
Does this mean that Jordanian law allows anyone worldwide to be prosecuted for blasphemy?

If this is how moderate, Western-leaning Jordan acts when it is not ruled by Islamists, imagine what kind of a country it would be if it was!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

EoZ gets mentioned in JPost

In a JPost article by Benjamin Weinthal:

Amnesty International Ireland’s communication director, Justin Moran, criticized a popular US-based, pro-Israel blog, “Elder of Ziyon,” for pointing out ties between Arrigoni’s supporter and girlfriend, Claudia Milani – who works for Amnesty International – and her promotion of anti-Israel events.

According to the Elder of Ziyon blog, Milani is the “coordinator of Israel/Occupied Territories section of Amnesty International/Italy,” and as such, she gave a talk at an “Israel Apartheid Week” event advertised by Amnesty last month.

Her Facebook page shows that she is “friends” with noted Israel-haters, including Greta Berlin, Adam Shapiro, Max Ajl and Ken O’Keefe.

Moran, from Ireland’s Amnesty office, wrote an e-mail to a reader who complained about the Elder of Ziyon blog entry, saying “I think the site you link to is acting in a deplorable manner by using the tragic death of Mr. Arrigoni to personally target his girlfriend – a woman who is right now coping with the loss of a loved one in unbelievably tragic circumstances.”
Cool! (I did speak to Weinthal last week, but you never know if it is going to make it into print until it does.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Last days of Passover open thread

I will not be able to blog for the last two days of the Passover holiday starting tonight. (This is reason #1765 to move to Israel....)

Anyway, here's an open thread to entertain everyone until Tuesday night....

Have a Chag Sameach and happy holidays for the other weekend holiday celebrants (including, of course, Egyptians!)

Interview with IDF ethicist

The Jerusalem Post has a very long, but worthwhile, interview with the man who helped draft the IDF's ethical codes, Asa Kasher. Excerpts:

Our responsibility is to maintain our moral standards. That’s a very important starting point because in matters of war it can sometimes get blurred. People are always talking about factors like international law, public opinion, the Western world – that is, outside factors that we’re supposed to match up to. No, I say we have to uphold our own standards.

What are those standards?

We take decisions that reflect our acceptance of some aspects of international law; other parts, we have not accepted. The prime question, in these fields of morals and ethics, is what I see when I look in the mirror – not when I watch the BBC.

When the enemy becomes more ruthless and harsher than it was in the past, then we have to protect ourselves in smarter and different ways, but still according to the standards that we have set for ourselves.

You can use the analogy of a police officer at a bank robbery. If he sees that the robber is holding a toy gun, he won’t shoot him. He’ll simply catch him. But if it’s a real gun, and the robber has already killed hostages and he’s about to kill more, and the only way to stop him and save the hostages is to shoot him, the policeman will shoot him.

That robber’s actions have required me to protect myself from him via harsher measures. It’s not a case of: he’ll shoot so I’ll shoot, or he’ll do terrible things so I’ll also do terrible things, or he doesn’t care about killing hostages so I won’t care about killing robbers. That’s absolutely not the point at all. He doesn’t care about killing hostages, but I do care: I don’t want to kill him unless there’s truly no alternative.

This robber is threatening people’s lives, so we will shoot him if there is no other alternative. If we can catch him without firing on him at all, excellent. If we can catch him by injuring him, without killing him, excellent. If there’s no alternative, it’s a tragedy to hit him, but that’s what has to be done.

And that broadly is what is happening with our enemies today. If our enemy would fight on the battlefield, on open ground, in uniform, carrying his weapons openly, then it would be a case of an army facing off against a force that behaved like an army, and children and other non-dangerous people would not get hurt. But the enemy has changed the way it fights. So we have no choice. We have to protect ourselves as necessary.

Now there’s a basis to what we have to do: We are a democratic state. And that means two things. One, we are obligated to effectively protect our citizens from all danger. So we have a police force, to protect against crime. A Health Ministry, to protect against medical dangers. A Transportation Ministry, against the dangers on the roads. And we have a Defense Ministry, to protect us against the dangers our enemies represent.

The state cannot evade this obligation. It can’t say, “I am busy, I have more important things to do.” There is nothing more important than protecting citizens’ lives. Nothing.

A democratic state wants to deal with all kinds of other things, all kinds of agreements, citizens’ rights, elections, free media and so on. Okay, fine. But to enjoy all or any of that, you have to be alive. Before you get to any of that, to protect any of that, you have to protect my life. A state is obligated to ensure effective protection of its citizens’ lives. In fact, it’s more than just life. It is an obligation to ensure the citizens’ well-being and their capacity to go about their lives. A citizen of a state must be able to live normally. To send the kids to school in the morning. To go shopping. To go to work. To go out in the evening. A routine way of life. Nothing extraordinary. The state is obliged to protect that.

At the same time, the moral foundation of a democratic state is respect for human dignity. Human dignity must be respected in all circumstances. And to respect human dignity in all circumstances means, among other things, to be sensitive to human life in all circumstances. Not just the lives of the citizens of your state. Everybody.

This applies even in our interactions with terrorists. I am respecting the terrorist’s dignity when I ask myself, “Do I have to kill him or can I stop him without killing him?”

And I certainly have to respect the human dignity of the terrorists’ nondangerous neighbors – who are not a threat. We always talk about “innocents,” but “innocence” is not the issue here. The issue here is whether they are dangerous. So the correct translation is “non-dangerous.”

As in, non-threatening?

Yes, that’s the significance. If they are “not dangerous,” that means I don’t have even the beginning of a moral right to harm them deliberately.

Okay, so that’s some of the theory. Now relate that to Operation Cast Lead.

Fine. We have to protect our citizens and we have to respect human dignity. But when it comes to a war like Operation Cast Lead, those two imperatives are likely to clash. I am obligated to protect my citizens, but I have no way to protect them without the non-dangerous neighbors of the terrorists becoming caught up in the conflict. What am I to do?

Two things: First, you decide what is more important in the given situation. And second, you do whatever you can so that the damage to the other side is as small as possible: Maximizing effective defense of the citizens; minimizing collateral damage.

How do I decide which of the conflicting imperatives is more important? People don’t like this idea, because they don’t understand it: They think it is immoral to give priority to the defense of the citizens of your state over the protection of the lives of the neighbors of the terrorists. They don’t understand that the world is built in such a way that responsibility is divided.

Please elaborate.

We are responsible for the residents of the State of Israel. Canada is responsible for the residents of Canada. Australia, for Australia. And that’s just fine. We are not responsible for the lives of Canadians in the same way as we are for the lives of Israelis and vice versa. This is completely accepted and completely moral and no one questions this. We don’t have one world government that is responsible for everything. We have states with their own responsibilities.

Now from this stems the fact that when you have clash of imperatives, this responsibility for one’s own citizens takes precedence over the other responsibility to the non-dangerous neighbors. This isn’t anything to do with us being Israel, or Jews. The same applies to the United States or to Canada or to any other country.

I cannot evade my prime responsibility to protect the well-being of the citizens of my country. Now, among all the means I could use to protect them, I will choose those that are better morally – better from the point of view of the effectiveness of the protection and the minimalization of the damage to the neighbors of the terrorists.

And what do we do to minimize the harm done to the neighbors of the terrorists?

We can’t separate the terrorist from his neighbors. We can’t force the terrorists to move away, because they don’t want to move away. That’s their whole strategy: To be there. The Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, they want to work from within. The terrorists have erased the difference between combatants and non-combatants.

They live in residential areas. They operate from within residential areas. They attack civilians. And they won’t leave when I tell them to leave. No one has the power to move them from where they are without conquering the entire area, which requires special justifications.

But if we can’t force the terrorist out, we can make the effort to move his neighbors. He won’t move away from his neighbors, but maybe his neighbors will move away from him. And experience shows that this kind of effort succeeds. That is, very many non-dangerous neighbors do move away from terrorists if they are warned.

So Israel, the IDF, carries out very intensive warning operations. Unprecedented. There are those who don’t like the term, “the most moral army in the world.” I think it’s a very complex phrase, and one has to make all kinds of professional diagnoses. You can’t just blithely invoke it. But let’s look at that claim in this particular context.

Who tries harder than we do to warn the neighbors [to leave a conflict zone]? Who does it better than we do? I don’t know if the public realizes this, but we recently carried out precisely such an act of warning – by publishing a map of Hezbollah positions in south Lebanon. Israel released details of hundreds of villages where Hezbollah has a position deep inside the village. From there, they’ll fire on us if and when they want to, and we will have to protect ourselves. That means we’ll have to fire into the village.

The publication of this map is a warning: We know, it says, that Hezbollah is intertwining its terrorists with non-dangerous neighbors. Understand that to protect ourselves in this situation will mean endangering the populace. The populace has to know that it is in a dangerous situation.

What to do in this dangerous situation? We don’t know. We’re telling those non-dangerous neighbors to give it some thought. Try to kick out Hezbollah? That is apparently very difficult. Move away from the Hezbollah position? Perhaps that is possible. Get away when the time comes? That may sound theoretical at present, but when the time comes, who knows? The fact is, this is an advance warning.

Now let’s come to Operation Cast Lead in this context. We distributed leaflets [to Gaza civilians, telling them that they should leave a potential conflict zone]. It may be that we can do that better – distribute better leaflets, more detailed, with more precise guidance on how to get away. We broke into their radio and TV broadcasts to give them announcements, to warn them. That can be done still more effectively.

We made phone calls to 160,000 phone numbers. No one in the world has ever done anything like that, ever. And it’s clear why that is effective. It’s not a piece of paper that was dropped in my neighborhood. The phone rang in my own pocket! Yes, it was a recorded message, because it’s impossible to make personal calls on that scale. But still, this was my number they dialed. It was a warning directed personally to me, not some kind of general warning.

And finally, we had the “tap on the roof” approach. The IDF used nonlethal weaponry, fired onto the roofs [of buildings being used by terrorists]. That weaponry makes a lot of noise. It constituted a very strong, noisy hint: We’re close, but you still have the chance to get out.

What we don’t use is nohal shachen (the “neighbor protocol”). I recently read comments by a British general, a commander in Afghanistan...

Gen. Richard Kemp?

No, this was someone else, saying at a press conference, how moral his forces are. And then he described their policy, which was nohal shachen, as the symbol of the morality of British soldiers.

What did he say, specifically, that they do?

He said that when they are facing a terrorist hiding out in a building with non-dangerous neighbors, they make one of the neighbors telephone or speak through a loudspeaker to the Taliban terrorist who is in this building, and say that rather than killing him and the neighbors and destroying the house, he should surrender and that he’ll be taken away with various guarantees. This British commander was very proud of this ostensibly humane procedure – a procedure that the courts here forbid us to do. We don’t do it.

We issue warnings in an unprecedented way – not one warning, but many. We make enormous efforts to get the neighbors away from the terrorists.

Now there’s one more thing that maybe we could do, and there’s an argument surrounding it: send soldiers into the building. Send in soldiers to check that maybe someone has stayed. I am against this. Very against this.

So there’s a difference between what we did in Jenin [during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, where 13 soldiers were killed in an ambush] and what we did in Gaza?

Yes, we changed our approach. The approach is more appropriate now. I think what we did in Jenin was a mistake. There was a primitive conception that “it’s all right to endanger soldiers.” Every time there was a dilemma like this – soldiers here and non-soldiers on the other side – the soldiers were endangered.

Why was that wrong?

You need, to a certain limit, to warn the people to get out. At a certain point, the warnings are over and there are two possibilities. That people have stayed because they don’t want to leave or because they can’t leave. If they can’t leave, despite all the warnings, despite the possibilities to get them out, even to send ambulances to get them out, that’s interesting to me, and we’ll come back to that.

But if a neighbor doesn’t want to leave, he turns himself into the human shield of the terrorist. He has become part of the war. And I’m sorry, but I may have to harm him when I try to stop the terrorist. I’ll do my best not to. But it may be that in the absence of all other alternatives, I may hurt him. I certainly don’t see a good reason to endanger the lives of soldiers in a case like that.

Sometimes people don’t understand this. They think of soldiers as, well, instruments. They think that soldiers are there to be put into danger, that soldiers are there to take risks, that this is their world, this is their profession. But that is so far from the reality in Israel, where most of the soldiers are in the IDF because service is mandatory and reserve service is mandatory. Even with a standing army, you have to take moral considerations into account. But that is obviously the case when service is compulsory: I, the state, sent them into battle. I, the state, took them out of their homes. Instead of him going to university or going to work, I put a uniform on him, I trained him, and I dispatched him. If I am going to endanger him, I owe him a very, very good answer as to why. After all, as I said, this is a democratic state that is obligated to protect its citizens. How dare I endanger him?
It is amazing how much a country under constant threat worries about how to minimize harm to those who support its destruction. And as Kasher said, it is not to impress the BBC or HRW, but to uphold Israeli society's own moral standards.

Once again, it is illuminating to compare an interview like this to the facile condemnations that come from the media and "human rights" organizations who automatically assume that civilians die because of IDF mendacity. This shows that Israel is light years ahead of the pontificating accusers, both in knowledge of what has to be done and, yes, in morality.

Islamic Jihad says it is too moral to use chemical weapons

Palestine Today writes that Said Abu Ahmed, spokesman of Al-Quds Brigades, military wing of Islamic Jihad, said that the Palestinian "resistance" groups would never use chemical weapons because of the ethics of the "resistance" and their Islamic religion which would prohibit their use.

In other ethical news, the same Islamic Jihad praised the murderers of Ben Yosef Livnat, returning from prayers at Joseph's Tomb, this morning, saying it was a natural response to the provocation that Jews do. By praying, I guess.

Study: "10,000 international forces cannot stop PalArab terror" (UPDATED)

One of the assumptions of a final peace agreement that is bandied about is the idea that an international force would be deployed within the PA-controlled areas in order to protect both sides from aggression by the other.

A new study determines that such an approach would fail to stop Palestinian Arab terrorists from their activities.

From IMRA:

Maariv correspondent Eli Brandstein reported in the 21 April 2011 edition that a war simulation organized by the Saban Center with the participation of former senior American officials found that a large international force of 10,000 deployed in a sovereign Palestinian state could not prevent Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli targets despite receiving advance warning from Israel.

The simulation also found that official Palestinian security forces would not act themselves to prevent the attacks, relying instead on the ineffective international forces.

To make matters worse, the simulation found that the presence of the international force in the Palestinian state served to increase friction and tension between Israel and the United States in a way that impaired security cooperation between Israel and the United States.

Under the simulation, a sovereign Palestinian state would be created after a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank with major settlement blocs annexed by Israel and over 82 settlements evacuated.

The 10,000 man international security force that failed in the simulation was composed of European soldiers along with some soldiers from Morocco and Palestinians under American command.

In the simulation the international force enjoyed complete security authority via a UN mandate with its principle mission being to prevent terror attacks against Israel.

Maariv did not indicate if any Palestinian state promoters have revised their position given the results of the simulation given that these result serve to undermine a key working assumption of those who claim that there are viable durable workable security arrangements that could be implemented in the event of the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.
So much for what "everyone knows."

Yet, as with all other fatal assumptions that have no proof, real evidence will not sway those who are wedded to the idea of the "peace process."

(h/t Zach N)

UPDATE:
In response to a inquiry by IMRA regarding the simulation reported in
Maariv(see below) , Kenneth M. Pollack, Director of the Saban Center for
Middle East Policy responded late Saturday night as follows:

"The Maariv report is entirely INACCURATE. It is factually incorrect. The
simulation demonstrated nothing of the sort. We tried to explain this to the
reporter, but apparently he was not interested.

We will be putting out an accurate account of the simulation and its
findings in the days ahead. You will find it on the Brookings website when
it is out. "
Nice to know. We'll see. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)