Saturday, April 18, 2009

Let's seek a true legal investigation of the Gaza war


The UN Human Rights Council's appointment of Richard Goldstone to serve as the head of a mission investigating Gaza-related war crimes and human rights violations triggered my memories of our time together as visiting professors at Fordham Law School in New York. At the time, Judge Goldstone and I were asked to debate the merits of a recent International Court of Justice decision concerning Israel's security barrier in the West Bank. It turned out not to be much of a debate. I argued that the decision was a travesty: legally insupportable and inexcusably biased against Israel. Goldstone agreed in substance but asked that we believe in the judges' good faith.

If Goldstone is to live up to the standards of intellectual honesty and impartiality he has set for himself, he has no choice but to take immediate steps to root out the bias at the core of his investigation.

Several weeks ago, Goldstone signed his name to a letter claiming that events in Gaza had "shocked [the signatories] to the core," and calling for "setting the record straight in a credible and impartial manner" by means of a "prompt and impartial investigation." In light of the thinly veiled anti-Israel agenda of the letter's organizers, signing it prior to receiving any serious information regarding crimes in Gaza raises serious ethical issues for investigators.

While I presume that Goldstone was unaware that several of his cosigners were veteran anti-Israel activists more interested in attacking the Jewish state than achieving justice, I am sure he does know that the Human Rights Council that appointed him is neither credible nor impartial when it comes to Israel.

THE UN Human Rights Council is so overwhelmingly biased against Israel that its agenda has been reduced almost exclusively to attacking it. Even Human Rights Watch, an unabashed and frequent critic of the Jewish state, has admitted that the council has failed in its duties due to "one-sided" attacks on Israel.

The council's bias regarding Israel has been repeatedly demonstrated in issues related to the Gaza fighting. For instance, the council has endorsed an alleged Palestinian "right to resistance," which Arab states and Hamas have interpreted as approving Palestinian terror groups' illegal acts of terrorism. At the behest of the council, Special Rapporteur Richard Falk issued a report in which he lied about the events leading to the fighting in order to falsely accuse Israel of a "crime against peace," while whitewashing Hamas crimes. No members of the council have ever taken any steps to bring to justice Hamas criminals for their illegal incitement to genocide, terrorist bombings, use of civilian shields and other war crimes, or for their illegal attacks on civilians and fund-raising for the benefit of terrorist activities.

If Goldstone is to have any credibility, he must immediately signal that his investigation will reject the council's anti-Israel bias, and that he himself does not share his cosignatories' animus toward the Jewish state. Goldstone can do this by acknowledging and rejecting the key points of the Human Rights Council's prejudice.

First, he must acknowledge that he will investigate whether Hamas's repeated bloodcurdling calls for the mass murder of Jews constitute incitement to genocide according to Articles 1, 2 and 4 of the Genocide Convention, and that he will determine the parties and instrumentalities responsible for such crimes. He must also explore the effects of these crimes on the legality of Israel's targeting of Hamas and the duties of other states to "prevent and punish" Hamas's crimes.

Second, Goldstone must explicitly reject the claim by some council members that Hamas has a right to engage in terrorism as a result of an alleged "right to resist." He must forthrightly acknowledge that Hamas's repeated and explicit targeting of Israeli civilians constitutes prima facie acts of terrorism according to the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and other treaties. Consequently, he must observe that international law forbids states to aid Gaza - even if the aid is called "humanitarian" - if the assistance is likely to flow to Hamas or other Palestinian terrorist groups.

Third, Goldstone must acknowledge that previous council investigations - particularly the recent one by Richard Falk - have distorted facts and law by relying upon evidentiary sources of dubious credibility and clearly biased against Israel, as well as upon outlandish legal theories. He must openly reject the use of evidentiary sources that have previously demonstrated a willingness to suppress the truth in favor of their anti-Israel agenda, and name the sources to be rejected. He must also explicitly disavow outrageous distortions of law such as the insistence that Israel militarily "occupies" the Gaza Strip.

Fourth, and finally, Goldstone must pledge to name names of Hamas and other Palestinian fighters who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, acts of terrorism, incitement to genocide and acts of genocide, and other illegal acts, as well as the names of third parties that have violated international law by providing support - active or passive - to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. To counter the council's usual practice of focused anti-Israel criticism coupled with vague pro forma references to wrongdoing against Israel, he must also pledge to investigate these crimes before proceeding to anti-Israel accusations, and to take steps thereafter to ensure that guilty terrorists and their supporters are tried and punished.
Unless Goldstone acts immediately against the council's bias, his investigation will become just another in the long list of UN-instigated illegal persecutions of the Jewish state.

I believe he has the integrity to realize that these steps are necessary. Now let us hope he has the courage to do what is right.

The writer is a professor of international law at Bar-Ilan University and the University of San Diego Law School.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710707765&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Durban II to ratify condemnation of Israel

Declaration for next week's UN conference on racism in Geneva omits references to Israel, Zionism, Middle East conflict and other divisive issues, but will ratify concluding document of 'Durban I', including harsh condemnation of Israel. US State Department 'still has some concerns'

Yitzhak Benhorin, Reuters
Israel News

WASHINGTON - Diplomats reached agreement on Friday on a declaration for next week's politically charged United Nations conference on racism, adding to the pressure on Washington and Brussels to decide whether to attend. The 16-page text omits references to Israel, Zionism, the Middle East conflict and other divisive issues that have made Western powers shy away from the "Durban II" conference.

However, Ynet has learned that the declaration will ratify "Durban I" – the concluding document of the first World Conference against Racism held in South Africa in 2001, which includes a harsh condemnation of Israel.

Israel and its ally, the United States, walked out of the Durban meeting after Arab and Muslim states tried to insert language defining Zionism as racist.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she would be "very surprised" if the document meets resistance in the Geneva meeting, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address on Monday.

"I feel very certain because this was so well deliberated by all groups that it will have an easy passage through the conference," she told a news briefing at the UN's Palais des Nations complex, where the April 20-24 conference will be held.

The European Union and United States have been waiting to see a final version of the text before deciding who, if anyone, to send. Canada and Israel are boycotting the meeting because they think hostility towards Israel could dominate the forum.

Asked about the latest text, State Department Robert Wood said that Washington was still weighing its options.

"The United States still has some concerns," Wood told Reuters. "No decision has been made yet whether to attend or participate. We need to have our concerns addressed."

'We don't normally walk out of conferences'

The White House has been especially uneasy about efforts by Arab states to include a condemnation of "incitement to religious hatred" and to criminalize "defamation of religion".

It sees those efforts as an attempt to limit free expression in response to controversy over the Danish cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad in 2006.

US diplomats distanced themselves from negotiations over the text in past months, a decision Pillay said was unfortunate.

"It is to my tremendous regret that they did not come and try to persuade the other states on amendments that would be acceptable to them," she told journalists.

There was no immediate comment from the European Union, whose member states are expected to meet on the weekend to seek a common decision about taking part.

Earlier on Friday a German government spokesman said that neither Germany nor the EU could tolerate participating in the conference if it becomes a platform for "one-sided comments on the Middle East conflict".

And a British source close to the Geneva conference had said recent versions of the document appeared "pretty good", adding: "It's still up in the air, but at this stage we remain intending to attend the conference."

But even if the declaration is seen as palatable to Israel's major allies, human rights campaigners said an address by Iran's president on Monday -- Holocaust Remembrance Day -- could upset the meeting and even lead to a walk-out like that in 2001.

Western diplomats said they would be prepared to leave the conference if Ahmadinejad makes "unacceptable" comments in line with his previous statements saying Israel should be "wiped off the map" and questioning whether the Holocaust happened.

"His track record does not leave us feeling very comfortable about what he might say, given what he's said in the past on the Holocaust, on Israel and on anti-Semitism," one diplomat said.

"We don't normally walk out of conferences run by the United Nations and we'd rather avoid doing it. But that doesn't mean that there aren't red lines that if breached would prompt us to take action."

Pillay dismissed speculation that Ahmadinejad might disrupt the UN forum, reopen heated debates on the Middle East or call for a ban on "defamation of religion", as some human rights campaigners have suggested he may seek to do.

"I cannot prejudge what he will say," the South African said. "At the end of the day what is truly important about this conference is the outcome document and whether it takes us forward in the struggle against racism."

As of Friday evening there were only four heads of state officially expected to attend -- from Iran, Togo, East Timor and Montenegro -- along with 32 ministers from countries including Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Norway.
Thanks YNET News

Assad: Syria backs Hizbullah

Syrian president tells Lebanese daily his country supports Shiite group because it fights Israel, says relations with Iran strategic; 'Syria-Lebanon border will be drawn only after Israel pulls out of Shebaa Farms,' he adds

Ali Waked
Israel News

"We support Hizbullah because it fights Israel, and our relations with Iran are strategic," Syrian President Bashar Assad was quoted as saying by the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. In an interview published on Friday, Assad also addressed the Shebaa Farms dispute, saying the border between Syria and Lebanon will be demarcated only after Israel withdraws from the disputed land, adding that the UN will have no say in the matter.

The Shebaa Farms are a piece of land located on the Israel-Syria-Lebanon border, on the western slopes of Mount Dov. The territory was captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967, and since the end of the First Lebanon War the area has been a source of conflict between the two countries.

Earlier this month Assad said, "There is no escaping the fact that the day will come when we will free the Golan, through peace or through war."

In an interview with Qatari-based newspaper al-Sharq, the Syrian leader added, "All Israeli governments are the same: Ariel Sharon carried out a massacre in Palestine, and Barak aided the war in Gaza such that there is no difference between Right and Left in Israel."

Assad has made a number of contradictory statements lately regarding the peace process with Israel. A day before the induction of Benjamin Netanyahu's government he told the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar that Arab countries "have no real partner in the peace process.

"The arrival of a Rightist government makes no difference, because in Israel, the Right, the Left and the Center... all reflect a reality which is that Israeli society is not ready for peace," said Assad.

However, in an interview with the New Yorker, published that same day, the Syrian leader he is interested in continuing the negotiations.

In an electronic interview with journalist Seymour Hersh, Assad said, "We have to wait a little while to see how things will evolve and how the situation will change. We still believe that we need to conclude a serious dialogue to lead us to peace.”

Thanks YNET News

Friday, April 17, 2009

PA: Israel Not a Jewish State

Hana Levi Julian PA
Arutz Sheva

The Palestinian Authority has rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s condition for moving ahead on negotiations to establish “two states for two peoples.” PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh on Thursday night slammed Netanyahu’s insistence that the PA first accept the concept of Israel as a Jewish State before Israel continues talks to establish a new Arab country within its current borders.

Netanyahu told United States Middle East envoy George Mitchell earlier in the evening that Israel is willing to discuss the creation of a PA State – but only if the PA recognizes Israel as a Jewish State.

“Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish State before talking about two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said.

The Fatah-led PA government based in Ramallah has agreed in the past to recognize Israel, but not as a Jewish State.

Abu Rudaineh called Netanyahu’s words a “provocation” and claimed that the new Israeli government was placing obstacles before the “solution” of two states for two peoples being promoted by the United States.

The aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to examine Israeli policy, charging that it might have a “poisonous effect” on the region.

The Hamas-led breakaway PA government in Gaza, meanwhile, still refuses to recognize Israel at all, referring to the Jewish State only as “the Zionist entity” whenever it must discuss Israel.

Mitchell was also warned by Netanyahu that the “two-state solution” promoted by America requires the cooperation of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister told the U.S. envoy that Israel must have guarantees that a new PA state will not turn Judea and Samaria into a terrorist enclave as Hamas terrorists have already done in Gaza.

Mitchell is meeting on Friday with Abbas, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other PA officials.

All Israelis Face Missile Threat

Gil Ronen All Israelis Face Missile Threat
Arutz Sheva

The IDF’s Home Front Command has begun distribution of a color-coded map that divides Israel into regions based on the residents’ distance from the nearest terror army. The map provides graphic confirmation of the fact that every Israeli is under missile threat from either Hizbullah in the north or Hamas in Gaza, or from both. The Home Front Command launched a public campaign centering on the map and the slogan “protect yourself right on time.” The campaign will culminate in the largest-ever nationwide emergency drill, dubbed “Turning Point 3,” which is scheduled for late May. The campaign includes TV and radio spots, magnetic maps for home refrigerators and information on the Command's website.

The map divides Israel into 27 regions that are grouped into five ‘belts,’ based on the distance from Hizbullah’s missile array. The ‘belts’ are differentiated by the amount of time residents will have to scurry for shelter after a warning siren sounds. While the northernmost areas like Kiryat Shemona or the Golan Heights must find shelter immediately, the residents of Tel Aviv have the “luxury” of a two-minute interlude between the siren and the expected crash of missiles. Residents of Jerusalem and the south – all the way to Eilat – have three minutes.

In addition, four belts have been marked out in the area surrounding Gaza. Residents of the belt directly bordering on Gaza have 15 seconds to enter the shelters, whereas residents of Be’er Sheva have 60 seconds.

The nationwide drill is scheduled to begin in government offices and will culminate several days later in a nationwide siren alert, in which all Israelis will be expected to find shelter.

Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, Chief of Home Front Command, said Thursday that while there is no alert or concrete information regarding a missile attack, “we are preparing for the main threats. It is clear to all of us that if you take the overall threats on the State of Israel, there is no place in the country that is not under threat.”

Both Hizbullah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza are considered to be proxy forces operating under the direct influence of Iran. Hamas was able to take over Gaza after Israel pulled out of that area in 2005. Hizbullah took over southern Lebanon after Israel withdrew from there in 2000. Both proxy militias are expected to take part in an attack on Israel, should Israel and Iran reach a confrontation. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continually talks about wiping Israel off the map, and Israel maintains the right to a military option if diplomatic efforts do not stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear development program.

The Home Front Command expects distribution protection kits - including new gas masks and drugs against unconventional weapons - to begin in November. It warns, however, that the process could take at least two years.

US official: No alternative to 2-state solution

Roni Sofer
Israel News

The message conveyed by American sources at the end of marathon talks held in Israel by US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is clear: The United States demands that Israel continues the Road Map process in accordance with the Annapolis understandings, which call for the establishment of a Palestinian state leaving in peace alongside the Jewish state. American president's special envoy to Middle East, George Mitchell, holds marathon talks with political echelon. 'Contrary to the impression created in Israel by the new government, Obama is determined to advance the peace process with the Palestinians in the near future,' says source involved in meetings ...

"There is nothing to add to the very clear statements made by former Senator Mitchell," said an American source involved in the meetings. "Whoever hasn't comprehended this, doesn't understand what President Obama is saying."

Palestinian Stance
'Pressure Israel, or peace process will be a joke' / Ali Waked
Palestinians determined US special envoy Mitchell must push Israel to adhere to two-state solution. 'We want the Americans to guarantee a genuine political process that will lead towards a permanent agreement,' Palestinian Authority official tells Ynet
Full story
Talks with American and Israeli sources involved in Mitchell's meetings with the Israeli political echelon reveal that the US does not believe in economic peace and that the formula suggested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Shas party is unacceptable to the Americans.

Mitchell made it clear at the end of his meeting with Lieberman that the economic issue is only part of the dialogue with the Palestinians in the West Bank. The White House's message to the prime minister is clear: We're ready for international and Israeli economic support of the Palestinians, but not as an alternative to the peace process.

Mitchell with Netanyahu (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)

On the backdrop of Mitchell's talks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with the prime minister, foreign minister, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, there are additional differences of opinion which have not been stressed.

The Americans have not gone back on a firm demand made during Condoleezza Rice's tenure as secretary of state, that Israel halts the construction of settlements completely, including in the Jerusalem vicinity.

Another demand relates to Israel's immediate commitment to remove all illegal outposts, and a third demand is that the Netanyahu government recognizes its commitment to reignite the dialogue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

"Contrary to the impression created in Israel by the new government," said an American source between one meeting to another, "President Obama is determined to advance the peace process with the Palestinians in the near future.

"There is a reason for envoy Mitchell's third visit to Jerusalem, there is a reason for his intention to rent offices here, and there is a reason for President Abbas and the Jordanian king being invited to the White House.

"The White House's policy is to make progress according to what has already been achieved: The Road Map and the Annapolis conference declarations, as said by President Obama in his speech at the Turkish parliament."

US pressure making Israel sweat

Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak, on the other hand, are trying to play for time. During their Thursday meetings with Mitchell, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, they demanded a revision of the peace process with the Palestinians.

The wording was dictated by Netanyahu: "We are in the midst of reexamining the process and raiding new ideas." His ministers reiterated this, in a bid to shake off the obvious and immediate American pressure.

"The US administration has also yet to complete its plans and policy, three months after entering the White House. The Israeli government also deserves a few weeks to examine the issue," said a senior Jerusalem official.

However, Mitchell's pressure during this visit, which may be followed by a meeting between Netanyahu and Obama several weeks from now, is making senior governmental officials sweat.

When confronted with the American demand that Israel recognizes the two states for two people solution, Netanyahu told Mitchell that the Palestinians must first recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Israeli demand, which is presented as a condition for moving forward, is aimed at shaking off the pressure.

As clarified by an aide to the prime minister, Netanyahu turned over part of the responsibility to the Palestinians, who have failed to meet their commitments so far.

Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak, a senior state official clarified, truly believe that the US can still be diverted from the Annapolis outline and returned to the Road Map outline. In other words, demands must be made to the Palestinians according to former US President George W. Bush's vision, dissolving the heavy concessions offered by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the Palestinian president.

At the end of the busy diplomatic day, however, it was clear to the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister, that the road to achieving this is hard and may be impossible.

As stated by a source in Mitchell's entourage, "We have yet to be convinced that there is a real alternative to the official US policy, which states that the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state."

Comment: Obama's arrogance is only overcome by his ignorance. Who is this USA Spokesperson who informed, no told us what Obama says is so? This is the President of unity? For another Democracy to tell its democratic ally what that country's foreign policy will be is the height of misplaced denial of the facts in the Middle East. The line has been drawn in the sand, I stand on the other side of Obama and will now begin the war righteousness.

Thanks YNET News

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Perspective and reality

Pesach ended last night here in Israel, and ends after dark tonight elsewhere in the world. But before returning to what passes as mundane reality, it seems to me that a bit of sharing from Pesach is in order: Yesterday in shul the Torah reading was from the section in Exodus (Shemot) that includes Shirat HaYam -- the song of gratitude to Hashem sung by the children of Israel after coming through the divided Sea. This was a culmination of the miracle of the rescue -- the redeeming -- of the people from slavery in Egypt. All of the people were witness to -- beneficiaries of -- the miracle of the parting of the Sea.


What occurs to me this year, more powerfully perhaps than ever, is that we are very much witness to -- and beneficiaries of -- a modern miracle: The creation of the modern State of Israel and the return of the people to the Land. It is all of a piece, of course, and yet we often fail to see it with clarity.


And I'll carry this one step further: There is a Midrash -- a traditional story beyond the Torah that is instructive -- about Nachshon Ben Aminadav, head of the tribe of Judah. Moses stood at the Sea of Reeds, with the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites, and he prayed for the people to be saved, the Midrash tell us, but the Sea hadn't split. Then Nachshon, having faith that it would, walked into the water up to his chest. And because he had faith and was willing to act on it, the water split, and the people followed.

The early pioneers who came here to build a state were like Nachshon. And the implications for us here today are enormously important.


This said, let us begin to look at what's happening:

US Envoy George Mitchell is here, promoting as ever his dedication to a "two-state solution" that will, he says, bring peace and security to the region. He is looking for "understandings" with Israel on the issues.

Yesterday he met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, during the day, today, with President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. And this evening with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had met with Lieberman and Barak on Monday to prepare for these meetings.

Lieberman, following his meeting with Mitchell, indicated that he anticipated further meetings and opportunities for "deep dialogue."

According to a release from the Foreign Minister's office, Lieberman told Mitchell that "thus far, the traditional approach has not brought any results or solutions." He then proceeded to point out the "far reaching concessions" that have been made and what we've seen in response -- diplomatic process at a stand-still, acts of aggression against us, etc. etc.

Lieberman said he expected the international community to support Israel not only in her need for security, but also to affirm a commitment to Israel's Jewish character.


Let this man's strength continue! He speaks with pride and a strong sense of entitlement as an Israeli. This continues to be encouraging and so very welcome.

And other ministers are delivering similar messages.

Speaking on Army Radio today, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said:

"The preferable course of diplomatic action at this time is two economies for two peoples and not two states for two peoples. The American emissary also knows that forcing the region into virtual diplomatic discourse will only breed the opposite results."

While Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), in an interview on Israel Radio, said:

"The Annapolis outline has failed and is no longer binding. [Netanyahu will] formulate a diplomatic approach that takes into account all of the different elements, and first and foremost Israel's security."

Prime Minister Netanyahu, meeting tonight with Mitchell, was most certainly on the same track. He advised the US envoy that Israel would not risk another Hamas-controlled state (Hamastan) at her border. By this is meant our eastern border, with Judea and Samaria becoming an independent Palestinian state that is terrorist.

What is more, Netanyahu said the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state before there can be negotiations.

And to this I say, simply, oh joy! How long I've waited to hear this simple, basic demand. Our RIGHT to be so recognized has to be out there, boldly. They don't, they won't recognize us as a Jewish state. This fact has to be center-front and broadly exposed.


But then, sigh, we have Shimon Peres, who should have retired a long time ago. He advised Mitchell not to be discouraged by "negative voices":

"There is an opening point for promoting the political process. No door to peace has been closed and I believe that this year is a decisive year in the Middle East. We do not have time to waste."

But wait! Didn't Livni and Olmert say that last year was the "decisive year"? Remember the "small window of opportunity"? I think someone needs to tell Peres that the window closed. And Peres ought to be informed at the same time that as president he is supposed to remain non-political.


Egypt and Saudi Arabia have put forth a proposal for a coordinating committee of some sort to serve as an umbrella over the Hamas government in Gaza and the PA (Fatah) government in Judea and Samaria. I'm picking up various versions of what's intended -- merely a bridge to a unity government or something more permanent -- but what's clear is that this has been proposed because there has been no way to solidify a genuine unity government.

A primary reason there is an eagerness to do this is because there is supposed to be one address for receiving funds and coordinating the reconstruction of Gaza.

The PA is not receptive because such a committee would have the effect of providing de facto legitimacy for Hamas in Gaza. While Hamas is eager to receive assurance that it would not have to abide by PA policies if it accepted the committee -- that it would retain a sort of autonomy.


Mitchell will be meeting with PA officials in Ramallah, and I'd love to be a fly on the wall at those discussions.

MEMRI has up a video clip of Saeb Erekat, chief PA negotiator, in which he says that in November 2008, Olmert offered Abbas the '67 lines as borders, with some adjustments (a land trade of 6.5%) and some joint control of what is called the "Holy Basin" -- the area including the Temple Mount, Kotel, etc. But, says Erekat, Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) responded that:

"I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine - the June 4, 1967 borders (sic) - without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem."

(Note: the June 4, 1967 lines were armistice lines, not borders at all and not intended to be permanent.)

Instructive to see the clip, which has translation, and to share it with others -- especially those who actually still imagine we have a "partner for peace."


The time for Durban 2 approaches and the issues remain hot, and deeply troubling. It begins on April 20 -- the anniversary of Hitler's birth.

Those controlling the document for the conference are touting a new "improved" version. But this is nonsense. What has happened is that offensive language directed at Israel was excised, but the very first clause reaffirms in toto the declaration from the first conference in 2001, which is where all of the offensive language directed at Israel now resides.

What is more, Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Roni Leshno Yaar, told the Jerusalem Post that:

"If anything it is worse than the previous text because it includes a reference to foreign occupation which in
the diplomatic world is code for Israel... We are worse off than we were yesterday."


If anyone still has doubts as to how outrageous this all is, there is the decision by the planning committee:

Libya will serve as the Chair of the “Main Committee” running the conference; Iran will to preside as Vice-Chair, and Cuba will be the Rapporteur. On the afternoon of the first day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier, will address those assembled.

This might be considered just an exceedingly sick joke, if the implications weren't so very serious.

There have been hints that the US might attend after all, but I've seen nothing substantive to indicate that this is so (at least yet). Given this line-up and the ludicrousness of having the above nations running the show, I am aghast that any Western democracy would participate, and yet it looks as if many, if not most, will. This means they will provide legitimacy to the proceedings while being outvoted.

At present, aside from the US, only Israel, Canada and Italy have declared they will not attend


Last time around the most virulent statements against Israel came out of an NGO gathering that ran parallel to the actual conference. And, wouldn't you know it, an anti-Israel NGO gathering is scheduled for April 18 and 19th, with an anti-Israel rally on the 18th.


The Human Rights Council, an exceedingly anti-Israel group, will be doing an "investigation" of possible war crimes in Gaza, led by South African judge Richard Goldstone. The original mandate offered to him was to investigate only Israel (which gives us a clue as to the Council's predisposition), but he demanded that investigation of Hamas actions be included.

But this not withstanding, Israel has decided not to cooperate with the investigation, because it is considered to be inherently biased -- essentially a set-up. In three years, the council has passed 32 resolutions, and 26 have been against Israel.


According to a New York Times report, the US will not demand that Iran halt uranium enrichment as a pre-condition for talks.

On Monday, State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood said:

"It's important to remind everyone that we are willing to engage Iran without preconditions. And we'll just see whether Iran is willing to take up that offer."

What is more, Israel is deeply concerned about a refusal on the part of the US to put a deadline on talks with Iran, as Israeli officials have strongly urged. One State Department official cited this week simply said, "We are focused on the engagement track for now."


Most likely the US will sit down with Iran in conjunction with the other permanent members of the Security Council -- China, Russia, Britain, and France -- plus Germany (called P5 + 1). When and where this may happen is not known, but it would be the first time the US sat down with Iran in 30 years.

The demand of the international community, at least until now, has been for cessation of nuclear activity first. It is Obama who is weakening this.


The Jerusalem Post has reported that because of the growing threat from Iran, later this year Israel and
the United States will hold a massive exercise to jointly test three different ballistic missile defense systems. This exercise, to be held in Israel and called Juniper Cobra, is unprecedented.

It will include the newly developed Arrow 2, as well as America's THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.


According to UPI, the Gulf states are preparing for an Iranian response to an Israeli attack, which is assumed to be coming soon. They are setting up Patriot missiles defense systems, and taking other precautions.


Just days ago, a Hezbollah terror cell of some 50 people was uncovered in the Sinai and arrested; Egypt had received intelligence on this from the CIA, the Mossad, and other intelligence services.

Reports were that the cell was targeting Israeli tourists in Egypt and facilitating smuggling of weapons into Gaza, but the Hezbollah activity in fact was intended to be broader than this. There are sources suggesting that one possible target was ships in the Suez canal.

Even beyond this, there is reason to believe that this was a threat to the Egyptian government more directly. The centuries-old hostility between Sunni Egypt and Shiite Iran should not be minimized, and it is Iran that is directly behind the Hezbollah activity.


On Monday, a Hamas bomb factory was found in a mosque near Kfar Saba in Samaria.

On Tuesday, an unmanned Palestinian fishing boat was remotely detonated as it approach an Israeli navy ship off the coast of Gaza. The boat, which was in an area that is off-limits to Palestinian fishermen, was carrying hundreds of kilograms of explosives.


see my website

Egypt: We'll talk to Israel, but not to Lieberman

Tensions between Cairo, Jerusalem seem far from abating as top Egyptian minister warns his country will not welcome Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman so long as he retains his current positions

Roee Nahmias
Israel News

The hatchet is far from burial between Egypt and Israel's new Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. In an interview with Russian television on Wednesday Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, warned that his country would not welcome Lieberman so long as his divisive positions remained unchanged.

"When a man speaks he must be aware that the words traveling from his brain to his tongue will have consequences," said Aboul Gheit, speaking from Cairo.

"Therefore, we will work with the government of Israel but not through the Israeli foreign minister. I do not imagine that he will set foot on Egyptian soil so long as his positions, which we have seen before, remain as they are."

Earlier this month Aboul Gheit said that he would not shake Lieberman's hand because the latter had "insulted" Egypt.

The Egyptian FM's comments come several weeks after Israel dispatched National Security Council, Uzi Arad, and Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon to try and prevent a diplomatic crisis with Egypt in the event that Lieberman was indeed appointed to the office of foreign minister.

Mubarak 'can go to hell'

The foreign minister is known for his forceful stance in regards to the Egyptian regime.

Prior to the elections he said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could "go to hell" if he remained unwilling to visit Israel.

He then further fanned the diplomatic flames by comparing the subsequent apologetic behavior of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres for his comments to that of "a battered wife."

Aboul Gheit also commented on the recent arrest of a Hizbullah cell in the Sinai. "This is a dangerous issue. We will not allow anyone to operate on Egyptian soil without authorization. Egypt is not a small country, and it is fully capable of controlling its territory. We will not allow any foreign entity, regional or Arab, to threaten our land."

The Egyptian minister said Iran's involvement in the activation of terror cells in Egypt was "a much bigger issue than Hizbullah."
Thanks YNET News

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Obama, Netanyahu Rocky Road Coming

Morton A. Klein
Special to the Jewish Times

Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that he wants Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to fulfill their obligations under Olso and the Road Map. He told the Knesset, “In order for there to be peace, the Palestinian partner must fight terror, educate its children towards peace, and prepare its people for recognizing Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people,” otherwise Israel can’t even consider any more land concessions. The Prime Minister has also called for Abbas to abrogate the clauses in his political party’s (Fatah) Constitution which calls for Israel’s destruction. The Road Map also requires the PA to imprison terrorists. The PA has done none of this since Oslo required them to 16 years ago.

America’s new President Barack Obama wants a Palestinian Arab state established as soon as possible, but doesn’t mention any Palestinian obligations, and he apparently wants this state established in all of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

That’s indicated by his meetings with Saudi King Abdullah this week, where Obama again endorsed the Saudi Arabia Peace Initiative. This Saudi Initiative demands that Israel be reduced to its indefensible 1967 border and that Israel recognize the so-called Palestinian “right of return.” The Saudis say Israel must allow millions of so-called Palestinian refugees and their descendants from the 1948 War to be allowed to move into Israel proper.

Of course, this would destroy Israel as a Jewish state. In return for this the Initiative calls for “normalizing” relations with Israel. Nothing specific is required of the Arabs, no ending incitement or fighting terrorism or outlawing terrorist groups, nothing. There is no mention of what is to become of the 600,000 Jews who now live beyond the 1967 border in eastern Jerusalem, Efrat, Ariel, and elsewhere. Likely, they would be required to leave.

By the way, Saudi Arabs and the other Arab countries have repeatedly made it clear that not a letter of this Initiative can be changed; no compromise will be considered!

The different views by Obama and Netanyahu on how Israel and the Palestinian Arabs should proceed forecasts a rocky road ahead.

But there’s more. Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month that Israel must stop building Israeli/Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem and must allow illegally built Palestinian Arab homes to remain, and new ones to be constructed. She called Jewish construction “unhelpful” to peace.

Suddenly parts of the ancient Jewish city of Jerusalem are places where Jews may not move or build. What a radical transformation of Clinton’s position from what it was when, as the U.S. Senator from New York, she stated repeatedly, “I believe that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital must never be questioned.”

President Obama has also reversed his own pro-Israel position on Jerusalem, although with Obama it took less than a day. He told the AIPAC Policy Conference last spring that he supports an “undivided Jerusalem,” and the very next day said he misspoke and that it was up to the parties.

More evidence of a rocky road ahead: On the most existential threat to Israel, Obama is also at loggerheads with Israel. As the Atlantic Monthly journalist Jeffrey Goldberg succinctly stated in the headline of his recent interview with Israel’s new Prime Minister: “Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran or I Will.” Obama is apparently not willing to use any means necessary to prevent Iran’s nuclear buildup – but instead prefers diplomacy that has thus far failed to prevent the Iranians from developing these weapons, despite their repeated proclamations of “Death to Israel.”

Even George Mitchell, whom he has chosen as his Mideast envoy, may cause friction between the U.S. and Israel. Mitchell has falsely stated that Israel and the PA are equally at fault for the lack of progress; that Israeli settlement construction must stop, even for natural growth and within already existing communities, and is part of what causes Palestinian terrorism; that a Palestinian state would solve everything. He believed that, even when Arafat headed the PA. And, Mitchell and Obama ignore many Palestinian anti-peace actions, including the fact that Abbas has been fighting normalization with Israel by boycotting Israeli products and banning Palestinian teenagers from participating in joint Jewish-Arab events aimed at promoting tolerance and coexistence.

It is an extraordinary juxtaposition to see President Obama apologize to the Europeans for America acting in an “arrogant and dismissive” way toward them and yet Obama is already dismissing and ignoring Israeli concerns and Israeli policy positions, and virtually dictating to Israel what they must do.

US-Israel relations will inevitably clash unless, or until, the Obama Administration recognizes that an Arab-Israeli peace is only possible when Palestinians transform their society into one that genuinely support peace with the Jewish State of Israel.

Morton A. Klein is National President, Zionist Organization of America,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Israel-US ties a 2-way street

West must realize Israel is more than just tiny country in bad neighborhood

Chana Givon
Israel Opinion

Israel is frequently given the not-so-subtle message that it must conform to US interests if it expects American support. It would behoove those who express this to consider that the relationship is a two-way street; the US needs Israel as a bulwark against the terrorism that threatens not only the Middle East but the very foundations of Western civilization. Iran recognizes the importance of Israel in the Middle East; it is an obstacle to Iran's endgame - the complete takeover of the region. If and when the coalition leaves Iraq, Iran would step in; Syria is already in its sway. Lebanon would be an easy conquest and eliminating Egypt, Jordan, and Israel - all considered friends of the US - would create a paradise for radical Islam from which to attack Europe and the rest of the Western world. It is vital that Israel bring this to the attention of the West.

To those not in the immediate vicinity Iran might appear to be distant but that country is on the brink of achieving its goal of nuclear weapon capability and its threats of destruction will bring the danger to the "front door" of Western countries. Withholding oil would be one manner of blackmailing those who might feel relief at not being destroyed! Can anyone imagine the additional tensions - the daily uncertainty - of life under those conditions?!

Just as Israel today faces some isolation, so would other Western countries begin to experience the same, with loss of power to determine their own course.

The usual soul-searching as to the causes of the situation would expose the lack of forceful response to Iran's continuous reports of progress as they created devices of destruction. No doubt there would be regrets that action had not been taken earlier to prevent the new reality - that Western leaders had fiddled while Iran churned out its weapons of mass destruction.

Today's efforts to engage Iran in diplomacy ignore the years of cajoling that country, standing by as it has conducted war by proxy, providing ever advanced weapons to groups like Hizbullah and Hamas - two of the members of the worldwide network of terrorism - as they continuously attack Israel.

Iran has consistently refused inspection - the very transparency that President Obama lauds - yet now he considers that country as a partner in the war against that very terrorism!

Symbol of freedom

The president, in his statements about not being at war with Islam, has not differentiated between that and the enemy - radical Islam. He has gone so far as to change the name of that combatant to "Overseas Contingency Operation" - whatever that means. The attack on the World Trade Center was not "overseas."

The thinking process of the West is as different from that of the Mideast as inches are to centimeters. It is folly to assume that concessions will placate those who have sinister intentions.

On the contrary, in the Mideast this is recognized as appeasement, a sign of weakness to be exploited for more of the same - to the ultimate goal. Agreements are considered temporary - to be abrogated when it is advantageous.

Israel, at the forefront of the worldwide conflict against the same enemy, is literally at the front line. No one who is not in Israel's position should dictate what steps must be taken for its survival. In the past there have been too many cooks stirring the Middle East soup, obviously each with its own recipe.

It is Israel that is "at the table" when that international concoction is served. Certainly, even a well-intentioned cook with limited "culinary" experience should not be adding any new ingredients to an already complex recipe lest the repercussions be experienced far and wide.

We must hope that the West will realize that Israel is more than just a tiny country in a bad neighborhood; it is a symbol of freedom and democracy whose safety and security are paramount to the survival of the West. May this wisdom prevail.

Chana Givon is an educator and writer. She is the co-director of Writing the Wrongs, a forum for pro-Israel advocacy

Thank you YNET News

Sharansky, Wiesel to help counter 'Durban II' conference

Human rights groups enlist help of prominent members of Jewish community and survivors of torture ahead of next week's divisive UN conference on racism

Yitzhak Benhorin
Israel News

WASHINGTON - Prominent members of the Jewish community and survivors of racially-motivated torture from Africa, Cuba and Burma have joined an unprecedented campaign, led by a coalition of 40 human rights groups from around the world, to present human rights and discrimination issues that the world community should address when they gather next week. Known as 'Durban II,' the conference is to be held in Geneva next week.

The events will be held alongside demonstrations various Jewish groups are expected to hold in protest of the conference's agenda, which is expected to be anti-Israeli in nature.

One of the organizations behind the summit is UN Watch.

Established 15 years ago, UN Watch's mission is to monitor the performance of the United Nations "by the yardstick of its own charter". UN Watch is heading a coalition of numerous non-governmental organizations that will attempt to prevent Iran, Cuba and other countries from hijacking the conference's agenda.

Prominent members of the Jewish community, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eli Wiesel, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and former prisoner of Zion and Israeli minister and Natan Sharansky are expected to attend a number of events that will be held on the sidelines of the 'Durban II' conference, which will kick off on Sunday.

As part of the effort to raise public awareness to the issues of discrimination and racially-motivated torture, an event dubbed the "Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy" will be held a day before the "Durban II" conference convenes.

Invited speakers include survivors of the genocide in Rwanda and former dissidents from Iran, Cuba and Myanmar.

In addition, a Holocaust memorial service, organized by the Jewish Community of Geneva is set to be held on Monday at Geneva's Palace of Nations.

Thanks YNET News

Iran's Western enablers


Egypt's recent actions against Hizbullah operatives are a watershed event for understanding the nature of the threat that Iran constitutes for both regional and global security. For many Israelis, Egypt's actions came as a surprise. For years this country has been appealing to Egypt to take action against Hizbullah operatives in its territory. With minor exceptions, it has refused. Believing that its operatives threatened only us, the Mubarak regime preferred to turn a blind eye. Then too, now seems a strange time for Egypt to be proving Israel correct. Senior ministers in the new Netanyahu government have for years been outspoken critics of Egypt for its refusal to act against Hizbullah and for its support for the Hizbullah/Iran-sponsored Hamas terror group. By going after Hizbullah now, Egypt is legitimizing both their criticism and the Netanyahu government itself. This in turn seems to go against Egypt's basic interest of weakening Israel politically in general, and weakening rightist Israeli governments in particular.

But none of this seemed to interest Egyptian officials last week when they announced the arrest of 49 Hizbullah operatives and pointed a finger at Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah and his bosses in Teheran, openly accusing them of seeking to undermine Egypt's national security.

The question is what caused Egypt to suddenly act? It appears that two things are motivating the Mubarak regime. First, there is the nature of the Hizbullah network it uncovered. According to the Egyptian Justice Ministry's statements, the arrested operatives were not confining their operations to weapons smuggling to Gaza. They were also targeting Egypt.

The Egyptian state prosecution alleges that while operating as Iranian agents, they were scouting targets along the Suez Canal. That is, they were planning strategic strikes against Egypt's economic lifeline.

The second aspect of the network that clearly concerned Egyptian authorities was what it showed about the breadth of cooperation between the regime's primary opponent - the Muslim Brotherhood - and the Iranian regime. Forty-one of the suspects arrested are Egyptian citizens, apparently aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. This alignment is signaled by two things. First, many of them have hired Muslim Brotherhood activist Muntaser al-Zayat as their defense attorney. And second, Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have decried the arrests.

For instance, in an interview with Gulf News last Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Issam el-Erian defended Hizbullah (and Iran) against his own government, claiming that Nasrallah and the Iranian ayatollahs are right to accuse President Hosni Mubarak of being little more than an Israeli stooge.

In his words, "The Egyptian government must redraw its national security policies to include Israeli threats against Arab counties like Syria and Lebanon and to consider threats against Palestinians by Israelis as a threat against its national security."

In a nutshell then, both the Hizbullah network's targets and its relationship to Egypt's Sunni Islamist opposition expose clearly the danger the Iranian regime constitutes to Egypt. Iran seeks to undermine and defeat opponents throughout the world through both direct military/terrorist/sabotage operations and through ideological subversion. It is the confluence of both of these aspects of Iran's revolutionary ambitions that forced Egypt to act now, regardless of the impact of its actions on the political fortunes of the Netanyahu government. And it is not a bit surprising that Egypt was forced to act at such a politically inopportune time.

THROUGHOUT the region and indeed throughout much of the world, Iran's star is on the rise. Its burgeoning nuclear program acts as a second arm of a pincer-like campaign against its opponents. The asymmetric and ideological warfare it wages through its terror and state proxies are the campaign's first arm. Together, these two strategic arms are raising the stakes of Iran's challenge to its neighbors and to the West to unprecedented and unacceptable heights. Morocco is so concerned about Iranian subversion of its Sunni population that last month it cut off diplomatic ties with Teheran.

Iran's great leap forward has been exposed by recent events. Last month's Arab League summit in Doha exemplified how Iran has successfully split the Arab world between its proxies and its opponents. For the past three years, and particularly since the 2006 war between Israel and Iran's Hizbullah in Lebanon, Arab League states have been increasingly polarized around the issue of Iran. The country has used its satellite states of Syria, Sudan and Qatar, as well as its burgeoning alliances with Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and elsewhere, to legitimize its rapidly escalating assaults on Sunni regimes throughout the region.

Although Egypt and Saudi Arabia successfully blocked Qatar from inviting Iran and Hamas to the summit, by using the good offices of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Thani and Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Iranians were able to get their anti-Saudi/Egyptian platform passed. As the Middle East Media Research Institute chronicled in a report on the proceedings, Assad successfully abrogated the so-called Saudi peace plan that the Arab League adopted in 2002. According to a new Syrian-backed resolution, any Arab rapprochement with Israel would be contingent on Israel first destroying itself by withdrawing into indefensible borders and being overwhelmed by millions of hostile foreign Arab immigrants.

Sensing what awaited him at the summit, Mubarak chose to stay home and send a junior emissary in his place. Saudi King Abdullah said nothing throughout the two-day Arab love-fest with Iran. Both leaders emerged weakened and humiliated.

In recent years, Iran has expanded its sphere of influence to strategic points around the region. Two recent additions to Iran's axis are Eritrea and Somalia. Iran and Eritrea signed a strategic alliance last year that grants Iranian Revolutionary Guard units basing rights in the strategically vital Bab al-Mandab strait that controls the chokepoint connecting the Indian Ocean with the Red Sea. As for Somalia - whose position along the Gulf of Aden provides it a similarly critical maritime posture - Iran has been exploiting its condition as a failed state for several years.

In 2006, the UN reported that some 720 Somali jihadists aligned with al-Qaida fought with Hizbullah in Lebanon during its war against Israel. According to an analysis of Iran's coopting of Somali jihadists published in November 2006 by the on-line Long War Journal, in exchange for the Somali operatives' assistance, Iran and Syria provided advanced military training to the Somalis who had just established the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic Courts Union regime in the country. Teheran equipped the ICU with anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns, ammunition, medicine, uniforms and other supplies both before and after it took control of Somalia.

The UN report also linked the ICU to Iran's nuclear program. Its alleged that Iranian agents were operating in ICU chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys's hometown of Dusa Mareb, where they sought to buy uranium.

Beyond the Horn of Africa, of course, Iran has been consistently expanding its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan. In both countries the mullahs simultaneously sponsor the insurgencies and offer themselves as the US's indispensible partner for stabilizing the countries they are destabilizing.

What is perhaps most jarring about Iran's ever-expanding influence is the disparate responses it elicits from Israel and Sunni regimes like Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and the West on the other. Whereas Israel and the Sunni Arab states warn about Iran daily, far from acknowledging or confronting this ever-expanding Iranian menace, the US and the Europeans have been alternatively ignoring it and appeasing it. If the US were taking the Iranian threat seriously, the Obama administration would not be begging Iran to negotiate with it after Teheran demonstrated that it has complete control over the nuclear fuel cycle.

If the US were interested in contending with the danger Iran constitutes to global security, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be absurdly arguing that the US cannot verify whether Iran's announcement that it is now operating 7,000 centrifuges and its opening of another nuclear site signify an increase in its nuclear capacity.

Were the US taking Iran seriously, it would not be asking Iran to help out in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would not be treating Somali piracy as a strategically insignificant nuisance. It would not be ignoring Eritrea's newfound subservience to Iran. It would not be maintaining the Central Command's headquarters in Qatar. And, of course, it would not be permitting Iran to move forward with its nuclear weapons program.

THEN there is Britain. Last week Michael Ledeen from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies reported that Britain's decision to recognize Hizbullah is part of a deal it struck with Iran and Hizbullah in exchange for five Britons who have been held hostage in Iraq by Hizbullah/Iran-affiliated terrorists for two years. According to the deal, in exchange for the British hostages, London agreed to recognize Hizbullah and the US agreed to release a number of Shi'ite terrorists its forces in Iraq have captured.

As Tariq Alhomayed, the editor of Asharq al-Awsat, noted in response to the news, the deal puts paid Nasrallah's contention that Hizbullah does not operate outside Lebanon except to wage war against Israel. But it also points to a severe problem with the West.

If Britain was willing to acknowledge and contend with the grave threat Iran constitutes for global security, it would not accept the authority of Hizbullah or Iran to negotiate the release of British hostages in Iraq. Instead it would place responsibility for achieving the release of the British hostages on the sovereign Iraqi government and use all the means at its disposal to strengthen that government against agents of Iranian influence in the country.

So, too, rather than participate in the deal, the US would seek to destroy the Iranian-controlled operatives holding the hostages and discredit and defeat the Iraqi political forces operating under Iranian control. Certainly if the US were taking the Iranian threat seriously, it would announce that any withdrawal of US combat forces from Iraq will be linked to the complete defeat of agents of Iranian influence in Iraq.

The West's refusal to contend with the burgeoning Iranian menace no doubt has something to do with the West's physical distance from Iran. Whereas Middle Eastern countries have no choice but to deal with Iran, the US and its European allies apparently believe that they can still pretend away the danger. But of course they cannot.

From the Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden to Hizbullah cells from Iraq to Canada; from Iranian agents in British universities to Hizbullah and Iranian military advisers in South and Central America, the West, like the Middle East, is being infiltrated and surrounded.

Egypt's open assault on Hizbullah is yet another warning that concerted action must be taken against the mullocracy. Unfortunately, the absence of Western resolve signals that this warning, too, will go unheeded.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1239633075317&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama's Middle East Debut

Soner Cagaptay
Middle East Strategy at Harvard
April 8, 2009

President Obama's April 6 speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara has addressed Washington's concerns over Turkey's turn from the West. In his speech, Obama tackled the erosion of Turkey's liberal democratic values. He also took up Turkey's recent foreign policy differences with the United States. Lately, a civilizational view of world politics has formed in Ankara, relativizing good and bad according to religion and splitting the Turks from the West. In the latest incident, at the Davos meeting in January, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chided Israel's president for "killing people" -- and then returned to Ankara to host the vice president of Sudan. Since September 11, Turkey is fact becoming a "Muslim" nation, and a member of the "Muslim World." The only way to counter this conception -- as well as Turkey's turn towards illiberal politics at home and a civilizational view in foreign policy -- is to emphasize Turkey's Western vocation. By speaking strongly in favor of a Western and European Turkey, Obama did exactly that, putting Turkey back in the West.

Recently, there has been much confusion in the United States and Europe about Turkey's identity. Until September 11, Turkey was considered a NATO ally, a secular democracy and a member of the West. Suddenly, following September 11, this changed. Turkey became a Muslim ally, considered a model of Islamic democracy and a member of the Muslim world. The punditocracy began to describe Turkey as a "moderate Muslim state," and regional experts viewed Turkey as part of the Greater Middle East. A German Turk born and raised in Berlin told me that prior September 11, his friends referred to him as "the Turk." On September 12, he became "the Muslim." He added: "I had not changed in one night, but the world had."

In due course, U.S.-Turkish relations focused exclusively on the Muslim Middle East, particularly Iraq. This development came at the expense of previous U.S.-Turkish cooperation in the Caucasus, Black Sea, Central Asia, and within Europe and NATO. Thrown into a closed-circuit, Muslim lot, Turkey started to empathize with Muslim world on matters, moving away from the United States on key foreign policy issues, such as Iran, Sudan, and Hamas. Coupled with the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, Washington's singular focus on Middle East issues empowered a religion-based civilizational vector in Turkish foreign policy. This stimulated an exclusively Muslim identity among Turks at the expense of European and pro-Western identities.

An exclusive focus on the Muslim world in U.S.-Turkish ties is short-sighted since Turkey is more than just a Muslim partner for the United States. Branding Turkey as a Muslim country only runs against the grain of the country's identity fabric: the Turks are at ease with multiple identities, including Muslim, Turk and Western. President Obama has a grasp of this issue, and that is why he opted to not deliver his "address to the Muslim world" from Turkey. Enforcing the view of Turkey as a Western nation, he de-linked his Turkey sojourn from his campaign promise to visit a Muslim country during the first 100 days of his presidency.

With his Ankara address, Obama put the post-September 11 confusion about Turkey's identity to rest. The President started his speech with a rhetorical question: "I have been to...the NATO Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl, and the European Union Summit in Prague. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message. My answer is simple: Evet (Yes in Turkish)." The president added that Turkey belongs in Europe and the West and that "Europe gains by the diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith." For Obama, Turkey is a country in the West that happens to be Muslim, rather than a Muslim country in the Muslim world.

This is good news for Turkey's democracy, and even better news for the Western orientation of Turkish foreign policy. In his address, Obama made strong references to Turkey's secular democracy and the need for the country to move towards European Union (EU) accession. Importantly, Obama set Europe and its liberal democratic traditions as Washington's benchmark for evaluating domestic Turkish developments. On foreign policy, the President referred to Turkey as a "resolute ally and a responsible partner in transatlantic and European institutions." Obama understands Turkey's strategic importance -- Turkey borders Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia, and is a staging ground for operations in Afghanistan and beyond. With his speech, Obama set NATO as a Western gauge for cooperation with Turkey on key foreign policy issues.

Turkey is a nation that is Turkish by its birth, Muslim by its culture, and Western by its political identity and institutions. By placing Turkey back into the Western polity, Obama has hailed all three characteristics, allowing Turkey to thrive as a country with multiple identities. During his visit, the President chose to visit Ataturk's mausoleum, the Blue Mosque and the Turkish parliament, symbolically demonstrating that he grasps the non-exclusive nature of Turkish nationalism, Islam and Western political identity in Turkey. With his speech, Obama has also made a successful case against the argument that Islam and the West are exclusive of one another. This is one reason why Obama was received with open arms in Turkey. As the President of the United States, a country full of diverse ethnicities, religions and races, Obama has a grasp of Turkey's complexity, and understands the importance of maintaining its multiple identities.

Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute.

Hizbullah Unites Israel, Egypt

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Hizbullah Unites Israel, Egypt

Egypt's discovery of a large Hizbullah cell operating in its country has united Israel and Egypt in a fierce verbal onslaught against the Lebanese-based political-terror organization. Cairo called Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah a "criminal" and Israeli Transportation Minister Yaakov Katz (Likud) said he "deserves death." Details of the ring's operations in Egypt reveal that the group's 49 terrorists plotted to kill Israeli tourists in Egypt, possessed suicide explosive belts and were planning to buy a boat to smuggle weapons for Hamas in Gaza.

The Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper reported that Egypt intends to indict Nasrallah. The government-owned Al-Gomhuria newspaper referred to him as the "Sheikh Monkey...who is a highway robber [a pure criminal."

Nasrallah has admitted that Sami Shehab, a Lebanese member of the ring, was a Hizbullah agent. Confirming allegations by Israel that Hizbullah has been leading operations to smuggle Iranian weapons in to Gaza, he stated in a speech, "If helping the Palestinians is a crime, I officially admit to my crime."

The terrorist organization, which has become a political power and is a part of the Lebanese Cabinet, claims that it is becoming increasingly recognized as a legitimate political entity. Nasrallah deputy Naim Kassem, in a recent rare interview with an American reporter, confirmed American and Israeli accusations that Hizbullah's leadership unifies its terrorist and political operations.

"The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel," he said.

Hizbullah has found a close ally with Venezuela, and the British government recently said it would begin dialogue with Hizbullah leaders.

The terrorist-political party is gearing up for Lebanese legislative elections in June. It is allied with Shi'ite Muslims, leftists and pro-Syrian Christians, and its domination of southern Lebanon through charity and social support organizations has made it increasingly popular.
Thanks A7News

Outpost Marchers Test Netanyahu

Hillel Fendel Outpost Marchers Test Netanyahu

Hundreds of people have begun a Passover holiday march to Yad Ya’ir, an 18-year-old neighborhood that was destroyed seven months ago by the Olmert-Barak government. At 4 PM, a major event will be held at Yad Ya’ir, near Dolev in the Binyamin region of southern Samaria. Public figures including rabbis and Knesset Members will be in attendance. Monday is the 18th anniversary of the establishment of Yad Ya’ir, marking the murder of Dolev resident Ya’ir Mendelson by Arab terrorists.

March to Resettle

The area, which is owned by Jews, had been torched and vandalized by local Arabs several times before IDF Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon ordered the town’s destruction last September. The marchers say they are paving the way for Jews to resettle the sight.

It took the IDF two days to demolish the tiny town. The army first arrived with a force of soldiers and demolition equipment, but called off its plans when it understood the size of the crowd standing ready to protect the town - some 300 Jews from the nearby Jewish towns of Dolev, Talmon, Neriah and others. Two days later, the army arrived in larger numbers and did the deed - even though word of a Supreme Court ruling to delay the action until 4 PM that day had already been received.

The army later claimed that the fax machine didn't work and that the order was not received until it was too late.

Test for the Netanyahu Gov’t

"We still hope to return," a former resident stated recently. Monday’s marchers are hoping to lay the groundwork for just such a return. “We have not given up on Yad Ya’ir,” organizers of the march said, “and we plan to return and settle the area once again. This will be a major test of the Netanyahu government, to see if it puts an end to the leftist policies that allowed unrestrained illegal Arab construction while forbidding Jews to build legally.”

Meir Goldmintz, a long-time resident of Yad Ya’ir, told the story of its establishment in memory of a terrorist victim, its abandonment by the army, the Arab vandalism it suffered, and its ultimate destruction by Israeli forces – despite ongoing negotiations for its peaceful relocation.

Shortly before Passover 1991, after Dolev resident Yair Mendelson was murdered, his neighbors wished to establish a community on the site of the murder, in keeping with the tradition of "a proper Zionist response." However, then-Defense Minister Moshe Arens of the Likud refused. After a protracted struggle, it was decided to establish a military base there.

Building the Site

"Over the years," Goldmintz said, "a park was also built there, on lands that were purchased from their Arab owners. For years, the Yad Yair group worked on building up a vibrant Jewish presence there: prayers, Torah classes, activities. A monument to Yair was erected, as were a playground for children, a plaza, and a synagogue. Cakes and other foodstuffs were given out to soldiers on Purim and other occasions, we lit Chanukah candles there, and more. The high point was our yearly springtime event, in which hundreds of people would take part."

The army abandoned the site circa 2004, Goldmintz said: “Thus began a period of constant Arab vandalism, which the army did not 'succeed' in preventing. Over the course of time, the electric grid was destroyed, the synagogue was looted, the monument was defaced, and the synagogue was set ablaze no fewer than three times."

"Finally, we realized that we would have to do something, and we decided to actualize our right to the land - and start our own town there. We [finally did thi after a group of leftists and Arabs arrived on the scene, set fire to the synagogue, and even replaced the Israeli flags with PLO flags...

"In response, our family [Meir, his wife Chana and four childre moved to the site, together with a group of students from Yeshivat Nachliel. It required great self-sacrifice, as well as financial resources. The yeshiva helped out and held classes there, and nearby communities helped with fuel for the generator, guards, food for the yeshiva students, etc. But we still had to deal with problems such as minimal housing conditions, getting back and forth to work and school, etc.

"We lived in a container of only 12 square meters (120 square feet), without showers and with no room for furniture; we left the refrigerator and table outside. Every night we would spread out the mattresses on the floor, and in the morning we would pile them up again."

Meir said that most of the army officers recognized the importance of the location, "and they sent frequent patrols, and even held exercises there. Don't forget, it's only 100 meters from the outlying homes of Ramallah..."

One of the hardships the family faced was travelling 20 minutes back and forth to their home community of Haresha, "for showers, laundry, and even for the children to be with friends."

Illegal Destruction

The actual destruction of this budding Jewish neighborhood - four buildings and two more under construction - "was also illegal," Meir said, "in that a person may not be forcibly removed from his residence if he has been living there for 30 days, without a legal hearing beforehand. In addition, they ignored the Supreme Court ruling ordering them to delay the demolition."

Dolev and Yad Yair are located just a few minutes’ drive away from Beit El and other eastern Binyamin towns – but the trip now takes about an hour. This, due to the closing of the road linking them several years ago, because of security considerations. Children who learned in Beit El and workers with jobs in eastern Binyamin were forced to change their lives when access to these areas was abruptly cut off. The women of MachsomWatch raised no uproar at the “harm to the quality of life” of the Jewish pioneers.

"Nasrallah a monkey sheikh"

Egyptian paper slams Hizbullah chief, says he 'will burn' should he threaten Egypt's sovereignty

Israel News

An Egyptian state-controlled newspaper escalated Egypt's dispute with Hizbullah on Sunday by calling its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, a "Monkey sheikh." The state-owned al-Gomhouria newspaper said: "We do not allow you, monkey sheikh, to mock our judiciary, for you are a bandit and veteran criminal who killed your countrymen, but we will not allow you to threaten the security and safety of Egypt ...and if you threaten its sovereignty, you will burn!"

The editorial, by Editor Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, covered the front page and carried the headline "A criminal who knows no repentance" over a picture of Nasrallah.

"I say to you what every Egyptian knows, that you are an Iranian party," Ibrahim wrote. "Are there instructions from Iran to drag Egypt into a conflict?"

Tensions between Egypt, a predominantly Sunni country, and Hizbullah, a Shi'ite group backed by Iran, have been running high since Nasrallah in December accused Cairo of complicity with Israel in its siege of the Gaza Strip.

Cairo said on Wednesday it had detained 49 Egyptian, Palestinian and Lebanese men linked to Hizbullah, accusing them of planning attacks in Egypt, and on Sunday a prosecution source said five Egyptians and one Palestinian had been charged with spying and possessing firearms without a license.

Nasrallah said in response that one of those held was a Hizbullah member and that he and up to 10 others were trying to supply military equipment to Hamas-run Gaza. He denied they had plans for attacks inside Egypt.

Comment: Do not allow the USA government, nor the EU suggest that there is agreement among the Arab nations about anything. The starategy is to suggest such agreement to pressure Israel. In reality, this is only viewed as a tactic by certain Arab nations to force Israeli compliance.

Thanks to YNET NEWS

Egypt: Hizbullah cell plotted against Israelis

Cairo officials confirm terror operatives linked to Lebanese Shiite group had been plotting to target Israeli tourists vacationing at Sinai resorts, destabilize Egyptian regime; Nasrallah denies accusations but acknowledges Hizbullah dispatched representative to area
Associated Press

Hizbullah agents operating in Egypt were plotting to attack Israeli tourists at resorts in the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian and Israeli officials said Sunday. Egypt announced recently that a cell of 49 men with links to Hizbullah were planning attacks aimed at destabilizing the country. Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, rejected the accusations but confirmed over the weekend that it had dispatched a member to Egypt - a rare acknowledgment that the Lebanese group was operating in another Arab country.

Egypt's allegations were fresh evidence of the growing strains between the region's staunch US Allies - namely Egypt and Saudi Arabia - and increasingly powerful Iranian- and Syrian-backed groups like Hizbullah and the Palestinian Hamas.

On Sunday, Egyptian Cabinet minister Mufed Shehab said authorities seized explosive belts and other bomb-making materials from the agents and accused them of planning to buy a boat to "bring weapons and ammunition from Yemen, Sudan and Somalia and smuggle them into the country."

The alleged agents also were "observing and locating the tourists groups who repeatedly come to south Sinai resorts and residences paving the way to target them in hostile activities," Shehab told Egyptian parliament members in a reference to Israeli tourists who frequently travel to the Sinai for beach resort vacations.

Israel warned its citizens last week not to visit the Sinai desert because of new intelligence reports of plots to attack and kidnap Israelis there. An Israeli official told the Associated Press that the operatives specifically planned to target Israeli tourists in the Sinai.

Israeli Cabinet Minister Yisrael Katz also told Army Radio on Sunday that Nasrallah had ordered his men to "hit Israeli targets.

"He (Nasrallah) acknowledges that his men were involved in smuggling Iranian weapons into Gaza in order to hit Israel," Katz said.

Nasrallah denies attack claim
In a televised speech on Friday, Nasrallah, confirmed that Sami Shehab, one of the 49 and a senior Hizbullah member, was sent to Egypt to help Palestinian allies in the months before Israel's three-week offensive in the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah said Shehab was arrested in November on charges of smuggling arms and equipment to Gaza via the strip's Egyptian border - but he denied that Hizbullah was planning attacks in Egypt.

Tensions between Egypt and Hizbullah escalated earlier this year after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which Israel launched to combat Palestinian rocket attacks.

Many Arabs criticized Egypt - one of only two Arab countries with a peace deal with Israel - for not doing enough to stop the fighting and open its border with the Gaza Strip. Nasrallah had accused Egypt of "taking part in the crime."

Egypt, a mostly Sunni Arab country, has long been at odds with the Shiite Hizbullah and its main backer, Iran. Egypt's government had criticized Hizbullah for "provoking" its monthlong war with Israel in summer 2006.

But Hizbullah, along with its Palestinian ally, Hamas, have support among many regular Egyptians who praise the groups for not recognizing Israel and launching attacks

against it.

In Tehran, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani rejected accusations against Hizbullah, state television reported. Iran denies it gives weapons to Hizbullah and Hamas.

Hamas also denied the Egyptian allegations against Hizbullah, calling it a "cruel campaign.

"Supplying arms to the Gaza Strip in support of resistance is not a charge - it is an honor," Hamas said in

a statement faxed to the Associated Press in Damascus, Syria.

News of the arrests of the alleged Hizbullah agents first broke last week when Egypt's prosecutor-general said the men had rented apartments near the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and the Suez Canal, taught members how to make homemade bombs and were collecting intelligence from tourists sites in the Sinai, the Suez Canal and villages along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas.

Shehab, the Cabinet minister, said 25 of the 49 were in Egyptian custody and they included a Lebanese and several Egyptians and Palestinians.

Thanks YNET News

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Washington Watch: Might Lieberman be the Arab world's best friend?

Apr. 12, 2009
Douglas Bloomfield , THE JERUSALEM POST

Even those who expected friction between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over pursuing Israeli-Arab peace were surprised that it came so quickly. About 20 minutes, by one count. Tzhat's how long it took Israel's new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to scrap the US-led Annapolis peace talks on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, take the Golan Heights off the negotiating table with Syria, and reject the long-standing concept of land for peace, threatening a US-Israel rift if his government turns that rhetoric into policy.

Lieberman's pronouncements, along with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's rejection of the two-state approach and word that he is reconsidering support for the international road map for Mideast peace, could set Jerusalem and Washington on a collision course.

President Barack Obama quickly fired a warning shot across Bibi's bow. "Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," he said. That was followed by an announcement that special Mideast envoy George Mitchell will be going to the region "to advance the goal of the two-state solution." Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan quickly shot back that "Israel does not take orders from Obama."

Just cash.

LIEBERMAN'S inaugural speech ignited what could become the worst crisis in US-Israel relations in nearly 20 years.

Netanyahu's non-response - other than repeating his desire for "a just and lasting peace" - in the wake of the firestorm created by Lieberman's incendiary remarks was seen as approval.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official told me, "Is he saying what Bibi really thinks but won't say out loud? We don't know, but so far Bibi hasn't rebuked or retracted" anything.

Lieberman, who was Netanyahu's chief of staff during the latter's first term as prime minister, said concessions to the Arabs "just invite pressure, and more and more wars. If you want peace, prepare for war." With declarations like that and his reputation as a racist who wants to drive out Israel's Arab citizens, Lieberman may be the best thing that has happened to pro-Arab lobbying in Washington since Yasser Arafat died.

But for the Jews he's bad news.

A recent survey for J Street, the Jewish "pro-peace, pro-Israel" lobby, conducted by Jim Gerstein, a Democratic strategist, showed Obama is "considerably more popular" among American Jews than Netanyahu by a 73-58 margin, and Lieberman's views are "resoundingly rejected by American Jews." The cornerstone of pro-Israel lobbying for more than 60 years has been Israel's yearning for peace in the face of Arab threats to destroy it. Israel, we've been taught and have taught others, is willing to take great risks, endure major sacrifices and accept painful compromises while the other side has insisted on its unrealistic and uncompromising demands.

Israel has ridden that image, despite occasional ups and downs, to a position of great strength in America and especially on Capitol Hill.

After Lieberman's declarations and Netanyahu's so-far lack of a convincing commitment to peace, Israel risks being branded an obstacle to peace.

There is a hard-core element in the Jewish community that will support Israel do or die, but the J Street data shows that fewer and fewer under 30 will, said Gerstein.

Their grandparents forged their ties with Israel during the vulnerable years of its birth and struggle for survival; their parents are of the post-1967 generation that grew up knowing the muscular Israel anxious to make peace. The 21st-century Jews see a different Israel, said a prominent pro-Israel lobbyist. "They see oppression, excess use of force and arrogance," he said. For many of them it is no longer the center of their Jewish identity.

Gerstein's survey revealed "a great deal of alienation" among younger Jews from traditional Jewish organizations, which they don't feel necessarily represent their views on issues like peace and relations with the Arabs. The broader non-organizational Jewish community is "overwhelmingly progressive" and likely to support pressure on both Israel and the Arabs to advance the peace process.

Particularly noteworthy was a finding that political contributors, a cornerstone of pro-Israel lobbying, are more progressive, more Democratic and more supportive of the US playing an assertive role supporting peace.

Lieberman leaves the impression Israel is in full retreat from the peace table. The greater this ex-bouncer's influence, especially regarding relations with the Arabs, the lower Israel's standing will sink. He could do what the Arabs and their supporters could only dream of - drive a wedge between Americans and Israel.

Netanyahu will have an opportunity to set the record straight next month when he is expected in Washington to speak to the AIPAC policy conference and meet with President Obama.

He will have to make a convincing case not only to the AIPAC faithful (an easy sell) but to the American people and their president that his government is committed to peace in more than vague rhetoric. The future of pro-Israel activism and the quality of the bilateral relationship could depend on it.
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No longer refugees

On Pesach eve, Sever Plocker says he is a Zionist so his children won’t be refugees like his mother
Sever Plocker

During the Seder, I read the Haggadah and think of my mother. “In each and every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as though he actually left Egypt,” it says in the Haggadah, which for me means “In each and every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as a refugee.” My mother was a refugee her entire life. She was born in 1914, right before World War I, to a wealthy and aristocratic Jewish family in central Poland. During the stormy years of the war, the family left its spacious home, traveled across the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and returned when the battles subsided. She returned to a razed home. This was her first refugee experience.

Later on, my mother traveled to Krakow to study chemistry at the university there. Jewish students were assigned separate benches at the edges of the lecture halls. She met my father during one of her trips. They got married in 1938 and postponed their honeymoon by a year. As it turned out, they postponed it forever. Upon the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, my mother urged my father to escape east with her, to the Soviet Union. I do not want to see any German faces, she insisted.

They left their home with a handful of personal belongings and became refugees. They slept on the road, at train cars and train stations, while making their way across the Soviet state. They experienced frost at the Ural Mountains and scorching heat at the steppes of Uzbekistan, in a neglected clay home on the outskirts of a Muslim town where residents also hated the Jewish refugees. My father fell ill, while his siblings died in the crematoria. My parents returned to the communist Poland; a Poland wounded by the war, devoid of charm, and overcome by hatred; a Poland that received the survivors with outbursts of violent anti-Semitism. Why did you return? Why didn’t Hitler finish you off?

We lived in the industrial town of Lodz, in an apartment shared by several families, including a shared bathroom. We had a room and a half. A grim backyard. Drunk neighbors. A dark, foul-smelling staircase. My father was a Zionist and worked for local Jewish organizations. My mother knocked on doors and sought jobs outside the establishment, outside the system. On occasion, we had night visits by the Polish security services; the non-communist Jews in Poland were few, and all of them were suspected of espionage and treason. My mother said: I did not return to a homeland; I replaced my refugee life with a different kind of refugee life.

The refugee toolbox

We made aliyah from Poland after the collapse of Stalinism. In Israel, my mother maintained the status of a refugee. She could not overcome the challenge of Hebrew or the sense of foreignness. For years we barely subsisted, bordering on poverty. The Jewish Agency sent us to one transit camp and then to another. Later we were sent to a tiny apartment in a neighborhood situated between Holon and Bat Yam. Keep your spirits up, Agency officials told my father (a prisoner of Zion) and my mother. Soon, a high-speed train will be passing through here, and these apartments will be worth a fortune. These officials were a little premature – the trains will pass through the area by 2010, 50 years later.

In order to maintain a minimal standard of living, my mother worked as a maid for wealthy families in northern and central Tel Aviv. She carried baskets and washed floors, just like a foreign laborer. On occasion I take part in public debates regarding discrimination in Israel. “What do you, Ashkenazim, know about poverty,” a professor or doctor of Mizrahi descent tells me. I do not reply: One’s CV should not serve as an argument in a debate.

I recounted the synopsis of my mother’s life in answer to the following question: What did I get from her that helped me later in life? I got the refugee toolbox: Determination not to show despair, constant willingness to start everything anew, and the belief that no job is too humiliating and that it must be done well. I also gained curiosity, tolerance, endurance, and the ability to keep anger bottled up inside. I also gained the powerful hope that even in difficult situations we always have the freedom of choice; nothing is pre-determined.

I also took from my mother a slight revulsion in the face of big money and the reminder that there are always weaker people, whose situation is worst than mine. Don’t judge them; speak on their behalf, my mother taught me. My mother did not understand economics, but she did understand what it takes to write for human beings. Until she was on her deathbed, I would read out my articles to her, translated to Polish. She was my most demanding critic.

Older people should not be writing about their parents, but rather, about their children. This will make for optimistic writing. My children are wonderful and happy; my mother was an unhappy woman who did not feel that she belonged most of her life. She made do with little, and even the little was scarce. She was small and withered, she coughed, and she died suffering. Her death did not leave an empty space in the world. So when people ask me why I’m a Zionist, I reply: So that my children won’t be refugees like my mother was.