Saturday, January 07, 2012

To be or not to be – that is the question


Into the Fray: It is time to have a clear-headed, hard look at reality: The two state solution is dead.

The maximum any Israeli government can offer is less than the minimum any Palestinian leader can accept. The real gap between both sides is much greater than perceived, and that gap is growing – Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council, 2009

The land-for-peace idea has now collapsed. We have to find another way, and a new concept is urgently needed – Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, former head of the National Security Council, 2007

It is time to have a clear-headed, hard look at reality: The two state solution is dead. Where do we go from here? – Prof. Carlo Strenger, columnist for Haaretz, 2011 It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Even if one strongly disagrees with his ideological predilections, Jerusalem Post columnist Gershon Baskin was nonetheless correct in assessing the magnitude and urgency of the emerging danger when he recently stated, “We have a very short period of time remaining before we come to the conclusion that there is no longer any resolution to this conflict that enables us to have a Jewish nationstate in the Land of Israel. If this happens, it will be the end of the Zionist dream that so many have worked so hard for so long to create and sustain.”

Approaching crossroads

The Jewish people is rapidly approaching a crucial juncture. It will soon have to decide whether or not it is willing to maintain its nation-state; whether it is willing to forgo over a century of unparalleled sacrifice, effort and achievement to satisfy the cynical and hypocritical dictates of political correctness; whether it is prepared to surrender substance for form; to forsake real national freedoms for the artificial facade of feigned individual equality.

As the infeasibility of the two-state paradigm becomes increasingly apparent, even to the staunchest of its erstwhile supporters, the need to formulate a cogent alternative that will preserve the Jewish nation-state is becoming increasingly pressing.

It is not only the disillusioned among the Israeli Left who are expressing ever-more despair at the prospect of implementing the two-state solution. It is increasingly being dismissed as a realistic – or even desirable – aspiration by Palestinians, and not only radical Islamists who reject it because it entails recognizing a Jewish state. Thus for example, in his recent book, What is a Palestinian State Worth?, even Sari Nusseibeh, a show-case “moderate,” expresses “heretical” doubts as to whether the struggle for statehood merits the effort.

Significant shifts

This should be seen against the shift in the general Palestinian attitude toward the twostate principle, reflected in a strangely underreported and grossly misreported poll conducted recently for The Israel Project by Stanley Greenberg together with Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.

According to the poll, there was a “huge drop in acceptance of a two-state solution.” Fifty-two percent said they would not accept such a solution – up from 36% less than a year previously – while two-thirds rejected the principle that one of the states should be a Jewish homeland.

A similar proportion said, “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state,” and 84% said that “Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state.”

Only the grossly undiscerning will fail to notice the tangible change in official Palestinian negotiating strategy in recent years. The pursuit of a two-state solution has become a leisurely distraction rather than a seriously sought after end-of-conflict arrangement. Far-reaching concessions – difficult for Israel to accept even as part of a final agreement – are being presented as conditions for merely resuming negotiations, delaying them for extended periods – hardly a rational tactic for a people eager to extricate themselves from onerous “occupation.”

Facing the inevitable

In view of accumulating evidence, it would be imprudent for Israel to continue deluding itself that Palestinians entertain any serious intentions as to the two-state solution – other than in the two-stage sense. Indeed, the accelerating erosion of support for the idea makes the formulation of operational alternatives a pressing imperative.

The alternatives that have been discussed most often fall into two categories. Those which entail: (a) conferring Israel citizenship on the Palestinians – i.e. various versions of the one-state approach; and (b) transferring civilian rule over the Palestinians to some non-Palestinian Authority Arab administration – such as Jordan or prominent local clan-leaders traditionally well-disposed to Israel, who would preside over scattered enclaves.

For a variety of reasons, neither of these offers a stable long-term formula. As a detailed critique of these alternatives is beyond the scope of this article, I will restrict myself to the following observations.

Fatal flaws

Regarding the first category, the inclusion of the Palestinian Arab population across the 1967 Green Line into Israel as fully fledged citizens would create an unbearable socioeconomic burden on the country that would not only jeopardize its character as a Jewish state but as an advanced Western democracy as well – a problem many EU countries are beginning to experience, even with proportionately far smaller “discordant” populations.

It is a measure that would create difficulties far more complex and profound than could be dealt with – as some naively hope – by adopting a regional electoral system and gerrymandering the boundaries of the constituencies to minimize the impact of non- Jewish voters. Quite apart from the legal challenges – before an inherently amenable Supreme Court – as to the equity of such an arrangement, and possible mass relocation of voters to other constituencies, the cultural and economic disparities would tear society apart.

Regarding the second category, it is wishful thinking – especially in the wake of the Arab Spring – to hope that any “traditional” regime would consent to be seen as “pulling the Zionists’ chestnuts out of the fire.”

It is more than doubtful that any Arab ruler – whether a clan leader or the Jordanian monarch – would be willing, or indeed able, to function for any length of time as what would certainly be perceived as a perfidious “prison warder.”

Moreover, in light of the instability in the region, it would irresponsible to adopt a long-term policy based on the assumption that the regime in Amman would not be replaced or at least dominated by elements inimical to any cooperation with Israel.

In both cases, the consequences of these alternatives are liable to be worse than those they are designed to avoid.

The humanitarian paradigm

These factors – the eroding relevance of the two-state paradigm, the ominous emergence of the one-state paradigm and the inadequacy of proffered alternatives – led to the proposal in my two preceding columns of the humanitarian paradigm, which addressed the fate of the Palestinian Arabs in a comprehensive, non-coercive manner. Operationally it comprised three constituent elements.

• Ending discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian refugees by abolishing/transforming UNRWA.

• Ending discrimination against Palestinians in the Arab world and the prohibition on their acquiring citizenship of countries in which they have been resident for decades.

• Providing generous relocation finance directly to individual Palestinian breadwinners to allow them to build better futures for themselves in third countries of their choice.

Unsurprisingly, numerous reservations were raised as to the feasibility of the proposal. These will now be addressed – at least in part.

The feasibility factor – I

The proponents of the Oslowian two-state principle are the last who can invoke feasibility as a precondition for the admissibility of an operational proposal –at least as an item on the agenda of public debate.

After all, this is a formula that has been tried for almost two decades, and despite massive international endorsement and financial support, has wrought nothing but death, destruction and despair. Surely a proposal that has proved so disastrous should by any rational yardstick be branded unworkable and hence unfeasible.

And if the demonstrable infeasibility/ futility/failure of the two-state paradigm has not disqualified it as meriting serious consideration, why should a conceptually consistent, untried humanitarian paradigm not be accorded the same opportunity – at least as a legitimate topic for debate.

The feasibility factor – II

Inevitably, any radical departure from long-established conventional wisdom will be met with stiff resistance. However, the existing configuration of public opinion should not be considered immutable.

Indeed, imagine how hopeless the notion of a Palestinian state was in the late 1960s in the wake of Israel’s sweeping Six Day War victory. Even in the late 1980s the idea was dismissed as unrealistic, unreasonable radicalism by all but a minuscule albeit determined minority on the far Left.

However, it was a minority that managed to enlist the resolve, resources and resourcefulness to transform the marginal into mainstream in remarkably short order.

Given the paltry funding and the puny efforts that have characterized Israel’s public diplomacy in the past two decades, the current public perception can hardly be taken as persuasive gauge of what might be achieved with adequate financing and appropriate focus. Today the entire public diplomacy budget is reportedly of the order of magnitude of what a medium-to-large Israeli corporation spends on promoting fast-food or snacks. If one does not invest in winning hearts and minds, it is no wonder that they are not won.

The feasibility factor – III

According to the IMF, Israel’s GDP is approaching a quarter trillion dollars. If it were to allot less than one half of 1% of GDP to public diplomacy, that would be over $1 billion – enough to swamp anything the George Soroses of the world devote to Israel’s delegitimization.

Given the nation’s achievements in nearly every other field of human endeavor, one can only surmise what impact a determined assault on the authenticity and legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative, financed by an annual $1b. budget over two decades – the length of the post- Oslowian era – might have on the acceptability of a humanitarian rehabilitation of Palestinian Arabs, cruelly misled by their leaders for decades.

Indeed, important elements of the humanitarian paradigm are already gaining international legitimacy. The anomalous and detrimental role of UNRWA – a pivotal element in the proposal – has been recognized by countries such as Canada and the Netherlands which have either curtailed their funding to the organization or are considering doing so. It is distinctly plausible that the US could be convinced – especially in these days of austerity – to terminate its funding for this wasteful and counter-productive body which perpetuates the Palestinians’ dependency and statelessness.

Likewise, the brutal discrimination against Palestinians in Arab states, allegedly to “help preserve their identity,” is also the subject of increasing international attention and censure. Pressure should – and could – be brought to bear on Arab regimes to end this unacceptable practice, even if it means temporarily channeling budgets formerly allotted to UNRWA to facilitate their integration as citizens of the countries of their longstanding residence.

These elements cannot be detached from the overall thrust of the humanitarian paradigm, which is to focus on ameliorating the situation of the individual Palestinian rather than promoting the nefarious goals of an invented national entity.

Estimating costs

The estimated cost of implementation is strongly dependent on the level of compensation and the size of the Palestinian population in the “territories,” which is the subject of intense debate.

A few years ago, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted a survey on the level of compensation Palestinian refugees considered fair to forgo the “right of return.” If we take more than double the minimum amount specified by most pollees as fair compensation for relocation/rehabilitation, and if we adopt a high-end estimate of the Palestinian population, the total cost would be around $150b. for the West Bank Palestinians (and $250b. if Gaza is included). This is a fraction of the US expenditure on its decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have produced results that are less than a resounding success.

Spread over a period equivalent to the current post-Oslo era, this sum would comprise a yearly outlay of no more than a few percentage points of current GDP – something Israel could well afford on its own.

If additional OECD countries were to contribute, the total relocation/rehabilitation of the Palestinian Arabs could be achieved with an almost imperceptible economic burden.

From Hamlet to Herzl

I began this column on the humanitarian paradigm with a short excerpt from Hamlet – to convey why it is needed.

It is perhaps appropriate that I end it with one from Herzl – to convey why it is feasible: If you will it, it is no fantasy.

How to Punish Iran’s Despots

Benjamin Weinthal

Berlin — In a few weeks’ time, the European Union’s foreign ministers will gather in Brussels to discuss a common response to Iran’s ongoing nuclear activities. To its credit, the EU reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday to impose an oil embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yet the EU can inflict still more economic and diplomatic pain on Iran’s rogue regime. In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report confirming that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. The U.K. responded to the IAEA report by blacklisting the Central Bank of Iran, which conducts vital energy transactions for the Islamic Republic. Sanctioning the CBI will deny Iran funds for its nuclear-weapons program and its primary terror proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

If the rest of the EU were to follow the lead of Britain — and U.S. legislation banning transactions with the CBI — Iran would lose billions in desperately needed revenue. Last year, Iran garnered about $73 billion in energy profits, making its gas and oil sector account for more than half its national budget.

In November — just a little over a week before Iran’s regime ordered a militia group to overrun the British Embassy in Tehran — the German media reported that the country’s defense ministry had made Europe’s most bizarre end run around international sanctions to date by selling Chancellor Merkel’s official jet to the sanctioned Iranian airline Mahan.

The deal, made through a Ukrainian middleman, demonstrates Germany’s reluctance to take any measures that might compromise its roughly €4 billion annual bilateral trade volume with Iran. EU leaders may soon witness the absurd spectacle of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other sanctioned officials arriving at world capitals in Merkel’s old ride.

In early December, Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghasemi arrived at an OPEC meeting in Vienna despite an international travel ban. The EU, the United States, and Australia have all sanctioned Ghasemi for his involvement with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In December, an Austrian foreign ministry official called me, insisting that Vienna must honor its international agreements regarding OPEC, which has its seat there. Yet Austria and its EU partners have granted unnecessarily wide travel latitude to unsavory Iranian officials, including Atomic Energy Organization head Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, who delivered a talk at the Vienna-based IAEA’s general conference in September. The Wall Street Journal rightly refers to Abbasi-Davani as a “dangerous man,” and according to the U.N. sanctions list, he is deeply involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The Austrians welcome him nonetheless.

Meanwhile Germany, Europe’s main economic engine, has proven equally lax toward Iran’s top representatives. In October, the German Council on Foreign Relations, one of Germany’s leading think tanks — and a recipient of German foreign ministry funding — hosted Iranian deputy finance minister Muhammad Reza Farzin for a talk about promoting business ties with Iran and why EU sanctions against Tehran are futile.

The Free Democratic Party foreign-policy spokesman and Bundestag MP Rainer Stinner facilitated the Farzin visit. Stinner has previously stated his opposition to sanctioning Iran’s IRGC, on the grounds that it controls the majority of Iran’s economy and could endanger trade relations. (The Bush administration sanctioned the IRGC in 2007 because of its global terror activities.) Only four months earlier, Ruprecht Polenz, the head of the Bundestag foreign-affairs committee, welcomed members of the Iranian parliament, declaring that “sanctions do not rule out talks” with Iran.

The vulnerability of Iran’s economy cannot be overstated. Iranian deputy oil minister Ahmad Qalebani said in December that sanctions were making an impact, telling the regime-controlled Iranian Students’ News Agency that the country’s crude-oil production fell in 2011 “due to lack of investment in oil field development.”

If Iran’s leaders conclude that the world will not simply accept their nuclear program but will impose real costs if Iran continues its advances, they might rethink their calculations.

— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Report on Biased Textbooks Goes to 500 Superintendents


The Christian Action Network has sent 500 school superintendents a report showing that many textbooks are biased against Israel and the West while whitewashing radical Islam. The report, authored by Citizens for National Security, examines 200 quotes from 30 textbooks used in Florida.

“[Students] aren’t being taught about the theological motivations behind radical Islam,” said Martin Mawyer, President of the Christian Action Network.

“The impression students are given is that terrorists are misguided fighters against Western imperialism and aggression, who are only wrong in their approach. It was amazing how many times the word ‘Palestine’ was used, making it sound like Israel was built on top of a conquered country,” he said. The report lists several quotes from textbooks teaching students that the 9/11 attacks were a response to U.S. foreign policy. For example, one book says, “What were the sources of Muslim anger?…bin Laden declared that the attacks were a response to the ‘humiliation and disgrace’ that have afflicted the Islamic world for over eighty years.”

Another teaches that Bin Laden was motivated by the “military presence of the sacred soil of the Arabian peninsula and its support for Israel’s hostility to Palestinian nationalism.” The ideology of radical Islam is not discussed. While Bin Laden’s statements about the West’s foreign policies are mentioned, quotes about his ideology are not. For example, Raymond Ibrahim in “The Al-Qaeda Reader” brings to light this quote from Osama Bin Laden:

“In fact, Muslims are obligated to raid the lands of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their systems of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts the sharia from being publicly voiced among the people, as was the case at the dawn of Islam.”

The texts also are also unfavorable to Israel. One textbook states, “Angered over the loss of their territory to Israel, some militant Palestinians responded with a policy of terrorist attacks.” In discussing the 1948 war, one textbook just says that “war soon broke out” without explaining that the Arabs invaded Israel with the objective of destroying it.

It then says, “By the end of the 1948 war, Israel controlled almost three fourths of Palestine, including land in the Negev Desert and half of Jerusalem. Jordan and Egypt divided the rest of Palestine between them.” Coupled together, it sounds if the war was one of conquest by Israel.

The report documents numerous instances where Islam is treated more favorably than Christianity. For example, one textbook states, “The Quran permitted fair, defensive war as jihad, or ‘struggle in the way of God,” and says that is how Islam expanded. Another selected quote is that Jews and Christians “have historically enjoyed religious freedom in many Muslim societies.”

“[Islamic forces] rarely imposed their religion by force on the local population…By contrast, Christian monks motivated by missionary fervor, converted many of the peoples of central and eastern Europe,” is another textbook excerpt included in the report.

Some textbooks took a blatantly skeptical stance towards the historical accuracy of Judaism and Christianity.
“A few loyal followers of Jesus spread the story that Jesus had overcome death,” is how one describes the birth of Christianity. As for the history of the Jews, “Many scholars today doubt that the early books of the Hebrew Bible reflect the true history of the early Israelites.”

The full report can be found at the Christian Action Network’s website here.

Two other incidents since 2010 showed how pervasive biased education is. In Georgia Campbell Middle School, students in a seventh grade class had to complete an assignment that included a fictional letter from a Saudi woman advocating Sharia Law.

“Women in the West do not have the protection of the Sharia as we do here. If our marriage has problems, my husband can take another wife rather than divorce me, and I would still be cared for…I feel very fortunate that we have the Sharia,” the text reads.

In September 2010, FrontPage covered how New York’s statewide high school Regents exam required students to read outrageously biased essays about history. According to one reading, “Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western [sic] Christendom.”

Guest speakers on current events at schools are also a problem. In 2010, controversy erupted at Clarence High School in New York because of a guest speaker named Hassan Shibly. I interviewed him extensively and reviewed his Facebook page and published the results. He denied that Hezbollah is a terrorist group, instead calling it a “resistance organization.” Since then, he has joined the Council on American-Islamic Relations as the Executive Director of its Tampa chapter. He recently was a guest speaker in over a dozen high school classes in the area, addressing about 500 students.

The next generation will one day lead this country and decide its fate. Its education must be taken with the utmost seriousness. If today’s aspiring leaders are incorrectly taught about our values and security, then they will incorrectly lead on values and security.

The coming war with Iran

Regional chaos might count as a win for the mullahs

By Reza Kahlili, The Washington Times

Iran’s tyrannical leaders, determined to make the Islamic regime a nuclear-armed state, are preparing for war. That’s exactly what the United States and Israel might have to deliver, and soon. @-Text.rag:Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the Revolutionary Guards in May to speed up the regime’s nuclear-bomb program and arm its missiles with nuclear warheads. Now, sources reveal, Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered the guards to prepare for war.

In a recent meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, it was decided that the possibility of an attack by Israel or America in 2012 is real and that the country’s forces need to prepare several contingencies for war. It also was concluded that in case of war, the regime could be victorious, though the cost would be high, but it would emerge as the one and only champion of the Islamic cause in the world.

The radicals ruling Iran have long believed that obtaining the nuclear bomb will make them untouchable and will facilitate the expansion of the Islamic movement in the region and the world in bringing the West to its knees. They also have concluded that because of the troubles in the world’s economy and financial troubles in America, even a limited confrontation with America would benefit the Islamic regime. ust as Hezbollah outfought Israel in the 2006 war, Iran can claim victory against the U.S. in such a conflict, which could include attacking Israel from several fronts. But the real prize for the criminal mullahs would be that it would help the regime bring down the monarchy in Bahrain, create instability in Saudi Arabia and, most important, help the Islamists in Egypt undermine military rule. All this would occur by inciting uprisings for a war of Islam against infidels and Zionists.

The guards in their preparations have mapped out several options. One would be to disrupt the oil flow from the Persian Gulf. They know that about 40 percent of the world’s oil and the majority of oil exports of eight countries in the Persian Gulf pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that could be blocked by the regime’s forces.

The guards’ navy of speedboats armed with cruise missiles, Iran’s submarines and, most important, the guards’ missiles of various kinds could be launched from deep within Iran and still target the narrow strait.

The guards also have mapped out an extensive list of U.S. bases in the Middle East to attack with their missiles, disrupting the movement of U.S. forces and the operation of the Air Force, which the guards believe will be the main thrust of any attack by America.

For that purpose, several U.S. bases have been identified that could be attacked either by short-range rockets with a range of up to 140 miles or with ballistic missiles with a range of more than 1,250 miles. The two air bases in Kuwait, Ali Al Salem and Ahmed Al Jaber, are less than 85 miles from Iran. In Kuwait, the U.S. camps of Buehring, Spearhead, Patriot and Arifjan, with distances of 65 to 80 miles, are all within reach of the guards’ various missiles.

The guards also are targeting four U.S. air bases in Afghanistan as the main launching pads for any attacks on Iran. The Bagram Air Base, home to most of the U.S. Air Force presence in Afghanistan, is just 450 miles from the Iranian borders and within range of all of Iran’s ballistic missiles. Other air bases in Afghanistan that would be attacked by the guards in case of war are in Kandahar, Shindand and Herat.

The super U.S. base, Al Adid in Qatar, which is home to a variety of U.S. bombers and fighters, is within 175 miles of Iran and a prime target for the guards, though because of favorable relations of the Islamic regime with the government in Qatar, the guards are not sure America can use that air base for its attack and therefore will be much more likely to use its other superbase at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, also within range of various Iranian missiles. Other U.S. targets of the guards are the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain and Thumrait Air Base in Oman.

The guards also have drawn up plans to confront any uprising from within should one occur after the breakout of war and have mobilized tens of thousands of Basijis ready to put down any unrest against the regime.

The Islamic regime in Iran also counts on Russia and China, with which it has close relations, to come to its help and facilitate an end to war in time to save the regime. China, which holds billions of dollars in contracts and is said to have more than 11,000 contractors, mostly of a military nature, in Iran, has the most to lose in the downfall of the Islamic regime, and its officials already have stated openly that China will aid the Iranian regime in case of war.

Though the Islamic regime never should have been allowed to continue with its suppression of its people, its terrorist activities worldwide and its continuation of its missile and nuclear programs despite U.N. sanctions, one cannot imagine a world with nuclear arms in the hands of the jihadists in Iran.

With officials from both Israel and the U.S. calling a nuclear-armed Iran a red line, leaving the possibility of a military option on the table, we must realize that the only possible solution to this dilemma is a regime change in Iran, which a majority of Iranians support. The price we pay today to save world peace and security will be minuscule to what the world will pay in the not-so-distant future.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of “A Time to Betray” (Threshhold Editions, Simon & Schuster, 2010) He is a fellow with EMPact America and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA).
Thanks to Ted Belman

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Muslim Brotherhood Realities New and Old

Steven Emerson
IPT News
January 5, 2012

The votes still aren't fully counted in Egypt, but the Obama administration has seen enough to reverse long-standing and well-rooted policies to shun the theocratic, global Caliphate-minded Muslim Brotherhood, whose philosophy spawned terrorist movements from Hamas to al-Qaida.

High level meetings between American and Brotherhood officials reflect a "new political reality here [in Egypt], and indeed around the region," the New York Times reported in a front-page article Wednesday, "as Islamist groups come to power.". What is astounding and dangerous about the new U.S. recognition is the fact that Brotherhood leaders became more openly radical and militant once Mubarak was thrown out, issuing incendiary speeches calling for "martyrdom" operations against Israel and aligning with Hamas and other terrorist groups. Yet as the New York Times wrote, the Obama administration accepts as truthful "the Brotherhood's repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt's treaty with Israel," the Times reported.

But there's another reality that seems overlooked. And that's the Brotherhood's history of deception and duplicity, policies that reflect its modus operandi in gaining legitimacy in Egypt and around the world but still promoting a militant agenda. While some MB officials may tell American officials they will respect individual liberties and honor Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, it's not hard to find massive evidence that paints a different and more disturbing picture.

As we reported last week, the Brotherhood is poised to dominate the next Egyptian government after vowing last spring that it sought no such power. The group's deputy chief says the Brotherhood "will not recognize Israel under any circumstances" and may place the peace treaty before voters in a referendum.

Earlier this year, it tried to hide its bylaws and their calls for "need to work on establishing the Islamic State" from English-reading audiences, striking them from its website. Last week, however, Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie gave an address reminding followers of the agenda laid out by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. "It begins with the reform of the individual and then to start building the family and society, then the government; then the rightly guided caliphate, then instructing the world; instructing guidance, wisdom, truth and justice."

Brotherhood members must see their electoral success as a huge step in the direction of creating "the rightly guided caliphate." The United States would be foolish to differ.

It also would be foolish to overlook the Brotherhood's record.

After American commandos killed Osama bin Laden, the Brotherhood told English language audiences "one of the reasons for which violence has been practised in the world has been removed," Reuters reported. In Arabic, however, they referred to the mass-murdering al-Qaida founder with the honorary term of Sheikh and called him a shaheed, or martyr. The statement also criticized the American attack as an assassination.

Despite their reputations among some in the West as supposed moderates, Brotherhood officials routinely endorse terrorism. Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group in control of Gaza, declares itself to be the Brotherhood's Palestinian branch. Its peaceful intent includes recent reiterations of its commitment to violent jihad and its vow never to accept the state of Israel's right to exist.

"Our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said last month.

For all the talk of the Brotherhood renouncing violence, the Associated Press noted that "it supports Hamas in its 'resistance' against Israel."

But the Brotherhood's threat of violence is not limited to actions against Israel. Influential Brotherhood theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi endorsed kidnapping and killing American civilians in Iraq in 2004 as an "obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately."

More recently, Qaradawi has called on Muslims to acquire nuclear weapons "to terrorize their enemies" and sanctioned killing Israeli women because they serve in the army. He has prayed to be martyred while killing a Jew.

Incredibly, there has been no American confirmation or denial of an Indian newspaper report last week which indicated Qaradawi is helping broker peace talks between the United States and the Taliban, which itself is scandalous.

But this is the same administration whose Director of National Intelligence called the Brotherhood "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence," during a February congressional hearing. James Clapper tried to walk this back in subsequent statements, but his assessment flew in the face of all the Brotherhood has said about itself since its founding in 1928, beginning with its motto:

"God is our goal, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way, and death in the service of God is the loftiest of our wishes."

There are good reasons why the United States does not deal with Iran or recognize Hamas government in Gaza: Granting unilateral recognition to totalitarian political movements or governments only emboldens their terrorist ideologies. Shunning, boycotting and ostracizing totalitarian movements and regimes that still promote violent ideologies and policies is the only proven way of undermining their legitimacy and containing them, short of military action. The Brotherhood, which supports the terrorist Hamas, can mouth to the West all the platitudes about peace it can muster. But the record of its actions and its statements in Arabic shows the emptiness of such words.

Here is Badie, the supreme guide, in October, following Israel's decision to release more than 1,000 prisoners, many of them Hamas killers, in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit: "The deal also proved that Israel only understands the language of force and resistance. This language is able, with God's permission, to liberate the Palestinian people suffering under the captivity of the Zionists."

Deception is part of the Brotherhood's modus operandi in America as well. Evidence in the largest terror-financing trial in U.S. history shows the Muslim Brotherhood created a network of Hamas-support organizations here, operating as the "Palestine Committee."

One exhibit, a 1991 "Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," described the Brotherhood's work in the United States as a "kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions."

Court records provided "ample evidence" placing the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its founders in the Palestine Committee, but CAIR refuses to acknowledge those connections. The evidence prompted the FBI to cut off communication with CAIR, but plenty of U.S. politicians and policymakers continue to engage the group.

Even if U.S. government officials accept the premise that the Brotherhood is a new reality in international relations, it is profoundly troubling that the U.S. would unilaterally grant new-found legitimacy without extracting demonstrable concessions that the Brotherhood has truly changed its policies. We still carry great leverage, supporting Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid each year and through economic support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Beyond the leverage of financial support, there are many options for the U.S. to pursue, as it did through an international boycott organized against South Africa when it existed as an apartheid state.

In legitimizing the Muslim Brotherhood more than any other previous administration, the U.S. undermines genuine secular and pluralist parties, admittedly in the minority in Egypt, but which hold out the only hope for alternatives to the empowerment of authoritarian policies of Islamist regimes. In the entire history of Islamist regimes taking over or winning by elections, there has never been an Islamist regime that has ever given up power peacefully.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration's embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt parallels its embrace of Muslim Brotherhood American branches and front groups whose officials say nice things on American television, yet continue to covertly spread the ideology of, and in many cases funded, Islamic militancy and terrorism. Throughout its history, Brotherhood groups and leaders around the world starting with al-Banna, its founder, in Egypt, have spread the incendiary conspiratorial doctrine that the West, Christians, Jews and infidels have secretly conspired to suppress Islam since 1095, the year of the first Crusade. And in the age of instant worldwide communications, this delusional paranoia that non-Muslims – especially the West, Jews and Christians are waging a war against Islam – has become the No. 1 factor in motivating Islamic terrorists to carry out their attacks. In Egypt as in the United States and Europe, Brotherhood leaders blamed Israel, Jews and the United States for the 9/11 attacks. Nearly every Islamic terrorist arrest in the United States has been described by Islamist leaders as evidence of a "war against Islam."

The Muslim Brotherhood, where ever it is around the world, from Cairo to Chicago, seeks to gain legitimacy thru a campaign of deception and penetration of western regimes and institutions. It defies common sense to grant unilateral legitimacy to the Brotherhood without demanding concrete actions to openly disavow its support for Islamic terrorist groups or stopping the spread of its mass incendiary message that there is a war against Islam.

Wittingly or unwittingly, the United States has now become a de facto enabler of a militant ideology that ultimately seeks the destruction of our own way of life..

| No news from Amman

Zalman Shoval

The Jordanian-sponsored meeting in Amman between Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho and his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat did not, and could not, produce any real breakthrough in the renewal of peace talks. At this stage, the parties have agreed to hold additional discussions, some behind the scenes, and this is a welcome development. However, no real progress will be made as long as the Palestinians refuse to return to negotiations without preconditions. The Palestinians have clarified they will continue to demand that Israel commit to freezing construction beyond the Green Line, including in Jerusalem, and agree that any future border between Israel and a Palestinian state be based on June 1967 lines.

The Quartet -- the U.S., EU, U.N. and Russia -- helped initiate this latest meeting, as it wants to maintain momentum for its framework for peace talks, although it is certainly aware that this momentum is largely imaginary. As opposed to the Palestinians, Israel welcomed the Quartet's framework in its entirety, and accepted King Abdullah of Jordan's initiative while not harboring too many illusions. Israel recognizes the importance of appeasing Jordan, which plays a crucial role both in terms of routine security and as a strategic buffer zone between Israel and threats from the east. Israel and Jordan also have a mutual interest in thwarting Hamas.

The Palestinians want to give the impression they are interested in renewing the peace process, yet they actually have no intention of abandoning their strategy to deal with the conflict in the international arena rather than at the negotiating table. Their new "diplomatic blitz," as it has been called, includes pushing for implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans the construction of communities and transfer of populations in occupied territory, in Judea and Samaria. This would retroactively transform sovereign territory into occupied territory, rendering almost every Israeli civil action there illegal according to international law.

The Palestinians also have not renounced their effort to seek unilateral recognition of statehood at the U.N. Security Council, and continue to try to persuade the council to condemn Israeli construction in Jerusalem and the settlements. The Palestinians are well aware that the U.S. would veto such initiatives, but that doesn't matter, as long as they succeed in creating obstacles for Israel and the U.S. in the international community.

The Americans, as is known, also oppose Israeli construction beyond the Green Line, but have stopped short of calling it illegal. At the same time, they support negotiations without preconditions. Jerusalem and Washington maintain regular contact on this and various other issues.

The Europeans, meanwhile, have continued to express vocal opposition to Israeli construction beyond the Green Line, almost to the point that it has become a ritual any time Israel announces this or that construction plan. Whether or not it is their intention, by doing so the Europeans reinforce the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate a lasting peace. Their objections are also frequently accompanied by the misguided notion that Israeli construction is an obstacle to the creation of a Palestinian state ("There won't be enough land left," Israel's critics say). Yet a persuasive answer to this claim came from none other than Saeb Erekat, who confirmed in an interview with Haaretz that Israeli construction in the "settlements," including in parts of Jerusalem, covers no more than 1.1 percent of territory in the "West Bank.”

We must remind the world, and sometimes even ourselves, that we have every right to build in and around the outer neighborhoods of Jerusalem. This is not just our right, but also our duty, particularly when it comes to security. Today few people recall that up until 1967, anyone who went to Jerusalem was exposed to repeated sniper attacks from Nabi Samwil, and that in 1948 the city only narrowly survived being disconnected from the rest of the country. As a result, since the Six-Day War, the strategy of successive Israeli governments has been to reinforce the physical Jewish presence throughout the city and areas bordering it to the north, south, east and west. We must prevent the city's isolation and banish the thought of ever returning to the situation that existed before 1967.

PCBS: Mortality and Fertility Rates Decline in 2011

RAMALLAH, September 12, 2011 (WAFA) – Infant mortality rate in the Palestinian Territory in 2010 declined by almost 20% in the last decade, Monday said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

Infant mortality rate was calculated at 20.6 per 1000 live births in the Palestinian Territory - 18.8 in West Bank and 23.0 in Gaza Strip. Infant mortality rate in 2000 was 25.5 per 1000 live births and has declined by 19.2% since that date, said the PCBS.

The mortality rate among those under five years of age is 25.1 per 1000 live births in the Palestinian Territory - 22.1 in West Bank and 29.2 in Gaza Strip. The rate in the Palestinian Territory has declined by 13% from 28.7% in 2000. Fertility rate has also declined by 28.8% during the past 10 years, where it was 5.9 births per woman in the year 2000 it dropped to 4.2 births per woman in 2010 - 3.8 births per woman in West Bank and 4.9 births per woman in Gaza Strip.

In 2010, 8.4% of married women aged 15-49 in the Palestinian Territory reported infertility; 8.4% in West Bank and 8.3% in Gaza Strip. Of those 4.8% were reported as having primary infertility; 4.5% in the West Bank and 5.2% in Gaza Strip.

The rate of secondary infertility among married women is 3.6% in the Palestinian Territory: 3.9% in the West Bank compared to 3.1% in Gaza Strip.

It showed that 18.2% of persons aged 18 years and above in the Palestinian Territory in 2010 suffer from at least one chronic disease compared to 11.5% in 2000; thus marking an increase by 58.2% since then. A total of 16.3% of males aged 18 years and above suffer from at least one chronic disease compared to 20.2% of females.

On the other hand, 2.8% of youth aged 15-29 years in the Palestinian Territory suffer from at least one chronic disease; 3.3% for males and 2.3% for males. While 70.6% of the elderly aged 60 years and over in the Palestinian Territory suffer from at least one chronic disease.

The report said that 75.1% of elderly females suffer from at least from one chronic disease compared to 64.7% for males. The percentage of elderly with at least one chronic disease has increased by 51.8% since the year 2000 when it was reported at 46.5%.

It showed that 22.5% of persons aged 18 years and above in the Palestinian Territory in 2010 are reported as smokers, 26.9% in West Bank while 14.4% in Gaza Strip.

The percentage of smokers among persons 18 years and above was 27.5% in 2000 and declined by 21.0% during the last 10 years. A total of 15.8% of youth aged 15-29 years in the Palestinian Territory used to smoke; 30.3% for males and 0.8% for females.

On the other hand about 15% of elderly in the Palestinian Territory practice smoking with 30.1% for males and 2.7% for females. Smoking among the elderly has declined by 19.7% since the year 2000 when it was 18.2%.

In 2010, 26.7% of pregnant women aged 15-49 in the Palestinian Territory were anemic: 15.4% in West Bank and 39.1% in Gaza Strip, compared with 31.1% overall in 2002. The highest percentage was reported at 55.9% in Khan Younis governorate in the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, in 2010, 21.6% of non-pregnant women aged 15-49 in the Palestinian Territory suffered from anemia compared to 34.8% in 2002: 29.3% in Gaza Strip and 16.8% in West Bank. The highest percentage was reported at 36.9% in Gaza governorate.

Moreover, In 2010, 52.5% of married women aged 15-49 in the Palestinian Territory were using a form of family planning; 55.1% in West Bank and 48.1% in Gaza Strip. Bethlehem governorate reported the highest use of family planning at 65.2%, while Rafah governorate reported the lowest at 43.1%. The use of forms of family planning increased by 2.1% during the past 10 years in the Palestinian Territory compared to 51.4% in 2000.

The report said, 19.3% of married women aged 15-49 in the Palestinian Territory reported unmet needs for family planning (10.2% for spacing and 9.1% for limiting) in 2010: 18.7% in West Bank and 20.4% in Gaza Strip. This percentage increased by 55.6% over the past 10 years compared to 12.4% in 2006.

Only 0.7% of home birth deliveries in 2010 were reported in the Palestinian Territory: 1.1% in West Bank and 0.2% in Gaza Strip. The highest reports of unsafe births were reported in Jenin governorate in the West Bank at 4.5%. The percentage of reported unsafe births was 5.2% in 2000 and has fallen by 86.5% since then.

In 2010, 84.8% of birth deliveries were reported as normal: 82.3% in West Bank and 88.4% in Gaza Strip, while 15.2% of deliveries were reported as cesarean section deliveries: 17.7% in the West Bank and 11.6% in Gaza Strip.

The highest percentage of cesarean birth deliveries was reported in Tubas governorate in the West Bank with 37.0% while the lowest was in Hebron governorate, also in the West Bank, with 7.9%. The number of cesarean birth deliveries in the Palestinian Territory has increased by about 72% during the last 10 years from 8.8% in 2000.

A percentage of 19.4% of children aged 6-59 months in the Palestinian Territory were anemic in 2010: 13.4% in West Bank and 25.6% in Gaza Strip. The highest reported percentage was in Deir Al-Balah governorate in Gaza with 41.4%. In 2002, the rate was 38.0%: 35.5% in West Bank and 41.6% in Gaza Strip.

In 2010, 26.6% of children aged 0-5 months in the Palestinian Territory were exclusively breastfed: 27.3% in West Bank and 25.6% in Gaza Strip. The percentage has increased by about 59.2% since 2000 when it was reported at 16.7%.

In 2010, 10.6% of children under the age of five in the Palestinian Territory suffered from stunting: 11.3% in the West Bank and 9.9% in Gaza Strip. The highest percentage was 16.9% in Hebron governorate. Stunting has increased by 41.3% since 2000 when it was reported at 7.5%.

The results of the family survey 2010 were implemented in coordination and cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and with financial and technical support from UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

IDF gearing up to combat, and wage, cyber warfare

Day after Saudi hackers leak thousands of Israelis' credit card information, IDF voices concern over possible leaks of sensitive military information • IDF's computer service branch tasked with defense against cyber attacks, and intelligence branch assigned to carrying out cyber offensives.
Lilach Shoval

A day after Saudi hackers leaked the credit card information of some 15,000 Israelis to the Internet, the IDF voiced concern over possible leaks of sensitive military information. The IDF has recently begun taking measures to combat cyber warfare, with the Computer Service Directorate responsible for defense against cyber attacks and the Directorate of Military Intelligence assigned to carrying out cyber offensives.

The IDF's internal computer network is a self-contained network separated completely from the civilian network. In recent years, in efforts to increase security, information can only be imported into the military network at designated "laundering" terminals – otherwise nothing goes in or out. This means that information security personnel can track the import or export of any and all information via external disks and thus monitor sensitive information. Another IDF concern involves the recent integration of the Ground Forces Digitalization program (ZAYAD), which allows commanders to view real-time battlefield and unit parameters. The main concern is that the enemy would either gain possession of the devices that comprise the system, or alternately gain access to the information on them, and would consequently be privy to classified information on the location of IDF troops and other top secret data.

According to the IDF, the ZAYAD system - manufactured by Elbit Systems - is capable of disconnecting devices from the network if they are suspected of having fallen into enemy hands. However, the recent computer hacking incidents are sure to raise red flags among information security and computer services personnel.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Coming Collapse of the European Union

Guy Millière • January 3, 2012

How could so many clever people get it so wrong? The question was recently asked by the British politician Daniel Hannan in an article on the collapse of the euro; in the coming months, the same question will be asked more and more often about Europe itself.

Europe as it has been built may appear at best a huge error, and at worst a crime against the spirit of liberty that was supposed to be the initial source of inspiration for the whole edifice.

The idea that it is possible to build a society based on abstract principles -- without considering historical, social and economic realities, as if its members were infinitely malleable – has often led to disaster; this time is no different.

The formation of this error began in the aftermath of World War II. Looking at the ruins left by Nazism and Fascism, politicians from various European countries fabricated a project meant to erase all past mistakes committed on the continent. They only repeated the mistakes. Believing that nations, identities, and differences were the essential source of troubles, they decided to make a clean sweep and build an entirely new society, inhabited by new human beings modeled from the top down: Europeans.

Realizing that democracy can be dangerous -- it had brought to power the likes of Adolph Hitler -- they developed institutions to place it under close supervision. Deducing from their readings and their world view that a strong economy should be a command economy, they introduced instruments of planning in the production of coal and steel, then in agriculture.

This resulted in the creation of supranational structures that were added to each other over time, in a form of cumulative stacking, until, in 1957, a committee made up of unelected people was established in Brussels and charged with producing regulations for businesses and aspects of everyday life : the «efficient use» of water or the «appropriate shape» of waste containers, the «normal curvature» of bananas and cucumbers or the «harmonized definition of yoghurt». Meetings of Heads of States and Governments -- a group that later became the European Council -- were held out of sight to make key decisions , such as subsidies to industries, price-support mechanisms, decisions about enlargement, the reform of institutions, and the extension of powers. A European Parliament was created, but was given no power.

While the structures piled up, the edifice expanded: after the collapse of the Soviet empire, a group that had started with six countries became 27 member countries. Its name changed : formerly known as European Economic Community, it became European Union. While at first it seemed to be an economic edifice, it has proven to be a political edifice.

It might look like a State, but it is not a State. It is supposed to be composed of independent countries, but countries that are part of it have a sovereignty that more and more limited. It now has two presidents, one is the head of the Commission, the other is the head of the Union, but neither is the holder of any executive office. As the parliament essentially has an « advisory » role, the real power is exercised by the members of the Commission, a bureaucracy of technocrats, and by the European Council, a small political elite.

People still vote in each country, preserving the illusion that national governments have a voice, but 70% of the laws and guidelines in today's Europe are issued at levels that are unattainable for national governments. When elections are held on «Europe», voters are entirely free to voice their opinions, but only on the strict condition that their final answer is Yes.

The introduction of the single currency was designed to move towards a fuller political, fiscal and social unity, and a more complete abolition of the last vestiges of democracy. The unity in question has not emerged. The euro was supposed to be the currency of all Europe ; it is the currency of only 17 countries.

Rather than becoming closer, these countries have gradually moved away from each other, and divisions and disparities have intensified, leading to increasing dysfunctions. Neither Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, nor even France, has seen their economies and societies come to resemble German or Scandinavian economies and societies. Differences in productivity have only widened. Interest rates appropriate for some economies have proven inadequate for other economies. The exchange rate of the euro became too high for some countries, and if devaluation was impossible, the only remaining variables able to be adjusted were unemployment, budget deficits, and debts. On behalf of the construction of the new society, massive financial transfers were conducted from richer countries to poorer countries, while people living in the poorer countries enjoyed for a time the illusion of becoming wealthier without having either to work harder or become more efficient and disciplined.

Other factors played their part: The countries of Europe created welfare states that claimed to support people from the cradle to the grave; they developed economic systems of redistribution that have created in people an appetite for passivity and dependence, leading to a growing number of people who think the government owes them a means of subsistence. As welfare rolls and subsidies have increased, the number of those who contribute to them financially has steadily declined. European nations' borrowing power has gradually diminished, and the redistribution systems have been left unfunded. As the birthrate of native Europeans has fallen sharply, its aging population increases even further the financial burden on those who pay out to it. Immigrants from poor countries have flowed in, most of whom are Muslims who have not integrated, and have ended up living in separate enclaves of lawlessness and resentment. These conditions, coupled with economic decline, have created ghettos ever ready to riot and explode.

A collapse is near. Some EU countries are already in a state of bankruptcy, even if it is kept under wraps. Doubts hang over the medium-term strength of the nations who seem in better shape: the interdependencies that have developed appear difficult to break without causing even greater financial problems, and the health of healthier countries is merely relative. Germany's debt is 83% of its gross domestic product, and it has the lowest birthrate in Europe,1.36 children per woman. Italy, by comparison, has a debt of 118% and a birthrate of 1.40.

The agreement of December 9, described as the "Last Chance Agreement," will hold for a few months, but probably not more. Its goal is to give the high European authorities the power to ratify all countries' budgets in the eurozone, an approach that means guardianship by the unelected bureaucracy of technocrats and the political elite. The same causes will produce the same effects: the countries already in bankruptcy will continue to sink because their economies are not viable with, and often without, the current exchange-rate of the euro. The unelected bureaucracy of technocrats and the political elite will ask for sacrifices. The standard of living will continue to fall throughout the entire eurozone, and deficits will continue to widen. The recession in the countries already in bankruptcy will become permanent. As Germany is unable to bail out these countries indefinitely, they will be doomed sooner or later actually to file for bankruptcy. Germany no longer finding a buyer for its debt. Who will purchase Greek or Italian debt? The Financial Stability Mechanism will be fed for some time by the IMF and its main contributors. What country could be expected to continue endless assistance, given that difficulties appear more and more serious and will not stop?

The stated aim of the agreement is political, fiscal and social unity. The real aim is to give the unelected bureaucracy and the political elite the authority to implement this unity, at all costs. The argument used is always the same: the union of Europe is the only guarantee of peace and prosperity ; without it there will be chaos.

The reality may be very different. There could be chaos precisely because of the European union as it was implemented.

In a book published a few years ago, the former dissident Vladimir Bukovsky compared the former Soviet Union, or USSR, to the European Union, which he called the EUSSR. Immediately prior to the Soviet Union's falling apart, its leaders were trying to clog the holes and persuade themselves that the Union would last. Although the European leaders are also now clogging the holes and trying to persuade themselves that the European Union will last, these measures will not prevent it from falling apart.

No one can know, of course, what Europe will look like in ten years. The only prediction that seems assured is that it will be poorer, more divided, more confrontational, more violent, and that the European Union will look like a shattered dream.

The «European dream,» as Jeremy Rifkin called it seems to have called it, seems to have crumbled, ironically just at the time when its US followers -- and the very politicians who want the United States to resemble Europe -- are in power.

Laor's Looney Left Lashing

My Right Word

One never knows from whence comes salvation.

In this case, a sensible contribtuion from radical poet Yitzhak Laor who doesn't yield on his anti-nationalist camp prejudices but inbetween, he has some wonderful points in these excerpts from:

Israel's suicidal left
Israel's suicidal left

For example:

...Every few months, the Israeli anti-Semitism comes out of the closet and takes the form of what sociologists call "moral panic," which seems to give people license to distort and confuse various issues, especially when you add the beards and traditional dress of ultra-Orthodox men into the mix. Those who are especially meticulous even make sure to give the Jew-boy in their cartoons a hooked nose. This isn't the first time this has happened...The fact that ultra-Orthodox women work in professions including teaching, social work and occupational therapy while the men are increasingly cooking and taking care of the children - even those alternative gender roles are thrown into the distorting pot of incitement.

The enlightened revolutionaries demand a single set of standards for everyone - their own standards. "How much are they costing us?" ask the learned professors, who enjoy financial benefits that no yeshiva head (or professor in France or Germany ) gets.

...It should be no surprise, then, that the periodic incitement against the Haredim leads to right-wing extremism. Incitement always ends up with adoration of the state. Thus, Meretz's efforts in the 1990s to make Ashkenazim scared of Shas gave birth to the centrist and secularist Shinui party, which swallowed up the left-wing Meretz party...It's about time that the average liberal acquired some historical perspective and asked himself, "What are we really doing when we pursue Haredim and make believe we are battling the right wing?"

There are indeed thugs in Beit Shemesh, and there are a few bus lines that have come to represent those territorial battles - characteristic of all the Jewish contradictions of the Zionist project - that exist between the Haredi minority and other parts of the population. But what does this have to do with the "social protest"?

...the question isn't who needs the constant incitement against "the Haredim." There are different interested parties at different times, and television, for its part, needs to have a steady target so it can glorify freedom of the press - and promote equality for women, as espoused by beautiful female broadcasters who will be tossed as soon as they show a few wrinkles.

The question is, how does this periodic panic succeed in becoming anti-Semitic psychosis?...

Thank you Laor.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Enhancing Israel-Asia relations


President Shimon Peres’s groundbreaking visit to Vietnam in November with a delegation of more than 60 prominent Israelis, including two government ministers and leading figures in finance, industry, agriculture and defense was a landmark event. The delegation was given a rousing welcome, including a dinner with all the members of the Vietnamese government in which Peres’s hosts surprised him with a group of Vietnamese singers who had prepared renditions of Israeli songs in excellent Hebrew.

The visit is a symbol of the many opportunities for Israel and the wider Jewish world in Asia, not only in Vietnam, but also in Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, India, China and even Indonesia. In all these countries, democratic “start up nation” Israel – excelling in water, irrigation, agriculture, medicine, communications and hi-tech – retains an aura of fascination.

Israeli experts and businessmen across a wide spectrum of industries are already well-known as they engage in extensive investment, R&D, innovation and collaboration. Security contacts and exchanges are also important in some of these nations. Diplomatic and political contacts have not developed as quickly, but the Peres visit was part of a growing program of awareness of and purposeful engagement with Asia among Israeli political leadership. This new diplomatic focus on Asia is important and timely, even if somewhat overdue. Most international affairs experts have speculated that the 21st century is likely to be the “Pacific Century” in which a major focus of world events moves away somewhat from the Atlantic – the relations between North America and Europe – and increasingly centers on North America and East and Southeast Asia, and the relations between them.

Moreover, Asia may be a key to countering the growing international campaign of delegitimization against Israel. It is true that Asian voting records within international bodies have not in general been positive on questions related to Israel. This is in part a function of solidarity with the Arab-dominated Non-Aligned Movement, but also reflects a lack of awareness in these countries of the true situation and context of the Israeli-Palestinian and wider Islamist-Israel conflicts. Further, more Asian states adhere to a robust view of state and national sovereignty, which provides for strong rights of national selfdefense and frowns on excessive outside oversight of measures taken within states to counter terrorism or other forms of violent unrest. Given these predilections, many elite opinionleaders and policy-makers from Asia have the potential to be quite sympathetic to Israel’s dilemmas in confronting terrorism, Islamist extremism and international delegitimization, if exposed to the factual realities of her predicament.

At the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), we have been co-sponsoring a program that we believe has contributed to building these growing ties. Together with the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, AIJAC’s Rambam study visit program has for several years been sponsoring a series of week-long study visits to Israel for journalists, academics, government officials, Muslim leaders, Bollywood movie producers and counter-terrorism experts among others from Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, India and Indonesia.

The positive effects of these short study visits on key Asian opinion leaders cannot be over-estimated. For example, most recently I accompanied a group of leading Indonesian journalists to Israel in September – the third such group of senior Indonesian media figures we have taken. Indonesia is, of course, an overwhelmingly Muslim country and sympathy there naturally lies with the Palestinians. But when exposed to the realities on the ground, most Indonesians quickly recognize that a two-state resolution is what is needed, and Israel is not the only party preventing this outcome from eventuating. And they go back home and unhesitatingly tell their publics – exposing them to views and information they rarely see in the Indonesian media.

For instance, Kartika Sari, one of the journalists on our recent visit, is an upand- coming young journalist working for Rakayat Merdeka – a Bahasa-language paper which has a circulation of more than 600,000 per day. She published no fewer than 15 stories directly reporting on her trip to Israel – most of which appeared on the front page accompanied by attractive photos. These included a positive interview and profile with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, a plea from Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev for Indonesia to seek to play a more engaged role in the peace process and serve as a model of democratic governance for the Palestinians and the region, stories on the reality of life for Israeli Arabs and the scope and intensity of rocket attacks on southern towns like Sderot, which the group visited.

Other Indonesian journalists, in print and electronically, have also produced stories presenting a whole new side of Israel and the broader regional conflicts to Indonesian readers and viewers as a result of these study visit programs.

The Australian Jewish community has some unique strengths and areas of comparative advantage in assisting the quest for a secure Israel at peace with its neighbors – including the contacts, business links and relationships many Australians have with our Asian neighbors. And obviously this also applies to the American Jewish community. But much greater value would be added to these efforts if Israeli opinion leaders focused more on the political and diplomatic opportunities in Southeast Asia, a region which is only going to grow in global significance over coming decades.

In addition to the escalating economic and strategic importance of the Asian region, countries like Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim country – have a unique ability to help shape the Middle East in a positive way by serving as a role model of Islamic democracy and economic development and gradually improving human rights and personal liberty and encouraging conflict reconciliation in the region.

As the Asian component of our Rambam/ Project Interchange program has repeatedly demonstrated, this burgeoning region is open to learning about the realities of the Middle East. It is seeking ways to play a more positive role in enhancing economic and political development in Israel’s neighborhood and in developing mutually beneficial and constructive ties with Israel. It’s up to both Israeli and Diaspora Jewish leaders to continue devoting the time and resources to make sure our collective opportunities and capacities to encourage these positive trends are not squandered.

The writer is executive director of The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council in Melbourne.
Courtesy Ted Belman

A nasty and despicable trick

Lior Alperovitch

One Shabbat, Rabbi Amram Blau, founder of the [anti-Zionist sect] Neturei Karta and one of the more militant figures in the ultra-Orthodox world, walked out of his synagogue accompanied by a friend wrapped in a tallit [prayer shawl]. Blau suddenly turned to his companion and started to mock him for considering himself a Zionist. The stunned friend did not understand why. "In Russia, you would not dare walk the streets with a tallit on like that," Blau explained. "But here you think the Zionists will not harm you; you rely on their protection. So as far as I am concerned, you are a Zionist!" This story illustrates, to a great extent, the idea behind the cynical display that took place Saturday night in Mea Shearim, where dozens of Neturei Karta members donned striped prison attire while their children wore yellow Star of David badges. A few details should be added to this story. First, the secular public needs to distinguish between Neturei Karta and other ultra-Orthodox Jews. The Neturei Karta are a radical fringe group that is not a new phenomenon. Yet recently, hundreds of thousands of innocent Haredim [ultra-Orthodox Jews] have been attacked for a few esoteric events that some of them have nothing to do with – for example, the issue of listening to women sing in the army. However, many Haredim do not even serve in the army, so how did an entire group become associated with an incident that happened at an IDF base?

I might also add that this nasty and despicable trick – in which the Holocaust and its symbols have become the ultimate tool for shocking the Israeli public – was not invented by the Neturei Karta. They simply enhanced it in their own way. Exploiting the Holocaust, its symbols and survivors for political gain is something that dates back to Israel's earliest days. Left-wing demonstrators have called IDF soldiers "Nazis" as have right-wing settlers who have clashed with them.

This is actually the problem. Every sector of society has a right to protest. Yet the ultra-Orthodox, like other sectors, cannot exploit the freedoms granted by the state. Freedom of expression provides extensive room for various forms of protest, provided people maintain boundaries – not politically, but morally.

Morality also provides the second reason the Neturei Karta or any other group should be prohibited from using Holocaust symbolism at demonstrations.

At the end of the day, anyone who compares what is happening in Israel to what happened under the Third Reich, no matter in what terms, is committing an act that borders on Holocaust denial. Any attempt to compare the public discourse in Israel, and the conduct of law enforcement authorities here, with those in the Third Reich is an outrageous distortion, historically and morally.

Even if some political and ideological groups think Israel is the worst country in the world, there are still no concentration camps here where dissidents are detained or where the prisoners share a particular ethic origin. Here we do not burn synagogues with its worshippers trapped inside, we do not shoot school-children and we do not pave the streets with shattered tombstones.

The ultra-Orthodox demonstrations are legitimate, but the nature of their protest is improper and indecent. There is nothing in our politics, society or media even remotely reminiscent of the atmosphere that European Jews lived in throughout the Third Reich's years of occupation.

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to meet face-to-face in Jordan

Move marks first time sides meet since direct talks broke down in September 2010 • Yitzhak Molcho to lead Israeli team, Saeb Erekat to head Palestinian delegation • Quartet envoys hope to convince sides to arrange direct meeting between Netanyahu, Abbas.
Shlomo Cesana, Daniel Siryoti, and The Associated Press

Israelis and Palestinians are scheduled to meet on Tuesday for the first peace talks in over a year, this time under Jordanian mediation.

The meeting will mark the first time the two sides have met for official talks since direct negotiations broke down in September 2010 because of a dispute over Israel's expansion of settlements in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem.

It also comes in the backdrop of progressing unity talks between Hamas and Fatah as well as repeated warnings by Israeli officials that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' overtures to Hamas have hurt chances for peace with Israel.Last month, the rival Palestinian factions took a significant step toward reconciliation as Hamas said it planned to join Western-backed Abbas' Palestinian Liberation Organization and both sides agreed to allow elections to go ahead in Gaza and the West Bank in 2012.

The move came despite calls by Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev not to grant Hamas legitimacy or recognition. "Hamas is not a political organization that conducts terrorism. Hamas is a murderous, genocidal terrorist organization to the core," Regev said.

Quartet representatives (the U.S., EU, U.N. and Russia), which have tried repeatedly to resume negotiations, plan to use the meeting in Amman on Tuesday as an opportunity to convince the Palestinians to arrange, without preconditions, a direct meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu.

However, Palestinian sources told the Al Quds newspaper on Monday that the purpose of the Amman meeting is to allow Israel to present its position on the issues of borders and security arrangements, as the Quartet requested three months ago, according to Israel Radio.

The Palestinian sources told Al Quds that the PA had already presented its position on the said issues, but that Israel insisted on stating its positions only in the presence of Palestinian officials.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday that Israeli and Palestinian representatives are set to meet for direct talks in the framework of the Quartet's meetings with the negotiating teams of both sides. The Quartet has set a January 26 deadline for the resumption of talks.

"The upcoming meeting is part of serious and continuous efforts to reach a common ground to resume the direct negotiations," said Jordanian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammed Kayed.

Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu's special envoy for negotiations with the Palestinians, will lead the Israeli delegation for the meeting in Amman. In Ramallah, officials predicted on Sunday that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will head the Palestinian delegation, and will even hold a direct meeting with Molcho.

Senior officials from Abbas's office confirmed to Israel Hayom that efforts to rekindle talks will be conducted under the aegis of Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who will host the meeting between the two negotiating teams.

Judeh is expected to hold a separate meeting with the Israelis and Palestinians, Kayed said.

Ahead of Tuesday's scheduled meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the Quartet's initiative.

"We are hopeful that this direct exchange can help move us forward on the pathway proposed by the Quartet," she said in an official statement. "The status quo is not sustainable and the parties must act boldly to advance the cause of peace."

Following the Jordanian announcement of the meeting, Abbas told Palestinian media sources that if the Quartet is not able to forge a new peace plan by the end of the month, "the Palestinian leadership must meet and make a bold decision over the future of the Palestinian Authority."

Meanwhile, officials in Ramallah on Sunday stressed that the Palestinian leadership was not optimistic about Tuesday's meeting in Amman.

Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former PA minister, told Israel Radio on Monday that the Palestinians are not putting great weight on the meeting, and stressed that this will be the last attempt at resuming negotiations before the Quartet's initiative is declared a failure. He added that there was no point in negotiations so long as settlement construction continues.

Officials from Netanyahu's office also expressed doubt about the chances of reaching a breakthrough as "[Mahmoud Abbas] just isn't interested in peace because he is not interested in compromising," one official said.

Head of the National Information Directorate Yoaz Hendel issued a statement saying, nevertheless, "We are grateful to King Abdullah II and to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh for their initiative in convening the sides in accordance with the Quartet outline."

In a more positive tone regarding the Amman meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor [Likud] on Monday called the move a "positive development" and expressed hope that it would lead to the resumption of negotiations.

Meridor told Israel Radio that he hoped the Palestinians would stop their unilateral moves in the international arena, adding that the conflict cannot be solved through U.N. resolutions.

The deputy prime minister also rejected the Palestinians' demand for a halt to settlement construction in east Jerusalem as a precondition for resuming negotiations.

The Amman meeting comes about six weeks after Jordan's King Abdullah II made a rare visit to the West Bank for talks with the Palestinians. Abdullah, who often serves as a mediator, hosted President Shimon Peres the following week.

In a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday in Ankara, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that "negotiations over the end of the conflict and Israeli occupation will only be made possible with Hamas's cooperation."

Jewish American Community in Danger

Caroline Glick

This year at Jewish Federations of North America's annual General Assembly, they invited the newly minted anti-Israel activist Peter Beinhart to speak. They also showcased the Boston Globe's resident anti-Israel columnist James Carroll. These moves as well as much of the program of the 3-day conference which presented several panels discussing whether anti-Zionists should be embraced by the community are indicative of the advanced suicidal tendencies of the American Jewish community.

This is a community that has for generations seamlessly merged its definition of Judaism with leftist politics. And now that this generation of leftists has cast its lot with the anti-Semites, the young American Jews coming of age have embraced anti-Semitism to show their moral purity. It may have once gone without saying, but apparently it is no longer obvious that this embrace of Jew hatred by young American Jews is a death embrace for the community.

The only way to deal with this is head on.

But who among the well-funded American Jewish leadership has the courage to tell these young people that they are deranged? Who has the courage to tell their children that they have embraced evil and ought to be ashamed of themselves?

If you think I am overreacting, take a look at the following video of Jewish American Birthright Alumni taking over a Birthright meeting in solidarity with the Jew-hating Arabs and the Jew-hating Occupy Wall Street mobs. Watch this and tell me I am overreacting. I'd love to be proved wrong because this is not only dangerous, it's disturbing.

It's one thing for the Spanish to embrace the cause of genocidal Jew haters. It is quite another for Jews to do so.

Thanks to Pamela Geller from Atlas Shrugs for sending me this video. While watching it ruined my day, we have a duty to know the truth. Denial is not an option.
Guest Comment: Anonymous on November 11, 2011 2:39 PM

This is not overreacting at all. There is a steady, constant errosion of sanity and a large percentage (majority?) of Jews are heading down a suicidal path. In so doing, they will bring every single one of us down. It's shocking to think that evangelical Christians are more supportive of Jews and Israel than many Jews appear to be. (And, for what it's worth, how long can we expect them to champion us if we cannot champion ourselves.) For years I have scratched my head in wonder at this frightening trend. I simply cannot explain it. All I know is that we need to be bold and brave, doing every single thing in our power to survive. Because at the rate things are going, a second Holocaust is going to overwhelm us. Sometimes it feels completely surreal to witness this unfolding....Thank G-d for Caroline Glick, Pamela Geller, and others for putting themselves on the front lines every day in this battle for our survival (which ultimately, may well be a survival for the West).

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Al-Qaeda Relocates to Africa

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Nigerian Christians are under attack. On Christmas day, the Islamist group Boko Haram targeted churches in Nigeria's capital, killing 40 innocent people. Boko Haram -- literally "Western Education is a Sin " -- opposes whatever comes from the West, such as education, culture and science, and considers Christians as an obstacle to building an Islamic caliphate.

Boko Haram has recently increased its attacks against Christian Nigerians, who make up 48.2% of the country's population. Last November, of Boko Haram killed 150 Christians and bombed 11 churches. "It was a direct attack against Christians. Members of Boko Haram asked: 'Are you a Christian or a Muslim' If you said you were a Christian, they killed you. […] I saw someone who was slaughtered like a lamb in front of a church,"said a representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria. According to the Nigerian newspaper, Sunday Tribune, Nigerian intelligence believes that the intensification in the activities of Boko Haram is aimed at putting the group in advantageous position to secure the leadership of "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." A report in the hands of the Nigerian government allegedly confirms that after the killing of the U.S.-born Al-Qaeda top leader ,Anwar Al-Awlaki, in an air strike in Yemen by a joint CIA-U.S. military operation, Al-Qaeda is seeking to relocate from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa.

"International and local intelligence agencies indicate that the activities of Boko Haram in recent weeks were aimed at getting the attention of the Al-Qaeda organizations and securing the headquarters," the Sunday Tribune reports, adding that Al-Awlaki's replacement will be chosen from among the African terrorist group that have the most impressive record of terror acts. The Nigerian newspapers mention that several terrorist groups based on the African continent hope to take over Al-Qaeda's leadership to be able to access more financial aid. "The contest is hot," states the Sunday Tribune.

According to Nigerian media, despite the competition, Boko Haram has strong ties to[N the Africa-based Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [North Africa],and with the Shabaab rebel group in Somalia. As this alliance could transform the central belt of Africa into an immense operational ground for terrorist operations, it is -- or should be -- of major concern.

Washington does appear to be worried about Boko Haram's activities, probably fearing that the Nigerian group might attack U.S. interests. Recently, The Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security had a hearing on emerging threats to the U.S. posed by Boko Haram. The subcommittee stressed that Boko Haram has evolved quickly, and can be a threat to U.S. interests and to the U.S. homeland. "Boko Haram has the intent and may be developing capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Shabaab," the subcommittee concluded, adding that "Boko Haram's evolution in targeting and tactics closely tracks that of other Al Qaeda affiliates that have targeted the U.S. Homeland".

The subcommittee further revealed the need for the collection of more intelligence on Boko Haram, as the U.S. Intelligence Community has until now wrongly underestimated the capabilities of the Nigerian terrorist group to target the U.S. homeland . The U.S – commented the subcommittee - incorrectly assessed that Boko Haram had only regional ambitions and that threats against the U.S. homeland were merely "aspirational." Nigerian sources confirm, however, that if Boko Haram will not be stopped in time, it could shake the entire African region, targeting U.S. embassies and American civilians, and that it could recruit can recruit Boko Haram's Nigerian sympathizers in the U.S.. Last August, Boko Haram had already claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a U.N. headquarters in Nigeria that killed 23 people.

In light of Boko Haram's violent escalation, it is urgent first of all officially to designate it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The U.S. should also cooperate with the government of Nigeria to counter Boko Haram. The U.S. security subcommittee further recommended that it is especially necessary to increase the U.S. Intelligence Community collection of human intelligence on Boko Haram, by gathering information on the ground through interpersonal contacts with Boko Haram's members the better to combat the threat posed by the terrorist group to both Nigerian and U.S. interests.

The Taliban Geniza?

Jameel @ The Muqata at 1/01/2012

Everyone is familiar with the concept of the "lost tribes" of Israel that were scattered to the ends of the globe. This has led many over the past few hundred years in a quest to find them; India, China, Japan...(even organizations like Shavei Yisrael that are dedicated to finding these tribes and bringing them home to Israel).

This past Friday, Israel Channel 2 news reported a startling discovery; a cave in Afghanistan, with buried scrolls, manuscripts and fragments -- of Jewish origin.

The importance of this find could even rival that of the Cairo Geniza. (The earliest example of Yiddish writing was found in the Cairo Geniza). The JPost has the scoop:

The scholarly world is abuzz over the discovery of ancient Jewish scrolls in a cave in Afghanistan’s Samangan province.

If the scrolls are authenticated, they may be the most significant historical finding in the Jewish world since that of the Cairo Geniza in the 19th century, Channel 2 Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Ya’ari reported Friday.

“We know today about a couple of findings,” Haggai Ben- Shammai, professor emeritus of Arabic language and literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was quoted as saying.

“In all, in my opinion, there are about 150 fragments. It may be the tip of the iceberg.”

The scrolls, which were part of a geniza – a burial site for sacred Jewish texts – date from around 1,000 years ago and are in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and ancient Persian.

One scroll, a replica of which was shown to the cameras, was apparently a dirge written for an important person whose identity has not been determined.

“Where has he gone?” reads the text. “His family members are now alone.”

Other texts said to have been found include an unknown history of the Kingdom of Judea, passages from the Book of Isaiah and some of the works of 10th-century sage Rabbi Sa’adia Gaon.

In addition, rings with names such as Shmuel Bar-Yosef inscribed in Hebrew on them have surfaced.

The area in which the scrolls were discovered is on the Silk Road, a trade route that connected eastern Asia with the Middle East and Europe, and that Jewish merchants often traveled.

Ya’ari quoted sources as saying the scrolls had first been moved to Pakistan’s Peshawar province, and from there been sold to antiquities dealers in Geneva, London, Dubai and Jerusalem. (JPost)

The analysis of the scrolls and remnants will help determine in what time frame they were buried -- is this the work of lost tribes? Travelers along the silk route to the Orient? Where did the Jewish community that buried those fragments end up?

How Israeli Spies Were Betrayed By Their Cell Phones

Kashmir Hill, Forbes Staff

As we all know by now (I hope), phones are very effective tracking devices. Location data from those phones can be valuable to advertisers, to law enforcement (ideally with a warrant) and to spy hunters. The AP reports how Hezbollah used cell phone data to sniff out spies:

Using the latest commercial software, Nasrallah’s spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for traitors in Hezbollah’s midst. To find them, U.S. officials said, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy? via News from The Associated Press.

That led to the arrest of over 100 Israeli spies in 2009, reports the AP.

Back at CIA headquarters, the arrests alarmed senior officials. The agency prepared a study on its own vulnerabilities, U.S. officials said, and the results proved to be prescient. The analysis concluded that the CIA was susceptible to the same analysis that had compromised the Israelis, the officials said.

via News from The Associated Press.

The lessons the CIA learned did not prevent their own spies from getting caught. Though they may have been more clever about how they used their cell phones, they weren’t very clever in coming up with code words. According to ABC News, CIA agents were using “pizza” as a codeword for their secret rendezvous spot with spies, which Hezbollah deduced was a Pizza Hut in Beirut. According to unnamed government officials who spoke with ABC, monitoring the Pizza Hut delivered the identities of the Lebanese spies working with the CIA.