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Sunday, July 31, 2011

A rosy open thread


But he that dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.

Saudi cleric rules that men can marry baby girls "in the cradle"

From the WSJ:
A senior Saudi cleric issued a religious ruling to allow fathers to arrange marriages for their daughters "even if they are in the cradle," setting up a confrontation between government reformers and influential conservative clergy.

Sheik Saleh al-Fawzan, one of the country's most important clerics, issued the ruling after the Justice Ministry said this month it would act to regulate marriages between prepubescent girls and men in the Islamic kingdom.

"Those who are calling for a minimum age for marriage should fear God and not violate his laws or try to legislate things God did not permit" them to legislate, Sheik Fawzan wrote in a fatwa, or religious decree, which was published on his website.

It isn't clear what legal weight Sheik Fawzan's fatwa would have if the Saudi justice ministry proceeds with its plan to outlaw child marriages. Saudi Arabia's legal system isn't codified, but because it is based upon an interpretation of Sharia law, the rulings of senior clerics can be used by individual judges when deciding cases.

..."Scholars have agreed that it was permissible for fathers to marry off their young daughters, even if they are in the cradle," Sheik Fawzan wrote in his fatwa. "But it isn't permissible for their husbands to have sex with them unless they are capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the men."

He cited the example of the prophet's wife Aisha, who he said was wed at the age of six, but didn't have sex until she was nine.

Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti said in 2009 that it was acceptable for girls aged 10 and above to marry.
How long will it be before some Saudi pervert asks the esteemed cleric whether he is allowed to copulate with his 4 year old bride if he finds a position that does not force the child to bear any weight?

I wonder if they have lavish parties for the enslaved children to celebrate the consummation of these marriages.

This utterly depraved and sick story came out in Arabic over two weeks ago.

US DEA busts Hezbollah weapons smuggling ring

From Now Lebanon:
It was just an undercover operation meant to lead to the arrest of an Iranian drug dealer in Bucharest, Romania. But it developed into one of the largest operations the American Drug Enforcement Agency initiated in the last decade. It ended with the arrest of a Lebanese weapons dealer who claimed he was buying weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, worth $9.5 million for Hezbollah.

The American Drug Enforcement Agency announced last Tuesday that it had arrested Lebanese citizen Bashar Wehbeh in the Republic of Maldives for trying to purchase weapons from two undercover agents who were posing as dealers. As a result of the same operation, Cetin Aksu and Siavosh Henareh, Turkish and Iranian citizens, respectively, were arrested in Romania.

An international network of security institutions from Interpol to the Maldivian, Romanian Turkish, Greek and Malaysian police kept the suspects under surveillance, recorded conversations, intercepted phone calls and e-mails, and, on Monday, arrested the suspects.

...The agents recorded phone calls and conversations, filmed the meetings and kept e-mails in which they negotiated selling to [Hezbollah's] Wehbeh 48 American-made Stinger SAMs, 100 Igla SAMs, 5,000 AK 47 assault rifles, 1,000 M4 rifles and 1,000 Glock handguns for a total price of approximately $9.5 million.

Aksu and Wehbeh signed a written contract in June 2011 in Malaysia.

“During a meeting on June 12, 2011, Wehbeh stated that he was purchasing the weapons on instructions from Hezbollah,” the indictment reads. “On June 28, 2011, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wehbeh and co-conspirators not named as defendants herein caused approximately $50,000 as a down payment for the weapons purchase… to be sent to the [DEA agents].”
The case also shows links between Hezbollah weapons dealers and the drug trade.

The full indictment is here.

Chabad members strike deal to enlist in IDF (updated)

From Israel HaYom:
Leaders of the Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox movement have brokered an agreement with the Israel Defense Forces to draft male members for full military service. The agreement is to be signed soon, both sides report. The move marks the first time an entire Orthodox Hasidic movement will commit itself to sending its members to the Israeli military.

The deal is unique and significant as most Israeli ultra-Orthodox men do not perform military service, preferring instead to focus on their religious studies. The issue is a serious cause of tension between the religious and secular sectors of Israeli society.

The agreement between Chabad and the IDF, which comes after several months of negotiations, allows Chabad yeshiva students to leave the country for one year at the completion of their religious studies. After their year abroad, the students will be required to return to Israel for regular military service of three years.

The agreement stipulates that the men will be drafted and will have to serve a full three-year term even if they were married before beginning their service.

Chabad is concerned about fallout from other ultra-Orthodox groups because of the agreement, said a source with knowledge of the agreement. The IDF, on the other hand, is satisfied, considering the agreement a significant achievement after years of trying to integrate ultra-Orthodox communities into greater Israeli society, and is looking forward to the official support of some of Israel's most highly respected rabbis and Haredi community leaders. “This sets a precedent in the Haredi world,” the source said of the agreement. “For the first time, rabbis will support an agreement that will significantly increase the numbers in the IDF's ranks.”
This is very good news. It can help diffuse the anger that Israelis have towards the Haredim and it can help Chabad members integrate better into Israeli society.

I would be surprised if other chassidic groups follow very soon, though. Chabad is known for being able to live in secular of environments and encourages its members to live in the most remote places on the planet; other haredi groups are quite the opposite.

UPDATE: Chabad denies the deal. (h/t Miriam)

Death toll in Syria up to 136 today, rumors about who is in control (update)

From Al Arabiya:
Syrian forces killed at least 136 civilians and wounded hundreds in major tank assaults on Hama and other cities that began at dawn on Sunday to crush pro-democracy demonstrations, activists said.

“The army and security forces launched an attack on Hama and opened fire on civilians, killing 95 people,” Ammar Qorabi, who heads the National Organization for Human Rights, told AFP earlier.

He said that elsewhere, “19 people were killed in Deir Ezzor in the east, six more died in Harak in the south and one in Al Bukamal,” also in the east.

Several observers wondered if Mr. Assad was truly in charge of the situation. Some suggested that his brother, Maher, may be leading the assault against pro-democracy protesters. Maher Assad is known for his personal brutality and intolerance of dissent.

Reports have suggested that President Assad’s immediate family is in London, including his wife Asma. Mrs. Assad is particularly popular throughout Syria and internationally because of her humanitarian concerns, social work – and her great beauty.

While speculation increased Sunday afternoon about her husband’s whereabouts and whether he was still in control of Syria, world condemnation of the Syrian brutality slowly started.

The Obama Administration did not directly issue a condemnation from Washington. But a US embassy official in Damascus said on Sunday Syrian authorities had launched a war against their own people by attacking the city of Hama to try to crush pro-democracy demonstrations.

“It is desperate. The authorities think that somehow they can prolong their existence by engaging in full armed warfare on their own citizens,” Press Attache J. J. Harder told Reuters by phone. He described the official Syrian account of the violence as “nonsense.”
If the Assad family knows anything, it is how to hold onto power. I would not bet against Bashir yet.

Germany issued a  real condemnation of the Syrian regime.

UPDATE: President Obama said he is "appalled" at the brutality.

More trouble for the PA: Workers plan to strike

This was predictable:
The union of civil servants in the West Bank on Sunday called for an open strike to begin Tuesday in protest over the late payment of salaries.

Union chief Bassam Zakarna dismissed the Palestinian Authority's claims that it could not pay employees' wages on time because of a financial crisis.

"This financial crisis is made up, and the government adopts a policy of blackout to frustrate employees and citizens while the treasury has enough money to pay full salaries," Zakarna said in a statement.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday that the government needed $300 million "urgently" to help ease a cash crisis.

Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of Arab League representatives, Fayyad said the crisis stemmed from the fact that pledged aid had not materialized.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki told AFP that President Mahmoud Abbas had requested the meeting as the PA faced the possibility of being unable to pay the salaries of its employees for July or August.

Zakarna said Fayyad was "trying tactics" as shops were forced to close and the country's economy was "collapsing."

The union leader said government employees were not able to buy goods for the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, and could not pay for their children's university applications.

If the PA starts to see strikes and anti-government demonstrations in August - which Hamas may very well help organize and encourage - it would make the statehood bid at the UN look like a joke. And Ramadan protests, with hungry people in the heat of the summer demanding their money, seem likely to flare up into violence, which would be even more embarrassing before any UN bid.

The PA is by far the largest employer in the West Bank, so if the government workers aren't paid the entire economy very possibly would collapse.

Interestingly, although Fayyad managed to get the Arab League to meet about the PA's financial troubles, I have not seen any indication that any money was actually forthcoming.

Is it possible that Arab leaders are not really keen on this whole unilateral statehood stunt and are trying to undermine it by withholding promised funds? I haven't seen much enthusiasm for the idea in the mainstream Arabic press. This sounds like the type of passive-aggressive move that Arab leaders have used in the past, as they mouth words of support for "Palestine" but do little to help.

Islamists fighting Egyptians in Sinai - 4 civilians killed

From Ma'an:
Five Egyptians were killed on Friday in clashes between Egyptian forces and reported Islamists.

Over 100 masked men wearing black uniforms rallied in the streets of El-Arish, Sheikh Zweid and Rafah, a town on the Gaza border, waving black banners reading "There is no God but Allah."

In El-Arish, the armed men headed to Rifai Square and fired at a statue of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated by Islamists in 1981.

Egyptian soldiers tried to confront the protesters, who then headed to a police station and fired at the building. Police officers returned fire and clashes continued until midnight.

An Egyptian officer and four civilians were killed, including a child. Eighteen others were injured. Police could not control the gunmen, and military back-up was sent to El-Arish.

The army managed to stop the gunmen from breaking into the police station but the masked men moved to the coastline where they continued to clash with the army.

When army reinforcements arrived the gunmen withdrew in groups.

Egyptian security sources told a Ma'an correspondent that the gunmen belonged to a "dangerous extremist group who were responsible for the attacks on the gas pipelines from Egypt to Jordan and Israel, and attacks on police stations after the revolution in Egypt.

"They plan to expel the Egyptian security and establish a tribal regime in northern Sinai."
It appears that these Islamists were behind the latest RPG attack on the Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan on Saturday.

Because the clashes had spread to Rafah, Egypt closed the border from Gaza and 450 were stranded at the Rafah checkpoint.

It can hardly be a coincidence that the Islamists are trying to create a regime adjacent to Hamastan in Gaza. In the past few days there have been a number of apparent Islamist attacks in Gaza as well, including against UNRWA and a firebomb outside a store on Saturday.

Looks like the Arab spring is turning into a very hot Arab summer.

Israel HaYom has more.

Syria attacks Hama with tanks, 100 killed so far (updated)

From Radio New Zealand:
Syrian tanks have stormed the city of Hama killing at least 45 civilians, a leading rights group says.

Earlier, a doctor confirmed that 24 people had been killed and residents reported "intense gunfire" as Syrian forces moved in from several sides.

The doctor also said there are scores of wounded people and a shortage of blood for transfusions.

Speaking in London, Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest toll, based on his contacts with Syrian activists, was 45 dead and several more wounded.
Al Arabiya has the death toll at 62. (UPDATE: Its headline now says over a hundred killed.)

Ramadan starts tonight and this offensive is apparently Syria's attempt to stem even bigger protests during that month. Hundreds of thousands had rallied against the Assad regime in Hama last Friday.

UPDATE: Reports say that Syrian forces are shooting and killing anyone who ventures outside.

(h/t Dan for first update)

What a surprise: Iran blames Israel for Norway massacre

From Trend.AZ:
The head of the Iranian military on Saturday accused "the Zionists" of being behind the terrorist attacks in Norway, the Iranian state-owned English-language broadcaster Press TV reported on Saturday, reported dpa.

The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of Iran's armed forces, Hassan Firouzabadi, said in a statement: "The Zionists are behind the terrorist attacks in Norway, as they fuel rightist sentiments, foster terrorism and use world people as their toys in pursuit of their objectives."

"The world should be on alert of the Zionist regime attempts to create deviation within Christianity and spread Christian Zionism," the general added in the statement carried by Press TV.

Iranian officials frequently accuse Israel, referred to as "the Zionists", of being behind any incident with an anti-Islamic background.
I'm shocked! - that it took a full week before Iran said this. Hamas and Hezbollah handily beat them to the punch, by five days!

The Ayatollahs are getting slow.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Samir Kuntar reportedly injured in explosion

From Ya Libnan:

An explosion caused by a bomb or grenade killed a person in the Dahiyeh suburb of southern Beirut, An-Nahar newspaper reported on Saturday .

Hezbollah immediately imposed a security cordon around the site of the explosion, which the paper said occurred in the tenth floor of a building in the Al-Nasr Complex of the area.

An-Nahar also reported that the security forces were unable to enter the site.

Update : The person that was killed was a Hezbollah member

update 2: Samir Kuntar, a terrorist released by Israel three years ago, was reportedly injured in a blast in one of the buildings.
Kuntar, of course, is one of the most loathsome terrorists in history.

It is a shame he isn't the one who got killed.

Notice that in a newspaper in the country where many consider Kuntar a hero, they have no problem calling him a terrorist without Reuters-style scare quotes.

Anti-BDS hot chocolate in Australia

From The Australian:
A GROUP of prominent Australians met for a hot chocolate last night in a peaceful protest against violence in front of a Jewish business that was recently targeted as part of an anti-Israel boycott.

Labor MP Michael Danby, Australian Workers Union secretary Paul Howes, former Labor Party president Warren Mundine, comedian Sandy Gutman, aka Austen Tayshus, and journalist Jana Wendt were among those who spoke out against a violent protest on July 1 outside the Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne in which three police officers were hurt and 19 protesters arrested.

Mr Danby, who organised last night's meeting and is one of three Jewish federal MPs, said the violent protest had been a reminder to him of the need for vigilance against anti-Semitism, and it was worrying that Greens senator Lee Rhiannon was a vocal supporter of the boycott.

"The impetus was an ugly, violent demonstration in Melbourne and Senator Rhiannon's determination to take this boycott further," he said. "She would like to see it introduced into the Senate and into politics.

"We remember the precedence of the 1930s; my father came from Germany, and (at) any sign of this kind of behaviour we have to draw a line in the sand."
Ian in the comments notes who some of them are:
Warren Mundine - Aboriginal leader and former national president of the Labor party, who has promoted the legacy of William Cooper who was declared “Righteous among the Nations” in 2008

Austen Tayshus – Comedian who volunteered during the Yom Kippur War.

Paul Howes - Australian Workers Union secretary, former socialist who saw the error of his ways on a trip to Cuba.

Jana Wendt – Journalist "As the daughter of refugees whose lives were critically affected by both fascism and communism, I'm grateful for what Australia has to offer,”
There was a similar counter-protest by MPs on July 19th:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why peace is impossible, reason #2671

A most interesting piece in Dissent magazine by Michael Walzer:

In a “solidarity” march for an independent Palestinian state earlier in July, roughly 90 percent of the marchers were Israeli Jews, but all the flags were Palestinian. Israeli flags were banned at the insistence of the Palestinians, who said that they wouldn’t join the march unless their flags were the only ones carried. In the event, not many of them joined anyway. The Israelis agreed to the ban (though many of my friends were unhappy about it), arguing that their flag had become the symbol of occupation and oppression. But that was only true because the settlers and their far-right supporters always march with the flag, while the Left has given it up. And that may help explain why leftist demonstrations and marches are so small these days.

There are many reasons, of course, for the current weakness of the Left. But its militants might begin to overcome their weakness if they were seen by their fellow citizens to be insisting, with a strong (rather than a bleeding) heart, that solidarity has to be a two-way street. They should say to the Palestinians: we will march with your flag only if you march with ours. And they should say to all Israel: our program, two states for two peoples, offers the best hope of securing the national sovereignty that this flag, which we carry proudly, is supposed to represent.
This is a picture-perfect example of hope running roughshod over reality.

Let's say you are walking down a city street and see someone wearing this pin:

What are the chances that he or she is Palestinian Arab?

The answer - as everyone knows, even Mr. Walzer - is zero. The market for these pins ends at the Green Line.

Let's pretend that the Left actually insists that Palestinian Arabs march with the Israeli flag, that if they really want co-existence they must show it in a tangible way. How would the other side react?

They would flat-out refuse. They would insist that the Israeli flag represents apartheid, and genocide, and ethnic cleansing. Their faces would blanch at the thought of it. They would tell the leftists - sorry, but even if it means we lose your support, we will never hold an Israeli flag unless it is to burn it.

As has been pointed out before, there is no equivalent to the Israeli and Western leftist/peace movement among Palestinian Arabs. There is no voice - at least none that can be seen in the Arabic media - demanding that Mahmoud Abbas make "painful compromises" for peace, no peace rallies, no op-eds demanding a resumption of negotiations. Is there a single Palestinian Arab dissident, willing to go to prison, for demanding Abbas give up anything for peace?

This article inadvertently proves that real peace is impossible. And pretending that it will happen if Israel does X, Y and Z is pure wishful thinking.

(Other posts on why peace is impossible: Here, here, here, here..)

(h/t Zach N)

Syria update: Syrian embassy in US is threatening protesters!

Al Jazeera (via Now Lebanon)  reports that nine protesters were killed today - so far.

There are reports of more soldiers defecting from the Syrian army.

Here is an extremely graphic video of a man who had been tortured and killed in Syria.

A bomb struck a major oil pipeline in western Syria.

The biggest rally today seems to be this one in Hama, where you can see hundreds of thousands of people.


And here is a chilling story from Al Arabiya:
Early one Friday morning in late April, Hala Abdulaziz, a 29-year-old interior designer, went online from her apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC, to check the latest on protests in her home country of Syria.

Moments later, Hala recognized her father in a video of demonstrators under fire. Two other protestors carried him slung between them as he bled profusely into a shirt she gave him on her last trip to Damascus.

Unable to reach her family over jammed telephone lines, Hala didn’t receive confirmation that her father had died until she saw his name, Abdalgafar Abdulaziz, on a list of people killed on a news program. It was another month and a half before she could get through to her family on the phone.

“The situation is very bad for us,” Hala told Al Arabiya. “I just wanted to talk to my mom, see her, console her, hear from her directly how they are. I had no way of knowing for six weeks.”

In the following month, Hala sought recourse the only way she could from Washington – she sued Bashar Al Assad and members of his regime under an American legal clause that gives US citizens the right to sue foreign governments for torturing or killing their relatives.

That’s when the scare tactics began. As the Federal Bureau of Investigation later learned, employees of the Syrian Embassy in Washington were behind a campaign of intimidation.

“Someone called me, speaking Arabic, and said they would take my daughter in Syria, kill my family, and kill me if I didn’t drop the case,” said Hala. She says her five-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother in Damascus, was seized by authorities for five hours, while two of her brothers were arrested and tortured.

Hala is one of many receiving threats from the embassy, according to Syrian activist Mohammad Abdallah, who served jail time in Syria for political dissidence before moving to the US.

Mr. Abdallah recounted run-ins with embassy employees at protests over the past few months. Employees would film and photograph demonstrators, and threaten to send their names to intelligence officials in Syria to put pressure on their families back home.

“Many activists were receiving threats, so they came together to report them to the authorities. The FBI investigation revealed that the threats were coming from people employed by the embassy… so the embassy was conducting surveillance on American citizens,” said Abdallah.

One activist’s mother was barred from leaving Syria, and others have had family members arrested, prompting some protestors to start covering their faces during demonstrations.

US officials are taking the accusations seriously. The State Department summoned Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha to address the complaints earlier in July. As recently as Wednesday this week, Assistant Secretary for the Middle East Jeffrey Feltman said the FBI will continue to investigate the embassy’s actions.

Hala Abdulaziz remains undeterred, though she said the FBI recently started watching her apartment after she reported a suspicious man from the embassy lurking near her home. She says she will continue to demand accountability for the Syrian regime – not just on behalf of her father, but also for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have sacrificed.

“I will not drop the case until Bashar Al Assad is brought to justice.”

Latest Latma (7/29/11)

Some new faces in this one.

Should Israel's policies be dictated by fears of becoming a "pariah"?

In my Twitter exchange with Jeffrey Goldberg yesterday, he pretty much admitted that Israel's giving up the West Bank would very possibly not bring Israel peace anyway. But he fell back to a second argument for Israel's withdrawal from the territory:

I believe, however, that Israel will become a pariah if the Palestinians aren't granted statehood, or the vote in Israel.

My point was that a Palestinian Arab state could exist while Israel still holds onto parts of the territories deemed necessary for security as well as areas that already have large Jewish communities.

But the issue he brought up, that Israel would become a pariah if it didn't act in certain ways, is worth exploring.

What makes Israel unpopular?

I would argue that it has almost nothing to do with Israeli policies. While certain Israeli actions cause Western opinion to temporarily go in one direction or another, the general trend of opinion is independent of Israeli actions.

The Western world liked Israel in 1967 and after Entebbe in 1976. It liked Israel immediately after the peace agreement with Egypt but that disappeared soon after. It liked Israel after the Gaza withdrawal but that disappeared when Israel acted to stop the rockets that still rained down. The world liked Israel a little after the withdrawal from Lebanon but that disappeared as well. It liked Israel after the Oslo agreement was signed but it was silent when suicide bombings flared up in years afterwards. In other words, world opinion is mercurial and the world has a short-term memory, driven by the most recent news.

But underneath the zig-zag chart of world opinion of Israel there is a longer trend against Israel, a trend that is relentlessly downward. We now live in a world where people who seem otherwise intelligent have no problem singling out Israel for perceived crimes that she is far less guilty of than even other Western nations under remotely similar circumstances. (One only has to look at the hysterical reaction to the admittedly problematic "BDS law" while comparing it to the criminal restrictions on freedom of speech in most European countries today, for a recent example.)

What is behind this continuous downtrend of world opinion?

There is, and always will be, a large and hard core set of people who are against Israel's very existence. They hated the idea of a Jewish state before it was born, they hated Israel when it was a tiny struggling nation, they hated it when it won and they hated it when it lost. This core consists of Arabs and the radical hard-Left.

Any reasonable observer can identify that the source of this irrational, seething hate is good old-fashioned anti-semitism. There is no other explanation for the double standards and disproportionate focus on only the Jewish state.

But anti-semitism is declasse. So this hate has been redefined in terms of human rights, of Arab rights, of Israeli aggression, of fairness and justice, of a tiny oppressed underdog against a huge Zionist war machine.

This coalition of Arabs and hard-left Jew-haters has been cynically framing the argument in these terms, consistently, for decades now. But make no mistake - it is a strategy, not a spontaneous expression of digust at supposed Israeli crimes. The PLO (probably in coordination with the Soviets) sketched this strategy out immediately after the Six Day War, and published it in the Palestine National Assembly Political Resolutions in July, 1968:
The enemy consists of three interdependent forces:
a) Israel.
b) World Zionism.
c) World imperialism, under the direction of the United States of America.

Moreover, it is incontestable that world imperialism makes use of the forces of reaction linked with colonialism.

If we are to achieve victory and gain our objectives, we shall have to strike at the enemy wherever he may be, and at the nerve centres of his power. This is to be achieved through the use of military, political and economic weapons and information media, as part of a unified and comprehensive plan designed to sap his strength, scatter his forces, destroy the links between them and undermine their common objectives.

A long-drawn out battle has the advantage of allowing us to expose world Zionism, its activities, conspiracies, and its complicity with world imperialism and to point out the damage and complications it causes to the interests and the security of many countries, and the threat it constitutes to world peace. This will eventually unmask it, bringing to light the grotesque facts of its true nature, and will isolate it from the centres of power and establish safeguards against its ever reaching them...

An information campaign must be launched that will throw light on the following facts:

a) The true nature of the Palestinian war is that of a battle between a small people, which is the Palestinian people, and Israel, which has the backing of world Zionism and world imperialism.

b) This war will have its effect on the interests of any country that supports lsrael or world Zionism.

c) The hallmark of the Palestinian Arab people is resistance, struggle and liberation, that of the enemy, aggression, usurpation and the disavowal of all values governing decent human relations.
This blueprint has really not changed much since 1968. The goal of these rabid Israel-haters is to divide Israel from the Western world, especially America, by painting Israel as an aggressive bully that is trampling on the rights of a poor but proud people. It is no coincidence that this plan was conceived in the aftermath of a war where combined Arab armies tried unsuccessfully to destroy Israel and when Israel was riding a wave of popularity.

The larger Left, which is not anti-semitic, has over the years slowly adapted these exact talking points as their own. This is not out of malice towards Israel so much as it is because most of their members do not know enough to argue with these points and Israel did a poor job countering them in the same frame of reference. Indeed, Israel has little to apologize for in its human rights record towards the Palestinian Arabs in the territories, and has always sought to solve the problem in the framework of a larger Middle East peace process. The problem is that the hard-left has successfully decoupled the Palestinian Arab issue from the larger Israel-Arab issue (even though even this same PLO document admits that the two are the same.) Israel, a tiny and besieged country that craves peace, has been successfully cast as a big warmongering bully.

This demonization of Israel has been infecting the rhetoric of the Left for a long time now. It is unlikely that Israel can stop it. In fact, there is an easy formula for Israel's enemies keep it alive. Even if Israel accedes to all of the current demands by the PLO, we have seen in the past how easily world opinion can be turned against Israel again - just stage more attacks. Israel's response will almost inevitably and regrettably kill civilians, and all the goodwill gained would evaporate in an instant. It happened in Gaza, it happened in Lebanon, and the lies of Jenin prove that it can happen even if Israel doesn't do anything wrong.

Given this, Israel's media strategy must be to fight the battle using the same language of human rights that has been co-opted by her enemies. It takes time to reframe the argument but that is the only option.

The fact is that a great number of Palestinian Arabs are not under Israeli rule, but living as second-class citizens under Arab rule. Issues like these need to be publicized so that Israel doesn't suffer from the tunnel-vision imposed by those with an agenda that does not accept Israel's right to exist to begin with. It is a regional issue that must be solved in a comprehensive way, and if that is impossible then a detente is the best we can hope for.

It should go without saying that Israel must act morally. The first duty of any sovereign nation is to protect its citizens, and the human rights of Israelis must be protected no less than those of Palestinian Arabs. Israel must safeguard Palestinian Arab rights as much as humanly possible without compromising on the security of Israel's own citizens.

This, not PR, must be he driving force behind Israel's policy and strategy. Major decisions cannot and should not be driven by external pressure. If a Palestinian Arab state can be set up where Israel is not threatened with terror and rockets and continuous demands for more and more concessions even after an agreement, then peace can be here pretty quickly. But short of that, concessions given because of political pressure are usually counterproductive.

One more point. It is worth noting that Western nations, and probably even Arab nations, are far more sympathetic towards Israel than they say publicly. Every nation is keenly aware of its own challenges and the threat of separatists, anarchists and terrorists are shared among most nations. There is a big game going on where states are willing to publicly castigate Israel to mollify the Arab world - with the full knowledge that the US will act as the "bad cop" and ensure that Israel doesn't fall. This is far from ideal, and it might not be sustainable, but it is also not as bad as it sometimes sounds from the media obsession about unrelenting pressure on Israel.

Abbas unclear on the concept of "popular resistance"

From Reuters:
President Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinians Wednesday to step up peaceful protests against Israel, urging "popular resistance" inspired by the Arab Spring to back a diplomatic offensive at the United Nations.

Abbas, addressing a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) meeting, reiterated his decision to seek full U.N. membership for a state of Palestine alongside Israel, a diplomatic move resulting from paralysis in the U.S.-backed peace process.

"In this coming period, we want mass action, organised and coordinated in every place," Abbas said. "This is a chance to raise our voices in front of the world and say that we want our rights."

"I insist on popular resistance and I insist that it be unarmed popular resistance so that nobody misunderstands us. We are now inspired by the protests of the Arab Spring, all of which cry out 'peaceful', 'peaceful'," he said.
The entire point of the Arab Spring is that the protests were conceived, organized and carried out by the people.

If Abbas is telling his people to protest, by definition it is not a "popular protest." It is more like the cynical rallies that Bashir Assad has been organizing to pretend that the Syrians are really behind him.

Then again, Mahmoud Abbas has far more in common with Bashir Assad than with any Western head of state. His term as president expired years ago, he refuses to hold new elections, he ruthlessly acts against media that is not toeing the line, he severely limits anti-PA protests, and his leadership derives not from any election but from his being the head of the PLO to which the PA answers, and he hand-picked his prime minister. Does he sound like a democratic leader?

(h/t Yoel)

US Treasury Department details Iran/Al Qaeda links

From NYT:
The Treasury Department on Thursday accused the Iranian authorities of aiding Al Qaeda and said it was imposing financial sanctions on six people believed to be Qaeda operatives in Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Pakistan.

Weighing in on the puzzling question of whether Iran’s Shiite regime seeks to help the primarily Sunni Al Qaeda, Treasury officials asserted that the Iranian government had entered into an agreement with operatives of the terrorist group and was allowing the country to be used as a transit point for funneling money and people from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The officials say they have become convinced that Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, whom they described as a “prominent Iran-based Al Qaeda facilitator,” is operating in Iran under an agreement between Al Qaeda and the government.

“This network serves as the core pipeline through which Al Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia, including to Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a key Al Qaeda leader based in Pakistan,” the Treasury said in a statement.

Mr. Rahman, another of the six people named in the Treasury action, is believed to have recently ascended to the No. 2 position in Al Qaeda, reporting directly to the organization’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over after the death of Osama bin Laden.

“By exposing Iran’s secret deal with Al Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” said David S. Cohen, the Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

[O]ne senior administration said the action sought to expose both “a key funding facilitation network for Al Qaeda and a key aspect for Iranian support for international terrorism.”

“Our sense is this network is operating through Iranian territory with the knowledge and at least the acquiescence of Iranian authorities,” the official said in a conference call with reporters.
In May, a congressional panel released a report detailing military ties between Al Qaeda and the Al Quds force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

A footnote in this MEMRI report on a previously unknown Al Qaeda leader who emerged after Bin Laden's assassination notes that he had lived in Iran for years.

None of this is strong evidence for high-level cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda, but there is no reason to doubt that they do cooperate when it is convenient for both of them.

(h/t Yoel)

A honor massacre in Pakistan: Father kills six daughters

From the Express Tribune (Pakistan):

A man gunned down six of his daughters on suspicion that two of them were in relationships with boys in the neighbourhood.

On Tuesday morning, Arif Mubashir called his teenage daughters to his room and shot them while the rest of the family, including their mother, watched. His wife Musarrat called the police after the incident.

Mubashir shot the girls after their brother said two of them were in a relationship. He told police officials that he had killed his daughters because they were both “without honour”. The man said his daughters Sameena, 14, and Razia, 16, were in a relationship with college boys from the neighbourhood and the sisters had helped each other. “I should have been told immediately but the girls sided with each other. They were both corrupt,” Mubashir told Tandlianwala Police Inspector Javed Sial.

Police officials have taken Mubashir into custody and filed a case against him. “He does not regret what he did. He boasted that he would do it all over again if he had to,” Sial told reporters.
And if the mother would have objected to the murders, there would be seven victims.

(h/t jzaik)

In Hamas, doesn't take much to reach martydom

The headline of the Hamas Al Qassam Brigades website laments the death of Nabil Zaig, 41, who was a part of the terror group since its inception in 1987 (which would have made him 17 at the time.)

The article calls him a "military martyr."

But how did he die?

He drowned, after going for a midnight swim.

Becoming a martyr ain't what it used to be.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Are there a "million missing Israelis"?

A few weeks ago, in Foreign Policy, an article by Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin claimed that there are a million Israelis - about one if five - who moved away from Israel and are living abroad. This caused a bit of a hullaboo, and even prompted Tony Karon of Time to use that statistic as a springboard to claim that not only is Israel not the Jewish state, but even Israelis are disillusioned with it.

Well, it turns out that the authors' statistics were misleading, and in some ways incorrect.

Yogev Karasenty and Shmuel Rosner respond to the article, also in FP:

We should start with this simple statement: There are not a "million missing Israelis." A study conducted under the auspices of our think tank, the Jewish People Policy Institute -- one that has not yet been released but will be published in a couple of weeks -- will put the real number of "missing" Israelis at a much lower number. According to Israel's Bureau of Statistics, since the establishment of the state up until the end of 2008, 674,000 Israelis left the country and did not return after more than a year abroad. An unknown number, estimated to be between 102,000 and 131,000, have died since, putting the number of living Israelis abroad at the end of 2008 at 543,000 to 572,000.
It goes on from there, including the fact that many of the "yordim" were Soviet Jews who were in Israel only a short time on their way to the US. And 100,000 others are Arabs.

Which makes the truth a bit less scary than the original story claimed.

Read the whole thing.

A Twitter conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg

There was an interesting Twitter discussion today between Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon and well-known writer Jeffrey Goldberg.

Ayalon had posted a popular YouTube video about the West Bank, and Goldberg wrote an article belittling it. Ayalon and Goldberg then went to Twitter to continue their argument.

It was so popular that no less than two articles have already been written about the thread, each drawing different conclusions.

I jumped in at something Goldberg wrote to Ayalon:

Keeping the WB will bring about the end of Israel as we know it.

The thread after that:

elderofziyon says:
@Goldberg3000 "Keeping the WB will bring about the end of Israel as we know it" This is an all-or-nothing fallacy. http://j.mp/q4FMIq

Goldberg3000 says:
@elderofziyon why?

elderofziyon says:
@Goldberg3000 Read the link. If Israel keeps Area C (for example) and the Pals declare state in A&B then demographic threat gone.

Goldberg3000 says:
@elderofziyon And endless war ensues. If you were Palestinian, would you accept less than 100 percent of West Bank, including land swaps?

elderofziyon says:
@Goldberg3000 If the point is independence, yes. But that isn't the point, is it? Remember Herzog's famous "size of a tablecloth" quote.
@Goldberg3000 And given the importance given to "right of return," why wouldn't endless war ensue even with 100%?

Goldberg3000 says:
@elderofziyon It very well might. I've never said there are great options on the table

elderofziyon says:
@Goldberg3000 Thanks.. Which is why to my mind the pressure should be on compromise so Israel has security and Pals have a state.

Goldberg3000 says:
@elderofziyon I believe, however, that Israel will become a pariah if the Palestinians aren't granted statehood, or the vote in Israel.

elderofziyon says:
@Goldberg3000 That is an issue, but one that probably can't be discussed effectively here. Goodwill towards Israel usually lasts a month.
I left it at that, for now.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe jumped in:

Jeff_Jacoby:
@Goldberg3000 @elderofziyon And after Pal statehood or voting rights, there'll be 6 new demands Israel must fulfill or "become a pariah."
@Goldberg3000 @elderofziyon Left-wing Zionism would be healthier if it weren't so hungry for the goodwill of Israel's foes & critics.

Goldberg3000:
@Jeff_Jacoby @elderofziyon Why do you instantly assume left-wing Zionists are left-wing because they seek approval from Israel's enemies?

Jeff_Jacoby:
@Goldberg3000 @elderofziyon I assume nothing. But left-wing Zionists do evince a strange need to win their (non-Jewish) enemies' approval.

Goldberg3000:
Examples, please.


That thread is continuing as I write this, but it is not an avenue that I think is too fruitful. The fear of Israel becoming a pariah state is an important topic, though, and one that I would like to treat fairly - which means, not on Twitter.

As soon as I find the time.

Jordanian journalist union upset at "normalization"

Shimon Peres' office released a statement on Tuesday:

President Peres during a Special Press Conference with the Arabic Language media in honor of Ramadan: “Assad Must Go; I Admire the Very Brave Syrian Protesters”

President Shimon Peres held a special press conference today for members of the Arabic language media at Beit HaNassi in Jerusalem in honor of the upcoming month of Ramadan. The President delivered a message of peace and reconciliation during his remarks. More than 30 journalists and television crews participated in the event and represented Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and the local Arabic language press in Israel.

The President discussed the regional situation, peace process, Iranian
nuclear issue, and Israel’s relations with the Arab world before answering
questions from the journalists.
This has upset the Jordanian Journalists' Union. They are now investigating which reporters from Jordan committed the perceived crime of meeting the president of Israel.

The journalists union is against any contacts with any Israelis, which is a strange position for journalists to take.

They are now in the process of verifying the authenticity of the news, and trying to identify the Jordanian reporter or reporters who attended, so they can expel them from the union. They said that "the committee will not hesitate to take a decisive stand against those wishing to exit the national consensus of rejecting any form of normalization with the Zionist entity."

Great new video on Palestinian refugees

From Free Middle East:

"Ethical" Lush Cosmetics refuses to open Israeli store, but Saudi Arabia is OK

From TheJC:
Skincare company Lush says concerns about the lack of a "mixed" workforce would prevent it opening a store in Israel - but it operates stores in Saudi Arabia.

And this week the company, which has just opened a new store in Brent Cross, north-west London, defended its decision to promote a pro-Palestinian song on its website.

Customers have been challenging staff in the Lush store in Brent Cross, about the company's support for Oneworld's single "Freedom for Palestine". The head office has received 223 emails to date on the issue.

On the Lush website, under "Our Ethical Campaigns" it says: "The catastrophe facing the Palestinian people is one of the defining global justice issues of our time."

Hilary Jones, the company's ethics director, admitted that Lush had been approached by the charity War on Want about putting the single online, but said it had not donated to the cause.

She said: "It was an easy decision. We trade with the region and forge links on both sides of the community. We buy olive oil from a Jewish-Arab project.

"But we don't feel it's a safe environment to have a store. Would we want a shop where we couldn't have a mix? We have a multicultural attitude to everything we do; we want everyone in the country where we are trading to be on an equal footing as far as basic human rights go. Some of the team would have to come through checkpoints and be treated differently on their way to work – that would be our worry."
I hadn't heard about those checkpoints that distinguish between Israeli Arabs and Jews in Israel. You can learn a lot from an ethics director!

Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the fact that Saudi women are not allowed to even drive to the 2 Lush locations in Riyadh does not pose an ethical dilemma for this well-read director of ethics.

I think it might be time to drop a line to the Saudi Arabian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the infamous religious police known as the Muttawa. After all, can they actually allow this product to be sold in their stores?


It seems to be more offensive than Valentine's Day roses!

Egypt hosts terror convention with Hamas, Hezbollah, more

From the ITIC:
On July 24-25 Egypt hosted a conference called the "Founding Conference of the Arab-Islamic Gathering to Support the Option of Resistance" [i.e., terrorism] to support the so-called "resistance" (i.e., terrorism and violence). It was held at the Egyptian Press Syndicate in Cairo. The Palestinian media reported that the conference was attended by representatives from 14 Islamic countries, among them Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Morocco, Sudan and Jordan. Also present were representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian political establishment elements. In addition, there were representatives from Hezbollah, and Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations. The Hezbollah representative gave a speech in the name of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (Qudspress and Ma'an News Agency, July 24, 2011).

The conference attendees attempted to establish a link between the so-called "resistance" (i.e., the path of terrorism) and the popular protests in the Arab countries in recent months, stressing that the "resistance" was the only option for "liberating" Palestine. Osama Hamdan, responsible for Hamas' international relations, said in a speech that "the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict will never end unless Israel ceased to exist," and that Hamas would never recognize Israel (Al-Quds TV, July 24, 2011).

Syrian stats: 1,634 dead, 12,617 in jail, 2,918 missing

From AFP/NOW Lebanon:

Almost 3,000 people have gone missing in Syria since the start of anti-regime protests more than four months ago, the Avaaz non-governmental organization said in a statement on Thursday.

"Avaaz has today revealed the identities of 2,918 Syrians who have been arrested by Syrian security forces and whose whereabouts are now unknown," the organization said in statement received by AFP in Nicosia.

It said it was launching a campaign Thursday "to call for the release of the nearly 3,000 Syrians who have been forcibly 'disappeared' since the peaceful uprising began on March 15th of this year."

"The in-depth survey conducted by Avaaz estimates that one person is disappearing every hour.”

"In the past week alone there have been more than 1,000 arrests and the number of enforced disappearances has been rapidly rising on a daily basis, as the regime steps up its efforts to repress dissent in the build-up to Ramadan," the statement said.

According to the organization’s executive director, Ricken Patel, "hour by hour, peaceful protesters are plucked from crowds by Syria's infamously brutal security forces, never to be seen again."

Avaaz said 1,634 people have died in the crackdown, 26,000 have been arrested, of whom 12,617 are still in detention.
Others put the death toll at closer to 2,000.

Things might get more heated during Ramadan, which starts next week. From Bloomberg:
Activists, analysts and Syrian refugees say the uprising is set to intensify during the Muslim holy month. Opposition groups plan to shift from weekly rallies to nightly ones, held after the tarawih, an additional nighttime prayer recited during Ramadan, said Bashar Afandi and Mohammed al-Klesse, who fled Assad’s crackdown on northern Syria and are staying in Turkish camps.

“The mosques will play a pivotal role and every night, when people gather to pray, will resemble what we have seen after every Friday prayers,” said Mahmoud Merhi, of the Arab Organization for Human Rights. A surge in arrests in the past two weeks is probably aimed at heading off the momentum that Ramadan may give to protesters, he said by phone from Damascus.

Soccer team complains over Malaysian anti-semitic abuse

From the BBC:
Chelsea have complained to the Malaysian FA about what they believe was racist abuse directed at Yossi Benayoun during last week's friendly.

The 31-year-old Israeli was jeered each time he touched the ball in a match against a Malaysian XI on 21 July.

Chelsea said: "We believe Yossi was subjected to anti-semitic abuse by a number of supporters at the game.

"Such behaviour is offensive, totally unacceptable and has no place in football," added a club statement.

Agency reports from the match in Kuala Lumpur said the abuse directed at Benayoun - one of the few Israelis to have played in Malaysia, a country which does not recognise Israel - was anti-semitic.
Here is a description of the game by a fan:
I WENT to Bukit Jalil to watch football: A classy EPL football team against a spirited Malaysia team.

Although the match lived up to my expectation, I was shocked at the way Malaysian football fans treated Chelsea’s Yossi Benayoun. Not just one or two fans but a vast majority of them!

It’s another black eye for Malaysia. Reports around the world stated “Benayoun Suffers Racial Abuse from Malaysian Fans” (Sky News).

We, in Malaysia, always pride ouselves on racial equality. Then, of all places, a friendly football match, Malaysians reared their ugly side and jeered a class footballer like Benayoun. I am ashamed.

Although I do not support Israel, I support football. I came to watch football.

Benayoun should be applauded for his courageous decision to travel to Malaysia.

EPL and Fifa (and other sporting bodies) would definitely think twice now about sending teams to Malaysia.

Malaysians, we not only lost to Chelsea FC last night, we also lost respect as well.
(h/t aparatchik)

Another "moderate" saying he wants to destroy the Jewish state

MEMRI released this interview with Nabil Sha'ath, a Fatah leader:


Nabil Shaath: The recognition of a [Palestinian] state is basically a bilateral action, which receives the blessing of the UN. This act, however, will make many things possible in the future. Eventually, we will be able to sign bilateral agreements with states, and this will enable us to exert pressure on Israel. At the end of the day, we want to exert pressure on Israel, in order to force it to recognize us and to leave our country. This is our long-term goal.
...

[The French initiative] reshaped the issue of the "Jewish state" into a formula that is also unacceptable to us – two states for two peoples. They can describe Israel itself as a state for two peoples, but we will be a state for one people. The story of "two states for two peoples" means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this – not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative. We will not sacrifice the 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live within the 1948 borders, and we will never agree to a clause preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their country. We will not accept this, whether the initiative is French, American, or Czechoslovakian.

Barry Rubin notes:

Supposedly, [Shaath] is the archetypal Palestinian moderate. There was a time when the Western media ridiculed the Israeli declaration that he was a secret Fatah member. When Israel agreed to negotiate with non-PLO Palestinians, the PLO put his name forward although it knew, of course, that he was no such thing. Peace processors ridiculed Israel’s refusal to accept him....It is reasonable to call Shaath as moderate as anyone in the PA’s leadership, more moderate than the Fatah leadership.

...In other words, Shaath, one of the most important and relatively moderate Palestinian Authority leaders, is against a two-state solution. First, there will be a Palestinian state “for one people,” that is an Arab, Muslim state. But there can be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state because that implies a permanent peace. Shaath and the Palestinian leadership almost unanimously seek a second stage in which the “Palestinians with Israeli citizenship” plus the “returning…to their country” of Palestinian refugees will turn Israel into an Arab Muslim Palestinian part of Palestine.

This is merely a restatement of the “two-stage” solution of the PLO adopted forty years ago.
Also, note that Sha'ath is saying - by his own definition of what "a state for its people" means - that Jews will never be allowed to live in "Palestine!"

He is saying that Israel is racist because he misunderstands what a "state of the Jewish people" means - but he has no problem saying, explicitly, that "Palestine" will be a state of one people, which by his own definition means zero non-Palestinian Arabs living there.

Which sounds suspiciously like he is advocating ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

Jordan upset over Israel's opening Christian site on the river

From AP, July 12:
QASR EL-YAHUD, West Bank (AP) — Israel opened the traditional baptism site of Jesus to daily visits Tuesday, a move that required the cooperation of Israel's military and the removal of nearby mines in the West Bank along the border with Jordan.

The location, where many believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River, is one of the most important sites in Christianity.

Until now, it was opened several times a year in coordination with the Israeli military, but because of its sensitive location, it had not been regularly open to the public since Israel captured the site from Jordan, along with the rest of the West Bank, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Jordan maintains that its site on the other side of the river is the actual place were Jesus was baptized, competing for Christian tourism.
So Jordan is complaining to the Vatican.

In a statement, Jordanian officials said that Israel's move was meant to provoke Jordan, that Israel has no right to open up the site in an area that is "occupied," and that a Vatican official has already said that the site was on the Jordanian side.

Hamas considering more kidnappings, says "Israel isn't in our dictionary"

Hamas's head of international relations, Osama Hamdan, has restated the official Hamas positions that the Western media loves to downplay.

Hamdan issued a press release where we learn these wonderful things:

  • Hamas does not rule out kidnapping more Israelis in order to better its bargaining position in a prisoner swap.
  • "Resistance will continue, God willing, in order to liberate the land of Palestine from the [river to the] sea."
  • Palestine has entered a fierce battle with Israel on two fronts. The first front is resistance against the occupation [i.e., Israel] continuing until its termination, and the second to preserve the unity of the Palestinian people.
  • Resistance will humiliate the Zionist enemy and liberate the land.
  • "We have made ​​clear we will not recognize the occupation, and today I say more than that: There is no Israel in our political dictionary."
As usual, Western pundits will ignore and downplay any statements like these, while trumpeting vague statements by Hamas that could be badly misinterpreted as meaning that it is willing to accept Israel's existence.

Your tax dollars at work - for terrorists

I quoted Ma'an in March 2009:
An extra 800 shekels (190 US dollars) will be added to the stipend’s given to Palestinians in Israeli prisons this month, Head of Palestinian Prisoner Society in Nablus Ra’ed Amer confirmed on Tuesday.

Each prisoner receives 1000 shekels (238 US dollars) per month, plus an extra 300 shekels (71 US dollars) if they are married, and an extra 50 shekels (12 US dollars) for each child. The stipend is paid by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) each month.

There are currently 4,500 men and women registered as prisoners in Israeli prisons. The increase will be applied to February’s payment, set to go through banks this week.

Amer explained that the increase was made following the instructions of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
And noted then:
Yes, every terrorist in an Israeli jail - people who drove suicide bombers to blow up women and children, people who ordered "martyrdom operations," people who attacked any Jew they could find - gets thousands of dollars annually from the cash-strapped PA, which of course gets its money from successful donors conferences like yesterday's. Every year they get about $16 million, assuming an average of $300 per prisoner per month. And in February alone, they get an additional $855,000.

This is money only for living terrorists. It does not count the stipend that the families of suicide bombers and other "martyrs" get in perpetuity, which together with the prisoner money was estimated in 2005 at being up to $100 million annually.
Palestinian Media Watch had just issued a report detailing this issue, and their head met with members of Congress to describe how US tax dollars are going to terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority spends more than $5 million a month paying salaries to terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons, according to a Palestinian Media Watch report presented to congressmen in Washington on Tuesday.

According to the report, written by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, such payments contravene US law, which prohibits funding of any person who “engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity.

“The US funds the PA’s general budget,” the document reads. “Through the PA budget the US is paying the salaries of terrorist murderers in prison and funding the glorification and role modeling of terrorists.”

Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, met with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday to discuss the report, amid efforts to get US congressmen – on the eve of the Palestinian move to gain statehood recognition at the UN in September – to cut US funds to the PA, not because of the Hamas and Fatah reconciliation, but because of the PA’s support and glorification of terrorists.

According to the report, “A law signed and published in the official Palestinian Authority Registry in April 2011 puts all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes on the PA payroll to receive a monthly salary from the PA.”

The report says this law “formalizes what has long been a PA practice.”

Those eligible for the payments, according to the report, are “anyone imprisoned in the occupation’s [Israel’s] prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation.”

Quoting from Al-Hayat al- Jadida, an official daily newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, the report said that more than 5,500 Palestinian prisoners receive these funds.

Palestinian car thieves in Israeli prisons will not receive a salary, but every terrorist in prison including murderers are on the PA payroll, the report said, adding that “the salary goes directly to the terrorist or the terrorist’s family.”
That last paragraph shows that the PA is not supporting prisoners - but terrorists.

The $5 million a month does not seem to include the additional special "life insurance" paid to families of suicide bombers and other dead terrorists.

If you are looking for a silver lining to this story, I am told that when PA workers were given only half their salaries earlier this month because of the wannabe state's severe cash crisis, the salaries for the terrorists were halved as well. So you should only be half as angry - this month.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Avian Open Thread

Here's how birds play their version of King of the Hill:


Speaking of tweeters, the Disqus comment system has added a new feature that seems cool if a bit buggy. If you type in an @ with a Twitter name in a comment, it will automatically tweet that person with the URL of the comment thread. (I have found it doesn't work great in Chrome; seemed OK in Firefox.) 

I couldn't figure out why my most popular post of the day was the one about how to find images on the web. Maybe I need to turn this into a tech blog!

Anyway, here's an open thread to keep you guys busy overnight.

 And if you want some links, check out Barry Rubin and Now Lebanon

I am rooting for Iran to win a medal in the London 2012 Olympics

Remember in February and March when Iran complained that the London 2012 Olympics logo really spelled "Zion"? Here's how they broke that insidious Zionist code, in case you forgot:

Well, they now have a quandary.

Because the medals were revealed today, and they have that same super-evil-Illiminati-Freemason-Zionist symbol!


Iran has won medals in the last five summer Olympic games (weightlifting, wrestling and Taekwondo) so chances are one or more Iranians will be handed the hated symbol.

Will Iran ban its athletes from winning medals? Will they confiscate winning medals and melt them down, donating the proceeds to Hamas? Will they pretend that they didn't spend an entire month whining about the symbolism and grit their teeth if they win?  

I'm now rooting for Iran to win third place in some obscure sport, just to see how they deal with this. No matter how they handle it, it will be funny. 

Then again, there is a simple solution for Iranian athletes: Only enter competitions where Israel is also competing, and then they can come down with mysterious fictonal  illnesses, forfeit the competition and not have to worry about winning!


You can still order the EoZ exclusive London Zionist Games T-Shirts! I already sold a bunch, and they'll be worth a fortune when the summer of 2012 comes around!

PalArab politicians really are crybabies

Many have noted that the actions of the Palestinian Authority often resembles that of a spoiled child, throwing a tantrum because he does not get his way. I even wrote about it in 2006, an article that applies today (except for my underestimating Hezbollah's ability to take over Lebanon.) And while in that year, read this great piece from Treppenwitz.

Mahmoud Abbas has made a career of saying that if he doesn't get his way, he'll take the ball home so no one can play. He has threatened to resign over a dozen times in order to make his puerile point.

Whining, blaming, threatening, refusing to play by the rules - yes, there is a lot that 3-year olds have in common with Palestinian Arab politicians.

And now, we can add one more example, one that is literal: Crying.
A routine Security Council debate on the Middle East and Palestine became Israel's and the Palestinian Authority's dress rehearsal for September's General Assembly conference where the Palestinians will seek UN recognition.

Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour called on the UN to recognize a Palestinian state. It's time to end the occupation, he said before bursting into tears.
Aw, isn't life in Ramallah so vewy vewy hawd that it forces grown diplomats to tears? Must be. The delegates from the Congo might be able to hold it together, but their people's challenges are nothing compared to the lives of Arabs in Ramallah, where they sometimes have to choose which restaurant to go to and, increasingly rarely, they are forced to wait in airport-style lines at checkpoints.

The infantilization of the Palestinian Arabs is no longer symbolic.

(h/t Missing Peace)

Meanwhile, in Syria...

From AFP/Now Lebanon:
Syrian security forces shot dead at least 11 people, including a child aged seven, in a "vengeance" raid on the town of Kanaker near Damascus early Wednesday, a human rights activist said.

"The security forces entered homes at dawn on Wednesday and during the operation 11 people were shot dead and more than 250 arrested," said Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights, reached by telephone from Nicosia.

He said the operation in Kanaker, a town of 25,000 people, was backed by "a bulldozer and army tanks" and targeted people aged between 15 and 40.

According to Qurabi, the raid was an "act of vengeance" because inhabitants had supplied provisions to anti-regime protesters in the southern city of Daraa, the main hub of protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
Assad may be betting that if a dozen or so people are killed every day, it will no longer remain news.

And he may be right. This story is not exactly on the front pages.

Get your very own pair of anti-Zionist "occupation" glasses!

One of the more interesting themes I have noticed among the twitterati of the anti-Israel left is that, no matter what the news story is, they have to relate it to "occupation."

People in Tel Aviv protesting high housing costs? Why aren't they mentioning the "occupation"?

A new publicity initiative from the Foreign Ministry? Well, it is propaganda because it doesn't talk about "occupation!"

Another group making videos about Israel that make Israels look like normal human beings? Feh! The country is defined by "occupation!"

So for those of you who are jealous of people whose worldview can be simplified to a single word, I have the solution for you:

Occupation glasses!

Any time you look at a map of Israel, or photos of Israelis helping out poor people in Africa or victims of disasters, or the latest numbers at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, or a live performance of the Israel Philharmonic simulcast at movie theatres across the US tomorrow night, or a potential better alternative to mammography for women made by Israelis  - just put these on, and all will make sense again.

Sure, it is a little difficult to discern reality when you are wearing these, but that isn't the point. Constantly reminding people how evil Israel is - now, there's a cause these guys can get behind!

A Gaza resort gets torched

Here is the Paris Gardens Resort - in Gaza:





Unlike many of the Gaza resorts we have highlighted in the past, this one is unpretentious and fairly small. It looks like the type of place for ordinary Gazans to hang out without spending too much money.

Assailants burned a Gaza resort at dawn Wednesday, the manager said.

Imad Al-Wazeer told Ma'an a group of 30 armed and masked men arrived at the Rais resort in Gaza and threatened employees.

The resort was damaged in Israel's Operation Cast Lead but Al-Wazeer says he reopened the facility in order to show Israel that the people of Gaza would live their lives in spite of the attack.

"This time, unfortunately, my resort was damaged by Palestinian hands," he said.

The resort cost some $120,000 to establish and has swimming pools, restaurants and other facilities. After the attack, however, 13 employees have lost their jobs, Al-Wazeer says.

He held the police in Gaza responsible for the attack, saying they should provide security.
The Al Mezan Center adds that the armed mob tied up the guard, burned down four kitchens in the resort, trashed rooms, burned and smashed tables for about an hour and a half. One guard who escaped called police but they didn't arrive until over an hour later after the arsonists had left. The masked men had earlier warned the owners of the resort.

Previous similar attacks were done in the name of morality; presumably women swam at this resort, or maybe men and women ate together.

While this may be true,  I think that this really happened because of the occupation, which has replaced Satan as the ultimate source for all evil on the planet.

Hezbollah threatens belly dancer for appearing with Israelis

From Israel HaYom:
A Lebanese belly dancer is facing death threats and cannot return to her homeland after embracing an Israeli musician at an international festival in France.

On June 19, Israeli heavy metal band Orphaned Land performed alongside Lebanese belly dancer Johanna Fakhri at the Hellfest music festival in the western French town of Clisson. At the end of their performance, the Lebanese dancer held up her country’s flag while Orphaned Land's singer, Kobi Fahri, held up an Israeli flag. The two then hugged and clasped each other's hands.

Israel and Lebanon are technically at war and it is illegal under Lebanese law for any citizen to have public interactions with an Israeli. Media outlets around the world carried the image of Fakhri and Fahri brandishing their national flags, prompting a seething Hezbollah to declare Fakhri a traitor and issue a death warrant for her. The dancer has since been hiding out in France, fearing for her life if she returns to her homeland.

The threats against Fakhri have now spread from Lebanon. Last week, the French Muslim party PMF, which is closely tied to Hezbollah, carried a quote from Hezbollah on its website, declaring Fakhri “a traitor who collaborates with the Zionist enemy.”

In response, Fakhri released a statement calling her appearance with Fahri an act of peace.
Here's the performance:


That is not the limit of anti-Israel nuttiness, however. Dr. Azzaf Eshrat, an MD writing in the crazy-left Salem News, says that this entire show was orchestrated by the Israeli government in order to distract attention from the flotilla! (He also claims that Orphaned Land stole their song from an Egyptian pop song. And that there is no archaeological evidence that Jews ever lived in Israel.)

Which just goes to show that upper class Egyptians are not necessarily more sane than crazed Hezbollah terrorists.

A praying girl, and a quick lesson in photo research

Yisrael Medad, in My Right Word, noticed something interesting in a photo illustrating a Daily Mail story.

The story is titled "Christian girls who go to church are 'more tolerant of other faiths than their peers'" . Here is the photo that illustrates the story:

Yisrael noted that the girl looks quite Jewish, and she even looks like she is a Jewish resident of Yesha - a "settler." Which would be an interesting choice to illustrate a story about Christian girls!

So I found the original image, showing he was right:


The tool I used, and have used often for situations like this where I want to find an original photograph, is TinEye. It can find identical photographs (even if they are cropped, as here.)

Another good tool for researching photographs are Google Image Search, which now allow you to upload photos to find ones that are similar (but the results are often quite wrong, sometimes hilariously so.) Tineye finds results more accurately but it doesn't have the massive index of photos that Google has. (For example, I could not find the original Reuters photo, assuming that the Daily Mail caption is accurate.)

An essential way to research photographs is viewing the EXIF information on the photo, and the easiest on-line method is Jeffrey's EXIF Viewer. The information shown there can indicate if the photo was edited, when the picture was taken, and sometimes (especially with wire service photos) it will show the original caption and name of photographer actually embedded in the photo. Using this you can often see when news media uses old photos, for example, or identify edits. You do have to be careful with the EXIF information because sometimes cameras have not had their clocks set properly.

These tools can sometimes help create real news stories, especially in the area of media bias.

Time's Tony Karon relieved Breivik hates anti-Zionist Jews like him

Time magazine's Tony Karon looks at Anders Breivik's manifesto, and is happy that he isn't one of those Jews who Breivik admires:
Clearly, though, Breivik confines his philo-Semitism to Zionists, who he sees as fellow conservative nationalists in the war against Islam. As for the rest, adherents of multiculturalism, their fate should be the same as any other "traitors" to his Judeo-Christian Crusade.

"Never target a jew because he is a Jew," Breivik writes, "but rather because he is a ... traitor."

So Breivik doesn't hate all Jews. But he certainly hates most of us:

"So, are the current Jews in Europe and US disloyal? The multiculturalist (nation-wrecking) Jews ARE while the conservative Jews ARE NOT. Aprox. 75% of European/US Jews support multiculturalism while aprox. 50% of Israeli Jews does the same. This shows very clearly that we must embrace the remaining loyal Jews as brothers rather than repeating the mistake of the [Nazis]."

Of course, many right-wing Jews, while abhorring the terrorist violence used by the Breivik, nonetheless share his aversion to Islam and to multiculturalism....And some Zionist conservatives, while unreservedly condemning Breivik's action, were also concerned to prevent it from obscuring an underlying message they support....

Breivik and Bin Laden may seem like polar opposites, but in the end they're reading off the same "clash of cultures" script. It's a script in which, Breivik acknowledges, the majority of Jews -- and of Europeans -- want no part.
And conservative, Zionist Jews, Karon implies, share the same hateful ideology that Breivik and Bin Laden espouse.

This is a transparent attempt by Karon to paint Zionist Jews with the same brush as a mass murderer, and it is disgusting.

Karon of course is not alone - plenty of people are trying mightily to place Breivik among their enemies so they can feel better about themselves - but this is a particularly sickening essay that is meant to distinguish between the "good" anti-Zionist Jews (like Karon, naturally) and the abhorrent Zionists.

Indeed, Breivik wants to see liberal Jews destroyed, and that is disgusting. But Karon wants to see conservative Jews destroyed.

And if there is a cause-and-effect between articles written by right-wing conservative Jews and the actions of a madman, as Karon falsely implies, then Karon has just written justification for the next terror attack targeting Israeli or Zionist Jewish interests by the next madman.

His essay is at least as inciting as those he disparages.