Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mahmoud Abbas' Faction Violates Truce

Primerprez is rather surprised that, as this is written, the Palestinian Authority has only violated the so-called truce three times as it probes to see how much terrorism it can undertake without getting a reaction from Israel.

One illuminating aspect of this latest violation is that it was perpetrated by Mahmoud Abbas' (Abu Mazen's) terror group, Fatah, through its Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade.

Some say Abu Mazen opposes terrorism (despite his speeches setting the stage for a return to terrorism, as if he'd ever abandoned it) but is simply too weak to prevent it.

Does it really matter? If he's too weak to implement any agreement he might sign, what's the point of making concessions to him?

From JTA:

Al-Aksa rocket hits Israel

Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket into Israel in the third such violation of the Gaza Strip truce.

A rocket struck the southern kibbutz of Gevim on Thursday afternoon, causing no casualties.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said later that Israel should launch a military response to the violation of the week-old, Egyptian-brokered Gaza cease-fire.

Al-Aksa Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group called it retaliation for Israeli military raids in the West Bank, which are not included in the cease-fire.

Israeli defense officials, who suspended imports into Gaza after two separate shelling attacks Tuesday, had said they would reopen the Gaza-Israel border crossings Friday if there were no more shellings.

Tuesday's attack, claimed by Islamic Jihad terrorists, wounded two people in Sderot. Israel did not retaliate militarily and Hamas, which controls Gaza, said it was trying to keep other factions from firing further rockets and mortars.

Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for any attack from Gaza.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Cease Fire?

From IDF forces kill two Palestinian militants in the West Bank published in Haaretz:

Also early Tuesday, Palestinian militants from Gaza fired a mortar shell at the western Negev, in the first such strike since a cease-fire went into effect in the coastal territory. No injuries or damage were caused.

From Mortar fired at Negev despite ceasefire; no injuries Shell fired by Palestinian in Gaza lands near Israeli community in first breach of agreed upon truce in Ynet:

A mortar fired by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza early Monday morning landed in Israel's western Negev region.

The shell landed in an open area in close proximity to a community, but no injuries or damage were reported.

The incident was the first breach of the ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in the Strip, which went into effect Thursday morning.

According to the Egyptian-mediated deal, after a few days of calm Israel is supposed to begin easing restrictions and allow the transfer of large amounts of food, gas, construction materials and other goods into Gaza through the Karni and Sufa crossings.

It would seem to appear that, according to the ambiguous terms of the "ceasefire," terrorists are allowed to attack from Gaza as long as they don't do it enough to bring about an Israeli response.

On the other hand, Primerprez has already been surprised that the ceasefire lasted this long. He does have mixed feelings. He would be delighted if the ceasefire was a real one and was permanent, but expects that, like previous farces, will prove to simply be an opportunity for the Arab terrorists to build up their ability to murder innocent Israelis.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Churches for Middle East Peace - Not

One of the propaganda ploys of the enemies of Israel is to create organizations with idealist sounding names that have nothing to do with what they are interested in.

Thus, the group misleadingly calling itself "Churches for Middle East Peace" is really about trying to delegitimize Israel, not peace.

This comes from its June newsletter. As usual, we add some PRIMER perspective.

Annapolis: Keeping Peace a Priority

Peace Process Renewed

We are in a new phase in the process of peacemaking in the Holy Land. Ongoing talks under the Annapolis process launched last fall between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, even with their limitations, present a real opportunity for advancement toward the goal of a durable peace.

[Not really, since the Palestinian Arabs continue to show no willingness to compromise, end terrorism and dismantle their terror infrastructure.]

Most recently, Israel is talking about peace with Syria. There are also real risks of failure once again in the peacemaking process.

A series of unsuccessful or inconclusive peace talks for over quarter of a century - Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, Taba and Geneva - nevertheless have made progress toward defining and clarifying issues separating Israel and Palestinians.

[There's really just one key issue separating the: Israel wants to continue to exist; the Palestinian Arabs want to destroy Israel.]

Terms of the key final status issues (borders, refugees, Jerusalem and security) have been discussed. Some details seem to have been agreed. Maps reportedly were exchanged. Importantly there is better understanding now than in the past about what it will take to make a deal if there is going to be a deal. Boundaries will need to be based on the 1967 border, with mutual adjustments to allow some Israeli settlements to remain part of Israel in exchange for other land that would become part of the Palestinian state.

[There was no "1967 border," only temporary armistice lines that specifically were not supposed to prejudice future negotiations.

While Israel controls some land which it will undoubtedly give to the Palestinian Arabs, the Palestinian Arabs don't have any land to give Israel. Thus, to talk of a land swap is misleading.]

(Such land swaps were worked out unofficially between non-government Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the 2003 Geneva Accords - see map on page 2.) No deal can be complete without the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Many Palestinian refugees have already accepted the political reality that the "right of return" may have to mean the right to accept compensation.

[This is a statement which is frequently made but which has no basis in fact, is of itself evidence of strong anti-Israel bias and is quite outlandish.

Peace will require compromise by both sides. Clearly, most of the compromises will be made by Israel, simply because Israel isn't really asking anything of the Palestinian Arabs other than a willingness to live in peace.

Consider how absurd it would be considered if anyone said peace would be impossible without Israeli control of Hebron. Yet the Israeli claim to Hebron is far stronger than the dubious Arab claim to any part of Jerusalem.]

What if a Deal is Not Possible?

With the long history of failed peace negotiations, the apparent inexorable political pressures in Israel for growth of settlements and the settler population in Palestinian territories,

[More accurately, disputed territories, to which Israel has at least as much legal, moral and historical claim as any other party.]

and continuing political weakness and divisions among Palestinians, some wonder whether a "one state" solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living together in a single, democratic state, is becoming the only option.

[I.e. Whether the Palestinian Arabs will go back to their insistence on the immediate destruction of Israel rather than their strategy of destroying Israel in stages.]

There are compelling reasons why a one-state solution is a non-starter. Israel was founded in response to the need for a Jewish majority state after centuries of European persecution of Jewish minorities, culminating in genocide. Given population trends, in a few years Jews could expect to be a minority again in a unified state that includes the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza.

[Precisely why the so-called one-state solution, which would more accurately be called the genocidal solution, keeps getting proposed.]

Olmert uses this demographic argument to support the urgent need for a separate and viable Palestinian state as necessary to preserve a Jewish majority state. Anything less than two states could lead to a Jewish minority, or an indefinite occupation by Israel of separated Palestinian lands, a clear recipe for ongoing conflict.

For their part, Palestinians fear they could be increasingly segregated and marginalized in a single state. They have long struggled for their own independent national identity that is not part of someone else's state, and today they will not settle for less.

[Rather, they have long struggled for the destruction of Israel. If they wanted their own national identity that would not be part of any other state, they could have established their own state at just about any time in the last six decades.]

Public and Official Support for Two States

At the Annapolis conference last November, over fifty countries, including Saudi Arabia and Syria, endorsed the two-state goal. A majority of both Israeli and Palestinian public opinion support the objective of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace with secure and recognized borders. Arab states have said collectively they will support such an outcome.

[Unfortunately, they continue to subvert it by always supporting the most extreme among them.]

Hamas has indicated a willingness to allow Abbas to negotiate with Israel in the name of the Palestinian people as long as any agreement is approved in a referendum by all Palestinians. Even Iran on occasion has said it would not object to an agreement, provided all Palestinians agreed.

[For each, that approval is highly ambiguous and based on an understanding that any such agreement would be temporary, a vehicle enabling the Arabs to strengthen themselves in preparation for the ultimate destruction of Israel.]

Obstacles on the Road to Peace

It is of course by no means certain that a peace agreement this year between Israel and the Palestinians will happen. Some believe that the political influence of settlers is so great in Israel that they can prevent any agreement based on "land for peace." The political coalition supporting Prime Minister Olmert includes those who oppose any sharing of Jerusalem and hold on to the dream that that the Jewish State will extend from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.

[There are very few Israelis who, regardless of their dreams, are unwilling to compromise.]

Palestinian opposition includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad that permit or perpetrate terrorist rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel, officially refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, and includes those who hold on to the dream that Israel is a temporary phenomenon that will eventually go away.

[The supposedly "moderate" Fatah is in the same category, supporting terrorist arms such as the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade and Tanzim and continuing to call for the destruction of Israel in its charter.]

With its control of Gaza and ability to allow terrorist rocket attacks, Hamas cannot remain indefinitely outside the political process. Intermediaries have sought to arrange a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel and political accommodations between Hamas and Fatah, although none have been successful yet.

[More realistically, no peace is possible as long as Hamas exists in anything resembling its present form.]

US Role

Many, including those with leading roles in past peace negotiations, are skeptical that the US Administration is likely to bring about an agreement now, especially given the limited time available. However, a US role has not always been necessary. The Oslo Accord was negotiated without US participation in 1993, as was the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994. Israel is currently talking about peace with Syria through intermediaries without US involvement. The limits of US influence were suggested by Secretary Rice when she said in May that Israel and the Palestinians can have an agreement this year "if they want it".

Yet the existence of the US-initiated Annapolis process itself forces the parties to defend and clarify their positions and attempt to negotiate differences. The empowerment finally given to Secretary Rice to play a proactive role can make a crucial difference.

With both Olmert and Abbas inclined to reach an agreement if they can get sufficient political support from their own constituencies, the US will now need to find ways, if it can, to empower them to do so. There are a number of actions the US could take, such as a statement on the necessity for peace of sharing Jerusalem, but not much can be expected prior to Tuesday, November 4.

Given that issues are so interconnected, all elements of an agreement may have to be announced all at once. Olmert and Abbas reportedly resisted a suggestion from Secretary Rice in May that they publish a memorandum on the subjects upon which they had already agreed, perhaps because they feared any announcement could lead to a political crisis unless it was part of a comprehensive package. This story does suggest, however, that areas of agreement exist.

The CMEP Board noted in a recent letter to President Bush that "the path to an agreement cannot be traveled by the two parties alone. Israel will need reassurances about its security that only the US can provide. Palestinians and the Arab states will need US assurances that terms of an agreement will be carried out." While the US cannot impose peace terms on the parties, no peace agreement can be carried out without an active US role as facilitator, security guarantor and underwriter. It is possible that late in the year the US will have an opportunity to make bridging proposals to close remaining gaps in the positions of the two sides.

[This ignores the continuing refusal of even Abbas to budge from the extreme positions Arafat held at the start of the Oslo Experiment along with the reality that as long as Gaza remains under control of Hamas any agreement would be useless.]

Timing and Risks

Last November the Bush Administration gave itself the deadline of the end of its term next January to bring about an agreement. If there is to be an agreement, it may well not arrive until the last minute - that is, late this year.

The fragile state of the Israeli coalition could prompt new elections anytime and Palestinian elections are expected early next year. There is a real risk that failed negotiations would not only be the political demise of both Olmert and Abbas but also discredit moderates on both sides who have sought peace and further empower those who seek continued settlement expansion and violence. No one wants a repetition of the disaster that followed failed Camp David negotiations in 2000 that led to the violence in the second intifada.

[It wasn't failed negotiations that led to the Arab terror offensive; it was the Arab determination to not agree to peace and to launch a terror offensive instead.

As always, the key to peace remains a change in the attitude of the Arabs.]

Time is not on the side of reaching an agreement. Further delays, especially with on-going settlement expansion, inevitably increase political costs of accommodation. Failure yet again to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would only add fuel to other ongoing conflicts in the region.

[References to Israeli communities in the disputed territories are nothing more than red herrings.

If the Arabs were interested in peace, the presence of a relative handful of Jews in whatever territory they were given would be no more of a problem than the presence of a far larger number of Arabs within Israel.]

Syria Again

Interest has revived this spring in a peace agreement between Israel and Syria. As time and energy may not be sufficient to attempt two peace agreements in one year, Israel might seek an agreement first with Syria before taking on the Palestinians. A Syrian agreement could empower Olmert to take on the more difficult task of Palestine, or it could have the opposite effect, reducing pressure to make the hard decisions needed for peace with the Palestinians, at least for now.

CMEP's Advocacy Role in 2008 and Beyond

There are those within the US Congress who remain opposed to the views of the US, Israeli and Palestinian authorities that the goal of a viable Palestinian state is the basis for a durable peace.

[Another Palestinian Arab state is in no way a basis of a durable peace; it it merely one of the possible outcomes if the Arabs ever decide to live in peace.]

Many others recognize the imperative for peacemaking but are unwilling to act. Yet, an increasing number are tired of the status quo and are open to opportunities to take a pro-active stance in support of US diplomacy.

Continued advocacy by CMEP and its grassroots advocates is needed to support an active U.S. leadership role. Most importantly there is a need to ensure continuity of effort between this Administration and the next to keep the peace process a priority for US policy. That will mean continued grassroots advocacy by CMEP with congressional and administration officials, continued direct communications by CMEP's Board and Heads of Communion with the Administration, and CMEP support for Congressional peace efforts through support of constructive, pro-peace House and Senate initiatives.

CMEP is the voice for peace of its member churches and organizations in the halls of Congress and with the Administration. We welcome your comments and views, and we hope for your continued support.

[More accurately, CMEP is a voice of anti-Israel propaganda masquerading as a voice for peace.]

American Palestinian Arabs Confirm Goal of Destroying Israel

This is from the Arab American News and among other interesting things confirms their goal of destroying Israel.

American Palestinians move from al-Nakba to organizing

By Will Youmans - The Arab American News

Washington - In the past few weeks, Palestinians around the globe have commemorated the 60th anniversary of al Nakba, or the catastrophe, that led to their displacement from their homeland. Israel's establishment in May 1948 continued and accelerated the forcible Palestinian exile at the hands of Israel's founding pioneers.

[Their "exile" was voluntary, not forced, and was at the behest of their own brethren and leaders, not Israelis.]

One organization, the Palestine Center in Washington, DC, held a symposium, "Palestinians and the Jewish State: 60 Years of Exile and Dispossession." Presenters discussed the status of the Palestinian refugees and their prospects for return, the status of Christian Palestinians and Palestinian citizens in Israel.

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, a leading researcher on Palestinian property rights and refugees, described his personal experiences with the Nakba. He described it as a scene of devastation.

It was a recollection, he later shared, that moved an Israeli journalist and peace activist to tears. Despite this, the Israeli man was still against the right of Palestinians to return.

[There is no right of Palestinian Arabs to return. One also wonders why Sitta would want to emigrate to a land he apparently voluntarily left six decades ago and which today bears little resemblence to what it was like then or the homes he has lived in virtually all his life.]

Dr. Abu Sitta's work has shown that Palestinian return is feasible, since 80% of the Israelis live on 15% of the land. With the Palestinian population growing rapidly in exile, under occupation, and as a minority in Israel, it is necessary for them to be able to return, he argued.

[All the Arabs in Gaza and roughly 95 percent of the Arabs in the rest of the disputed territories are living under their own, corrupt Palestinian Authority and thus are not "under occupation."

For all but a relative handful, moving to Israel would not be "return" but rather emigration to a country they never lived in. There is no reason, no less necessity, for them to emigrate to Israel, especially since their Arab brethren control roughly 13 million square kilometers of territory in comparison to just 21 thousand kilometers in Israel.

If their population is growing, they would obviously be better off in the vast areas controlled by their brethren rather than the tiny, confined territory comprising Israel.]

By 2050, there will be 34 million Palestinians in the world. Half of them will be in Israel-Palestine. This will be significantly larger then the Israeli Jewish population. Israel cannot keep its status as a state purely for one ethnic group against the rights and freedoms of another.

[Israel has no such status. Its citizens, Arab and Jewish, have equal legal rights.

This is in sharp comparison to the rights given non-Arabs and non-Muslims in the rest of the Middle East.]

He ended with a call for the re-establishment of the Palestinian National Council, an elected body to reflect the aspirations of all the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority only represents the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Nimer Sultany, a student at Harvard Law School, discussed the Palestinian citizens of Israel. As a civil rights attorney and activist, he described their status as being "citizens without citizenship." The 20% of Israelis of Palestinian origin are excluded from the "dominant public sphere" and are forced on the margins of society.

[Jews comprise roughly 75 percent of the population of Israel and virtually all of them ore of "Palestinian origin;" indeed, their ties to Palestine precede the time Judea and Samaria were renamed.]

He discussed the recent activism of Israeli Palestinians to challenge the Jewish nature of the state. The state, they argue, should be for all its people, not just one group. Israel treats this as a fundamental threat and has worked to undermine these voices by, for example, arresting and banishing leaders such as Islamic activist Raed Salah and former Knesset member Azmi Bishara.

[There are few, if any, other nations that would be as lenient with the sort of treasonous actions of Bishara.

Alone in the Middle East, Israel is a state of all its citizens. This is in sharp contrast to the goal of the Palestinian Authority, which may plan on being a state of all its citizens but is also determined that none of its citizens be Jewish.]

The third speaker, Dr. Don Wagner, a professor at North Park University in Chicago, gave an overview of Zionism. He listed four types of it, and focused on Christian Zionism. This movement, he argued, was at odds with the impact of Israel's policies on Palestinian Christians.

He said that while the fate of all Palestinians is important, the Christian population is disappearing in the homeland. Israel has targeted church holdings, turned Bethlehem into a walled ghetto, and sometimes bans churches from bringing in religious workers.

[The conditions of Christian Arabs has certainly deteriorated tremendously in the areas where they are subject to the rule of the Palestinian Authority.]

Christian Zionists tend to believe that the Jewish state will play a role in the return of the Messiah. He will force the Jews to convert to Christianity or face eternal damnation. Though many see this as inherently anti-Semitic, pro-Israel groups have welcomed their support. This politically powerful movement is spreading, according to Dr. Wagner, a heresy by turning their backs on other Christians and the basic rights of all the Palestinians.

The packed audience of at least 120 attendees was largely receptive to the speakers. During a lively question-and-answer session, they burst into applause on several occasions.

The Palestine Center is a non-profit educational organization committed to providing informative publications and events to the public, the media, and policymakers. They are on the Web at

Will Youmans is a writer for The Arab American News and is a board member of the Jerusalem Fund, which houses the Palestine Center.

[The group would more appropriate be called the "Anti-Jerusalem Fund."]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

PRIMER Comment & Analysis: Screed in The New Haven Register

The New Haven Register published a heavily biased, error-filled anti-Israel screed, entitled "Real Obama revealed to Israel lobby," written by Jamilah Rasheed, a frequent contributor to The Register.

Rasheed repeats essentially the same baseless accusations time and time again while giving no evidence for any of them.

Rasheed is described as follows: "Jamilah Rasheed of New Haven is coordinator of the Connecticut Islamic Speakers Bureau. Readers may write to her in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. Her e-mail address is"

In the Comment & Analysis, "Comment" refers to a quote from Rasheed's article; "Analysis" refers to a PRIMER analysis of the preceding quote.

"By now, there must be many Americans who can see that Barack Obama is not a Muslim."

From the tenor of the rest of the article, this is clearly meant to be a criticism of Barack Obama and, implicitly, as a criticism off all non-Muslims.

"He has denied the religion of his father and embraced the religion of his mother. He has stated and demonstrated that Christianity is his faith of choice and he attends church regularly."

Rasheed treats Obama's choice as a repudiation of Islam; from all indications it was not. Having parents of different religions and apparently wanting to practice a religion, he naturally had to choose.

"He has derided his spiritual leader, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright."

This is to his credit, since Wright made numerous hateful, bigoted and anti-American statements.

"His disdain for Islam and Muslims is evident in his June 4 speech to the American Israeli Political Action Committee, known as AIPAC."

Rasheed does not even know the name of the group he is unfairly criticizing. AIPAC is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

"It is the lobbying agent that makes sure all politicians in this country sell their souls to the Israeli agenda."

AIPAC is an American organization which recognizes the importance to us of a strong relationship between American, the greatest country in the world, and Israel, our only true friend in the Middle East.

As do countless other groups, including numerous anti-Israel organizations which are lavishly funded by Arab oil sheikdoms, it presents its case to our leadership. It is effective primarily because its case is a good one.

Implicit in Rasheed's assertion is that the members of Congress and the President of the United States are all willing to subjugate our interests to the interests of a foreign country; while one may disagree with different members of Congress and with our president, they are patriotic and Rasheed's assertion is an insult.

"Obama shattered thoughts that peace and justice would come to Palestinians, declaring in clear terms that whatever Israel wants Israel will get when he is president."

Obama did no such thing.

Like other leaders, he recognized the importance of our friendship with Israel, but that did not stop him from criticizing Israel in front of 7,500 supporters of Israel by insisting Israeli building in the disputed territories had to stop.

From an historical, legal and moral perspective, Israel has as much right to those territories as anyone else, if not more. In criticizing Israel, he was pandering to the anti-Israel fanatics like Rasheed.

"As a black and a Muslim, I am deeply offended."

Race and religion have nothing to do with it. This is simply a bigoted statement demonstrating Rasheed's deep-seated hatred.

"I view the electoral process as inept and deceptive. The election of 2000 was rigged in favor of George W. Bush. The citizens returned to the voting booths in 2004 and were again denied a change in government."

Regardless of one's political preferences and whatever questions one might have about the true preference of voters in 2000, the fact that Rasheed doesn't like the choice the voters made in 2004 does not mean the will of the electorate was thwarted.

"And even when they voted in a Democratic majority in Congress in 2006, change was an illusion.

"The two-party system has failed us."

Rasheed clearly does not understand democracy, which is not surprising given her hostility towards the only democracy in the Middle East. As Winston Churchill famously pointed out, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

"Yet in these last 16 months, change one can believe in was the theme of Obama's campaign. Obama has promised change that would give the people the power that is theirs in a democracy; change that would ensure jobs for the skilled and able who want to work in this country; change that would see the issues of utmost importance to Americans - health care, the economy, Iraq and the environment - become priorities that are dealt with immediately."

Again, Rasheed demonstrates an misunderstanding of democracy. She clearly means those priorities would not only be addressed, but solved immediately.

Democracy is a messy process, clearly far less efficient than the sort of dictatorships that dominate the Arab world.

"Here was a person of color whose advancement was made possible because of his intelligence and the sacrifices of the pioneers of the civil rights era. Obama represented himself as the right person for the job."

Just as Hillary Clinton did; just as John McCain did; just as every other candidate has.

"When he stood before the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill and sang praises to the state of Israel, I could feel the resonating sigh of anguish and disappointment from those whose hopes for true justice and peace were dashed."

The praise he gave Israel was well-deserved, basically just that Israel was a good friend of the United States and worked hard for peace. It may have disappointed those who are apposed to peace and the continued existence of Israel, but should not have been disappointing to anyone interested in either peace or justice.

It is worth noting that the injustice caused by sixty years of Arab rejectionism and terror can never be rectified.

"He talked about eliminating threats to Israel, but not once did he mention removing Israel's threat to the rest of the region."

Israel isn't a threat to any in the region other than those trying to destroy it.

"His commitment to Israel tells me that my concerns don't matter."

Rasheed's major concern seems to be the destruction of Israel, so Obama's non-appeasement of that concern is to his credit.

"Elections have always favored corporations and their hold on our government. The poor are suffering today and those who are members of the middle class will be joining them soon. But, a majority of Americans can't fathom how the crisis in the Middle East directly affects our way of life."

Certainly, most Americans realize the exorbitant prices Arab oil exporters are extracting is a serious problem, particularly for the poor.

"Obama should be sympathizing with the plight of the Palestinians based on America's history of oppression of people of color, from slavery to the present."

Rasheed falsely implies the Palestinian Arabs are being oppressed by Israel.

The unhappy plight of the Palestinian Arabs is the result of their continued refusal to live in peace with Israel. It has been aggravated by the refusal of their brethren to integrate those who left when six Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948. It has been further aggravated by their brethren and their own leadership forcing millions of Arabs to live in refugee camps simply to use them as pawns in the war against Israel.

"Instead, Obama's commitment to funding Israel has guaranteed that the poor will get poorer and many of us will be joining their ranks. In essence, he lied when he said there would be change we can believe in."

The assistance we provide Israel is, in real terms, roughly half what it was two decades ago, is only slightly more than we give Egypt, and pales in comparison to the hundreds of billions we give to Israel's enemies each year in the form of exorbitant oil prices.

"True change comes in the form of recognizing Palestinians' right to return to their homes."

The hundreds of thousands of Arabs who left their homes when their brethren invaded Israel in 1948 lost any rights they may have had when the Arab states refused to make peace with Israel. At this point, even if that was not the case, it's clearly not feasible for the relative handful who are still alive - the youngest of whom are already in their 60's - to return to their former homes.

An insistence on a fictitious and impractical "right of return" is simply an indication of an unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel.

"True change means an end to the apartheid wall that Israel is building to segregate and humiliate Palestinians."

This is another example of hatred being spewed by Rasheed.

The barrier being built by Israel is simply chain link fence for approximately 95 percent of its length, with concrete used only where a fence is impractical or where a fence would not prevent Arab terrorists from sniping at Israeli motorists.

The barrier was forced on the Israeli government by the Arab terror offensive launched when the Palestinian Authority rejected peace, and the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state, in 2000. Israeli parents simply refused to continue to have their children blown up at shopping malls, discotheques and pizza parlors and insisted the government build the barrier. It is really the most benign action the government could have taken to protect its citizens and Israel should be praised for building it and saving lives, both Arab and Israeli.

"True change means denying funding to Israel as long as it continues killing the Palestinian people. Anything short of these changes is equivalent to continued suffering here and abroad."

Nonsense. Whereas Arab terrorists, including terrorists from the Tanzim and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade of the supposedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah, deliberately murder innocent people, the Israeli government tries to avoid harming the innocent.

"When he stood before AIPAC and announced that our bond with Israel would be unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever, I understood that Israel will continue to kill, starve and abuse Palestinians with the blessing of the United States."

It is just the opposite. Israel has provided humanitarian aid to the Palestinians for years in the form of money, food, fuel and medical care, even while attacks against innocent civilian Israelis continued. Any economic hardships suffered by the Palestinians arises from their insistence on waging war against Israel and because of the Palestinian leadership's funneling humanitarian aid funds away from the people it was intended to help.

"The King James version of the Bible says, 'For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.' The Quran says, 'For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.' Obama has sold his soul to the state of Israel and we have been deceived into believing that true change would come."

Rasheed repeats the insulting insinuation made earlier that Obama puts the interests of a foreign country above those of the United States.

Nowhere does Rasheed give any evidence that Obama or any other candidate has done or said anything that is not in the best interests of the United States. Her entire screed is based only on hatred of Israel and opposition to any words or deeds that are not anti-Israel.

The full text of Rasheed's screed may be found at

Monday, June 16, 2008

Condoleezza Rice Remarks to the Press

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice answered questions from the press while en route to Tel Aviv on June 14. A transcript was provided by the State Department.

SECRETARY RICE: Okay. Look, why don't we just go directly to questions. You heard the President's press conference today, and we're now headed to Jerusalem, so we can just go directly to your questions.

[It's unclear whether this reflects the State Department's Jerusalem phobia or whether Condoleezza Rice is geographically challenged, but the State Department transcript described these remarks as being made en route to Tel Aviv while Condoleezza Rice certainly appears to believe she's en route to Jerusalem.]

QUESTION: Can you respond to the -- Israel's announcement yesterday, I believe, of a new 1,300 home settlement in East Jerusalem, and how you expect to be able to, you know, talk to both sides about this since that's precisely the thing that the Palestinians regard as the greatest obstacle?

[More accurately, it's something the Palestinian Arabs like to say is the greatest obstacle.]

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it will certainly be a topic of conversation and I expect to raise it with all of Israel's officials and leaders. And we've said before that this is a time to try and build confidence, and this is simply not helpful to building confidence. And so we'll have a further discussion of it, but I intend to have a discussion of Roadmap obligations generally, and this is obviously a Roadmap obligation that's not being met.

[From the start, Israel clearly stated its reservations regarding certain provisions of the Roadmap and the United States understood Israel would not strangle life in Jewish neighborhoods in the disputed territories.

By pandering to these Arab objections, Rice is preventing any real progress towards peace. She is also ignoring the real violations, the continued Arab terrorism.]

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you are not annoyed that every time you go there, there is a new announcement of settlements, either just before you come or just after you leave?

SECRETARY RICE: Unfortunately, there have been a few whether I'm coming or not. I think that - look, it's a problem. And I think it's a problem that we'e - that I'm going to address with the Israelis. And it's also - as the President said today, it's also every reason - or it gives us every reason that we really ought to be determining the boundaries of the state, because what's in Israel will be in Israel at that point, and what's in Palestine will be in Palestine. And that's the best way to resolve this, but you know, I repeat, we've talked a great deal about the importance of Roadmap obligations, and this one isn't being met.

[These days, Condi is always either coming or going, so anything Israel announces is going to be just before she comes or just after she leaves.

The most important Roadmap obligation is the Arab abandonment of terrorism and dismantling of the terror infrastructure built up by the Palestinian Authority. Arab terrorism has actually increased, particularly against Jewish communities near Gaza.

Additionally, Congress has repeatedly declared Jerusalem should not be redivided, making any interpretation of the provisions of the Roadmap as prohibiting Israeli construction in its capital in conflict with Congressional policy.]

QUESTION: Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad this week expressed remarkable pessimism in public, saying he just didn't think it was possible to get a peace agreement this year. Why is it? What makes you think it's possible in, you know, seven months now?

SECRETARY RICE: Because I know that the parties are working very seriously and they're talking about the most serious of issues. It's not easy, and these issues have never been easy. It's the reason they don't have an end to their conflict. It's because the issues are hard. I know that there are those who talk about the difficulties of this particular moment. I'm hard-pressed to find a time when there weren't difficult circumstances in the Middle East.

And so the parties, I think, are intending to keep pressing. I've talked to the negotiators, to Foreign Minister Livni and to Abu Allah. I've talked to Prime Minister Olmert and to President Abbas. They expressed the desire to get this done. And we're going to work as hard as possible with them to get it done. But I do think it's important for everyone to stay focused on the goal and stay focused on the work at hand, rather than several months before the end of the year, trying to determine what the outcome is going to be, and expressing pessimism. I don't think it helps to express pessimism at this point. There's hard work ahead, but it helps to focus on the work.

And I should - just on Prime Minister Fayyad, he is focusing very intently on the -- as he puts it, creating the institutions of a nascent state. And that's why we're supporting him in the work he's doing to build the security forces, the Jenin Project, the Bethlehem conference. On a number of these scores, he has had a lot of support and I think he's done really very well.

[The buildup of Palestinian Authority security forces may have something to do with civil order, but they have nothing to do with eliminating the terror infrastructure; in that sense, they have nothing to do with the Roadmap. Indeed, if the past is any indication of the future, those very forces are likely to turn to terrorism themselves, thus undermining the prospects for peace.

The issues are hard only in the sense that it is very hard for the Palestinian Arabs to reconcile themselves to the prospect of living side-by-side with Israel. If they ever so reconcile, it will be relatively easy to come to a territorial compromise and achieve peace.]

And so I'll also have an opportunity to talk about what is another track of Annapolis. The negotiations are one track, but the - improving the lives of the Palestinians and building the institutions of the Palestinian state is another track, and that's the one in which I'm most involved with Prime Minister Fayyad.

QUESTION: You're going this time, just about on the one-year anniversary of the Hamas takeover in Gaza. Were you concerned the other day to see some Israeli military officials say that they would give the truce talks in Egypt about two weeks to work or they would reinvade? And where do you see that truce situation - the truce negotiations going at this point?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not going to comment on every comment that is made by Israeli officials, either identified or not in - about the Gaza situation. Everybody knows that the situation in Gaza is extremely difficult, that Hamas has - is effectively holding the population of Gaza hostage, that they are continuing to participate in and allow others to participate in firing rockets against innocent Israeli populations. And we all know too that the Egyptians are trying mightily to find a solution.

[The only real solution is the elimination of both Hamas and the terror infrastructure, both in Gaza and in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).]

So I - this is something that the Israelis are dealing directly with the Egyptians on, and so I'm not in a position to comment about the back-and-forth between Israel and Egypt. But I think we all know what needs to happen in Gaza. The rocket fire needs to stop. There needs to be a more sustainable circumstance for the people of Gaza, meaning that there will need to be sustained openings of the crossings, enough at least to permit humanitarian conditions to - humanitarian needs to be met. And ultimately, I would hope that they can get back to something that looks more like the Movement and Access Agreement of November 2005, which everybody's focused on as an endpoint.

[It's hard to keep the crossings open when the Palestinian Arabs keep attacking them.]

So we know that that's what needs to be done in Gaza, and it's my understanding that Egypt and Israel are both focusing there as well as the Palestinians. I just want to repeat that the Palestinian Authority, of course, is the legitimate authority for the people of Gaza as well. They spend some 58 percent of their budget on the people of Gaza, so it's not as if the Palestinian Authority is not involved concerning affairs in Gaza. And I should mention one other point, which is, of course, we've worked with the Egyptians on some technical ways to deal with the smuggling through tunnels and the like. The Egyptians are very concerned about the security situation in Gaza and about the use of Gaza's territory for rearming of terrorists. It's not in Egypt's interest either.

[Even if the smuggling was stopped completely, the terrorists in Gaza have already obtained so many weapons and explosives that it would take a massive campaign to undo the damage of the last year alone, not to mention the damage done by the Palestinian Authority prior to that.]

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what do you think about President Assad attending the celebrations of Bastille Day next month in Paris?

SECRETARY RICE: As I understand it, a lot of people are going to attend the celebration of Bastille Day. My understanding, and we had long discussions with the French, this is in accord - it's in conjunction with the Mediterranean summit that they hold, which, as I understand it, is about trying to make relations among the states of the Mediterranean more harmonious, has more of an economic and practical caste to it than a political caste.

But I also know that the - we and the French have completely consonant views on the situation in Lebanon, as evidenced by - evidenced by the joint statement that President Sarkozy and Bush issued today. We have consonant views on the Annapolis process and what needs to be done there. President Sarkozy will be going to Israel, I think at the end of the week. And then we certainly have very similar views about what needs to be done in the Middle East in total. So I don't have any doubt that any contacts with Bashar al-Assad will be, from our point of view, contacts that communicate the right messages in what are shared French and American goals and objectives for the Middle East.

QUESTION: You talked about the importance of deciding on the borders because that's one way of -- and I wonder if you've given any serious thought to the possibility of trying to reach an agreement just on borders.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, part of the difficulty in negotiations like this is that the issues are intertwined. You know, borders and security, issues concerning Jerusalem, and issues concerning borders, and issues concerning refugees -- they're all part -- and by the way, not only the big four of final status, but also issues of state-to-state relations, issues of economic relations. They're all very intertwined. And I believe the parties have adopted the right strategy here, which is that they work on all of them, recognizing that some may move more quickly than others, but also recognizing that nothing can be agreed till everything is agreed.

And it's just very difficult to imagine a circumstance under which you could separate somehow the border issue from these other important issues. That doesn't mean that you can't work on the border issue separate from the others, but it's hard to imagine that you could really resolve it without dealing with the companion issues.

[The only real issue requiring negotiations is the territorial compromise, i.e. the determination of borders.

The other issues mentioned basically call for the Palestinian Arabs to decide they're interested in peace and thus stop putting forth the false issues of redividing Israel's capital and flooding Israel with descendents of those who left in 1948 in order to facilitate the hoped for destruction of Israel.]

QUESTION: I'd heard that you were thinking of this, and it made no sense to me, which is why I wondered.

SECRETARY RICE: No, I was not thinking of that. I've encouraged the parties not to hesitate to push ahead if something is moving, but the idea that you could have a separate agreement, I think that just doesn't make sense.

QUESTION: The Israeli political situation has probably gotten even more complicated since you were there last. And I know you don't like to comment on internal politics, but you're going to be seeing sort of a lot of the relevant parties here. To what extent are you concerned that their own internal political positionings and so forth will make things difficult for you to have a receptive ear?

SECRETARY RICE: I can only go on what I've been told by all of the relevant parties, as you call them, which is that they're committed to the Annapolis process, they're committed to trying to move the negotiations forward, they're committed to trying to meet Israel's obligations under the various tracks of Annapolis. And I will treat the parties in their respective roles: prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister. Those are the meetings that I'm having. And we'll have an opportunity to talk about moving forward on the peace process and moving forward on Israel's obligations. And you know, as I said, the Middle East is never uncomplicated, so best just to focus on the task at hand.

[One would be more hopeful if the Secretary of State was interested in talking about the important obligations that aren't being met, the Arab obligation to end terrorism.]

QUESTION: Do you still plan trilaterals?


QUESTION: And also, do you want to speak about the roadblocks again, or it's something that is (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: I am having a trilateral with -- I think the -- is it the Barak -- I'm trying to remember the order. I think Barak and Fayyad is tomorrow, and Livni and Abu Alaa is Monday, I believe. And yes, in the trilateral that is really about Roadmap implementation and improving the lives of the Palestinians, we will talk about movement and access issues.

Now, if you remember, we've tried to make this more concrete by having, for instance, a focus on an area, like Jenin, where you have security forces come in for the Palestinians; Israelis can then step back and allow Palestinians to have more freedom of action. You can then just work on the movement and access issues, as we've done between Jenin and Nablus, for instance. And then economic projects of the kind that Prime Minister Blair is doing and some smaller ones of the kind that USAID and the Palestinians themselves are doing can then fill in.

And so I think this is a more concrete way to go about it because just focusing on numbers, I mentioned to you that focusing on 50 roadblocks and then you learn that only some proportion of them really matters to movement and access, I don't think we want to get into a quantitative game. And so I think this is really a better way of going about it.

[The roadblocks are only necessary because of Arab terrorism. If the Palestinian Authority would adhere to its obligation to eliminate its terror infrastructure, the roadblocks could also be eliminated.

Until that time, eliminating roadblocks is actually counterproductive, since it makes it easier for terrorists to act.]

QUESTION: A quick one on that?


QUESTION: I mean, let's not -- let's actually talk about the qualitative issue then. Do you think, in a qualitative sense, that the Israeli Government has made significant efforts to keep its obligations since you announced the 50 to actually substantially improve movement and access?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, again, if you look at trying to do this by area, I do think that there are improvements in Jenin on all of the elements, improvements on security with the Palestinians having those -- having responsibilities there, improvements in terms of movement and access, and the beginnings of improvements in terms of the economic side. I am told that there are other areas where there have been some improvements in movement and access as well; for instance, you know rather than -- more random stopping of vehicles rather than every vehicle, that kind of thing.

But it's not enough, and there certainly and clearly needs to be more. And I understand the security considerations as well as anyone, but the obligation was undertaken to improve the lives of Palestinians and we're going to have to work very hard if we're going to make that true in a broader sense.

[The only action which will really improve the lives of the Palestinian Arabs will be the dismantling of their terror infrastructure.

It sounds like a broken record, but it's really simple at heart: if the Palestinian Arabs decide to live in peace, everything is possible; until then, nothing is really possible.]

Okay, thank you.

A Year Reshapes Hamas and Gaza

The New York Times published an article looking back on Hamas' rule in Gaza. The complete article may be found on The Times' web site. We include some small sections with commentary.

Cursing God in public here - a fairly common event in this benighted and besieged strip of Palestinian land - can now lead to prison. So can kissing in public. A judge ruled last week that a bank could not collect its contracted interest on a 10-year-old loan because Islam forbids charging interest.

One year ago, gunmen from Hamas, an Islamist anti-Israel group, took over Gaza, shooting some of their more secular Fatah rivals in the knees and tossing one off a building. Israel and the West imposed a blockade, hoping to squeeze the new rulers from power. Yet today Hamas has spread its authority across all aspects of life, including the judiciary. It is fully in charge. Gazans have not, as Israel and the United States hoped, risen up against it.

Gaza has always been poor and pious, distinct from the more secular and better off West Bank. But a year of Hamas rule has made it more so. The notion of Gaza as an enduringly separate entity is solidifying, making it less likely that Palestinians might agree even among themselves on peace with Israel.

[Given that's it's always been highly unlikely that the Palestinian Arabs would agree to peace — if it wasn't clear before, the intensified terror war they've waged since rejecting the establishment of their own state on almost the entirety of the disputed territory should have cleared up any doubts — decreasing that remote likelihood is not very significant.]

Those who reject Israel's policy as evidence of its ill will make it sound like Gaza has turned into Somalia. It has not. At the same time, those who consider it their role to defend Israel in all it does make it sound as if the 70 truckloads of goods that Israel permits in daily have prevented any real suffering. They have not.

[Hamas regularly attacks the very Israelis who are trying to help them.]

"What happened in Gaza a year ago was not really a coup," a second official said. "Hamas's takeover was a kind of natural process. Hamas was so strong, so deeply rooted in Palestinian society through its activities in the economy, education, culture and health care, and Fatah was so weak, so corrupt, that the takeover was like wind blowing over a moth-infested structure."

[The natural result of being primarily concerned with their own power rather than on doing what would be best for their people, in this case, ending their war against Israel beginning an era of friendship, peace and prosperity.]

"Everything that has happened here has been a terrible mistake," he says of the election victory and subsequent takeover. "It is a mistake for Islamists to get into power. But what can we do? Hamas is even stronger than a year ago. They can take me and put me away whenever they want."

[The entire war against Israel from 1948, and the war against the Zionists which preceeded the war against Israel, was a mistake for which the Palestinian Arabs, even more than the Israelis, have paid a heavy price.]

While few dispute that Hamas has changed Gaza, a more complicated question is whether ruling Gaza has changed Hamas. Many in the movement and even outside it say that it is less ideological than it was at its founding or even a year ago.

Whereas Hamas says it will never recognize Israel, its leaders say that if Israel returned to the 1967 borders, granted a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and dealt with the rights of refugees, Hamas would declare a long-term truce. This is not that different from what the rest of the Arab world says or the Fatah position in peace talks with Israel.

[This, too, is hardly a revelation, since the Fatah Charter, as well as the PLO Charter, continues to call for the complete elimination of Israel.]

Jawad Tibi, a health minister under the Fatah government and a Fatah advocate in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, is angry at Hamas. Still, he said, "Hamas is talking about a 30-year truce which is no different really from what we want. Hamas is Fatah with beards."

[Again, an admission from Fatah that they aren't interested in peace, but in merely strengthening their position in order to destroy Israel in the future.]

Sayed Abu Musameh is one of the founders of Hamas and now a member of the legislature. One of the old guard moderates, he is also on the board of Hamas's first research organization just opening here. It is called Beit al Hikma, the House of Wisdom, and seeks to build bridges with the West.

"We are not seeking all of Palestine, only the '67 borders," he said. "Then there would be a truce for a very long period to pave the way for the next generation to resolve the issues we are paralyzed to resolve."

[Repetition drives home the point, much as the West tries to ignore it.

Note this is a "moderate."]

Americans who have visited the top Hamas leader in Syria, Khaled Meshal, including former President Jimmy Carter and Henry Siegman of the U.S./Middle East Project, say a real change is under way, especially regarding the group's willingness to live next to Israel. So far, few American or Israeli officials have taken their assertion seriously.

[Given the clear statements by Hamas and Fatah leaders, it's clear the only change, if any, is a professed willingness by some to consider postponing their efforts to completely destroy Israel.]

"Israel is trying to pressure us to make us forget that the real problem is the occupation," she said.

[There is no occupation of Gaza, except by Hamas.]

America Indirectly Trains Hamas Terrorists

As reported in the People's Daily Online, one more example of how "security training" for Palestinian Arab's is counterproductive since it almost always winds up being used for the promotion of terror.

Hamas boosts police forces in Gaza with new training programs

A group of Hamas-controlled policemen appeared to be very interested while listening to a weapon expert who spent most of the time responding to their curious questions on explosives.

During the whole one-hour lesson, the officers, who were of various ages and many of whom bearded, kept on asking questions and the trainer, captain Fares al-Ashi who once received training in South Carolina of the United States, took the time answering.

"These information are important for the youths (the trainees)," al-Ashi said. "We give them general information about the explosives, those manufactured locally and the Israeli ones, because those people always reach the dangerous sites before we, the explosive squad, do."

The lesson was part of a new training program that the Hamas police launched last month, nearly one year after the Islamic movement seized control of the security establishment in the Gaza Strip.

Major Khalil Hejjo, chief of the training administration in the police, said the program was "a big achievement" made by the police which took a new shape after it became completely under Hamas' control.

"In the past, a brigadier general used to run this administration in addition to 250 officer trainers, but now, seven trainers and I oversee the whole programs," Hejjo explained.

The program is called "martyr Aziz Massoud course" for rehabilitating officers. "Every program should carry the name of a martyr," Hejjo said.

Massoud was killed in February in an Israeli airstrike on a car alongside four members of Hamas' armed wing, Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades.

"He was one of the police trainers," Hejjo added.

The course is not limited to Hamas supporters and also involves200 officers "who represent all the political factions," according to Hejjo, who was a member of the police when it was under Fatah control and continued to work under Hamas.

The program, which lasts for four months besides a fifth month for exams, includes physical exercises as well as lectures on human rights, civil defense and explosives.

Hamas completed its Gaza takeover one year ago. As a result, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas withdrew his Fatah movement from coalition with Hamas, deposed Hamas Premier Ismail Haneya and formed a Fatah-backed cabinet based in West Bank.

Hamas refused Abbas' decisions and kept ruling Gaza after making several reshuffle on the deposed government. Later, Hamas took over most of the institutions and municipal councils and replaced their directors with pro-Hamas managers.

The political challenge between Hamas and Fatah make a political separation between the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

However, a few days ago, Abbas implicitly gave up a condition stipulating that Hamas steps back from controlling Gaza in order to open a national dialogue. Hamas welcomed the call.

Critics said that such training, in addition to taking over Palestinian National Authority's national and civil institution, tighten Hamas' grip on the impoverished territory and decrease chances of success of expected dialogue.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is Inter Press Service For Real?

IPS bills itself as "a communication institution with a global news agency at its core," raising "the voices of the South and civil society," bringing "a fresh perspective on development and globalization," and telling "the story underneath."

Based on this article, it appears to be just another biased propaganda organ.

Was Obama's Rhetoric on Israel for Real?

Unbelievable Analysis by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 11 (IPS) - When Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate for the November U.S. presidential elections, addressed one of the most influential pro-Israeli lobbying groups last week, he offered himself as a more trusted ally of Israel than his rival, Republican candidate John McCain.

In his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Obama promised Israel 30 billion dollars in U.S. aid over the next decade (adding to the 140 billion dollars it has received so far),

[Israel received virtually no assistance from the United States until the 1973 and until after the treaty with Egypt, virtually all assistance was in the form of loans rather than grants.

With annual assistance generally between $2 and $3 billion per year (just slightly more than the $2 billion or so the United States generally gives Egypt) over a period of about a quarter century, that amounts to about half the amount cited.]

and even justified the recent Israeli attack on a supposed Syrian nuclear plant (an attack in total violation of that country's national sovereignty).

[The Syrian reactor, secretly built in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was part of an effort to build nuclear weapons. Israel did the entire world a service by destroying it.

Syria constantly violates Israel's sovereignty through its terror proxies, including Hezbollah and Hamas.]

And in his eagerness to woo Jewish votes, Obama crossed more than one line in the Middle Eastern sand: he even vowed to protect an "undivided" Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

[It's hardly earth-shattering to acknowledge reality.]

The Jerusalem pledge drew furious denunciations from Palestinians -- on the very day that U.S. President George W. Bush, an avowed friend of Israel, announced he was suspending a proposed move to shift the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

[A shameful act of appeasement by our president.]

Obama tried to pacify the Palestinians by pledging "to help Israel achieve the goal of two states", a Jewish and Palestinian state.

Was Obama playing up to a pro-Israeli audience (which gave him 13 standing ovations), or was it the usual rhetoric of a U.S. politician on the campaign trail?

"Much has been made of Obama's recent shameless and altogether unseemly groveling at the AIPAC convention, making a series of statements that are anachronistic and extreme even by the standards of contemporary mainstream Israeli political discourse," Mouin Rabbani, contributing editor to the Washington-based Middle East Report, told IPS.

No doubt Obama is insistent on demonstrating that he will be as faithful and dependable a "shabbes goy" as his predecessors and rivals, he added. "But I think most commentary on this issue misses the point. Obama has not done an about-face."

Sure, he has some "indiscretions" from early in his political career where he indicated that Palestinians have some legitimate rights -- "and even went to the extreme of permitting the daughter of a Palestinian professor (Rashid Khalidi) to babysit his kids, and himself having dinner with the 'professor of terror' (the late Edward W. Said, professor at Columbia University)," Rabbani said.

"But I have seen no evidence that in recent years, including those before the announcement of his presidential campaign, that he has advocated a serious reconsideration of U.S. policy towards the conflict outside the framework developed in the (former U.S. President Bill) Clinton years," he added.

[The Palestinian Arabs, of course, rejected Clinton's proposals and launched a terror offensive instead.]

Responding to the Obama speech, even Mahmoud Abbas, president of the U.S.-backed Palestinian authority, was outraged enough to protest Obama's promise to hand over an undivided Jerusalem to the Israelis.

[Abbas protests any American action that isn't highly tilted against Israel.]

As Abbas pointed out: "The whole world knows that East Jerusalem, holy Jerusalem, was occupied (by the Israelis) in 1967.And we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital," he added.

[The whole world knows that portions of Jerusalem were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 until they were liberated and Jerusalem reunited by Israel in 1967. During that period, in violation of United Nations resolutions and the armistice agreements, Jews were prevented from even visiting their holiest sites, the Temple Mount and the Kotel.]

Less than 72 hours later, and facing criticism from Palestinians, Obama backtracked on his statement on Jerusalem. In an interview with Cable News Network (CNN), Obama said: "Well, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations."

[Jerusalem may be part of the negotiations, but obviously Jerusalem will not be redivided.]

Nadia Hijab, senior fellow and co-director at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington, told IPS that U.S. politicians respond to the strength of diverse interest groups and "Obama is no exception".

"So the question is not whether we expect Obama to be even-handed because it is the right thing to do, but whether enough pressure can be brought to bear on him to make him do so," she added.

"Currently AIPAC and its American Jewish and Christian Zionist allies are the strongest U.S. pressure groups when it comes to Israel, and politicians toe the line -- even if they have previously expressed some sympathy to the Palestinian cause (Obama, Hillary Clinton) or pragmatic approaches (McCain after the election of Hamas)."

However, Hijab added, AIPAC's stranglehold is being challenged by diverse groups: Palestinian and Arab Americans; liberal as well as non-Zionist American Jews; and U.S. "realists" like Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, co-authors of 'The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy'.

["Realists" is a euphemism for tools of the Israel-haters.]

During the recent commemorations of Israel's 60th anniversary, she said, the Palestinian narrative was heard in the United States louder than ever before in the mainstream media.

New Jewish organisations -- such as J-Street, the U.S. office of the Israeli human rights organisation Btselem, and Jewish Voice for Peace -- are being established to push for peace in a way that recognises Palestinian rights,

[As Leon Wieseltheir pointed out during the AIPAC Policy Conference, Israel is still waiting for the Palestinian Arabs to accept the state the world has been trying to give them for six decades.]

"The realists are refusing to be silenced. If these trends get stronger, then -- and only then -- will we see a shift in Obama's stance," she declared.

Rabbani pointed out that as a general observation, the ability of individual U.S. presidents to influence, let alone reverse, policy on important (as opposed to marginal) issues is rather limited due to a powerful combination of institutional, political, economic and other constraints.

This applies to both domestic and foreign policies. U.S. policy towards China is a good example: every new president campaigns -- most recently Bush and before him Clinton -- on a platform of reading Beijing the riot act about all and sundry abuses, and within months of assuming office learns to treat China like the valued partner that it is.

"Very quickly, human rights abuses become phenomena that only exist in weak or hostile regimes like Iran, Zimbabwe and so on," Rabbani said.

So even under the very best of circumstances -- which is assuming that Obama is genuinely committed to pursuing policies that are even-handed vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict -- this would not happen.

"At most, there would be some changes at the margin, pushing the policy a bit more this or that way without transforming its fundamentals," Rabbani said. After all, what would an even-handed policy look like?

It would, for example, encompass making U.S. military aid to Israel dependent on Israel using such weapons in accordance with existing U.S. legislation (such as cluster bombs); it would entail U.S. re-classification of Israeli maintenance and continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as grave breaches of the IV Geneva Convention (with the requisite accountability) rather than an unhelpful inconvenience that might, or might not, affect the atmosphere at the next round of scheduled, utterly meaningless, Israeli-Palestinian talks, and so on, he said.

[Even-handedness in a conflict between a liberal domocracy like Israel, committed to human rights, and a terrorist entity like the Palestinian Authority is artificial and counterproductive.

It is time for the United States to abandon its attempts at even-handedness and finally fully back Israel in its struggle for peace.]

Rabbani also said it would require a transformation of Washington's relations with the various parties, including a termination of U.S.-guaranteed Israeli impunity in the occupied territories, and holding Israel and its Arab adversaries to the same standards.

[That is one area where they should be held to the same standards. If there is criticism of Israeli builiding in the disputed territories, then there should be criticism of the far more widespread Arab building.]

"The prospects of any of this happening -- i.e. pursuing a policy of genuine even-handedness -- are simply nil," he added.

Since the 1970s, he pointed out, it has become a commonplace to characterise every outgoing U.S. president as "the most pro-Israeli president in American history".

It has also been a truism, with U.S. presidents generally behaving in ways that are more pro-Israeli than Israel itself, particularly during election campaigns.

"I have every confidence this will be equally true of a potential Obama administration. I don't think personal factors will have a significant influence, but to the extent they do his determination to prove he is not a Muslim (rather than denounce this ethnic baiting), to live down his former dinner engagements etc, will only add to this."

Simply stated, Rabbani said, "Obama should be seen for what he is -- a thoroughly conventional American politician who has every intention of becoming a thoroughly mainstream American president."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Walt and Mearsheimer Peddle Their Message of Hate in Jerusalem

US 'Israel Lobby' authors face critics

Two prominent American professors who caused an uproar with their best-selling book critical of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington faced a raucous reception Thursday at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

About 200 students and faculty members crammed into a stuffy lecture hall and grilled John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for more than two hours about their harsh findings in "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," published last year.

In the book, the pair argue that pro-Israel special interest groups have manipulated the US political system to promote policies that favor Israel, while running counter to American interests. They argue that Israel is often a strategic burden, not an asset, pointing to the 1991 Gulf War as an example, when the Israel-US alliance hindered the US in building a coalition of forces.

[Poor example.

This was far more an example of our shameful appeasement of hatred and our disastrous reliance on energy from the Arab autocracies in the Middle East.

We put together a coalition to save the Arab oil states, yet allowed them to impose shameful conditions on us.

Also, to our shame, we forced Israel to withstand dozens of SCUD missile attacks without doing anything to defend its people.

If anything, it was a situation in which the American-Israel friendship with us was a liability for Israel.]

Since Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago professor, and Walt, of Harvard University, published their working paper of the same title in 2006, they have drawn the wrath of Jewish American groups and US administration officials.

[As well as the wrath of intelligent and fair-minded people around the world, and for good reason.]

During Thursday's lecture, the authors said their goal was to draw a lively academic debate over a topic that was perceived as taboo before.


As a result, they have become sought after speakers the world over, yet unwelcome at some American destinations.

[Because some American institutions are less bigoted and more fair-minded.]

"If you bring up the Israel lobby, you are asking for trouble," Walt said as he opened his lecture. He said he knew he was "playing with fire" when he wrote the book, but said he would not be deterred by personal attacks against him.

[I.e. Criticism of the hatred he is spewing will not deter him from continuing.]

Critics have charged them with shoddy scholarship, faulty logic and even anti-Semitism.

[With good reason.]

The attacks have been compounded because Islamic militants, Holocaust deniers and even former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke are among those who have praised the book, though some mainstream analysts have said their work raised legitimate points.

On Thursday, Mearsheimer and Walt, both recognized political scientists long before their book came out, outlined their findings in a brief introduction. They argued that the only logical explanation for the US government handing Israel $3 billion in annual aid, far more than any other US ally, and supporting it unconditionally was the pro-Israel lobby, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

[Current annual aid to Israel is approximately $2.4 billion, only slightly more than the roughly $2 billion annually given to Egypt and far less than massive funding we indirectly give Israel's enemies through exorbitant prices we pay for oil.

Unlike the case with the aid we waste on Egypt and other countries, we get tremendous dividends from what is effectively an investment in Israel.]

They said AIPAC wields disproportionate power because of deep financial resources and heavy-handed tactics.

[AIPAC is effective only because it encourages policies which are both in our national interest and morally and ethically correct and in keeping with American values.]

Then they took questions, as the classroom erupted in excited conversation. The exchange was mostly cordial, with the American professors eliciting some laughs from the crowd, but at times it got testy.

At one point, 25-year-old international relations student Liad Gilhar accused the professors of distorting facts and providing fodder for anti-Semites. "You need to choose your words carefully," Gilhar said.

[They undoubtedly do choose their words carefully.]

Walt shot back. "With all due respect, I don't think it is my words that harm Israel, but rather Israel's actions."

Mearsheimer said Israel's "brutal" treatment of Palestinians helped fuel terrorism against the United States and that, unlike in Israel, there was no healthy debate on the matter in America.

[It is not Israel, but Arab terrorists, who are targeting civilians.

Rather than treating Palestinian Arabs "brutally," Israel has worked towards improving their lives, only to repeatedly having the very Israelis who work to ransfer food, fuel and other goods to the Palestinian Arabs murdered by the very people they are trying to help.

There is plenty of debate in America, but the type of "debate" fostered by Walt, Mearsheimer and their ilk is far from healthy.]

"The US media coverage is heavily slanted in Israel's direction," he said.

[One would expect intelligent and fair-minded reporters and editors to favor a liberal democracy like Israel over brutal autocratic and theocratic holdovers from the Dark Ages, but if anything the media bends over backwards to present the anti-Israel side.]

Not all in the audience were hostile.

Korina Kagan, a political science lecturer, said she essentially agreed with their thesis and was appalled by the attacks against them, especially from academic circles.

"The smear campaign against them is worse than anything they have ever written," she said, adding that many of their positions are shared by commentators in the Israeli media. "We need to have a free academic exchange."

Mearsheimer and Walt were invited to Israel by Gush Shalom, a small, ultra-dovish political group, to speak about their book. The two said they decided to initiate the audience at Hebrew University in order to address a more diverse audience.

Later Thursday, they were to address Gush Shalom, which invited them.

"It is telling that the guests came to Israel and were hosted by a fringe group and had to solicit themselves to appear here," said Arieh O'Sullivan, director of communications for the Anti-Defamation League in Israel. "It's not academia, it's like a traveling carnival show."

[A fitting commentary.]

From The Jerusalem Post

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Israel's Peculiar Position: Some Things Never Change

[This was sent to Primerprez by Laura Gottlieb, a graduate student in Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut. As she points out, some things never change.]

Do you remember Eric Hoffer? He was a longshoreman who turned into a philosopher, wrote columns for newspapers and some books. He was a non-Jewish American social philosopher. He was born in 1902 and died in 1983, after writing nine books and winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic. Here is one of his columns from 1968. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? This article was written 40 years ago!! Some things never change...

*(In the part he writes about refugees, there were also 850,000 Jewish refugees from over 10 Middle Eastern nations between 1948 and 1967 ALONE (not counting other centuries of history where Muslims slaughtered thousands of Jews and other non-Muslims, or conferred them to "Dhimmi" status). If Jews were to count every relative ever connected to any of those refugees - as Middle Eastern Arabs do to "boost" the numbers - the number of Jews made into refugees by intolerant Arab nations would far surpass the "refugee problem" of the "palestinians" (a made-up nationality) - most of them came to Israel illegally in the first place from surrounding lands. The irony is, many people ignore that fact and pretend they've been there forever. If you look at history, Jews were also the first "real" Palestinians - named by Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century - by about 600 years! Arabs didn't arrive on the land that is Israel until 636 AD - 1800 years AFTER the Jews!)

Israel's Peculiar Position

By Eric Hoffer
LA Times 5/26/68

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese-and no one says a word about refugees.

But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace.

Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world. Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June [1967] he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Blacks are executed in Rhodesia. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him. The Swedes, who are ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.

The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment, Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer [1967] had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war, to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us all.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jerusalem: Time for Principles

Once again, presidential candidates say mostly the "right words" when it comes to Israel, but when they get in to office they all backtrack.

Hamas is unhappy that Barack Obama, like Hillary Clinton and John McCain, was generally supportive of Israel when speaking at AIPAC's Policy Conference. But they probably needn't worry, since every candidate always supports Israel, but ultimately puts far more pressure on Israel to make (unreciprocated) concessions than on the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, to even adhere to their most basic previous commitments, such as abandoning the wanton murder of innocent Jews.

This was underlined when George Bush once again reneged on his pledge to move our American embassy to where it belongs, in Israel's capital, writing: "I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of six months" plans to move the embassy. He added: "My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," but he will undoubtedly once again capitulate to terror in another six months and will finish his eight years in office leaving our embassy where it doesn't belong.

If a president really wants to stand up against terror and demonstrate support for Israel, he or she ought to finally do what's right and move our embassy to Israel's capital.

The following is a JTA article describing Hamas' unhappiness.

Hamas unendorses Obama

Hamas appeared to reverse its position supporting the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama.

In a statement following Obama's speech Wednesday to the pro-Israel group AIPAC, in which the Illinois senator called Israel's security "sacrosanct" and promised to support an "undivided" Jerusalem, a Hamas spokesman accused the Democrat of supporting the Israeli occupation.

"We consider the statements of Obama to be further evidence of the hostility of the American administration to Arabs and Muslims," said Sami Abu Zuhr, according to Reuters.

In April, another Hamas official said in a radio interview that the group, which the United States and Israel consider a terrorist organization, would like to see Obama elected president. Obama's presumptive Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), seized upon the comments and mentioned the endorsement in a fund-raising letter.

“Hamas does not differentiate between the two presidential candidates, Obama and McCain, because their policies regarding the Arab-Israel conflict are the same and are hostile to us, therefore we do have no preference and are not wishing for either of them to win,” Zuhri said.

Other Palestinians also lambasted Obama for saying Jerusalem should remain Israel's undivided capital.

"Mr. Obama, if you speak about Jerusalem being the undivided capital of Israel -- sir you are closing all doors for peace," Saeb Erekat, senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters Thursday.

"Those who are pro-peace do not speak about Jerusalem being the undivided capital of Israel. The U.S. policy since 1967 did not change. The U.S. Embassy is still in Tel Aviv and the U.S. considers east Jerusalem as occupied territory."

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War and annexed it as its capital, a move not recognized abroad.