Saturday, October 13, 2007

Olmert Offers Judea, Samaria, Divides J'lem in Draft Accord

Gil Ronen

( Israel's government has agreed, in writing, to hand over 6,250 square kilometers of land – the equivalent of its entire biblical and strategic heartland - to an Arab terror state. So reports Dr. Guy Bechor, a leading expert on Arab affairs, who also supplies some of the details of the negotiations.

Bechor reports, based on "leaks from the Palestinian side," that Israel has, in the past few days, presented Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at least one draft of an "agreement of principles."
· The agreement calls for a state named Palestine to be established alongside Israel, and have a territory of 6,250 square kilometers: the equivalent of all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
· "Palestine" will be demilitarized.
· Most of the Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria over the past 40 years are to demolished and their inhabitants expelled, according to the plan. The remaining communities are to be concentrated in small salients
Most of the Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria over the past 40 years are to demolished and their inhabitants expelled.
for which the Arab state will be compensated with additional territory elsewhere in present-day Israel.
· A passage of some sort will connect Gaza and Judea and Samaria. It will be under Jewish sovereignty and Palestinian administration.
· Israel agrees to redivide Jerusalem. Arab neighborhoods will be under Arab sovereignty and Jewish ones under Jewish sovereignty. Mention is made of "religious areas," but further details are not known as of yet. Each side will recognize the other's spiritual needs.
· The "refugee" question is not mentioned at all, and Bechor reports that this is the main sticking point. Abbas is insisting that Arabs descended from those who fled Israel in 1948 be allowed to return to Israel, at least in principle.

Bechor says that Abbas and his men have gone over the draft and are not pleased; they know how to negotiate, he notes. In a recent interview with PA TV, Abbas said that "declarations of principles are a waste of time" and "useless." What the PA wants, he said, is a clear timetable for establishing Palestine, as well as an Israeli pullback, demolition of Jewish communities and "return of refugees" (i.e., the flooding of Israel with Arab citizens).

The Arabs are hoping Israel will become more pliable in November, when an international diplomatic conference, sponsored by the US, is to be held in an attempt to hammer out an accord.

An official close to Mahmoud Abbas, Mustafa Bargouti, said that the idea of a conference is "an Israeli trap" and that nothing will come of it.

The new magician

Despite low approval rating, Olmert able to boost his status, set the agenda He could not have expected better news. The Ynet report, which revealed that the Winograd Commission does not intend to issue personal recommendations, constitutes a further boost to Ehud Olmert's status, which has been on the rise regardless. This further reinforces the estimate that the Olmert-led government is far from being dismantled.

Labor Party members, on the other hand, and particularly those who hoped to see Ehud Barak quit the government and lead to new elections in the first months of next year because of Winograd, will apparently have to continue privately fantasizing about taking power.

Slowly but surely, it turns out that Ehud Olmert is the new magician of Israeli politics. Although facing a lowly approval rating, he is able to manage a government that is considered rather successful, and even maneuver in the face of political obstacles with great talent.

At the toughest moments, when everyone already buried his political career, Olmert clung to his seat powerfully. He did not blink, he did not capitulate, and he refused to allow his rivals to dictate the agenda. For the time being, it appears he is the one dictating it and deciding on the government's moves. Not Barak, not Tzipi Livni, not Shaul Mofaz, not Bibi Netanyahu, and certainly not Avigdor Lieberman.

Taking his time
The Knesset's winter session opened Tuesday, and the spotlight is again directed at Olmert. Every word in his diplomatic speech, every message being conveyed, will serve to dictate the agenda in the coming months. The diplomatic move he is leading vis-à-vis the Palestinians is also a political move that keeps the Labor party glued to the coalition on the one hand, yet for the time being does not provide Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu with adequate reasons for quitting the government. Under such circumstances, Olmert can extend his stay at the Prime Minister's Office.

Several ministers, with typical hypocrisy, are attempting in recent days to convey a message of responsibility, caution, and moderation vis-à-vis progress with the Palestinians. Those who in recent years backed dialogue happen to be the ones that currently display a concerned façade. Livni, Mofaz, Barak and others repeatedly demand that Olmert act slowly and refrain from rushing. However, these statements are no more than the preparation of future excuses – this conduct is typical of Absurdistan, a country where the fear of taking responsibility paralyzes those who should constitute our political leadership.

One must be truly naïve, or lack any understanding of politics, in order to think that the prime minister intends to rush anywhere. He is not stupid. Olmert's strategy is to take his time, boost public discourse regarding the diplomatic progress, but refrain from running anywhere. There is enough time for that.

There is no reason that what did not happen in the past 10 years will happen within a few months. What Arafat did not do over many years, Mahmoud Abbas would not be able to do within two months. Even if the Palestinian Authority starts to fight Hamas and attempts to change its tone towards Israel, things will not change overnight.

It will take time. And Ehud Olmert will take his time and fill it with talk – and for the time being, he will remain the prime minister.

Ethics 101


It should not be surprising that our universities generate interesting and urgent ethical challenges. After all, higher education is a big business. Ethics 101By PETER BERKOWITZ October 8, 2007; Page A19 It should not be surprising that our universities generate interesting and urgent ethical challenges. After all, higher education is a big business. Scholarship is a demanding discipline. Teaching is a noble undertaking fraught with weighty responsibilities. And liberal education plays a crucial role in the formation of free citizens.What may surprise is that, at the programs and centers devoted to the study of ethics and the professions that have been established over the last two decades at our leading universities, one profession whose ethical issues the professors generally ignore is their own.The return to campus this fall brings sharp reminders of the confusion about their purpose that plagues our campuses, and so underscores the need for serious study of university ethics. In the recently published and already critically acclaimed book "Until Proven Innocent," K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. show how the Duke University faculty and administration collaborated with a reckless press and a lawless prosecutor in the rush to convict in the court of public opinion -- and, but for the superb work of their attorneys, in the criminal courts of Durham, N.C. -- three white lacrosse players falsely accused of raping an African-American stripper.On Sept. 28, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, "Indoctrinate U," Evan Coyne Maloney's riveting documentary about the war on free speech and individual rights waged by university faculty and administrations enjoyed its Washington premiere. Also, in September, for crystal clear political reasons, following a faculty petition circulated mostly by women from the University of California, Davis, the UC Board of Regents withdrew a speaking invitation to former Secretary of the Treasury and former Harvard President Lawrence Summers. But don't expect the leading ethics centers -- Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, Princeton's Program on Ethics and Public Affairs, or Yale's Program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics -- to sponsor lectures, fund graduate student and faculty fellowships, or publish writings that examine these and numerous other ethical questions that stem from contemporary university life. While lavishing attention on legal, political and medical ethics, and to a lesser extent business ethics and journalism ethics -- worthy areas of inquiry all -- our leading university ethicists have shown scant interest in exploring university ethics. Celebrating its 20th anniversary last spring, the Harvard University Program on Ethics and the Professions is among the nation's oldest and most distinguished. Yet of the more than 130 public lectures by eminent visitors sponsored over the last two decades by the Harvard ethics program, only three deal with the university -- one defending affirmative action , one defending the propriety of academics engaging in public debate and one defending academic freedom. The program's Web site lists more than 875 publications by over 120 ethics fellows and senior scholars. Hundreds of the writings deal with law and politics and ethics. Hundreds explore medicine and ethics. Dozens discuss business ethics. But only about 10 of the 875 publications, and five of the 120 authors, address university ethics.Take away a few defenses of affirmative action and multiculturalism, and a few reflections on teaching ethics at the university, and little is left. All in all, after 20 years of generously funding research in practical or applied ethics, Harvard's program has made no discernible contribution to illuminating the challenges of university governance, and the variety of duties and conflicts confronted in their professional roles by professors and administrators. Much the same holds true of the Yale Program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics and the Princeton University Center for Human Values.What explains the neglect by our leading university ethics programs of a vital topic that so plainly falls under their purview? The major cause is probably routine thoughtlessness: Surrounded by like-minded souls and therefore protected from questions that might rock the boat, and from research projects that might call for scholarly retooling, it may never occur to many ethics professors that, no less than law, medicine, business and journalism, their profession too is worthy of systematic scrutiny. One cannot rule out that a few ethics faculty may have convinced themselves that professors and administrators, because of their peculiar virtue, already confront and wisely dispose of all the moral dilemmas and professional conflicts of interest that come before them. It would not be the first time that intellectuals, so aggressive in finding false-consciousness and self-interest in others, concealed or overlooked their own. Nevertheless, if they are impelled or compelled to overcome disciplinary inertia and intellectual orthodoxy and turn their attention to their own profession, professional ethicists will discover a trove of fascinating and timely questions. Here are a few:Is it proper for university disciplinary boards, often composed of faculty and administrators with no special knowledge of the law, to investigate student accusations of sexual assault by fellow students , which involve crimes for which perpetrators can go to jail for decades?Should universities have one set of rules and punishments for students who plagiarize or pay others to write their term papers, and another -- and lesser -- set for professors who plagiarize or pay others to write their articles and books, or should students and faculty be held to the same tough standards of intellectual integrity?How can universities respect both professors' academic freedom and students' right to be instructed in the diversity of opinions?What is the proper balance in hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions between the need for transparency and accountability and the need for confidentiality?What institutional arrangements give university trustees adequate independence from the administrators they review?Is it consistent with their mission for university presses to publish books whose facts and footnotes they do not check?In accordance with what principles may a university bar ROTC from campus because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy" concerning homosexuals, while inviting to campus a foreign leader whose country not only punishes private consensual homosexual sex but is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism , and who himself denies the Holocaust and threatens to obliterate the sovereign state of Israel?By exploring these and myriad other issues, our ethics programs would do more than fulfill their mandate. They would also vindicate liberal education by demonstrating the premium academicians place on ensuring that their own practice conforms to the proper principles. Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and a professor at George Mason University School of Law. URL for this article:

Rice seeks Israeli 'clarification' on land grab

US secretary of state says she has requested 'clarification' from Jewish state over its decision to confiscate Arab land near Jerusalem. Rice also accuses Iran of 'lying' about aim of its nuclear program US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she had requested "clarification" from Israel over its decision to confiscate Arab land near Jerusalem.

"I called their ambassador to the US yesterday and asked for clarification. I am waiting for one," Rice told reporters on her plane prior to making a stopover in Shannon, Ireland, en route to Moscow.

Israel on Tuesday ordered the confiscation of Arab land outside east Jerusalem, officials said, reviving fears that the occupied West Bank could be split in two and challenging peace overtures.

The appropriation orders came as Israelis and Palestinians prepare for a major US-sponsored international peace summit widely expected in Maryland next month, and were immediately criticized by Arab authorities.

Until now, the United States has refused to comment on the Israeli move, with State Department spokesman Sean McCormack saying that he wanted to "understand better the facts on the ground".

Washington's silence contrasted with the reaction of France, Egypt and Jordan, all of which swiftly denounced the land grab.

The situation is likely to complicate matters for Rice when she travels to the Middle East on Sunday following a two-day visit in Russia. The trip had been aimed at laying some of the groundwork for the peace summit.

Her five-day stint in the region is scheduled to take her to Ramallah and Jerusalem, as well as short trips to Amman and Egypt, and is expected to include talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.

'Iran lying about nukes'
Also Thursday, Rice accused Iran of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program, saying there's no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the UN's atomic watchdog about its intentions.

"There is an Iranian history of obfuscation and, indeed, lying to the IAEA," she said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"There is a history of Iran not answering important questions about what is going on and there is Iran pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material," Rice told reporters.

US officials have long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons behind the facade of a civil atomic energy program, charges that Tehran denies. But Rice's strong words, including the blunt reference to Iranian "lying," come at a critical time in dealing with the matter.

The United States is trying to win Russian support for new UN sanctions against Iran but has faced sharp resistance from Moscow, which has nuclear cooperation agreements with Tehran and argues the country should be given more time to come clean on its programs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week there is no proof Tehran is trying to build the bomb. Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are scheduled to see him in Moscow on Friday.

Washington has been pressing for more sanctions since earlier this year.

But last month, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France the United States and Russia — and Germany agreed with the support of the European Union to hold off on a new sanctions resolution until November to allow negotiations with Iran to continue.

If no progress is made on two separate tracks — talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on an offer of assistance in exchange for a suspension in Iran's nuclear program and discussions with IAEA on its past activities — they are to bring the resolution to a vote.

It remains unclear, though, if Russia and China, which also opposes sanctions, will support it.

Even as work on the proposed resolution is to continue at an October 17 meeting of senior diplomats in Europe, Putin said Wednesday that Russia was not convinced Iran is trying to create nuclear weapons.

His comments came after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government is firmly behind the US sanctions drive, and appeared to deal a new blow to efforts to forge a consensus.

"We have no objective data that Iran is seeking to make atomic weapons," Putin said. "Therefore, we proceed from the assumption that Iran has no such plans."

Rice, however, stressed that Russia had signed on to the September 28 agreement to consider new sanctions in November and said she did not "expect that there is any deviation from that course at this point" from the Russian side.

She also noted that Russia had in the past demonstrated its concern about Iran's program by limiting its cooperation to prevent Tehran from acquiring a full nuclear fuel cycle that could be used to produce weapons-grade material.

"That concern was seen very clearly in Russia's offer to Iran to enrich and reprocess in a joint venture and to bring back any spent fuel so that the fuel cycle wouldn't be available to Iran," she said. "I think there is a reason for that and that is suspicion about Iran's intentions."

Friday, October 12, 2007

A total of 65 mortars and 15 kassams hit the communities in western Negev this week.

On Sunday morning, a Grad katyusha missile crashed near Netivot.

Ze'evi was murdered on October 17, 2001, or 30 Tishrei 5762 in the Jewish calendar, which falls on Thursday night this year.

A memorial ceremony marking six years since the assassination of former Minister Rehavam Ze'evi was held Thursday afternoon at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. In attendance, in addition to Ze'evi's family and friends, were President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik, Likud Chairman Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu, and other MKs.
"Rehavam Ze'evi was dear to the heart, and easy to like, even for his opponents." -- President Shimon Peres

The ceremony included a memorial prayer chanted by an IDF cantor, a wreath-laying by the President, and speeches by Ze'evi's wife Yael, his son Palmach, and President Peres.

Ze'evi was murdered on October 17, 2001, or 30 Tishrei 5762 in the Jewish calendar, which falls on Thursday night this year. Three terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) shot the minister to death inside a Jerusalem hotel, just outside his hotel room. He was killed shortly after resigning from then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, but before the resignation went into effect. He was 75 years old at the time of his death.

President Peres: He Was Not a Racist
In his speech in honor of the slain leader, who was also a general in the IDF, President Peres said, "Rehavam Ze'evi was dear to the heart, and easy to like, even for his opponents."

The President said that those who have accused Ze'evi of racism are mistaken. Ze'evi and the party he headed, Moledet, saw voluntary transfer of the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside of Israel's borders as the only solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, but "on the personal and human level, he respected the Arabs of Israel and knew their culture, language and lifestyle very well," Peres said.

"On the national level, his claim that the entire Land of Israel is the eternal inheritance of the people of Israel, and is indivisible, come what may, did not enjoy widespread popularity," the President asserted. "I myself was, as is known, an opponent and rival of his; and more than once I was a target of his linguistic arrows, which were rich, razor-sharp, and pleasant to the ear even at their most extreme. I unequivocally disagreed with him," Peres said, "but I always held him in high esteem."

Peres summarized Zeevi's passion for his country lyrically: "The story of his love for the Land of Israel, both ancient and new, is written by a loving master artist; a song of songs for Israel, his love."

Palmach Ze'evi: The Killers Picked the Wrong Tribe

In an address at his father's graveside Thursday, Palmach Ze'evi lamented an apathy he discerns among the Israeli people and prayed for change. He also used the occasion of the memorial to harshly criticize past and present leaders of the State for continuing the policies against which his father fought so bitterly.

"Today," Ze'evi declared, "an enemy far stronger [than the assassins] is threatening to throw us out of our home. A far more fatal danger than the bullets of the Arabs is the exhaustion that we, Jews, feel within ourselves. Ever since I buried my father, Rehavam, I understand more and more the greatness of the loss. ...We, the Israelis, are becoming apathetic and are distancing ourselves from the state, and that is the beginning of the end. I pray that we will return to that passionate love that my father had for the land and for the Jews residing on it. We miss you so much, father."

Turning to Peres, Ze'evi said that while his father would likely have voted for him for President - just as he did in a previous presidential campaign - the Moledet founder would have immediately chastised Peres for saying that it is not yet possible to judge the outcome of the Oslo Accords signed with the PLO. "He would have tried to demonstrate to you that the greatest fraud in history is underway here," Palmach said.

"Don't believe it, people of Israel, when they attempt to anesthetize you with such weakness," Ze'evi continued. "Instead of preparing the people for a lengthy struggle, they are giving us snake oil. 'What has changed?' [my father] would have asked. 'Have the Arabs changed? Has Islam changed? Has the logic that two nations cannot share a single state changed?' But we, who handed out weapons in the days of Rabin, which ended up harming Jews, are doing the same thing again these very days. But the government didn't stop to ask what has changed."

Addressing those who share his father's values, Ze'evi said, "We must compete for leadership and return this country to ourselves. Please, Lord, return strength to my people."

"Among the 120 Knesset Members, the killers chose father," Ze'evi noted. "They knew why they picked him, but they didn't know that they picked the wrong tribe." The "Ze'evi tribe," Palmach announced proudly, now has three more officers in the IDF who will continue the tradition of love for the Land of Israel that he himself was raised with.

Special Knesset Session
On Monday, October 15, there will be a special Knesset session in memory of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. The session will be held in the Knesset plenum in the presence of President Peres. Addressing the session will be Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Knesset Speaker Itzik, the President of the Supreme Court, and MK Netanyahu, as the official leader of the opposition.

Arabs Who Killed Girl Planned Yom Kippur Murder

The state prosecution has charged two Israeli-Arabs who ran down and killed a nine year old girl on Yom Kippur with manslaughter. Asad Nasim Shibli (20) and Muhammad Mamon Shibli (21), from the village of Arab a-Shibli, entered neighboring Kfar Tavor as Yom Kippur began, driving an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) at high speed. They drove through a crowd that had gathered outside the synagogue and ran over Tal Zino, a nine year old girl, killing her.
The charge sheet shows that the two planned their action in advance. In early September, two or three weeks before Yom Kippur, the driver drove his ATV wildly near the Kfar Tavor gas station. When a uniformed Border Police volunteer castigated him for this, he answered: "Wait and see what we'll do to you on Yom Kippur." He then made a rude gesture at the volunteer and drove off wildly.
The prosecution initially intended to charge the driver with murder but leftist reactions led it to change the charges to manslaughter. Arabs and news media said that charges of murder for a driving "accident" were unprecedented and would never have been filed against Jews.

Kfar Tavor residents quoted in news reports after the incident accused the driver of the ATV of killing Tal on purpose. Asad Shibli reportedly ignored numerous requests to leave the area before killing the girl who had been riding her bicycle.

When a Border Police volunteer castigated him for this, he answered: "Wait and see what we'll do to you on Yom Kippur."

Eyewitnesses said that Shibli and his friend had been driving at approximately 120 kph down a street full of children. Shibli and the other youth on the ATV came up with various excuses for their murderous actions, and claimed that they were not aware that Yom Kippur had begun.

One witness derided the police for refusing to define the incident as a terrorist attack, saying that if a Jewish driver had done what Shibli did in an Arab village, he would be charged with racially based murder.

Al Gore, U.N. panel win Nobel Peace Prize

This is the same group who gave Arafat a Nobel Peace Prize-treat this for what it is-a politically correct statement. Even though nearly a dozen points of contention have been judged incorrect in his movie, the Nobel Peace Committee ignored these facts. Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.

The committee also cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for two decades of scientific reports that have "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming."

The IPCC groups 2,500 researchers from more than 130 nations and issued reports this year blaming human activities for climate changes ranging from more heat waves to floods. It was set up in 1988 by the United Nations to help guide governments.

Comment: Yes, this same committee ignored all of the counter arguments made by many research scientists and economic experts. It appears that facts do not matter-what gets attention and rewarded is the good intentions of someone. I am no longer amazed by the standards currently being displayed by organizations around the world when it comes to truthful representation of concepts.

A SLAPP Against Freedom

Judith Miller
City Journal | 10/11/2007
Nothing gets a journalist’s attention like a subpoena. While authoritarian regimes silence critics by murdering or jailing them, journalists (and other critics) in the United States face gentler, but still effective, intimidation: libel lawsuits Over the last few years, Islamists have tried silencing reporters, scholars, and citizens by suing them for defamation, often successfully. But recent legal cases in California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota suggest that the tactic may finally be backfiring, at least in the United States, if not in Britain, where libel laws overwhelmingly favor plaintiffs. The American lawsuits’ outcomes—poorly covered by the media—represent victories for the free expression and public participation that the First Amendment guarantees.
The latest victory came in August, when an Islamic charity, KinderUSA, and its board chairman, Laila Al-Marayati, dropped the libel suit they had filed in April in California state court against former Treasury Department official Matthew Levitt, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (which now employs him), and Yale University Press. In 2006, Yale published Levitt’s book on Hamas, which Washington says supports terrorism. Levitt never mentioned Al-Marayati in his book, but he did assert that KinderUSA, founded to raise money for Palestinian children, had ties to terrorist groups.
Al-Marayati and KinderUSA charged that Levitt had made “false and damaging” charges that caused “irreparable harm to its reputation,” and they sought at least $500,000 in damages, a public retraction, and a halt to the book’s distribution. But Levitt and his codefendants stood by his claims. In June, they filed a motion against the charity and its chairman, seeking to quash the libel suit and demanding that the plaintiffs pay all legal fees. They cited a California law that bans “SLAPP”—or “strategic litigation against public participation”—suits, which aim not at winning in court, but at intimidating into silence a group or a publication raising issues of public concern. “California enacted anti-SLAPP legislation to get rid of inappropriate lawsuits like this one,” they wrote in a 15-page brief.
Less than six weeks later, Al-Marayati and KinderUSA dropped the suit. Todd Gallinger, who represented the plaintiffs, insisted that the charity had sued not to intimidate or silence Levitt, but rather to force him to correct charges that it still considers libelous. “They were trying to suppress the charity’s legitimate activities,” he said. But KinderUSA underestimated the costs involved, he acknowledged, and the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion was a factor in its decision to drop the suit.
“Anti-SLAPP laws are a very powerful tool,” agreed Roger Myers, an attorney who specializes in using the law to defend journalists in libel claims. “There has been a fairly dramatic decline in the number of libel cases being filed here in California.”
Levitt’s case isn’t unique. Last May, the Islamic Society of Boston dropped its suit against the Boston Herald, a local Fox news channel, journalist Steven Emerson, and 14 others. The Society had accused the defendants of libel and of infringing its civil rights by claiming that it had funded terrorist organizations, received money from Saudi Arabia, and bought land for a mosque below market value from the City of Boston.
Though Massachusetts’s anti-SLAPP law does not cover media firms, ten of the non-media defendants filed a motion to quash the Society’s suit. When a state judge rejected the motion, a legal discovery process got under way while the defendants appealed. Bank records and other documents revealed that, contrary to its claims, the Society had raised over $7 million from Saudi and other Middle Eastern sources and had funded two groups that the Bush administration has designated terrorist entities: the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Benevolence International Foundation. Records also showed that Society directors had deleted all e-mails about the Society’s land purchase. Finally, discovery revealed that the deputy director of the Boston city agency in charge of negotiating the land deal not only was a Society member whom it had paid to raise money in the Middle East, but also secretly advised the group about obtaining the land cheaply—a clear conflict of interest.
On May 29, soon after the state appellate court heard arguments on the anti-SLAPP appeal, the Society abandoned the suit. Though its lawyers did not respond to requests for comment and its website tried to put a good face on the surrender, Jeff Robbins, who represented several defendants in the complex lawsuit, expressed their belief that the Society had caved, fearing the prospect of paying what could have been millions of dollars in court and legal fees. “The anti-SLAPP motion clearly played a role,” said Robbins, who represented two clients for free because First Amendment issues were involved. Another factor, he said, was the Society’s fear that the court would order it to answer questions under oath and release information that it had tried to keep secret, such as the names of its donors. The case shows that while anti-SLAPP legislation makes it somewhat easier, cheaper, and faster for those accused of libel to fight back, “it doesn’t solve the problem entirely,” said Jeff Hermes, a lawyer for the Boston Herald. “Media companies are not covered by our state’s statute, and defendants in such cases still need to prepare a full defense.”
In Minnesota, a third lawsuit didn’t involve journalists or SLAPP statutes, but it did threaten citizens’ right to petition or warn the government on public safety issues. It also prompted Congress to protect people retroactively who report suspicious behavior. The defendants were anonymous citizens whose complaints about what they considered suspicious behavior by six Muslim imams on a flight in late 2006 led US Airways to remove the clerics from the plane. In a 2007 federal lawsuit claiming discrimination, the imams sued the airline, the Minneapolis airport, and several of the passengers who had complained.
But in August 2007, the “flying imams” dropped all claims against the passengers after Congress approved legislation to protect passengers from retaliatory lawsuits for reporting potentially terror-related activity. Under the measure, as in an anti-SLAPP law, if the plaintiffs cannot prove that a passenger lied in his complaint to the government, they can be held responsible for all court and legal fees. “The imams saw the handwriting on the wall,” said Representative Peter King, the New York Republican who promoted the bill. Gerry Nolting, a lawyer who represented a passenger, also without a fee, said that the imams might never have filed their suit if Minnesota had on its books an anti-SLAPP law like California’s.
However intimidating and expensive defamation lawsuits remain in the United States, the challenge is far greater in Britain, where journalists must prove that their allegations are true. Rachel Ehrenfeld, a New York–based terrorism researcher and the author of Funding Evil, is among more than 30 writers and publishers whom Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz sued for libel in England for accusing him of ties to terrorist groups, a charge he denies. But rather than give him the apology, retraction, and $225,000 in fees that a British court ordered, Ehrenfeld, whose book was never even published in England, fought back. In 2004, she countersued bin Mahfouz in New York, asking the federal court here to declare the judgment against her unenforceable in America and contrary to the First Amendment protections that Americans enjoy.
In June, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning a lower court ruling, asked the state’s highest court to determine whether bin Mahfouz should be subject to New York jurisdiction. If it rules affirmatively, Ehrenfeld would be able to obtain considerable information about his finances in preparing for a trial. If he then failed to cooperate, he might have difficulty doing business in America.
Ehrenfeld’s effort comes none too soon, says Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, for bin Mahfouz no longer needs to sue to intimidate his critics. After he merely threatened Cambridge University Press with a libel suit this spring, the prestigious publisher agreed to apologize on its website, pay his legal costs and unspecified damages, and stop distributing Alms for Jihad, a book written by J. Millard Burr, a former State Department analyst and relief coordinator, and Robert O. Collins, a former University of California history professor, which outlines bin Mahfouz’s alleged financial support for terrorism. Cambridge also asked libraries to remove the book from their shelves. On its website, Cambridge states that it took such steps because “under English libel laws, we simply did not have a defensible case.” A court victory for Rachel Ehrenfeld, and more anti-SLAPP statutes—only some 20 states have enacted such laws—would help curb the pernicious “libel tourism” so inimical to the free flow of information on which an informed citizenry and effective counterterrorism depend.

Judith Miller, a contributing editor of City Journal, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who writes about national security issues. She has written or coauthored four books, including Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War.

Failing Grades

Alan W. Dowd
American Legion Magazine | 10/11/2007
Once upon a time, schools emphasized the “three Rs”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. But recently a “fourth R” seems to have entered the schoolhouse—radicalism. And teachers are increasingly the source of the radical ideas being peddled in America’s schools.
Hearing Is Believing
“When you go into a class where you’re supposed to learn about government or geography,” as high-school junior Sean Allen puts it, “you expect to learn what the truth is.” But as Sean learned in 2006, some teachers don’t teach the truth.
When Sean signed up for “Accelerated World Geography” at Overland High School in suburban Denver, he probably didn’t expect diatribes against the United States, capitalism or President George W. Bush. Nor did he expect to be thrust into the middle of a national debate over the limits of academic freedom. But that’s exactly what happened.
“Sean had told me the teacher was pretty radical,” his father, Jeff Allen, recalls.
How radical? Sean’s teacher, Jay Bennish, used a geography class to declare capitalism “an economic system at odds with humanity.” He called the United States “the most violent nation on earth.” He said Bush’s 2006 State of the Union “sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say.”
Remember, this is a geography class—for tenth-graders.
Sean’s dad couldn’t believe what his son was reporting. But in this case, hearing is believing. Sean had started recording lectures to help in note-taking. When he played Bennish’s rant for his father, the elder Allen called the principal to let her know what was going on in the classroom.
Almost a week later, still awaiting a response from the principal, Allen sent syndicated columnist Walter Williams an email detailing the situation. “I didn’t think unless I had the backing of someone like a Walter Williams that the school would take any action,” Allen says.
Williams wrote a column on the brewing controversy. Then, a local radio station aired the recording and interviewed Sean, as did Fox News Channel.
Along the way, Bennish was suspended but ultimately reinstated. “The intent was not to bust the teacher,” Allen explains. “The intent was to get the teacher to teach what he was hired to teach. Kids look up to teachers, they respect teachers.”
Sean says 90 percent of the student body supported him, but he did receive threats and enrolled in another school. He also received hundreds of supportive emails from all across the country—and even from troops in Iraq.
“Sean has gotten a lot of support from our troops,” according to his father. “One soldier even sent him a flag and a letter of appreciation. That makes it all worth it.”
Sean, who later returned to Overland High School, hopes his ordeal shows parents and students that the biased brand of education we have come to expect at America’s universities is seeping down to the high-school level. “It’s a huge problem in high school,” according to Sean. “By the time you’re in college, you’re sort of numb to it or you just go along with it.”
David Horowitz agrees. “The kids are already brainwashed by the time they get to college,” according to Horowitz, who was one of the founders of the so-called New Left that helped radicalize college campuses in the 1960s. He is now one of the most ardent critics of the far left, launching a family of organizations that promote academic freedom and serve as watchdogs against political indoctrination in the classroom. One of those organizations is Parents and Students for Academic Freedom (PSAF).
“It is much, much worse at the K-12 level because the kids are so young,” he argues. “It’s unbelievable what they are being allowed to do at K-12 schools.”
He points to the Bennish case and to what he observed firsthand at Pacific Palisades High School in 2005. Working with antiwar groups, the school’s English department planned what Horowitz calls “an indoctrination session for 14- to 18-year-olds.” Those attending the program, which took place during school hours, were treated to antiwar propaganda and anti-American vitriol: Iraq was “a war for oil;” the war on terror was caused by “America’s support for Israel;” U.S. troops have killed 100,000 innocent Iraqis.
But thanks to a mistake by the organizers, Horowitz was also in attendance. He provided balance—and facts—to the program. He also listened to students who reported that some teachers intimidated them, harangued them and kicked them out of class when they dared mention Saddam Hussein’s brutal record.
Those who dismiss episodes like this as isolated cases “are completely wrong,” according to Horowitz. He cites the trend within schools of education—the places that teach teachers—to promote the “social justice movement,” which in his view is “a movement to indoctrinate students in our K-12 schools.”
As evidence, PSAF has put together a survey of the most prominent texts used in schools of education. One openly concludes that teachers “cannot hide behind notions of neutrality or objectivity.” Another, geared to grade-school mathematics teachers, includes a lesson plan condemning U.S. military action against the medieval Taliban.[1]
A Bill Too Far?
PSAF is helping parents and policymakers expose and reverse such “politicization in the American school system” by promoting a Student Bill of Rights.
The Arizona legislature, for example, has considered a controversial bill to protect students and prohibit “any instructor in a public K-12 or postsecondary institution while in the instructor’s official capacity from endorsing, supporting or opposing any political candidate or office, legislation, litigation or court action or advocating one side of a social, political or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy.” The bill’s proposed penalties include revocation of teaching certification and up to a $500 fine.[2]
However, sometimes even the best-intentioned remedies go too far. Horowitz opposes the bill’s college-related elements. “I have never advocated legislation that would monitor or restrict what university instructors say in their classrooms,” he recently wrote. But he supports the K-12 elements.
The distinction makes sense. Most K-12 students, as Sara Dogan of PSAF observes, “don’t have the maturity of college students to protest what is happening or even to tell their parents.”
Indeed, children are the very definition of impressionable. That’s one reason why so many people choose education as a vocation, and thank goodness they do. It’s a hard, often thankless job that literally cultivates our most precious resource. But as Dogan explains, “Many teachers take advantage of their positions of authority. Their role is to educate, not indoctrinate.”
Arizona lawmakers aren’t the only ones wading into controversial education issues. In early 2007, New Jersey lawmakers passed a measure that would have allowed schools to stop observing and/or teaching about Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Veterans groups called on Gov. Jon Corzine to veto the bill, which he did.[3]
“Given the past sacrifices of our veterans and the sacrifices now being made by those serving in the Armed Forces, especially the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in service to their country,” Corzine concluded in his veto message, “it is imperative that New Jersey school children be reminded of those valiant men and women who have demonstrated their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”[4]
The Common Good
But it would appear that teachers and administrators are the ones who need to be reminded about patriotism, sacrifice and service.
· One former teacher reports that many public schools in Los Angeles have given up on the Pledge of Allegiance. “Teachers openly opposed reciting the Pledge,” according to Ari Kaufman, who taught in Los Angeles public schools from 2001-2005. “I even recall elementary-school teachers having kids make ‘No War in Iraq’ posters.” Kaufman ultimately lost the energy to keep teaching. “I got along with the parents and loved the kids. But the radicalized teachers and teachers unions disenchanted me.”
· In San Francisco, the board of education voted to end the Junior ROTC program in late 2006. Even though the program is completely voluntary, promotes community service, and keeps some 1,600 kids off the streets, it will be phased out next year.[5]
· Likewise, the JROTC program at L.A.’s Roosevelt High is under assault from an alliance of students and agenda-minded teachers, contributing to a 43-percent drop in the number of cadets. The Los Angeles Times reports that some teachers are openly hostile toward JROTC. In one incident, a teacher mocked a uniformed cadet and asked him, “Are you going to Iraq to die?”[6]
· The board of the San Mateo Union High School District in California is mulling ways to limit military recruiter access to students. The Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin has already done so.[7] The Garfield High School PTA in Seattle started the anti-recruiting trend in 2005, when it declared that “public schools are not a place for military recruiters.”[8] But the law says otherwise. The No Child Left Behind Act, which passed Congress with broad bipartisan support in 2002, directs high-school administrators to “provide military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as is provided…to post-secondary educational institutions or to prospective employers.”
· Teachers at Frank Allis Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin, gave their third-graders an assignment to write antiwar letters to the President, Members of Congress, and other students. The principal ordered the teachers to cancel the assignment, noting that it was a violation of district policies.[9]
· At La Escuela Fratney, a bilingual public school in Milwaukee, fifth-grade teacher Bob Peterson has touted the benefits of leading his students in “The Pledge of Resistance” and using antiwar folk songs in the classroom. “Wake up!” yelps one song. “The children are dying, the children of Iraq!” Among the other titles he recommends are “Bombs over Baghdad,” “The Price of Oil,” and “Bomb Da World.”[10] It pays to recall that he “teaches” ten-year-olds.
Standing Up
Teachers aren’t the only ones guilty of pushing agendas in the classroom, however. Consider what happened this year at Tucson Accelerated High School, a public charter school where the student council voted to end the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
In response, junior Sam Lucero and his younger brother, Robert, led a protest against the student council’s decision. “We took flags to school and sang the National Anthem and said the Pledge of Allegiance,” Sam explains. “Most of the kids said it was a waste of time. But I’m an American, and there are people fighting for that flag. The least we can do is stand up and say the Pledge.”
Sam knows all too well that Americans are fighting and dying for our flag. Two of his siblings are deployed in Iraq. And his oldest brother, Lance Cpl. Joshua Lucero, was killed in 2004 while serving with the U.S. Marines in Iraq. “He didn’t die for nothing,” Sam says of his fallen brother. “He fought for the flag. It symbolizes hope and freedom.”
Sam plans to follow in his brother’s footsteps and enlist in the Marines after graduation. “I want to fight for our country,” he says with pride.
Of course, he already has fought for the flag. Thanks to Sam’s actions, the student council’s misguided decision drew public attention and was quickly reversed. Lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund reminded the school that “prohibiting the recitation of the Pledge violates both Arizona statutory law and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
Most teachers appreciate and respect the great responsibility with which they are entrusted. But sadly, some abuse their position of trust.
As these agenda-minded educators gain a foothold in America’s schools, there is obviously cause for concern. But young people like Sam Lucero and Sean Allen remind us that there is also reason for hope.
This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of The American Legion Magazine.


[1] Sol Stern, “Teaching social justice in the K-12 schools,”, July 31, 2006.
[2] Arizona State Senate, Fact Sheet for SB 1612,, accessed on February 13, 2007.
[3] Tom Hester, “NJ veterans angry over education bill,” The Evening Sun, January 12, 2007.
[4] Office of the Governor, “Governor Corzine Vetoes Legislation,”, January 26, 2007.
[5] Jill Tucker, “school board votes to dump JROTC program,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 2006; Heather Knight, “Board has plan to oust ROTC from S.F. schools,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 23, 2006.
[6] Sonia Nazario, “Junior ROTC takes a hit in LA,” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2007.
[7] Jason Goldman-Hall, “School district tables decision on military recruiters,” Washington Examiner, January 19, 2007.
[8] Dean Patton, “Rift over recruiting at public high schools,” Christian Science Monitor, May 18, 2005.
[9] Bob Purvis, “Principal rejects antiwar assignment,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 22, 2005.
[10] See Bob Peterson, “Music can be a powerful opening to students of all ages,” Rethinking Schools Online, Spring 2003.

Alan W. Dowd is a senior fellow at Sagamore Institute for Policy

Palestinians Crucify the Holy Land

Robert Spencer

Last Saturday, Palestinian Christian Rami Ayyad was abducted and murdered. His body was found the next day. Six months ago, a bomb destroyed Ayyad’s Christian bookstore, the Holy Bible Society in Gaza City.
No group claimed responsibility for the murder of Ayyad, but the bombing of his bookstore was consistent with the pattern of bombings carried out by a jihadist group calling itself “The Righteous Swords of Islam.”
Ayyad’s death comes at a time when the position of Christians in the Palestinian Authority is more precarious than ever. Dr. Justus Weiner of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said in July that “for a number of years now, this minority community [of Christians] has been in dire need of assistance. Palestinian Christians are unable to practice their religion in freedom and in peace. Most in danger are Arab Christians. And most in danger among Arab Christians are those who have converted from Islam. They are often left defenseless against cruelty from Muslim fundamentalists.”
This cruelty is often hallowed by the sanction of Islamic law. Sheikh Abu Saqer of the jihadist group Jihadia Salafiya announced last June: “I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza.” This would mean that, in accord with ancient provisions of Islamic Sharia law, Christians could practice their religion, but only if they did so inconspicuously: “Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity. No more alcohol on the streets. All women, including non-Muslims, need to understand they must be covered at all times while in public.” Hamas even intends to reinstitute the jizya, the special tax mandated by the Qur’an (9:29) for Jews and Christians, but from which Muslims are exempt from paying.
Christians are accordingly streaming out of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas – including some of the holiest sites in Christendom. Christians comprised 85 percent of the population of Bethlehem in 1948; by 2006 their numbers had dwindled to twelve percent, and a large mosque has been built on one side of Manger Square, right across from the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Muslim thugs beat a Christian cab driver in Bethlehem, George Rabie, just for displaying a crucifix in his cab. Rabie noted: “Every day, I experience discrimination….Many extremists from the villages are coming into Bethlehem.” Sometimes this discrimination turns lethal: several years ago, Muslims shot dead two Christian women for not wearing the Islamic veil. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility and explained: “We wanted to clean the Palestinian house of prostitutes.” Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of a private Christian television station, observed last January: “The situation is very dangerous. I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation.” A Bethlehem hotelier, Joseph Canawati, said simply: “There is no hope for the future of the Christian community. We don’t think things are going to get better. For us, it is finished.”
Yet while all this has gone on the world has turned a blind eye. The UN has issued no resolutions calling upon the Palestinians to stop mistreating their Christian minority. Human rights organizations have likewise been silent. And in the West, where Islamic advocacy groups and student groups profess to reject and abhor “extremism,” the oppression of Palestinian Christians has likewise not registered on the radar screen. The Council on American Islamic Relations has said nothing about it. Neither has the Muslim Public Affairs Council. And on campuses around the country, Leftist and Muslim groups are denouncing organizers of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events, instead of joining with them to stand against the oppression of Christians (as well as women, gays, and others) in all too many Muslim countries today.
Why is that? If these groups really oppose jihadist activity and Sharia oppression, why won’t they stand against them? These groups have been directing their efforts toward discrediting Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week by casting aspersions upon David Horowitz and others. Some have stooped even to fabricating posters in order to portray the organizers of the Week as bigoted and hateful. The losers in all this are the Palestinian Christians and other victims of jihadist oppression. The only ones who are speaking up for them are being vilified and smeared by those who claim to be the sentinels of tolerance and justice.
Yet if Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is ultimately shouted down on campuses all over the country, among the winners will be those who are making life so miserable for Christians in the Palestinian Authority and all over the Islamic world. And no one will be left to speak for them at all.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take a chance on peace, Mr. Abbas

Ray Hanania

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reopened the door to a peace accord with the Palestinians and was immediately attacked by extremists in his government. But he was also attacked by extremists leading the illegal government in the Gaza Strip, which has been reoccupied by Hamas extremists.
Olmert will, reportedly, propose sharing Arab East Jerusalem, a city lost to Israel when Jordan's military collapsed along with the incompetent armies of Egypt and Syria in a confrontation with Israeli forces that the Arabs provoked and Israel exploited in June 1967. The proposal will be made at an upcoming peace conference that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to attend.
Abbas has come under a barrage of renewed attacks from both pro-Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip and Arab and Palestinian "journalists" in the West who oppose compromise with Israel but long ago compromised their journalistic principles to become advocates for extremists.
Olmert was excoriated in a tirade by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who helped kill Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in the 1990s, denying both Palestinians and Israelis the peace most seek.
And it was the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by an anti-peace extremist that sealed the fate of the peace process - that and a series of Hamas terrorist suicide bombings which intentionally targeted innocent Israeli civilians and children.
ONCE AGAIN, Palestinians are faced with a difficult choice. Do they continue to embrace 60-year old principles and demand the impossible - to return to land of the pre-1948 years? Or do they wake up and recognize that their only real chance for peace and a Palestinian state is to accept their own failures? The brutal truth is that Israel's existence - which Palestinians reject - has much to do with their own failed policies and their own extremist acts.
More importantly, are Palestinians finally willing to stop lying to the Palestinian refugees and to their descendants - to acknowledge the truth that even though the Palestinians may have a legal right under international law to return to their lands taken in 1948, 60 years of continued conflict and failed Arab leadership has made the enforcement of that dream unrealistic?
Should we not admit to the refugees that policies of rejection built on exploiting their suffering have failed, and that the only option is to now accept the inevitable: that the most we can expect from Israel is an apology, the return of some refugees through negotiations, compensation, and resettlement in a Palestinian state?
Isn't the reality of living their lives in a Palestinian state greater than the unrealistic dream of turning back the clock to a time when the Arab leadership was no better than it is today?
Is it worth it to remain in the squalor and festering hatred of the refugee camps, driven on by extremists whose only path is continued sacrifice, suicide terror and self-imposed oppression?
I know that most Palestinians are moderates who fear the violent threats from groups like Hamas and other extremists (who would just as soon murder another Palestinian as they would any Jew). But we cannot allow those fanatics to control our lives. Their policies have pushed us to where we are. If we live in Bantustans, we helped create them through rejection and an absence of strategic policies of national salvation.
ABBAS SHOULD immediately embrace Olmert's proposals and send a clear message that he supports compromise based on negotiations and is dedicated to eradicating the extremists like the Hamas terrorists.
Let the negotiations begin. Maybe, just maybe, Abbas can use the leverage given to him by the expulsion of the illegitimate and oppressive Hamas "government" from the Palestine National Authority.
Let Abbas define a true compromise that will stop the slow but steady erasure of Palestinian identity, a Palestinian nation that is being swallowed up by a land expansionism driven by Israeli extremists who exploit Palestinian rejectionism, and the transformation of a secular Democratic Palestinian people into an oppressive religious fanaticism.
Although the negotiations may not bring about a truly fair division of Palestine and Israel, long-term peace will help counterbalance the sacrifices Palestinians have made since 1948.
Two states can exist side by side, and they can share Jerusalem. And, one day, Jews will be able to live and work in Palestine, and citizens of Palestine will be able to live and work in Israel.
That is a dream worth fighting for.
The writer is an award-winning Palestinian columnist and author.

Israel can take solace in its ability to go it alone

The Israeli strike on Syria last month has become a Rorschach test of sorts for Bush administration policy makers, many of whom are viewing the incident in relation to how they think the US should proceed on diplomatic nonproliferation initiatives. In the reported incident, Israeli intelligence allegedly found signs of an incipient Syrian nuclear program being built with help from North Korea, leading to an attack that eliminated the facility.
As detailed in The New York Times Wednesday, US Vice President Dick Cheney and hawkish skeptics of the current negotiations with North Korea over dismantling its nuclear program are pointing to the incident as reason to reconsider the diplomatic effort.
On the other hand US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and her backers don't consider the case sufficiently severe to disrupt the Six-Party talks with North Korea, which have continued even after the Israel action.
The Times article followed reports over the weekend that Israel had delayed the offensive due to US displeasure at the prospect of the strike, much of it from the State Department.
While some Israel advocates have taken umbrage at the suggestion of doubt being shed on Israeli intelligence - which they reject as unwarranted - others say the debate bolsters Israel's position because it indicates the Israelis are willing to act alone when necessary.
"Recently there's been the notion that [Israelis] are so dependent on the United States that they cannot make national security decisions that reflect their own perceived interests," noted one Washington source who is close to American and Israeli officials.
"The fact that there was an internal debate in the administration and no clear green light, but only acquiescence, enhances the deterrence and the perceived ability of Israel to act independently of the United States." Former CIA and US Defense Department official Bruce Reidel said the issue wasn't whether Israeli intelligence per se is reliable, but rather the generally uncertain nature of any information about North Korea.
"North Korea is a black hole for intelligence," he said, since its closed nature makes human intelligence assets almost unheard of.
"We are heavily dependent on technical intelligence, and technical intelligence is always subject to a high degree of analysis and evaluation," said Reidel, now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. "You have isolated data points and very little way of connecting them together." He said that leaves much of the intelligence gathered open to interpretation - and use by officials seeking to boost their agendas.
"The vice president's office will lean so far forward they'll fall of their face with their enthusiasm to use [technical intelligence] for military purposes" against places like Iraq and Iran, he said.
On the other hand, Reidel continued, the State Department would have "a very high standard of proof" for examining any such intelligence. He pointed to Rice's involvement with two "very visible" diplomatic initiatives - the negotiations with North Korea and the upcoming international peace meeting between Israel and Palestinians "both of which could become undone because of tensions between Israel and Syria." Though the larger fracture looms - and could have potent implications for Iran - one Washington observer believes the debate is over when it comes to North Korea.
"The fact is that this is a done deal," said the source, "and the administration would never would have let (Assistant Secretary of State) Chris Hill go and negotiate with the North Koreans after the Israeli strike, or sent the team of inspectors to North Korea this week to begin the disarmament process, if they were have second thoughts on moving ahead with it."
He added, "The few remaining neo-conservatives in the administration, or those like John Bolton who've left it, may not like the deal, but Rice wouldn't have closed it without the full support of Bush. This is one of the few successes so far they can point to, and the Israeli intelligence over a possible shipment of nuclear material to Syria wouldn't be enough to scuttle it." Bolton and other strong neo-conservative supporters of Israel in the US are indeed among those who have most strongly opposed the North Korean talks from the very start.
According to Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University, an expert in nuclear proliferation issues, Israel itself has no interest in being part of the debate over North Korea.
"Israel is rightly concerned about the issue of possible proliferation from North Korea, especially to Syria or Iran, as they dismantle their nuclear infrastructure," he said. "The Israeli interest is not to abandon the Six-Party framework, but to press to have a firm agreement on ending North Korea exports as part of the package."
Bush administration officials don't like to talk on the record about how the Israeli air strike has factored into policy in North Korea, and Rice avoided the Syrian incident when meeting with a group of Jewish leaders last week, according to those familiar with the meeting.
But it was reported that Hill brought up the incident with the North Koreans. The State Department officially reiterates the importance of nonproliferation as a goal of the Six-Party talks.
"The Six-Party talks are a mechanism to address a number of problems, particularly the nuclear program, so we are working through this process in an effort to get North Korea to abandon all of its existing nuclear [activities]," a State Department official said. "The administration is committed to trying to make this process work. Proliferation is something that has to be dealt with."

Israel granting residency to 5,000 West Bank Palestinians

The Palestinians will demand the return of all their Israeli-occupied land in peace talks and will not agree to a state with temporary borders, president Mahmud Abbas said on Wednesday.
In an interview with Palestinian television, Abbas outlined what the Palestinians will seek in talks with Israel after a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference expected in November.

"This meeting must touch on the main questions, including borders, refugees, water, Jerusalem, settlements and security," he said.
"The Palestinian people must have a continuous and viable state within 1967 borders. The area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip stands at 6,205 square kilometers (2,396 square miles) and we want these 6,205 square kilometers," he said. He said he would accept "border modifications here and there" but rejected any exchange of territory under any final peace deal. Israel wants to keep its major settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank, in exchange for giving the Palestinians equivalent amounts of land elsewhere. "We have rejected in the past and we reject now a state with temporary borders. It will lead us to an impasse that will last many, many years," Abbas said. The so-called roadmap for Middle East peace -- dormant since its launch in 2003 -- contained the option of creating a Palestinian state with temporary borders first, and determining the final borders later.Washington called the conference, whose exact date, location and participant list have not yet been announced, in the latest bid to jumpstart a peace process that has been dormant for nearly seven years. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will next week hold talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on her seventh visit to the region this year. Ahead of the U.S. conference, Abbas and Olmert have held a series of one-to-one meetings, discussing the most intractable issues of their decades-old conflict. Earlier this week Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams began trying to hammer out a joint document ahead of the November meeting, with a view of starting negotiations after the conference.Olmert has come in for domestic criticism that he was moving too fast in his talks with Abbas, or that the Palestinian president -- whose control has been limited to the West Bank since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in mid-June -- was too weak politically to implement any agreement reached. The premier, while seeking to calm the fears and silence the critics, has vowed to push on with the revived talks.

Israel granting residency to 5,000 Palestinians In a new gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel said it will grant residency permits to 5,000 Palestinians who have been living in the West Bank on expired visitors' visas.The decision means an easier life for part of the 20,000 Palestinians, including some with U.S. citizenship, who entered the West Bank as visitors during the heady years of peacemaking in the 1990s but saw their visitors' permits expire. That left them with a difficult choice: leave the West Bank with no guarantee of returning, or remain illegally under constant fear of arrest.The residency permit gesture is meant to boost Abbas in his struggle with the Islamic Hamas ahead of the conference next month.Under partial peace accords, Israel has to sign off on the permits -- giving it the power to decide which visitors may stay in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel insisted on that power as an anti-terrorism measure.Palestinians who were abroad when Israel captured the territories in 1967 or who have lived abroad for many years have no residency rights. They must enter the West Bank with their foreign passports as tourists, even if they have long family histories or are married to local Palestinians.
Palestinians want all occupied land back: Abbas

Israel granting residency to 5,000 Palestinians

A U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference will take place in Nov. (File)
The Palestinians will demand the return of all their Israeli-occupied land in peace talks and will not agree to a state with temporary borders, president Mahmud Abbas said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Palestinian television, Abbas outlined what the Palestinians will seek in talks with Israel after a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference expected in November.

"This meeting must touch on the main questions, including borders, refugees, water, Jerusalem, settlements and security," he said.
"The Palestinian people must have a continuous and viable state within 1967 borders. The area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip stands at 6,205 square kilometers (2,396 square miles) and we want these 6,205 square kilometers," he said. He said he would accept "border modifications here and there" but rejected any exchange of territory under any final peace deal. Israel wants to keep its major settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank, in exchange for giving the Palestinians equivalent amounts of land elsewhere. "We have rejected in the past and we reject now a state with temporary borders. It will lead us to an impasse that will last many, many years," Abbas said. The so-called roadmap for Middle East peace -- dormant since its launch in 2003 -- contained the option of creating a Palestinian state with temporary borders first, and determining the final borders later.Washington called the conference, whose exact date, location and participant list have not yet been announced, in the latest bid to jumpstart a peace process that has been dormant for nearly seven years. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will next week hold talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on her seventh visit to the region this year. Ahead of the U.S. conference, Abbas and Olmert have held a series of one-to-one meetings, discussing the most intractable issues of their decades-old conflict. Earlier this week Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams began trying to hammer out a joint document ahead of the November meeting, with a view of starting negotiations after the conference.Olmert has come in for domestic criticism that he was moving too fast in his talks with Abbas, or that the Palestinian president -- whose control has been limited to the West Bank since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in mid-June -- was too weak politically to implement any agreement reached. The premier, while seeking to calm the fears and silence the critics, has vowed to push on with the revived talks.

Israel granting residency to 5,000 Palestinians In a new gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel said it will grant residency permits to 5,000 Palestinians who have been living in the West Bank on expired visitors' visas.The decision means an easier life for part of the 20,000 Palestinians, including some with U.S. citizenship, who entered the West Bank as visitors during the heady years of peacemaking in the 1990s but saw their visitors' permits expire. That left them with a difficult choice: leave the West Bank with no guarantee of returning, or remain illegally under constant fear of arrest.The residency permit gesture is meant to boost Abbas in his struggle with the Islamic Hamas ahead of the conference next month.Under partial peace accords, Israel has to sign off on the permits -- giving it the power to decide which visitors may stay in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel insisted on that power as an anti-terrorism measure.Palestinians who were abroad when Israel captured the territories in 1967 or who have lived abroad for many years have no residency rights. They must enter the West Bank with their foreign passports as tourists, even if they have long family histories or are married to local Palestinians.

Zionisms Bleak Present

Daniel Pipes
Jerusalem Post
October 11, 2007

"We are all Keynsians now," Richard Nixon famously asserted just as the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes fell into disrepute. Likewise, one could have said with similar confidence in 1989, as Israel's existence reached wide acceptance, "We are all Zionists now." No longer.
Count the ways Israel is under siege: from Iranians building a nuclear bomb, Syrians stockpiling chemical weapons, Egyptians and Saudis developing serious conventional forces, Hizbullah attacking from Lebanon, Fatah from the West Bank, Hamas from Gaza, and Israel's Muslim citizens becoming politically restive and more violent.
World-wide, professors, editorialists, and foreign ministry bureaucrats challenge the continued existence of a Jewish state. Even friendly governments, notably the Bush administration, pursue diplomatic initiatives that undermine Israeli deterrence even as their arms sales erode its security.
Let's suppose, however, that the country muddles through these many problems. That leaves it face to face with its ultimate challenge: a Jewish population increasingly disenchanted with, even embarrassed by, the country's founding ideology, Zionism, the Jewish national movement.
As developed by Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) and other theoreticians, Zionism's call for a sovereign Jewish state fit the political context and mood of its time. If Chinese, Arabs, and Irish sought to establish a national state, why not Jews?
Indeed, especially Jews, for through nearly two millennia they had paid the greatest price of any people for their political weakness, having been expelled, victimized, persecuted and mass murdered as none other. Zionism offered an escape to this tragic history by standing tall and taking up the sword.
From its inception, Zionism had its share of Jewish opponents, ranging from the Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) to nostalgic Iraqis to reform rabbis, But, until recently, these were marginal elements. Now, due to high birth rates, the once-tiny Haredi community constitutes 22 percent of Israel's current first-grade class; add to this the roughly equivalent number of Arab first-graders and a sea-change in Israeli politics can be expected about 2025.
Worse for Israel, Jewish nationalism has lost the near-automatic support it once had among secular Jews, many of whom find this nineteenth-century ideology out of date. Some accept arguments that a Jewish state represents racism or ethnic supremacism, others find universalist and multi-cultural alternatives compelling. Consider some signs of the changes underway:
· Young Israelis are avoiding the military in record numbers, with 26 percent of enlistment-age Jewish males and 43 percent of females not drafted in 2006. An alarmed Israel Defense Forces has requested legislation to deny state-provided benefits to Jewish Israelis who do not serve.
· Israel's Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has up-ended the work of the Jewish National Fund, one of the pioneer Zionist institutions (founded in 1901) by determining that its role of acquiring land specifically for Jews cannot continue in the future with state assistance.
· Prominent Israeli historians focus on showing how Israel was conceived in sin and has been a force for evil.
· Israel's ministry of education has approved school books for third-grade Arab students that present the creation of Israel in 1948 as a "catastrophe" (Arabic: nakba).
· Avraham Burg, scion of a leading Zionist household and himself a prominent Labor Party figure, has published a book comparing Israel with 1930s Germany.
· A 2004 poll found only 17 percent of American Jews call themselves "Zionist."
Abraham Burg, a former Labor Party leader, compares Israel with 1930s Germany.

Seen in a larger context, this turn from Zionism echoes trends in other Western countries, where old-style patriotism and national pride have also declined. In Western Europe, citizens tend to see little of special value in their own history, customs, and mores. Last month, for example, the Netherlands' Princess Máxima, wife to the heir to the throne, announced to wide acclaim that "The Dutch identity does not exist." This Western-wide decline of patriotism aggravates Israel's predicament, suggesting that developments there fit into a larger trend, making them the more difficult to resist or reverse.
To top it off, Arabs are moving these days in the opposite direction, reaching a fever pitch of ethnic and religious bellicosity.
As a Zionist myself, I watch these several trends with foreboding about Israel's future.
I console myself by recalling that few of today's problems were evident in 1989. Perhaps in 2025, Zionism's prospects will again brighten, as Westerners generally and Israelis specifically finally awake to the dangers posed by Palestinian irredentists, jihadists, and other extremist Middle Easterners.

Haniyeh Hamas rule in Gaza temporary

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday night that Hamas would be willing to hold talks with Fatah and hinted that it would consider ceding control of the Gaza Strip, Aljazeera reported. "There is a serious improvement in Palestinian dialogue, and we have agreed to hold talks with Fatah in one of the Arab capitals," read Haniyeh's statement, which was posted on a pro-Hamas Hamas website.
Haniyeh also said the Hamas administration in Gaza was "temporary," adding that dialogue with Fatah would be established following Ramadan.
Meanwhile, VOA reported that a number of former senior US government officials have tried to egg the Bush administration into creating a dialogue with Hamas.
According to the report, the group, which includes former Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former House International Relations Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton, wrote a letter to Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting that Hamas be included in diplomacy leading up to the upcoming peace summit in Novemeber.
According to the petition, which did not specify whether Hamas should actually be invited to the parley, a dialogue with the Islamic group would pressure both sides to break the deadlock and arrive at an agreement.
Reportedly, the letter also commended President Bush on his efforts to coax Syria into attending the summit.

A banana republic in the making

Never have Israelis been as frustrated with their leaders as today. Yet the old guard not only retains the reins of power, but with unabashed hutzpa launches new policies that the vast majority of their constituents adamantly oppose.
There is a virtual consensus that the negotiations initiated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with the Palestinians will lead to nowhere. Even if Mahmoud Abbas had undergone a genuine transformation - which is doubtful - today he is utterly impotent and incapable of delivering anything. Indeed, if he survives, the most likely outcome is that he will reach an accommodation with Hamas and whatever weapons we provide or concessions we make will, as in the past, be turned against us.
Like our prime minister, all the current Israeli negotiators are failed and discredited politicians. During his tenure as premier, Ehud Barak created the foundations for the Second Lebanon War. President Shimon Peres still waxes eloquent about the failed Oslo Accords and exploits his presidential prerogative under the illusory cloak of promoting peace to create a climate for further appeasement and unilateral concessions.
And a discredited Haim Ramon, defiantly appointed deputy prime minister by his mate Ehud Olmert, blatantly proposes radical concessions to an impotent PA "with the authority but without the approval" of the prime minister. All this proceeds while Kassam missiles continue being launched from Gaza and we make empty threats.
BEYOND THE release of hardened terrorists, there was no transparency concerning the parameters of these concessions. However, the terms were leaked to the Israeli public through the Arab media. In response, Prime Minister Olmert assured the nation that the Knesset would have the final say. But in the interim, the world becomes acclimatized to Israel accepting a total retreat to '67 armistice lines - perhaps with minor modifications - and relinquishing control of the Old City and sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Judaism's most sacred site.
Whereas the Arab "right of return" is left for future negotiations, Israel would make a "declaratory" statement accepting responsibility for having created the refugee problem, thus giving credence to the false Arab narrative and sanctioning all the Arab lies concerning this issue since 1948.
HIGHLIGHTING the "Alice in Wonderland" nature of these proposed concessions, Abbas, whose survival is dependent on an IDF presence, insists that Ramon did not go far enough and demands a return of all "occupied Jerusalem" to the 1967 lines.
Let there be no misunderstanding. Even if the dysfunctional Knesset vetoes these bizarre proposals, Prime Minister Olmert and his collaborators will have created horrific precedents that will unquestionably haunt his successors in future negotiations. And the international community, including our allies, will assume that a "flexible" Israel will forfeit vital assets that would never have been approved by the people.
Those who launched the Oslo Accords fervently vowed that we would never concede anything remotely comparable to these proposals, which even exceed the madness that prevailed at Taba during the dying days of the chaotic Barak administration.
Indeed, Israel's basic democratic structure must be questioned if negotiations involving the forfeiture of such vital Israeli assets can proceed despite the opposition of the people and without even convening a meaningful cabinet or Knesset debate.
AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party purports to represent the hard-Right of the political spectrum, must be desperate to retain his ministerial position because beyond threatening to resign he does nothing to prevent these unconscionable activities.
Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai of Shas, representing a hawkish constituency, also threatens to bolt the government but remains glued to his ministerial office while a return to the '67 borders is being negotiated. The Pensioners' Party head Rafi Eitam expresses outrage at Ramon's proposals for Jerusalem, but does not even threaten to resign. Likewise, dissatisfied Kadima parliamentarians insist that their party would never endorse the proposed concessions to the Palestinians, but refuse to act.
Even more perplexing - despite the fact that issues with existential implications for our future are at stake - is that opposition Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu seems to have been struck dumb.
ON THE other hand, those in the Israel national camp also have a long track record of self-undermining by promoting extremist policies. Despite having a highly persuasive case, they are often incapable of articulating their position in a sophisticated manner. Again and again they adopted a "you are either with us or against us" attitude which alienated potential allies among moderate centrists who under normal circumstances would at least have supported them part of the way.
The voices from the Right now being heard are often shrill and counterproductive. Moshe Feiglin in Likud promotes views that belong to the political fringe, not to a purportedly centrist party. The national religious camp sends mixed messages. Whereas their leader, Zevulun Orlev, is moderate, since the Gaza withdrawal extremist elements continue to capture media headlines as they reject the state and identify with anti-Zionist haredim. Highly vocal religious activists also often fail to appreciate that while they are commendably motivated by religion, basing the case for Israel exclusively on the Bible is not going to generate support from secular Israelis.
If the national camp is to force the government to jettison its recent initiatives - which could make the Oslo disaster pale - it is imperative that they now set aside their differences and create a united front with moderate centrists.
IT IS ALSO important to recognize that maintaining the status quo, is not necessarily a cop-out. It may in fact represent the most favorable option for Israel. Today we look back nostalgically to Yitzhak Shamir's term of office, which concentrated on remaining steadfast until such a time as the Palestinians, if ever, came to the realization that their interests would be better served by making peace rather than endorsing terror. We came close to achieving this after the first Gulf War, when Arafat reached his nadir. But alas, the "peaceniks" resurrected him with the Oslo Accords and opened the White House doors to him.
We were at a similar point when former IDF chief Moshe Ya'alon had largely neutralized terror and Palestinians were beginning to question the merits of terrorism. But then a dybbuk entered prime minister Ariel Sharon's head and he launched the disastrous unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Today, with the Palestinians in utter disarray, Ehud Olmert is in the process of replicating the same disaster with even greater danger to our future.
This remains true despite the recent sortie into Syria reportedly crippling a nuclear threat. One daring success does not an effective government make.
The time is surely overdue for Yisrael Beiteinu, the Pensioners Party, Shas, and dissatisfied Kadima MKs to bring down this dysfunctional government that they repeatedly condemn. To stand by while the head of the government continues making unilateral concessions without reciprocity, in defiance of the will of the people, makes a mockery of our democratic system and provides credence to allegations that we are truly on the road to becoming a banana republic.
The writer is a veteran international Jewish leader and chairs the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs.

Now Abbas wants state in 98% of West Bank

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday laid out his most specific demands for the borders of a future independent state, calling for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories captured in the Six Day War in 1967. In a television interview, Abbas said the Palestinians want to establish a state on 6,205 square kilometers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was the first time he has given a precise number for the amount of land he is seeking.
"We have 6,205 square kilometers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." Abbas told Palestine TV. "We want it as it is."
Abbas's claim comes as Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are trying to hammer out a joint vision for a future peace deal in time for a US-hosted conference next month.
With Israel seeking to retain parts of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Abbas's comments appeared to set the stage for tough negotiations, which are expected to include complicated arrangements such as land swaps and shared control over holy sites.
According to Palestinian negotiating documents obtained by The Associated Press, the Palestinian demands include all of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, east Jerusalem and small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered a demilitarized zone before the Six Day War.
Abbas said his claim is backed by UN resolutions. "This is our vision for the Palestinian independent state with full sovereignty on its borders, water and resources."
Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin declined to comment, saying she did not want to prejudice negotiations. But the Palestinian demands appear to exceed anything that Israel would be willing to offer.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held their first working meeting this week as they try to agree on the wording of a joint declaration in time for next month's conference. The US hopes the document will provide a launching ground for full-fledged negotiations on a final peace agreement.
Despite Abbas's tough public stance, aides to Abbas said he has agreed in recent talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to exchange West Bank land Israel wants to keep in a final peace deal with an equal amount of Israeli land. This would allow Israel to annex the West Bank area where the settlement blocs are located.
As part of the proposal, Abbas offered Olmert about two percent of the West Bank, the aides said. Olmert is seeking some 6-8% of the West Bank, but has said the exact amount of territory should be decided in future negotiations. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters with the media.
In exchange for the West Bank land, Israel is reportedly considering transferring to the Palestinians a strip of area between the Gaza Strip and West Bank to allow for a connection between them.
Abbas said the joint statement at the conference must deal with the main hurdles preventing a final peace agreement.
"The international conference must include the six major issues that are Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, water and security," Abbas said.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rice's Road Map

Next week Secretary of State Rice will travel again to the Middle East — her eighth trip since last October, when she announced her "personal commitment" to the goal of a Palestinian state since there "could be no greater legacy for America." The announcement of Ms. Rice's trip states that it is part of her ongoing efforts to produce "serious negotiations" on the establishment of a Palestinian state "as soon as possible," with a "substantive and serious" November peace conference addressing the "core issues."

Over the last year, Ms. Rice has transformed U.S. policy from (a) support for a Palestinian state conditioned on compliance with Phase I and II of the Roadmap, to (b) support for Phase III final status negotiations to establish a Palestinian state "as soon as possible," even though the Palestinians have not complied with either Phase I or II.

Under the Roadmap, final status negotiations were to occur only after a sustained and effective effort by the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure, Phase I, and then only after the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders and limited sovereignty, Phase II. With respect to Phase I, the PA has yet to dismantle a single terrorist organization, or arrest a terrorist leader, in the four years since the Palestinians accepted the Roadmap. In the same period, Israel dismantled 25 settlements, withdrew from Gaza, and released hundreds of prisoners. In 2006, the Palestinians elected their premier terrorist organization to control their legislature. In 2007, half the putative Palestinian state was taken over in a coup.

With respect to Phase II, in January Mahmoud Abbas rejected a provisional state, and Ms. Rice then suggested that Phase II might be skipped, since it could be easier "just to go to the end game."

Thus despite the PA's inability to execute Phase I and its unwillingness to consider Phase II, the Bush administration is now devoting maximum effort to negotiate a Palestinian state "as soon as possible."

The abandonment of the sequential requirements of the Roadmap has been accompanied by extraordinarily disingenuous euphemisms. The Roadmap has not been disregarded; it has been "accelerated." The "final status issues" are now "core issues," but there is no difference between the two terms. The upcoming peace conference is a "meeting" rather than a Phase III "conference."

Both Tony Snow and Condoleezza Rice have had trouble keeping the concepts straight. The day after President Bush's speech announcing the international "meeting," Mr. Snow told reporters that "even though I know I used the term ‘conference' this morning, this is a meeting. … [A] lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It's not. This is a meeting … "

Ms. Rice, on the way back from the Middle East in August, had this exchange with reporters, in which the word "conference" kept popping up like Strangelove's right arm:
Secretary Rice: … Everybody wants this to be a meaningful, substantive conference … I don't think there's a real difference about what we'd like to see this meeting be.
Question: (Off-mike.)
Secretary Rice: It's a meeting, but, you know, it's a vstretch.
Question: What?
Secretary Rice: Vstretch. You know, vstretch is a meeting. Nyet konferencia.
Question: I covered the run-up to Madrid, and as I recall there were formal invitations … Do you plan to follow that model?
Secretary Rice: Well, I think we have to go back and think about the best approach now to inviting people to come to the conference. See, there I just did it again. To the meeting. (Laughter.) I maybe should speak in Russian.
Since 2000, the Palestinians rejected a state at Camp David, rejected it again in 2001 in the form of the Clinton Parameters, accepted the Roadmap in 2003 but failed to carry out Phase I, received all of Gaza in 2005 and promptly used it to send rockets into Israel and smuggle in massive new weaponry. Exactly how many opportunities do they get to miss?

The current argument is that after a Palestinian state is negotiated, its "implementation" will require dismantlement of the Palestinian terror structure. So Phase I will supposedly come after Phase III.

But it is more likely that, once a state is negotiated, the Palestinians will claim they cannot dismantle terrorist groups until they actually have a state. Once they have a state, they will "dismantle" terrorist groups by integrating them into the army. Once they integrate them into the army, the terrorists will either be elected or stage a coup. It's happened before.

The pass being given the Palestinians on Phase I and II is particularly inappropriate given the formal promise to Israel, set forth in Mr. Bush's April 14, 2004 letter, that America would prevent "any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan" than the Roadmap.

Ariel Sharon made that reassurance an integral part of his disengagement plan. He would undoubtedly be surprised, in light of what happened thereafter, to learn of the secretary of state's "personal commitment" to rush to Phase III.
Mr. Richman edits the blog Jewish Current Issues.

Comment: This is insane! Those of us who live here, have researched these issues understand putting cart before the horse only leads to disaster.

PA team says pre-summit document to anchor final settlement

The joint document Israel and the Palestinians are negotiating will be the basis for the final settlement between the two sides, Ahmed Qureia, head of the Palestinian team, said yesterday in an interview. PA team says pre-summit document to anchor final settlementBy Avi IssacharoffThe joint document Israel and the Palestinians are negotiating will be the basis for the final settlement between the two sides, Ahmed Qureia, head of the Palestinian team, said yesterday in an interview. Speaking to the Arab and Palestinian media, Qureia said that unless the document is ready by the scheduled date of the summit in Annapolis, Maryland, the Palestinians will have to reconsider whether they will attend. The summit is expected to take place in late November. Qureia, who has served as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in the past under Yasser Arafat, added that it is necessary to agree on a timetable for talks before the summit. The chief Palestinian negotiator estimates that five to six months will be necessary to complete final negotiations, if they are done "seriously." Qureia stressed that the basic points of an agreement are clear to both sides and that the task now is to formulate these in a clear document that leaves no ambiguities. "If the document is drafted with ambiguities, it is not necessary. Every discussion must include the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem," he said, referring to the future status of Gaza and the possibility that Israel may try to delay negotiations over the future of Jerusalem. "The joint document will anchor international agreements, the Arab peace initiative and the vision of President Bush," Qureia said. "The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will have to establish a position in the document on issues like borders." Qureia went further and offered an example of the kind of detail he expected in the document: "The border [between Israel and the PA] will be on the basis of the 1967 lines, with the possibility of making limited changes that will not undermine the natural resources and territorial contiguity." He said that "this also applies to Jerusalem, the refugees, the settlements, water and all the other issues in the final settlement." The Palestinian negotiator also told the Arab media that the PA will give the Arab League's monitoring committee on the Arab peace initiative regular updates on the negotiations. Also yesterday, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the Islamist group would ask Egypt and Saudi Arabia to reconsider their participation in the summit in the U.S. According to Al Quds, an East Jerusalem daily, rejectionist Palestinian groups would convene a conference in Damascus in opposition to any concessions the Palestinian Authority planned to make.