Saturday, September 25, 2010

After Previous Denials, Liberal Jewish Group Admits Soros Funding

The Lid

Until the election of Barack Obama J-Street was generally ignored by mainstream Israel advocates because its views generally did not take into consideration the safety of Israel. Indeed many (including me) have called the group anti-Israel. President Obama gave the group legitimacy, because he agrees with their anti-Israel/ appease terror positions. When the President started inviting Jewish leaders to the White House, he took the head of the Zionist Organization of America off the list and added J-Street. In a report filed today by Eli Lake (with some research help from yours truly), we find that anther of the reasons that the President may be trying to legitimize J-Street is that its receiving major funding from George Soros. J-Streets leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami has always claimed that Soros gave the group some start-up money, but has not received any money since. That was a lie.

Tax forms I provided to Mr. Lake, reveal that Mr. Soros and his two children, Jonathan and Andrea Soros, contributed a total $245,000 to J Street from one Manhattan address in New York during the fiscal year from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 (see the document embedded below: page 13)

Soro's contributions represent a third of the group's revenue from U.S. sources during the period. Another donor, named Consolacion Esdicul. provided nearly half of J-Streets revenues during the period.

Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street's executive director, said in an interview that the $245,000 was part of a $750,000 gift from the Soros family to his organization made over three years. Mr. Ben Ami also said that in this same period he had raised $11 million for J Street and its political action committee.

Last year it was revealed that many of the donations to the J-Street political action committee come from Arab sources

Mr. Soros made billions as a hedge fund manager and currency speculator, founding the Quantum hedge fund that, until the early 1980s, was based in an offshore tax haven in the Dutch Antilles Islands. Both his business success and his subsequent patterns of charitable giving in support of favored political and social causes have made him a figure of immense controversy both in the United States and around the world.

Mr. Soros uses has vast financial resources to fun many progressive organizations which dictate much of the progressive agenda, the Center For American Progress, MoveOn and Media Matters for America.

Mr. Ben Ami in past interviews has described J Street as President Obama's "blocking back" in Congress, with the group billing itself as the lead Jewish-American group supporting elements in the Israeli political spectrum who favor negotiating a lasting two-state peace deal with the Palestinians.

What he doesn't tell you that all major Israel advocacy groups support those negotiations. The difference is they also support Israel's right to defend itself. During the conflict with Hamas at the end of 2008 which was a response to thousands of missiles sent into Israeli civilian areas. J Street called Israel's "escalation in Gaza counterproductive" and was "disproportionate." It also made a moral equivalency argument between the policies of Israel and Hamas, stating they found difficulty in distinguishing "between who is right and who is wrong" and "picking a side." The group has also advocated that the US negotiate with Hamas.

J-Street also fought the Congressional move to place additional sanctions on Iran:

J Street has sent out a mass e-mail opposing a bipartisan push in Congress for tougher sanctions on Iran. Here's the relevant passage:

On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that the diplomatic road ahead will be tough -- but the chances of success won't be helped by Congress imposing tight time lines or a new round of sanctions at this moment.

It his efforts to grant legitimacy to J-Street, President Obama convinced Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) to put aside his support of the Jewish State, trading it for support of J-Street, allowing them to use his name on invitations as a way to give the group some "street cred" in the pro-Israel community.

In a section of the [J-Street] website called "myths and facts," the group until this week included a section that read: "George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched — precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization."

After Mr. Ben Ami spoke with The Times, the website was abruptly amended Thursday night to read: "J Street has said it doesn’t receive money from George Soros, but now news reports indicate that he has in fact contributed."

J-Street is a fraud, it says it is pro-Israel while taking anti-Israel positions, it said it gets no money from George Soros, until I happened to download their form 990. But like many groups associated with both George Soros and President, for J-Street truth only complicates their story. With the major funding from Soros, J-Street is achieve its true purpose, to give Barack Obama political cover for his anti-Israel agenda.

The rest of Eli Lake's article in the Washington Times can be found here.

What the Left is really after

Caroline Glick

Following the example of its counterparts in the West, for decades the Israeli Left has carefully cultivated its image as the fun side of the political divide.

In a thousand different ways, the public was told that the Left is on the side of tomorrow. It is the home of optimism. If you want a cheery future, if you want to party all night long and never get a hangover, the image-makers told us the Left is the place to be.

From the Left's perspective, the peace process between Israel and the PLO was the fulfillment of its promise. It was also its key to a permanent cultural monopoly and control of government. Israelis who objected to handing control over the country's heartland and capital city to the PLO were nothing more than gloom and doom preaching, messianic extremists. The Right was angry. The Left was happy. The Right was the party of war. The Left was the party of peace. The Right was suspicious and tribal. The Left was optimistic and international.

The first blows to the Left's otherwise perfect narrative were cast just seven months after the moment of its greatest triumph. Just seven months after the epic handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, the first Palestinian suicide bomber made his appearance. On April 6, 1994, the bomber murdered eight Israelis on a bus in Afula.

By the time the peace process was a year old, the image of the suicide bomber had begun to eclipse the image of the balloon-festooned peace the Left sought to embody.

It was at this time that the Left could have been expected to reconsider its commitment to the peace process. But that is not what happened. The Left maintained absolute allegiance to the phony peace process. It simply ditched hope.

Quietly but relentlessly, the Left replaced hope for a better future with fear of a terrible future. Specifically, Leftist leaders like Haim Ramon began threatening their countrymen with national demographic destruction.

Ramon seized upon falsified Palestinian demographic forecasts. He and his comrades used the data - which inflated the number of Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip by 50 percent - to threaten their countrymen with encroaching demographic doom.

True, transferring land to the PLO had turned out to be a very bad idea. True life had been better and safer before the fake peace process.

But, the Left warned, if we didn't retreat to the 1949 armistice lines anyway, Jews would become a minority in our country within 15 years.

It took much longer for the demographic time bomb to be exposed as a dud than for the peace fantasy to explode. Indeed, Ramon's Kadima Party still bases its surrender platform on the phony PLO population data.

But today, with even the leftist media admitting that Israeli Jews have the highest birthrates in the Western world and that Israeli and Palestinian birthrates are rapidly converging, it has become difficult to convince Israelis that surrender is necessary on demographic grounds. Indeed, a poll taken by the post-Zionist Geneva Initiative in 2008 showed that 71% of Israelis were not concerned about losing Israel's Jewish majority.

The Left's demographic threats began unraveling just before its land surrender doctrine was wholly discredited. The American-Israeli Demographic Research Group published its initial study that exposed the Palestinian population data as a fraud just months before the August 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

YET EVEN as its plan of surrendering land to jihadists was exposed as so much idiocy, and its demographic doomsday scenarios were proven wrong, the Left remained steadfast on its course. It simply found a new argument.

Beginning around 2006, the Left began threatening that if Israel does not remove itself from Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, the US will abandon us.
On Sunday night, former prime minister Ehud Olmert presented this argument in his keynote speech before the Geneva Initiative's annual conference.

Olmert claimed that if Israel does not retreat voluntarily to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, the US will force it to retreat. Israel, he said, has no choice but to voluntarily partition Jerusalem and withdraw from Judea and Samaria. Left unsaid was the assumption that such a retreat will entail turning between 100,000 and a half million Israelis who live in the areas to be ceded into homeless internal refugees.

Olmert's statement is worth considering not because he said it, but because today it is the Left's central argument for withdrawal. In analyzing this claim, lt us assume at the outset that Olmert is correct and that if Israel does not voluntarily cede Judea and Samaria and partition Jerusalem, the US will try to coerce Israel to do so.

In this scenario Israel faces two possible futures. It can withdraw or it can resist US pressure, try to remain in place and only leave when compelled to do so.

If Israel withdraws it will relinquish defensible borders and clear the way for the emergence of a terrorist-controlled area abutting all its major population centers.

At a minimum, this terror enclave will be in a de facto state of war with Israel as it cultivates warm ties with Syria, Hizbullah, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In addition to its increased vulnerability to external enemies, Israel will be a society at war with itself. Its population will be deeply scarred and weakened after hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expelled from their homes.

If Israel does not withdraw, its cities will remain secure and its population will not be in crisis. But Israel will have to contend with a hostile US government threatening to take unknown steps to force it to contract to within indefensible borders.

What will those US threats involve? Washington is already arming and training a Palestinian army. It is already selling the Arabs the most advanced weapons in the US arsenal. It is already providing military assistance to the Hizbullah-controlled Lebanese army. It is already permitting Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

Would Olmert and his leftist colleagues have us believe that the US military will invade Israel to force us to exit Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem?

If that is what the Left is hinting, let us assume it is right. But if the Left is right, is Israel better off preemptively dooming itself to chronic wars and strategic vulnerability by accepting indefensible borders than by refusing to do so? At least if we refuse to stick our neck in the noose, the US government will be forced to make the case for destroying Israel to the American people.

And then there is the Left's certainty that it can foresee the future. That would be the same Left that promised us peace, demographic destruction, and that Gaza would become the new Singapore after we withdrew. But even if there is a residue of reality in its new threats, why should we squander Israel's security based on a scenario that may or may not play out?

THE FACT of the matter is that like the peace fantasy and the demographic fantasy, the international-isolation-and-war-with-the-US fantasy is pure nonsense. None of these leftist scenarios - whether rosy or bleak - have ever withstood the slightest scrutiny.

So what accounts for the Left's behavior? Why is it that intelligent people like Olmert and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and their comrades in the Labor Party and Meretz and the Geneva Initiative are so quick to make insipid arguments? Why won't they just admit that Israel is better off remaining where it is and not contracting to within indefensible boundaries?

What do they really want?

The answer to this last question is as simple as it is insidious. What the Left truly seeks is not peace or even security. In pushing their land surrender policy in the face of a mountain of evidence that it imperils the country, leftist ideologues and political leaders are seeking to destroy their ideological rivals on the Right. That is, they wish to destroy religious Zionism.

It is religious Zionism, which looks to Jerusalem rather than to Tel Aviv, that drives the Left to distraction. It is the hope of destroying religious Zionism by destroying the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem - the Jewish nerve center of the country - that keeps the Left on its path. This truth was exposed in a Haaretz editorial published in July 2005, a month before 10,000 predominantly religious Israelis were expelled from their homes in Gaza and northern Samaria.

As the Left's mouthpiece explained, "The disengagement of Israeli policy from its religious fuel is the real disengagement currently on the agenda. On the day after the disengagement, religious Zionism's status will be different."

The editorial concluded, "The real question is not how many mortar shells will fall, or who will guard the Philadelphi route, or whether the Palestinians will dance on the roofs of Ganei Tal. The real question is who sets the national agenda."

So, too, in an interview with Yediot Aharonot in October 2006, Livni castigated religious Zionists as the odd man out that was spoiling things for the rest of the country. As she put it, "In the Israeli political system there are no real gaps concerning the [vision of a] comprehensive settlement of the conflict with the Palestinians. The dispute is between the religious public and the rest of the Israelis."

In truth, just two weeks before her interview appeared, a Maagar Mohot poll of Israeli Jews showed that 73% of Israeli Jews opposed further withdrawals. At no point has the majority of Israel's Jews ever asserted that it views religious Zionists as a threat or as the major obstacle to a better future.

Indeed, in a poll published earlier this month by Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center, 79% of the public said they are "not at all concerned" by the consistent rise in the proportion of religious Israelis in the IDF officer corps. Only 1% of the public said it was very concerned about the trend.

What the Left's move from hope to fear in the service of its plan to destroy its ideological rival shows is that in contrast to its carefully crafted image, the Left is fundamentally out of step with the public.
They are not the optimistic side on the political divide. And they are not interested in making our lives better or more fun. They are motivated by hatred of their rivals, not love of country or devotion to peace.

Perhaps the only question then is how many more times they will be allowed to lead us astray before we stop allowing them define the terms of our national debate?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Phantom of Palestinian Refugees Exposed

Yoram Ettinger

Jerusalem Cloakroom #237, September 24, 2010

*Ralph Garroway, UNRWA Director (Aug. 1958): “The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the UN and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.”

*Dr. Benny Morris (Irish Times, Feb. 21, 2008): "…In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29th, 1947, [the Palestinians] launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost…"

*15 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were displace in 1947 in order to create Pakistan. No right of return…

*300,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait, in 1991, in response to Abu Mazen's PLO collaboration with Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. No Arab or international uproar…

*Scores of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from Jordan and killed – in 1970 – in response to Abu Mazen's PLO attempt to topple the Hashemite regime.

*The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) employs 6,300 persons, resettling gradually 27MN refugees. UNRWA – the largest UN agency – employs 29,000 Palestinians, perpetuating Palestinians' refugee-status.

*The phantom of the Palestinian refugees – just like Abu Mazen’s hate education – constitute the most authentic reflection of the Palestinian Vision, aiming to de-legitimize and de-humanize the Jewish State.

*The root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the existence – and not the size – of the Jewish State.

Please read the following Summer 2010 article – The Nakba Obsession - by Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to the City Journal quarterly:

Bill Clinton Causes Anger with Slam of Russian Israelis

Maayana Miskin
A7 News

Former United States President Bill Clinton upset many Israelis this week by putting much of the blame for failed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Russian Israelis. According to Clinton, Israelis who immigrated from the former Soviet Union and their families are more likely to oppose peace.

Many current Israeli MKs are immigrants from the FSU, as is Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party released a statement condemning Clinton's remarks as “crude generalizations.” “Russian immigrants, as the other citizens of Israeli, yearn for true peace based on recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” the statement read. Clinton should remember that it was then-PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, and not Israeli leaders, who rejected his peace proposal ten years ago, it continued.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected Clinton's statements as well, saying, “As an old friend of Israel, Clinton surely knows that the immigrations have made a huge contribution to the strengthening and development of Israel and the IDF.”

MK Lia Shem Tov, head of the Knesset committee on aliyah (immigration) and absorption, said her committee would meet after the holidays to discuss Clinton's statements. She pointed out that Israel is currently engaged in negotiations with PA, and that it is the PA that has repeatedly threatened to end talks.

“Immigrants from the former Soviet Union are Zionists who love their country, and like other citizens, want to live their lives in peace and security. The argument that immigrations oppose peace is completely baseless and stems from a total lack of understanding of this community,” she said.

Clinton was involved in unsuccessful Middle East peace negotiations several years ago. His wife Hillary Clinton is the current U.S. Secretary of State and is deeply involved in ongoing Israel-PA talks.

His comments were made in a discussion with reporters in New York. “An increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem,” Clinton claimed.

“It's a different Israel. 16 percent of Israelis speak Russian,” he added.

Clinton claimed that Russians are less likely to support territorial concessions to the PA, “They just got there, it's their country, they've made a commitment to the future there. They can't imagine any historical or other claims that would justify dividing it.”

He ranked other Israelis by their perceived willingness to make peace, putting Israelis whose families have been in the land for hundreds of years in first place, followed by Israelis with roots in Europe, and then Moroccans.

He recounted an alleged conversation at the Camp David summit with former MK Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident who now heads the Jewish Agency. Clinton said he had asked Sharansky about his opposition to peace with the PA, and was told, “I can't vote for this, I'm Russian... I came from one of the biggest countries in the world to one of the smallest. You want me to cut it in half. No, thank you.”

Clinton said he replied that even without Judea and Samaria, Israeli would be “a lot bigger than your jail cell,” a reference to Sharansky's stay in a Soviet prison.

Sharansky later said that the alleged conversation had not taken place. “I appreciate President Clinton's commitment to peace... However, as to the basic facts, I was never at Camp David and never had the opportunity to discuss the negotiations there with President Clinton,” he said.

Obama's Broken Moral Compass On Display at the U.N.

Anne Bayefsky

Today, the United Nations opens its annual debate at the General Assembly with President Obama making every effort to appear statesmanlike as he faces increasing criticism in his own backyard. Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who will mount the same platform later in the day, has exactly the same idea. At $20 billion dollars a year, the U.N. has become the world’s most expensive hot air balloon, with American taxpayers funding a quarter of the bill. A White House press release on Monday spelled out the formula for the president’s sought -after makeover. The White House described the “dramatically” different Obama foreign policy as one which includes a warm embrace of the United Nations. It also claimed that “the new era of engagement” has been a major success, pointing to U.N. sanctions on Iran, momentum against nuclear proliferation, and U.S. participation in reforming the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The facts suggest otherwise. Nobody at the U.N. believes that the Iran sanctions will prevent an Iranian bomb. The weak Security Council sanctions adopted after 18 months of engagement garnered fewer votes than the sanctions adopted during the Bush years. The president himself has knotted together the issues of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, thereby making non-proliferation efforts much more difficult.

In May, the president agreed to co-sponsor an international conference intended to redirect the heat from Iran to Israel in the name of disarmament. And a year after the U.S. joined the U.N. Human Rights Council, Libya has become a member, anti-Israel hysteria has reached new heights, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference has informed the administration that reform is dead in the water.

None of that, however, is likely to mean the president will confront real world evils during his moments today at center stage. At a Monday press briefing with America’s U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes indicated that Obama will repeat his tired-out mantra on Iran. It’s still about an “open door” policy that remains open, despite Iran having made it crystal clear it has no intention of walking through. The president is evidently oblivious to the image of weakness he has projected, and will continue to project, in the General Assembly.

President Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, will take the opposite tack. On Tuesday, he issued another not-so veiled threat, telling the U.N. high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that the “order of capitalism and the hegemonic approaches are facing defeat and getting close to their end.”

At the same MDG summit, President Obama unveiled to Americans another aspect of his “dramatically” different foreign policy. He chided “donor nations” yesterday for failing to “move beyond the old, narrow debate over how much money we're spending.”

The enthusiasm for engagement has left the Obama team with at least one immediate conundrum, which will be played out as Ahmadinejad’s speech unfolds this afternoon. How anti-semitic is anti-semitic? U.S. representatives have been instructed to sit in their seat during his harangue until the anti-semitism or other possible affront reaches such a level that they must get up and walk out. It would be useful to have the administration’s instruction sheet on the subject of what is or is not sufficiently offensive, but it has not been made available to the public.

After all, the Obama administration’s representative stayed put in June when the Syrian representative told the U.N. Human Rights Council: “Israel…is a state that is built on hatred…Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote 'With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood."

Given that Ahmadinejad again questioned the Holocaust while talking to reporters in New York on Tuesday, it is disturbing that the president has still not decided to stay away from the Iranian President’s speech. The Israeli representative, needless to say, has already figured it out and will not be there. In fact, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu – who last year felt that he had to come and show the members of the General Assembly the construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp – will not be coming to the Assembly this year at all.

So we will just have to wait and see what it takes to move the Obama team.

Of course, Ahmadinejad doesn’t care a whit if Obama’s folks come or go. By the time Ahmadinejad ends his New York trip, the U.N. will have translated his words into six languages and webcast them around the world.

He will have been fawned over by many in the American media and scores of academics who have made careers of refusing to nail down what counts as right and wrong. As MIT research associate Jim Walsh told Fox News yesterday, while preparing to dine with Ahmadinejad that evening (for the sixth time), “every Iranian meal I’ve had has been delicious.”

A fairly accurate reflection of the moral compass of today’s engagement enthusiasts.

Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fatah trying to calm tensions in east Jerusalem

Palestinian sources tell Ynet PA gave direct order to stop violence over Silwan resident's death from spreading further, so 'not to give Israel an excuse to delay peace talks'

Ali Waked

09.23.10, 07:55 / Israel News

Police forces remain on high alert in Jerusalem in view of the riots following the death of Silwan resident Samar Sarchan, as Fatah is trying to curb any further escalation in the situation. Radical elements in the east Jerusalem village threatened to renew the riots, but sources in Fatah said that the group has issued an order to its members in Jerusalem to ensure the riots do not spread further.

Ynet learned Thursday that Sarchan was affiliated with Fatah, and that orders to pacify heated emotions came from top officials in the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian sources said the PA wants to see the violence ebb "so not to give Israel an excuse for agitation while peace talks were ongoing and so close to the end of the settlement freeze."

The sources added that the PA wanted to refrain from any escalation which Israel may use an excuse to delay negotiations.

Both Fatah and PA sources said they believe the violence will die down Thursday, although they could not rule out sporadic violence during the three-day mourning period called for Sarchan.

Senior Fatah member Mohammad Dahlan said Israel was trying to stir up a third intifada, defining Sarchan's shooting by an Israeli security guard as "crossing all the red lines."

A Fatah Central Committee spokesman said that the incident was "part of a scheme by the Netanyahu government to thwart the negotiation and continue the Judaization of Jerusalem. Israel wants to return to the cycle of violence and altercation to force us into a solution convenient to it – a temporary state within the borders of the security fence."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fuad Abu Hamed, the IMF & the Palestinian economy

21C is an excellent Israeli website. It recently featured Fuad Abu Hamed, a rags-to-riches story of the Palestinian economy. His latest success in training Palestinian women has won him an award from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His bio is impressive.

But does one individual triumph should not allow to draw conclusions about the rest of the Palestinian economy? The World Bank, the IMF and many other international institutions have spent much of the past decade producing streams of stats on the Palestinian economy. The latest report has come from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which estimates that the gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 6.8 per cent in 2009.

Encouraging, but the documented concluded that: -

….. the Palestinian economy is loosing some $800 million a year as the result of the Israeli closure and blockade policies, and that the 2008-2009 Gaza War drained a further $1.3 billion from the territory’s economy.

….. the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was still 30 percent below what it was 10 years ago and at least 30 percent of the Palestinian workforce remained unemployed. Some 80,000 jobs are lost each year due to the Israeli closure and blockade policies, the report found.

“Basically the Palestinian economy has lost a third of its productive base that was there 10 years ago,” ….

Sad. Gaza specifially, a historically fertile region with an educated population, suffers from high unemployment. But there is another side to the equation of logic.

Much of the economic growth has been registered in the West Bank, where a decrease in violence has enabled roadblocks to be removed. Nearly 2 years ago, a small but growing Israel Palestinian Chamber of Commerce was initiated through Ramallah. Tony Blair is actively encouraging tourism projects. Boutique shops in Ramallah, a cinema complex in Jenin, an emerging stock market – times are a changing.

So, the IMF et al are correct that Israeli restrictions impede Palestinian growth. that’s a given in any war scenario. But they conveniently forget that the policy is forced on Israel out of security concerns - the week of September 7th alone saw another 9 rockets fired at Israel. And as proven repeatedly, once there is a demonstration to show peace, Israel removes the impediments and in rolls the money.

As I said logical; simple and obvious. But there is also another reason why Palestinians find their economy lagging behind others.

I am not referring to the continuous corruption or the disappearing millions of foreign aid or the on-going funding of incitement against Israel - all resulting in the abuse of the generosity of Western taxpayers.

It is the internal lawlessness of Palestinian society, often exploited by a ruthless leadership, that appears to cause desperate harm to the average Palestinian’s financial status. Last week, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a damning press release of on the subject of repression. For example: -

….. on September 15, 2010 the (Palestinian) police shut down the Restaurant Hotel and Café of the Orient House ….. …

ICHR has monitored several incidents like these during the same period, as the General Investigation Force disrupted on 7/9/2010 a cultural event organized by the Cinema Forum in the gallery of Asamak Restaurant, ……

On 12/9/2010, a force of the General Investigation Unit disrupted a cultural eve organized by the Association of Community Colleges Graduates in the gallery of Al-Bieder. ….

On 5/9/2010, the Attorney General ordered a jockey club closed in the area of Shiekh Ajlin in Gaza city for (21) days claiming it doesn’t have the necessary licenses.

On 2/9/2010, the police shut down the Restaurant and Café Shop of “Sma Gaza” for three days because it let women smoke water pipe (“Nargile”).

I bet that Fuad Abu-Hamed does not love Israel. However, he has found a non-violent way to better the lives of his fellow Palestinians. His story is just one example of what can be done effectively, splicing aside the rhetoric of Hamas and the spin of exploitive NGOs.

It would seem that there is a Palestinian economy waiting to be noticed. Could it be that the interests of politicians are preventing it from shining through?

"Joy and Transcendence"

Arlene Kushner

Tomorrow night (tonight) begins the festival of Sukkot, which is known as the Season of our Gladness. Truly, a happy, festive holiday.

This is a holiday from our Torah, with an ancient tradition that will still be observed long after the Palestinian Authority is gone. Remembering this provides a badly needed perspective. We are bidden to dwell in temporary booths -- Sukkahs -- and thus to trust in the Almighty for our safety. Another lesson. I think I write every year about how special this holiday is here in Jerusalem. Sukkahs are being erected everywhere. On a nearby street that is a "restaurant row," sukkahs are placed out on the sidewalk so that religious customers can patronize their places over the holiday.

Me? I'll be eating and sleeping in a sukkah with my children and grandchildren. And so -- while I am mindful of the fact that much is going on in the world, and while I expect that I'll do some writing -- I will be focused elsewhere a good part of the week, and my writing will slow down.

Please, friends. Hold your comments to me. Hold interesting articles unless they are very important. I will not be accessing my e-mail on a daily basis and would be grateful if I were not overwhelmed.

To each of you celebrating the chag, I say, Chag Sameach, and extend wishes for your joy.


Actually, stepping back from what's going on in the world is a good thing, for what passes as "news" is in large part shtuyote -- nonsense. The ridiculous in the guise of important events.

Yesterday, Netanyahu participated in a conference call with Jewish leaders arranged by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Now, today, it is reported, in part, that he said:

“President Abbas has to decide [about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state]. He cannot skirt the issue. He cannot find clever language designed to obfuscate or to fudge it.

“He needs to recognize the Jewish state. He needs to say it clearly and unequivocally. He needs to say it to his own people in their own language.

“Remember that famous commercial – Just Do It? I think for the Palestinian leadership, it’s even simpler: Just Say It. Say that you recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."


All these dramatic words. "Just say it"? Netanyahu knows full well that Abbas will not do this.

What he doesn't say, with all the drama, is that Abbas refuses to say it because the ultimate goal of Palestinian Arabs is to get rid of Israel as a Jewish state and replace it with an Arab one. Saying that would not be politic, would not be playing the game. And Netanyahu is quite clearly playing the game to the hilt.

He also said: “I believe that an agreement is possible. But to succeed, President Abbas and I...have to be willing to address the issues with an open mind. We have to be flexible and creative in finding compromises that are anchored in a realistic assessment of what is possible.”

Give me a break. Abbas is willing to compromise on nothing. And what Netanyahu ought to be telling American Jewish leaders is, Sorry, folks. I'd love to have peace here, but it's impossible when there is no compromise whatsoever on the other side. Don't let fancy words from PA leaders fool you -- there is no give. What he's doing is misleading them.


Quite properly, Netanyahu persists in emphasizing the need to guarantee our security if a Palestinian state is formed. When all is said and done, in my opinion, the only way to guarantee that security is by making sure a Palestinian state does not come into being. But since we're not hearing this...

There have been suggestions (from the EU?) of an international force, and he rejects that, saying -- again, quite properly -- that only our own troops can protect us. This is something else Abbas will never agree to: Israeli troops on the eastern border of a PA state.


As alluded to earlier, Yitzhak Molcho, chief Israeli negotiator who is currently in NY, and Saeb Erekat, chief PLO negotiator who is currently in Washington, are supposed to meet within the next 24 or so hours in order to pave the way for another round of talks between Netanyahu and Abbas. Presumably, this new round of talks will take place before the 26th, when the freeze is due to end, so that the parties can work out a "compromise" on the issue, in order for negotiations to continue after the 26th.


Abbas is saying that he will not negotiate "for a single day" if Israel does not extend the freeze.

He also said that he was "not opposed to a settlement freeze for a month or two" and that he believes it would be possible "to conclude a peace deal on all final status issues if the settlement freeze is extended."

Conclude all issues in a month or two? You might be tempted to ask exactly what Mahmoud Abbas has been smoking. But there is method to his madness and I want to point it out.

While Netanyahu is talking about security, Abbas keeps saying the first thing to decide is borders. Deciding borders, he claims, will simplify the issues -- Jerusalem (how much goes to the Palestinian Arabs) and settlements (what, if anything, Israel would keep and thus where Israel could continue to build and where not).

This, you see, is why he now says only a month or two is necessary. Theoretically, there would be no "freeze" issue if it had been determined where Israel could build and where not. And if there freeze is only for a month or two, he likely imagines that he can push this to get it resolved before the freeze is over.

This -- the question of setting borders -- is what Abbas is after. The rest matters to him considerably less, or not at all. For he could then walk away from negotiations, go to the UN, and ask for recognition of a state, within the borders that Israel had already agreed to.

This might not happen, and the whole plan might backfire on him badly. But know that there is talk about Abbas doing this. Therefore, it is critical that Netanyahu not fall into a trap of agreeing to borders. Not even tentative borders, i.e., IF this and this is set in place, OK then I would also agree to these borders.

It would be a very dangerous and foolish business.


I will mention here, where it is particularly relevant, that there is talk about bringing a bill to the Knesset that would require a national referendum before Netanyahu could sign off on any agreement with the PLO. A good move. But the wording of that proposed legislation has yet to be worked out -- it would have to be air-tight and would then have to pass three readings in the Knesset. So we're not there yet by any means.


Sometimes, in spite of the peaceful facade that the leaders of the PA/PLO offer the Western world, something leaks out that reveals true intentions. Almost always that leak is in Arabic, as is the case here:

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has picked up an article from the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, from September 9. In translation:

"The PLO's representative in Lebanon, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah, emphasized yesterday that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which have started in Washington, are not a goal, but rather another stage in the Palestinian struggle... He believes that Israel will not be dealt a knock-out defeat, but rather an accumulation of Palestinian achievements and struggles, as happened in South Africa, to isolate Israel, to tighten the noose on it, to threaten its legitimacy, and to present it as a rebellious, racist state."

Then, PMW tells us, there is the performance by a song and dance troop that ran on PA TV on September 12. The lyrics include:

"Fight, brother, the flag will never be lowered,
"the torches will never die out.
"...We replaced bracelets with weapons...
"This invading enemy is on the battlefield.
"This is the day of consolation of Jihad.
"Pull the trigger.
"We shall redeem Jerusalem, Nablus and the country."

At this site you can see a video of the singing and dancing. It's scary stuff:

Our "peace partner."

Please, share this information with those who imagine that there really is a "peace process."


See also, please, Khaled Abu Toameh, who asks, with regard to the negotiations, "Why Is Washington Sticking Its Head in the Sand."


I may not have any fondness for Defense Minister Barak, but when I like what he says, I acknowledge it:

He is in the States now, and gave an interview to Fox News, during which he said that Iran might attain nuclear capabilities within two years or less. Thus, "We have to start considering what follows if sanctions won't work."

What is more, "Part of the way history will judge" the Obama US administration is with regard to whether Iran"turned nuclear" under its watch."

After Obama said that military action was not the "ideal" way to deal with Iran, Barak responded that "As far as Israel is concerned, all options must remain on the table."

An American president who is seeking an "ideal" in the face of this emergency is, it seems to me, not in touch with reality.


Let's end on an upbeat note, with thanks to Janglo. Hope you can pick this up.

Singing of Hallel (special psalms of praise) in a synagogue in the community of Efrat in Judea on a morning during the week of the holiday. The joy and sense of celebration are palpable. You will see people holding an etrog (citron) and lulav (grouping of leaves from a palm, myrtle and willow) used ritually.

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Laying the Foundation for Peace: Challenges for the Palestinian Economy

Michael Singh

On the heels of renewed direct political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported strong Palestinian economic growth at today's meeting of PA donors in New York. While these economic tidings will be welcomed by both Israelis and Palestinians and provide some breathing room for negotiators, headlines of robust growth mask significant problems confronting the Palestinian economy. In the near term, the PA faces a potential funding shortfall owing to lower-than-expected international assistance. In the longer term, Palestinian officials must grapple with even more formidable problems if they are to make a successful transition from an economy propped up by foreign donors to one fueled by private investment. High Growth but High Unemployment
In their most recent reports to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) of donors to the PA, the World Bank and IMF reported that real gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2010 is expected to reach 8 percent in the West Bank and 16 percent in Gaza. They also noted a slight decrease in unemployment in the West Bank (from 15.9 to 15.2 percent) and an increase in Gaza (from 36 to 39 percent). In the West Bank, GDP growth has been driven largely by public-sector spending, which is increasingly financed by donor assistance. The growth has also been enabled by the Israeli government's efforts to ease movement and access by removing checkpoints and taking other steps to facilitate commerce, as well as by issuing more permits for Palestinians to work in Israel. In Gaza, the high per-annum growth rate results largely from the low base from which the economy grew this year, due to the near-cessation of economic activity in the immediate aftermath of the Gaza conflict in early 2009. However, significant flows of humanitarian assistance and Israel's recent steps to ease the Gaza blockade have also contributed to growth.

Both the World Bank and IMF praised the PA's performance on institution-building and fiscal management. While judging that much work remains in this area, both deemed the PA to have largely met or exceeded its objectives for the past year. The IMF predicted that if present trends continue -- progress in the peace process, the easing of Israeli restrictions, and the institution-building effort led by PA prime minister Salam Fayad -- growth would continue to accelerate and unemployment would decline in the West Bank and Gaza.

Impending Funding Shortfall
Along with the silver lining of robust growth, declining unemployment, and success in institution-building, however, comes a dark cloud. The impressive results reported by the World Bank and IMF are almost entirely attributable to public-sector spending by the PA, chiefly in the areas of security, health, and education. This spending is in turn financed by external donors; indeed, external financing for recurrent expenditures (as opposed to development projects) as a percentage of Palestinian GDP rose steadily from 1994 to 2008, and is only now beginning to decline.

While donors have been generous, that external financing has been unpredictable and insufficient -- the IMF projects a funding shortfall for 2010 of more than $300 million. Arab donors have been notably parsimonious this year, with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates providing far less assistance than in the past. The shortfalls in external financing have led the PA to incur payment arrears as well as considerable bank debt. The resulting interest payments will put further pressure on future PA budgets, and the uncertainty created by delayed or delinquent disbursements complicates economic planning and consumes the attention of Palestinian officials.

Long-Term Challenges
While the efforts of Prime Minister Fayad and renewed Israeli-Palestinian economic and security cooperation appear to be paying dividends, the positive economic results reported by the World Bank and IMF do not imply that the Palestinian economy has turned a corner. Living standards in the West Bank and Gaza have only recently recovered to their 1994 levels after a long period of decline. Unemployment in the West Bank, despite recent improvements, remains well above 1994 levels. Furthermore, labor force participation rates are quite low, suggesting a large number of "discouraged workers" who are not counted in official unemployment statistics. In addition, while the PA deserves credit for its institution-building successes, the West Bank and Gaza's ranking in the International Finance Corporation's "Doing Business" survey actually slipped by two places in 2010, suggesting that the environment for would-be Palestinian entrepreneurs remains challenging.

The overall shakiness of the Palestinian economy can be attributed to structural imbalances. Sectors in which the economy was traditionally strong, such as agriculture and manufacturing, have declined steadily since 1994, while -- as suggested before -- the role of the public sector has increased. That public sector spending itself is badly skewed, with 23 percent of GDP going to wages alone, a far higher proportion than in comparable economies. Furthermore, massive reliance on external assistance, large numbers of Palestinians working abroad, and constraints on Palestinian business activity resulting from Israeli restrictions have led to a problematic combination of high wages and low-value production relative to comparable economies -- an imposing obstacle to long-term growth.

It is vital that the PA, Israel, and their international partners cooperate to encourage the growth of the Palestinian private sector and end the Palestinian economy's reliance on the public sector for growth. Leaning so heavily on the public sector is inherently untenable, given the PA's dependence on fickle foreign assistance, and raises the specter of PA budgets being weighed down for years to come.

Looking Ahead
For Palestinians, peace and prosperity are inextricably interconnected. Private-sector investment is crucial for the long-term health of the Palestinian economy, and continued economic growth and strong employment are key to sustaining Palestinian support for the peace process. Nevertheless, private capital -- whether from foreign or expatriate contributors -- is unlikely to return in force until prospects for long-term stability between Israel and the Palestinians improve.

To sustain economic growth in the interim, the World Bank and IMF emphasize the need for Israel to further reduce impediments to movement and access in the West Bank. Such reductions are undoubtedly essential, but just as the loosening so far by the Netanyahu government was made possible by a Palestinian commitment to security performance, a further easing is only likely if the PA redoubles its commitment to security reform and the peace talks. Other critical steps highlighted by the World Bank and the IMF are further regulatory and other reforms by the PA to improve the Palestinian business climate, and more reliable provision and coordination of assistance by international donors.

Unspoken by the World Bank, IMF, or AHLC members is another risk to a long-term Palestinian recovery -- overreliance on the PA prime minister. Fayad has been a godsend for the Palestinian economy, at once bolstering Western confidence and therefore spurring Western assistance, promulgating a credible plan for building Palestinian institutions, and even bucking up Palestinians' hopes for establishing a state in the near future. But such heavy dependence on Fayad on economic matters (like dependence on Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the political arena) is worrisome, and highlights the precariousness of the progress Palestinians have made in recent years. The PA and its international partners must therefore put greater effort into developing a bureaucratic structure to support both Fayad and Abbas and an accountable political system, which require attention to political reform.

Reports of economic growth and success in institution-building are good news for the Palestinians, Israel, and the international community. These developments provide breathing space for negotiators, who require public support and patience if they are to succeed, and suggest that basic building blocks -- such as security, health, and education -- are being put in place for future Palestinian prosperity. Nevertheless, continued success demands that deep-seated economic problems not be neglected amid the diplomatic flurry accompanying renewed peace talks. Indeed, political and economic progress are deeply linked -- GDP growth in Gaza will be for naught if PA rule cannot be restored there, while carefully crafted compromises on the core negotiating issues will unravel if Palestinians cannot be assured of jobs and public services.

Michael Singh is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. Read Mr. Singh's recent opinion articles on renewed direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians: "Off the Table" and "First Test for Peace Talks Coming Soon."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Abrams: Bush never agreed to take 100,000 refugees


Former National Security Council member refutes claim Olmert made in Geneva Initiative speech.

Former US president George W. Bush did not and could not have agreed to accept 100,000 Palestinian refugees as former prime minister Ehud Olmert claimed in a speech over the weekend, former Bush administration official Elliott Abrams told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Abrams, who was deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy and held the Middle East portfolio on the National Security Council, said Bush administration officials did believe that if a peace deal was reached with the Palestinians, there would need to be actions by many countries to address the refugee issue, both financially and by offering to take some refugees.

But he said there was no commitment to take 100,000.

“President Bush did not, I am sure, promise or pledge to take 100,000 Palestinian refugees,” Abrams said.

“The president knew, as everyone in the White House knew, that no president has the power to make such a commitment. We have immigration laws and they don’t allow that kind of move by a president. He would have had to ask Congress to change our laws. Moreover, we would never have committed to a specific number anyway, nor did Olmert ask us to or raise that number.”

In a speech on Sunday sponsored by the Geneva Initiative at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum, Olmert outlined the offer he made the Palestinians at the end of his premiership, which included a contiguous Palestinian state, transferring control over Jerusalem’s holy basin to the stewardship of five countries, and accepting thousands of Palestinian refugees into Israel on humanitarian grounds.

“The US would have been willing to accept 100,000 refugees,” Olmert said. “I believe that if the refugees, most of whom already are the second and third generation outside the territories, had had to choose between coming back to Israel or going to the United States, one might guess what they would choose.”

Olmert’s office responded to Abrams’s comments by saying that Abrams was unaware of commitments made by other Bush administration officials.

“Promises were indeed made on this issue by very senior Bush administration officials who were involved in the details of the negotiations with the Palestinians,” an official in Olmert’s office said.

Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Holocaust-denier Irving to lead tours of death camps


British revisionist historian scheduled to take a tour to concentration camps and former site of Warsaw Ghetto.

LONDON – Convicted Holocaust denier David Irving is set to lead guided tours of former Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz and Treblinka, next week.

The British revisionist historian, who was convicted of Holocaust denial in 2006 in Austria and sentenced to three years in jail, is scheduled to take a week-long tour on Tuesday to the concentration camps in Poland and the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto.The stunt is expected to attract a number of far-Right sympathizers from across Europe.

Advertising material for the tour promises an experience far removed from the “tourist attractions of Auschwitz.” Participants will be charged $2,650 each.

In a report in the Daily Mail newspaper on Friday, Irving claimed he was not a Holocaust denier and that Treblinka was a real death camp site, as opposed to Auschwitz, which he described as a “Disney-style tourist attraction.”

The controversial tour was condemned by Jewish community groups in the UK.

“This is Irving’s latest cynical attempt to rewrite history and is an affront to the victims of Nazism and those who fought against it,” said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

“All it will prove is how even insurmountable historical evidence will not sway him from his prejudices and dogma.”

“David Irving is a proven racist and a Holocaust denier and his forthcoming ‘tour’ of the Treblinka Nazi death camp can serve no purpose other than to further provoke far-Right extremists and insult the memory of Holocaust victims and Survivors,” said Karen Pollock, chief executive of the London-based Holocaust Educational Trust.

Anti-racist group Searchlight also condemned the initiative. In a joint statement with its Polish counterpart, Nigdy Wiecej (Never Again), it called on the Polish government to ban Irving from entering the country.

The Polish Embassy in London said that Irving could not be barred from the country but said its secret service would closely monitor his movements.

In 2006, Irving was convicted by an Austrian court of Holocaust denial, using a 1992 law which applies to anyone who denies, plays down, approves of or tries to excuse the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity.

The court found that Irving was an active Holocaust denier, anti-Semite and racist, who “associates with right-wing extremists and promotes neo-Nazism.”

In 1996, Irving sued Prof. Deborah Lipstadt for libel, after she called him a Holocaust denier in her book Denying the Holocaust.

Three courts subsequently found for Lipstadt, concluding that Irving was a Holocaust denier, an anti-Semite and a racist.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"If Only"

Arlene Kushner

Friday's headline in the JPost: "Gov't rejects extended freeze, despite US, EU and Egyptian pressure." This was right before Yom Kippur, and oh how I would have loved to have been able to rejoice. But I wasn't ready then, and I'm certainly not ready now.

Yes, Netanyahu rejected a formal freeze on all building in Judea and Samaria. It may well be that, given his coalition, he truly had no choice.

But there has been too much in the past weeks indicating that there would likely be some informal compromise on this business of the freeze for us to assume we are now home free. Some of what came out was directly from Netanyahu, who said, and I paraphrase here, that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. In addition to which, we had the Abu Toameh piece indicating that Abbas knows, in spite of his bluster, that he's going to have to sit at the table even if there isn't a full freeze. So... I'm still in "wait and see" mode. Good indeed that he didn't cave all the way -- which would have been horrendous. But it remains to be determined how much building actually starts, and where (i.e., perhaps just in major blocs near the Green Line), after September 26. We may not know immediately. But remember that there are a very large number of construction projects already approved, that were held up. If there truly is no freeze, they should be up and going before long. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

As well, I will be watching how the right wing in this country, in different quarters, responds to the situation.


I've received a few alarmed messages from readers regarding a report (unconfirmed, as far as I see) regarding a deal that Netanyahu offered to President Assad of Syria, via the US, in which he would offer part of the Golan in a peace deal. That Mitchell was just in Syria -- last Thursday, actually-- pumping for peace is fact. What he actually brought from Netanyahu, if anything, is considerably less clear.

But -- even if this report is true -- I am exceedingly dubious as to whether Assad would ever accept the terms Netanyahu is allegedly demanding in that offer: cutting ties with Iran and Hezbollah. No way! Ahmadinejad stopped in Damascus and visited with Assad just yesterday, on his way to the UN for opening of the GA.

And now we have an exceedingly troubling report about Russian plans to sell advanced arms to Syria -- possibly including P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles. The major concern is that these weapons would find their way to Hezbollah, which would use them against Israeli ships.


I've written about this before: Assad has made a calculated judgment with regard to his position. US power in the Middle East is waning. He is assessing Iran as the up-and-coming power, and the one to remain allied with. All Mitchell's talk about the US being determined to forge a comprehensive peace in this region is pointless. It's past due for Obama to take a hard look at what he has wrought.

Thrown into the pot is the additional difficulty of contending with a Russia that is thoroughly pleased to play the foil against the US, with scant regard for consequences. The US has protested the sale of these weapons to a terrorist-supporting country, and Barak, in a visit to Russia last week also protested. All to no avail.

So we have plenty to worry about, but I would put giving away the Golan low on that list. Far more important will be monitoring of weapons into Syria and tracking them to assure they don't get to Hezbollah.


The people of the US -- or, more accurately, certain US Jews -- are in for another PA lovefest. Abbas is going to be in the US this week, and the last report I had was that a dinner would be sponsored for him by the Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, on Tuesday, and that The Israel Project would be sponsoring something similar for Fayyad.

I think most of my readers know better. But it's appropriate here to caution once again that Abbas, Fayyad and the whole lot of them are thoroughly duplicitous -- and that this is sanctioned by Islam: the doctrine of Taqiyya permits lying when it furthers the cause of Islam. They will pretend moderation for their purposes, but it is essential not to be fooled. They are not moderates and not sincere about peace. But they'd love to have American Jews leaning on Netanyahu.

Should you read articles, or hear friends talking, or hear talk radio shows, that indicate how forthcoming and peaceful Abbas and Fayyad are, please! use every opportunity possible to set the record straight.


Ho hum. At the same time that Abbas is prepared to do his "kissy" routine with American Jews, he is again threatening to resign. I've lost count of how many times he's made this threat, if this or that or the other thing doesn't happen.

The entire spectacle is one continuous farce. How does a man "resign" from a post, when his term ran out at least nine months ago -- or a year and nine months ago, depending on how the calculation is done?


There are plans afoot, by Israel and supported by the international community, to allow the PA to have officials present at the Kerem Shalom crossing -- the main conduit for goods going into Gaza. The idea is to foster the impression, if nothing more, that the PA once again has a foothold in Gaza. Not exactly a smashing idea in any event.

But we should not be surprised that now Hamas has said nothing doing. Hamas says that what the PA should be working on is settling differences between the two parties. As things stand, it will not accept a PA presence there. What does it mean, "not accept"? That it would refuse goods that came through under the eyes of PA officials? Or that it would initiate violence there?

Work being done at Kerem Shalom now includes infrastructure that could be used by the PA if it were to control Gaza once again.


I will return in future postings to the issue of moderate Islam, what it is and how possible it is to foster it.

But here I wanted to provide a couple of links regarding Islam in the US. They offer insight into how Islam is being surreptitiously promoted. In this instance, Wellesley MA middle school students were taken on a trip to a mosque, where they were lied to about the nature of Islam and invited to join prayer. This came via Brigitte Gabriel's Act for America, a source I consider quite reliable:

See below a related piece on this subject by Charles Jacobs -- whom I also consider highly reliable. Jacobs is now president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance. But I know of him from years ago, when he fought to combat slavery in Sudan. (Guess who was/is practicing slavery?)

What's apparent is that there is a double standard (and lots of political correctness) at work.

America, when will you wake up?

(My thanks to all those who sent info on this.)


In closing, I share a story.

I recently provided a moving video about young boys who risked arrest in pre-independence Israel, in the late 30s and early 40s, by blowing a shofar at the Kotel on Yom Kippur, which the ruling British, to appease the Arabs, had said was forbidden.

I have now started reading Yehuda Avner's "The Prime Ministers" and am fascinated by the history he provides. Very early on, in his section on Menachem Begin as head of the Irgun. (An underground pre-Independence freedom fighting force to the right of the more establishment Hagana.)

Seems the business about the shofar blowing being forbidden started back on Yom Kippur of 1928, when a mehitza, a screen to separate worshipping men and women, was set up before the Kotel. The local Arabs interpreted this as an extreme provocation: "The Jews are trying to rebuild their Temple and destroy our al-Aksa Mosque." (This is not a new charge!) Riots ensued in which hundreds were killed in the following months.

The British established a commission of inquiry, which determined that the Kotel belonged solely to the Arabs. If this sort of appeasement before the Arabs sounds obscene and familiar, it is because it is both. From this came the ruling that no shofar could be blown. It left local Jews aghast -- this total denial by the British of their heritage and practices.

The young shofar blowers came from the ranks of Betar, the youth of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Revisionists. (Jabotinsky being the ideological mentor of Begin.) When Begin -- whose reputation preceded him -- witnessed for himself the police harassment endured by these young men, he decided to become involved. Before Rosh Hashana in 1944, he had posters distributed that said any British policeman disturbing the service at the Kotel "will be regarded as a criminal and dealt with accordingly." That Yom Kippur, the shofar blower was not touched by a single policeman.

The next day, Begin wrote:

"Our ancient stones are not silent. They speak of the House that once stood here, of kings who once knelt here in prayer, of prophets and seers who declaimed their message here, of heroes who fell here, dying...This House and this Land, with its prophets and kings and fighters, were ours long before the British were ever a nation."

Ah, for that sort of devotion to our heritage, and plucky readiness to defend it, today.

Postscript: Years later Begin told Avner that he had no intention of attacking police at the Kotel, for innocents might have died in the confusion of the crowd. His intent was to hit police stations in other locales.

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Russia Insists Weapons to Syria Will not Reach Terrorists

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

Russia has defied Israel and the United States and is going through with its sale of Yakhont cruise anti-ship missiles to Syria that could endanger the Israeli Navy. Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said he rejects fears that Syria, a designated country that supports terror, will allow the missiles to fall into the hands of Hizbullah. "The United States and Israel ask[ed] us not to supply Syria with Yakhont," he told reporters during a visit to Washington. "But we do not see the concerns expressed by them that these arms will fall into the hands of terrorists.

Hizbullah used advanced Russian anti-tank missiles against Israel in the Second Lebanon War, causing heavy casualties and surprising Israeli intelligence sources that did not know Syria had facilitated their transfer to Hizbullah.

Moscow’s announcement that it will honor its 2007 commitment to sell the missiles represents a failure for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who early this month flew to Russia to try to stop the deal while also clinching Russian purchases of Israeli unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs).

Serdyukov warmed up to Barak, praising Israeli defense capabilities. “It is very important to us that in the transition to a new image, the Russian armed forces use the experience the Israeli armed forces have and the work they have done,” he told Defense Minister Barak.

He sealed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with the defense industry, with which Barak built up strong contacts during his hiatus from politics after his Labor government coalition collapsed and he lost a re-election bid in a landslide victory for Ariel Sharon, who then was head of the Likud party.

Barak told Serdyokuv of his concerns that the Yakhont cruise missile could endanger Israeli navy ships because of their range of 180 miles and their capability of carrying a 400-pound warhead while cruising only several feet above waters, out of the range of most radar systems.

Israeli ministers, generals oppose purchase of US F-35 warplane

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

It now turns out that unostentatiously, while overseeing the Israel-Palestinian peace talks, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton busied herself last week in Jerusalem with an errand of equal important to Washington: bulldozing Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak into agreeing to buy 35 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth warplanes for the Israeli Air Force at a cost of $4.7 billion. This transaction Israel can ill afford. debkafile's military sources report it is opposed by senior ministers, especially Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, and even more fiercely by high IDF officers and heads of Israel's Aerospace Industries. Nonetheless, Clinton got her wish; a special committee the Prime Minister set up for the purpose approved the purchase after cutting down the final number of F-35 warplanes from 35 to 20 at a cost of "only" $2.7 billion.

Military chiefs, furious over Netanyahu's hasty action, said it makes nonsense of the drastic cuts just imposed on defense spending and means that the IDF will have to do without certain new weapons systems needed for facing up to threats from Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas. One officer accused the prime minister of "shamefully and needlessly surrendering to American pressure."

debkafile's military sources dismiss reports that Israeli industry will take part in manufacturing the F-35s on sale are untrue. On the contrary, the Americans have laid down tougher limitations than ever before against Israeli access to the production process.

Israeli aeronautical experts and technicians are denied access to the production lines of the plane. Israel's Air Force and Aerospace Industries are prohibited from installing their own homemade systems to the new plane or even altering the Lockheed Martin systems to meet their special needs without prior US consent.

Even Israeli pilots will only see the finished product when it is ready for their instruction. This will happen towards the end of 2011. The first F-35s are scheduled for delivery in 2015.

Two ministers, Steinitz and the former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon, are skeptical about the US plane's ability to contribute much toward enhancing the IAF's standards. Its design has met wide criticism in military aviation circles. They fear that the decision to purchase it was guided by politics rather than military considerations.
Our sources disclose that President Barack Obama instructed Clinton to secure Israel's consent to buy the F-35 without delay to help him get through an increasingly reluctant Congress $60 billion advanced arms transaction with Saudi Arabia.

The Israelis who are against buying the F-35 argue that it is not in Israel's interest to help the Saudis acquire top-line American weaponry, certainly without a guarantee that it may be turned against Israel some time in the future.