Friday, February 13, 2009

"Hanging and Weary"

Arlene Kushner

The system is lousy and many of the people functioning within it are not exactly fantastic either. Those of us who are watching this closely find ourselves doing an enormous amount of speculating. There are so many potential scenarios, so many motivations to ascribe to the players. It ultimately does wear one down. I will review here briefly what is going on:

Yesterday, Netanyahu invited Livni to join a unity government, with him in charge as PM, but Kadima awarded a couple of major ministries, such as foreign affairs and defense. Enough to cause apoplexy.

So then the questions were why did he do this, did he offer sincerely (or expecting her to refuse), and would she accept. Different answers from different analysts.Livni is in a bind. First, if she does join, the ministries of foreign affairs and defense would be operated under the policies of Likud and be untenable for Kadima -- E.g., Likud has in its platform no dividing Jerusalem, while Kadima would want to. This bind is why some people think that Netanyahu offered knowing she couldn't accept.

Then there is another problem for Livni. She believes she has "won" because her party has one more mandate than Likud. She sees herself as PM. It would be humiliating for her, another source from the inside told me, to accept with Netanyahu running the government, and this she will not do it -- although this source thinks Netanyahu wasn't factoring this in when he made his offer.

Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit has made a fairly definitive statement to the Post: "We are not going to be a fig leaf to an extreme right-wing government. We are not afraid to be in the opposition."

Although he doesn't necessarily speak for Livni or the majority of the party, it is to be hoped that this is the way it plays out.

There is a faction within Kadima, including Shaul Mofaz, pushing for that unity government. They say -- at last? -- that they will consider leaving Kadima if Livni doesn't join Likud. But "consider" is still just talk.

At any rate, Livni's only public declaration to date has been to say that she owes it to those who voted for her to keep trying to put together a coalition, and if she cannot then she'll decide.


Can she put together a coalition? My best guess is still no.

As I wrote previously, she has been courting Lieberman, who was playing it very coy. I know exactly who I'll recommend to Peres, he announced, but I'm not telling.


Turns out he wasn't that sure at all, because today the news is that he'll go with Likud if Likud backs civil marriages and easier conversions. Lieberman represents a Russian constituency that has many people who are not halachically Jewish, i.e., according to Jewish law. The law of Israel permits people who have one Jewish grandparent to become Israeli citizens.

But if Netanyahu agrees to this -- which he is indicating he will -- he will have trouble with his right wing religious and ultra-religious parties. Already Shas has joined with United Torah Judaism, and possibly The Jewish Home, in opposition to certain policies.

Likud is confident that there are ways to negotiate compromises that will work. Former MK Yaakov Ne'eman, who has a history of negotiating tough compromises, has been brought in for this purpose. And from what I am reading, such compromises are possible. (More to follow on this as relevant.)


Likud, you see, cannot attain its needed majority without Lieberman, but also needs those religious parties. That is, if Livni is not on board. This is how difficult this system is when election results are not clear-cut. And this might -- just a speculation -- explain why Netanyahu would have considered a unity government: he would avoid all of this horse-trading.

It should be mentioned that Ichud Leumi (National Union) has not yet endorsed Netanyahu. They will not if Livni is in the coalition.


The fact that Livni would readily promise Lieberman the things he is seeking, but he still is trying to get Likud to concede on these matters, means that Lieberman's first choice really is Likud -- but that he sees himself with the power to demand the maximum.


I was astonished yesterday to learn that the soldiers' votes have been counted and there were no changes in the order of parties as a result of this. Usually there are. But I spoke to someone trustworthy who was present during counting who assures me that these are the results this time. Many soldiers wrote in Gilad Shalit as a protest, which may be why there are no changes.


So, this is where we are as we approach Shabbat. There is a good deal I want to write about the PA and Abbas, but after Shabbat, just as updates on the election scenario will continue then.

At the beginning of next week Peres will start to meet with the heads of all parties, and ask them who they recommend to form the coalition. Netanyahu has to have his act in place by then if he is to garner the recommendations he needs.


In theory, the president is supposed to select the person who has the best chance of forming a coalition to go ahead and try to do so. He is broadly expected to do this, and select Likud.

If Netanyahu has his act together, and if Peres plays it straight, then a government would be formed quickly, as all of the legwork will have been done already.

There is some fear, however, that Peres might select Livni, ostensibly because she has one more mandate, even though a majority of the Knesset would not be with her. Livni's politics are much more in line with his than are Netanyahu's.

This would be a horror, for she would drag it out for the full month and more given for forming a coalition, during which time Olmert would still be PM and she would still be foreign minister, and Barak defense minister, and opportunities for them to do further damage would be awaiting them.


With all of this, the possibility for things to work out well are still quite viable. So we have to hold our collective breath, and continue to pray.


See analyst Hillel Frisch writing for the BESA Center, who sees the emergence of a right-of-center dominant bloc in Israel. This is excellent news -- transcending the current mess -- as it means the people of Israel have finally begun to awake from the mythology of Oslo and land-for-peace, two-state-solution politics. Maybe we'll have a school system that teaches Zionism again, and an awakening of our pride and our integrity.

see my website

Lieberman Leaves Bibi to Sweat

Gil Ronen Lieberman Leaves Bibi to Sweat

MK Avigdor Lieberman, who holds the key to the makeup of the next government in Israel, has flown abroad with that key in his pocket, leaving his suitors from Kadima and Likud -- as well as the Israeli public -- in the dark about his intentions. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu faction received 15 Knesset seats in the election February 10, and is generally seen as the party that will decide which of the two largest factions, Kadima or Likud, will get the first stab at forming a coalition.

“Our position is already clear and I know exactly what I am going to tell President Shimon Peres,” Lieberman told Voice of Israel government-run radio Thursday morning, before leaving Israel for a vacation that will last several days. “[Bu in order to know whom we are going to recommend, we will wait six more days,” Lieberman added, tantalizing his interviewer. “I think it is too early and there is no point saying whom we support. I have met with both Livni and Netanyahu and with additional people in the political system but my position is already clear and solid. When we go to the President we will say very clear things,” he said.

Lieberman said immediately after the election results were published that his faction’s “tendency of heart” is to support a nationalist government. Making things complicated is the fact that the police are conducting a high-profile fraud investigation against Lieberman, and leaks from that probe indicate that there is solid evidence against him. Since the prosecution, police and courts in Israel are widely seen as being controlled by the radical Left, the investigation against Lieberman has caused many pundits, both professional and amateur, to speculate that Lieberman will be railroaded into supporting Kadima.

A betrayal of the nationalist camp?

Another possibility is that Lieberman will support Likud but will make it impossible for its leader Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition with the religious parties, by insisting on implementation of the part of his platform that the religious cannot agree to, including the legalization of civil unions as an alternative to marriages sanctioned by the rabbinical establishment.

A report in Ma’ariv said that Lieberman holds a grudge against Shas for the belligerent election campaign it waged against him.

Some observers note, however, that Lieberman will be creating even greater problems for himself if he does anything but support Netanyahu for Prime Minister. Lieberman’s voters, supporters, and members of his Knesset list are no-nonsense right-wingers, they claim, and they will take any decision that prevents the formation of nationalist government as an act of betrayal by their leader.

One of Lieberman’s reported conditions for joining Netanyahu’s government is that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann will remain in his position. This, too, is being interpreted in different ways. The more straightforward interpretation is that Lieberman, who sees the Supreme Court as a bastion of defeatist leftism, wants Friedmann to continue his reforms of that institution. A much more machiavellian interpretation – advanced by the Tzofar website -- is that Liebermann is offering the legal establishment a deal: he will agree to let them have a Justice Minister to their liking, like Likud’s Dan Meridor, who is considered close to Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, and in return, the investigation against him will be closed.

Yet another possibility being floated is that Lieberman will name himself as his favored candidate for prime minister. Lieberman, himself, however, told a reporter for Ynet that this was unlikely.

Fear of Obama

Israeli media is rife with spin, counterspin and anti-counterspin this weekend, as the post-election picture begins to come into focus. Ma’ariv reported Friday that there are behind-the-scenes contacts between Kadima and Likud for the creation of a coalition between these two parties and Labor. Channel 2’s political pundit Amnon Abramovich floated this plan on the eve of the election and news anchorwoman Yonit Levi dubbed it “the Abramovich Initiative.” According to Abramovich and like-minded journalists, the initiative will make it possible for Netanyahu to form a ‘moderate’ coalition and avoid a more ‘radical’ government which would – they claim – alienate the United States administration.

In Kadima, however, there are voices calling upon chairwoman Tzipi Livni to head for the opposition “proudly” and not to agree to become a “fifth wheel” in a Likud coalition. These voices – one of whom is reportedly Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon – believe that the Likud’s coalition will crumble after 18 months’ time, leaving Kadima to win the next election.

Battle gets nasty at critical juncture for U.N. agency aiding Palestinians

Ron Kampeas · February 9, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Crooks. Whores.

That's what they call each other in polite company.

UNRWA, the massive United Nations bureaucracy that administers assistance to the Palestinians, is locked in an unseemly epithet-laden battle here with some pro-Israel figures who say the relief agency should be shut down because it has been co-opted by radicals. They challenge not only the legitimacy of UNRWA but the refugee status of the 4.3 million Palestinians it is charged with serving, including 1.6 million in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It's not a new fight, but its tone has become ferocious just when the new Obama administration is attempting to restore civility to a peace process bloodied by the conflict last month in the Gaza Strip. The fight comes as policymakers say the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is more critical than ever in getting desperately needed food and supplies to the Palestinians, and also when the agency is facing physical attacks from the Hamas-led regime in Gaza.

In the U.S. Congress, Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are reviving their campaign to cut U.S. funds to UNRWA until it comes clean about what the lawmakers say are its irregularities and its coziness with terrorists. The United States provides between a fifth and a quarter of UNRWA's $440 million to $540 million annual budget. (The discrepancy in the 2008 figures arises from the gap between pledges from donor countries and actual projected payments.)

In recent days the lawmakers have been seeking Jewish support for a nonbinding resolution calling on UNRWA to tighten its employment policies against terrorist infiltration, and for a separate letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking for a cutoff in funding for UNRWA until a U.S. review of the agency is completed.

In a recent conference call organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Rothman said he needed Jewish communal help to overcome institutional resistance in Washington to cutting off funding for UNRWA, particularly among "the U.S. Senate leadership who think that is an unfair and unreasonable burden on Palestinians."

Later, in an interview with JTA, Kirk bluntly likened the agency to his home state's scandal-plagued political machine.

"This reminds of Rod Blagojevich in its corruption," Kirk said, referring to the recent removal of the Illinois governor over pay-for-play allegations.

In their letter to Clinton, Kirk and Rothman suggest alternative "bilateral assistance mechanisms" to deliver aid.

The problem with this idea, some observers say, is that only a few such mechanisms exist on the ground, and they lack UNRWA's infrastructure. The respected American Near East Refugee Aid, for instance, has managed to distribute $4 million in food and medical aid since the end of fighting -- a minor amount compared to the tens of millions UNRWA is expected to deliver.

In the past, Israel has said that despite its frequent disagreements with the agency, UNRWA is critical in getting relief to the Palestinians; Israel relies on the agency to keep Gaza from a total collapse.

Israeli officials would not comment for this article.

Israeli authorities watched nervously late last week after UNRWA temporarily shut down operations to protest raids by Hamas gunmen on its storehouses. The agency reportedly resumed operations Monday.

The Bush and Obama administrations also have seen UNRWA as critical. President Bush in December ordered most of the $85 million in Palestinian relief funds to be funneled through the agency, and President Obama ordered that $13 million of $20 million in emergency postwar assistance be set aside for UNRWA.

Even as it is set to receive additional U.S. aid, the relief agency is facing a new wave of criticism -- this time from its former chief legal counsel, James Lindsay. In a recently released report written for a pro-Israel think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Lindsay described UNRWA as highly politicized.

In the report, Lindsay refused to embrace the all-or-nothing approach favored by Kirk and Rothman and some Jewish groups, describing it as counterproductive. He insisted that UNRWA "is part of the solution," and has praised the role of its schools in creating the Palestinian intellectual class that now takes a leadership role in multiple disciplines throughout the Arab world.

Still, Lindsay asserted, UNRWA is also "part of the problem" because it allows itself to be politicized by the Palestinians.

Lindsay took part in a heated debate Feb. 3 at the Washington Institute’s office with Andrew Whitley, the director of UNRWA's offices in New York. In a scathing reply, Whitley produced a tall pile of volumes of works on UNRWA to refute Lindsay's claim that his report was an unprecedented expose of an agency no one dared criticize.

Whitley then held up Lindsay's handsomely bound report and said it reminded him of a period he had lived in Paris. The report, he said, "reminds me of the ladies of Place Pigalle," the district famed for its transvestite prostitutes who promise one kind of adventure but deliver another.

If each side doth protest too much, it arises out of years of mutual frustration. UNRWA critics say it is stubbornly resistant to changes that would make it more accountable. The agency complains that the other side makes assessing whether it has reformed impossible by constantly shifting the goal posts.

In his report, Lindsay presented a litany of examples of UNRWA pronouncements that place the agency firmly on one side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, beyond the considerations a relief group might have in protecting its charges. He noted instances in which UNRWA did not immediately condemn Hamas rocket fire into Israel.

Whitley, in his presentation at the Washington Institute, also could not resist such politicking. Responding to allegations that the agency does not properly vet its staff for terrorist affiliations, the UNRWA official delivered a "who is a terrorist" disquisition, noting that some of Israel's founders had been accused of terrorism. That elicited groans from the audience.

It was only afterward, during the question-and-answer session, that Whitley noted UNRWA's practice of periodically running staff names through Israel's intelligence services and summarily removing staffers with suspected terrorist ties. That answer might have put the matter to rest for a pro-Israel audience that instead was rankled by a history lesson on Israel's prestate militias delivered in Whitley's posh Oxbridge tones.

Lending credence to UNRWA's claim that its critics create movable targets is how the other side treats the staffing issue.

Kirk, Rothman and several Jewish groups accuse UNRWA of effectively hiring terrorists, citing anecdotal evidence but not substantive research. The critics never mention that UNRWA runs its staff names by Israel.

In his report which otherwise is tough on UNRWA, Lindsay dismissed the claims that the agency employs terrorists, noting that only a “few” of its 15,000 workers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have “been convicted of terrorism-related charges.” Besides," he added, "the relatively few examples of staff involvement in anti-Israeli violence that critics often cite are, for the most part, not clearly convincing."

But Lindsay criticized UNRWA for allowing staff to become members of banned political groups, including Hamas.

"The agency makes no effort to discourage supporters or members of Hamas (or any other terrorist group) from joining its staff," he writes.

UNRWA says it simply does not have the resources to track the extracurricular activities of all 29,000 staffers around the world. Doing so would effectively cripple the agency's operations in Gaza, where Hamas membership predominates and at times has been foisted upon residents.

Lindsay, Rothman and Kirk cite anti-Semitic and anti-Israel depictions in textbooks used in UNRWA schools. Whitley acknowledged the problem, saying it was especially aggravated among Palestinian refugees in Syria. But the UNRWA official said the agency is constricted by rules aimed at integrating Palestinians into surrounding societies.

In an interview with JTA, Rothman said UNRWA's prevailing consideration should be that any funding of Hamas, however indirect, violates the laws of its largest donor, the United States.

"It's against U.S. law to have U.S. taxpayer dollars flow to a terrorist organization," he said. "During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is unacceptable that an organization receiving U.S. financial aid should not be required to be accountable for every dollar it receives."

The General Accounting Office, Congress' auditing body and a member of the U.N. Board of Auditors -- it did not participate in the most recent UNRWA audit -- is writing a report on UNRWA that should be ready by the spring.

Nothing has been released, but the sides already are exchanging barbs: UNRWA insiders say they are eager to see the report, believing it will vindicate the agency, while Kirk accuses UNRWA of not allowing GAO staff sufficient access for a thorough report.

"There are basic principles at stake here," Kirk said. "The spending of U.S. taxpayer funds should be transparent and accountable, and bad activities should have consequences."

Document Blunder Expose: Praise for Corrupt PA Official

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( (Third in a series)

An inside look at the documents that the United States Consulate in Jerusalem accidentally included in the auction sale of file cabinets to a Jerusalem woman reveals two decades of American efforts to create a setting for a new Arab country in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Paula (last name withheld from publication) discovered the documents after she bought approximately two dozen file cabinets three years ago for NIS 166 ($42) plus tax. She returned the documents to the American government but only after making sure that the blunder was reported in American media in an effort to prevent it from happening again.
A first-hand look by Israel National News at some of the thousands of documents reveals that as far back as 1985, the U.S. government openly tried to win over Palestinian Authority Arabs as part of covert and overt efforts to undermine the Israeli development of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

A June, 1985 letter from the U.S. Information Services (USIS) to the late U.S. Information Agency (USIA) chief Charles Wick, includes the statement, "The United States does enjoy extraordinary close relations with Israel but there are real differences between our countries on issues concerning the occupied territories and Jerusalem."

The American government pumped millions of dollars into cultural exchange programs, Fulbright scholarships and even promoted overseas meetings between the Likud and Fatah party youth movements to try to pave the way to meet Arab demands that the Jewish State return to the 1949 Armistice Line, also known as the Green Line.

The single-minded aim of the USIS and the casual acceptance of terrorist attacks that literally blew up the Oslo peace process were clear in a memo that noted, "A bright spot in the otherwise downhill side of the peace process was an unusual meeting between Likud and Fatah youth leaders in Israel in mid-July [1998]. A follow-up meeting in Ramallah...had to be cancelled because of the [suicide] bombing in Jerusalem."

Worries over Netanyahu

Many of the documents were dated in the late 1990s, during the Oslo II talks, and they expose the American worry over Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister following the general elections in 1996.

One of hundreds of programs to promote Arab activities was a $298,531 proposal by the Harvard University in 1996 for a "joint working group on Israel-Palestinian relations [to] help the official process."

Harvard justified the proposal to a receptive USIA by stating, "Despite the breakthrough characters of the mutual recognition that led to the Oslo agreements…there is no certainty that the process will fulfill itself as Israel's election results will make clear. The Likud party won on a platform that clearly reversed policies adopted by the previous Labor government."

USIA documents reveal hundreds of scholarships, programs and lectures aimed at bolstering the Palestinian Authority, which then was headed by Yasser Arafat.

One document from the USIS includes a raving commendation to help PA security official Haj Ismail Jabber, "who has played and will continue to play a key political and security role in the West Bank" and was commander of the Palestinian Authority police in Jericho in 1996.

It continued, "He has an "unwavering commitment to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s agreements with Israel. Haj Ismail ranks as one of those most trusted if not the most trusted by Yasir [sic] Arafat."

However, five years ago, Jabber, who then was the commander of all PA national security forces, was caught pocketing monthly salaries of 7,000 fictitious troops, netting him about $2 million a month.

Many of the USIA documents disclose programs to arrange PA-controlled television interviews with visiting American university academics in an effort to promote popular support for the Arafat regime. The U.S. government also scheduled a gala event for 100 invitees to attend an American-sponsored performance by classical guitarist Jose Passalacqua in 1995.

Other programs included a United States-Palestinian Legal export Exchange program in Gaza City and Ramallah in 1996 "to strengthen the Palestinian Authority legal system."

An example of the pro-Arab groups that received aid is the pro-Arab Quaker Information and Legal Aid Center in Jerusalem. Fulbright scholarships also were plentiful for Arab teachers and professors as well as for teaching seminars in European vacation spots.

Hevron College assistant professor Dr. Ibrahim Alamasri was granted $25,500 for a stay at Indiana University and then requested airfare for his 11-year-old daughter. An American university assistant professor won an award worth $37,520 for a stay at the Bir Zeit University in Ramallah along with a $5,300 a month stipend.


Document Expose: US Paid $185,000 to Promote Likud-Fatah Parley

February 7, 2009
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( Documents found in the bungled United States Consulate auction sale reveal a mammoth American effort for an overseas tour of Likud and Fatah youth leaders in 1997-1998 while the Fatah-led Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades terrorist group carried out a series of suicide bombings in Jerusalem.

The Americans paid out more than $185,000 for the tours, which included trips to Cyprus and the United States, complete with meetings with senior Congressmen and provisions for enjoying the World Cup on television.

Ten years later, the American government still is trying to promote joint meetings. Last December, ACYPL hosted six young PA leaders - without a Jewish party - in Washington for a 10-day State Department-funded program "following Phase I of the Likud-Fatah dialogue."

The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in 1997 requested the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) to manage the project "to foster personal relationships between emerging leaders in the Likud and Fatah political parties." Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister at the time.

American officials engineered the event despite protests from Likud officials that it directly intervened in Israel's political affairs and that it worked around Likud opposition to the event's taking place outside Israel.

A USIA document shows how the Americans pressed ahead with the program despite objections from Likud Youth Wing leader Gilad Erdan, now a Likud Knesset Member.

In April 1998, a USIA document states, "Arden [sic] said it would be a big problem to move ahead on this seminar…We then discusses the situation with Arden's predecessor [Uri Aloni who] felt strongly that his response should not be permitted to derail the overall initiative."
All six of the Fatah participants had been imprisoned from two to eight years for links with terrorist attacks on Israelis. The USIS pointed out that ineligibility should be waived for one of the participants because "no one was hurt" in his firebombing attacks although a judge had stated, "It was only luck that no one hurt."
All six of the Fatah participants had been imprisoned from two to eight years for links with terrorist attacks on Israelis.

The USIA reported in a document that the Fatah-Likud dialogue in Cyprus in November, 1997 evolved into a "heated and emotional debate [that] nearly derailed the program." The background of the dispute was the Oslo talks and Arab suicide bombings.

The USIA concluded that the dialogue was "an overwhelming success" because both sides showed more willingness to listen to each other.
The July 1998 meetings in the U.S. covered two weeks in Washington, Chicago and New York, including a visit to the home of then-Congressmen Bill Black, where everyone could watch together the World Cup matches. They also visited the White House, the Holocaust Museum and the Arab-American Institute lobby group.

The Fatah Youth Organization presented itself as a "social and revolutionary mass movement …fighting against the Israeli occupation and organizing the youth in activities that benefit them and the whole society."

The series of dialogues included a meeting in Ramallah, which was called off due to a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

Erdan complained at the time to then-American Ambassador that the Jerusalem Consulate intervened in Likud's affairs.

"The consul assured me that the program would be frozen for the moment" because of the event's taking place outside of the U.S. Erdan wrote. "To my astonishment, I learned…that your Embassy has arranged travel to the U.S…. Young Likud protests strongly against this deliberate intrusion by the Consulate into the internal affairs of the Likud."

The document in the auctioned file cabinet reveals the American government's attitude. "We don't think this story has any leg," according to a memo written to the USIS.
Ma'ariv reported at the time that American officials said that invitations to the Likud leaders "were extended on a personal rather than an institutional basis."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Dual Life of a Pro-Terror Activist

Joe Kaufman | 2/12/2009

Ahmed Bedier leads a dual life. As President of the Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council (THHRC), he enjoys the fortune of being mistaken by government officials and media personalities for a civil rights leader. The rest of the time, Bedier portrays his real self, an Islamist whose existence is devoted to hatred of Israel. Now, he has started a new group to fool the masses, United Voices for America (UVA). How long will those in positions of influence continue to fail to recognize the other side of Ahmed Bedier? On February 6, 2008, a song invaded the Tampa, Florida, airwaves about “Palestine.” According to the vocalist, it was sung “in honor of our shahids” – shahid, meaning a holy martyr or an individual seeking death (suicide) in the cause of Allah, a term most widely used in association with terrorists. What followed the tune was an anti-Israel hatefest, the same hatefest that is heard week after week on WMNF-FM’s True Talk, a Muslim talk show hosted by Bedier and his cohort, Samar Jarrah.

Bedier has been involved with radical Islam since at least 2002, when he was the Outreach Director for the Islamic Society of Pinellas County (ISPC), a mosque whose website features material calling for violence against Jews. After the stint with ISPC, much of Bedier’s life has centered around organizations and individuals connected to and in support of anti-Israel terrorist groups overseas, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Hezbollah.

Bedier and Hamas

In February 2003, Bedier began working for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), soon to become the group’s Communications Director. In December of 2003, CAIR opened a separate office in Tampa, and Bedier was named its Executive Director. All of this was subsequent to CAIR’s involvement in the funding of Hamas, which took place prior to December of 2001, when Hamas’s American financing wing, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), was shut down by the U.S. government. CAIR was named as a co-conspirator in the 2008 HLF trial, where all of the defendants were found guilty of all charges.

Bedier left CAIR in May 2008, but that hadn’t stopped his association with those who support Hamas. On December 30, 2008, he joined hundreds of others in a pro-Hamas demonstration in Tampa, one of a number of similar protests which took place on the same date across the nation. The event, which was organized in large part by the extremist Muslim American Society (MAS), featured signs that read “End Zionism” and “Zionism is Cancer; Radiate It.” Additionally, some participants at the protest donned keffiyehs, Palestinian symbols of violence worn as scarves.

Bedier and PIJ

When Bedier joined CAIR in February of 2003, it was no coincidence that that same month terrorist and former University of South Florida (USF) professor Sami al-Arian had been taken into custody by the FBI. Al-Arian, along with others, was indicted for his leadership role within PIJ. Al-Arian founded a mosque, a children’s school, a think tank, and a charity all in the name of furthering PIJ operations at home and abroad. Since al-Arian’s activities were based in Tampa, Bedier was the perfect person to be brought in as his “unofficial spokesman.”

Bedier held press conferences voicing concern about the government’s treatment of al-Arian. As well, Bedier allowed his radio show to be used as a propaganda tool for al-Arian’s family and his PIJ colleagues.

In December 2005, Bedier appeared on local Fox 13 WTVT’s Your Turn with Kathy Fountain to discuss al-Arian’s legal troubles. During the show, Bedier was asked if he believed that al-Arian’s involvement with PIJ was immoral, to which he replied, “To a certain degree. Now, before 1995 there was nothing immoral about it.” This, while PIJ had taken credit for five terrorist attacks before 1995, including one suicide bombing, which resulted in the deaths of eight innocent people.

Bedier and Hezbollah

When it comes to controversial topics brought up on Bedier’s radio show, many times Bedier speaks through his guests. On July 21, 2006, in the course of Israel’s war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, Bedier’s entire show was devoted to lauding the terrorist group. All three of his invitees heaped praise on Hezbollah, such as:

* “I’m not very good at being brief about Hezbollah, but I’ll try. I’ll just say that it’s not at all the picture that is portrayed of it in the West, as some sort of cartoonish terrorist group. It is a liberation movement in many senses for the Lebanese Shia that has huge support, probably more than any party in Lebanon… It has quite a clean record, and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, is revered probably by most Lebanese as a fairly eloquent and capable leader.”
* “Let everyone understand that Hezbollah is not a building, Hezbollah is [not] a street. Hezbollah is composed of families that believe in liberation, families that believe [in] dignity, families that believe [in] purpose.”
* “They have been trying to invade Lebanon since the first day. Yesterday alone, there was a 20-hour battle between the Israeli army and the National Resistance Movement of Hezbollah. For 20 hours they fought. This speaks volumes about the heroic nature of Hezbollah.”
* “The fact of the matter is that Hezbollah has a lot of the voice of the people here, so ultimately Hezbollah’s voice needs to be heard. You can’t just keep shutting it away, because it’s always gonna rise again.”

All three of the groups mentioned – Hamas, PIJ and Hezbollah – are found on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), yet Bedier has sought to surround himself with individuals and groups associated with and in support of them. This is troubling in itself, but what makes it more so is the fact that Bedier has persisted in his quest to gain access to those in positions of power and influence.

As President of the Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council, Bedier has had unwarranted interaction with the Tampa Mayor’s office, which has provided a personal liaison to his group. He has also been granted accreditation by members of the media, who mistakenly consider him a legitimate source of information. Now, Bedier is looking to expand his sinister ambitions with a brand new group he established, a political advocacy organization called United Voices for America.

On March 9th and 10th, Bedier and his UVA will be hosting what he calls a “Lobby Day” in Tallahassee, the location of the Florida legislature. According to a February 9th letter he had e-mailed, the event, entitled “Florida Muslim Capitol Day,” will provide members of his organization a “unique opportunity of speaking directly with your elected legislators and [this] empowers us collectively to change Florida.”

The change which Ahmed Bedier seeks for Florida, given his extensive terrorist ties, can and should be viewed as a threat to America, her ally Israel and Israel’s backers in the Sunshine State, which as of now includes most if not all of the Representatives and Senators he is targeting. If Bedier has his way, those in office will turn their backs on America’s friend abroad. It is incumbent upon all to recognize the true nature of this man, for a man with dangerous intentions, such as Bedier has, will never stop until he is convincingly turned away.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate, the founder of CAIR Watch, and the spokesman for Terror-Free Oil Initiative.

When dealing with punks, there's no time to be a liberal

By David Warren, The Ottawa Citizen

In Toronto, on Thursday, I witnessed a little incident of some value to the interpretation of world affairs. It happened on a crowded westbound King Street trolley, trapped at Yonge Street by the early rush hour crowds. (Ottawans may envy any kind of functioning transit service.)

Three young men, whom one might characterize as voluntary members of the underclass from the way they were dressed (expensive ghetto gear), jumped the back door of the trolley, in order to avoid paying fares. It is the sort of thing people just get used to in a decaying society. The drivers have their hands full processing paying customers through the front entrance, and can hardly be expected to guard the rear. But in this case, the driver more than noticed what was happening, apparently through his rear-view mirror. He shut the front doors, stalled the car, and elbowed his way through the standing passengers to confront his unpaid guests. "I've got bad news for you punks," he declared, loudly. "I am not a liberal." Upon being told this, they left the car peacefully. Though I should add that, this being Toronto, the passengers looked more astounded by the driver's declaration than by the punks' behaviour.

In my humble opinion -- shared with all those with some elementary understanding of the art of policing -- the leading cause of anti-social behaviour is permission. People, and young punks especially, will do things that even they know are malicious because no one will stop them.

The worst possible conditions exist, as today, when the surrounding society is befogged with idiotic, decadent notions, such as the idea that the punks are themselves "victims" of some material deprivation, when what they have in fact been deprived of is the iron fist of the law.

We see this phenomenon writ large in Gaza, where the punks are organized into a terrorist militia called Hamas. It is unnecessary to consider their Islamist ideological credentials, only to witness their deeds. These are people who were under the impression that "society" -- by analogy "the world community," and the diplomatic draughtsmen of innumerable "roadmaps to peace" -- had granted them permission to wing thousands of rockets gratuitously into Israel.

And that world community is now the more astounded when Israel replies, in effect, "I am not a liberal," than it ever was by the incessant pounding of the Qassams. We have the spectacle of the suits at the United Nations running about declaring truces that both Hamas and Israel will ignore. Hamas is still winging rockets; Israel has declared no intention of stopping until the rockets stop.

As Claudia Rosett, the leading journalistic investigator of UN perfidy, has been documenting for some years now (in her weekly column and elsewhere), the punks of Palestine have benefited from a level of permission that amounts to direct encouragement.

Since the complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 (that was supposed to bring an enduring peace), Hamas has been able to consolidate its political power over the enclave, while consolidating Gaza's economy around just two industries: terrorism and foreign aid. There is no other economy in Gaza, and there has been no credible attempt to build one.

The UN Relief and Works Agency has acted as the great enabler. Set up in 1949 as a temporary agency to house, feed and resettle fewer than one million Arab refugees (Israel received an approximately equal number of Jewish refugees from around the Arab world), UNRWA has grown by bureaucratic persistence into a vast, permanent welfare organization for the 4.6-million descendants of its original "client base" -- and for their descendants, into the indefinite future. It provides for them with a staff and budget several times larger than the combined UN effort on behalf of all the other refugees on the planet.

That UNRWA does not operate in a vacuum, but has instead woven itself into the regional matrix, is evident from the history. The agency's camps, which have grown into permanent settlements, are distributed not only through Gaza and the West Bank, but around Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Arab governments in each of these jurisdictions absolutely refuse to naturalize these permanent residents, almost all of whom were born on their soil, on the claim that they must rightfully be "returned" to the territory Israel now "occupies." Thus UNRWA facilitates the use of these so-called "refugees" as a dagger pointed at Israel's throat.

Moreover, almost all of UNRWA's staff is locally recruited Palestinian, and thus the entire operation is open to subversion to the ends that they decree. For instance, this week, as the Israelis have alleged, the use of a UN school as an arms cache, use of the building as a defensive fortification by Hamas gunmen, use of its inmates as "human shields."

There are root causes of the current conflict, going, as all agree, right back to the foundation of Israel (by the UN) in the late 1940s. The continued existence of UNRWA is the principal one, creating the conditions for Islamist terrorism to flourish, and it is time that root cause was addressed.

David Warren's column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Actions and reactions


On innumerable occasions over the last 15 years, since the signing of the Oslo accords, Israel has been warned by both the well-meaning and the patronizing that it had better watch its steps, lest it radicalize the Palestinians.

Don't expand settlements, Israel was warned in the early Oslo days, even though the Oslo accords didn't preclude that, because it was argued that this would damage the Palestinian confidence in the process. Don't respond harshly to the petrol-bomb throwing, drive-by shootings and suicide bombings of the second intifada, because that would only create more Palestinian despair.

Don't react to the unrelenting Kassam fire that followed the 2005 disengagement, because that would lead Palestinians to feel that they did not gain anything from Israel's withdrawal, to the very last Jew, from the Gaza Strip.

Don't bury hope under retaliatory actions. Don't create more despair by trying to protect yourself. Build confidence, don't push the Palestinians to the wall, and don't create another generation that will only want to die to destroy Israel.

What we didn't hear much of during this period, however, were entreaties to the Palestinians not to take actions that would radicalize Israeli society, that would rob it of hope, that would push it to despair of ever reaching a peace agreement in the region.

One didn't hear Western leaders and learned columnists warning the Palestinians that their unrelenting terror would have a boomerang effect on Israeli society, that it would push Israel to the wall, that it would ram to the right a generation of Israelis who grew up under the cloud of suicide bombers and Kassam rockets.

On Tuesday, the chickens will most likely come home to roost. To rework a phrase from US President Barack Obama's inaugural address, after having its outstretched hand met continuously over the last 15 years by a clenched fist, the Israeli public - if the polls are to be believed - is now clenching its own fist in return.

Palestinian actions over the last 15 years have transformed Israeli society, and the country has gone from believing in the 1990s that it had reached safe shores and had been accepted in the region, to believing in 2009 that no matter what it does - be it negotiating a peace deal based on ceding some 95 percent of the territories, or unilaterally evacuating settlements - it will not be accepted in the region.

While the pundits were warning about the radicalization of Palestinian society and overlooking what the Palestinians were doing to Israeli society, they were also calling unceasingly for Israeli confidence-building measures - steps they calculated were needed to shore up Palestinians' confidence that Israel was indeed genuine about wanting a peace deal, as if the withdrawal from Gaza and evacuation of more than 9,000 Jews was not enough of an indication.

But how about the confidence of Israelis? What were the Palestinians doing to build that up? Suicide bombing attacks, homemade rockets, and tunnels meant to kidnap soldiers don't exactly do the trick.

So as a result, we are facing a situation where regardless of whether it is Likud or Kadima that wins Tuesday's elections by a seat or two, the right-wing bloc will most likely be strengthened considerably, as the Left is simply melting away.

The major polls published Friday, the last time they could be published before the elections, showed that while Likud and Kadima are in a very tight race, the Right bloc is leading the Left bloc by a significant margin of about 65 Knesset mandates to 55. But that is a bit misleading. If you subtract the 10 Arab party mandates, then the Right-Left gap among the Jewish population is even greater - 65-45. And that is definitely not an even split.

And even that figure is a misleading. If you look at Kadima's list, some of those now identified as part of the Left bloc seem anything but - folks like Shaul Mofaz, Tzahi Hanegbi, Ze'ev Boim, Gideon Ezra, Avi Dichter and others.

Nothing epitomizes this right-wing shift better than the rise of Avigdor Lieberman. Ten years ago, his ideas about redrawing Israel's map to exclude the Israeli Arabs and to draw inside the settlements were considered beyond the pale, nearly unthinkable. Now so many people are now thinking the unthinkable that Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party is poised to possibly become the third-largest party in the country.

And it is not only the Palestinians who bear a great deal of responsibility for this fundamental shift in the country's mood; so do the politicians of the Israeli Arab parties.

For the last 15 years, the ticket for political success on the Israeli Arab street seemed to be strident rhetoric against the state. The more angry and bitter the rhetoric, the better the Arab parties - competing among themselves - seemed to do at the polls among the Arab voters.

The problem is that it was not only the voters in Umm el-Fahm, Kafr Kana and Rahat who were listing to the diatribes of Balad's Azmi Bishara and UAL-Ta'al's Taleb a-Sanaa and Ahmed Tibi; so were the residents of Tel Aviv, Modi'in and Jerusalem. So when Lieberman runs on a ticket demanding loyalty to the state, his words are falling on ears extremely weary of Bishara, Sanaa and Tibi's tirades.

Nearly every action has a reaction. Everyone has been so concerned over the years about what reaction Israel's actions would generate among the Palestinians, that they overlooked the degree to which Palestinian and Israeli Arab actions have caused a reaction among the Israeli public. But if the polls of the last few days prove even a somewhat accurate predictor, that right-wing reaction will become clear for all to see when the country wakes up Wednesday morning.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1233304720004&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull/span>

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Think Again: Beware of the nerds

Jonathan Rosenblum , THE JERUSALEM POST

"The older I get the more I see how overrated brains are," an older friend said to me recently.

Even in talmudic learning - on its face an intellectual exercise - pure intellectual firepower is an unreliable predictor of long-range achievement. So when I see the The New York Times becoming all hot and bothered by the multiplicity of Ivy League degrees in the new administration, I get nervous.

There are many good reasons for Israelis to be concerned about a shift in American policy toward us. One is the appointment of Harvard professor Samantha Powers, who has called for the stationing of a "mammoth [American] force" here to protect Palestinians from genocide, to a senior position in the National Security Council. A second is President Barack Obama's Alice in Wonderland portrayal on Al Arabiya of some halcyon era of "respect and partnership" between America and the Muslim world "as recently as 20 or 30 years ago." That period includes the seizure of the American embassy in Teheran, Hizbullah's bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut, the Lockerbie bombing and a ruinous Arab oil embargo, just for starters.

No one begrudges the president a few rhetorical flourishes and outreach toward the Muslim world, as long as we know he doesn't really believe what he is saying.

But of no less concern is the misplaced confidence in their ability to solve all the world's problems of all those high-IQ types in the new administration. Nobel Laureate in Economics Robert Lucas declared in 1996 that economists now possess sufficient knowledge and tools to end the threat of another worldwide depression forever - a boast that appears less and less well-founded by the day. The US Congress issued the economic wizards of the Treasury a blank check to free up credit markets, but so far more than $350 billion have been spent to no effect.
Hints of similar hubris with respect to forging an Arab-Israeli peace are flying fast and furious from Washington. Obama's first phone call was to Mahmoud Abbas, the present or former head of the Palestinian Authority, depending on whom you ask, and one of his first newsworthy acts in office was the appointment of former senator George Mitchell as his special envoy to the region.

The president has pronounced the Palestinian-Israeli conflict "ripe" for resolution, and even allowed on Al Arabiya that "there are Israelis who think that it is important to achieve peace." But wherefore the ripening of hopes? Has there been an end to anti-Israel incitement in the PA media? Some new polls showing a growing Palestinian rejection of terrorism? Has Fatah shown itself capable of running a state?

Someone should send the president the collected news reports of Khaled Abu Toameh on the PA. Abu Toameh told an audience in Philadelphia this week that Americans have no idea with whom they are dealing if they think peace is to be had with either Fatah or Hamas. Peace will only come, he said, when the Palestinians and Israel are forced to deal with one another alone, without the former looking for an outside savior.

The main lessons learned since the last bout of hyperactive American peacemaking, in the dying days of the Clinton administration, are that territorial withdrawals lead to missile fire and only an IDF ground presence can protect against missiles and terrorist attacks. Mitchell's denial that there is such a thing "as a conflict without end," prior to leaving for the Middle East reflects the same dangerous belief that to every problem there is a solution. The successful peace negotiations in which Mitchell participated in Northern Ireland did not bring about a dramatic shift in attitudes between Catholics and Protestants. Rather, those negotiations followed the emergence of a Protestant leader, David Trimble, eager to put aside old hatreds, and a radical shift in attitudes by the leadership of the IRA on the Catholic side.

No such shift of attitudes has taken place among Palestinians, nor has a Palestinian civil society begun to emerge that can underpin a stable, democratic state as our neighbor. As long as the conflict remains one over Israel's legitimacy - i.e., essentially theological in nature - there can be no permanent peace.

But smart technocrats are notoriously thick when it comes to apprehending the force of religion, either for good or bad, because it so rarely plays a role in their own lives. Those who entreat Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist, for instance, fail to comprehend that they are asking Hamas to dissolve itself and renounce its fundamental religious belief that all land which was ever under Muslim sovereignty must remain so forever.
A COROLLARY of the smarties' overconfidence in their own problem-solving ability is the tendency to reframe every situation as a technical problem. Thus, after the first World Trade Center bombing, the Clinton administration did not awaken to the threat of Islamic terrorism, but rather treated the matter as a simple law-enforcement issue of rounding up the relevant miscreants.

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen repeated the mistake last week when he waxed ecstatic about Obama's declaration, albeit sotto voce, of an end to the war on terror. From now on, no more talk of Islamic terrorism, only of defeating particular terrorist organizations. And that, declared Cohen, is "not a war, [but] a strategic challenge."

Dangerous talk of civilizational clash can now be canned, writes Cohen. Apart from a few Muslims who wish to violently destroy America (and who hopefully don't include the Iranian leadership), most Muslims, Cohen declares, "merely dislike, differ from or have been disappointed by America." In other words, they have a series of local grievances, many of which can be healed by ceasing to embrace "an Israel-can-do-no-wrong-policy."

Pattern recognition is one of the key indicators of intelligence, but apparently not when it cuts against the cherished belief that all problems are merely technical in nature. But some patterns cannot be safely ignored - e.g. the unique propensity of Muslims to react to grievances with murderous rage. Or the findings of a UN study written by Muslim scholars of high rates of illiteracy, scant scientific achievement, low democratic indicators and suppression of women in almost every Muslim country and every Arab one.

In the Arab-Israeli context, we continually witness attempts to frame the issues as technical ones, essentially no different than negotiations over a new union contract. Each side is portrayed as seeking a slightly larger slice of the pie, and the general contours of the final solution are said to be known in advance.

That picture, however, is predicated on a false equation of incommensurate items as the subject of trade-offs - e.g. recognition of Israel's right to exist versus settlements. To attempt to impose solutions without first eradicating a culture of Palestinian hatred, which has only intensified since the outset of Oslo, reflects not intelligence but a flight from reality.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1233304694413&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Guest Comment: This is a good reality check for those who think that Arab- Israeli conflict is nearing a solution, if only Israel will give up the land that it won in a defensive war and now contributes to its security. If only Israel would release more Palestinian terrorists. If only Israel would compromise on the Palestinian "refugee" issue. If only Israel would open its borders with Gaza. If only Israel would agree to make the West Bank and Gaza contiguous.

What have the Palestinians ever given up? It certainly is not the incitement, the genocidal hatred, the amendment of their charter that still calls for the destruction of Israel. Aggie

Poll: Third of Europeans Blame Jews for Meltdown

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 3:32 PM

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.

The organization, which says its aim is "to stop the defamation of Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all," says the seven-nation survey confirms that anti-Semitism remains strong. The poll included interviews with 3,500 people - 500 each in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain.

It says that in Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel it is "probably true" that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. That is the highest percentage in the survey.

Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.

"This poll confirms that anti-Semitism remains alive and well in the minds of many Europeans," said Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director in America. "Clearly, age old anti-Semitic stereotypes die hard."

Foxman said the study's findings were "particularly worrisome" in light of the anger spawned by the global economic meltdown, and following a number of violent acts against Jews or Jewish property after Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip.

Around Europe, several attacks have been reported against Jews and synagogues in France, Sweden and Britain since the Israeli offensive began in late December. Some Gaza protests in Europe have included the use of Nazi imagery, including signs and slogans comparing Israeli soldiers to German troops, the Gaza Strip to the Auschwitz death camp and the Jewish Star of David to the Nazi swastika.

Britain consistently registered the lowest levels of anti-Jewish sentiment, and numbers there have fallen from a similar survey conducted in 2007. Austria also registered a slight drop in the level of anti-Semitism, while in other countries anti-Semitic sentiment either remained the same or deepened, the survey indicated.

Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, who saw the survey before it was published, said he has not seen any rise in anti-Semitism in Poland since the global financial crisis has unfolded. He said an unacceptable level of anti-Jewish sentiment still exists in Poland, but that it is no worse than in other European countries.

The survey showed Polish responses registered a slight rise in all but one area. On the question whether it was "probably true" Jews have too much power in international financial markets, the level was unchanged from 2007.

The survey, conducted by First International Resources Dec. 1, 2008 through Jan. 13, 2009, included interviews with 3,500 people - 500 each in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain. The margin of error for each country was plus or minus 4 percent.

In total, about 40 percent of those questioned said Jews have too much power in the business world, including more than half of Hungarian, Spanish and Polish respondents. And 44 percent said they believe it is "probably true" that Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust.

© 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

"You Cannot Kill an Ideology"‏

Deepak Chopra - the most prolific of New Age self-help spiritual gurus - appears to have expanded his mandate to offer guidance in the angst-ridden realm of international affairs.

His résumé speaks for itself - no political, economic, or military training, experience or prior erudition. He has, however, written a series of guaranteed self-help solutions for all our modern-day spiritual needs that compete with American tax laws in awards for repetition and transparent agendas. Nonetheless, Chopra recently stated on CNN, with accustomed certainty, that 'you can kill a terrorist but cannot kill an ideology.' Never mind the past 60 years of American foreign policy - Chopra was born in Delhi, so he understands the Third World. Along with all things at all times.

Of course, history is replete with examples of conclusive wars defeating blatant evil, of ideologies waning and disappearing when the price of fanaticism becomes too high.

Most recently, the fundamentalist ideology of Al Qaeda has been resoundingly defeated in Iraq by the principles of self-government, freedom and secularism. Certainly Hitler's Nazism and Mussolini's Fascism got wacked during the Second World War. And what of Pol Pot's fanatical collectivism in Cambodia, or the terror-communism of the Baader Meinhof Gang in Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy? None of these once-powerful ideologies are around today in any sort of viable form. And now the Arab world is giving short-thrift to bin-Ladenism, condemned as it is to ignonimity in Waziristan's endless caves.

Deepak Chopra's pronouncements ring further hollow given that his "peace at all costs" mantra is most widely consumed in the United States, where freedom has been wrought at enormous cost (military, human and financial). His ideas would not be so welcome (or profitable) in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Pakistan, countries and societies that he professes to know so well, ideologies he professes such tolerance towards.

Thus, Chopra joins the ranks of American successes who show boundless deference towards societies that reject them, yet castigate their own country and protector that provides unrivaled freedom of expression.

Indeed, Chopra is a committed member of the "war is never a solution" gang, who see America's heavy military fist behind every confrontation, at the seat of every radical cause, the wellspring of every extremist's grievance. To him, there are no irredeemable terrorists, no non-negotiable evils - only freedom fighters and disrespected refugees. Fighting these forces just makes things worse. After all, you cannot kill an ideology.

Deepak's philosophy has its appeal: decide that war is bad and ideology (or anything, for that matter) is never evil, and adapt easily to what everyone wants to hear. Especially, make us all feel good. He's like the legal Marijuana Man, wafting mellifluously in on CNN's transmissions and dismissing history's harsh lessons with his modern-day opiates.

Hollywood - here we come.

Comment: As was often stated by an astute philosopher, "Good grief ..."-CNN has drawn a line in the sand-this is the fence they will balance their slant on our war with ideological terrorists who want to do nothing more than murder us and destroy our way of life. Fortunately our grand parents did not "buy into" This expert Chopra's feelings. Believe me it is ONLY HIS feelings-it is not based upon data, research or any sense of historical perspective. Thank goodness we had individuals with courage who took on and challenged the dogma of Hitler-we defeated it. Yes, every generation faces such challenges, yese the ugly head of hate and violence re-appears-this is no reason to lay down ones arms and capitulate-this is precisely what our enemies are banking on. Good grief-grow up!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

'This was a war against the Hamas; not a war against the Palestinians'

•Mihir Sharma: Will you say something about the Gaza strip?

One of the saddest aspects of the fighting in Gaza is that it never should have happened. We should never have been in the situation of a military confrontation in Gaza. That is particularly tragic. From our perspective, Israeli society is a split society in every which way, but on the question of Gaza, I think it was absolutely unanimous. Frankly, we had reached a point where it was impossible to go on like this any longer. The country, the southern part of the country, had been under a barrage of rockets, missiles and mortar shells for over six years. Somewhere in the region of 20,000-30,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilians in southern Israel saw up to 500,000 people permanently within 15 seconds of a bomb shelter. Over a period of time, this is an impossible situation for any country to stomach. If say, Kolkata was bombarded for a period of 6-7 years, by even crude missiles from another country or territory, how would India react? I do think that the first priority of any serious government is to ensure the security of its citizens. And that military confrontation must always be the last resort. Everything that can be done, must be done, prior to the use of any type of military component. This must include the economic inducements, political machinations, diplomatic or even an economic carrot and stick approach. We had really and truly tried everything and in the past six months, reached a truce. It was brokered by Egypt and stipulated two things: that the missiles be stopped for a six-month period and everything would go back to normal. What actually happened in that six-month period was that the missiles hardly stopped for a day.

During the truce period, one doesn't want to take any type of measures, the only way open to us was to say please stop, we cannot go on with this, you're endangering yourselves, you're endangering us, we won't continue to agree to a truce. Despite the total inadequacy of the truce, despite the horrors that we were continuing to face, we did ask for a prolongation – actually, we begged for the prolongation of the truce. Not only was it rejected out of hand but in actual fact, in the last three days of the truce, there were another 300 rockets in 3 days. The President of Egypt, the President of the Palestinian Authority, and other countries that were trying to get things back to some kind of normalcy, put the blame, squarely on Hamas because they were the ones who had decided that they would throw missiles at innocent people. Can you think of the amount of danger and damage 30,000 "crude" missiles can cause? This wasn't a question of missile against missile but of trying to stop a reign of terror, a reign of complete and utter instability which we have been facing for so long.

If anybody can believe for a minute, that we had anything but the best of will and the best of intention towards the Palestinians in Gaza, they need only look at facts. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, we didn't get anything back, we did it solely to try and reignite the peace process in the Middle East. That was the idea prevailing at the time. It cost us $ 2.5 billion; we were forced to take out, of our own volition, 8,000 families who had been living there all their lives. We uprooted them, took them into Israel -- it was a big issue inside Israel. But we did it in order to try to move something along here. A few months went by and there were elections in the Palestinian territory, and a government was set up between the Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, a joint government in the West Bank and in Gaza under President Mahmood Abbas. A few months passed and Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority, killed about 450 Palestinians – something that wasn't very widely reported. Then, the rockets restarted in all their fury.

Now this was the situation that we found ourselves in at the end of 2008. There comes a time when all other efforts fail, when one has to take the ultimate measure in order to try and stop the incessant flow of rocketry. And that time had come, consensual in Israel, consensual in the Arab world, consensual in the international community.

But what has come out in the press in recent weeks is something that causes us to raise an eyebrow. Questions of proportion came up, questions of the use of force. Issues were brought up which frankly are flabbergasting -- that fewer Israelis were killed than Palestinians. This has come up quite a lot but if we think about it in more depth, we would maybe look at things a little differently. In Kargil, for example, many more Pakistanis died than Indians. I doubt whether that makes Pakistan correct. This is not a question of proportionality because in a war against terrorism, in a war against violence, it is a fight against infrastructure, it is a fight of moderation against extremism, it is not a chess game. Of course, we would never dream of targeting uninvolved people, period. The figures that were given out from the Gaza operation, those numbers were whipped up

I may add that when we are being criticised by the international community and see what else is happening in the world and listen to criticism from the Arab world, then I look at Sudan, I look at Darfur where 750,000 people have been killed, raped and murdered. I don't think we need to be taught by the people who are carrying out the Darfur massacres. What we do need is to constantly re-examine ourselves. Because humanity is humanity and the death of a Palestinian is as hurtful to me as a death of an Israeli -- as long as they are completely un-involved in the Hamas. This was a war against the Hamas, this was not a war against the Palestinians. We believe strongly that the Palestinian society is the victim, as we are, of some of their own extremist leadership in Hamas.

I think though that now we maybe moving into a slightly different mould. I think we could perhaps begin to reapply ourselves to a renewal of the peace process in the Middle East. The peace process in the Middle East is not a pipe-dream. We agree with the pragmatic Palestinians, the vast majority of the Palestinian and Arab world that the solution to West Asian conflict is at hand. It's not easy, there are tough issues on the table. Nonetheless, we do agree, completely, on the contours of peace in West Asia. The contours of peace being a two-state solution, Israel living side by side, next to Palestine, in mutual harmony and security. There are tough issues for both sides which need to be tackled. These include refugees, Palestinian refugees, the issue of Jerusalem, the question of settlements. For us the most important thing is the complete cessation of terror.

•Mihir Sharma: There is a growing feeling that people will start looking at the numbers of people of Arab descent and the numbers of people of Israeli descent who live in the territory that is controlled by the Israeli government. What if instead of a two-state solution, we have a one state solution, one vote for everybody, and suddenly we're looking at the end of Israel as it is traditionally known. As a diplomat, how are you preparing for this argument?

This is not a new idea. It's being propounded by two types of people: those who don't believe that the state of Israel should exist, or those who have an ideological viewpoint that nation states is passé, a sort of Marxist view of the world.

Could you please show me one state in the world where this one-state solution has been so successful? Lebanon? Afghanistan? Should we look at Ireland or Cyprus? Wherever one looks, it is a recipe for further conflict. We would like to live side by side with our Palestinian neighbours, brothers, cousins. I think they would like to live side by side with us. But we don't live in the same worlds, we are Jewish, they are Muslim, we listen to this type of music, they listen to that -- it's very similar to other parts of the world that have tried this and have completely failed. And even in Western countries which have two peoples, there hasn't been a very easy relationship. The answer has to be in the two-state solution. It took us, both Israelis and Arabs, time to come around to that idea as well. We should be honest with ourselves on that. For the first many years, there were many Israelis who thought there could never be peace and we cannot have a state because it would be an irredentist??? state of Palestine which would bring destruction to the state of Israel. The Arab world didn't want the state of Israel. But we have both moved on. Today, we are in agreement and looking to move ahead. To throw that into the dustbin of history and move back is frankly spurious to say the least.

•Rakesh Sinha: Last week, Iran launched its first homegrown satellite. That's also a demonstration of their weapon delivery capability. In the Israeli assessment, how far is Iran from a nuclear weapon?

The issue of nuclear weaponry in Iran is something that is very troubling to the world as a whole. I think that the threat of Iran is great. I should start by saying that Israel has no quarrel whatsoever with the Iranian people. Iran is a great civilization and has created so much culture in the international society. Yet they are, unfortunately, held in the hand of a coterie of extremist Islamists. This isn't Islam, this is an abuse of Islam, to my mind. Islam is a religion of peace, harmony and culture. But we hear day in and day out from the leadershhip that the state of Israel has to be wiped off the map. We hear from President Ahmedinejad himself that the Holocaust never existed. When we hear from the Iranian leadership that it will go against the peace process of the Middle East, that it will support the worst terrorist organizations, then I think we have to ask ourselves, what kind of regime are we dealing with here? It's despicable that a President of a country should call for the eradication of another country. It's unheard of. Now the international community is very worried: Iran is one of the countries in the international arena that is under U.N. sanctions. As a result of that, the G-6 are leading the way against Iran. As we move towards peace in the Middle East and as we try and concretize the ideas which are so difficult for both us and the Palestinians, we have here a state which is actively working to undermine the accommodation between Israel and the Arab world.

We really ought to work diplomatically through all the methods at our disposal, as a civilized international community, to stop Iran from attaining its nefarious aims.

•Manu Pubby: On defense relations with India, could you tell us more about some of the new missiles we'll be getting from Israel?

We never ever discuss these issues in the public domain. That's not to say that there is or isn't a relationship, but as a principle, we never discuss this in the public domain, and I don't think we'll depart from that.

But I want to say something about Mumbai 26/11: it was a defiling of India, it was a disgrace. An atrocity the likes of which shocked us all. Of course the brunt of the horror descended on Indian people but, not by accident, Israelis and Jews were targeted as well. Of the 10 terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Toiba who came here, two of them were dispatched just to kill Jews and Israelis in a house miles away from the centre of the action -- clearly not by accident. There has to be incessant international action otherwise we will all find ourselves falling prey to international jehadists. We are fully behind India, 100 per cent because we know what terrorism means, we know how difficult it is for democratic societies which have human rights, human values, to deal with it. We know what happens when organisations and states are in denial, and say we don't have anything to do with this. We know all of it, we've been going through it for so long. The L-e-T is like Hamas, they're fanatical killers who have used death and destruction, slaughter as a means of achieving a political, extremist aim. Whatever decision is made by India, we're behind it.

•Mini Kapoor: Who are these pragmatic Arab regimes you referred to and do you see them playing a more overt role in the coming days in the peace process?

These countries are Egypt, Jordon, Morocco and others in the Gulf world. I don't see Saudi Arabia as being of the extremist ilk. These countries are not supporting terror against Jews. There is an enormous amount of pragmatism in the Arab world. Does that mean that the extremists have been sidelined, does that mean that those who support the hard line are no longer there? Unfortunately, it doesn't. But the pragmatism gives us a lot of heart as we try and move this enormous monster called the peace process forward. Nobody said it was going to be a picnic. But I do think we ought to break away from the mudslinging, it's not a public relations exercise that we're involved in. I think we owe something to our children, be they Israeli, Arab, Palestinian and that something is a better life. Let's try and break away from the bashing business, because it doesn't take peace one iota forward.

•Ruchika Talwar: How do you think Israel's relationship with Turkey is going to be affected by the recent spat between President Erdogan and President Shimon Peres at Davos, considering that Turkey is a stakeholder in the Middle East peace process?

The Israeli-Turkish relationship goes back very far. It's had it's ups and downs in the past and I think one should be careful about what happened in Davos which I saw was generally wrongly reported as a spat between Erdogan and Peres. President Erdogan was actually more upset with the moderator and not at what was being said there, but I'm not sure what the truth is because I wasn't there. The Israeli-Turkish relationship is a strong relationship and we'll certainly overcome this or that difficulty or opinion. What is necessary and what is already happening is a high-level dialogue between the two countries since the incident. It won't develop into anything of any substance, the relationship is far too close.

•Amitabh Sinha: The Israeli no-negotiation policy in hostage situations is very often cited in India as the most effective way to deal with such situations. Our home minister recently said the no-negotiation theory cannot be absolute, it depends upon the situation. How does Israel go about it?

We've been suffering terrorism since our inception and we don't believe in giving into terror. I don't care if one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. There are those who continue to see the Hamas as some kind of beautiful preacher of sweetness and light. The international community put on the table three conditions before them: number one is recognition of Israel, number two is to stop slaughtering the people of the state of Israel, and third, all of the agreements that have been decided between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world in the last 60 years should not be thrown into the dust-heap of history. They have refused point blank to budge on any of those issues but they have to take responsibilities as a serious actor and not a rabid terrorist organisation. We don't have a hard and fast rule, when there is way of moving forward, we will take that. But with the Bin Ladens of the world, with fundamental killers, that usually does not happen. We have prisoner swaps, sometimes, because we don't want hostages to be in the hands of killers.

•Coomi Kapoor: Where does India figure in the priorities of Israel?

Our biggest embassy in Asia is in India and it's one of our biggest embassies in the world. We have had relations for about 16 and a half years now, which is nothing, and we have 4.5 billion dollars worth of mutual trade - up from 200 million in 1992. It is an extremely vibrant relationship in the economic and agricultural field, particularly. We have the largest agricultural programme with India in four states. This is one of the most dynamic relations that ever happened between two countries in 16 years.

•Dhiraj Nayyar: Back to West Asia: do you think Abbas and the older generation of the Palestinian leadership is credible or is Israel engaging with a younger generation of leadership which is more credible?

I don't support everything they stand for -- we're on the opposite side of conflict situation but at the end of the day, despite the deepest disagreements I have with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, they are 100 per cent dedicated to bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not through violence, killing or causing danger to the Israelis and Palestinians. I don't agree with their approach on each and every issue, but I do believe that they have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart.

•Dhiraj Nayyar: There's a theory that for a lasting solution, even if the extremists are a fringe on both sides, you need someone from those fringes to sell it to their constituencies.

It's rather like saying that in order to come to peace with Bin Laden, we have to become a feudal society which we never will be. I don't think we have to take it upon ourselves to adopt the views of the extremists in order to bring them into a process. We will never be able to agree with those whose sole credo is the eradication of the state of Israel. Those people are not part of any negotiation process, the minute they move away from that position of mass murder we will have something to talk about. And when that happens, there are ways to inch towards the middle ground. We have to educate people towards peace. But the major threat to peace is terrorism. The fact that Hamas has been elected in the Gaza strip does not give them the legitimacy to murder. I don't think that being elected is the be all and end all of legitimacy.

•Mihir Sharma: Strictly speaking, the Iranian President's office issued a clarification weeks after the "wiped off the map" statement was widely reported, that the translation should not be considered as something about mass murder, but of political change.

He has made this statement 20 times since. I don't know what it means when the president of a country says that he wants another country wiped off the map and then we start quibbling about what that exactly means -- is it mass murder or is it a little bit murder? I don't know what that means. What does it mean that you don't want to kill the people but you want the state to disappear? I am not going to discuss with anybody, be it Ahmedinejad or Hamas, the disappearance of my state. We're talking here about a president who insists that a country disappears, we're not talking about the number of people he kills in order to achieve that. They are moving towards nuclear weapons now, against who and what for?

•Gayatri Verma: How do you react to the theory that says all this violence, all this killing of fundamentalists only gives rise to hundreds more? What about the sanctions and blockades that Israel has imposed around the Gaza strip which has paralysed their economy?

What were we supposed to do? We're always told what we mustn't do, you mustn't use military components, etc. But nobody tells us what we can do. If anybody can come up with what we could have done after eight years of bombardment, of coming to a truce, of getting out of Gaza completely with nothing in return, of economic inducements and punishment, I'd like to know what it is, because I really don't know. We're always being lectured by countries who do much worse than us, but we always bear the brunt of the violence. These hypocrisies bother me. In a conflict situation, mistakes are made. The best way not to make those mistakes is not to be in a conflict situation. The most tragic thing about Gaza is that it never needed to have happened. But we have to defend ourselves, we're not going to sit around and allow ourselves to be bombarded.

•Alia Allana: If Iran is willing to unclench its fist, as is being advertised, would Israel change its policy?

Which policy? We don't have an automatic negative policy towards Iran, we just abhor what they're doing towards us. We haven't got a policy towards Iran that is knee-jerk hostility. They're Shia and the Hamas are Sunni. But when it comes to us, this divide becomes insignificant. All we're saying is that stop supporting those who are attacking us, stop denying the Holocaust, stop getting nuclear weapons and stop calling for our eradication.

Transcribed by Anushree Mazumdar


Monday, February 09, 2009

Where is the Jewish Community? "It is time to stand up"‏

For years the U of Calif, (UCI) has been a hotbead of anti-Semitic activity, fostered by the Muslim Student Assn (MSA) Irvine. Below is an account of a professor, bemoaning the fact that the Jewish community has not stood up to this threat. Aggie

For the past couple of years, ever since I created this blog, I have been writing about the situation at UC-Irvine, where I have taught for ten years and which has earned a reputation for anti-Semitic hate speech by speakers brought to our campus under the sponsorship of the Muslim Student Union. For years now, anti-Semitic (and anti-American) speakers like Alim Musa, Mohammed al-Asi and Amir Abdel Malik Ali have spewed their hatred on our campus without a peep from university administrators. I have attended many of these events, noted down what is said, and, on occasion, confronted the speakers on their words. Though I am not Jewish myself, I detest what I consider to be a resurgence in anti-Semitism in Europe and in America fueled by Muslim extremists and their radical apologists in academia. Along the way, I have made many Jewish friends and colleagues who are also standing up to this scourge. Yet, at the same time, I am often dismayed and frustrated by the seemingly lackadaisical attitudes of many Jews who refuse to stand up in defense of their own community.One thing I learned early on in this endeavor is that the Jewish community is quite fragmented. Opinions on everything range across the spectrum. Seemingly, that is also the case when it comes to campus anti-Semitism. More specifically, there have been times at UCI when I feel like I am the only one speaking out. Of course, that is an over-simplification; others are speaking out too. Yet, many of them refuse to criticize the university for allowing this situation to fester. Some of them prefer to deal within the university system working quietly behind the scenes with university officials.

What has it achieved? It is true that Chancellor Michael Drake has met with Jewish groups and assured them that "hate speech has no place at UCI". Yet, no one will condemn specific statements by specific individuals. It is all "free speech", and the university must remain "content neutral", whatever that means.

On occasion, I have confronted speakers like Ali. On the two most recent occasions, I was virtually alone. If there were any Jewish persons or other folks on my side, they were silent. Only a couple of weeks ago, (January 29) I stood at the flagpoles and listened to Ali's standard stump speech exhorting the killing of Israelis by Hamas. I stood with a handful of Jewish figures from the local community representing a couple of Jewish organizations. At the end of the speech, I walked down and engaged Ali in a spirited (but civil) debate on his statements. Immediately, we were surrounded by about 20-30 members of the MSU. Fortunately, there was no problem, and we continued our debate. When it was over, as I walked away, I saw that all my Jewish allies were long gone.

Not long before that (January 8), the MSU held a rally at UCI over the fighting in Gaza. On this occasion, the Jewish students and other members of the community were, indeed, out in force. Yet, in my discussions with a couple of leaders from two prominent local Jewish advocacy groups, they tried to assure me that there was no problem with hate speech at UCI. I stood there incredulous as they parried all the examples I mentioned with a flick of the wrist. When one of them quoted "one of the country's foremost legal minds", who had dismissed claims of anti-Semitism at UCI (Erwin Chemerinsky), I realized that I was wasting my time talking with them. (Chemerinsky is now head of UCI's Law School.)

On Saturday, January 10, I went up to Los Angeles with a handful of fellow-bloggers and counter-protested a pro-Palestinian protest in front of the Federal Building. In total, there were about 20 of us supporting Israel arrayed against a crowd of 1,500-2000 (who were not too happy to see us). Only the LAPD managed to keep the crowd a safe distance away from us. Of that 20, a majority were not Jewish.

On Saturday, January 31, I attended an event at UCI entitled; "Whither the Levant", an all-day festival of pro-Palestinian university professors including radical historian Norman Finklestein bashing Israel and the US over the current conflict. There were anywhere from 50-150 people in the room at any one time depending on the item on the agenda. I was virtually the only person who spoke up for Israel, which incited an eruption of anger in the crowd when I criticized the tactic of Hezbollah and Hamas of situating themselves in the middle of population centers when engaged in fighting Israeli troops leading to increased civilian deaths.

I realize that the above two events took place on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and that is a factor. Indeed, it appears that many of these anti-Israel events are deliberately planned on Saturdays to keep Jewish attendance down.

Nevertheless, I cannot understand the meek attitude of some Jewish figures who should be standing up and denouncing these hate-mongers. They should be confronting them face-to-face, not violently, but refuting their words forcefully and letting on-lookers know that there is another side to the story.

It is not that I feel I need moral support from anyone when I raise these issues. I don't mind being the skunk at a garden party, and I refuse to let these radicals intimidate me even if I am alone. I will not shrink from standing up to these goons and also pointing out the moral failure of my own university in standing up to hate speech. But what I am saying to my Jewish brothers and sisters is that the world is reverting back to 1938 (Munich). The forces of evil are on the march, and the Jews once again are being made the scapegoats and the targets. We are witnessing a resurgence of anti-Semitism, first in Europe, now in the United States and most recently in Venezuela. I feel that the Jewish community in America should take a strong and united stand against this menace in our own country. We should be calling on President Obama to speak out on it. We should educate the public as to what is happening, demand the support of decent Americans, and call out universities that allow their campuses to be platforms for hatred and calls to violence.

It is time to stand up.

The Robbing of Gaza

Joseph Klein | 2/9/2009

In a rare admission of Hamas’ wrong-doing, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (“UNRWA”) promptly condemned Hamas in a sternly worded press release for seizing its humanitarian supplies by force on February 3, 2009. For once, UNRWA did not deem it necessary, in the name of moral equivalency, to attack Israel at the same time. The UN Secretary General’s deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe reinforced UNRWA’s condemnation of Hamas by essentially paraphrasing its press release at a briefing held on February 4th at UN headquarters that I attended. I looked around at other peoples’ faces in the briefing room and some appeared as surprised as I was that, for the first time, we were witnessing UNRWA and the Secretary General’s office actually criticizing Hamas alone in such strong terms. However, the matter-of-factness with which the Secretary General’s deputy spokesperson read her statement – as opposed to the anger we always hear from UN spokespersons whenever Israel is criticized – conveyed a rather nonchalant attitude toward the whole thing as if it were an unfortunate but isolated event. Of course it is anything but.

The incident that brought this development about involved the confiscation of over 3500 blankets and 406 food parcels by police affiliated with Hamas, who broke into an UNRWA warehouse in the Shatti beach refugee camp and seized the aid supplies by force. The supplies were to be distributed by UNRWA to five hundred families in Gaza. The confiscation took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to accede to Hamas’ demand and hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. The reason for the refusal, UNRWA said, was to ensure that the assistance would actually reach the intended beneficiaries.

At the request of reporters attending Ms. Okabe's briefing, a follow-up press conference was set up at UN headquarters via video link the next day with John Ging, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza. Ging acknowledged that Hamas's seizure of UNRWA aid supplies was only making matters worse, saying that the incident had “crossed a red line”. However, he blamed it on "the reckless acts of a few", as if the ruling Hamas terrorist group were a reasonable organization that had temporarily lost control of a few hotheads. Ironically, not long after Ging was briefing reporters about the first incident, Hamas struck again. It seized 10 truckloads of flour and rice that had been delivered into Gaza, leading UNRWA to suspend all further aid shipments into Gaza until the Hamas government returns the stolen supplies and provides credible assurances that such thefts will end.

Just days before Hamas’ criminal seizure of UNRWA supplies, the United Nations had launched an international appeal for $613 million to help in Gaza recovery efforts. "With the help of this $613 million appeal, the United Nations and other aid agencies can jump into action to help the 1.4 million civilians in the Gaza Strip to recover," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a news conference on the situation in Gaza, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Unfortunately, the Secretary General’s deputy spokesperson was either unable or unwilling to acknowledge a connection between Hamas’ forceful assertion of control over the disposition of UNRWA aid supplies and concern over what Hamas would be likely to do in order to get its hands on the UN-raised Gaza aid money. She ducked a question at the press briefing on this very point.

The concern is not hypothetical. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and Syria have warned the international community against channeling funds intended for Gaza reconstruction projects through the Palestinian Authority. "Don't give the money to Ramallah," said Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau.

Hamas wants total control over all aid – supplies and money - in order to enhance its claims to legitimacy and to bestow favors to its supporters in Gaza while depriving its enemies of any assistance.

Hamas has no interest in relieving the suffering of the civilians under its rule. In fact, Hamas prevented its own people from reaching lsraeli medical facilities set up just outside Gaza. It has regularly intercepted humanitarian convoys and stolen food items that had been donated for free distribution to needy Gazans. Instead, they were sold in the black market. After using Palestinian civilians as human shields during the conflict with Israel, Hamas is now stealing aid intended for suffering women and children whose images Hamas wants to continue using for propaganda purposes.

A Fatah official denounced Hamas last month as a "black and bloody militia" that was responsible for the "catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. This was a Palestinian speaking, not an Israeli citizen. The Fatah official, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal, would like to see Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians. "Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."[1]

When Hamas’ Palestinian brethren can connect the dots and see through Hamas’ exploitation of its own people, it is time for the United Nations to consider Hamas’ criminal seizure of UNRWA aid supplies as a wake-up call. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must do everything possible to ensure that not a cent of money the UN raises for humanitarian aid and reconstruction in Gaza goes to Hamas or to any of its front organizations. Otherwise, it will not be long before the Secretary General’s spokesperson may have to read a statement during a press briefing about Hamas’ theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Palestinian people.


[1] The Jerusalem Post (January 12, 2009)
Joseph A. Klein is the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom.