Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hypocrisy Never Deters Israel-Haters: Hamas Represses Muslim Pilgrims

It's almost funny: Hamas won't let Muslims leave Gaza for the Hajj, but Al-Awda whines about Israel allegedly restricting movement.

It illustrates that anti-Israel propaganda is motivated simply by irrational hatred of the concept of Israel rather than any interest in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs.

Witnesses: Hamas Blocks Hajj Pilgrims From Leaving Gaza

By VOA News
29 November 2008

Witnesses say the Islamic militant group Hamas has blocked scores of Muslim pilgrims from leaving the Gaza Strip for the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Witnesses said Hamas police set up checkpoints Saturday on the road leading to the Rafah border post where the pilgrims were planning to cross into Egypt on their way to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Hamas denied that it was stopping pilgrims and accused Egypt of failing to open the border post as promised. But Egyptian officials and witnesses on the other side said the border was open.

[Hamas is excellent at denial.]

The dispute appears rooted in the standoff between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the rival Fatah movement, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

[And some people want Israel to negotiate. With whom?]

The groups gave Saudi authorities separate lists of pilgrims applying for Hajj visas. Saudi Arabia only gave visas to those on the Fatah-sponsored list. Hamas is now insisting that its own applicants be given visas as well.

The Rafah crossing has been largely closed since Hamas took control of Gaza last year, but Egyptian authorities said this week they would open it for three days to allow thousands of hajj pilgrims to leave.

Saudi Arabia limits the number of pilgrims each country can send to the annual hajj, to avoid overcrowding. Gaza this year was allocated 3,000 visas.

More than two million people made last year's pilgrimage. The hajj is the largest regular religious event on Earth. The five-day pilgrimage is scheduled to begin next week.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

[Al-Awda, if it was really interested in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs living in Hamastan, would pressure Hamas to let its people out rather than blasting Israel for taking minimal steps to decrease the terror attacks on innocent people.]


For Immediate Release
November 17, 2008


Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, calls on all its chapters and members, supporting organizations and individuals to organize demonstrations to demand an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip.

On November 5, Israel completely sealed the Strip's border crossings after launching an unprovoked attack that killed six Palestinians. Most of the Gaza Strip is without power due to lack of fuel, and the United Nations has been forced to stop food distribution to those in need.

[A group of Arab terrorists were preparing to attack Israelis. Israel acted to prevent that attack. From Al-Awda's distorted perspective, that is unprovoked.

Palestinian Authority spokespersons have said there is no lack of fuel in Gaza, explaining the power outages are a propaganda ploy executed by Hamas.

Meanwhile, despite barrages of rocket and mortar fire by Palestinian Arabs from Gaza, Israel has sent dozens of trucks with supplies to the very people shooting.]

The humanitarian situation is dire for the people in the Gaza Strip, most importantly the children.

[Of course, if Hamas cared about the children, it would act to help them live normal lives rather than simply using them as pawns in the drive to destroy Israel.]

The strip is home to 1.5 million Palestinians, 80% of whom are refugees denied by the Zionist state the right to return to their homes and lands of origin from which they were expelled by the Zionist occupation in 1948.

[There are very few refugees left; almost everyone referred to as a refugee is a descendent of refugees, forced by his or her own brethren, including Hamas, to live like a refugee in order to keep their anger alive and directed at Israel rather than at those responsible for their plight - their own leadership.]


We appeal to all people:



[For Al-Awda, that refers to all of Israel.]





[Anyone truly wanting to help the people living in Gaza should donate to the United Jewish Appeal (if they live in the United States) or Keren Hayesod/United Israel Appeal (if they live outside the United States) and ask that their donation be used to alleviate the disastrous situation Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have brought on the people living in Gaza.]

To contact your congressional representatives, go to

[Ask them to help Israel defend against Arab terror and support Israel in its efforts to end the Arab war against Israel. Since Israel is the only party working towards peace, those who want to help the Palestinian Arabs can best do so by helping to strengthen Israel.]

To contact the media, go to

To donate and help the people in the Gaza Strip, go to and simply follow the instructions. Indicate that your donation is for the GAZA EMERGENCY FUND.

[This is one of the worst things anyone interested in either peace or the welfare of the Arabs living in Gaza could do.]


Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568

[Those interested in helping the Palestinian Arabs, both in Gaza and in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), should contact Al-Awda and demand it start working for, rather than against, their interests.]

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to Palestinian human rights. We are a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.

[The fact that a donation to a hate-mongering organization like Al-Awda is tax-deductible is an indication of the looseness of our regulations.]

Monday, November 24, 2008

On journalism and national security

This commentary excerpted from a speech by Douglas J. Feith appeared in The Jerusalem Post. It should be required reading for journalism students. Indeed, it should be required reading for newspaper editors and reporters, so many of whom appear to be unaware of the basic responsibilities of journalists.

There are very few people I've admired as much as I did David Bar-Illan, so I feel honored to speak to you at this conference in his memory.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that there are some exemplary journalists out there. I just reviewed a book by New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins. The book, called The Forever War, deals with 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. It is, in my opinion, first-rate journalism: full of insight, compassion and good writing. I note that Filkins' book shows self-awareness, is modest in tone, and appreciates moral complexity. There's none of the all-knowing certitude of the self-righteous. At one point, Filkins wonders: "Why do the insurgents [in Iraq] let us [journalists] stay in Baghdad?... I assumed they had decided that we were useful to them. That was not a comforting thought, even if it meant they would let us survive."

Though Filkins' book is full of telling details, as he rises above Baghdad in a helicopter, he contemplates whether his pessimism is valid and how limited his own ground-based understanding of the situation is. He writes: "Under the spell of the whirring motor I felt suddenly hopeful for the country below.... It was useful to fly in helicopters for this reason, I thought to myself, useful to think this way, to take a wider view of the world. Too much detail, too much death, clouded the mind."

But Filkins's excellent book - and his reporting overall - are exceptional.

In the United States, press coverage about foreign affairs generally lacks complexity. And it tends to scrimp on historical context. Also, it's often ideologically biased when not outright inaccurate.

Why is this? The short answer is that news editors generally don't believe there's much of a market for foreign news. In most local newspapers in America, it's rare to find a foreign news story on the front page. The occasional foreign crisis gets reported in bare bones fashion. And foreign stories that command press attention for years - like the Arab-Israeli conflict - have to be converted into melodramas - soap operas - that a general audience can follow with minimal intellectual exertion.

The key traits of a melodrama of this kind are the simplicity of the story line and the flatness of the characters. Players are thoroughly sympathetic, good and gentle or they're thoroughly unsympathetic, ill-motivated and harsh. When I was growing up in the early 1960s, Israel benefited from the soap-opera-style of press coverage. Israel was commonly portrayed as the good guy in the Arab-Israeli conflict. I remember when the American press celebrated Israel's victory in the Six Days' War with lyrical prose and adoring photographs. After the Yom Kippur War and the oil embargo, however, American journalists increasingly assigned Israel the villain's role in the soap opera. The basic story line ceased to be plucky little Israel working to defend itself against large, uncompromising Arab states committed to its destruction. Rather, the line became the yearning for national rights of the stateless Palestinians against an uncompromising Israel committed to territorial aggrandizement at the Arabs' expense.

To keep the new story line simple, journalists effectively pretended that the conflict began in 1967. The problem was described as a fight over the "occupied territories," not a war to eliminate Israel. When Rabin shook Arafat's hand in 1993, the story line was adapted: The conflict was depicted as not so much between Israel and the Arabs - or Palestinians - as between the peace-loving advocates of compromise on both sides and the ideological extremists of both sides.

I emphasize the simple story line because it has enormous practical importance. If journalists adhere to the line, their editors will run their reports. Each report becomes an easy-to-follow episode in a long-duration soap opera. The story line signals to the audience which side to root for in the conflict. To preserve the line's clarity, journalists steer away from reporting that shows the designated good guys in a bad light or the villains as sympathetic. That helps explain why there was so little coverage during the Oslo Process of the PLO's corruption and the anti-Israel hatred taught in Palestinian Authority schools and even less coverage of any benign activity by Israeli settlers. Journalists often proclaim their commitment to seek "truth," but the fact is that they have powerful incentives to avoid complexity, an especially big problem in reporting on foreign affairs.

IN HIS important Middle East speech of June 24, 2002, President Bush did damage to the prevailing story line on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The speech built on key facts from the previous couple of years: Arafat had rejected Prime Minister Barak's peace offer at Camp David in 2000. On September 11, 2001, Americans got a bitter taste of Arab terrorism at home. The Palestinian Authority was secretly buying Iranian arms and promoting rather than fighting anti-Israel terrorism.

President Bush said that Israel and the United States are on the same side in the global war against terrorist extremism. He effectively repudiated the premises of the Oslo Process: that one achieves peace with a murderous enemy through a process of negotiation. He declared that the keys to Palestinian-Israeli peace are new, non-corrupt political institutions and a new Palestinian leadership sincerely devoted to peace and "untainted by terror." In other words, he injected some large contrarian thoughts about the Arab-Israeli conflict into the public debate.

As a result, it became more difficult for American reporters to depict the conflict as a fight between the good peace processors, including Arafat, and the bad skeptics. Press coverage of Israel in the United States became, for a while, more sympathetic. There ceased to be a predominant simple story line for reports on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Road Map negotiations were not able to revive the standard story line of the Oslo era. We'll have to wait to see if it will be revived when the Obama administration comes into office.

NOW, SO far, I've been making critical comments about US press coverage of foreign affairs without even mentioning the issue of ideological bias...

I want to state my conviction that American journalism suffers from the common political bias of most of the prestigious news outlets. Most big-city newspapers, like the broadcast news organizations, are decidedly liberal. What is a problem, as I see it, is not that so many journalists have liberal views, but that many don't seem to understand the idea of journalistic objectivity. They show their misunderstanding by thinking they have to deny that they are biased. The point of objectivity, however, is not that you as a reporter have no biases. Every thoughtful person has lots of biases. The point is that, recognizing your biases, you seek out contrary views and report on them accurately and fairly so your readers or viewers have a sound basis for making up their minds - and are not being manipulated toward your position.

Another point should be made about a journalist's bias. Philosophical bias, of which (I repeat) no thoughtful person is free, affects more than the way you think about the subject matter of a story. It affects your decisions on which issues you think should be covered in the first place. A reporter, for example, who views the detainees at Guantanamo as victims may decide to write about how their families are suffering. Another reporter, unsympathetic to the detainees, may chose to report a story about the misery and loss they've caused. Each story can be done well and objectively, with proper presentation of all major viewpoints on the subject. But, even if done well, each reflects a judgment about what's newsworthy and that judgment arises from a political outlook or bias.

So if a news organization wants balance, it is not enough to ensure that each of its stories is properly presented. It must ensure that it maintains a staff with diverse views...

I THINK it's right to direct some criticism also to my own government - to the Bush administration in which I served - for having contributed to the public's confusion about US strategy in Iraq... The United States went to war in Iraq to remove the range of threats to our national interest that were posed by the Saddam Hussein regime: the threat of aggression, of support for terrorists and of development and use of weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and his National Security Council understood that if we removed Saddam from power, we'd have to help the Iraqis put another government in place. We could promote democratic institutions and, if the Iraqis succeeded in creating them, that could bring benefits to them and perhaps encourage political reform throughout the Middle East and Muslim world...

We did not go to war in Iraq in order to promote democracy there, but it was an opportunity that Saddam's overthrow would open up. President Bush was clear on this point in the speeches he gave before the war. But six months or so after Saddam's overthrow - when it became clear that we were not going to find the chemical and biological weapons stockpiles that the CIA had said we'd find in Iraq - the President changed his rhetoric drastically.

Whichever officials were in charge of strategic communications seem to have been traumatized by the CIA's errors on Iraqi WMD. They decided that the President should no longer talk about the threats from the Saddam Hussein regime - should no longer talk about the history that gave rise to the US decision to go to war. Rather, the president should talk from this point forward only about the future and about the promotion of democracy in Iraq. There were three main consequences of the president's shift in rhetoric:

1. He undermined his own credibility, for he appeared to be changing the rationale for the war in the middle of it all.

2. By deciding that he would talk only about the future, he ensured that his critics would talk almost exclusively about the past. The critics understood that if they attacked the administration about the run up to the war - focusing on pre-war intelligence and pre-war planning and asserting that "Bush lied" - they would not be contradicted.

3. Most importantly, the president's change in rhetoric changed the definition of success in Iraq. It was no longer removing the threat of the Saddam Hussein regime. Rather, it became achieving stable democracy.

The president had, in effect, move the goal line farther away to a place that most Americans came to believe could not be reached. In the summer of 2007, this almost cost us the war, when the Congress came extremely close to cutting off funding.

This shows the importance of strategic communications. A government in a democracy can lose a war by what it's leaders say just as surely as it can lose it by failures of its generals in the field. Strategic communications are not just politics or public relations; they are the essence of strategy in a democracy.

Douglas J. Feith is a former US under secretary of defense for policy. This article is extracted from the speech he delivered, by video address, to the Seventh Annual David Bar-Illan Conference on the Media & the Middle East at the Ariel University Center of Samaria on November 18.

Brzezinski and Scowcroft Wrong Again

Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinsky, neither known for evenhandedness, collaborated on a commentary for the Washington Post that President-elect Obama would be well-advised to completely ignore.

The anti-Israel bias in their commentary comes out mostly in subtle ways, such as the absurd statement "it is difficult to imagine that Hamas will want to be left out" if the so-called peace process gains momentum, ignoring the fact that Hamas has made it clear it has no interest in any peace that does not involve the destruction of Israel and the reality that even if it had an interest in a peace agreement, Abbas' branch of the Palestinian Authority wouldn't have the ability to adhere to one.

There is also at least one clear factual error, a reference to "1967 borders."

There were no borders in 1967; there were only armistice lines established under agreements which stipulated they were not to be used as a basis for negotiations. Scowcroft and Brzezinski are, like others who have similarly called for negotiations based on those armistice lines, effectively calling for violating previous agreements, hardly a recipe for adherence to any future agreement.

Scowcroft and Brzezinski cannot possibly be ignorant of the truth; thus, for them to deliberately mislead is additional evidence of their lack of good intentions (to put it mildly).

Interestingly, their concluding statement, "But in many ways the current situation is such that the opportunity for success has never been greater, or the costs of failure more severe," is resoundingly contradicted Aaron David Miller, a diplomat who has invested as much energy as anyone towards resolving the Palestinian Arab portion of the Arab-Israeli conflict and still incorrectly believes that consequence of the Arab-Israeli conflict lies at its core.

Letters to the Washington Post may be sent to In Connecticut, the misguided commentary was published by The Hartford Courant. Letters to The Hartford Courant may be addressed to

Both the Scowcroft-Brzezinski and Miller commentaries follow.

Middle East Priorities For Jan. 21

By Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski

November 21, 2008

The election of Barack Obama to be the 44th president is profoundly historic. We have at long last been able to come together in a way that has eluded us in the long history of our great country. We should celebrate this triumph of the true spirit of America.

Election Day celebrations were replicated in time zones around the world, something we have not seen in a long time. While euphoria is ephemeral, we must endeavor to use its energy to bring us all together as Americans to cope with the urgent problems that beset us.

When Obama takes office in two months, he will find a number of difficult foreign policy issues competing for his attention, each with strong advocates among his advisers. We believe that the Arab-Israeli peace process is one issue that requires priority attention.

In perhaps no other region was the election of Obama more favorably received than the Middle East. Immediate attention to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute would help cement the goodwill that Obama's election engendered. Not everyone in the Middle East views the Palestinian issue as the greatest regional challenge, but the deep sense of injustice it stimulates is genuine and pervasive.

Unfortunately, the current administration's intense efforts over the past year will not resolve the issue by Jan. 20. But to let attention lapse would reinforce the feelings of injustice and neglect in the region. That could spur another eruption of violence between the warring parties or in places such as Lebanon or Gaza, reversing what progress has been made and sending the parties back to square one.

Lurking in the background is the possibility that the quest for a two-state solution may be abandoned by the Palestinians, the Israelis, or both -- with unfortunate consequences for all.

Resolution of the Palestinian issue would have a positive impact on the region. It would liberate Arab governments to support U.S.

leadership in dealing with regional problems, as they did before the Iraq invasion. It would dissipate much of the appeal of Hezbollah and Hamas, dependent as they are on the Palestinians' plight. It would change the region's psychological climate, putting Iran back on the defensive and putting a stop to its swagger.

The major elements of an agreement are well known. A key element in any new initiative would be for the U.S. president to declare publicly what, in the view of this country, the basic parameters of a fair and enduring peace ought to be. These should contain four principal elements:

o 1967 borders, with minor, reciprocal and agreed-upon modifications.

o Compensation in lieu of the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

o Jerusalem as real home to two capitals.

o A nonmilitarized Palestinian state.

Something more might be needed to deal with Israeli security concerns about turning over territory to a Palestinian government incapable of securing Israel against terrorist activity. That could be dealt with by deploying an international peacekeeping force, such as one from NATO, which could not only replace Israeli security but train Palestinian troops to become effective.

To date, the weakness of the negotiating parties has limited their ability to come to an agreement by themselves. The elections in Israel scheduled for February are certainly a complicating factor, as is the deep split among Palestinians between Fatah and Hamas.

But if the peace process begins to gain momentum, it is difficult to imagine that Hamas will want to be left out, and that same momentum would provide the Israeli people a unique chance to register their views on the future of their country.

This weakness can be overcome by the president speaking out clearly and forcefully about the fundamental principles of the peace process; he also must press the case with steady determination. That initiative should then be followed -- not preceded -- by the appointment of a high-level dignitary to pursue the process on the president's behalf, a process based on the enunciated presidential guidelines. Such a presidential initiative should instantly galvanize support, both domestic and international, and provide great encouragement to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

To say that achieving a successful resolution of this critical issue is a simple task would be to scoff at history. But in many ways the current situation is such that the opportunity for success has never been greater, or the costs of failure more severe.

Brent Scowcroft was national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and is president of the Forum for International Group. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. He is trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The two are authors of "America and The World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy." They wrote this for The Washington Post.

An Israeli-Palestinian agreement: Forget about it

November 23, 2008

Aaron David Miller, The Jerusalem Post

I've been a Palestinian firster for most of my professional life. I believe that the Palestinian issue is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the key to regional peace, and the sine qua non for preserving Israel as a Jewish democratic state.

These arguments remain valid. What's changed is that a conflict-ending agreement between Israelis and Palestinians may no longer be possible. I choose my words carefully here. Varying kinds of accommodations cease fires, informal cooperation and temporary arrangements may still be possible. But an agreement now or perhaps for the foreseeable future that revolves conclusively the four core issues (borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security) isn't.

Three realities drive my pessimism and should force experts, politicians and
would be mediators to keep their enthusiasm for quick or easy solutions under control.

First, there are the issues. There is a myth out there driven by the Clinton parameters of December 2000, the Taba talks in 2001, the Geneva accord a year later, and the hundreds of hours of post Annapolis talks between Israelis and Palestinians that the two sides are "this close" (thumb and index finger a sixteenth of an inch apart) to an agreement. The gaps have now narrowed, perhaps impressively, but closing them, particularly on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, is still beyond the reach of negotiators and leaders.

It's not that there are metaphysical or magical reasons why these core issues can't be resolved; it's that the political will is lacking among leaders to reach an agreement and that the current situation on the ground between Israelis and Palestinians makes it impossible for them to do to. That everyone knows what the ultimate solution will look like (an intriguing notion that is supposed to make people feel better) is irrelevant if the circumstances for an agreement don't exist.

THIS BRINGS me to my second point. The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The divisions between Hamas (itself divided) and Fatah (even more divided) are now geographic, political and hard to bridge. Until the Palestinian national movement finds a way to impose a monopoly over the forces of violence in Palestinian society, it cannot move to statehood. The hallmark of any state's credibility (from Sweden, to Egypt, to Poland) is its control over all the guns. Criminal activity is one thing; allowing political groups to challenge the state, or its neighbors, with violence is quite another. What Palestinian leader can claim to speak for all Palestinians or negotiate an agreement against the backdrop of a separate entity which controls 1.3 million Palestinians, possesses a different view of governance and nation-building and often attacks its neighbor? And what Israeli prime minister could ever make concessions to a Palestinian leader who doesn't control all of the guns? There is no solution to this problem now. Only by restoring unity to the Palestinian house will a conflict-ending agreement be possible. And that agreement will have to take into account the needs of both Israel and a unified Fatah-Hamas negotiating position which doesn't reflect Hamas's extreme views and irredentism.

Third, there is serious dysfunction at the political level in Israel as well. Israel has its own leadership crisis. The state is in transition from a generation of founding leaders with moral authority, historic legitimacy and competency to a younger generation of middle age pols who have not quite measured up to their predecessors or to the challenges their nation faces. The leadership deficit is a global phenomenon, but not all states are sitting in a dangerous neighborhood on top of a political volcano. Is there an Israeli leader today who has the authority and skill to make and sell the tough choices required for Israeli-Palestinian peace?

So what to do? My days of giving advice to Israelis and Palestinians are over. I would, however, respectfully suggest to President-elect Barck Obama, in my capacity as an American who doesn't want to see America fail again, that he recognize there's no deal in this negotiation now. Manage it as best you can: help support an Israeli-Hamas ceasefire, train PA security forces, pour economic aid into the West Bank and Gaza, even nurture Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the big issues, but don't think you can solve it; you can't.

Instead, go all-out for an Israeli-Syrian agreement which is doable and will enhance American credibility to confront Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran over time with tough choices, and improve America's regional standing. Then, perhaps, your chances on the Israeli-Palestinian track may be better. In the interim, I'm afraid sadly that the bottom line for Israelis and Palestinians is not a good one: Israelis will have their state, but Palestinians will never let them completely enjoy it.

The writer, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, worked as an advisor on the Middle East for six Democratic and Republican secretaries of State. He is the author of The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive search for Arab-Israeli Peace.

Between the Lines: Saudi Foreign Minister Advises Israel Not to Negotiate With Palestinian Authority

Prince Saud al-Faisal didn't say it in so many words, but he clearly sent the message that negotiating with terrorists was counterproductive and that terrorism was an evil that had to be eradicated.

Despite numerous pledges to abandon terrorism, the Palestinian Authority continues to vacillate between glorification and outright promotion of terrorism and tacit complicity.

According to the Saudi Foreign Minister, negotiations with such entities only encourage them.

Saudi minister opposes negotiations with pirates

Agence France-Presse - 22 November, 2008

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Friday he was opposed to any negotiations with pirates, reiterating his assertion that sea piracy was "like terrorism."

Somali pirates who captured the Sirius Star supertanker and its 100 million dollar load of oil last Saturday off the coast of Kenya have given the Saudi owners of the vessel 10 days to pay a 25 million dollar ransom.

"Like terrorism, it is an evil that has to be eradicated," Prince Saud told reporters in Oslo after talks with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Stoere.

"Negotiations and payment of ransom only encourage the piracy and are not a solution to the piracy issue," he added.

Contrary to remarks he made in Rome on Wednesday, the Saudi minister said he did not know whether negotiations were under way with the pirates for the release of the Sirius Star.

"Not on the part of the government. If the owners of the ship are doing it, we don't know about it and we're not encouraging it," he said.

Prince Saud reiterated that his country was ready to take part in an international naval force to combat piracy.

Norway has also said it would be willing to participate but not until new frigates enter service "in 2009 or 2010," Stoere said.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Effects of Economic Downturn Aren't All Bad

Reading the messages on the Palestinian Christians list on Yahoo Groups is usually depressing, since they're generally so infused with hatred, but it was a pleasure to read this one about the budgetary problems of a group of self-hating Jews.

Economic Downturn Affects Jews Against Zionism's Budget

Posted by: "St. James" palestinianchristians

From: True Torah Jews

Over the past several months, we have seen a sharp drop in donations to True Torah Jews Against Zionism. The usual supporters are just as supportive as ever of our activities, but they cannot give as much as in the past due to their own financial difficulties. Many investors have either lost huge sums of money or fear that they will soon experience losses.

This deficit in our budget has affected the work we do in many ways. News articles with our comments are no longer published regularly. The Parsha Pearls was not published for several weeks; it has now continued thanks to an anonymous sponsor. We have built up large debts that must be paid off as soon as possible.

Most importantly, lack of money hampers our ability to react when the occasion arises. For example, we are now four days before a presidential election, and the Zionist media is working hard to turn the nation's focus to Zionism-related issues. Because Obama is not sufficiently loyal to Zionism, because he does not take a completely one-sided view of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, because he has said that no one has suffered more than the Palestinians, and - most recently - because it was discovered that he has a friend who is a Palestinian professor and he attended a party in his honor, therefore he is not fit to be president of the United States.

The Zionist media has gone into hysteria over these accusations. One reading their articles might think that this was a race for president of the State of Israel. What happened to America? Why should an American election revolve around a foreign country? Do these Jews want the gentiles to think that Israel is all that matters to them?

The world must be aware of the traditional Torah community's insistence that the State of Israel be kept out of the election. Even apart from Orthodox Jews such as ourselves, studies have shown that Jews today, especially the younger generation, care less about the State of Israel and more about domestic issues such as the economy. The candidates should realize that they will do better among Jews if they speak only about what is good for America. They should ignore those Zionists who try to provoke paranoia of anyone and anything remotely critical of the State of Israel.

Getting this message out would mean a press release and effecting advertising.- something we simply cannot due on our current budget. So an important opportunity is going lost. But you can help us now so that the next time you need us to speak for you, we'll be there.

After the American election, another important opportunity is on the horizon. The Zionist State is holding early elections in February, and together with our associates in Jerusalem we are planning a massive campaign to educate the public about the great sin of voting in a Zionist election. When the Jewish world's attention is focused on the religious parties, that is the time to point out the tens of thousands of Jews who never vote at all or accept any money from state, which they consider illegitimate. That is the time to offer Jews the chance to take a fresh look at an old question. Again, this will only be possible with your donations.

Please help True Torah Jews Against Zionism so that they can be there for you to publicize the views you support. Please help True Torah Jews Against Zionism spread the teachings of the Torah and save more Jews from the heretical and dangerous path on which Zionism is leading them.

Jews Against Zionism
True Torah Jews
183 Wilson St, PMB 162, Brooklyn, NY 11211

As is usually the case with Israel-haters, the self-hating "Jews Against Zionism" have no compunction about misrepresenting themselves, since they are further from being "True Torah Jews" than the most unobservant, secular Jews on earth.

As is the case with the Palestinian Arab Christians who oppose Israel, they will be among the first who would find their lives destroyed if their wishes for the destruction of Israel came to pass.

Fair Witness Questions the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East, +1-212-870-2320

NEW YORK, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation ("HCEF"), with offices in the United States and Bethlehem, has as its stated mission "to maintain the presence and growth of the Arab Christians in the Holy Land, and to develop bonds of solidarity between them and the Christians in the world."

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East was therefore surprised and disturbed by the content and tenor of HCEF's Tenth International Conference, held this past weekend in Washington, D.C., which seemed focused primarily on leveling one-sided accusations against Israel.

Legitimate criticism of bad Israeli policy such as continued settlement building was overshadowed by repeated unreasonable criticism of the Jewish state, while virtually ignoring Palestinian wrongdoing.

There were repeated charges of Israeli racism during the conference, as if Israel were the only country where discrimination against minorities exists -- but not one mention of virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli incitement found in Arab and Palestinian media and school books.

Laments over the failed Oslo peace process omitted any mention of Palestinian rejection of the 2000/2001 peace offer and the ensuing six years of suicide bombing, creating the inference that the continuing occupation was all Israel's fault.

The first speaker, who received cheers and a standing ovation, referred to the founding of Israel in 1948 as a transfer of land from Palestinians to Israelis, as opposed to an attempt on the part of the international community to create a workable two-state solution in a land inhabited by two peoples, each with a legitimate claim. Her allegation that "after 1948 all Palestinians were forced to leave" is patently untrue -- twenty percent of Israeli citizens were and remain Arabs. This same speaker lightheartedly dismissed Palestinian terrorism, while complaining bitterly about the military measures Israel employs in response. Questioning whether some of these measures are excessive and cause unnecessary Palestinian suffering would have been legitimate, had the reality of Palestinian terrorism been addressed with equal fervor.

Much of the conference appeared based on misinformation and distorted facts which tended strongly to identify Israel as the sole or primary cause of conflict. "HCEF's stated goals and charities are laudable. However, I invite its leaders to explain the questionable content of this past weekend's conference," says Fr. James Loughran, S.A., who attended the conference.

SOURCE Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

Playing the "Nazi-Card"

A few days ago, I heard Professor Paul Iganski of the University of Essex and Lancaster University speak at Yale University on the subject “Playing the 'Nazi-card': Antisemitic Discourse Against Israel."

One of the more despicable strategies of Israel-haters is to try to associate Israel with Nazi Germany. It is a way of appealing to the ignorant and the bigoted, although fortunately it can only repel those who are knowledgeable and fair-minded. (On the other hand, those are generally already pro-Israel.)

Because I had just heard Professor Iganski's talk, the obnoxious subject line given the following post to the Palestinian Christians mailing list on Yahoo Groups jumped out at me. It was given the subject "Zieg Hail to the Chief of Staff. The Promised Land - Obama, Emanuel."

It was posted by "nachoua," with the email

It consists of several screeds, which we include without additional comment, as a testiment to the unashamed hatred displayed.

Hail to the Chief of Staff

By Alexander Cockburn

The first trumpet blast of change ushers in Rahm Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff and gate keeper. This is the man who arranges his schedule, staffs out the agenda, includes, excludes. It's certainly as sinister an appointment as, say, Carter's installation of arch cold-warrior Zbigniev Brzezinski as his National Security Advisor at the dawn of his "change is here" administration in 1977.

Emanuel, as Ralph Nader points out in my interview with him below, represents the worst of the Clinton years. His profile as regards Israel is explored well on this site by lawyer John Whitbeck. He's a former Israeli citizen, who volunteered to serve in Israel in 1991 and who made brisk millions in Wall Street. He is a super-Likudnik hawk, whose father was in the fascist Irgun (TERRORIST) in the late Forties, responsible for cold-blooded massacres of Palestinians. Dad's unreconstructed ethnic outlook has been memorably embodied in his recent remark to the Ma'ariv newspaper that "Obviously he [Rahm] will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he be [influential]? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

Working in the Clinton White House, Emanuel helped push through NAFTA, the crime bill, the balanced budget and welfare reform. He favored the war in Iraq, and when he was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates. On this site in October and November, 2006, John Walsh documented both the efforts and Emanuel's role in losing the Democrats seats they would otherwise have won.

In 2006 Emanuel had just published a book with Bruce Reed called The Plan: Big Ideas for America, with one section focused on "the war on terror".

Emanuel and Reed wrote, "We need to fortify the military's 'thin green line 'around the world by adding to the U.S. Special Forces and the Marines, and by expanding the U.S. army by 100,000 more troops. .Finally we must protect our homeland and civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain's MI5." Recall that Obama has been calling throughout his recent campaign for an addition of 92,000 to the US Army and US Marine Corps.

Emanuel and Reed had fond words for the mad-dog Peter Beinart, neocon warrior theoretician for the Democrats, roosting Marty Peretz's The New Republic, and author of The Good Fight where Beinart explained why a tough new national security policy is as essential to the future of of progressive politics as a united front against totalitarianism and communism was to the New Deal and the Great Society. Emanuel and Reed also commended Anne-Marie Slaughter's proposal for "a new division of labor in which the United Nations takes on economic and social assistance and an expanded NATO takes over the burden of collective security." In other words, let NATO shoot the natives and the UN clean the floors.

Walsh took a hard look at the 2006 Democratic primary race between Christine Cegelis and Tammy Duckworth in Illinois's 6th CD, a Republican District, which had elected the disgusting Henry Hyde from time immemorial.

In 2004 Cegelis, who was only mildly antiwar, ran as the Democrat with a grass roots campaign and polled a remarkable 44 per cent in her first run.

It was not too long before Hyde decided to retire, and the field seemed to be open for Cegelis in the November poll, in 2006.

Enter Rahm Emanuel, who promptly dug up a pro-war candidate, Tammy Duckworth. Although she had both her legs blown off in Iraq, she remained committed to "staying the course" in Iraq. Duckworth had no political experience and did not live in the 6th District. Emanuel raised a million dollars for her and brought in Joe Lieberman, Barak Obama, John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton to support her. Despite all this help and with the Cegelis campaign virtually penniless, Duckworth barely managed to eke out a primary victory by a measly four percentage points.

To win the House, the Dems had to win 15 seats from the Republicans. Walsh identified 22 candidates hand picked by Emanuel to run in open districts or districts with Republican incumbents. Of these, nine adopted a US "must win" in Iraq position and only one of Rahm's candidates was for prompt withdrawal from Iraq.

Then, after the election, Walsh assessed Rahm's supposed brilliance in winning back the House. "Looking at all 22 candidates hand-picked by Rahm, " Walsh wrote, "we find that 13 were defeated [including Duckworth], and only 8 won! And remember that this was the year of the Democratic tsunami and that Rahm's favorites were handsomely financed by the DCCC. The Dems have picked up 28 seats so far, maybe more. So out of that 28, Rahm's choices accounted for 8! Since the Dems only needed 15 seats to win the House, Rahm's efforts were completely unnecessary. Had the campaign rested on Rahm's choices, there would have been only 8 or 9 new seats, and the Dems would have lost. In fact, Rahm's efforts were probably counterproductive for the Dems since the great majority of voters were antiwar and they were voting primarily on the issue of the war (60 per cent according to CNN). But Rahm's candidates were not antiwar.

Talking to Nader about the Campaign, on November 5.

AC: In 2000,you drew nearly 10,000 people to a speech in Portland, Oregon.

This year you got barely 2,000 in in the whole of Multnomah County where Portland lies, perhaps the most progressive county in the nation. Is this a sign of the withering of the progressive ggleft or the dead end of independent political campaigns?

Nader: It's a sign of the swoon in the voting booth by people who told pollsters that they were going to vote for me at a level of 4 to 7 million; that is, 6 per cent nationally in the summer and 3 per cent the day before the election, according to CNN. In Washington DC district Obama got 94 per cent. I said to people, how many years have you known me? And they answered, it's a historic occasion. I wanted to be part of history. The real issue in this campaign is the voters. These are people who knew all about Obama's flipflops, his support for offshore drilling, for FISA, his role as the number one corporate cadidate.

When you in prison and you're told you can't get out and to chose between TB and cancer you'll chose. It's beyond politics, it's psychology. This is what happens when we're trapped in the winner take all closed system, watching tv.

The pattern is: Progressive politics for three years, and in the fourth year it renews itself with heavy doses of regressive politics and charges forward again.

I thought we'd get two to three millon votes. We had a huge internet presence.

AC: How many votes did you get? This year and in the last two campaigns?

Probably 700,000. In 2000 it was 2.8 million. In 2004, 450,000. But those figures don't tell the story. In New York this time for example it was almost impossible to find me on the ballot.

AC What about you calling him an Uncle Tom on Fox?

Nader: On Fox I said that as the first African American president we wish him well. The question is, will he be Uncle Sam for the people or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations which are driving America into the ground. Fox cut it off after "corporations".

He is less vulnerable to criticism and harder to criticize because of his race. When I said he was talking White Man's talk, the PC people got really upset.

It doesn't matter that he sides with destruction of the Palestinians, and sides with the embargo. It doesn't matter that he turns his back on 100 million people and won't even campaign in minority areas. It doesn't matter than he wants a bigger military budget, and an imperial foreign policy supporting various adventures of the Bush administration. It doesn't matter that he's for the death penalty ,which is targeted at minorities. But if you say one thing that isn't PC, you get their attention. I tell college audiences, a gender, racial or ethnic slur gets you upset, reality doesn't get you upset.

Can Obama speak truth to the white power structure? There's every indication he doesn't want to. For example, in February he stiffed the State of the Black Union annual meeting in New Orleans. He's a very accommodating personality.

AC: Ralph, Why do you think Ron Paul was able to excite younger voters and you weren't?

Nader: Ron Paul? There's the novelty aspect. It was his first try. He hasn't been losing. He gets the hard core people focused on the gold standard, and abolishing the federal reserve. The "Get government off our back", rock-ribbed Goldwater people. He says the things mainstream Republicans can't.

AC: Are the Republicans down for the count for a while?

Nader: Any time there's a terrorist attack they're back in business.

Enough people will soon forget what Bush and Co actually did. At the moment conservatives have been subjected to Obama's shock and awe, but they still have all these social issues. As a candidate Obama dodged the Gay Marriage Ban ballot, but they'll throw the social issues at him. The Republican inventory is intact: "tax and spend", "over regulation", plus all these social issues.

AC Does Palin have a future?

Nader: No.

AC: How about the liberals and the left now?

Nader: The real crisis is the self-destruction of the liberal progressive community. It's got nowhere to go, other than to renew its three out of four year cycle of criticism of the Democrats. They've nowhere to go because they've made no demands. He's been a candid right-center Democrat and they've given him a free ride. No demands. From Labor? No demands. He gave them a sop on the card check. He campaigned for two years, promised blacks nothing, Latinos nothing, women's groups nothing, labor nothing. Contrast the lack of demands on the liberal progressive side to what the Limbaugh crowd exacted from McCain.

AC: You think Michael Moore could have made some demands in return for his support?

Nader: Moore knows were his bread is buttered. He's seen what the Hollywood set and the others did to me.

AC: How do you see the next phase playing out?

Nader: Obama faces three crises: wars overseas, economic collapse and the deficit. They can't use fiscal policy very much, so he's going to be strapped by things like Medicare.

He's got along on general rhetoric, but now each decision will shake some section of the liberal constituency.

They need to launch a comprehensive program dealing with poverty, low income housing, corruption and extortion in the ghettoes, and doubling the minimum wage to compensate for inflation.

They need to address the right of labor to form trade unions without coming up against the steel wall of Taft Hartley.

Health insurance? He'll extend tax supports which will give the insurance companies more business. He should deal with drug prices, but that's a battle he won't undertake.

How's he going to deal with the auto companies which are in deep trouble?

Take the proposed GM-Chrysler merger which makes no sense and will mean lay-offs for 90,000 workers. If people don't want the cars then the sacrifices and subsidies are to no avail.

The only way this guy can ever get his head above water is if he is courageous. What he's basically doing so far is giving the Clinton crowd a second chance. Rahm Emanuel? He's the worst of Clinton. Spokesman for Wall Street, Israel, globalization.

Second: demilitarize foreign policy, establishing the international stability that flows from our becoming a respectful but energetic humanitarian superpower, confronting world issues like drinking water and infectious diseases.

He has to reverse course on Afghanistan. As Ashraf Ghani former finance minister for Karzai has said, the approach to Afghanistan should be the need for justice, the fundamental basis of all public order.

Third, he's got to develop economic policy for the greatest good for the greatest number. Public works not bailout. Put money where it matters.

He's got to say to the rich and powerful, you have to give up your greed.

It should be a two-track presidency, dealing with issues day to day, and strengthening the fiber of democratic society. That's partly a matter of shareholder authority, worker-owned pension funds, which is a third of Wall Street. If every such fund was given the authority to control what they own, it wd be over. Look at all institutional shareholderd in Fannies.

Their holdings are worth one per cent of what they were and these were the second safest investments after Treasuries! Believe in first principles:

What you own, you control. If you screw up you're free to sink -- the first and second principles of capitalism.

I'm going to write Obama a letter in the next month saying, what you have to do is a pre-State of the union where you lay out exactly where the Bush Administration has left America, in category after category, so you will not be hung with it. In the pre-state of the union, Obama should say, This is the mess I've inherited.

Second, Obama has to cut the sequence of war crimes and high crimes and misdeameanours. If not, he'll become a war criminal himself within a month. Shut down Guantanamo with strict directives, no torture. If he continue his policies, then he'll become a war criminal. If you going to restore the rule of law, you have got to draw the line between what you're going to do and what you refuse to inherit. Then it's a real fresh start.

Obama's a guy who's got away with a ten minute speech for two years. He won too easily. He didn't have to respond to the liberal constituencies.

He's really had it very easy, because he had an easy act to challenge and an easy act to follow ,

AC: How do you feel about your run?

Nader: I'm happy I ran, because the alternative is total surrender. I carried the banner to 50 states. I surprised myself. Look at the abolitionist Liberty Party in the mid-19th century. It didn't get a tenth of one per cent. Did you think those people wasted their vote? We were quite successful this time in beating back ballot access barriers , in Arizona and Ohio. It's like the early stages of fighting Jim Crow laws.

AC: The history of third parties over the past thirty years is not very encouraging.

Nader: We're advancing majoritarian programs and the majority voters are trapped into the two party choice This is what happens. Obama sank public funding. Not only did he betray the principle and therefore shattered his credibility. In so outdoing he way outraised McCain. I read the trade literature. Not one of these industries -- banking, insurance, automotive, oil, agribusiness, international trade - is worried. They're all totally calm. The corporate state moves on.

Corporate power has unique characteristics. It is perfectly willing and able to corrupt, regardless of sexual or ethnic preference. It offers equal opportunities to be corrupted or coopted . That's why it's very difficult for the civil community, which is affected by principles, nuances, honest disagreements, to confront the monistically commercial corporations. No one says 'the big debate inside Exxon is whether to go more for oil or solar. That's why every religion in the world, in their scriptures, issues a warning not to give too much power to the merchant class. The commercial instinct is relentless, consistent, limitless in achieving its goal. It will run rough-shod to destroy, co-opt or dilute civic and spiritual values that stand in its way.

At no time has Obama said he wanted dialogue with Iran but in fact always stated that America needed to go to war with Iran in order to stop her Nuclear Technology!!Obama wnats troops taken OUT of Iraq to be diverted to fight Iran and to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan which the ZIONIST USA does not wish to relinquish its military conquest and butchering of Afghanis, epspecially as we have seen time and time again, targetting Weddings attended by innocent civilians!! and on the VERY DAY of US Elections, ISRAEL sends her COCKY ARROGANT MESSAGE to OBAMA by BOMBING AND ASSASSINATING GAZANS!!


JERUSALEM ????? Israel said Thursday US President-elect Barack Obama's stated readiness to talk to Iran could be seen in the Middle East as a sign of weakness in efforts to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

"We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue ????? in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue ????? is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, asked on Israel Radio about policy change toward Tehran in an Obama administration.

Her remarks sounded the first note of dissonance with Obama by a senior member of the Israeli government since the Democrat's sweeping victory over Republican candidate John McCain in the US presidential election Tuesday.

Asked if she supported any US dialogue with Iran, Livni replied:

"The answer is no."

Livni, leading the centrist Kadima party into Israel's February 10 parliamentary election, also said "the bottom line" was that the United States, under Obama, "is also not willing to accept a nuclear Iran."

Israel retains only nuclear arsenal in Middle East

Obama has said he would harden sanctions on Iran but has also held out the possibility of direct talks with US adversaries to resolve problems, including the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The West believes Iran's nuclear enrichment program is aimed at building atomic weapons, an allegation the Islamic Republic denies.

Israel, believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has said Iran's nuclear program is a threat to its existence and that it was keeping all options on the table to stop it.

The Promised Land?- Obama, Emanuel and Israel


November 07, 2008 "Counterpunch" -- -- In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran whose father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin's Irgun forces during the Nakba and named his son after "a Lehi combatant who was killed" -- i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir's terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.

In rapid response to this news, the editorial in the next day's Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled "Don't pin much hope on Obama -- Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message". This editorial referred to the Irgun as a "terror organization" (a judgment call) and concluded: "Far from challenging Israel, the new team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing."

That was always likely. Obama repeatedly pledged unconditional allegiance to Israel during his campaign, most memorably in an address to the AIPAC national convention which Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery characterized as "a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning", and America's electing a black president has always been more easily imagined than any American president's declaring his country's independence from Israeli domination.

Still, one of the greatest advantages for the United States in electing Barack Hussein Obama was the prospect that the world's billion-plus Muslims, who now view the United States with almost universal loathing and hatred, would be dazzled by the new president's eloquence, life story, skin color and middle name, would think again with open minds and would give America a chance to redeem itself in their eyes and hearts -- not incidently, drastically shortening the long lines of aspiring jihadis eager to sacrifice their lives while striking a blow against the evil empire.

The profound loathing and hatred of the Muslim world toward the United States, which has always had its roots for America's unconditional support for the injustices inflicted and still being inflicted on the Palestinians, can fairly be considered the core of the primary foreign policy and "national security" problems confronting the United States in recent years.

Why would Obama, a man of unquested brilliance, have chosen to send such a contemptuous message to the Muslim world with his first major appointment?

Why would he wish to disabuse the Muslim world of its hopes (however modest) and slap it across the face at the ealiest opportunity?

A further contemptuous message is widely rumored to be forthcoming -- the naming as "Special Envoy for Middle East Peace" of Dennis Ross, the notorious Israel-Firster who, throughout the 12 years of the Bush the First and Clinton administrations, ensured that American policy toward the Palestinians did not deviate one millimeter from Israeli policy and that no progress toward peace could be made and who has since headed the AIPAC spin-off "think tank", the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Neverthess, since it is almost always constructive to seek a silver lining in the darkest clouds, a silver lining can be found and cited. For decades, the Palestinian leadership has been "waiting for Godot" -- waiting for the U.S. Government to finally do the right thing (if only in its own obvious self-interest) and to force Israel to comply with international law and UN Resolutions and permit them to have a decent mini-state on a tiny portion of the land that once was theirs.

This was never a realistic hope. It has not happened, and it will never happen. So it may well be salutary not to waste eight more days (let alone eight more years) playing along and playing the fool while more Palestinian lands are confiscated and more Jewish colonies and Jews-only bypass roads are built on them, clinging to the delusion that the charming Mr. Obama, admirable though he may be in so many other respects, will eventually (if only in a second term, when he no longer has to worry about reelection) see the light and do the right thing. It is long overdue for the Palestinians themselves to seize the initiative, to reset the agenda and to declare a new "only game in town".

Furthermore, in February, Israel will elect a new Knesset. Bibi Netanyahu, who, most polls and coalition-building calculations suggest, is most likely to emerge as the next prime minister, has one (if only one) great virtue.

He is absolutely honest in not professing any desire (however insincere) to see the creation of any Palestinian "state" (whether decent or less-than-a-Bantustan in nature) or to engage in any talks (even never-ending and fraudulent ones) ostensibly about that possibility. His return to power would definitively slam the door on the illusion of a "two-state solution" somewhere over an ever-receding horizon.

This would constitute a blessing and a liberation for Palestinian minds and Palestinian aspirations. Their leadership(s) could then return, after a long, costly and painful diversion, to fundamental principles, to pursuing the goal of a democratic, nonracist and nonsectarian state in all of Israel/Palestine with equal rights for all who live there.

This just goal could and should be pursued by strictly nonviolent means. If the goal is to convince a determined and powerful settler-colonial movement which wishes to seize your land, settle it and keep it (eventually cleansing it of you and your fellow natives) that it should cease, desist and leave, nonviolent forms of resistance are suicidal. If, however, the goal were to be to obtain the full rights of citizenship in a democratic, nonracist state (as was the case in the American civil rights movement and the South African anti-apartheid movement), then nonviolence would be the only viable approach. Violence would be totally inappropriate and counterproductive. The morally impeccable approach would also be the tactically effective approach. The high road would be the only road.

No American president -- least of all Barack Obama -- could easily support racism and apartheid and oppose democracy and equal rights, particularly if democracy and equal rights were being pursued by nonviolent means. No one anywhere could easily do so. The writing would be on the wall, and the clock would be running out on the tired game of using a perpetual "peace process" as an excuse to delay decisions (while building more "facts on the ground") forever.

Democracy and equal rights would not come quickly or easily. Forty years passed between when, on the night before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King cried out that he had been to the mountain top and had seen the promised land and when Barack Obama was elected as president of the United States. (The Bible suggests a similar waiting period in the wilderness for Moses.) Forty-six years passed between the installation of a formal apartheid regime in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela as president of a fully democratic and nonracist "rainbow nation".

While it may be be hoped that the transformation would be significantly quicker in Israel/Palestine, it is clear that many who already qualify as "senior citizens" will not live to see the promised land. However, if the promised land of a democratic state with equal rights for all is correctly and clearly perceived and persistently and peacefully pursued, there is ample reason for confidence that Israel/Palestine will one day experience the tearful exaltation of a "Mandela Moment" or an "Obama Moment", restoring hope in the moral potential both of a nation and of mankind, and that the Jews, Muslims and Christians who live there will finally reach their promised land.

John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of "The World According to Whitbeck".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Comment & Analysis: Will Obama have different strategy on Palestinians?

Anti-Israel activist Stanley Heller had a Forum article with the title "Will Obama have different strategy on Palestinians?" published in the New Haven Register on Thursday, November 20, 2008.

As usual, it was filled with inaccuracies and errors of both omission and commission.

We include here a Comment & Analysis, in which we follow a Heller comment with a PRIMER analysis.

For those who may be inclined to send their own responses to the New Haven Registers, letters to The Register may be addressed to

We follow the Comment & Analysis with the full text of Heller's screed.

'She was forced to carry the body of her dead baby because the Israeli authorities had refused to let an ambulance drive her through the crossing.'


This is the unsubstantiated statement from a highly unreliable source. It may be found at , which is part of a section of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East web site. The fact that the UNRWA provides resources like this to anti-Israel propaganda is a symptom of the way the United Nations has helped create generations of Arabs devoted to spreading hatred.

"This was a shocking detail in a 'Letter from Gaza' that was published on the Web site of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

"'Letter from Gaza' is a series of occasional letters written by Najwa Sheikh who lives in a Gaza refugee camp. She was described walking across a checkpoint and seeing another woman returning to Gaza holding only one small bundle in a piece of cloth. The woman had been allowed to give birth in an Israeli hospital, but her baby died and she had to carry it home.

"This is just one of the endless cruelties inflicted on the Palestinians of Gaza by the Israeli government."


The reality is it demonstrates precisely the opposite!

Despite the terror war Hamas maintains, this woman preferred to give birth in Israel rather than in Gaza and Israel allowed her into Israel to give birth.

"The United Nations aids 750,000 refugees in Gaza.


The overwhelming majority are not refugees, but descendants of refugees, who have been kept by the Palestinian Arab leadership, the Arab nations and the United Nations in refugee camps rather than relocated into normal homes in normal neighborhoods.

Effectively, the United Nations does not "aid" them; the United Nations is complicit in perpetuating their misery.

"Since Nov. 4, Israel has decided that the United Nations will not be allowed to bring in food to Gaza. Due to lack of supplies UNWRA has had to stop distributing supplies to Gazans.

"Every three months, the needy get a new package of rice, flour, sugar and oil. On Saturday, it would have been the turn of about 20,000 Gazans to pick up food supplies.

"They received nothing. The U.N. World Food Program, which feeds 130,000 Gazans who are not refugees, says it has enough food to distribute for four weeks.

"Also, Israel cut off fuel deliveries to Gaza so the only Palestinian power plant shut down and one third of the people lost all their electricity."


These assertions are false, as even the Palestinian Authority maintains. As detailed in an article included below, available in full at , Palestinian Authority officials said "there is no shortage of basic goods, medicine and fuel in the Gaza Strip."

"There had been a fairly well observed truce between Hamas and the Israeli government for five months, ..."


During the so-called truce, Hamas and other Arab terror groups have reduced the quantity of their terror attacks, but have still launched dozens of missile and mortar attacks against civilians in Israel. They have also, in blatant violation of the truce, smuggled in huge quantities of weapons in preparation for launching more large scale terror attacks once they've decided they've benefitted enough from the "truce."

" ... but on the night of our presidential election the Israeli army killed six men they said were digging a tunnel which they claim was being built to capture Israeli soldiers."


Israel reacted to a terror cell preparing an attack. It's interesting that Heller treats the unreliable ranting of an Arab propagandist as gospel but casts aspersions on anything reported by Israel.

"The Israelis could have contacted Hamas and demanded they do something, but no, they mounted an attack. After the killings, some 140 rockets have been shot from Gaza into Israel. One Israeli has been injured. Another seven or so Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in answer to the rocket fire."


This is simply laughable, or would be were it not for the deaths on both sides resulting from Arab terrorism.

"In the midst of all this on Nov. 9, a boat called 'The Dignity' was allowed by the Israeli Navy into the Gaza port.

"Along with medical supplies, it carried 11 European parliamentarians and Amira Hass, the award-winning journalist for the Israeli paper Ha'aretz.

"They met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who told them that Hamas would be willing to accept a state with the 1967 borders.

"Though Israel in theory wants a 'two-state' solution, this statement had no effect on the Israeli government."


Hamas leaders have made clear that any such "acceptance" of the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state would not constitute acceptance of Israel, but would at best be used as a base for the eventual annihilation of Israel.

"As it turns out, Ha'aretz a week later published an article saying that Haniyeh had made a similar offer in 2006 to the U.S. government via a letter hand-delivered by a Jewish American professor to the State Department. Neither the Bush administration nor Israel responded."


See above.

"The American public has been content to allow Congress and the Bush administration to give total support to all Israeli measures against Palestinians."


Israel has not taken "measures against Palestinians;" it has taken necessary measures to protect its citizens. Even while working to save Israeli lives, it has continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the very people in Gaza who are launching attacks against civilians living in Sderot, Ashkelon and other areas within range of Kassam and Grad missiles launched from Gaza.

"Even in the midst of U.S. economic problems, our government decided this summer to raise Israel's military aid to $30 billion over the next 10 years. However, the presidential election has shown that most Americans have rejected the path of the last eight years.

"Will they also demand termination of the strategy of unending cruelty against Palestinians?"


The military assistance our government gives to Israel is only slightly more than the direct assistance we give to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Arabs and is dwarfed by the enormous sums we overpay to Arab sheikdoms for oil and the portions of that money siphoned off to support Israel's enemies.

The real strategy of "unending cruelty against Palestinians" is that of its own leadership and its Arab brethren, who continue to indoctrinate them in hatred and use them as pawns in their drive to destroy Israel, rather than encouraging them to join Israel in embracing peace.

The following is the text of the Forum article as it appeared in The New Haven Register.

Will Obama have different strategy on Palestinians?

'She was forced to carry the body of her dead baby because the Israeli authorities had refused to let an ambulance drive her through the crossing.'

Stanley Heller is chairman of the Middle East Crisis Committee, a 26-year-old Connecticut human rights group. He can be reached at or at MECC, P.O. Box 3626, Woodbridge 06525.

This was a shocking detail in a 'Letter from Gaza' that was published on the Web site of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

'Letter from Gaza' is a series of occasional letters written by Najwa Sheikh who lives in a Gaza refugee camp. She was described walking across a checkpoint and seeing another woman returning to Gaza holding only one small bundle in a piece of cloth. The woman had been allowed to give birth in an Israeli hospital, but her baby died and she had to carry it home.

This is just one of the endless cruelties inflicted on the Palestinians of Gaza by the Israeli government.

The United Nations aids 750,000 refugees in Gaza. Since Nov. 4, Israel has decided that the United Nations will not be allowed to bring in food to Gaza. Due to lack of supplies UNWRA has had to stop distributing supplies to Gazans.

Every three months, the needy get a new package of rice, flour, sugar and oil. On Saturday, it would have been the turn of about 20,000 Gazans to pick up food supplies.

They received nothing. The U.N. World Food Program, which feeds 130,000 Gazans who are not refugees, says it has enough food to distribute for four weeks.

Also, Israel cut off fuel deliveries to Gaza so the only Palestinian power plant shut down and one third of the people lost all their electricity.

It's all designed to force the Gazans to overthrow their Hamas leadership or to get Hamas to agree to Israel's terms. Where did we hear this logic before.?

This was tried out in the 1990s in Iraq where U.N. sanctions were used in an effort to get Iraqis to overthrow Saddam. In Iraq the sanctions killed hundreds of thousands.

No one expects the Israelis to take it that far. They'll bring it to the point of widespread hunger and utter destitution, but they'll eventually 'ease' the siege and allow just enough food to be allowed in to avoid outright starvation.

There had been a fairly well observed truce between Hamas and the Israeli government for five months, but on the night of our presidential election the Israeli army killed six men they said were digging a tunnel which they claim was being built to capture Israeli soldiers.

The Israelis could have contacted Hamas and demanded they do something, but no, they mounted an attack. After the killings, some 140 rockets have been shot from Gaza into Israel. One Israeli has been injured. Another seven or so Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in answer to the rocket fire.

In the midst of all this on Nov. 9, a boat called 'The Dignity' was allowed by the Israeli Navy into the Gaza port.

Along with medical supplies, it carried 11 European parliamentarians and Amira Hass, the award-winning journalist for the Israeli paper Ha'aretz.

They met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who told them that Hamas would be willing to accept a state with the 1967 borders.

Though Israel in theory wants a 'two-state' solution, this statement had no effect on the Israeli government.

As it turns out, Ha'aretz a week later published an article saying that Haniyeh had made a similar offer in 2006 to the U.S. government via a letter hand-delivered by a Jewish American professor to the State Department. Neither the Bush administration nor Israel responded.

The American public has been content to allow Congress and the Bush administration to give total support to all Israeli measures against Palestinians.

Even in the midst of U.S. economic problems, our government decided this summer to raise Israel's military aid to $30 billion over the next 10 years. However, the presidential election has shown that most Americans have rejected the path of the last eight years.

Will they also demand termination of the strategy of unending cruelty against Palestinians?

This is the text of the Khaled Abu Toameh article in which Palestinian Authority officials contradict Heller.

PA: 'Hamas is staging Gaza blackouts'

Nov. 19, 2008
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST
Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah accused Hamas on Tuesday of staging the latest blackouts in the Gaza Strip in a bid to win sympathy and incite the Palestinian public against Israel and the PA.

The officials said that contrary to Hamas's claim, there is no shortage of basic goods, medicine and fuel in the Gaza Strip, largely thanks to the many underground tunnels along the border with Egypt.

This is not the first time that Palestinians have accused Hamas of staging Gaza blackouts under the pretext that Israel had cut off fuel supplies to the district's power grid.

Earlier this year, Palestinian journalists in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post that scenes of Palestinian children and women holding lit candles in the dark had been staged by Hamas and some Arab satellite TV stations.

"There's no shortage of fuel in the Gaza Strip and the Electricity Company is continuing to function normally," said a PA official. "Our people in the Gaza Strip have told us that the blackouts are all staged as part of the Hamas propaganda."

Another PA official noted that Hamas's lies reached their peak last January when its legislators held a meeting in a darkened hall of the Palestinian Legislative Council - while light could be seen coming in through the curtained windows.

The official accused Al-Jazeera of serving as a platform for Hamas's propaganda machine by airing staged footage of children and women during candlelight protests in the streets of Gaza City.

"There's enough fuel in the Gaza Strip," he said. "Even when Israel reduces the fuel supplies, Hamas continues to smuggle tens of thousands of liters through the underground tunnels."

The Fatah-controlled Pal-Press Web site on Thursday quoted a senior official in the Gaza Electricity Company as saying that Hamas has been stealing fuel supplies intended for the power grid.

The official, who asked not to be identified, also denied claims by Hamas and Al-Jazeera about power outages in large parts of the Gaza Strip. He noted that 70% of the Gaza Strip's electricity came from Israel and Egypt, while the remaining 30% were being supplied by the local company.

"Hamas has seized more than 220,000 liters of fuel that was intended for generators belonging to our company," he revealed. "There's no shortage of fuel and as such there is no reason for a crisis."

The official also disclosed that Hamas militiamen had been forcing the company to cut off power supplies to some areas in the Gaza Strip so as to create the impression that the outage was due to a lack of fuel caused by the ongoing closure of the border crossings.

Toahmeh's article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1226404771503&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Israel responds to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Basically, the United Nations tacitly supports terror activity against Israel and opposes any actions Israel takes to save lives. Israel's critics never suggest any reasonable alternatives to the defensive actions they so vigorously criticize.

Overall responsibility for the situation in the Gaza Strip lies with Hamas, which invests all of its resources in arms and terrorism instead of providing for the civilians that it brutally controls.

(Communicated by the Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva)

It is shocking to read the High Commissioner's utterly shortsighted press release regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Most disturbing is the way she casually refers to Palestinian aggression in the very last sentence of her statement, as almost an afterthought. Unfortunately, Israel does not have the option of being so casual in its response to rocket and mortar attacks on its civilians, attacks which violate the most fundamental right of all, the right to life.

Overall responsibility for the situation in the Gaza Strip lies with Hamas, which invests all of its resources in arms and terrorism instead of providing for the civilians that it brutally controls. The Hamas terrorist organization and affiliated Palestinian terrorist groups have fired more than 170 rockets and mortars at Israel during the past 10 days, with 25 slamming into Israel over the weekend alone. Israel is committed to maintaining the state of calm, but expects Hamas to also uphold its commitments, including cessation of terrorism and ending the arms build-up.

It is disappointing to see the High Commissioner fall victim to Hamas' cynical manipulation of the media, and reprint blatant misinformation in her press release. Electricity and water continue to flow from Israel to Gaza, and 33 trucks laden with supplies arrived in Gaza yesterday, with more waiting to enter as soon as Hamas ends its violent attacks.

Rather than engaging in the political game being promoted by the Palestinians, Israel expects the High Commissioner to investigate the facts before issuing one-sided statements about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and to begin by forcefully condemning the perpetrators of terror.

These graphics are from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. They show rocket and mortar fire since November 16 and the monthly distribution of rocket and mortar fire since the so-called "cease-fire."

Friday, November 14, 2008

United Nations Secretary-General Insists Israel Reward Hamas for Launching Kassam Missiles

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that Israel's response to the incessant firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, in which crossings to the area were closed, was "unacceptable."

[For the United Nations, any response is unacceptable.]

In a statement released by the UN, Ban voiced his concern "that food and other life saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people." He called to immediately end the "measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza" and "to allow urgently, the steady and sufficient supply of fuel and humanitarian assistance."

[Israel is transferring humanitarian assistance even as Hamas keeps pelting Sderot and Ashkelon with rockets and mortars. No other country in the world would continue to supply the very people who are attacking it.]

Ban indicated his desire to see Israel resume the facilitation of UNRWA's activities, as well as the access of other humanitarian organizations to Gaza.

The UN leader also condemned the attacks by the Palestinians, who fired 16 rockets into Israel on Friday. Four of the rockets were Grad-type Katyushas.

[How nice of him.]

The European Union also called on Israel to reopen its border crossings with the Gaza Strip.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she was worried that "fuel and basic humanitarian assistance" is not reaching the Palestinians.

Ferrero-Waldner said that the crossings should be re-opened so food, fuel and medicine can begin moving into Gaza once more.

Israel has closed the crossings to Gaza for deliveries of fuel and other essentials but has allowed humanitarian cases through.

In related news, Oxfam called on the state to end "the blockade" of the Strip. "World leaders must step up and exercise all their political might to break the blockade of Gaza," a statement released by the humanitarian organization said.

[The best way to "break the blockade of Gaza" is to get the residents of Gaza to start acting in a civilized manner.]

"As a matter of humanitarian imperative, Israeli leaders must resume supplies into Gaza without further delay. If Israelis and Palestinians alike don't exert every effort now to maintain the truce which has held since last June, the result could be catastrophic for civilians both in Gaza and in nearby Israeli towns," said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs.

"For nearly a year and a half unimpeded access to fuel, food, medicines and essential goods has been routinely denied. Failure of the international community to act decisively will only exacerbate human suffering and could further endanger chances for peace," he continued.

[There is no chance for peace as long as Hamas is in control of Gaza. Oxfam's advocacy on behalf of that terror group is one of the factors endangering chances for peace.]

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Needed to Say This

This is not the usual PRIMER-Connecticut blog entry, but a good friend of mine, Deacon Arthur Miller, wrote this after Tuesday's election and I thought the more people who see it, the better.

One added, personal thought: it's wonderful that this election made this difference, but it's also sad.

I needed to say this:

I have ruminated… deeply…deeply ruminated within the depths of my soul why. Why now am I different? After all, I spent four years serving this country during the Viet Nam war. I would have died for the people and idea of this country called America. So why now am I different? I always stood along side others at football games or at school pledging allegiance or singing about the home of the free…Yes I always stood, but proudly? Then, I ask…Why now am I different?

Great-great-great granddad Hiram fought for the union in the war that Lincoln said freed us.

Uncles and cousins…my brother…my son served this country. Why now am I different?

Maybe it's all those scars, not on my skin but in my heart, in my bones, in my sinew, in my remembrances, Dr. King, James Meredith, George Wallace, Bull Connor, Little Rock nine.

Vicious fire hoses held by adult firemen spraying water on children. Police men with their dogs grabbing children with American flags in their hands because they wanted to be Americans. A black man being struck by a white teenager…he struck that black man with the American flag… The flag that I saluted, the flag that I fought for…that my son fought for…that my brother fought for…that my ancestors fought for. Then why now am I different?

Those scars put a strange membrane around me and mine… It insulated me from America. I fought for it…paid taxes for it…sang the songs and pledged the pledge. I did it all while looking at white folk's teary eyes for a beloved country that I saw, that I lived in, but I was invisible to, unless some black fool did something ignorant…Then oh yes then I was always visible. Having to answer questions about why do my people…? Or drove in a town where we didn't live… Or walked into a restaurant where we didn't go…or into a meeting where I was the only one…Those meetings where all the eyes turned and conversations stopped, Oh yea I was truly visible then.

That membrane not only insulated me from America…but it insulated America from my love… America, why now am I different?

Because America apologized, America apologized without knowing how much I needed that… America apologized to me without knowing it. America apologized for my scars…the scars that I have endured, the scars that my mother bore, the scars that my father bore…the scars of all those who suffered, whose yearnings to be free were denied.

America apologized even though many do not believe she needed to apologize. But that's ok too because America apologized anyway.

America, magnificent America lived up to what it started out to be and became in one night what it had never been. In one night a people were healed. That healing will unleash a love and patriotic fervor it did not know existed… The face of America has changed, it has become wider and broader and now includes all of me.

That is why I am now different. Today for me and those who preceded me, for those black and brown children who follow me… You're freed from the past scars of our generations… It was all done for you.

Go out and love this country…fight for this country…Pledge and sing, for America is now beautiful for all of its children.

Deacon Art Miller