Wednesday, December 31, 2008

British Telecommunications Firm FreedomCall Supports Terror

Here's one firm worth boycotting. The inappropriately named FreedomCall has reacted to Israel's finally trying to stop Hamas from terrorizing its citizens by severing ties with Israel's MobileMax.

For FreedomCall, saving Jewish lives is obviously crossing the line.

British telecom firm severs ties with Israeli counterparts

Meir Orbach

British telecommunications firm FreedomCall has terminated its cooperation with Israel's MobileMax due to the IDF operation in Gaza.

"We received an email from the British company informing us that it is severing all ties with us and any other Israeli company following Israel's strike in Gaza," said CEO Raanan Cohen.

"We weren't expecting this from them and there was no prior warning. I don't intend to appeal to them or answer the letter."

The email from FreedomCall said, "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company."

MobileMax, established in 2004, produces a program providing cellular phones with inexpensive international service.

Our New Year's wish for FreedomCell is that it join those companies which have gone out of business because of the global economic situation.

The Two Faces of Fatah

On the one face, we have the Chief Palestinian Arab Negotiator Ahmed Qurei' attacking Israel and distorting what's happening and on the other face you have someone who's not a Fatah official explaining what he's really hoping for.

PLO Suspends Peace Negotiations with Israel

RAMALLAH, December 29, 2008 (WAFA - :PLO news agency)- Chief Palestinian Negotiator Ahmed Qurei' announced, Monday, that peace negotiations with Israel are suspended in protest of the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in 345 martyrs and over 1650 injuries so far.

[Israel has attacked Hamas installations, with almost all those who have been killed or injured being Hamas terrorists. Qurei' describes those terrorists as martyrs.]

Speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Qurei' said, it is impossible to hold meetings with Israel when its troops are committing massacres in Gaza.

[Hamas is trying to commit massacres; Israel is going after those trying to commit massacres.]

'The talks with Israel, which are sponsored and supported by the United States, are now suspended due to the awful bloody scene that the Gaza Strip is witnessing these days,' he said.

Qurei' also said there are no peace negotiations and there will be no negotiations at this time while Israel is attacking the Palestinian people.

[Israel is attacking Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian Arab people.]

A Fatah Friend Writes: I'm Supporting the Israeli Air Force

It's a strange world, but there you have it. I've been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information. One of my friends -- if you want to know why they're my friends, read this book -- told me that one of his comrades was thrown off a high-rise building in Gaza City last year by Hamas, and so he sheds no tears for the Hamas dead. "Let the Israelis kill them," he said. "They've brought only trouble for my people."

Avaaz: Malicious or Simply Misguided?

Avaaz is in many ways a meritorious entity. In areas such as the genocide in Darfur, it has done wonderful work.

Unfortunately, as with a number of other organizations, it seems to lose its moral compass when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which at its heart is another attempted genocide directed at the Jewish people.

Below is a misguided appeal sent by Avaaz which effectively calls for the preservation of the ability of Hamas and other Arab terror groups to launch Kassam and Grad rockets at Israeli civilians.

From: "Brett Solomon -"
Subject: Gaza: Ceasefire Now

Dear friends,

The Gaza crisis has exploded -- put your name to our emergency petition demanding a ceasefire. We'll deliver it immediately to the UN Security Council, the Arab League, the US and other world leaders!

Take Action Now

[Avaaz made no moved to take action as long as it was only Hamas and other terror groups launching deadly rockets at Israeli population centers. Only when Israel acts to save its people's lives does Avaaz awaken.]

As we watch the Gaza bloodshed with horror, appalled at how the crisis is spiraling further out of control, one thing is clear -- this violence will only lead to further civilian suffering and an escalation of the conflict.

[There certainly will be further civilian suffering and excalation as long as Hamas is protected by misguided groups such as Avaaz.]

There must be another way. Over 280 are dead so far in the Gaza Strip and hundreds more injured -- rockets are striking Ashdod deep inside Israel for the very first time, and the sides are mobilising for invasion. A global outcry has begun, but it'll take more than words -- the immediate violence won't end, nor will wider peace be secured, without firm action from the international community.

[Firm action would be helpful, but not of the sort called for by Avaaz. The international community needs to take firm action to eliminate rather than protect Hamas and other terror groups.]

Today, we're launching an emergency campaign which will be delivered to the UN Security Council and key world powers, urging them to act to ensure an immediate ceasefire and address the growing humanitarian crisis -- only with robust international oversight and action can civilians on all sides be protected and real steps be taken toward a wider peace. Follow this link now to sign the emergency petition and send it to everyone you know:

[Sorry. We're not going to include that link. International oversight of the sort that exists in Lebanon will only make things worse. We suggest you urge the UN Security Council and key world powers act to dismantle Hamas and other Arab terror groups.]

After Gaza's bloodiest day in recent memory and eight or more years of ineffective US and global diplomacy, we need to get world leaders to do more than issue statements if they're to ensure a lasting ceasefire.

[As long as Hamas exists in its present form, there can be no lasting ceasefire.]

Through the UN Security Council and other international bodies, the world can provide the help and pressure needed to stop the violence and change the situation on the ground in Gaza -- preventing the rockets and incursions, re-opening crossing-points under international oversight so that instead of weapon-smuggling, the 1.5 million ordinary people of Gaza can get the fuel, food and medicines they so desperately need.

[Even as Israel acts against the terrorists, it continues to transfer massive amounts of food, fuel and medicines to the people of Gaza. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, except for those affiliated with Hamas and other terror groups or who have been unfortunate enough to be living next to terror installations.]

All sides to the conflict will continue to act as they have in the past if they believe that the world will stand by and allow them to do so. We mobilised for a ceasefire in 2006's Israel-Lebanon war and succeeded, but this time the international community must not delay -- let's raise a truly worldwide outcry. 2009 is a year that things can be different. As we face this crisis, and the possibilities of a new year, it's time for us everywhere to work together to stop this violence.

[Avaaz apparently is unaware of the disastrous consequences of the Lebanese ceasefire, which expedited the effective takeover of Lebanon by Hezbollah and the massive arming of that terror group.]

With hope and determination,

Brett, Ricken, Alice, Ben, Pascal, Paul, Graziela, Paula, Luis, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

The real question remains the one raised in the title of this blog entry.

Israeli Ambassador to Finland Starts Blog

Thanks to fellow blogger Tundra Tabloids, Israeli Ambassador to Finland Avi Granot, has joined the blogosphere. This is his blog entry from December 29. The English version of his blog may be accessed directly by clicking here. The blog may also be read in Hebrew and Finnish.

In recent days the Hamas has decided to completely break the truce that existed and that was brokered by Egypt. Just last week, Hamas and its partners fired hundreds of rockets and mortar shells at Israeli population centers in southern Israel. Following a period of maximum restraint on Israel’s part and an attempt to return to the calm, the situation mandated military action for the sake of defending our citizens and giving them a normal life. A quarter of a million Israeli citizens have been under incessant terror attacks from the Gaza Strip with thousands of missiles fired over the past eight years. No country in the world would be willing to accept this kind of onslaught on its citizens.

As the military action is intended to defend the residents of the State of Israel, its goal is to heavily strike the growing infrastructure of terror and the ability of the Hamas and its allied organizations to launch missiles and mortar shells at Israeli citizens and execute terror attacks of various kinds, such as kidnapping Israeli civilians. If Hamas would renounce the path of terror, there would be no need for this action.

The terrorist organization works out of the Palestinian population centers and cynically exploits them, so the responsibility for Palestinian civilians getting hurt rests on their shoulders. Israel for its part directs its activity at the terrorist elements and does its utmost to refrain from harming the innocent.

It should be noted that Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, to enable Palestinians to live their lives in peace alongside Israel. In the disengagement, Israel evacuated all its settlements and military bases, and 9,000 residents who lived in the area. But since then Hamas took control of the region and is subjecting Israeli citizens to rocket attacks inside sovereign Israeli territory, in flagrant violation of international law.

Israel does not want a humanitarian crisis. The Hamas authority in the Gaza Strip is the only cause of the suffering and distress of the population there and the deterioration in their situation. Just a few days ago, Hamas prevented humanitarian supplies from being brought in from Egypt to Gaza. For purposes of comparison: in the first months of the calm, 17,000 trucks entered Gaza, as opposed to 9,000 (almost double) in an identical time span before the truce. As we have stated repeatedly – quiet will be answered with quiet, but terror will elicit a response.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Note About "Excessive Force"

This is just a short comment about something obvious yet unmentioned.

As long as Israel's actions have not been sufficient to convince Hamas to end the targeting of civilians with Kassams, Grads and mortars, its use of force has clearly not been excessive; indeed, thus far it has obviously been insufficient.

As long as Hamas continues to launch attacks on Israeli civilians, any accusations about excessive force on the part of Israel is absurd and demonstrates either bias or idiocy on the part of the accuser.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Question for Ban Ki-moon: What wouldn't constitute "excessive use of force?"

What a surprise. The United Nations Secretary-General, who has been virtually silent as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups from Gaza have made Sderot unlivable, has rushed to condemn Israel for "excessive use of force" as soon as Israel finally responded to the Arab terrorism.

The rhetorical question is whether it's possible for Israel to do anything other than absorb terror attacks without response without incurring condemnation from the United Nations Secretary-General.

UN's Ban condemns Israel's 'excessive use of force' in Gaza

Yitzhak Benhorin

Washington - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" in the Gaza Strip and said that international powers were not doing enough to force a ceasefire on the two sides.

Ban made the statements at a press conference held at the UN's headquarters in New York.

"I am deeply alarmed by the current escalation of violence in and around Gaza. This is unacceptable. I have been repeatedly condemning the rocket attacks by Hamas militants against Israel. While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I have also condemned the excessive use of force by Israel in Gaza.

Ban said he was particularly concerned about the harm caused to children in Gaza: "The frightening nature of what is happening on the ground, in particular its effects on children - who are more than half of the population - troubles me greatly. I have continuously stressed the need for strict observance of international humanitarian law.

[Not when it came to Arab terrorists violating international law. Only when Israel defends itself and does so strictly within the limits of international law.]

"I am also pained at the death, injury and damage to United Nations personnel and premises as well as to others associated with our programs."

Ban stated that both Hamas and Israel must halt all violence immediately and enter dialogue over a ceasefire.

[Hamas and other terror groups launched hundreds of Kassams, Grads and mortars at Israeli civilians during the last "cease-fire."]

He further criticized world powers for not doing enough to stop the fighting:" I think regional and international partners have not done enough. They should do more. They should use all possible means to end the violence and encourage political dialogue, emphasizing peaceful ways of resolving differences."

France trying to negotiate truce

According to the UN chief, Arab foreign ministers are going to meet soon in emergency session. "I urge them to act swiftly and decisively to bring an early end to this impasse. At the same time, other world leaders must also step up efforts to support a longer term resolution of the issue."

He also reiterated his call that unhindered access should be ensured for the delivery of humanitarian assistance into the Strip.

Meanwhile, a diplomatic source in France said Monday that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is trying to negotiate a humanitarian truce to halt Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip and let in medical aid.

The source said Kouchner had spoken to several European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers during the day, including Israel's Tzipi Livni and Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

There is an easy way to end the violence: get rid of Hamas. Short of that, calls for Israel to stop defending itself only help perpetuate violence, terror and death.

Back Into the Jackal's Mouth

David Basch

"Western powers, including Bush and Blair, and the Arabs are already engaged in a repeat of the Allied program of relocating ethnic population that was used to move 12 million ethnic Germans to Germany after World War II but it is the Israeli people today that are ethnics to be moved..."

Observing the Israeli surrender artists on television -- Olmert, Barak, and Livni -- the latest Israeli leftist suicide plan becomes evident. The suicide artists are having Israel fight and bleed so that Israel can act as stooge for Fatah in eliminating Hamas in Gaza so that Gaza can be surrendered to Fatah. This achieved, Israel can then proceed to further immolate herself by surrendering Gaza and the Eastern territories, putting Israel into the Fatah jackal's mouth.

As Olmert said on television, "We are not the enemies of the Gazan people." You see Olmert differentiates between Hamas and the Arab residents of Gaza that elected Hamas to lead them. What the insane Israeli leadership fails to recognize is that the goal of destroying Israel is the mainstream of all Arab parties. While Israel may now shed her blood to defeat Hamas, it only places Israel in the mortal danger that comes from the Arabs of Fatah.

Listening to the news, we see that Israel has Bush's support in fighting Hamas. He gives this encouragement to Israel so that Israel can fulfill his plan of appeasing his Arab oil friends by having Israel surrender her strategic territories to create a new Arab state, which would promptly become what Gaza is now -- an Arab military bastion attacking Israel from close quarters and a mortal danger to Israel's existence.

Bush indulges in his self-motivated delusion that what the Arabs miss is a spanking new Arab state on Israel's territories. Bush is wrong.

The Arabs miss a new state instead of Israel. And if the Arabs could get rid of Israel, the Arabs would rapidly lose interest in such a state, the same disinterest they showed when they had all the Israeli lands prior to the 1967 war that they say they now want for the sake of peace. What the pursuit of a new Arab state achieves for the Arabs is the return of Israel to her pre-67 Auswich borders that then encouraged the Arabs to attack. Bush is trying to help the Arabs to achieve that plan.

Were Israel governed by a sane leadership, it would recognize that, under conditions in which the Arabs think they can reverse the existence of Israel, the Arabs are an implacable enemy. Were the Arabs certain they could not ever win and would face devastation, Islam gives them license to desist from war and jihad. On the other hand, the more reason that Israel gives the Arabs to think that Israel can be defeated, the more hostile the Arabs become and the more unlikely is peace. Bush's policy of Israeli surrender of strategic territory for an Arab state encourages the Arabs to dream of eventually conquering Israel. This promotes war.

A sane Israeli policy would begin by frustrating the Arab dream of defeating Israel by making the Arab lever to achieve that end an ever shrinking possibility. Not only must Israel make it ever more unlikely that the Arabs will gain a new state but that they even have a war option to make it happen.

If the world wants peace in the region, the road to it is to make it most clear that Israel can't be defeated. A step toward that goal, for now, would be to take the opportunity that the warring Hamas currently gives to Israel to not merely hit tit for tat, but to decisively cut off Gaza from Egyptian supply. That will end the southern Arab challenge. Let the Gaza military machine atrophy for want of supply, whether it be under Hamas of Fatah since both are after the same goal of Israel's destruction.

The cutoff from Egypt, a condition stupidly surrendered by leftist Israel, is a decisive defeat for the enemy's military option. But such a cutoff should not be a return to the ineffective narrow Philadelphia route but the establishment of a new ten to twenty mile wide north to south corridor cleared of Arab inhabitants. (Gazans are not friends of Israel, only of Olmert.)

From that point, thought must turn to the solution on Israel's behalf of the policy that Western Allies used 50 years ago "for the sake of peace." This involved the relocation of a dangerous ethnic population from lands in which they threatened peace. Those who study history know that England and France and others of the Western powers had all the ethnic Germans outside Germany moved into Germany so that such populations would not serve as a pretext for a revived Germany to ever make war again. The condition is no different today in the Israeli territories. The Arab residents there serve as a pretext for continuing war against Israel by the surrounding Arab nations.

Relocation of the Arabs removes the danger of war with Israel.

Does that solution sound insane? As it stands now, the Arabs and Western powers are in fact practicing this solution. However, they have in mind its use for relocating Israel's people -- first into pre-67 Israel and then, no doubt, ultimately into the Mediterranean Sea -- a plan aided be Western leaders like Bush and Blair who assist the first phases of this plan. Thus the plan is to shrink Israel to ever smaller size until the Arabs can put the finishing touches on it to make Israel disappear.

The problem with this Arab solution that is currently being practiced in partnership with the West (and with the Israeli left) is that it will irrevocably lead to a bloody war to accomplish its last stages.

This could eventuate in a nuclear Samson option with cataclysmic destruction to the region. In contrast, the relocation of Arab populations into the vast land holdings of the Arab world is a far more doable project. What is more, under conditions in which the Arabs engage in hostilities, as is occurring in Gaza, this project can be helped along as a byproduct of the fighting. This would actually be happening were there a government in Israel that regarded Israel's ultimate survival as a priority.

Of course, the present surrender government of Israel has no such priority. Governing a collapsing Israeli nation for a period of ten to fifteen years is as far as their eyes can see. This is not the government that will save Israel. The Israeli people would do well to see to it in the next election that they elected another government.

Temperatures Rising

Despite the fact that we are about 150 miles northeast of Gaza does not mean that we do not feel the effects of what's happening down there. Since Israel decided to deal with a mortal threat to its citizens, some Arab citizens of Israel have chosen to riot. One must question, what are they angry about? That Israel and the Jews have once again been forced to defend themselves or the fact that we dare to do so?

Emek Medical Center once again finds itself at the crossroad between humanity and maniacal human behavior. Since yesterday (December 28, 2008), EMC has already received and treated eight casualties of Arab rioting. A couple on their way home to Afula found themselves in a maelstrom of rocks being hurled at vehicles by rioters from the Arab town of Um El Fahm (15 minutes from EMC). They attacked traffic on Highway 65 that connects Afula to central and coastal Israel, the same road that was closed during the riots of 2000. The couple was treated in our ER. Later, two boys aged 9 & 11 from the same Arab town were rushed to EMC suffering from a near-fatal gunshot wound that barely missed their hearts. Apparently, a bullet discharged from the pistol of one of the rioters, wounding both boys who were standing nearby. Later in the day, four Border Patrol Policemen were treated here for wounds received by flying rocks. They did not shoot their attackers, even though they were armed.

The Jews and the Arabs of EMC continue to quietly mend the broken bodies that stumble or are carried through our doors. Now, with emotions stirred and extremists waiting at every corner, we have been placed on high alert. Once again, we must be ready to deal with a mass casualty event, hoping that it does not materialize. We're heading into a cold winter, yet the temperature is rising all around us.

Please continue to support Emek Medical Center. So many could learn from observing so few.

Larry Rich
Director of Development & International Public Relations
Israel's Emek Medical Center

Phone in Israel ... 972-04-649 4417
Mobile in Israel ... 972-0505-737 641
Phone in New York ... 646-546 5970
Fax in Israel ... 972-04-652 2642
Email ...

Mailing address:
Emek Medical Center
Afula 18101

Monday, December 22, 2008

Window into the Distorted Reality of the Palestinian Arabs

I found this on the blog called Window Into Palestine, which claims it provides "a new perspective on the Palestinian people and of Palestine which are commonly misunderstood by the world."

It does just that, but only for those who are already knowledgeable and are not taken in by the misrepresentations and distortions which permeate its posts.

This particular post also highlights one of the banes of the Jewish people, the self-hating Jew. I've been puzzled over the years about why a significant number of Jews become allies of the very people trying to destroy them.

One of the more recent explanations I've heard which makes some sense is that some weak people get tired of being discriminated against and find it easier to join the mob and attack their own.

Palestinian statelessness is an American Jewish achievement

[The Palestinian Arabs aren't stateless. There is alrady an Arab state comprising nearly eighty percent of Palestine; it's called Jordan. They are also part of the Arab people, which has dozens of sovereign states.

The title really just refers to the fact that they don't have a state in the fifth of Palestine west of the Jordan River, but that's not the doing of American Jews; it's the result of their refusing opportunity after opportunity, preferring instead to continue their quest to deny a state to the Jewish people.]

Philip Weiss

Avraham Burg has urged me not to argue about Zionism but to talk about the future and what everyone can do. Nice. Last week Avraham said in New York that God made man out of polemics. Even nicer. And so today I'm going to argue more about Zionism. The most elusive part of Avraham's book is that it's exalted, he's doing a vision quest for the Jewish and Israeli future. I love vision quests, and god knows Avrum's a prophet.

[Burg is many things, most of them unprintable, but he certainly isn't a prophet.]

But no one is going to effect change without talking about real conditions, and those conditions are (per the UN's special rapporteur)

[Richard Falk, the fruitcake who argues 9/11 was an American conspiracy.]

the absence of the rights of speech, movement, employment and even the right to life for Palestinians in the West Bank, and their confinement in Gaza under horrifying conditions, blockaded in an open-air prison.

[Other than the last, this is an accurate description of the self-inflicted misery of the Palestinian Arabs.]

Children drinking water contaminated by sewage, and the U.S. is complicit in this brutal confinement, which is known across the Arab world.

[Hamas is the jailkeeper, elected by the Palestinian Arabs themselves, and the United States has little to do with Hamas.]

Interesting that our little colloquium on Avrum's book includes a couple Israelis, me an anti-Zionist Jew, a leading critic of Israel in John Mearsheimer, but no Arabs. No big surprise. They get very little standing in the U.S.

[Whatever standing they get in the United States is far more than the little band of haters deserves.]

To talk about this stuff without talking about Zionism is intellectual puffery. Avrum seems to put himself forward as a post-Zionist. Good for him. I want to get there too. But Zionism is a central poltical fact of life right now. It is the most important movement in Jewish life in the last 100 years, more important to Jewish life than Communism. In the early 20th century it enthralled the eastern European Jews who immigrated to the U.S., my ancestors, with its dream of Jewish power--the revolutionary idea that Bernard Avishai talked about the other day here--and it soon enfolded the older German Jews in the U.S. Though when Avishai talks about the revolutionary ideas of the 40s and 50s that have outlived their usefulness, readers must be aware that Avraham Burg's idol, and mine, the great Hannah Arendt, was not on board. She was a frequent critic of Zionism's discriminatory ideas back when. And some Jewish bodies in the U.S. held out too, largely out of concern about the dual-loyalty issue (concerns borne out by the neocons and the Iraq war). As late as '52 Jacob Blaustein the Standard Oil man who headed the American Jewish Committee was angered with David Ben-Gurion over the Law of Return--which allows me to move to Israel tomorrow while a Palestinian who was born in pre-48 Israel and turned out of his property and home has no right to do so.

[There are only a relative handful - 100,000 is probably a gross overestimate - of Arabs alive who left homes in what is now the modern state of Israel, of whom far fewer were forced from their homes.

I'd be surprised if, in the context of a real peace agreement, Israel was unwilling to let those few, all of them over sixty years old, immigrate and live out their remaining years in Israel as long as they were willing to become loyal Israeli citizens and live in peace.

The hypocracy of those who castigate Israel for not letting hostile enemies immigrate, while saying nothing about the Palestinian Arab bigoted goal of making any future Palestinian Arab state judenreing, is staggering.]

Zionism won over the entire American Jewish establishment and built the Israel lobby. No discussion of these issues is complete without talking about American Jewish influence on U.S. foreign policy. Avrum's book is great because he describes this fact of life openly, frankly. He deserves tremendous credit for breaking a seal that when gentiles broke it, they were castigated: Walt and Mearsheimer, in their groundbreaking paper and book of '06 and '07. And Avrum to his great credit has welcomed Mearsheimer, a brilliant scholar.

[Who has written a disgraceful book filled with errors.]

A commenter on my post the other day was disturbed that I would put the issue of Jewish influence "in play." As if I am calling for pogroms. No: I am trying to talk about the real political conditions that have created a situation in which 4 million Palestinians have no rights.

[The Palestinian Arabs have their own governments (three of them, in fact: one in the West Bank, one in Gaza, one in Jordan. If they have no rights, they ought to complain to their own governments.]

U.S. Jewish leadership bears a great measure of the responsibility for these realities.

[To a degree, this is true in some small measure. Blinded by the hopes for peace, they ignored the way the Palestinian Authority subjugated its own people and built a society based on hatred.]

Blind to Palestinian suffering, that leadership has enforced American government adherence to Israel for 60 years, pushing American Arabists such as former Sec'y of State George Marshall out of the picture. Jewish leadership did this with good old back channels, money, and armtwisting. Even Abba Eban used the words "pressure" and "influence" when describing the ways that wealthy American Jews engaged Truman and JFK. You can look it up on my blog.

[Those poor Arabs. Too bad they don't have any of the vast oil reserves Israel enjoys.]

Back to the Law of Return and Right of Return. I believe Dan Levy complimented Avrum for his idea that there must be some acknowledgment of the Nakba, the dispossession of 700,000 Palestinians by the yishuv (the prestate community) and the state of Israel in '48. Burg seeks a spiritual reckoning that will precede the negotiation of the right of return of those refugees in the alleged peace process. Levy and Burg are right, and prophetic. I have said so myself: It is essential that Jews recognize this suffering and ethnic cleansing. That Israel recognize it too. As our suffering was acknowledged by the world after the Holocaust.

[Israelis, and Jews all over the world, recognize that many Palestinian Arabs live in misery. But they were not dispossessed by either the yishuv or the reestablishment of Israel; their plight comes from their unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel and the way their leaders used them as pawns in their drive to make the Jews stateless.]

But let us also register the absurdity of the statement. It is 60 years on, and there is no recognition at all of the Nakba by the American Jewish leadership, and I believe Tzipi Livni has also been dismissive of the very idea. Do we want the Serbs to recognize the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovars? Yes. Do we want the Turks to recognize the genocide of the Armenians? Of course we do. Are they doing so? Of course not. States with something to lose don't behave like that. But that cannot stop us, as Americans, from doing the right thing and recognizing it. Waiting for the Israelis to in any way acknowledge Palestinian suffering--well, that is their business, and they have done a lousy job of it, and as an American Jew I feel in no way implicated by their abuses. Last week Avrum was on a panel at the New York Public library with American-Israeli historian Omer Bartov when Bartov said, with a twinkle of the eye, Well now the Palestinians have their "Treblinka," too. It was a clear, and nasty, reference to efforts by the Palestinians to claim acknowledgment of dispossession and ethnic cleansing and massacres (not genocide). Avrum said nothing when Bartov made this offensive statement. I imagine the Turks say this stuff about the Armenians, and the Serbs about the Kosovars.

[Aside from the fact that the writer's allegations are untrue, both in the fact that both Israelis and Jews recognize the misery of the Palestinian Arabs and the fact that the ethnic cleansing alleged by the writer is a fiction, the writer's logic is both absurd and hypocritical.

To not be hypocritical, he'd have to argue for the necessity of the Arab world, including the Palestinian Arabs, to accept responsibility for sixty years of suffering and death resulting from their war against Israel.]

I bring up the Kosovars for a reason. They have a state. Just a few years after the Kosovo Liberation Army participated in terrorist activities across the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo has a state recognized by the U.S. And India and Pakistan, which were partitioned 61 years ago, both have states notwithstanding a lot of ethnic cleansing, political violence and landgrabbing between them. And the Shi'ites and Sunnis are members in good standing of the Iraqi government, in American eyes, notwithstanding the fact that Sunnis did a ton of suicide bombing in the last couple years.

I hope you see where this is going. The U.N. said that the Palestinian Arabs were to have a state on 44 percent of Palestine 60 years ago.

[Actually, that was 44 percent of the 17 percent of Palestine already given to the Arabs, which would have left the Arabs with roughly 85 percent of Palestine.]

Unlike the Kosovars, the Pakistanis, the Indians, the Iraqis, they have never had political self-representation, and their percentage of land is shrinking by the day to the point where 22 percent of historical Palestine in two fragments is held out as some great prize.

[Again, that's 22 percent of 22 percent, with Israel getting roughly 78 percent of that 22 percent, or about 17 percent of Palestine.]

Lately the president of the General Assembly said this failure, to produce a state for the Palestinians, was the greatest failing of the U.N.

[Actually, the United Nations' obsession with the Palestinian Arabs and the unfair criticism of Israel has helped perpetuate the Arab unwillingness to agree to peace and thus prevented the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state.]

And Rahm Emanuel and the entire American Jewish establishment have again and again said they don't deserve a state because they are not "true partners."

[Based on their love affair with terrorism and their unwillingness to agree to peace, that's relatively true.]

(In the same way that Jimmy Carter shouldn't talk about Palestine because he doesn't know enough.)

[He undoubtedly knows enough, but he certainly does include an awful lot of misinformation and disinformation whenever he speaks or writes about the Arab-Israeli conflict.]

The Palestinians have never been good enough or virtuous enough to deserve the right of self-determination. By this standard, there would be no government in Kosovo, Pakistan, India, or Baghdad.

This leads us back to Zionism and the support for Zionism in the U.S. power structure. And it leads us ultimately to Jewish identity. As Mearsheimer wrote on TPM the other day, responding to Avrum's powerful ideas about the Shoah: owing to the inculcation of the Holocaust in Jewish life, "the result is that Israelis (and most American Jews for that matter) cannot think straight about the world around them. They think that everyone is out to get them, and that the Palestinians are hardly any different than the Nazis... if there was less emphasis on the Holocaust, Israelis would change their thinking about 'others' in fundamental ways." Absolutely true.

[For example, they might not pay as much attention then the leaders of Iran and Hamas say they're out to destroy Israel, or when the charters of Fatah and the PLO still call for the elimination of Israel.]

The Israel lobby is a historic expression of Jewish power in the U.S. That power comes out of feelings of utter powerlessness brought on by the Holocaust. My family and millions of other American Jews felt that the U.S. had abandoned the Jews in the Holocaust.

[Perhaps this is why Weiss is abandoning the Jewish people; he's afraid they'll be abandoned again and would rather be the perpetrator than the victim.]

As a result, the American Jewish community has never fully trusted the U.S. government since. And so it built the Israel lobby and committed the U.S. to support for Israel and to the nullification of basic rights for "others": the Palestinians.

[Actually, the so-called Israel lobby and the United States have gone overboard the other way, supporting the establishment of another Palestinian Arab state even while the Palestinian Arabs themselves refuse to establish one.]

The statelessness of the Palestinians is an American Jewish achievement.

[No. It's an Arab achievement.]

One of Hitler's bitterest effects, Norman Mailer said, was reducing Jews to the ethnocentric question: Is it good for the Jews? Even as we have become what Avrum rightly describes as the most powerful minority in America. The spiritual/political challenge for American Jews today is to recognize that we have power in the U.S. because of the separation of church and state and the guarantees of liberty for minorities that our great country has established through tremendous ordeals--and meanwhile we rubbish those very liberties in Israel and Palestine for people who are different from us. It is time for the Jewish community to wake up, and for the U.S. to bring American ideals to Israel/Palestine.

[Actually, support for Israel, both among Jews and non-Jews in America, is based largely on the shared values and ideals of America and Israel.]

I recognize that Jeremy Ben-Ami, Bernard Avishai, Dan Levy, John Mearsheimer, and Avrum Burg have all been playing essential roles in this, essentially prophetic, work, and I'm thankful to them all.

I once edited a Jewish community newspaper called "Chavurah." It used the tag line "do not separate yourself from the community."

It's sad that people like the author choose to separate themselves from their community and join those who wish to destroy the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

Perhaps this article isn't just a window into the distorted reality of the Palestinian Arabs, but a window into the distorted reality of some Jews who have chosen to separate themselves from their people.

Intersection Where Death Meets Life

This arrived in my emailbox about the same time I saw no fewer than four articles in Connecticut newspapers about the barrage of Kassam and Grad missiles and mortars launched by Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza at Israeli residents.

To me, it provided a striking (no pun intended) contrast between the Palestinian Arab love affair with death and the way Israelis strive to provide life.

Heftzi Gutman is an EMC senior nurse who for the past eleven years has acted as the Transplant Coordinator between our hospital and the Ministry of Health's National Transplant Center. Heftzi related the following story to me:

On November 26, 2008, 54 year-old Yossi Paster was tragically pronounced brain dead here in EMC. His wife Edna, also an EMC nurse, immediately informed Heftzi of her desire to donate Yossi's organs so that others may live. Thus began intense communications between Heftzi and the National Transplant Center, which culminated several hours later in coordinated operations (in EMC and in central Israel hospitals) that gave renewed life to seven Israelis. One received a liver, two received kidneys, two received heart valves and two received corneas. Among them were both Jews and Arabs; each a human being in desperate need of a medical miracle. Yossi Paster's death gave life to others, people he never knew.

I asked Heftzi what were the most emotionally-charged moments of her long career. Without hesitation, she said, 'The moment when a family agrees to donate their loved one's organs to strangers. That precise instance is the most difficult moment in a person's life '¶ it's the intersection where death meets life.'

Yossi Paster, like hundreds of others, became unknowing heroes in their deaths. Their families gave the gift of renewed life to total strangers and lengthened an unbreakable thread that weaves throughout our society.

The Jewish commitment to life is exemplified by Emek Medical Center's absolute coordinated efforts between medical departments, physicians, nurses, technicians and administrative staff. The gift of life could not be delivered were it not for their combined timely efforts.

At that intersection where death meets life, fortunately for so many, we are there.

Support Emek Medical Center

Larry Rich
Director of Development & International Public Relations
Israel's Emek Medical Center
Phone in Israel ... 972-04-649 4417
Mobile in Israel ... 972-0505-737 641
Phone in New York ... 646-546 5970
Fax in Israel ... 972-04-652 2642
Email ...
Mailing address:
Emek Medical Center
Afula 18101

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fayad the Comedian

The punch line comes at the end, with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister (West Bank Branch) Salaam Fayad qutoed as saying: "We owe it to this third party to be accountable to them, and one way is to deliver on commitments that we make. The same should be demanded of Israel."

The Oslo Experiment was a dismal failure because the Palestinian Authority didn't uphold any of its commitments, the most basic of which was to work against terrorism rather than promoting terrorism.

World must hold Israel accountable

The Jerusalem Post
The international community must do more to hold Israel accountable - particularly on its accelerated West Bank settlement construction - if peace efforts are to have a chance, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad said in an interview Saturday.

[There's been comparatively little Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria; indeed, far less than Arab construction.]

Fayad said he is disappointed by a recent EU decision to continue strengthening ties with Israel, without linking such an upgrade to a settlement freeze. However, he said he'll keep pressing.

[Making Judea and Samaria judenrein is a prime goal of the Palestinian Authority.]

"If I am disappointed, I am certainly not discouraged," Fayad said. "The point is, there is much better awareness in Europe now of this issue, something which did not exist before."

EU leaders decided earlier this month to upgrade political ties with Israel, but have not yet voted on an improved economic relationship, said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Palestinian leaders often complain about a failure to take Israel to task for allegedly breaking commitments, such as a settlement freeze required by the US-backed "road map" plan.

[By far the first and most important commitment under the road map was for the Palestinian Authority to dismantle the terror infrastructure it built up in blatant violation of its earlier commitments under the Oslo Agreements.

That the Palestinian Arabs keep complaining about the presence of a relative handful of Jews in portions of Eretz Yisrael is just one more pieces of evidence that they're not really interested in peace.]

However, in recent months, Fayad has tried a new approach, proposing practical steps in which European countries could help curb settlement expansion.

[If Fayad really wants to keep Jews from living in various parts of Eretz Yisrael, he might start by adhering to the commitments of the Palestinian Authority, ending terrorism and incitement and actually negotiating seriously. If the Palestinian Arabs ever agree to peace, they'll be able to control whether Jews live in the areas in their domain.]

In May, he wrote to 27 EU nations, proposing the link between an upgrade in Israel-EU ties and halting settlement construction. Fayad also exchanged letters with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said he wants to make sure products from West Bank settlements are denied favorable EU tariffs.

Under a 2003 agreement between Israel and the EU, settlement products must be clearly labeled. Brown wrote Dec. 9 that he wants to make sure the agreement is implemented effectively "and any abuse of the system fully investigated." Brown also wrote that he's looking into ways to discourage British citizens from buying property in settlements.

[For shame, Mr. Brown.]

Fayad would not say whether he's found other European leaders as receptive as Brown.

Palmor said the issue of settlements should be dealt with at the negotiating table, and not be singled out. "We hear all these protests and condemnations," he said. "What we say is that the way to solve this issue is through negotiations."

[That makes sense.]

Fayad noted he's not seeking an economic boycott of Israel.

"After all, Israel is our largest trading partner, and I foresee that situation to continue for many years to come," Fayad said. "This is about saying your settlements are illegal under international law."

[One small problem: they're not illegal.]

Fayad said he is astounded that the fateful issue of West Bank settlements, home to nearly 300,000 Israelis, has not been raised in Israel's election campaign.

Fayad said the negotiations will not move forward unless the international community gets more involved, and holds both sides accountable.

[The negotiations won't move forward unless the Palestinian Arabs get serious about negotiating and stop going off into side issues that demonstrate they're not interested in real negotiations.]

Without such involvement, "we are not really going to get the desired result of ending this conflict anytime soon," he said.

[Their desired end of the conflict: the elimination of Israel.]

"We owe it to this third party to be accountable to them, and one way is to deliver on commitments that we make," he said. "The same should be demanded of Israel."

[Back in 1993, the PLO made a commitment to end terrorism. It also made a commitment to eliminate the portions of its covenant calling for the elimination of Israel.

The Palestinian Arabs owe it to "this third party" to deliver on those commitments.]

Not Such a December Surprise: It's a Tradition

There's nothing surprising about President Bush acting in a counterproductive manner near the end of his term; every president seems to feel a need to do something stupid regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict near the end of his term.

For President Reagan, it was pretending Arafat had changed his stripes and opening a short-lived dialog with the PLO.

For President Clinton, it was continuing to press for appeasement even after arafat torpedoed peace at Camp David and launched his terror offensive.

Carter and Bush I were fundamentally hostile to Israel, so they had no special need to do anything extra near the ends of their terms.

Bush II, for all his basic understanding of Israel's situation, made a fundamental mistake early in his term by rewarding Arafat's terror offensive by publicly supporting the establishment of another Palestinian Arab state, doing so at the height of that terror offensive.

And they all have appeased Arab terror by keeping our American embassy outside Israel's capital.

So, Bush's December surprise isn't really much of a surprise: generally, the only question is how, not whether, a president will bollix things up near the end of his term.

This was published in The Jerusalem Post.

Fundamentally Freund: Bush's December surprise

Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post

With just a month left to go before he leaves office, George W. Bush has decided to pull the trigger and drop a bomb on the Middle East. Only instead of targeting Iran's illicit nuclear program, or Syria's nefarious regime, the outgoing US president has inexplicably chosen to detonate a diplomatic device over the heads of all Israelis.

In a move that was said to have been "personally led" by Bush, diplomats from the 15 member nations of the UN Security Council convened for an emergency session on Saturday to discuss the text of a proposed resolution aimed at tying the hands of Israel's next government.

The draft resolution, which was slated to be passed Tuesday, calls on Israel and the Palestinians to continue to negotiate "core issues" such as dividing Jerusalem, even after the present Israeli and Palestinian governments leave office in 2009.

"The initiative," as Haaretz reported on Sunday, "is seen as a bid to cement the Annapolis process with the approval of the highest authority," with Bush hoping that Security Council backing will make it "irreversible." This, he believes, will result in "shielding it from the administration changes in both Israel and the US."

"Bush," the paper noted, "believes that a UN resolution will sum up his efforts toward Middle East peace and underscore his vision of two states for two peoples." And so, for the sake of putting a positive spin on his presidential past, Bush is prepared to mortgage Israel and its future by getting the UN to tighten the screws on the Jewish state.

Knowing full well that a new Israeli government, most likely headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, will take power in February, Bush prefers not to let the people of Israel decide their own fate. Instead, he is attempting to impose a diplomatic straitjacket on Israel's democracy by trying to compel the next government to continue with the largely futile process of negotiating with the Palestinian leadership.

This is Bush's December surprise, a last ditch and pitifully transparent effort on the president's part to salvage what little remains of his once grandiose plans to establish a Palestinian state.

AFTER ALL, it was just six years ago, back on June 24, 2002, that Bush gave a major speech at the White House articulating his firm support for the creation of "Palestine." After calling for a new Palestinian leadership to replace Yasser Arafat, Bush declared that "when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state."

The Palestinians, of course, eventually did get a new leader in the form of Mahmoud Abbas, but they have still proven both unwilling and incapable of reaching a deal with Israel. If anything, with Hamas now in power in Gaza, and Abbas' authority barely extending to his own secretarial staff, Bush's much-ballyhooed vision for Middle East peace, in which he invested so much time and energy over the years, clearly lies in tatters.

It is therefore all the more appalling that in trying to establish a legacy, Bush has chosen to expend some of his last remaining political and diplomatic capital in order to generate future pressure on Israel. Just think what he could still accomplish on issues of major foreign policy significance if he put his mind to it. He could be turning up the heat on Iran to forestall its nuclear progress, or taking concrete steps to block the flow of foreign jihadists from Syria into Iraq.

Bush could take action to hit the terrorist lairs in northwestern Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are believed to be based, or he could lead an international effort to oust Zimbabwe's disastrous dictator Robert Mugabe. Instead, he has chosen the easy way out, grasping at the far simpler straw of trying to lock Israel in place in a process almost certain to fail.

How sad and how pitiful that the man once considered Israel's best friend in the White House has chosen to send the Jewish state to the doghouse, all in the vain hope that future historians might view him in a more positive light.

Bush's desperation brings to mind another lame-duck US president who, more than 30 years ago, tried to leave his own mark on history before heading out the door, only to see it rebound against him.

IN THE waning days of his brief term of office, Gerald Ford put forward a last-minute proposal to grant full statehood to Puerto Rico, which has been a US commonwealth since 1952. The haste and timing of the move, which ultimately went nowhere, evoked a great deal of scorn and even ridicule, for it was patently clear to all concerned that it was little more than an outgoing president's feeble effort to insist that he still mattered.

Commenting on Ford's proposal, Time magazine declared in its January 17, 1977 issue that it "surely reflected the familiar predicament of a lame-duck chief executive whose desire to deepen his mark in history is matched only by his loss of real power." Three decades may have passed, and the personalities and issues involved may have changed - but that sentiment remains as accurate now as it was back then.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

JINSA Policy Principles: Part II (Israel, again)

Another cogent analysis by JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. It may be read at

The emphasis is on the foolhardiness of suggestions that Israel rely on other forces, such as NATO, to provide security, citing the way a UN presence in Lebanon, Gaza and Jenin has served to protect Arab terrorists and made it more difficult for Israel to defend itself. JINSA correctly writes: "No American - or NATO - soldier - should stand where a terrorist army can form behind it, ever. Period."

Unmentioned is one other great drawback if it tried to provide security.

Until now, one of the reasons Israel has been a great asset to America is that Israel's strength has enabled the United States to enjoy the benefits of power in Israel's part of the Middle East without the risk and expense of deploying American forces.

Israel has actually saved the United States enormous amounts of money because we haven't had to keep troops there. In contrast, we already spent trillions of dollars keeping troops in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, effectively paying for the right to protect them. The military assistance we provide Israel is a pittance in comparison and also pays us enormous dividends.

Using our troops to try to protect Israel, besides doing the reverse - undermining Israeli security, would risk damaging an arrangement which has been tremendously beneficial to America.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

JINSA Policy Report on Israel-Centrism

JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, has issued JINSA Report #836, called Policy Principles: Part I (Israel-centrism).

The report is well worth reading, correctly noting that the Arab-Israeli conflict is really a peripheral issue for Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East.

Many, including American presidents, have acted on the erroneous assumption that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the central issue in that region and ending that conflict was necessary in order to make progress on other vital issues. The reality is the opposite: the Arab-Israeli conflict will be almost impossible to resolve without the core Middle East issues being resolved first.

PP disagrees with JINSA in just one respect.

JINSA asserts President-elect Obama's statement, "The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable," is Israel-centric.

It's certainly not incompatible with Israel-centricity, but is not in and of itself Israel-centric. Indeed, it is clearly a true statement: the anti-American terrorists do use the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict as an excuse … an excuse for actions they would take anyway. The key is whether Obama recognizes it is just an excuse.

Similarly, the status quo is unsustainable and it is in Israel's and our security and other interests to solve it. Unfortunately, most of our actions trying to solve it have only made things, including the core Middle East problems, worse.

Hopefully, if any situations arise where, as president, Barack Obama can help bringing the Arab war against Israel closer to an end he will do so; hopefully he also realizes there probably will be little he can do before the core problems in the Middle East are resolved, something that may take centuries.

Holy sites need legal protection, say speakers at Rome conference

This is worth reading simply to get a slightly warped perspective.

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Every Friday afternoon in Jerusalem's Old City, thousands of Muslims walk to Al Aqsa Mosque to pray, thousands of Jews walk to the Western Wall to pray and thousands of Christians carry a cross in procession along the Via Dolorosa, recalling the Way of the Cross.

[This is something that was not allowed when portions of Jerusalem were occupied by the most moderate Arab state, Jordan, and would also not be possible if the unnecessary solutions obviously favored by participants were ever to come into being.]

Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer, said the Friday afternoon scene "is not touchy-feely, it's not fuzzy warm and when the people glance at each other, more often than not it is a glance of disdain or contempt, but the damn thing works."

Seidemann, who describes himself as a Zionist committed to ensuring Jerusalem remains a city where Jews, Christians and Muslims coexist, spoke in Rome Dec. 10 at an international conference on different legal and religious approaches to the status of holy places and religious institutions.

The conference was co-sponsored by the interdisciplinary program in law and religion at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law in Washington.

Marshall J. Breger, a professor at the law school, told Catholic News Service, "We believe the political issues -- as difficult as they are in places like Palestine and Israel -- cannot be resolved without recognizing the religious issues involved."

"Conferences like this let us uncover the facts concerning the law, theology and culture of the different stakeholders in a conflict," he said.

Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University and president of the European Muslim Network, said that while religious leaders should educate their followers in the obligation to respect the holy sites of all religions, if those sites are not protected by law, "in situations of conflict, there will be a mess."

[As there was before Jerusalem was reunited by Israel after being attacked by Jordan in 1967.]

"Idealism offers no protection from the dark side" of human behavior, he said, so laws are needed to protect and govern access to places people consider sacred.

Seidemann said that while Jerusalem may not be a model of interfaith friendship and cooperation, its identity is essentially tied to being a city where different religious groups exist side by side.

But, he said, the city's history has shown violence is almost guaranteed when there is a "real or perceived threat or violation of sacred space."

The government must guarantee the security of and access to holy sites and not allow fundamentalist Jewish, Muslim or Christian activists the opportunity to ignite more violence, he said.

[Fortunately, Israel does protect the security of and access to holy places, despite unfair criticism.]

While the majority of Israelis and Palestinians now agree that they want peace and have converged around a solution based on Israel withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, "the volcanic core of the conflict" -- the Old City of Jerusalem and its holy sites -- remains volatile, Seidemann said.

[This is the statement most showing a profound misunderstanding.

Jerusalem was virtually ignored between 1948 and 1967, when all the holy sites were under Jordanian occupation. The fact that these sites were occupied by Arabs and Muslims did nothing to prevent the Arabs from trying to destroy Israel.]

So far, he said, peace proposals have shown themselves "inadequate for dealing with the religious ecosystem of Jerusalem."

[Trying to deal with the "religious ecosystem of Jerusalem" is part of the problem. If it's not broken, follow the Beetles' advice and "let it be."]

In addition, Seidemann said, the flight of Christian residents from Jerusalem threatens the already fragile coexistence of believers from the three faiths and "is the cultural, the religious impoverishment of Jerusalem."

"This is dangerous," he said. "The Christian community of Jerusalem is the canary in the coal mine; when that community is ill, everybody is ill."

Franciscan Father David Jaeger, who has been involved in Vatican-Israeli negotiations, said that except for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the tomb of Mary in Jerusalem and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, all of the Catholic churches and shrines in the Holy Land are the private property of the Catholic Church.

The three major sites are governed by an internationally recognized agreement, which is guaranteed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Father Jaeger said. "In the future, when Jerusalem has an internationally guaranteed special statute (something for which the Vatican hopes) that responsibility may pass to an international organization designated for the purpose."

[Jaeger is living in the past. The internationalization of Jerusalem was proposed by the United Nations in 1948 and rejected by the Arabs.

Nobody was calling for internationalization when the holy sites were under Jordanian occupation and Jews were denied all access to the Temple Mount and the Kotel; such calls were renewed only when Jerusalem was reunited and everyone given access.]

As for the other churches and shrines the Catholic Church considers holy, Father Jaeger said the Catholic Church asks only that the normal laws governing private property be respected.

In the Catholic codes of canon law, he said, sacred places are not sacred because of the traditions associated with the site, but because the church has performed a rite consecrating the place.

For Catholics, Father Jaeger said, "law, not mysticism, defines a sacred place" in contrast with other believers who "have decided that certain places are holy places for which they are prepared to shed blood -- their own and other people's."

[Jaeger paints others with a rather broad brush and has apparently never heard of the Crusades.]

The fairest way to deal with Jerusalem, as well as the only way that ensures access of all to their holy sites, is obvious when one notes that Jerusalem is central to Judaism while being peripheral to both Islam and Christianity and access to holy sites has been at best problematical whenever any entity other than Israel has been in control.

Between the Lines: Thank You, Israel!

Thanks to the very actions which the Palestinian Arabs and much of the world complained about, the scourge of terrorism that was destroying life in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) has been minimized, at least temporarily, enabling the publication of stories such as the following.

Don't expect those who have benefitted the most to thank Israel.

Israelis and Palestinians greet visitors

By Dalia Nammari

The Associated Press

Bethlehem, Judea and Samaria

After eight bleak years, Jesus' birthplace finally has a Christmas season to cheer about.

Hotels are booked solid through January, Manger Square is bustling with tourists, and Israeli and Palestinian forces are working to make things go smoothly.

Elias Al-Araj's 200-room hotel is fully booked for the season, and he plans to open a 100-room annex. He says he already has bookings through July.

"This year, business was great," he said.

Bethlehem's economic fortunes are closely tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tourism blossomed in the 1990s, when peace hopes were alive, but was crushed by the outbreak of fighting in 2000. Christmas after Christmas, tourists were scared off by Palestinian violence and Israeli travel restrictions.

With calm gradually returning to the West Bank,

[thanks to the security barrier, checkpoints and other measures taken by Israel to defeat terrorism and save lives,]

Bethlehem has again become a magnet for Christmas pilgrims.

"It's a difference between heaven and earth," said entrepreneur Mike Kanawati, who is so optimistic he's opening a new restaurant near the Church of the Nativity.

Palestinian officials say that 1.3 million tourists have visited the West Bank this year, nearly double last year's level. The total for 2008 could rise to 1.6 million. The tourism boom has created 12,000 new jobs, said Riad Malki, the Palestinian information minister.

Bethlehem's 19 hotels are fully booked through January, said Mayor Victor Batarseh. He said he expects 30,000 visitors on Christmas Eve alone, compared with 22,000 last year, with about 5,000 more expected during Orthodox rites in January.

Batarseh said he hopes the signs of recovery will persuade more Bethlehemites to stay in their town. In recent years, growing numbers, particularly Christians, have emigrated.

[Unfortunately, there has been a tremendous amount of discrimination directed at Christians by Palestinian Arab Muslims, turning the birthplace of Christianity into a mostly Muslim town.]

"Calm and an increase in tourism will create more job opportunities and encourage families to stay in the city," said Batarseh, who is Christian. Officials say 40 percent of the town's 32,000 residents are Christian, down from 90 percent in the 1950s. The rest are Muslim.

Christmas decorations should be up by Monday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will light the Christmas tree, a large cypress, in Manger Square. Bands of yellow lights are already strung across the main road at the entrance to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is a typical West Bank town, with congested streets and noisy markets, very different from the biblical idyll visitors might imagine.

"It's fascinating to see the place I heard about all my life," said Michael Creasy, 30, a software engineer from San Francisco, after emerging from the Church of the Nativity that stands over Jesus' traditional birth grotto. He said he'd love to stay for Christmas but has to get back to work.

The upbeat mood contrasts sharply with the dismal Muslim holiday season in the Gaza Strip. Because of an Israeli economic blockade imposed in response to repeated rocket attacks, the coastal strip is acutely short of sheep and cattle needed for the Muslim feast of the sacrifice.

Meanwhile, Bethlehem is being turned into a showcase for Palestinian security forces, who have been gradually expanding areas under their control in the once unruly West Bank.

As many as 1,500 Palestinian police officers will be deployed in Bethlehem during the holiday.

They are trying to look reassuring, though the squad of armed officers who recently stomped in unison across Manger Square might have scared some tourists.

Suleiman Emran, a security official, said that officers are to greet the visitors with roses, candy and holiday greeting cards that include emergency phone numbers in case of trouble. Israeli security officials say they are working with their Palestinian counterparts to ensure easy access to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is ringed on three sides by a barrier that Israel says is meant to keep out Palestinian militants.

[Not quite true. The barrier is meant to hinder terrorists.]

A large gray wall separates the city from nearby Jerusalem, and tourists entering Bethlehem must pass through a military checkpoint with barbed wire and watchtowers.

Late last month, at a meeting of Palestinian military chiefs to discuss Christmas preparations, the Palestinians asked Israel to speed tourists through its army checkpoints and not carry out arrest raids in Bethlehem during the holidays, Emran said.

"We are afraid it would terrify the visitors," he said.

[The best way to avoid raids and keep tourists going quickly through checkpoints is to stop trying to launch terror attacks.

Obviously, terror attacks are far more frightening than waiting to go through a checkpoint or being in the same town where terrorists are being captured.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Insight in the Minds of the Haters: Appeal from Al-Awda

It's not pleasant, but it can be useful to read what the fanatics are saying to their supporters.

Al-Awda is no more or less fanatical than many other hate-groups devoted to the destruction of Israel, although it tries to pretend otherwise.

It's noteworthy that at the beginning of this appeal, it essentially states that it was founded because of fears that Yasser Arafat wasn't fanatical enough.

The appeal below was posted to the PalestinianChristians group on Yahoo, which may be found at

Reading the messages on that group of people, most of whom don't seem to realize that they'd be among the first and worst victims if Israel acceded to their demands, can be enlightening, albeit depressing.


Posted by: "Zahi Damuni"
Date: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:26 pm ((PST))

Dear Friends and Supporters
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition needs your support! We call on you to help implement the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and land of origin.

Al-Awda was founded in the year 2000 at a time when there was heightened anxiety among Palestinians in relation to the so-called final status negotiations. The concern was that PLO leaders could be pressured to abandon advocacy for the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands in the pursuit of a "settlement" with the Zionist state. Palestinians continue to be under intensified attack in the homeland and elsewhere ...

The sacrifices of our sisters and brothers in the homeland are now greater than ever:

1. The genocidal two-year siege of the Gaza Strip by the Zionist occupation has escalated to horrific proportions. The attacks on our people in the West Bank have continued unabated. For example, in al-Khalil (Hebron) the state-armed colonial settler movement has escalated its attacks against the unarmed Palestinian population. Jerusalem is becoming further fractured by plans to build even more 'Jewish Only' enclaves.

2. The Zionist state is trying to empty the old town of Akka and Ajami district of Yaffa of their Palestinian Arab residents. Additionally, Palestinian villages in the southern Naqab region are being systematically destroyed.

3. The situation of Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon has continued to deteriorate and funding for the work of The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has been cut back. Nahr El-Bared refugee camp, home to more than 30,000 Palestinians in Lebanon, has yet to be rebuilt.

4. 3000 Palestinians remain stranded, many in their fourth year, in makeshift camps on the Iraq/Syria borders. These Palestinians are among 15,000 who left Iraq as a direct consequence of harassment, intimidation, torture, and murder since the US occupation began in 2003.

At the political level, there has been another disturbing development. In September of this year, Mahmoud Abbas, current president of the "Palestinian Authority", suggested that he would be willing to 'negotiate' away the bedrock of more than 60 years of struggle: the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands of origin. Most recently, the Palestinian Authority placed ads in "Israeli" newspapers that reiterated the authority's 'negotiating' plan, conspicuously diminishing mention of the Right of Return!

The Work of Al-Awda


Refugee Support: Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, has maintained a program to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees. We continue to raise funds to provide medical and other needed supplies to our besieged people in the Gaza Strip. We have provided donated funds to support the work of the Ibdaa Health Committee in Deheisha Refugee Camp in the West Bank. We have funded several scholarships for Palestinian students from the refugee camps. The first refugee support project that Al-Awda undertook, and which has been restarted recently, included donated computers and medicines that were delivered by Al-Awda members to Palestinians camps in Lebanon. To our knowledge, Al-Awda is today the only non-profit 501C3 registered organization in the US that has provided material and financial support to Palestinians currently stranded in al-Tanaf and al-Waleed make shift camps located on Iraq's borders with Syria.

Annual Conventions: As part of our educational and organizing programs, Al-Awda has held an annual convention for members and supporters since 2003. The most recent convention, which was co-hosted by thirty national and local organizations, was our most successful to date. It marked the sixtieth year of the Nakba and Struggle to Return, and, in total, drew about 1200 participants including well known activists, speakers and authors.

Actions and Statements: As in previous years, over the past year Al-Awda has issued a significant number of action alerts, statements and announcements. As part of our educational work locally and nationally, Al-Awda organized teach-ins, workshops, demonstrations and other events, as well as educational write-in campaigns to the media and US congressional representatives and senators. Al-Awda also acted as the primary fiscal sponsor of a major Peace Festival in San Francisco on May 10, 2008.

Al-Awda National Center: A major focus of our work over the past two years has been to institutionalize our work with a view to professionalize, promote and facilitate activism related to Al-Awda's mission and goals. We opened our first national center at the end of 2006. We have been able to hire one part-time staff member, and more recently the executive committee appointed, on an interim basis, the first executive director of our organization. We are well on the way to implementing our goals for a professional functioning center, and have hosted a significant number of local, regional and national meetings and events this past year. Events have included lectures, round-table discussions, media and refugee support workshops, film showings and cultural events. We have also hosted general and specialized meetings and community celebrations at the Center.

A Palestine Media Center has been established at Al-Awda's National Center. The goal of this Center is to disseminate information relevant to Palestinian rights through available outlets including the press. Together with the international Media Center committee, Al-Awda's Media Center has, to date, helped produce and disseminate six issues of Until Return, Al-Awda's newsletter. A goal of the center is to produce a weekly film for cable television. With your support, this is attainable since the media center has already produced several independent educational films and facilitated the production of others (e.g., the production of films from the Tanaf makeshift camp about the residents, their personal stories, and current conditions).

Al-Awda Educational Resource Center/Palestine Library: Al-Awda's Educational Resource Center continues to grow. In addition to extending our collection of over two hundred books that have thus far been gathered either directly or by donation, we are also developing a magazines and film archive to add to our educational resources.

Chapters: This past year Al-Awda saw the founding of a strong new chapter in Phoenix Arizona and continued growth in California with new chapters established in Sacramento, Riverside and San Bernardino. Existing chapters such as those in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County have experienced remarkable and sustained growth in their membership and activism. Student participation has also increased significantly with a number of Al-Awda student coordinators from various campuses elected to local chapter boards. We anticipate additional growth in our chapters over the next few years.

The Challenges Ahead ...

Our principles have not changed but the challenges to those of us living in forced exile from our homeland, and to those who support us, are greater than they have ever been. Our task continues to be to provide comprehensive public education on the rights of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands of origin, and to full restitution of all their confiscated and destroyed property in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International law and United Nations Resolutions upholding such rights. We are all called upon to make greater efforts than ever before. We depend on your support to continue our work!

Here's How You Can Help Us Continue and Spread the Reach of Al-Awda's Work

1. Join Al-Awda's monthly or annual sustainer program: 100 subscribers each at just $10 dollars per month will assure us $12,000 per year to pay for part time office staff to help us maintain and develop our Media Center and Educational Resource Center, and keep track of our refugee aid projects in the homeland and beyond.

2. Any other monthly or annual sustainer amount of your own choosing.

3. A one-time contribution.
To become a Monthly Sustainer, go to:

To become an Annual Sustainer, go to:

To make a One-Time Contribution, click on the PayPal Donate button at: - Alternatively, you can address your check or money order to PRRC, PO Box 131352, Carlsbad CA 92013, USA

Please note you can also help Al-Awda online by Shopping for a Donation at our website. We offer a variety of educational materials including interesting and unique books on everything from oral histories, photo books on Palestinian refugees, to autobiographies, narratives, political analysis, and culture. We also have historical maps of Palestine (in Arabic and English), educational films, flags of various sizes, and colorful greeting cards created by Palestinian children. We also offer great looking T-shirts, caps, pendants, and a variety of Palestine pins. To view our entire selection, see

Thank You for Your Support.

We depend on it!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442
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.

[It's an amazing tribute to American tolerance that even a hate group such as Al-Awda is eligible to receive the benefit of tax-deductible contributions.]

Between the Lines: Abbas Still Has No Interest In Peace

This is a statement from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the recent release of 230 Palestinian Arab terrorists in a "confidence-building measure."

Left unstated is the obvious question about why releasing terrorists is necessary to build the confidence of anyone interested in peace. If the Palestinian Authority was actually interested in peace and had adhered to its commitments under the Oslo agreements, those terrorists would either have neen prevented from acting by the PA or would be in Palestinian Authority jails.

One litmus test about the true desires of the Palestinian Authority leadership: as long as they keep demanding the release of terrorists, they aren't serious about peace.

Behind the Headlines: Israel continues prisoner release policy

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
15 Dec 2008

In honor of the Muslim Festival of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), and as a confidence building measure towards the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayad, the Israel government decided on Sunday, 7 December 2008, to release 230 Palestinian prisoners. The convicted prisoners who are serving sentences of varying lengths in Israeli prisons and are identified with either Fatah, the Popular Front (PFLP) or the Democratic Front (DFLP). The release is scheduled for Monday, 15 December 2008.

In accordance with the criteria set by previous government decisions, none of the prisoners have blood on their hands, and all belong to factions that support the Palestinian Authority and its leadership. None are associated with Hamas or Palestinian Jihad. The list of prisoners to be released was prepared by the Israel Security Agency and the Ministry of Justice. The majority of the prisoners will be released via the Beituniya checkpoint in the West Bank, and a minority (19) via the Erez Crossing into Gaza.

Through this latest confidence-building measure - which addresses an issue of critical significance for the Palestinians - Israel seeks to intensify its continued dialogue with partners who are both committed to negotiations and diplomacy and opposed to terrorism.

The prisoner release is being carried out within the framework of Israel's ongoing policy of implementing confidence-building measures and strengthening the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayad.

Israel is sending a message that political achievements can be attained only through negotiations, and that the pursuit of terrorism will achieve nothing. The graduated release of prisoners is an ongoing process, which to date has brought about the release of approximately 1000 prisoners who support the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, alongside Israel-Palestinian security cooperation (such as the Jenin model), and other measures.

The prisoners are being released in honor of the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice, and in deference to the high priority accorded to the prisoner issue in Palestinian society.

It should not be forgotten that these prisoners have been convicted of participation in terror attacks against Israeli citizens, and the Government of Israel is not eager to release any of them. Indeed, there is a great deal of internal criticism in Israel regarding the government's decision to release these prisoners - especially in light of the standstill in negotiations for the release of the Israel soldier Gilad Shalit who was abducted by the Hamas two and a half years ago.

The pursuit of this policy, despite the domestic controversy, reflects the priority given by the Israel government to making peace with pragmatic Palestinians.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Guardian: Guarding Its Readers from the Truth

[This article speaks for itself. The Guardian's motto is apparently: "Only part of the news that's fit to print; if you want the true story, look elsewhere."]

Israeli envoy in Guardian row

Azzam Tamimi at heart of a row between embassy and newspaper

From The Jewish Chronicle
Anshel Pfeffer
December 11, 2008

The Guardian has refused to publish a letter from the press counsellor of the Israeli Embassy complaining that the writer of a comment article had not been properly identified as Hamas' de facto London representative. The newspaper called the Israeli diplomat's description 'highly defamatory'.

On November 21, the Guardian ran a comment piece entitled 'End the Siege of Gaza' by the Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi, arguing that Israel, and not Hamas, was to blame for the recent escalation around the Gaza Strip and the humanitarian conditions within.

Mr Tamimi was described as 'Director of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought, author of Hamas: Unwritten Chapters, and has advised Hamas on media strategy.'

After the article appeared, the Israeli Embassy press attaché in London, Lior Ben -Dor, wrote to the Guardian.

He said: 'It is truly lamentable that the Guardian chose to give Tamimi such a prestigious platform. It is even more lamentable that the paper did not inform the readers who Tamimi really is and what he represents.'

Mr Ben-Dor went on to say that Tamimi 'is de facto Hamas's spokesperson and representative in London'.

The Guardian's letters editor, Nigel Willmott, refused to print the Israeli diplomat's letter, saying that the accusations were based on hearsay and 'highly defamatory'.

Mr Ben-Dor wrote again, with more quotes from Tamimi, including his reply on BBC's Hardtalk programme when asked if he would be a suicide bomber: 'I would do it... if I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it. Why not? Sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity.'

But Mr Willmott insisted: 'We certainly could not take your hearsay report of conversation as evidence and clarifying the context of the Hardtalk interview would take more time than we have, I'm afraid.'

Elisabeth Ribbans, managing editor of the Guardian, said: 'The letters editor receives hundreds of submissions every day and is not obliged to publish any letter, nor in fact give any reasons for not doing so.

'The bottom line is that the descriptions of Azzam Tamimi were defamatory and we think that it's clear to any journalist why that is.

'That's why we didn't publish them. We wrote that he was an adviser for Hamas, but we don't really say what the writer advocates, we simply described his relationship to Hamas.'

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Number Two Says Apartheid is Necessary for Peace

Actually, Ahmed Qurei, the prime minister of the West Bank branch of the corrupt Palestinian Authority, insisted something worse: that no Jews be allowed in any portions of Judea or Samaria.

Qurei, of course, is associated with the "moderate" terror group, Fatah, which everyone is trying to strengthen.

This comes from The Jerusalem Post.

Qurei: No room for Jews in the West Bank

Khaled Abu Toameh and Mark Weiss

There will be no room for Jews or settlements in the West Bank because their presence there will always be an obstacle to peace with Israel, Ahmed Qurei, head of the Palestinian Authority negotiating team, said at the weekend.

Qurei, who was speaking to Palestinian reporters at his home in the village of Abu Dis, said that the peace talks have been suspended because of the upcoming elections in Israel, adding that the gap between the two sides remained as wide as ever.

[Not quite: Israel continually makes concessions, so the sides have moved closer even though the Palestinian Arabs have yet to budge from their negotiating position of a decade and a half ago.]

Qurei said that the major difference centered on the status of the settlements in the West Bank.

"Initially, Israel sought to annex 7.3 percent of the West Bank," he disclosed. "Then it went down to 6.8%. Of course we completely rejected this idea."

[Of course, since they have no desire to live together in peace.]

Qurei said that by annexing settlement blocs, Israel would have been allowed to keep the important areas in the West Bank, rendering it impossible to establish a Palestinian state with territorial continuity.

[That is nonsense.

Meandering borders would just mean that, just as Israelis have to take circuitous routes to avoid going through Palestinian Authority controlled areas, some Arabs would not be travelling in a straight line to go between different areas under their control. It has nothing to do with contiguity.]

The areas which Israel seeks to retain control over in a final agreement with the Palestinians are Ariel, Givat Ze'ev, Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, he added.

[Those areas are obviously going to be incorporated into Israel under any conceivable agreement.]

"These settlement blocs constitute an obstacle to any future peace agreement," Qurei stressed. "There can be no peace with the presence of these settlement blocs in the West Bank.

[In other words, Judea and Samaria must be cleansed of any Jewish presence.]

"Our experiences have taught us that it's impossible to coexist with these settlers. We still remember the [Tomb of the Patriarchs] massacre in Hebron in 1994 and the daily attacks carried out by settlers in Hebron, Nablus, Kalkilya and other places.

[There have been some isolated instances of attacks by Jews living in the disputed territories, but they pale in comparison to the constant terrorism by the Arabs.]

"All these attacks prove that the settlers are dangerous and that it's impossible to live with them. If these settlers are allowed to stay, that would mean more friction and confrontation. Peace can be achieved only if Israel withdraws to the last centimeter of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967," Qurei said.

[Peace requires compromise. Qurei apparently doesn't know the meaning of the word.]

There was no official Israeli response to Qurei's comments, but a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem stressed that what the Palestinian chief negotiator said "was not entirely accurate."

[One wonders whether any of the Palestinian Arab representatives are even capable of accuracy.]

Israeli representatives have refused to reveal details on the negotiations that have taken place since the Annapolis process was launched last year, and are reluctant even to respond to Palestinian claims of what was discussed.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said settlement blocs are a legitimate Israeli demand and that Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev and Ariel-Kedumim should be part of Israel under a permanent peace agreement.

Speaking over the weekend, Barak said, "if and when there is a peace agreement, if it is in five months, or five years, or 15 years, we will need a magnifying glass to spot the differences between the agreement and what was on the table at Camp David."

The chief Palestinian negotiator also said Israel agreed to take in 5,000 Palestinian refugees over a five-year period, but this was rejected by the Palestinians.

[There is no reason for any Palestinian Arabs to emigrate to Israel; it contradicts the very philosophy behind the establishment of another Palestinian Arab state.

On the other hand, it does fall in line with the basic Palestinian Arab position of "whatever is our will remain ours, but whatever is yours will become ours.]

Qurei said he had not heard from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni about the Israeli government's final position regarding the future status of Jerusalem, "apparently due to internal Israeli issues."

The issue of Jerusalem, he said, was not discussed at all because of its complexity.

[It's really not very complex at all; Arab insistence on the redivision of Israel is simply a symptom of their unwillingness to seriously consider peace.]

"Every day Israel is creating new facts on the ground that further complicate the issue of Jerusalem," Qurei, a former PA prime minister, charged. "Israel is seeking to squeeze the Arabs out of the city. This has raised a lot of concern and has created mistrust between the two sides."

Qurei said the Palestinians have also rejected the idea of land swap with Israel.

[In this, he is actually correct: there is no reason for a "land swap;" negotiations should only concern the division of the disputed territories.]

"How can we give up any part of Jerusalem?" he asked. "For us Jerusalem is not only a spiritual or cultural or historic center, but also the economic center of the future Palestinian state. The settlements surrounding the city will make it hard for millions of Arabs, Muslims and Christians to visit Jerusalem in the future."

[Palestinian Arabs have generally ignored Jerusalem; it only becomes important to them when anyone else controls it.

The only ones who have prevented free access are the Arabs themselves. They prevented others from visiting when they were illegally occupying portions of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 and they continue to prevent free access today because of their terrorist acts.]

Qurei also denied reports according to which he has not been speaking to PA President Mahmoud Abbas for several weeks now.

"There are no differences between us, and all what's being said in this regard is untrue," he said.

Qurei has boycotted several meetings with Abbas over the past few months, triggering rumors about a sharp dispute between the two.

Meanwhile, for the first time in five years, the UN Security Council is poised to adopt a resolution calling for collective peace in the Middle East.

Council members met Saturday in a closed-door emergency session to discuss a US-drafted resolution, strongly backed by Russia, that appeared to have near-unanimous support.

A vote on it by the 15-nation council is expected Tuesday.

The two-page draft resolution calls on Israelis and Palestinians "to fulfill their obligations" under the Annapolis process and for all nations and international groups "to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations."

The council would reiterate "its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders."

The US focus is on a smooth hand-off to President-elect Barack Obama that keeps up the momentum for peace, said US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who made a symbolic point of standing beside Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin while addressing reporters after the council session.

[What momentum for peace?]

"This is an important time for the council to express itself on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. There is transition taking place here - by here I mean the United States - and there is of course also transition possibilities in other countries in the region," Khalilzad said.

It's also important, Khalilzad said, that nations "recognize the progress that has been made and for this process ... to be sustained, and for the council to express its support so that there is no pause in the negotiations" once Bush leaves the White House.

[What progress?]

Churkin said the draft resolution was presented to council members Saturday for the first time as a culmination of "this close joint work" between the US and Russia, which have been at serious odds much of this past year over Zimbabwe, Georgia and other issues.

"We believe it's very important to continue the momentum," Churkin said. "Of course, we all cannot be satisfied with where the peace process is at now.

But considerable effort has been made over the past 12 months or so. And we believe that the effort has to be pinned down, and it has to continue without a pause, which may be there because of some political circumstances: change of administration in the United States, elections in Israel, possible elections in the Palestinian autonomy."

On Monday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will come to the UN for two days. First she will meet with the Middle East quartet _ the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations - that also will meet with Arab partners for talks on Middle East peace efforts.

The next day she is participating in a council session on piracy from Somalia.

"It is very important for the Security Council to show that they are on the side of the people on the ground" in the Middle East, said French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, whose nation holds the EU presidency until the end of the year.

He said France has been urging for a long time that the Security Council get involved in the Mideast peace process.

"So for us it could be a very important milestone... to go forward to the solution of two states living side-by-side in peace," Ripert said.

The council needs only nine members to pass the new draft resolution, but diplomats said the resolution appears to be headed toward near-unanimous passage.

An Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that "there is no reason for Israel to oppose such a move," hinting that Washington and Jerusalem may have coordinated the initiative.

The official said that as long as the text backs the Annapolis process, supports continuing bilateral negotiations and does not impose timetables, then Israel welcomes the move.

[Anything the United Nations does which does not make things worse is a relief.

This motion obviously won't do any good, but at least it appears to be relatively harmless.]