Saturday, October 24, 2009

And speaking of making fools of the American media...

Barry Rubin

Many years ago I read a true story about the visit of the American novelist William Faulkner to Japan. At one point, Faulkner made a joke and the translator, who was putting his talk into Japanese for the audience, merely said: "Mr Faulkner has just told a joke. Would you all please laugh." I imagine some American columnist or TV "personality" meeting with a radical Arab or Iranian leader and breathlessly reporting the scoop that he is really a very nice person and wants world peace. (Actually, I don't need to imagine it as I've seen it many times.)

But this television network piece on Syrian dictator President Bashar al-Asad is priceless. I couldn't stop laughing. It is the mother of all puff pieces. In fact, the state-controlled Syrian newspaper the next day must have been headlined: "President Asad meets with really stupid American journalist."

Here's how one of my readers sums up the interview (which I think was in 2007)\:

""When you were student in England, you rode the bus?" Wow.

"You talked about the internet. You like video games?"

"Do you have an ipod. What's on it?"

"And you're a country music fan. Faith Hill... Shania Twayne."

"And American movies."

"You like true stories?"

These are the actual questions she asked.

My personal favorite was when the American journalist said--with absolute awe and hero worship in her voice--"He knows everything about American politics!"

Goodness, who does she think Asad is, Obama?

Haven't these people ever heard of staff briefings? Like when a journalist is going to interview a national leader there are people to prepare him for the questions.

True story. A famous American columnist once told me that he had interviewed Dan Quayle, an American politician made much fun of for allegedly being dumb. But he was quite surprised at how much Quayle knew.

Asked I, "What did you talk about?"

"Defense issues," replied the columnist.

"And did he know you were coming to interview him on that subject?"


Hmmm. Staff briefings beforehand. I've written and given some of them myself. Best thing in the world other than having a teleprompter with all the words written on it.

Yet aside from this general goofiness, there is also some mystique--call it the Che Guevera complex--that clings to murderous tyrants, at least if they aren't pro-American ones. Perhaps it is because these are men of action who fascinate journalists, who just watch other people doing stuff, or policy wonks, whose main adventure is to go to academic conferences.

Or maybe it is also Third World worship. But reporters who would jump all over an American politician, accuse him of lying, and pummel him with tough questions seem to go all to pieces when encountering some truly horrible tyrant (as long as he's anti-American) as if they were meeting Brad Pitt or Angela Jolie. Come to think of it, if Brad Pitt or Angela Jolie met Asad or Ahmadinejad or Arafat they'd probably ask for autographs.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Anti-Israel position reversed

From: "Komen International"
Date: October 22, 2009 11:36:48 AM GMT-04:00

Subject: RE: International Programs

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Pleased to Announce Egyptian Events to Welcome All Advocates, Including those from Israel

Statement by Nancy G. Brinker, Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

“Breast cancer advocates from the United States and across the Middle East are meeting in Egypt from October 21-27 for breast cancer awareness events. There have been reports that some of the invited participants would not be allowed to attend these events Susan G. Komen for the Cure has now received confirmation that all advocates, regardless of their country of origin, are invited to fully participate in events to bring breast cancer to the forefront of public discussion in the Middle East.

After we received the initial report on the situation, we launched a diplomatic effort to ensure they would be able to participate. I am pleased to report that our efforts led to confirmation that all advocates would be welcome to participate in the events.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure remains steadfast in our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Former Ambassador Says Damage Control Needed on Goldstone

Gil Ronen
A7 News

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., Dore Gold, said Wednesday that Israel can do much to minimize the damage caused by the Goldstone report as it is transferred to the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council.
The name of the game now, said Gold, is the Security Council and the Hague International Court. “These are the determining bodies because if the General Assembly decides to transfer the report to the Hague Court then we could find ourselves in a similar situation to the one we were in several years ago, with regard to the [securit fence.”

Gold, who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told Arutz Sheva: “This is a very complex strategy, but first of all we need to remember that there are several states that are also dealing with terrorism that we need to bring over to our side. It was very jarring that the French suddenly walked out of the vote.”

“The British who are dealing with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq can understand the situation we are in, when all sorts of Islamic groups operate from within civilian areas. Countries like France and India also deal with this in North Africa and those countries need to be made to realize this and identify with us. We also need to strengthen the United States in which large sections identify with Israel. We need to show them that this report contains many untrue facts – such as, for instance, the claim that terrorists did not operate from within mosques. This is a claim we can easily refute.”

Dr. Gold rejects the contentions that Israel was wrong not to cooperate with the Goldstone Committee's investigators. “There are enough Israeli elements that tried to give the committee materials and were rejected by its representatives. We in the JCPA sent materials to the committee but they ignored them. There were IDF officers and British officers who wanted to testify but they were ignored.”
Comment on this story


Iranian officials involved in nuclear talks temper optimism over draft agreement; Tehran reserves right to shun final agreement, Western media exerting pressure on Iran, one official says


Following the dramatic reports of a draft agreement on Iran's nuclear program, Iranian officials tempered the optimism by declaring that Tehran reserves the right to refrain from signing the final agreement.According to understandings reached between Iran and the United States, Russia and France, Tehran will be handing over the low-grade uranium it possesses to the great powers, in exchange for nuclear fuel. However, Iranian officials made it clear the agreement is still far from being a done deal.

The earlier optimism has been tempered by the Iranian broadcasting authority's website, which quoted Wednesday Iranian officials who are part of the delegation engaged in talks on Iran's nuclear plan. The representatives stressed that for the time being the Islamic Republic only agreed to the draft agreement.

"The atmosphere created by media outlets in the West is meant to exert psychological pressure and force Iran to adopt a position," one source was quoted as saying. "Tehran will be taking decisions only in line with its national interests, and with no regard to these pressures.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Clinton made it clear that American demands quick action on Tehran's part in implementing the draft agreement on its nuclear program.

"In particular, prompt action is needed on implementing the plan to use Iran's own low-enriched uranium to refuel the Tehran research reactor," Clinton said.

On Wednesday, Diplomats said that the draft deal, worked out by IAEA Chief ElBaradei, contained the powers' call for Iran to send some 75% of its enriched uranium reserve abroad before the end of this year for conversion into fuel for a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes.

Yitzhak Benhorin and Reuters contributed to the report

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"US - Israel Relations"

Arlene Kkushner

The United States and Israel are today holding the biggest-ever joint missile defense drill ( the Juniper Cobra 10 exercise) that will take into account threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. A thousand US military personnel will participate along with an equal number of Israelis; the Israeli Arrow 2 Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System and the American Navy's AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System will be tested, along with the US Patriot advanced capability anti-missile missiles. This exercise has been in the planning for two years, and American military officials arrived months ago to help set things up. Radar stations -- including the Israeli Green Pine and Super Green Pine systems and the US Forward Based X-Bank Tactical radar -- have been erected around the country. Seventeen American navy ships are in Israel's territorial waters and air force planes will be involved.

Is this a panacea that protects us in a way that makes deterrence against Hezbollah and Syria unnecessary, or makes it irrelevant if Iran goes nuclear? Of course not.

Does it make me feel a good measure safer? Indeed it does. Iran has to know that we're not sitting ducks and that they very well might not have the advantage of a successful first strike.


Yesterday President Peres opened the "Facing Tomorrow Conference" here in Jerusalem. Present Obama sent a opening message to the conference via video. The US - Israel relations, he said, were "more than a strategic alliance."

He then pushed for an assumption of some measure of responsibility towards making peace happen now: "...our moment in history is filled with challenges that...invite pessimism...We can defer action...or we can meet the challenge..."


When the president refers to a situation that invites pessimism, he is, undoubtedly, speaking for himself as much as anyone else. He has confronted only frustration in what he naively imagined would be his speedy success in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian (Arab) conflict. In the course of what he has been dealing with, there is no question but that the tone he has adopted towards us has become less strident.


But, my friends, do not imagine that all is sweetness and light.

In today's edition of Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today), diplomatic correspondent Shlomo Tzesna reports that our government has rejected an American plan that would have called for a summit to be held in a month that would have been followed by intensive final status talks. Those talks would have been based on an Israeli commitment to reach an agreement for the establishment of a Palestinian state within two years, and would also have required us to commit to a massive withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

This is the stuff of nightmares. What matters most is the continuing capacity and will of our prime minister and his government to continue to say no.


A word about what's happening here: Obama has backed himself into a corner with the talk of a Palestinian state within two years. It's not just Obama, although he's been more strident in his approach. It was true of his predecessors as well. There's always a precipitous rush with regard to finalizing arrangements, always talk -- ludicrous talk -- about a limited "window of opportunity." Never is there straight talk about the Palestinians not being prepared for self-rule, not having infrastructure or civil agencies in place. No talk about building a genuine civil society over a generation or two, with cessation of incitement and renunciation of violence. There is simply, quick, quick!

Not only is this talk foolish, it's dangerous. Because once expectations are raised, the Palestinian Arab response, when those expectations aren't met, is violence. There is particular concern about that now, as the US is training PA security forces -- forces that are being told that they are helping to build a state. Once they see they are not going to have their state within two years, against whom do you imagine they will turn their newly honed military skills?

There's a precedent for this: every time the CIA has trained PA forces, they ended up, in some measure or other, turning against us.


After Obama's message was delivered yesterday, Netanyahu spoke. He challenged Abbas to say publicly what is said behind closed doors: " say the truth about peace...and the true way to achieve it."

This is mere rhetoric. Netanyahu knows full well that Abbas is weak and running scared. He cannot speak truth and cannot moderate (see below) if he values his life.

And for now there will be no negotiations.


The Security Cabinet met yesterday. There was some interest within that body in debating the desirability of appointing a committee of inquiry to examine Goldstone Report charges. But it was never brought up, because Defense Minister Barak blocked the discussion. So, here we are again: I don't usually agree with him, but sometimes he is very right indeed.

Israel thoroughly investigated charges at the end of Operation Cast Lead. We conducted ourselves superbly and have no further need to justify ourselves.

What was determined was that a team -- under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry -- would be established to fight the Goldstone charges. Preparation will be done for debate in the UN Security Council, should the report be brought there.


I'm finding, astonishingly, some shifting of attitudes in unlikely places:

One of the sources critical of Israel that Goldstone used in his report was Human Rights Watch. Now Robert Bernstein, who founded this organization, has written a stunning op-ed in the New York Times:

"...I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state...

"When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

"Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

"Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

"Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

"Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism..."


Then we have from the Guardian (UK), that bastion of anti-Israel opinion, a marvelous commentary by Harold Evans that speaks of the Goldstone Report as "a moral atrocity." ("Judge Goldstone has been suckered into letting war criminals use his name to pillory Israel.")

"Aren't the British sickened by the moral confusions of their government? ...Now we have the sickening spectacle of Britain failing to stand by Israel, the only democracy with an independent judiciary in the entire region.

"It was to be expected that the usual suspects of the risible UN Human Rights Council would be eager to condemn Israel for war crimes in defending itself against Hamas. If you treat people as the Chinese do the Tibetans...or as the Russians eliminate Chechen dissidents; or as the Nigerians tolerate extrajudicial killings...or as the Egyptians get prisoners to talk (torture) and the Saudis suppress half their population … well, go through the practices of all 25 states voting to refer Israel to the security council for the Gaza war, and you have to acknowledge they know a lot about the abuse of humans. Anything to divert attention from their own atrocities.

"...Britain didn't just abstain. It shirked voting at all...

"...No doubt there were blunders. A defensive war is still a war with all its suffering and destruction. But Hamas compounded its original war crime with another. It held its own people hostage. It used them as human shields. It regarded every (accidental) death as another bullet in the propaganda war. The Goldstone report won the gold standard of moral equivalence between the killer and the victim. Now Britain wins the silver. Who's cheering?"

And so there is hope, my friends. Use these articles as broadly as you can. (I thank the many people who shared them with me.)

It's good news that Israel's Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, will not be attending the J Street conference, in spite of intense pressure on him by J Street to do so. A statement released by the embassy alluded to "concerns over certain policies of the organization that may impair the interests of Israel."

The embassy will be sending a lower level staffer not to "participate" but to "observe" what goes on.

Hopefully this decision will reflect upon the credibility of this organization and give pause to some US officials who were thinking of attending. A handful of Congresspersons who were listed as participants have already withdrawn because they said they hadn't been aware of the positions of the organization. Some said that the decisions to attend had been made at staff levels.

J Street has cancelled the poetry reading session of Josh Healey, whom I wrote about yesterday, because there has been publicity about his "poetry," which associated Gaza with Auschwitz, and spoke of "writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza."

A splendid example of how important it is to get the facts out and reveal the true (anti-Israel) face of matters.


You might want to see Lenny Ben David's latest piece, which directs some pointed questions at J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami.


And it would be in order to send PM Netanyahu a note of appreciation for his decision (for ultimately it was his decision) to keep Oren from attending.

Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)

Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)

E-mail: (underscore after pm)


PA president Abbas is now saying that if Hamas doesn't sign the reconciliation agreement very soon he's going to order elections for January 24, which is when elections are actually supposed to be held.

But without that "reconciliation" Hamas will not permit voting to take place in Gaza.


King Abdullah of Jordan has been a real disappointment for some time now. At the moment, he's in Italy and granted an interview to a paper there. What he said was:

"I've heard people in Washington talking about Iran, again Iran, always Iran. But I insist on, and keep insisting on the Palestinian question: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most serious threat to the stability of the region and the Mediterranean."

Not remotely do I believe he actually thinks this. So I ask what advantage this brings him, what forces he's chosen to align himself with.

Just the other day he released a statement regarding the need to protect the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. My response: "Come on! Abdullah? Who surely knows this is nonsense?" Abdullah is aware that for many years after 1967 Jordan (not the PA) staffed the Wakf that managed the Temple Mount and found Israel ever "accommodating." He's not one of the crazies of the Islamic Movement. Or he hasn't been until now.


Perhaps Abdullah's current positions can be linked to what's happening in Turkey. A Post editorial on this subject offers this analysis:

"Turkey's turn against Israel is best understood in the context of its evolutionary transformation from the secular, nationalist and Western-oriented ethos of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to the dogmatic, radical, pan-Islamic and Middle Eastern attitudes of its current rulers. It is senseless for Israelis to ask ourselves what we did to cause Arab, Persian and now Turkish rulers to ascribe the most villainous of intentions to us - for example, conspiring to demolish Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount, or relishing the systematic murder of Arab children. Israel did not lose Turkey any more than it lost Iran or the "moderate" Palestinians.

"The Palestinian national movement under Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayad has been outmaneuvered by Hamas. Any move Abbas now makes in the direction of moderation gets pounced upon as perfidy. This environment has led even a sensible man like Fayad to hold cabinet deliberations on whether Israeli soldiers are stealing the organs of Palestinian youths."


We are approaching the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, of the movement towards democracy and human rights and freedoms in central Europe. A hopeful time, historically, when events suggested growing enlightenment.

But what a difference two decades has made. I cannot help but compare this with the opposite movement now within large parts of the Arab/Muslim world, away from enlightenment and human freedoms. A movement towards radicalism and repression.

see my website

TV Movie Jihad: Turkish Government Tries to Foment Islamist Hatred of Israel and Jews

Barry Rubin

You know that the Islamist-oriented Turkish government has cancelled a military exercise with Israel, made a military cooperation alignment with Syria, and aired an antisemitic film. Here’s what you don’t know about the film.Entitled “Separation – Love and War in Palestine,” the expensively made film was aired in prime time on a state-owned television network. Previews of it were shown in the Istanbul’s small subway system.

The ultimate hypocrisy is that while the government excuses its anti-Israel policy by saying, in the prime minister’s words, “ We cannot be oblivious to the feelings of the Turkish public,” it is doing everything possible to stir up passionate hatred on the part of that public which wasn’t there beforehand. The film is, in a real sense, a hate crime, the kind of thing that goes on daily in the Arabic-speaking world and for which there is absolutely no equivalent in Israel or the West.

When the film opens there is a street battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. A Palestinian boy is killed as the two sides fire at one another. So far, this is possible. But what happens next is that a beautiful young girl then is shown walking down an empty street and an Israeli soldier just shoots her for no reason at all. There is no evidence that any such event has taken place ever.

A group of elderly Muslims wanting to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca is shown being stopped at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers and their papers are thrown in their faces. In fact, Israel has facilitated Palestinians going on the pilgrimage for many years.

So why didn’t Gazans get to go in the real world? Because the Palestinian Authority didn’t want to let Hamas, which rules Gaza, issue the papers and the Saudis refused to accept them. Israel had nothing to do with it. But for an audience of Turkish Muslims, such an act is a basic attack on Islam that would justify Jihad by themselves in response.

In another fictional event made to stir hatred—though Palestinians testifying at the Goldstone hearings made such claims without providing a single example—a husband and his pregnant wife are prevented at a checkpoint from going to a hospital. When she gives birth an Israeli soldier shoots dead the one-minute-old baby. Oh, and the wife dies from bleeding and the husband is killed by another soldier.

Interspersed with such scenes are those of Jews praying and an Israeli soldier is portrayed as saying this is a war of religion not one over territory.

So aside from their humanitarian impulses, Turks are being told by their government that Israelis are murdering and warring on Muslims. What should be their response? Why to hate Israel but also—at least this is how some Turks are likely to interpret it--to kill Jews.

In another scene, viewers are told that their Ottoman ancestors ruled this land for 400 years and there were no problems back then. In another country, this would be seen as a prelude to trying to seize control of that land once again but the Turkish government isn’t interested in that, nor in the Palestinian Authority (PA) taking over, but only in an Islamist regime ruled by Hamas there. (The Turkish government never talks about events on the West Bank because it views Hamas and not the PA as its ally. By the same token, it shows that it doesn't care about the Palestinians but only Islamist-ruled ones.)

By acting to provoke such hatred and possibly even an anti-Jewish pogrom within Turkey—the first time a Turkish government has behaved this way since the republic began—the current regime has taken one more step to bash Israel while still seeking its tourists and trade, as well as a diplomatic role as diplomatic mediator between Israel and Syria .

Turkish Jews--who have always believed that keeping a low profile and waiting out any problems--are taking the hint. Some are leaving; most are thinking about it.

The policy toward Israel or this particular film are not isolated events. They are parts of the regime strategy to do three things:

--Impose the maximum possible Islamist program on Turkey (how far they will get is unclear).

--Create a political and institutional basis for never yielding power. This is being done by a takeover of media, transformation of large elements in the educational system, promoting pro-AKP businesses or intimidating those in the opposition in order to give the regime a powerful economic base, revising the constitution, and taking other such steps. It hopes to become an institutionalized government party like the Republican People’s Party was during the first three decades of the republic. This doesn't mean that the AKP will declare an open dictatorship and cancel elections. Rather, the goal is to be sure it always wins the elections.

--Reorient Turkey’s foreign policy toward the Muslim-majority world, and building an alignment with Iran and Syria, while minimizing any cost in terms of its relations with the West. If forced to choose, however, it will pick the Muslim orientation, especially since the government assumes (though it is still trying) that it won’t get European Union membership any way while the Obama Administration smiles and nods at Turkish policy as more proof that the regime is a “model moderate Muslim democracy.”

Onlookers should have no illusions about what is going on. Nor should any U.S. policymakers—for plenty of other reasons as well—still view Turkey’s government as a reliable ally.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Human Rights Watch calls Hamas to investigate own war crimes

In letter sent to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, human rights group calls Hamas to take responsibility for its own laws of war violations during Operation Cast Lead, conduct investigation according to Goldstone Report recommendations


Human rights advocacy organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday it sent a letter to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, in which they called him to immediately implement the Goldstone Report recommendations. HRW called on Haniyeh to open a credible investigation into the violations committed by members of his organization during Operation Cast Lead. The Goldstone committee, appointed by the United Nations to examine the conduct of Israel and Hamas during the Gaza operation, called both sides to investigate their own violations of laws of war within six months.

Taking Sides
Human Rights Watch founder says group biased against Israel / Ynet
Robert Bernstein says in New York Times editorial that human rights organization, 'Lost critical perspective on conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas, Hezbollah.' On Gaza war crimes allegations: Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified
Full story
The report, which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council over the weekend, concluded that among other issues, the firing of rockets on Israeli civilian population must be investigated as a possible war crime.

Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division said that "Hamas, just like Israel, needs to make clear to its forces that unlawful attacks on civilians will not be ignored," adding that " "acting on Goldstone's call for investigations would be a crucial step toward justice for all the civilian victims of the war."

Hiding from Qassam rockets (Photo: AFP)

Hamas announced on October 15 it will investigate the accusations, saying that "even though we disagree with certain aspects in the Goldstone Report, we intend to act according to the recommendations made by the report, and conduct self investigations of alleged war crimes committed by members of the resistance movement in the Gaza Strip."

In the letter sent to Haniyeh Monday, HRW called Hamas to clarify its position on civilian attacks, following declarations made by official Hamas sources that indicated their intention to aim rocket fire at civilian targets.

Human Rights Watch wrote Haniyeh that even though Israeli forces injured many civilians in what appeared to be illegal attacks during Operation Cast Lead, according to the laws of war, engaging in retaliation acts against civilians is forbidden.

The organization explained that "while Israel's armed forces were vastly superior to those in Gaza and caused far greater harm to civilians in Gaza than Palestinian armed groups caused to Israelis, Palestinian armed groups remain responsible for firing rockets indiscriminately or deliberately at Israeli civilian objects."

HRW claimed that in the past Hamas avoided conducting such investigations into laws of war violations. "In the past Hamas tried to justify the unjustifiable by defending unlawful rocket attacks," Whitson said. "Having now promised to follow the Goldstone Report's recommendations, Hamas has no excuse for not carrying out serious war crimes investigations."

'US-Israel bond runs deep'

(Video) Thousands participate in opening ceremony of Jerusalem's presidential conference Facing Tomorrow and watch video message sent by US president. Peres: Israel wants to contribute. Netanyahu to Abbas: Lead your people to peace

Roni Sofer

VIDEO - US President Barack Obama sent a special video message Tuesday to the opening session of the presidential conference entitled "Facing Tomorrow" being held in Jerusalem. Obama sent his regards to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and praised the "great statesman" President Shimon Peres, who, according to Obama, contributed immensely to strengthening ties between Israel and the United States.

Obama noted that Peres managed in his life to help build and ensure the existence of the State of Israel, to grapple with difficult challenges, and to drive towards peace.

"I'm especially honored to send my greetings to a great statesman, the host of this conference, President Shimon Peres. His life stands as an extraordinary example of how courage and perseverance can help shape the future and turn harrowing challenges into historic opportunities," said Obama. "Shimon has also contributed to a deep and much abiding friendship between the United States and Israel."

President Obama's address to conference

President Obama emphasized that the friendship between Washington and Jerusalem is a "bond that is much more than a strategic alliance."

"The American people and the Israeli people share a faith in the future, a belief that democracies can shape their own destiny and that opportunities should be available to all," stated Obama.

Obama mentioned some of the challenges facing the international community and said that he believes, as does Israel, that now is the time to act and that everyone needs to shoulder their part.

Obama pointed to the example of Israel that it is possible to overcome the impossible.

Peres: We said yes to immediate renewal of talks

The second presidential conference kicked off in Jerusalem under the title "Facing Tomorrow." Conference organizers claim that more than 3,500 people are expected to participate in the event over the course of three days.

The conference is taking place under the patronage of Shimon Peres, who spoke at the opening session, saying, "We have been through nine wars that have threatened our existence and we have won them all. Today, Israel is a strong and advanced country that wants to contribute, not just get by."

President Peres addressed the peace process in his speech: "Israel said yes to US President Barack Obama's initiative to renew negotiations immediately with the intention of forming two states for two people and to bring about comprehensive regional peace in order to snuff out the fire of hatred."

According to him, "Nations who have not been hurt by car bombs and rockets fired at civilian populations are not aware of the damage caused by terrorism and the price it claims."

Prime Minister Netanyahu said to Peres at the conference: "We meet a lot and it is no secret that I consult with you a lot. You have life experience that few in the world have."

Netanyahu added, "I believe that peace with our Palestinian neighbors is possible, but it requires leadership and courage on both sides. Therefore, I call upon Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the Palestinian Authority chairman: Lead your people to peace. Say to your people that the time has come to end this conflict once and for all. Say to your people that the time has come for the two peoples to live side by side in peace and security. I am not asking of you anything I have not asked of myself."

Ambassador Rice: We will stand by your side

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice is among the many statesmen who have come to Jerusalem to attend the conference, including top international figures in the fields of economics, policy, and technology.


Prior to the kick off of the conference, Peres had a work meeting with Ambassador Rice. Peres' office reported that Rice reiterated to the president the United States' commitment to Israel's security and its existence as a Jewish and democratic state.

During their meeting, Peres attacked the Goldstone report saying that "it is an outrage that a respectable institution such as the UN has acted as a stage for a series of baseless, anti-Israel lies and stories."

According to Peres' office, Rice said in response that the US promise to stand by Israel's side as a loyal friend, also in its fight against the Goldstone report.

Before anyone gets too excited ask yourself why Obama made such a performance out of telling us how the USA still is a friend of Israel? Remember, you are dealing with a calculating politician-what is in it for him?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PM to decide on inquiry committee on Goldstone claims

Ministers to debate whether Israeli 'war crimes' probe would lessen or worsen international pressure

Roni Sofer

The Cabinet is set to convene Tuesday morning in order to debate the international battle waged by Israel against the reverberations of the Goldstone Report, which claims Israel committed war crimes in Gaza.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet announced whether he will order the establishment of an inquiry committee on Operation Cast Lead. Meanwhile Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi have expressed their objection to such a move while the Justice Ministry said it may lend its support.

Barak and Ashkenazi believe such a committee would bolster international criticism against Israel. They say inquiries already conducted by the IDF after the operation are morally valid and that parties guilty of infractions of military code have already been punished.

But international pressure to establish an Israeli inquiry committee is growing steadily, and some in Israel are voicing their support.

The Attorney General's Office has said it would support such a move, and the Meretz Party has also voiced its support. The prime minister said he would hear from official sources on the matter, including experts from the foreign and defense ministries as well as the IDF.

In addition to the debate on the Goldstone report, Cabinet ministers will also discuss Israel's policy on battling pro-Iranian terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Comment: Perfect opportunity for Israel to say to the International Community-we did do such an analysis, many, many months ago-the report was made available to you all. We anticipate that you will be as forthcoming with Hamas, Fatah, Hizzbollah and Iran in the coming months requesting that they perform their own internal study into war crimes-until then, back off!

Hezbollah plans attacks on Israeli targets in Turkey

According to leading Turkish news website, planned attacks come in retaliation for assassination of senior Hezbollah member in 2008; possible targets include American, Israeli institutions, synagogues, tourist destinations

Daniel Edelson

Intelligence agencies warn against terror attacks planned by Hezbollah against Israeli and American targets in Turkey, according to a report published on the Turkish news website "Haberturk". According to the report, Hezbollah is looking to attack Israeli tourists, Israeli vessels and airplanes, as well as synagogues in Turkey. Citizens are asked to take the necessary precautions.

In addition, Turkish police warned its units in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, saying Hezbollah might have already gathered intelligence ahead of a possible attack on Israeli and American institutions in the three major cities.

According to the website, the attacks are planned in retaliation for the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah in February 2008, and are masterminded by a man identified as Abbas Hossein Zakr on behalf of Hezbollah.

Israeli security and diplomatic sources were briefed on the threats following a request made by Ynet, and have yet to comment on the reports.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Israel negotiating importing water from Turkey

Despite recent tensions between countries, Ynet learns Foreign Ministry holding talks with Turkish companies in bid to solve water crisis

Yael Darel

Israel has begun examining the possibility of importing water from Turkey, despite recent tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara, according to a memo obtained by Ynet. A Foreign Ministry official confirmed the report, saying that "the Water Authority has issued an appeal for purchasing water, and Turkish bodies have responded positively and talks are being held between relevant elements in both countries."

The talks have begun despite the recent crisis over the Goldstone Report, the Turkish decision to exclude Israel from a joint air force drill, and a Turkish TV series showing Israeli soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian children.

The issue of importing water from Turkey has been on the agenda for several years now. Turkey has large water serves flowing into the Mediterranean Sea, while Israel suffers from a serious water shortage.

In 2002, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government signed an agreement to import water from Turkey, but the matter was later taken off the table, mainly due to economic considerations.

A Water Authority official said in response, "As part of emergency measures, the Water Authority is also examining the issue of importing water, and additional elements may become involved."

Russia says won't let Goldstone Report reach Hague

Foreign Ministry says received messages from Moscow that it won't support Security Council discussion on UN report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza

Roni Sofer

Russia has made it clear to Israel that it will oppose a Goldstone Report discussion at the United Nations Security Council or at the International Criminal Court in Hague, although its representatives voted in favor of adopting the report accusing the Jewish state of committing war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council, Foreign Ministry officials told Ynet on Sunday night. The remarks were made in a meeting between Russian Ambassador to Israel Peter Stegney and a Foreign Ministry official. The ambassador relayed messages from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Ministry sources said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon on Saturday expressed his deep disappointment over Russia, India and China's vote in favor of adopting the report.

Stegney noted that Russia had voted in favor of passing the report to the UN headquarters in New York "because it had no choice," and even blamed European Union countries. According to the ambassador, the EU tried to ease the resolution's wording, but failed "due to the stance of Western countries."

Stegney stressed that Russia believes Israel should investigate itself. "The most important thing is that the peace process won't suffer," the Russian ambassador said.

State officials said that Stegney had slammed the Goldstone Report, saying that "it includes statements that do not relay on facts, but rather on subjective estimations."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to examine the messages conveyed by Moscow and decide how to act, in light of his attempts to reach an understanding with the Russians before the Geneva vote and his desire to improve Jerusalem's relations with Moscow.

Russia is transparent, one of Obama's favorite terms. she wants to return to power broker in the ME and must demonstrate its ability to "control" the events or to influence the events.Of course to "belly up " to Israel is an added benefit-thus their "vote". The end game is what one needs to keep in focus!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ElBaradei: Talks only solution to nuke conflict

Sanctions against Iran would only aggravate nuclear dispute, UN's Nuclear Chief Mohamed ElBaradei tells Austrian daily; President Obama realizes talks with Tehran are only possible solution, he says


Direct talks without preconditions between the United States and Iran are the only solution to the conflict over Tehran's nuclear program, the UN nuclear agency's head was quoted as saying on Saturday. New sanctions against Iran would only aggravate the dispute rather than push it to give in to international demands, Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Austrian daily Die Presse.

"Of course you can impose further sanctions. But I consider it rather unlikely that new sanctions will make Iran come around," ElBaradei said in an interview to be published on Sunday.

"President Barack Obama has understood that talks with Iran are the only possible solution," the Nobel Peace laureate said. "If you want to make progress, you have to start talks without preconditions."

ElBaradei optimistic

Iran won itself a reprieve from the threat of harsher UN sanctions by engaging six world powers in high-level talks on Oct. 1 in Geneva that opened the door to detente over its nuclear program after a seven-year standoff.

Iran says its nuclear program is for producing electricity. Western powers fear Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei said he was optimistic that follow-up talks in Vienna next week to finalize an agreement with Iran on processing its uranium abroad could open the door to broader talks about Iran's nuclear program.

"With this first step to build trust we could make an important contribution to defuse the crisis," he said.