Saturday, August 30, 2008

Between the Lines: Abu Mazen Brings Up His Own Can of Worms

This article, Abbas, Gemayel cite need to improve refugees' conditions, pubished in Lebanon's Daily Star, directly deals with the alleged need to improve conditions for Arabs in Lebanon who are inaccurately and misleadingly referred to as refugees.

Between the lines, it serves as a reminder of issues that both Abbas and Gemayel certainly hope everyone keeps ignoring.

Abbas, Gemayel cite need to improve refugees' conditions

By Nafez Qawas
Daily Star correspondent
Saturday, August 30, 2008

BEIRUT: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas concluded his two-day trip to Beirut on Friday by holding talks with an array of Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab figures.

Abbas met former President Amine Gemayel at the Habtoor Grand Hotel in Sin al-Fil to discuss issues related to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

[There are actually very few "Palestinian refugees" in Lebanon.

All the actual refugees are at least 60 years old and most are past retirement age.

There are, unfortunately, children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of refugees who have been cruelly forced to live as if they were refugees.

The Lebanese government has cruelly refused to allow these people, born in Lebanon, citizenship and made them stateless people. This has been a disaster not only for the people involved, but for Lebanon and was probably the most important factor in turning Lebanon from a jewel to a civil-war wreacked disaster.]

"President Abbas and we agree that it is imperative to introduce drastic improvements to the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and we also agree on rejecting the settlement of Palestinians," Gemayel told reporters.

[When the ancestors of these so-called "Palestinians" fled to Lebanon, they specifically rejected being identified as Palestinian, an identity then generally associated with the Jews.

It's rather ironic and symptomatic of the pathological Arab war against Israel that the "Palestinian" identity was adopted by people who are really native Lebanese and don't really have ties to Palestine.]

Gemayel dubbed Abbas' trip to Beirut as "historic," adding that he hoped the visit would strengthen relations between the two countries and help lead "to a comprehensive solution in Palestine and Lebanon."

"We are fighting a battle together for common peace and stability in the region," he said.

[If that was the case, they would be reaching for the arm Israel has long stretched out to them in peace.]

Gemayel added that Abbas stressed that the Palestinian Authority will "endorse and support all the decisions made by the Lebanese government."

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Abbas said Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should not be permanently resettled in the country and should abide by their host country's rules.

"The Palestinians have the right of return and this is an issue we are discussing with the Israelis," Abbas told a media conference after the meeting.

"We are against the resettlement of Palestinians in Lebanon," he added.

[If Abbas doesn't want these people to "resettle" in what is their native land, he might want to bring them over to the portions of Palestine he controls. Alternatively, he might suggest they move to the existing Palestinian Arab state on the east bank of the Jordan River.]

An estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps in Lebanon. Most of Palestinian refugees came to Lebanon when the state of Israel was created in 1948. There are fears among the Lebanese that their permanent settlement would shift the country's sectarian balance.

Abbas also said he endorsed the Lebanese government's 2006 decision that Palestinian factions outside of the camps should be disarmed.

The Palestinian camps in Lebanon are considered to be unstable, with security incidents taking place frequently.

Last year the army fought a deadly 15-week battle against Al-Qaeda inspired Fatah al-Islam militant group in the Northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. More than 400 people, including 168 soldiers, were killed in the fighting which left the camp almost entirely destroyed.

On Friday, Abbas also met with a delegation of Arab Ambassadors operating in Beirut, Palestinian Liberation Organization officials in Lebanon, as well as a delegation from the pro-opposition National Christian Gathering, and the head of the Palestinian-Lebanese Dialogue committee Ambassador Khalil Makkawi.

Abbas also made phone calls to Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, Roman Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, and vice president of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan.

Following his meeting with Abbas, UAE Ambassador Ahmad Sultan al-Soueidi said that the settlement of Palestinians in Lebanon was "extensively" discussed during the talks.

"No Palestinian accepts to settle in a land other than theirs" Soueidi told reporters. He added that discussions also focused on the issue of Palestinian weapons in Lebanon.

"Our fellow Palestinian refugees are guests in Lebanon and should abide by Lebanese rules and regulations," the ambassador said.

Asked whether Arab sates were willing to contribute to the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared, Soueidi said that the matter was not discussed with Abbas, "but we are following up on the issue with the Lebanese government and NGOs.

Why, six decades after the Arab invasion was repelled by Israel, are many of the descendents of the Arabs who then left what is now Israel still forced to live in refugee camps, not only in Lebanon, but even in the areas that have long been controlled by the Palestinian Authority?

One might suspect even the Palestinian Arabs themselves are more interested in destroying the Jewish state than in their own welfare.

Once again, Golda Meir's observation about peace coming when Arab parents start loving their children more than they hate Israelis comes to mind.

Even a so-called moderate like Abbas/Abu Mazen is far more interested in harming the Jews than in helping his own people.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Anti-Semitism Doesn't Always Pay

We have previously posted a couple of entries, Support for Israel and Arabs' Tragedy, reacting to the anti-Israel campaign theme of Lee Whitnum, an extremist who forced a primary against the Democrat's convention endorsed candidate for the Congressional seat now held by Chris Shays.

The message of hate against Jews did not go over well with the voters. To say the voters overwhelmingly rejected Whitnum would be an understatement.

This article, published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, gives more background into the entire travesty.

Israel becomes a campaign issue in Stamford

By Cindy Mindell, <>

STAMFORD - It's old news that Jim Himes routed challenger Lee Whitnum in the Democratic primary for the 4th Congressional District. It's also old news that, a day before the Aug. 12 primary, Stamford mayor Dan Malloy publicly denounced Whitnum as an anti-Semite. Whitnum had based her campaign on a strong anti-AIPAC message, going so far as to blame the organization for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and to pin 9/11 on American support of Israel.

Your vote for me on August 12 sends a powerful message to Washington, Whitnum wrote on her website: We can break the strangle-hold of AIPAC, the Israel Lobby, on our political system. No more unnecessary wars for a special interest group. I, like many Americans pledge alliance to one country only; we want our country back.... PLEASE understand what is at stake.

In a letter to the Connecticut Post, published on Aug. 9, , Whitnum criticized Himes for participating in a 48-hour indoctrination trip to Israel, sponsored by AIPAC. Upon his return, Himes had pledged severe retaliation if Iran were to attack Israel.

Whitnum wrote: The Neoconservatives, the right wing branch of AIPAC, were instrumental in our decision to invade Iraq.... So why should AIPAC's influence-peddling, commonplace in Washington now be shunned? Because of the role of the neoconservatives in the taking down of Iraq and the reasons for rage that led to 2,700 lives lost in our own 9/11 attack. Osama bin Laden was clear about 9/11 as retaliation against the American-Israeli alliance's aggression against our people in Palestine and Lebanon.

Our primary focus should be to eliminate al-Qaida and to demand a successful resolution to the source of widespread anti-American sentiment: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. AIPAC's influence-peddling halts the discussion of the latter and is the main reason why nothing ever gets resolved over there.

Whitnum also presented her views in local TV ads and during the pre-primary debate with Himes, televised by Channel 12 in Norwalk.

In the end, Himes won 90 percent of the vote. Now that the confetti has settled, the fallout from Lee Whitnum's candidacy is just as troubling as its build-up.

In mid-July, liberal columnist Sarah Darer Littman was fired from the Greenwich Time and Stamford Advocate for an op-ed she had written criticizing Whitnum and hosting a meet-and-greet for Himes. According to Littman's blog, Saramerica, she was told by MediaNews that the two actions had compromised the newspaper.

In response, to show that she is not alone in such behavior, Littman lists on her blog campaign-donation data on the late William F. Buckley, Jr. The conservative columnist simultaneously supported candidates and covered those candidates' races for The National Review.

Some State election officials are wondering whether the Aug. 12 primary was a waste of taxpayer money, especially considering Himes's landslide and the extremely low voter turnout in parts of the district. Whitnum didn't even receive as many votes as the number of signatures she collected to force the primary in the first place. While 4,000 registered voters signed her ballot petition, only around 2,000 voted for her in the primary.

Norwalk Democratic registrar of voters Betty Bondi estimates that the primary will cost her city's taxpayers $50,000 n which works out to around $715 for each of the 70 votes Whitnum received there.

So now Lee Whitnum, a substitute teacher in the Stamford public schools and a former software engineer, might return to her writing. Under the penname Lee Roystone, Whitnum has published two books, Hedge Fund Mistress and What about the Dead?

But even in this guise, Whitnum's anti-Israel rhetoric reverberates: reveals that customers who bought Hedge Fund Mistress from the website also purchased titles such as The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Synagogue of Satan, by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants, by James Petras.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crossing the Line

This letter was published in the Waterbury Republican-American August 21, 2008.

PrimerPres takes no position regarding the war with Iraq or regarding any particular public official or candidate, but points out the depths to which some people sink when they criticize others.

This particular letter contains at least two items which cross the lines of common decency and courtesy:
  • Gratuitously referring to Senator Lieberman receiving campaign donations from "Jewish-Americans."
  • Implicitly accusing Lieberman of being unpatriotic with the false assertion that he puts Israel ahead of America.
Lieberman has clearly harmed his own political position with his stand on Iraq and his crossing of party lines to support John McCain for president. He could have gone along with the public opinion which changed as our current president botched the war, but stood behind his assessment of what was best for America.

For this, Lieberman deserves deep respect, even from those who strongly disagree with him about the Iraq war.

As far as letters such as the following, they don't deserve to be published in any respectable newspaper.

Lieberman a disloyal Democrat; McCain a mooch on taxpayers

In his Aug. 19 letter, "Speaker Pelosi, please shut up," William D. Moore advises House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to shut up (reminds me of the Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly) because she said Sen. Joe Lieberman's comments about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama were irresponsible.

Lieberman had introduced Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently as a man who put his country first, unlike his opponent. Lieberman clearly was saying Obama did not love his country.

Mr. Moore's support for these comments, coming from a U.S. senator who is supposed to be representing Connecticut, is pathetic.

I advise Mr. Moore to do some fact checking about Nancy Pelosi. She did not connive her way into the House, but was elected in 1987.

Joe Lieberman did everything he could to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

His own sons have not volunteered to serve in the Iraq war, which their father supports.

The "honorable" Lieberman has advocated the use of torture to extract information from war captives held at Guantanamo Bay and in secret prisons operated by the CIA in Poland, Egypt and other countries.

That the Democratic Party deserted Lieberman in his bid for re-election to the Senate is an outright lie. He lost a primary to Ned Lamont.

He then formed his own independent Democratic party to get himself elected with millions of dollars in campaign contributions from such prominent Jewish-Americans as Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, and considerable support from the Republican Party's highest ranks.

Mr. Moore goes on to parrot Lieberman that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the left wing that wants to dole out taxpayers' money to anyone who wants it. McCain, whose wife is a millionaire many times over, has never worked in the private sector.

After his career in the Navy, he served in Congress. He collects from taxpayers' money his Senate salary, military and disability pensions, and Social Security.

Does this cost-cutting millionaire senator really need this money?

No Democrat I know, starting with my family, ever has been on the dole. We have all worked for everything we have and have contributed more than our fair share to our country. My husband is a Marine Corps veteran who served in World War II and the Korean War.

As for Joe Lieberman's honor, he hasn't any.

He always has placed himself and Israel first, in that order.

Frances G. Rostocki

Let us hope that Rostocki's appeal to hatred and anti-Semitism does not inspire any additional hatred.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Misunderstanding the Reality in the Palestinian Authority Territories

This misguided article by Joe Parko was posted on under the headline Understanding the Reality in Palestine.

Given the title, referring to a non-existent entity, one expects a commentary divorced from reality. We post it here with comments about some of the more outrageous portions.

There is a natural affinity among Americans for Israel due to historic and religious connections. However, most Americans have little or no understanding of the plight of the Palestinian people as they struggle to claim the state that was promised to them when the United Nations partitioned Palestine in 1947.

[More accurately, the United Nations proposed a partition, which the Arabs rejected.

At that time, besides rejecting the plan which would have given them a second Arab state, alongside Israel and the existing Arab state of Jordan, then Transjordan, in the territory comprising Palestine Mandate, the Arabs living in that area insisted they were not Palestinian but simply part of the transnational Arab people.]

As the Quaker representative on a fact-finding delegation to Israel and Palestine

[There is no "Palestine," although there are portions of the disputed territories which are ruled by competing terror factions of the Palestinian Authority.]

last year, I wanted to see the situation there for myself. I talked with both Jews and Palestinians who were working to end the Israeli military occupation and to bring peace to this troubled land.

[The so-called Israeli occupation effectively ended with the Oslo Accords. Almost all the Arabs in the disputed territories have long been living under their own corrupt government.]

I learned that there are many inside Israel who believe that their government is pursuing the wrong path.

[It's obvious that the Israeli government has not succeeded in convincing the Arabs to give up their goal of destroying Israel. All Israeli governments for the last six decades have tried just about every conceivable strategy and all have failed. It's questionable whether any correct path is possible.]

I visited with Rabbis for Human Rights who believe that Israel's occupation is a violation of the principles of justice in the Torah. These Jewish rabbis work with Palestinian farmers to harvest their olives from groves that have been cut off from the farmers' villages by the Separation Wall that Israel is building on Palestinian land.

[There is a fence, which except in a very few places where a fence would offer no protection against Arab terrorists is definitely not a wall, built partly in Israel, partly in disputed territory. To refer to disputed territory as "Palestinian land" is incorrect and prejudicial.]

I talked with the Jewish leaders of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc,

[To refer to Gush Shalom as "the Israeli Peace Bloc" falsely implies the rest of Israel is not interested in peace.

Aside from a miniscule fringe, virtually all Israelis, of all political stripes, are committed to peace. The problem is that nothing any of them have tried has had any success.]

who told me that Israel's security will best be served by a negotiated peace with Palestine.

[Ignoring the fact that there is no "Palestine," virtually all Israelis agree that Israel's security would best be served if Israel could convince its Arab enemies, including but not restricted to just the Palestinian Arabs, to agree to live in peace. The problem is that the Arabs have rejected peace for six decades and continue to reject peace.]

Jewish members of Gush Shalom regularly go into the West Bank and join with Palestinians in protests over the building of the wall which they call the Apartheid Wall.

[Which itself shows their bias.]

I met with representatives of B't Selem, the leading Israeli Human Rights agency that monitors conditions in Palestine. These Jewish human rights workers shared documentation of thousands of human rights violations by the Israeli military in Palestine.

I saw for myself the 28 foot-high Israeli-built concrete wall cutting through Palestinian land that is separating Palestinian farmers from their olive groves making it impossible for them to earn a living. I visited a Palestinian farmer named Atta Jabar whose home has been demolished three times by the Israeli military because he has had the temerity to object to the fact that 80% of his land had been seized by Israel to build another illegal Jewish settlement on the West Bank. I spent a day in the village of At-Tuwani in the south Hebron hills where ultra-religious Jewish settlers are trying to drive the Palestinian shepherds from the village they have lived in for centuries because they claim that God gave them this land. There are now more than 200,000 illegal Jewish settlers living on Palestinian land on the West Bank. These settlers travel on a highway system throughout the West Bank that only Jews can use.

I talked with a young woman member of the Christian Peacemakers Team who has been working to try to stop violence between the Jewish settlers and the Palestinian shepherds. She told me that their team escorts Palestinian children to school to protect them from attacks from the settlers and that she had been attacked six months earlier by chain-wielding settlers who came out of the woods and broke her arm as she tried to shield the children from harm. Since I have returned, I have learned that these same Israeli settlers have been spreading poison on the fields in order to kill the Palestinian shepherds' sheep.

I talked with a young Palestinian woman at Birzeit University near Ramallah. She told me about her humiliation at the Israeli military checkpoint that students must go through to get to their classes. She said that the Israeli soldiers told her that she would have to bare her breast in order to get through the checkpoint. I talked with other students who were told that they had to do a dance or to get down on their knees to beg permission in order to cross the checkpoint. There are over 600 Israeli military checkpoints like this one throughout the West Bank and Palestinians routinely must endure this kind of humiliation.

[What we have here is the mindless acceptance of unsubstantiated claims made by unreliable sources.]

What is happening in Palestine is a complete denial of human rights.

[The most important human right being denied is the Arab denial of the right of Israelis to live without having their children blown up in shopping malls, pizza parlors and discotheques.]

Since the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian people have been living under a harsh military rule.

[Actually, after Israelis not only survived a war in which the Arabs intended to annihilate them, but found themselves in control of territory formerly occupied by Egypt and Jordan, they gave the Arabs living there - people who still did not consider themselves Palestinians - more rights than they'd ever had before, indeed, more rights than Arabs living anywhere else in the Middle East except for Israel itself.

Israel also built roads, schools and hospitals, dramatically improving the living conditions in the disputed territories.

Unfortunately, these improvements came to an end with the launching of the intifada in the late 1980's, and began reversing dramatically when the Palestinian Authority took over under the terms of the Oslo Experiment.]

Israeli forces regularly confiscate private land, imprison individuals without due process and abuse them, demolish family homes, bulldoze orchards and crops, and often shoot and kill civilians-and Palestinians are without power to stop one of the world's best armed militaries. Many more Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombs and bullets than have Israelis who have been killed by the minute fraction of Palestinians who strap explosives to their own bodies in order to drive out the invaders of their land.

[Israelis have the right to defend themselves.]

It is time for Israel to end its four decades of military occupation of Palestine and accept the Palestinian state as its neighbor. Peace will come to Israel when justice finally comes for the Palestinian people.

[Peace will come when the Arabs start acting as if they love their children more than they hate the Israelis.]

Joe Parko is a retired college professor who taught for 28 years in the School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and serves on the steering committee of Cumberland Countians (Tennessee) for Peace and Justice. In 2007, he was the Quaker delegate on a peace mission to Israel and Palestine.

[It's unfortunate that Parko takes no interest in the seminal injustice, the refusal of the Arabs to accept the existence of a liberal, Western-oriented, non-Arab, non-Muslim democracy in the Middle East. The injustice that has stemmed from the Arab war to exterminate Israel can never be rectified, but it's unfortunate that people like Parko who claim to be interested in peace and justice effectively promote their antitheses.]

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Presbyterian Church Proposes to Backslide and Backstab

[From the New York Sun. It seems the bigoted Israel-haters in the Presbyterian Church just won't easily give up their vendetta.]

Presbyterian Church Proposals Could Reopen Wounds With Jews

By Josh Gerstein, Staff Reporter of the Sun

San Jose, Calif. - An unusually broad array of American Jewish groups is sounding an alarm about proposals the Presbyterian Church is set take up here tomorrow addressing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

At least 19 Jewish organizations, ranging from Americans for Peace Now to the Zionist Organization of America, have spoken out against some of the so-called overtures to be debated at the weeklong biennial meeting of Presbyterians in America.

Jewish leaders contend that some of the resolutions and a new church statement on anti-Semitism threaten to reopen the wounds caused in 2004 when the Presbyterian general assembly approved a measure threatening divestment in companies that do business with the Israeli government.

In a blunt letter this month, leaders of three Jewish denominations said they felt betrayed by Presbyterian Church officials who reached out after the 2004 imbroglio. "Friends, or even dialogue partners, do not engage in actions that can so easily and plausibly be seen as bait-and-switch tactics," Rabbi Jerome Epstein of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Dr. Carl Sheingold of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, and Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism wrote to the Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, who is stepping down this week after 12 years as the head of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The church's statement on anti-Semitism "marks a new low-point in Presbyterian-Jewish relations," the Jewish leaders said. "Indeed, this document reads as a blueprint for how to engage in anti-Israel activity without being accused of anti-Semitism."

A draft of the statement was well-received in the Jewish community, but some Presbyterians objected to it, according to Ethan Felson of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. "It went too far for some people in the church and they backtracked on it," he said.

In a letter last week, Rev. Kirkpatrick called for a new meeting with Jewish leaders and seemed to acknowledge that communications broke down as the church was finalizing the statement on "Vigilance Against Anti-Jewish Bias in the Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian Peace."

"It is clear that, in making the changes to its original version, we have strained our relationships with you, and awakened mistrust between us, and we regret this," he wrote.

About 10 resolutions on Mideast issues are scheduled to be debated when a Presbyterian Church committee on peacemaking convenes tomorrow. One from Newark-area churches calls for a suspension of American military aid to Israel. Another proposal, from San Francisco-area churches, seeks to spur divestment in Caterpillar Inc. and Motorola Inc., because of the use of their equipment by the Israeli military.

"What we are trying to do is call the question on divestment," a church member of San Francisco, Thomas McAfee, said in an interview. He said church members clearly expressed their intent to divest in 2004, but discussions with the companies have gone nowhere. "The process, without divestment as a clear result and consequence, will be endless," he added.

Mr. McAfee noted that the proposed divestment, which could affect $7 billion in church pension funds, is targeted at specific companies and not Israel generally. "We are divesting from the occupation," he said. "I fail to see how divesting from Caterpillar and Motorola is a punishment to anyone."

However, during an interfaith discussion sponsored by Jewish groups yesterday afternoon, other Presbyterians said the church's image with Jews was hurt in 2004 and would be hurt further if new divestment resolutions were adopted. "Do we seriously want to be peacemakers? If we do, we need to have credibility with both sides," the Reverend William Harter of Chambersburg, Pa., said. He also noted that the resolutions do not address the threats Israel faces from other countries, such as Iran. "Be sensitive to the regional contextual framing," he said.

Mr. Felson noted yesterday that some of the language appears to have been deliberately worded to focus on companies supporting the Israeli military, while ignoring large multinational firms that support Iran, which is a major financier of terrorism against Israelis.

A former Presbyterian pastor of Oakland, Calif., Rebecca Kuiken, said the church's use of "Palestinian liberation theology" to posit Palestinian Christians as persecuted by the Jewish state ignored the complexities of the situation.

"Much of what we are doing in our Middle East overtures offers an inaccurate and inadequate reading of theology and history. There is an unbalanced and topsy-turvy use and abuse of Exodus. I don't think this is the right story for this region for right now," she said.

While some Presbyterian divestment advocates complained that the calls for dialogue and "selective divestment" had been overlooked by the press, Rabbi Melanie Aron said church members needed to understand that their actions are inevitably seen and portrayed as an attack on Israel.

"It becomes a movement to isolate Israel," Rabbi Aron said. "It's about that symbolism."

While the Jewish groups objecting to some resolutions claim the membership of more than 90% of "affiliated Jews," many critics of Israel in the church stress that they have the support of some Jews, including a group called Jewish Voice for Peace.

Mr. Felson said Jewish groups that believe in Zionism are virtually united in opposition to divestment. Only a "fringe" that does not support the idea of a Jewish state embraces divestment, he said.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Let Koran's message of mercy prevail

Written by Sydney A. Perry, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge 06525. E-mail: Published in The New Haven Register, August 5, 2008.

At 3:45 in the afternoon of July 16, I was driving on Whalley Avenue when I heard on the radio that the coffins of Sgt. Maj. Ehud Goldwasser and 1st Sgt. Maj. Eldad Regev arrived at Rosh Hanikra on Israel's northern border. After two years, their parents, Goldwasser's young bride and the nation of Israel knew for certain that these soldiers, taken captive after an ambush by Hezbollah in which eight other soldiers lost their lives, were dead.

The next day, they were laid to rest in their homeland. All Israel mourned.

In Lebanon, the nation rejoiced.

As I passed the Holocaust Memorial on one side and the old cemetery of B'nai Jacob on the other, I reflected on the cruel psychological torment Hezbollah sadistically inflicted on the families of the two soldiers. Until the last moment, they refused to reveal whether the men were alive or dead. I imagined what the pain of this was for a family as I drove past the graves of my grandparents and my uncle, Lt. Sidney A. Wolfe, for whom I was named.

When my uncle, a handsome 25-year-old Air Force pilot known only to me by his pictures and my mother's fond memories, was shot down over Germany in 1943, he was reported missing in action, presumed dead. My grandparents were devastated - my grandfather was literally dying of what the Romantics called a broken heart; my grandmother sobbed into her pillow late into the night.

According to family lore, my birth and the comfort of naming me for him returned my grandparents to life, but they still maintained hope against hope that perhaps their son had survived. Only when I was 6 years old did they have final closure, when his body was found in a shallow grave and returned to the States and buried with military honors.

I could empathize with the pain of long sleepless nights, torn between despair and hope; the tireless crusade of Karnit, Goldwasser's wife, for some trace of information about the abducted soldiers.

In order to gain the release of these young men, Israel released one of the most evil and abominable killers, Samir Kuntar, and four other militants along with the bodies of 199 terrorists who were killed fighting Israel over the past three decades. The 2007 Lebanon War began with the raid in which Goldwasser and Regev were captured. Hezbollah has said it carried out the ambush in order to gain Kuntar's release.

Kuntar is a hero in the eyes of Hezbollah, and while the Israelis wept, Kuntar was hailed by tens of thousands of Hezbollah supporters and revered as an almost mythical figure by Lebanese leaders. To the roaring crowds, Kuntar exclaimed, "I promise my people and dear ones in Palestine that I and my comrades in the valiant Islamic resistance will return."
The celebratory welcome prompted Ofer Regev, Eldad's brother, to say: "Our enemy has been exposed as the complete opposite of us, a cruel mirror image of everything that is human and acceptable."

Who is Kuntar? Einat Haran was 4 years old on April 21, 1979, when the 16-year-old Kuntar headed a PLO terrorist unit and arrived in a dinghy from Lebanon on the shores of Nahariya. Entering the home of the Haran family, he took hostage Danny, the father of the family, and Einat while Smadar, Danny's wife, and their 2-year-old daughter Yael and a neighbor hid in a crawl space. Kuntar laid Einat's head on a small rock and killed her by smashing her skull with the butt of a rifle. In front of her lay the bleeding body of her father, shot by Kuntar, who made certain the murder would be the last thing Einat would see. Smadar tried to stifle the cries of her terrified baby and accidentally smothered the toddler she held close to her chest.

What possible outcome for the prisoner exchange of terrorists for coffins? All who value human life and human dignity can insist that Hamas return Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped from Israel more than two years ago and taken into Gaza, where he is held hostage.

Let the Koran's message of kindness and mercy prevail. Let us unite in trying for a different outcome for Shalit so that he can return alive to his family and his home. Let the mirror that reflected the distorted image of Kuntar's legacy be wiped clean and the photos of Shalit's release portray only tears of joy.

Palestinian Arabs See Israel as a Refuge from their Own Brothers

This is from Dar Al-Hayat in Lebanon.

Palestine… Banks and Strips

Mohammad Salah

It's over. The Arabs no longer have a single Palestine, but two: one in the West Bank, and the other in Gaza Strip. The Palestinians who belong to or support Fatah in Gaza are interlopers in the Strip, hostages of Hamas, which at any time may arrest, exile or kill them. The same goes for the other Palestine, where the disgraceful scene is applied to Palestinian members of Hamas who are in the West Bank. Practically speaking, they are merely a tool of pressure in the hands of Fatah and the Authority, always subject to the West Bank government's retaliation for what befalls its supporters in Gaza. The Shuja'i yya neighborhood incidents in Gaza, what happened to the Hillis clan, the reactions of parties influential in the Palestinian issue to these developments, the flight by Ahmad Hillis and other Palestinians to an Arab city inside the Green Line (Israel) in search of safety away from the bullying and aggression, affirm that the Palestinian issue is on its way to disappearing, evaporating and being forgotten. They also prove that Israel is no longer, for many Palestinians, an occupying party, but rather a refuge or objective one seeks and heads toward when Palestinians oppress each other. Add to this the Arabs' weakness, defeat and inability to have any impact on the course of events and you will get a picture of the future as desired by Israel: a Palestinian Authority that can only rule the area around its headquarters, and an Islamist movement that is settling scores with all of its opponents or those who do not want it to rule. Gangs of Palestinians fight and defeat each other, without realizing that they are only defeating themselves, that this stupidity entails their end, and that they have come to leave their lost homeland in the direction of the occupier.

The Palestinians have settled this issue for themselves. They have proven, leaving no room for doubt, that their state will not be established in our lifetime, even if the president of the United States has promised that it will. It is no longer improbable to see the West Bank divided into two banks, or even more, if some Palestinians reject and oppose the PA, taking up arms against its leaders. It is no longer unlikely to see the Gaza Strip divided into two strips or more, if an armed force rises up against Hamas and defeats it, returning it to the trenches of the opposition. The Palestinians and Arabs will have more than one group of Palestinians. Each group which controls this or that portion of Palestine will then claim it is more concerned about the unity of Palestinians and more dedicated to maintaining all of Palestine, labeling the other sides as foreign agents or people who trade in their own nation and religion.

Some Arab countries might support the president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, who is in the West Bank, while others might support, overtly or covertly, Hamas, which controls Gaza. Are they aware that they will find themselves facing more than one Palestinian bank or strip? Are they aware that they will have to face the defeats of the Palestinians brought about by their rulers in the West Bank and the Strip? Are they aware that the time will come when the Arabs will await a promise from the president of the US or another country to establish one Palestinian "Bank," instead of the Palestinian ones, or a single strip, where the entire Diaspora will be gathered, instead of the scattered strips? For years, we have been following the course of the settlement between the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, and Israel. What has happened to the efforts to reach such a settlement? They have become attempts to achieve a "cooling-down" period. But the coming task will require greater efforts, and perhaps even more years, to achieve a peaceful settlement between Palestinians in the Strip and the Bank. The time will come when newspapers write about the "cooling-off" period between a Palestinian faction in a strip or bank, and other factions on the other side of the same bank or strip.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Comedy Tonight

At the request of Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen/Mahmoud Abbas, Israel rescues 188 Fatah terrorists from being massacred by Hamas terrorists.

Mazen/Abbas then refuses to let his own terrorists into the portion of the disputed territories he controls.

It's hard to stop laughing.