Sunday, March 30, 2008

Arab Comedy Summit

Published by Reuters with the headline Arab summit says peace offer is under review.

Damascus (Reuters) - An Arab summit, subdued in the absence of leaders critical of Syria, told Israel on Sunday Arab countries would review an Arab peace offer unless the Jewish state changes its behavior.

Arab leaders sent the warning at the end of the two-day meeting in the Syrian capital Damascus. It did not say what options were under consideration or when the review would take place.

"For the Arab side to continue to offer the Arab peace initiative is tied to Israel executing its commitments in the framework of international resolutions to achieve peace in the region," a Damascus Declaration said.

[The so-called "peace initiative" ignores the need for the Arabs to execute its commitments in the framework of international resolutions to achieve peace in the region. It ignores the need to negotiate a solution, effectively violating United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. It calls on Israel to effectively violate those resolutions, by violating the provisions calling for secure borders.]

The Arab initiative of 2002 offers Israel peace and normal relations with all Arab countries in return for withdrawal from all territory captured in the 1967 war.

[Egypt has refused to accept the return of Gaza; Jordan has abandoned its claim to Judea and Samaria, which it had illegally annexed. Thus, it is impossible for Israel to withdraw from that territory and give it back to its previous, illegal occupiers, even if it would otherwise be reasonable to do so.]

Successive Israeli governments have either ignored or rejected the offer, which would require Israel to dismantle settlements which house hundreds of thousands of Jews.

[In other words, ethnically cleanse all portions of Eretz Yisrael outside the artificial armistice lines from 1949.]

The statement, read by Arab League chief Amr Moussa, added: "(The Arab heads of state decided) to evaluate and review Arab strategies and the plan of action regarding reviving the peace process as a prelude to decide on next Arab moves."

Although it did not set a time frame, Moussa told a news conference later that Arab foreign ministers could start a review in the middle of the year.

The language on the Arab peace plan was not a surprise as it was almost identical to that of a decision approved by Arab foreign ministers at a meeting in Cairo three weeks ago.


Moussa and other Arab officials have said that withdrawing the peace plan is not an option and in public they have not given details of alternative approaches.

[One might hope they would come up with an alternate that would be reasonable, such as negotiating with Israel.

Unfortunately, it's more likely that they'd simply go back to their traditional position of totally rejecting any relations with Israel even if Israel totally capitulated to all their unreasonable demands.]

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told the news conference: "The (peace) initiative is one thing and the strategy for activating the peace process is something else. We did not submit any proposal to amend the initiative."

Moualem said the summit was a success because it had survived predictions that it would be a disaster if the Arabs did not solve the political crisis in Lebanon before it began.

Lebanon boycotted the Damascus summit in protest at what it says is Syrian obstruction, through its local allies, of the process of electing a new Lebanese president.

Three key Arab heads of state friendly with Washington -- from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan -- also stayed away from the meeting, in solidarity with the Lebanese government.

On Lebanon, the Damascus Declaration broke no new ground, saying the Arab leaders stand by an Arab initiative which endorses army chief Michel Suleiman as a consensus president.

The Lebanese government and the opposition, which is allied with Syria and Iran, agree on Suleiman but disagree on whether the opposition forces should have veto power in a new cabinet.

The declaration said: "We declare that ... we stand by the Arab initiative to help Lebanon and support the efforts of the (Arab League) secretary general to encourage the Lebanese parties to reach consensus to resolve this crisis to preserve Lebanon's security, unity, stability and prosperity."

The Iraqi government, embroiled in conflict with powerful Shi'ite militias opposed to its alliance with the United States, said it objected to omissions from the summit declaration.

The Iraqis said the summit had failed to express support for its U.S.-backed government or condemn operations by insurgents.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters that Iraq considered the paragraph on Iraq "not positive" and asked the Arab League to redraft it.

Iran objected to the summit's support for the United Arab Emirates claim to three islands in the Gulf. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by the news agency IRNA, said the claim was "vain and baseless" as the islands were an inseparable part of Iranian territory

Condi Pressures for Overthrow of Abbas

That wasn't the message she was trying to convey, but it is only Israel's activity in Judea and Samaria, heavily criticized by Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen, that keeps Hamas from doing there what it did in Gaza.

Our artificial "balance" continues to destroy hopes for peace.

Rice urges Israel to relax stance on West Bank

Associated Press

Jerusalem - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday she would push for an easing of Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank as she began her latest Mideast mission aimed at reviving faltering peace talks.

Rice said she was looking for "real concrete progress" on several issues, including improving the movement and access of people and goods from the West Bank. Israeli checkpoints and strict travel rules have curtailed such commerce and largely crippled the Palestinian economy.

[The economy in the disputed territories has gone downhill ever since the Palestinian Authority took over. It will improve only when the Palestinian Arabs give their own welfare priority over their desire to destroy Israel.]

"I will spend a good deal of time on issues concerning the West Bank and issues concerning the ability to provide a better life for the people of the West Bank, including ways to improve movement and access," she told reporters on her plane en route to Israel.

"The improvement of life on the ground is the piece that I think really has to be pushed forward pretty hard," Rice said before arriving and heading to dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Easing the restrictions would clear the way for economic revival projects proposed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a Mideast peace envoy, with the strong backing of Palestinian leaders who control the West Bank.

Rice planned three-way talks today with Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

[Saving lives takes priority over making things easier for people who overwhelmingly voted for the extremist terror group Hamas over the moderate terror group Fatah. In the long run, appeasement only leads to more death.]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Six Decades Late: UN Expresses Concern Over Plight of Arabs Unwelcome By Their Brethren

The United Nations has abetted the Arab world in keeping homeless the descendants of the relative handful of people displaced during the Arab invasion of Israel back in 1948.

For six decades, these people have been forced by their own brethren into refugee camps. Rather than integrating them into their new countries, as has been done with every other refugee group, they have been kept in limbo in order to be used as pawns in the vendetta against Israel.

The United Nations is now shedding crocodile tears over the plight of some of these people.

Sooner or later, these people will have to be integrated into the countries to which their parents and grandparents moved; in many cases, they are the very same countries from which their families came before migrating to Eretz Yisrael to take advantage of the economic expansion created by the Zionists.

The sooner this is done, the better for all.

The following comes from the United Nations itself.

UN expresses concern over plight of Palestinians living on Iraqi-Syrian border

18 March 2008 -The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned that the situation of the more than 2,700 Palestinians who have been stranded and are living in inhumane conditions in two camps on the Iraqi-Syrian border continues to deteriorate.

"Over the past 22 months, UNHCR has been calling for urgent humanitarian solutions for this group and - even if only temporary - relocation elsewhere, preferably in the Arab region," the agency's spokesperson Ron Redmond said at a press briefing in Geneva.

In 2006, Canada received 64 Palestinians from Iraq, while last year, Brazil accepted 107. Recently, Chile, which itself was once a refugee-producing country, offered to resettle an initial group of 117 Palestinians, who are expected to leave Iraq for the South American nation in April.

Additionally, Sudan has extended an offer to accept 2,000 Palestinians, and UNHCR and Palestinian representatives are currently working to finalize a plan to allow the operation to take place.

The agency welcomed these responses from third countries, but reminded countries that there is a further need to help in dealing with acute cases.

"The solution, however, will not help all of the Palestinians in the camps, where the health situation has become increasingly dire as proper medical care and viable alternatives are lacking," Mr. Redmond observed.

One dozen refugees have lost their lives in the past 14 months; most recently a 25-year-old man who died two weeks ago in Al Waleed camp, most likely due to food poisoning. His family's case had first been put forward to be urgently resettled on medical ground last July.

These deaths underscore the pressing need for human solutions and proper medical care for these destitute Palestinians, UNHCR said.

Camp inhabitants suffer from conditions ranging from diabetes, birth defects, kidney problems, cancer and serious trauma, but the closest proper medical facility is over 400 kilometres away and there is no ambulance service. Iraq's neighbours have stringent entry requirements, especially for Palestinians.

The Palestinians fled to Iraq after the creation of Israel in 1948. Some received preferential treatment under Saddam Hussein and have become targets for attack since his overthrow in 2003. Of the nearly 34,000 Palestinians in the war-torn country in 2003, UNHCR estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 still remain in the country.

Al Waleed camp now houses more than 2,000 refugees while Al Tanf camp has doubled in size since last October and now has 710 inhabitants.

International Solidarity Movement Commemorates Its Happiest Moment

The article, found on the Comment Is Free area of The Guardian website, is called Remembering Rachel but it's really about continuing to glorify in the death of one of the infamous International Solidarity Movement's dupes, Rachel Corrie. It was written by Nicholas Blincoe.

The fifth anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie is commemorated this week by the publication of her journals: Let Me Stand Alone. It also sees the performance of a play based on her life in Haifa. Rachel was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza on March 16 2003, while she was working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Though I never met her, I was an organiser for the ISM at the time of her death. Her journals brought back many memories.

[Corrie wasn't killed by the Israeli army; while trying to prevent the destruction of tunnels being used to transfer weapons to terrorists, to be used to murder innocent Jews, she essentially killed herself by slipping by a pile of rocks that were being moved and getting crushed.]

In the Easter of 2002, my wife, the Palestinian film-maker Leila Sansour, began a documentary about the ISM presented by comedian Jeremy Hardy. The result was cleverly titled Jeremy Hardy v. the Israeli Army. The ISM were then just eight months old: this would be only their third campaign.

[It essentially began by providing support for Yassir Arafat in his terror campaign.]

We met the latest volunteers in a Bethlehem hotel, an extraordinary, eclectic bunch. Many of the Americans were retirees, Jews and Christians who had backgrounds in the US civil rights movement. The younger activists, especially those from Britain and Italy, came from the growing anti-globalisation movement. Old and young, all were enthusiastic about the idea of persuading internationals to join Palestinian demonstrations against the occupation. The theory was that the presence of foreigners would deter violent Israelis reprisals while making the marches more attractive to a jaded international media.

[They were all clearly misguided, at best. The so-called occupation had ended long before, with the transfer of control over the lives of the Arabs in the disputed territories to the Palestinian Authority. Two years earlier, the Arabs had rejected the establishment of their own independent state, instead launching a brutal terror offensive.

Rather than demonstrating against a non-existent occupation, they were providing moral and logistical support for murderers.]

This was a particularly violent time. The suicide campaigns against Israeli civilians were at their height. Israel was in full control of the West Bank and Gaza, but had abandoned anything resembling normal police methods: using F-16s to bomb office and apartment blocks and field artillery to shell Palestinian neighbourhoods.

[The Arab terrorists operated out of civilian neighborhoods; Israel did its best to avoid harming civilians, but part of the Arab strategy was to make sure civilians got killed. For them, it was a win-win situation whenever civilians on either side got killed.]

Extra-judicial executions - lynchings - had become commonplace.

[There were lynchings, but those were perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs.

Under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority was obligated to turn terrorists over to the Israelis for prosecution. Not only did the PA refuse, but it protected and even armed the terrorists. Israel had no choice but to deal with the terrorists itself.]

In this climate, anything that might strengthen the kind of non-violent resistance associated with Gandhi and Martin Luther King would be welcome. There is a century-long tradition of non-violent resistance in Palestine, including strikes and demonstrations.

[This is an interesting rewrite of history and reality. The real century long tradition is of Arabs violently attacking Jews.]

Even today, it is easy to find peace marches filled with grandmothers and children. Unfortunately, they tend to trot twice around a local landmark, before everyone stops for falafel. The threat of violence makes a march that actually confronts the army too much of a risk.

We discovered just how risky when we joined a crowd of mostly foreign protesters and came under fire from an Israeli armoured car. Leila's film captures the moment a young Australian woman is shot in the stomach - one of a dozen people injured that day. In the next week, I was shot at again, this time when I was alone. The soldier used a heavy mounted chain gun similar to the one that later tore the face off Brian Avery, another ISM activist.

[ISM propagandists always call their violent demonstrations "peaceful."]

Then, that summer, an Israeli security officer pressed a pistol to my head as he hissed threats. Given these and other experiences, I should have been prepared when Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie were killed. Nor were they the only ones: Brian Avery and Caoimhe Butterley, both ISM, were seriously injured in shootings, while UN representative Iain Hook and TV cameraman James Miller were both shot dead.

[When thousands upon thousands of Arabs and their supporters are involved in violenct activities, it's unavoidable that some will get hurt. ISM propagandists never mention the numerous innocent victims of Arab terror who, in contrast to what happened with the accidental death of Corrie, were deliberately murdered.]

The assumption underlying ISM strategy was wrong: internationals were no more safe than Palestinians. I should have known this, but persuaded myself that my early experiences were isolated events. I left the ISM later that year, not because of the violence, nor even because I was encouraging young people to enter dangerous situations. I left because of the culture gap.

[See above; when one is involved in murderous activities, it's difficult to remain completely safe.]

I joined the ISM, inspired by the older activists I met during the making of my wife's film. I liked the anti-globalisation kids, too, but there were huge gulfs between us. Non-violent resistance, as practised by the ISM, depends upon "consensual decision-making".

[The ISM has an interesting definition of "non-violent resistance," given all the violence it gets involved in and supports.]

In Palestine, these sessions helped build trust. But once we set up an ISM chapter in London, consensual decision-making lost its appeal. For many activists, the process is appealing in itself: it is direct democracy in action. To me, it is a crashing bore. Worse, I began to feel that long drawn-out discussions favoured only the most stubborn or stupid person in a room. I was out of place.

In one of her emails to her mother, Rachel Corrie asks if she could persuade her father to "sabotage his neoliberal job". My response would be, why on earth would he want to? I was slow to realise that neoliberal had become a term of abuse. Yet I enjoyed the company of these activists, anarchists, eco-warriors and anti-globalisers. Rachel's journals are the work of a woman who was restlessly inquisitive, open to new experiences and always ready to test her opinions and move beyond her comfort zone. These are qualities that lift the heart. They also got her killed.

[It was her stupidity and clumsiness in her support of terror that got her killed.

Those who wish to commemorate real victims should be memorializing the innocent people who Rachel Corrie helped Palestinian Arab terrorists deliberately murder.

But this article wasn't really about the death of one of its activists; this was about ISM taking advantage of the best propaganda opportunity it's ever had.

The ISM doesn't oppose death; it glorifies in it, whether it's the death of innocent Israelis, which it promotes, or the deaths of Arab terrorists, which it takes advantage of.]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Terrorists Are Not Merely "Alleged Militants"

Given the facts that the leader of the Palestinian Authority is also the leader of Fatah, of which the Al-Aqsa Brigades and Tanzim are part, and Abu Mazen's recent assertion that the Palestinian Arabs might have to "return" to "armed struggle," i.e. terrorism, as if they'd ever abandoned it, one may quibble with the Israeli ambassador's statement about negotiating with "a moderate Palestinian Authority leadership that renounces terrorism and violence," but otherwise his address to the Security Council is worth reading.

Ambassador Gillerman Address to the UN Security Council

Allow me to congratulate you on your very able stewardship of the Council this month, and thank you for your principled leadership. We are grateful to the Secretary-General for honouring us with his presence and for his commitment. I also wish to thank Under-Secretary-General Pascoe for his briefing. On this note, I wish to make clear that Israel does not act against "alleged" militants but against declared and recognized terrorists. I hope "alleged militants" is not the UN's new definition of terrorism.

The struggle of the moderates against the extremists which is raging around the world is the defining challenge of our day. Across the globe, forces of extremism seek to transform resolvable political conflicts into endless religious wars, using all means of violence at their disposal. They fight not for their own rights, but to deprive the rights of others. In our region, Iran, a notorious state sponsor of terrorism, uses proxies like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas among the Palestinians to draw the moderates into a cosmic battle, where victory is not about achievement but about total annihilation.

The very ideology of the extremists makes a dialogue with them impossible. Which is why Israel - along with other like-minded states - understands that dealing with extremists is a zero-sum equation. In contrast, negotiations with the moderates, as Israel is doing with a moderate Palestinian Authority leadership that renounces terrorism and violence, can yield great benefit for both parties.

I want to believe that my Palestinian colleague represents the moderates in spite of the distorted picture he felt compelled to draw today.

As we have seen, the extremists will stop at nothing to break the coalition of moderates and destroy all prospects for peace. During the last month, Hamas fired more than 300 rockets at Israel, at least 23 of them Iranian-made Grad missiles that hit the city of Ashkelon, a quaint coastal city with a population of 120,000.

The rocket attacks marked an escalation of violence not just in number, but also in weaponry. Grad rockets - smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Iran during the breach of the Gaza border this January - have greater range, larger warheads, and fragment on impact. Hamas' new weapon of choice means that a quarter of a million Israeli civilians now live in constant danger of rocket fire. We can all thank Iran for adding another weapon to the Hamas arsenal, in addition to its already heinous suicide attacks and deadly Qassam rockets.

Hamas and its terrorist state backers bear sole responsibility for the escalation of violence. The Secretary-General rightfully told the Council at the meeting held earlier this month (quote) "I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism, which serve no purpose, endanger Israeli civilians and bring misery to the Palestinian people" (end quote). Indeed, it is terrorism - plain and simple.

As Hamas unleashed its terrorism on the civilians of Ashkelon, it continued to wreak havoc and daily terror on the people of Sderot - a small but resilient city of 23,000, where children no longer run around on playgrounds; they now run to bomb shelters. Such is the reality in Sderot, where 15 seconds is all you have to find safety before a Qassam rocket comes crashing down.

Though some wish to refer to the apparent lull in Hamas' rocket attacks, I must warn that the perceived quiet is only on the surface. The bombs keep ticking, albeit quietly.

The rockets out of Gaza have not stopped. Hamas is using this time to smuggle in and produce more rockets. Building rockets is not quiet. It is a silent promise - a promise of what is to come next: more terror and more violence, more extremism and more bloodshed.

In fact, we have seen the great lengths that the extremists are willing to go to in order to kill and maim Israelis. Just over two weeks ago, a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem and ruthlessly gunned down eight young men, who were studying the Bible in the upstairs library. Eleven others were injured, many of whom remain in serious condition. The terrorist chose his target carefully; Mercaz Harav is one of Israel's most revered institutions of Zionism and Jewish learning, and it is situated in the heart of Jerusalem, footsteps away from the seat of the Israeli Government and our most cherished democratic institutions.

As medical and rescue teams rushed to the scene, as the Israeli public heard the news of this appalling massacre, as mothers and fathers were called to retrieve the remains of their slaughtered sons, the extremists in Gaza rejoiced at the spilling of Israeli blood. I am sure that many in this Council watched with horror and disgust as Hamas terrorists joyfully fired their rifles into the air and passed out candy to children in celebration. If anyone doubted what the extremists stand for, the reaction in Gaza to the murder of eight Israeli boys sets the record straight. It was also a stark reminder that these were the same people who danced on the rooftops after 9/11.

Which is why, Mr. President, it was so sad and disturbing that the Council could not condemn the terrorist attack - particularly in spite of your valiant efforts and those of many other distinguished ambassadors on the Council. The Security Council has a longstanding practice of condemning terrorism, no matter the victims, no matter the location, no matter the perpetrator, no matter the motivation. Yet the Council could not unanimously condemn this terrorist attack and intentional killing of civilians, for the Council was blocked by a politicized opposition, of one Member State in particular.

The hypocrisy and cynicism displayed by this state, with its long history of terror does not bode well for this Council, and draws sad and alarming conclusions as to the screening process states undergo before attaining a seat on this august body. It was indeed a sad moment for this Council, but also one that should be a wake up call to us all.

Lately, a particularly worrisome trend has been apparent when it comes to the discourse concerning our region. Some have a penchant for equating the lawful actions of states in defense of their citizens with the violence of terrorists whose goal is to endanger those very civilians. The misguided tendency to accept the "status quo" of terrorism - as expressed even by some UN officials in their statements and reports - is simply unacceptable. Such parity, which is often in the name of an ill-conceived balance, undermines the strength and credibility of moderate states to bolster one another and isolate the extremists.

Israel goes to great lengths to ensure the safety and well-being of all civilian populations - Palestinian and Israeli alike. Whereas Israel makes all efforts to protect civilians in accordance with international law, Hamas indiscriminately fires rockets into Israeli civilian areas. Whereas Israel ensures that medicines and fuel enter the Gaza Strip to reach hospitals and needy civilians, Hamas hijacks those trucks and diverts them to its bomb making factories and terrorist camps. Whereas Israel allows humanitarian convoys into Gaza - more than 1600 trucks and over 20,000 tons of aid in recent weeks alone - Hamas cynically fires on those same crossing points, so it can fabricate a pretext for inciting the Palestinian public against Israel.

Moreover, the cruelty of Hamas continues to be seen in its holding of Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by that terrorist organization in June 2006 and begins today his twenty-second month in captivity. All the while, Hamas has refused to provide details of his condition or well-being. We continue to hope and pray for his safe return home.

Surely, no similarities can be drawn between Israel and Hamas. The immeasurable difference between the moderates and the extremists can be seen both in their rhetoric in this Hall and their actions on the ground.

In this context, I can only hope that my Palestinian colleague's poignant outcry against the deliberate killing of children, describing it as a sinking to the abyss, was really directed at the Hamas terrorists he again failed to mention by name.

Let us be very clear: while for Israel every dead Palestinian child is a horrible mistake and tragedy, for the terrorists every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration.

Allow me to briefly turn to the situation along our northern border. As you know, Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) changed the reality on the ground following the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and constituted an important achievement for this Council. Hence, the international community must ensure that the implementation of resolution 1701 remains a priority issue, and my delegation supports the Council taking the appropriate action to show its resolve.

In this context, I wish to draw attention to three main areas: (1) stemming the illegal flow of weapons through the porous Syrian-Lebanese border, (2) preventing the rearming of Hizbullah - which has already adapted its weaponry and tactics so as to take into account the UNIFIL presence south of the Litani River, as its spokesmen openly declare - and (3) the unconditional release of our boys, the Israeli soldiers Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, kidnapped on 12 July 2006 by Hizbullah. The Council, in adopting resolution 1701, committed itself to seeing their release, and I call on the membership to keep its word.

To be sure, the new and improved UNIFIL on the ground is doing important work, and - among the positives on the ground - Israel welcomes the trilateral meetings between the IDF, the Lebanese Army, and UNIFIL, as well as efforts to demarcate the Blue Line.

However, as I began my statement referring to the dangers of extremism, here too it must be emphasized that Hizbullah poses an extremist threat to the region. Indeed, Hizbullah and Hamas share the same strategies and tactics and are funded and supported by the same ominous backers, Syria and Iran. The relationship between Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbullah are continually reinforced for us, as we recently saw in the expressions of sympathy and support made by those leaders, again just yesterday, regarding the arch terrorist Imad Mughnieh.

Listen to the words of the terrorist leaders themselves, like the Hamas commander in Gaza, who recently told the Sunday Times that Hamas (quote) "has sent seven 'courses' of our fighters to Iran" (end quote). According to the commander, a further 650 Hamas fighters have trained in Syria under instructors who learned their trade, techniques, and ways in Iran. Sixty-two are in Syria right now. He said, Hamas was modeling itself on Hizbullah.

Clearly, Syria and Iran both play host to and support global and local terrorist organizations. The international community must press to end that support.

Israel understands it must work with the moderate, legitimate Palestinian Authority leadership to show the people of the region that the path of moderation will bring tangible benefit to all. This is why suspending the ongoing dialogue and talks between Israel and the Palestinians would be a grave mistake. The extremists have no real solutions to anybody's problems. All they want is to see our failure. Moderation must be seen as the only answer and legitimate alternative to extremism.

Israel knows it cannot accomplish this alone. It needs the support of like-minded moderate leaders in the region that understand the threat posed by the extremists - not just to us but to them and the world - and are willing to do what it takes. This is a goal all the moderates share. If we begin to show divisions and weaknesses, the extremists will take advantage of the indecision and hesitation.

The international community needs to strengthen the bilateral process between the two parties, and to show a collective resolve to support the negotiations that will bring lasting security, stability, and peace to all people of our region. This is the mandate of the international community. This is its calling; this is its duty.

The collective resolve must be shown, first and foremost, by this Council. We in Israel are committed to showing it each and every day, in partnership with the moderates around us, until moderation, modernity, and common sense prevails.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Between the Lines: Palestinian Arabs Show They Don't Want Peace

That's not much of a surprise, since they've been showing they don't want peace since long before they reversed themselves and went from insisting they weren't "Palestinians" to insisting they were. But that's the real message, anyway, behind their cockamamie plan to try to get millions of descendants of Arab refugees to try to embarrass Israel as our friend and ally celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its reestablishment.

We intersperse some of our own comments with this article from The Jerusalem Post.

PA urges Palestinians to 'return' to Israel on 60th anniversary

By Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinian Authority is planning to mark Israel's 60th anniversary by calling on all Palestinians living abroad to converge on Israel by land, sea and air.

The plan, drawn by Ziad Abu Ein, a senior Fatah operative and Deputy Minister for Prisoners' Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, states that the Palestinians have decided to implement United Nations Resolution 194 regarding the refugees.

[They seem to have forgotten they long ago rejected that resolution. On the other hand, hypocrisy has never bothered Israel's enemies.]

Article 11 of the resolution, which was passed in December 1948, says that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

[The earliest possible time long passed, since the Arabs refused to make peace.

The resolution also refers to "refugees," not to descendants of refugees. Indeed, I suspect that, within the context of a peace that the Arabs continue to reject, Israel would not object to actual refugees immigrating to live out the last few years of their lives in Israel, provided they really wanted to become loyal Israeli citizens and living in Israel was more important to them than living with their families.

I do wonder how many of those refugees, the youngest of whom will be 60 years old by Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, really would want to emigrate and live apart from not only their families but from their Arab brethren.]

The initiative is the first of its kind and is clearly aimed at embarrassing Israel during the anniversary celebrations by highlighting the issue of the "right of return" for the refugees.

[The insistence on a fictitious "right of return" is one of the signs the Arabs are not yet interested in peace.]

Entitled "The Initiative of Return and Coexistence, " the plan suggests that the PA has abandoned a two-state solution in favor of one state where all Arabs and Jews would live together.

[More accurately, they've never been interested in a two-state solution; nor are they interested in living together.]

"The Palestinians, backed by all those who believe in peace, coexistence, human rights and the UN resolutions, shall recruit all their energies and efforts to return to their homeland and live with the Jews in peace and security," the plan says.

"Fulfilling the right of return is a human, moral and legal will that can't be denied by the Jews or the international community. On the [60th] anniversary of the great suffering, the Palestinian people are determined to end this injustice."

Abu Ein's initiative, which has won the backing of many PA leaders in Ramallah, calls on all Israelis to welcome the Palestinians "who will be returning to live together with them in the land of peace."

The plan calls on the refugees to return to Israel on May 14, 2008 with their suitcases and tents so that they could settle in their former villages and towns. The refugees are also requested to carry UN flags upon their return and to be equipped with their UNRWA-issued ID cards.

The Arab countries hosting Palestinian refugees are requested to facilitate the return of the refugees by opening their borders and allowing them to march toward Israel. The plan specifically refers to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, whose governments are asked to provide logistic support to allow the refugees to carry out their mission.

Palestinian refugees living in the US, EU, Canada and Latin America are requested to use their foreign passports to fly to Ben-Gurion Airport from May 14-16. The plan calls for the Palestinians to hire dozens of boats flying UN flags that will converge on Israeli ports simultaneously.

To ensure international backing, the plan calls to invite world leaders, the UN secretary-general, journalists and legal experts from around the world to declare their support for the Palestinians' "right of return." The Palestinians, in return, would promise to practice their right peacefully and to denounce terror and violence.

Arab governments are requested to provide both financial and political backing for the initiative. The plan stresses that the Palestinians can no longer expect to achieve the "right of return" at the negotiating table with Israel. "We must take matters into our own hands," it states. "Negotiations, slogans and UN resolutions are not going to bring us our rights."

[It's difficult to read this "plan" without laughing.]

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Gaza

[This commentary was written by Jonathan Tobin, editor of The Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia, where it was published.

It highlights the way we repeatedly, indirectly, use our tax money to fund and arm Hamas and other Arab terrorists.

It evokes the question of Pete Seeger: "When will we ever learn?"]

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Gaza

The confusing and complex campaign for aid to a pro-terror Palestinian Authority

Last week, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that American officials are again pressing Congress to open up the U.S. aid pipeline to the Palestinian Authority.
If the plea sounds familiar, it ought to. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, Americans have been subsidizing the activities of the P.A. to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Today, as in the past, the arguments in favor of this policy are urgent. We are told by both administration officials who are friends of Israel and by some Israelis that unless we help fund the training and the payment of Palestinian security forces, the P.A. will have no way to cope with terrorists who want to sink any chance of a two-state solution which would enable Israel to live side-by-side with a peaceful Palestinian partner.

The Only Option?

With Hamas in control of Gaza, the P.A., under the current leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, is, we are informed, the only address for creating a moderate force that will work for peace. Given the alternative of the Iranian-backed Hamas or the equally unpalatable choices of either Israel reoccupying the territories or an international peacekeeping force doing so, reinforcing the P.A. seems to make sense.

But does it really?

Doubts about the wisdom of the policy have led Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-N.Y.) -- respectively, the chair and the ranking minority member of the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee -- to place a hold on a request of another $150 million in direct assistance to the P.A. Thwarted on that front, the administration now wants the committee to okay an additional $25 million in indirect funding for the military training program.

Both Lowey and Ros-Lehtinen rightly worry about the commitment of Abbas and his Fatah Party to peace. They cite recent statements by Abbas in which he would not rule out a return to "armed resistance" against Israel. The support by the P.A. media for attacks against Israelis, such as the slaughter of eight students at a Jerusalem yeshiva this month, as well as the ongoing blitz of southern Israel by Hamas missiles, is also reason to doubt the P.A.'s sincerity.

The P.A. also continues to honor the memory of slain terrorists as "martyrs" and, as The Jerusalem Post reported this week, plans to celebrate Israel's 60th birthday by having Arab refugees to rush Israel's borders to promote a "right of return," which is synonymous with the destruction of the Jewish State.

Supporters of aid respond that these statements do not reflect Abbas' real goals. Yet, they ignore the fact that what the P.A. has done for the past 15 years is to legitimize a Palestinian culture in which political plaudits are won only by killing Jews. Indeed, via its control of broadcast outlets, newspapers and the schools, the P.A. has solidified a mindset of hate.

Just as bad is the history of attempts to create a P.A. security force. The Oslo agreements called for the creation of a Palestinian police force that would combat terrorists. But Arafat had other ideas.

While most of the billions that came his way via aid from the European Union and the United States went into the pockets or Swiss bank accounts of Fatah officials, some of it was used to create a byzantine web of Palestinian "security" agencies whose purposes were anything but peaceful. When push came to shove as Arafat blew up the peace after the Camp David summit in 2000, it was these P.A. forces (including some who'd been trained by the Philadelphia Police Department) who committed terrorist acts against Israelis.

Adding to that sorry tale was the fiasco in Gaza in 2006 when Fatah thugs, aided and equipped by foreign sources at the specific instigation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, sought to maintain Abbas' control of the area, even after the Hamas election victory.

As detailed in an investigative report published in the April issue of Vanity Fair magazine, the concerns voiced by some Israelis and skeptical members of Congress over that particular venture in bolstering Abbas were prophetic.

While Fatah goons tortured and kidnapped some of their rivals, neither they nor their leader Abbas had the stomach to face down Hamas, despite promises to do so. In the end, Abbas' men wouldn't fight, and the more popular Hamas seized control of Gaza. As David Rose writes in Vanity Fair, "The exact thing both Israel and the U.S. Congress warned against came to pass when Hamas captured most of Fatah's arms and ammunition -- including the Egyptian guns supplied under the covert U.S.-Arab aid program."

For 15 years, critics of such expenditures have been labeled as "anti-peace," but that tag just served as an excuse for whitewashes of misbehavior by first Arafat and now Abbas.

An anonymous U.S. official told JTA that the 1,100 P.A. gunmen currently in Jordan, at American expense as well as with Israeli permission, are being schooled in such things as "training in riot control, human rights, and effective arrests and defensive shooting." But so were their predecessors. Left unanswered in this account is why reasonable people should think this group will behave any differently.

Painted Into a Corner

The alternatives to Abbas are frightful. He is both weak and probably not much less ill-intentioned than Hamas, but he and his loyalists are seen as a counterforce to Iran's allies.

Should American supporters of Israel therefore feel obligated to support the continued flow of funds to P.A. sources?

The problem is, the peace processors have painted themselves into a corner. Having coronated first Arafat and now Abbas, they are forced to ignore or suppress the truth about them in order to maintain American support for a two-state solution.

At the same time, Israel's government takes the position that it needs a Palestinian partner who at least pays lip service to peace, as Abbas does. And no one here wants to do anything that would help create a greater "Hamasistan."

Yet experience shows that the realpolitik strategy of propping up Fatah has not undermined Hamas, nor promoted peace. Perhaps the beginning of wisdom is the recognition that it's time to stop reinforcing failure.

America's attempts to create a Palestinian peace partner have failed. No amount of money will buy us a moderate state that will accept peace with Israel if the Palestinians don't want one. If the president and the secretary of state aren't honest enough to admit this, then perhaps it's appropriate to ask Congress to turn off the spigot that sends more of our tax dollars down a Palestinian drain.

Contact Jonathan S. Tobin via e-mail at:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saudi Arabia Again Acts Against Its Own Best Interests

Sometimes - actually, most of the time - it's hard to understand the logic behind Arab actions. Driven by hatred, they keep doing the opposite of what's really in their own best interests.

We're used to that when it comes to Israel. Had the Arabs accepted the United Nations Partition Plan, a plan which allotted nearly 90 percent of Palestine to them, they would have avoided the last six decades of the war they have continued to wage against Israel. There would have been no Palestinian Arab refugees. There would not be millions of descendants of those refugees living in squalor to this day.

Had they accepted Israel at any time during the last six decades, they would have been able to cut their self-inflicted losses and begun to live normal existences.

The following press release from the Saudi News Agency shows the Saudis extending that self-destructive behavior to the problem of Iran.

While Israel is the number one target of the Iranian nuclear program, the bottom line is that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran would be a disaster for Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt, Jordan and any other so-called "moderate" Arab states. It could very well spell the end of the Saudi dynasty.

Logically, Saudi Arabia and those other "moderate" Arab states should be doing everything they can to keep Saudi Arabia from acquiring nuclear weapons. Instead, they are publicly pressing the United States and Israel to avoid confronting Iran, effectively abetting the Iranian mullahs in their quest to rule the Middle East and, ultimately, the world.

What fools those Saudis be.

Here's the press release, along with some added commentary.

Saudi king urges US to press Israel for ME peace deal

Saudi Press Agency - 22 March, 2008

King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and US Vice President Dick Cheney held talks at the Monarch's Al-Janadriya farm on the outskirts of the capital, Friday.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia yesterday urged US Vice President Dick Cheney to pressure Israel to seal a peace deal with the Palestinians before US President George W Bush leaves office in January 2009, official Saudi sources said. Cheney, on a 10-day regional tour, arrived yesterday in Saudi Arabia where he met Abdullah at the king's Al Janadriya horse farm near Riyadh. The sources said Saudi Arabia is not happy with the "slow" pace of US efforts to push the Middle East peace process by putting pressure on Israel to reach a peace agreement and end the building of settlements and excavations around Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

[It is the Arab refusal to negotiate seriously, not to mention its continued terror war, that has caused the "slow" pace of peace efforts. Until the Palestinian Arabs take the very first step they publicly committed to with the Osle Accords back in 1993 - the abandonment of terror - no negotiations can possibly succeed. If the Saudis really want to further peace, they should be pressuring the two Palestinian Authorities, not Israel.

The repetition of the tired complaints about Jews living in their homeland also just drive more spikes into the prospects for peace. One sign that the Arabs are finally coming to terms with the existence of Israel will be when they start publicly recognizing that Jews have as much right to live in all parts of Eretz Yisrael as do Arabs.]

King Abdullah and Cheney also discussed Iran's nuclear programme and its growing regional influence. The king confirmed his opposition to any US military strike or threat their of against Iran, the sources said. Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf Arab countries, sees negotiations as the best way to ease tension between the US and Iran.

[Of course, without the threat of force, negotiations will do absolutely nothing other than allow the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons.]

Abdullah also told Cheney that the Middle East should be free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The Saudis say any nuclear non-proliferation efforts should include Israel, which many in the Arab world suspect has a secret nuclear programme. The situation in Iraq was also discussed.

[Like the United States, Great Britain and France, Israel is not threatening to use nuclear weapons. In other words, if Israel has nuclear weapons, those weapons are not a threat. There is no comparison between that and a rogue nation like Iran, which threatens others with destruction.]

The two also chatted about the previous stops on the vice president's nine-day Middle East swing - the surprise visits to Iraq and Afghanistan and the subsequent stay in Oman - before beginning a private meeting. Cheney will also visit Israel, the West Bank, and Turkey before returning to Washington.

King Abdullah decorated Dick Cheney with the green and gold King Abdul Aziz sash, the highest award for a vice president. "Mister vice president, we've been friends a long time," the King said. "How was your trip?" the Monarch asked. "Very good," said Cheney.

Present at the talks were Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Riyadh; Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Foreign Minister; Prince Muqrin Bin Abdul Aziz, Chief of General Intelligence; Ali Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and Adel Bin Ahmad Al-Jubair, the Kingdom's Ambassador to Washington.

Ford Freakier, the US Ambassador to the Kingdom; David Edengton, Assistant to Vice President and Johan Hana Assistant Deputy Chief for National Security also attended the talks.

Upon arrival, Cheney was given a traditional welcome by Prince Saud at Riyadh airport after his arrival from Oman.

Saudi forces provided an honor guard.

As Usual, Arabs Try to Ruin Holiday Celebrations

This story, Kassams shatter Negev Purim festivities, published in The Jerusalem Post is really a story about the Arab hatred and intransigence which created and perpetuates the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is no coincidence that so many terror attacks and even wars are started on what are supposed to be joyous holidays, as the Arab hatred of the very concept of Israel cannot bring them to allow Jews to celebrate their holidays in peace.

With the celebration of 60th anniversary of Israel's reestablishment coming up, we can expect an upturn in terror attacks as that democracy's Arab enemies, including the supposedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen do their best to take the joy out of the celebrations.

Kassams shatter Negev Purim festivities

Three Kassam rockets fired from Gaza landed in open areas in the Sdot Negev region on Friday morning.

The terrorists fired the rockets as Purim festivities were underway in the area. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.

Aside from the Kassam attacks, this year's Purim celebrations across the country were clouded by security warnings. The security establishment reported seven specific warnings of attacks, including suicide bombings, shooting attacks and kidnapping attempts. There were also dozens of non-specific warnings.

The high alert level was due in a large part to the end of the 40-day mourning period for slain Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mugniyeh. Israel denied involvement in the assassination, but Hizbullah threatened to avenge his death with an attack on Israeli targets. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the alert level Friday was one below the maximum.

Meanwhile, terrorist training in Gaza took its toll on Hamas Friday morning as one of the group's operatives was killed and two were injured in an accidental explosion at a facility in the southern Gaza neighborhood of Khan Yunis, Palestinians reported.

On Thursday, two people were killed in a similar incident in a Hamas installation in Zeitun.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Poll: Palestinian Arabs Reject Peace and Support Terror

What Will It Take for Our Leaders to See Reality?

The American government, even under President Bush, continues to labor under the clearly incorrect assumption that all that is necessary to get the Palestinian Arabs is for Israel to make enough concessions.

The latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research once again highlight the dysfunctionality of Palestinian Arab society and its total resistance to the very concept of peace with Israel.

We include some quotes from articles about the poll in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times along with some of our own comments. We generally exclude the explanations from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research trying to blame the victim, Israel, for the hatred expressed by the Palestinian Arabs.

A press release from the pollsters may be viewed on their web site; as this is written, the poll results themselves do not appear to be on that web site.

"The survey is the latest sign that the Bush administration's effort to shore up secular Palestinian leaders and isolate Hamas is failing."

[The secular Palestinian Arab leadership is no less intransigent than Hamas; one merely has to read the Fatah Charter.]

"According to the poll, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive 47 percent of the vote if the Palestinian Authority held presidential elections today, compared with 46 percent for the U.S. backed incumbent, Mahmoud Abbas."

[Thus, 93 percent of the votes would go to people who have no willingness to make any concessions to achieve peace. Haniyeh explicitly rejects any possibility of peace with Israel, while Abbas/Abu Mazen pretends to be willing to make peace but is unwilling to take any steps to bring it about.]

"Shikaki and other Palestinian analysts attributed the turnabout to several factors: The current peace talks, launched by President Bush in November, have failed to stop Israel's military incursions and airstrikes in Gaza. Nor have they halted the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eased Israel's security checkpoints there or made evident progress on the big issues of a final peace accord."

[Obviously, as long as Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza continues to launch daily barrages of Kassam rockets at Israeli communities such as Sderot and Ashkelon, Israel has to defend itself.

The current "peace talks" also haven't halted the rampant growth of Palestinian Arab settlements in all parts of the disputed territories.

While Israel has continued to exhibit its willingness to make tremendous concessions to bring about peace, obviously no real progress can made until the Arabs show some willingness to compromise.]

"Hamas carried out its first suicide attack in Israel in more than three years and stepped up rocket attacks on Israel."

[Civilized groups don't blow up students studying in school; nor do they launch rockets at cities and towns.]

"The survey also shows unprecedented support for the shooting of rockets on Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip and for the end of the peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders."

[It doesn't take a large number of fanatics to sabotage efforts to make peace; when the fanatics are in the majority, as is the case among Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories, there is no chance of peace.

Policies which pressure Israel to keep appeasing those fanatics only encourage them and actually make peace less likely.]

"His explanation for the shift, one widely reflected in the Palestinian media, is that recent actions by Israel, especially attacks on Gaza that killed nearly 130 people, an undercover operation in Bethlehem that killed four militants and the announced expansion of several West Bank settlements, have led to despair and rage among average Palestinians who thirst for revenge."

[Israel's actions were defensive measures which were aimed at terrorists trying to murder innocent civilians. The rage of the Palestinian Arabs should be directed at those terrorists who keep forcing Israel's hand.

On the other hand, despite the continued brutal terrorist attacks by Palestinian Arabs, one rarely reads about despair and rage or a thirst for revenge among Israelis; nor do Israelis reject peace.]

"On negotiations between Ehud Olmert, prime minister of Israel, and Mr. Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, 75 percent said they were without benefit and should be terminated. Regarding the thousands of rockets that have been launched on Israeli towns like Sderot and Ashkelon, 64 percent support it."

[Imagine the international outcry if 64 percent of Israelis favored terror attacks against Palestinian Arabs; indeed, imagine the international outcry if even 5 percent of Israelis did!

It's called a double standard. We have grown to expect Palestinian Arabs to support terrorism and we expect Israel to appease those terrorists.

Neville Chamberlain would probably greet these polls as evidence that we are close to achieving peace in our time.]

Friday, March 21, 2008

Comment & Analysis: Bin Laden calls for holy war to liberate Palestinians

Comment: Cairo, Egypt (AP) - Osama bin Laden lashed out Thursday at Palestinian peace negotiations with Israel and called for a holy war to liberate the Palestinian lands.

[Analysis: What "peace negotiations?" The Palestinian Arabs have yet to budge from their demands from the start of the Oslo Experiment, so there have yet to be any "peace" negotiations.

What "Palestinian lands?" There were never any lands that could have been considered "Palestinian lands" until Israel turned over parts of the disputed portions of the British Mandate to the Palestinian Authority; since those areas remain under the mismanagement of the Palestinian Arabs, there are no "Palestinian lands" to "liberate."]

Comment: A day after a bin Laden audio on a militant Web site threatened Europeans, Al-Jazeera TV broadcast audio excerpts attributed to the al-Qaida leader that urge Palestinians to ignore political parties "mired in trickery of the blasphemous democracy" and to rely on armed might.

"Palestine cannot be retaken by negotiations and dialogue, but with fire and iron," he said.

[Analysis: One cannot "retake" what one has never had; thus "Palestine" cannot be "retaken" by the Palestinian Arabs by any means.

The article does not point out what bin Laden is really referring to, destroying multicultural, democratic Israel, the only bastion of progressive, Western values in the Middle East.]

Comment: It was the first time bin Laden spoke of the Palestinian question at length since the deteriorating situation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military has been fighting with militants who fire rockets into Israel.

[Analysis: The Associated Press scrupulously avoids using the more accurate term "terrorists" and also avoids noting where in Israel the rockets are aimed: at purely civilian towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon.]

Comment: Bin Laden added that Palestinians who are unable to fight in the "land of Al-Quds" - a Muslim reference to Jerusalem - should join the al-Qaida fight in Iraq.

"The nearest field of jihad today to support our people in Palestine is the Iraqi field," he said. He also called on the people of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to "help in support of their mujahedeen brothers in Iraq, which is the greatest opportunity and the biggest task.

[Analysis: Between the lines, this comment sheds more light on the reality that, regardless of what one believes regarding America's overthrow of the brutal Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, it has been Arab and Muslim terrorists who are behind the instability, terrorism and murder.]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Conversation with Asaf Shariv

Israel's greatest danger is Iran, says Israeli diplomat

By June Sandra Neal
Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 in The Connecticut Jewish Ledger.

WEST HARTFORD--Consul General Asaf Shariv, Israel‚s highest ranking diplomat serving New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, visited the nutmeg state on March 17, to kick off its year-long Israel@60 celebration and meet with Jewish community leaders and government officials. His visit was co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford (JCRC), the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT) and the World Affairs Council.

Born in Israel, the 36-year old Shariv is the youngest diplomat to ever hold Israel‚s top consular post in New York. He joined the Prime Minister‚s office in 2002 as senior advisor to Ariel Sharon‚s Chief-of-Staff and assumed the post of Consul General of Israel in New York in August 2007. Immediately prior to his appointment, he was the Director of Media and Public Affairs to Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon. He was also the spokesman for the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (Mossad), the Atomic Energy Committee, the National Security Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Unit.

As a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1990, Shariv was a reporter and senior editor for BaMachane, the official weekly newspaper of the Israeli military. In 1993, he became Acting Editor-in-Chief and managed a team of 30 reporters, editors and producers. Following his army service, he worked as a deputy editor at Globes Newspaper.

While he was here, the Ledger had a chance to sit down and speak with Shariv one-on-one.

Q. Israel‚s 60th anniversary of statehood is clearly a time of much pride and joy. However, as Charles Dickens put it, this seems to be the best of times and the worst of times, with great achievements and equally great threats to the country‚s security.

A. We are doing well. Our economy is larger than that of all our neighbors combined. Our friendship with the United States is strong and our relationships with European countries have never been so good. Vice President Dick Cheney, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, United Kingdom‚s Prime Minister [Gordon] Brown, Germany‚s Chancellor [Angela] Merkel are all visiting Israel. Most are coming to see how we can save the Annapolis peace process. But the situation on the ground is not helping. In August of 2005, when [Ariel] Sharon began the disengagement, he said, „The world says occupation is the reason for terrorism. We will show that is a lie.‰ And since we left, there has not been one day without Kassam rockets firing into Israel.

Q. How are the residents of Sderot faring?

A. The population of Sderot has decreased from 33,0000 to 20,000. The ones who are left are those who are poor and can‚t leave. We‚ve had two children hurt: one lost his leg, the other lost his arm. But nobody hears about this. They starting shooting at Ashkelon; now there are a quarter million people under attack.

We will hear from other countries that we need to speak with Hamas. But we cannot negotiate with Hamas. The only alternative is what we are doing now. The world says our reaction is not proportional. What if Mexico launched rockets at the United States? How long would it take the U.S. to retaliate? It is true, we are stronger. We have to be. We don‚t want to go to war but we will defend ourselves.

Q. What is the greatest danger facing Israel right now?

A. Iran and the nuclear bomb. Iran is at the bottom of the ninth inning. We know the National Intelligence Estimate is wrong [claiming that Iran has ceased developing a nuclear weapon]. And they don‚t have to use it to cause trouble. Just the threat of using it will make many Israelis leave. And just imagine if Al Qaeda gets the bomb, if Hezbollah gets the bomb.

Q. Is the danger from Lebanon also great?

A. The situation on the northern border is the most serious. Hezbollah and Syria have agreed they will never go to war again against Israel alone. [Hezbollah General Secretary Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah has announced he is ready to go to war; they are crazy to avenge the assassination of [terrorist] Mugniyah. I honestly don‚t know who did it, but we were blamed. But as your state department announced, the world is a better place without him.

Q. A sticking point among the U.S. presidential contenders is when to get out of Iraq. How do you see this issue?

A. If Iran takes over Iraq, it will be a superpower.

Q. In these brief sixty years, Israel‚s list of achievements, aside from the miracle of a Jewish homeland, is breathtaking. Such things as the development of a no-radiation diagnostic instrument for detecting breast cancer, cutting edge skin graft techniques for burn victims, the new all-electric car, have meant a better life for people all over the world. Would you agree that in terms of achievements Israel is like the Little Engine That Could?

A. The Jewish state is smaller than New Jersey, but our achievements per capita surpass most countries. We hold the largest number of patents per capita in the world. [Outside of Canada and the U.S.], we have the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies. 24% of our workforce holds university degrees, third in the industrialized world. We developed the cell phone and voice mail and most of Windows NT and XP were developed in Israel. Per capita, we have the most museums, the highest number of PCs, and we publish the most scientific papers. We are one of only eight countries to launch a satellite. 85% of our trash is handled in an environmentally-friendly manner.

We have the second highest number of new books. Our economy is bigger than all the economies in the area combined and we are a superpower in homeland security.

And our intelligence forces help [democratic] countries all over the world.

Q. How would you describe the relationship between America and Israel?

A. Israel is the only democracy in the [mid east] region. We share America‚s values. We speak fluent English and Americans come to Israel and feel comfortable there. We elected the first woman prime minister nearly 40 years ago. When the tragedy of 9-11 happened, people all over Israel cried. We share a bond that will not be broken.

June Sandra Neal is a freelance writer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Undoing the Damage of Oslo

Our American government is invested in the notion that peace can come if only we help boost the popularity of the so-called "moderates" such as Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen. This ignores numerous realities, such as Abu Mazen's clinging to the same extreme demands Yasser Arafat was making at the start of the Oslo Process.

This article highlights another reality, made far worse by the mistakes of the Oslo Experiment: The basic rejectionism of the Palestinian Arab public.

Hamas's popularity is growing, even as it makes the lives of the people it governs in Gaza far worse than they've ever been before. Hamas' popularity is even growing in Judea and Samaria, even as we try to bolster Abbas by trying to make the lives of the people there better.

There was hope to the Oslo Experiment; it was worth a gamble. Unfortunately, the gamble was lost, at least in part because the most revanchist instincts of the Palestinian Arabs were appeased rather than fought.

It will take a long time to undo the damage. The popularity of Hamas, as described in this article, is just one piece of evidence.

Hamas Gaining in Popularity, Poll Finds

Los Angeles Times
Jerusalem - During three months of floundering peace talks overshadowed by violence, the U.S.-backed Palestinian leader ship in the West Bank has lost popular support and is now viewed as less legitimate than Hamas' rival Islamist government in the Gaza Strip, according to a poll released Monday.

The survey is the latest sign that the Bush administration's effort to shore up secular Palestinian leaders and isolate Hamas is failing. That effort, part of a strategy to stabilize the Middle East through an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, includes diplomatic support and promises of economic aid to the West Bank.

Polling data collected in the West Bank and Gaza this month showed that Hamas, which rejects peace talks and continues to fight Israel, has gained sharply in popularity since December, reversing a two-year decline.

According to the poll, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive 47 percent of the vote if the Palestinian Authority held presidential elections today, compared with 46 percent for the U.S. backed incumbent, Mahmoud Abbas.

Haniyeh was prime minister in a power-sharing government that Abbas dissolved in June after Hamas gunmen evicted Abbas' Fatah-led security forces from Gaza. Abbas completed the violent split by appointing a West Bank government led by former World Bank economist Salam Fayyad.

Hamas' armed takeover in Gaza badly hurt its popularity. When pollsters asked in December which Palestinian government is the legitimate authority, 38 percent of the respondents said Fayyad's and 30 percent said Haniyeh's.

In the March poll, 34 percent said Haniyeh's government is the legitimate one; 29 percent said Fayyad's is. Nearly one-fourth said both governments are illegitimate.

This is a major shift in Hamas' favor, said Khalil Shikaki, head of the survey group , the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Shikaki and other Palestinian analysts attributed the turnabout to several factors: The current peace talks, launched by President Bush in November, have failed to stop Israel's military incursions and airstrikes in Gaza. Nor have they halted the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eased Israel's security checkpoints there or made evident progress on the big issues of a final peace accord.

Meanwhile, Hamas has reasserted itself. In January, it demolished parts of a wall along the Gaza-Egypt border, enabling Palestinians to leave en masse to stock up on goods made scarce by an Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Later, Hamas carried out its first suicide attack in Israel in more than three years and stepped up rocket attacks on Israel

Gold on Gaza

After a relaxing week in the Caribbean, primerprez went to an AIPAC event featuring Ambassador Dore Gold, a native of Hartford (where the event was held), president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former advisor to Israeli prime ministers Bibi Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.

Dore spoke mostly about the deteriorating security situation in southern Israel, near Hamastan. His message make primerprez think of a puzzling paradox which will be alluded to later.

Gold talked about the difference between Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza and Israel's other territorial concessions.

In previous withdrawals, including the treaty with Egypt and the Oslo Agreements, Israel exchanged land for non-territorial concessions. (Those have almost universally been reneged upon by both Egypt and the Palestinian Arabs, but that wasn't the thrust of Gold's talk.)

By 2004, Ariel Sharon had given up hope of any agreement with the Palestinian Authority, concluded that in contrast to the situation with Judea and Samaria, Israel was never going incorporate any part of Gaza, and decided to withdraw not in exchange for any commitments from the Arabs but for a commitment from the United States, embodied in a letter from President Bush, recognizing that Israel would maintain the major Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

When Israel withdrew, optimists viewed it as an opportunity for Gaza to become a paradise, using its prime location on the Mediterranean, infrastructure including greenhouses provided by Jewish philanthropists, and natural gas concessions previously given to the Palestinian Authority by Ehud Barak. The additional hope was that, without any remaining excuse, no matter how farfetched, for attacking Israel from Gaza, the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza would concentrate on building their society there rather than on attacking Israel.

Obviously, precisely the opposite occurred and it now seems inevitable that Israel will be forced to reoccupy portions of Gaza.

The propaganda plus is that it has been made perfectly clear that the Arab terrorist attacks had absolutely nothing to do with any alleged "occupation."

Gold also alluded to two schools of thought regarding the Middle East.

One is that the key to ending the instability lies through solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. That philosophy is ingrained in institutions like the State Department, even after the Oslo Process and the aftermath of the disengagement from Gaza have demonstrated its absurdity.

The other is that no concessions or withdrawals satisfy the demands of the extremists; on the contrary, they only encourage the extremists and result in more instability and terror. He gave the emergence of Al Qaeda after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan as a prime example, along with the ascension of Hamas in Gaza (and the West Bank) after Israel's unilateral disengagement.

The major problem in the Middle East is not the Arab-Israeli conflict but Iran, which uses its proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, to increase its power. Iran is a threat not just to Israel, and not just to the West, but to the other countries in the Middle East.

The puzzle, which was not mentioned by Gold, is that any actions Israel can take to contain and ultimately defeat Hamas, Hezbollah and the other radical groups supported by Iran benefit the so-called "moderate" Arab regimes, including those in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Those nations should be loudly applauding Israel whenever it acts against Hamas and Hezbollah. Yet, against their own best interests, they condemn Israel whenever it does so.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tikkun: Over the Edge

As a lifelong liberal, Tikkun sounded attractive to me when I first heard about it years ago. As the years go by, unfortunately, Tikkun seems to go further and further from any rational perspective.

Judging by the email I received on Friday, Tikkun's founder, Michael Lerner, has clearly gone over the edge.

It's one thing to believe, however irrationally, that it is in Israel's best interest to make far-reaching and unreciprocated concessions to its Arab enemies. The Oslo Disaster has certainly proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that such concessions are counterproductive, but one can still hold unreasonable views in good faith.

The same cannot be said of Lerner's maligning Israel's rather mild and clearly insufficient defensive measures, recently taken in Gaza, as state terrorism and equating them with the brutal terror attacks that have been the mainstay of the Palestinian Arabs.

There is a lesson in Lerner's de facto anti-Israel diatribe, however, albeit not the one he intended. The fact that someone who has adopted the Arab's anti-Israel propaganda as his own was not that long ago denied participation in an anti-war rally because he was considered a Zionist demonstrates how irredentist Israel's enemies are.

Clearly, peace is impossible as long as the Palestinian Arabs continue to choose Hamas and terrorism. Israel continues to have no choice but to defend itself. Ironically, when Israel defends itself, as it briefly did recently when it went into Hamastan, it acts not only in the interests of its own citizens, but for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs as well.

Here are Lerner's incredible words:

Murders at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem
by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun

Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives unequivocally condemn the killings of students at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem today. Just as last week we prayed for a speedy recovery of Israelis and Palestinians wounded in the fighting in Gaza and the bombings of Sderot, so today we pray for a speedy recovery for those who were injured in this ghastly attack. The wounds of two thousand years of exile and the holocaust are inevitably restimulated by this kind of attack, and tragically the price will likely be paid by Palestinian civilians, who in turn will fight back and then the price will be paid by other Israelis. Thus the seemingly endless cycle of violence will continue.

We at Tikkun feel equally grieving for the people killed by vicious and immoral terrorists at the Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav (the ultra-nationalist religious center that developed the ideology which inspired religious Zionists to believe that they had a God-given right to settle and hold on to the territories without regard to the consequences for the Palestinian people already living there) as we do for the victims of Israeli terror (which in the past week killed 120 people, many of them children, many of them sitting in their homes when Israeli troops randomly fire-bombed and murdered them, as documented by the same international human rights organizations that today condemned the attack in Jerusalem by terrorists). We understand that these killings can only be understood in the context of the 60 year old struggle between these two communities, and that nothing short of a full peace accord that will require a new open-heartedness on both sides can possibly break this horrible cycle of violence. We have no sympathy for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah or those in Israel who advocate violence as a solution or those in the military who announced that they were going to implement a Shoa on the Palestinian people in Gaza, or any of the extremists in the Palestinian world or the Israeli world who seek to disrupt and derail any movement toward peace.

We similarly mourn the people in Sderot and Ashkelon terrorized by bombs from Hamas, as we did for those people who die in the Gaza and West Bank areas because the check points prevent them from getting to the doctors they need, and the many children suffering from malnutrition because of Israel's slow starvation of the country and cutting off of supplies. Of course there is no "moral equivalency" here, because as Talmud and other religious and spiritual traditions teach, every single life lost is a unique tragedy, and no life lost can be compared to or the loss justified in terms of the life lost of others.

From our standpoint, all violence, whether overt or built into the institutions of economic and political reality, is a sin and unacceptable, whether done by the powerful or the powerless. Violence is the wrong path. So this week in Beyt Tikkun synagogue we will say kaddish for the young men killed at the yeshivat ha rav, and for the people killed in Gaza by Israeli troops, Israelis killed in Sderot and Ashkelon, and for the million two hundred thousand Iraqis killed by the US occupation of Iraq and the 4000 American soldiers killed in that war. And all the victims of wars in Africa and Asia, all the victims of oppression and murder in China and Tibet, all the victims of oppression in Saudi Arabia and Iran and Lebanon and Syria and Egypt.

When will they ever learn? Violence doesn't solve anything. It doesn't create safety. The way to security is through a. recognizing "the other" as part of you, not an alien but as a fundamental part of "the unity of all being" created in the image of God and deserving just as much as we deserve, and entitled to live at the same standard of living and with the same political rights as we have and receiving the same compassion we would give to our friends; b. the Strategy of Generosity that we in the US have to initiate and the Global Marshall Plan that makes it concrete (see; and c. public acts of repentance and atonement that both sides need to take to acknowledge the cruelty and hurt that they have visited on the other side.

Till that happens the killings will go on, and the partisans on each side will always blame the other, and each will ignore the history that has led to the specific act of violence that they are focused on, and each will proclaim that any one who does not side exclusively with their side is a traitor and an evil person.

All this talk, though, doesn't really reveal how much those of us in the Tikkun community are grieving for all the pain and suffering, how deeply sad and depressed it makes us, and how very much we wish we could ease the suffering on all sides of this struggle. May all of them be comforted along with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and the whole world!

Between the Lines: Jews Murdered, Abbas Appeased and Ready to Return to Talks

A few days after Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen angrily suspended his farcical negotiations because Israel deigned to defend its citizens from terrorist attacks, he's apparently been appeased enough to resume allowing Israel to propose unreciprocated concessions.

The critical factor appears to be the clear indication, illustrated by the deadly terrorist attack a few days ago at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, that Israel's defensive measures are still not enough to prevent Palestinian Arab terrorists from succeeding in their drive to murder Jews.

That's the message that appears between the lines in the following Associated Press article:

Israel defends itself: suspend negotiations
Arabs murder Jews: we can now negotiate again

Israeli officials say peace talks to resume in days

Associated Press, Jerusalem - Israeli Palestinian peace talks will proceed within days despite a shooting attack that killed eight students at a Jewish seminary, Israeli officials said Saturday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity since there has been no official announcement regarding the talks. The comments came hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for Israel not to abandon peace efforts after a recent escalation of violence.

The attack in Jerusalem on Thursday and the continuing violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel had threatened to stall the U.S.-backed talks that aim for a peace deal by the end of the year.

Abbas had briefly called off the talks after the recent killing of more than 120 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, in Israeli military operations in Gaza. The Israeli incursion was in response to rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled territory.

But on Saturday, Abbas urged a continuation of the negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in his first response to the Jerusalem shooting attack, called the attack horrible and compared it to the Gaza militants' rocket attacks.

The perpetrators of both intend to make our lives unbearable, he said Saturday.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Yossi Beilin is Half Right

In an article published by YNet, which we include below, Yossi Beilin correctly argues that Israel must not repeat its mistakes of 2000. Unfortunately, he completely misunderstands the mistakes Israel made at that time, arguing that Israel responded too harshly to Arab terrorism. Israel's most serious mistake was in responding far too mildly.

Only when Israel took the offensive against the terrorists did the terrorism decline.

In him misguided article, Beilin effectively argues that Israel should appease Hamas and other Arab terror groups while they keep murdering Israelis. Rope-a-dope may have worked for Muhammed Ali, but Israel isn't boxing with an oppenent in a ring with a referee and Ali avoided getting hurt while his opponents were tiring themselves out.

Applying Beilin's strategy would really be the opposite, since the Arabs would be strengthening themselves while simultaneously murdering Israelis.

It should be clear by now that there will be no chance of peace unless Hamas and the other Arab terror groups, including the Fatah gang led by the supposedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen, are either completely eliminated or totally transformed as to be unrecognizable.

Don't repeat mistake of 2000

Yossi Beilin

The images of the terror attack at the yeshiva in Jerusalem are difficult, painful, and infuriating. It appeared we already reached a calmer period. Only recently we were thankful for the relative quiet of 2007, yet again we see ambulances, the dead, and the wounded.

Yet we must not repeat the grave mistake we made in the fall of 2000, when it appeared that an iron fist would cut off the enemy's arm. The iron fist gave rise to hatred, revenge, and many clenched fists - never before have so many civilians been killed in Israel as were killed in the first years of the third millennium. We must not return to September 2000.

Indeed, again we see innocent people being killed and wounded, and again we are overcome with fury. Again we see calls to hit back, retaliate, exact a price tag, and etch the other side's consciousness. It is true that not everything is in our hands, and that those who face us act based on motivates that we sometimes find difficult to grasp or address, but much does depend on us.

The government's job at this time is to undertake the utmost effort in order to lower the height of the flames and prevent escalation. Sinking into a renewed cycle of violence is very possible at this time, and we must not lend a hand to this.

The government must expand the negotiations being held with Hamas via Egypt on the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit to include ceasefire talks. This truce must include the prevention of Qassam and mortar fire by anyone, as well as an end to Israeli military raids in the Gaza Strip and an end to targeted killings.

We have nothing to lose from this kind of agreement. We are not giving up any territory - we already gave all of it up. If the ceasefire fails to be realized by the other side, we can violate it at any junction on our part as well. Not only Hamas has an interest in calm at this time, so do we.

The duty of Israel's leadership is to protect its citizens, and today it has no real solution for residents of the western Negev. The "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system may be ready in about three years, and until then at least there is no substitute for a ceasefire. The military operations carried out thus far no doubt hurt Hamas, but did not minimize the fire on Israel and strengthened Hamas' leadership politically.

The negotiations with the PLO should be managed with much greater vigor. The faster we reach a detailed peace agreement, the quicker we reach to understandings regarding the implementation of such agreement in line with the Palestinian Authority's ability to control its territory, and the faster we are able to prove to West Bank residents that a pragmatic Palestinian leadership enables them to live a better life - the more we will weaken Hamas and other radical elements, which prefer violence over dialogue.

Friday, March 7, 2008

No symmetry in conflict between Arabs and Israelis

[This was published as a letter to the editor in the Waterbury Republican-American on Friday, March 7, 2008.]

No symmetry in conflict between Arabs and Israelis

Someone reading Friday's article "Violence escalates in Mideast" might get the impression there is symmetry in the actions taken by the Arabs and Israelis. This is untrue.

In 2005, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Any pretext for attacks on Israel from Gaza was completely removed.

Since then, Palestinian Arabs in Gaza have targeted Israel with more than 3,000 Kassam missiles, including more than 800 since Hamas took over last June.

Most of these have been launched at Sderot, a Israeli town about the size of Watertown.

Besides launching several dozen Kassams at Sderot, Hamas and other terrorist groups Saturday launched at least a dozen Katyusha rockets at Ashkelon, an industrial city about the size of Waterbury.

To make matters more difficult for Israel, the Arab terrorists operate from residential areas. While Hamas has no qualms about harming civilians, Israel does; that's why Hamas use civilians as shields.

Imagine what our response would be if 800 missiles had been launched at Watertown in the last nine months, or if a dozen rockets had targeted Waterbury one day last weekend.

Obviously, Israel cannot let the current situation continue. There is no symmetry between an Israel that wants peace and a de facto Palestinian Arab terrorist ministate bent on destroying its neighbor. Israel has to defend its people. When it does, everyone should realize that, unlike the Arabs who have deliberately chosen deadly conflict, Israel had no choice.

Alan H. Stein

The writer is president of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It’s not only the barbaric act, it is their aberrant social behavior!

By GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

Yes, the world should condemn the attack on Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and there should be moral, social outrage with this evil act. However, the world must stand back and observe the aftermath of human behavior that took place in Gaza and elsewhere in the Arab world. In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in the air in celebration after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva. The regular people, not just terrorists, celebrated the murder of religious students murdered in their religious setting. They danced, they threw candy, as is their custom.

It is even worse than this. Hundreds upon hundreds of people made their way to their religious houses of worship-their Islamic Mosques and offered thanks to Allah for this “victory”. They prayed in honor of death, murder and were reinforced by imans for this dastardly behavior. Imagine, so-called religious people praying for murder, honoring killers-this is the message that the world must wake up to-it is not only a “few misguided individuals who have hijacked a religion” it is mainstream people behavior. There is no moral equivalency here, do not even suggest there is.

The “celebration” continued across the territory. Four people were wounded in a rocket attack on Sderot on Thursday evening. One of the victims, who was in his house when it sustained a direct hit, suffered moderate head wounds. Three other people suffered light injuries.

A second rocket hit a gas tank, causing a fire. Firefighters managed to gain control of the blaze. No injuries were reported.

Arabs attacked Israeli drivers on Thursday night, rolling flaming tires onto Route 60 as cars drove past. The attack took place west of Hevron, near the town of Otniel. IDF soldiers witnessed the group beginning its attack and fired on one of the attacker's legs. The attacker was hit and wounded moderately.

These were not military targets; this was not collateral damage. This was premeditated murder of innocent children. These children were readying themselves for a party and instead today they are in shock, mourning and frankly justifiable fear. No more requests for restraint. No more platitudes from Abbas et al. No more “turn the other cheek” value system we have in the West. It is past time for the world community to gather some collective courage and stop playing the political correctness game. It is time to speak, to shout the truth! The line was drawn in the sand long ago-it is time to take action.