Saturday, May 12, 2012

Palestinian Journalists Union Fights Palestinian Journalists

Khaled Abu Toameh  

In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority security forces arrested at least nine journalists and bloggers in the West Bank for exposing corruption. The Palestinian Authority and its media group clearly do not want the outside world to receive information about the situation in the Palestinian territories.
As journalists worldwide celebrated World Free Press Day on May 3, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank chose to wage a campaign of intimidation against Palestinian reporters who commit the "crime" of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

The decision to punish Palestinian journalists who hold meetings with Israeli colleagues began after a series of joint seminars that were held in Norway, Germany and France. At these seminars, Israeli and Palestinian journalists discussed joint cooperation and ways of promoting freedom of expression.

The syndicate, dominated by Fatah and affiliated with the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah, threatened sanctions against any Palestinian journalist who engages in "normalization" with Israel.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate functions more as a political body than a union that is supposed to defend the rights of its members.

The syndicate wants Palestinian journalists to serve as soldiers on behalf of the Palestinian cause. Journalists, according to the syndicate, should first and foremost be loyal to their president, prime minister, government, homeland and cause. As for the truth, it appears at the bottom of the syndicate's list of priorities.

The syndicate's main task should be to defend freedom of media in the Palestinian territories. But instead of fighting for the rights of Palestinian journalists, who are facing a campaign of intimidation under the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the syndicate has also decided to join the clampdown on freedom of expression.

A syndicate that reports directly to the office of the president in Ramallah can never serve the interests of Palestinian journalists.

Cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian journalists has never been a new or unique phenomenon. Long before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, representatives of the two sides maintained close ties, often exchanging information and helping each other cover stories both inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But the Palestinian Authority's syndicate is now trying to put an end to this cooperation under the pretext of combating normalization with Israel.

Sanctions include expulsion from the syndicate and a boycott by Palestinian newspapers and other media outlets belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

If anyone stands to lose from the ban on holding contacts with Israeli media representatives, it is the Palestinian journalists themselves. Over the past few decades, Palestinian journalists have helped Israeli newspapers and TV stations cover the story on the Palestinian side. Thanks to this cooperation, the Israeli public learned a lot about what was happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested at least nine Palestinian journalists and bloggers for exposing corruption scandals and posting comments critical of Palestinian leaders on Facebook. The affected journalists complained that the syndicate did not make a serious effort on their behalf, limiting its response to issuing laconic statements demanding the release of some of the detainees.

The Palestinian Authority and its media group clearly do not want the Israeli public and the outside world to receive information about the situation in the Palestinian territories.
This is why they are now waging the new campaign of intimidation against journalists who are found guilty of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Elad Benari Sheftel: State Failed in Ulpana's Case

Attorney Yoram Sheftel said on Thursday that the State has failed in the way it dealt with the case of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El and expressed pessimism that the government would be able to produce legislation that would prevent the demolition of the neighborhood.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the state's petition to postpone the destruction of five buildings in Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood until July 1. The Attorney General had asked for a three-month extension in order for the government to find a way to legalize the buildings.

“The criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision should be directed at the prosecution and not at the Court,” Sheftel told Arutz Sheva. “The prosecution repeatedly told the Court that the State agrees to destroy half the Ulpana neighborhood. The proceeding goes on for a year and a half and the State announces that it agrees to the demolition. So what do you expect the Court to do when its judgment has been given on the basis of the prosecution's statement?”
He added that the government is the one that abandoned the people of Beit El and left them in the hands of the prosecution.
 Dore Gold

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was interviewed last Friday by CNN's Christiana Ammanpour and sought to give his audience the impression that he had been on the verge of a historical peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, and only because of the interference of individuals from the US that brought in outside money, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement was not reached.

Whatever his political motives, Olmert was feeding the international myth machine that Israelis and Palestinians were close to a historic breakthrough which needed to be bridged by muscular American diplomacy.

Leaving aside his dramatic accusations about millions of dollars that were transferred from what he called "the extreme right wing" in the US to hamper his peace initiative, Olmert was not even close to a final agreement, as he implied to his CNN audience. In fact, when carefully examined, Olmert's secret talks with Abbas should be seen as the latest proof that the fundamental gaps between the most maximal concession made by an Israeli prime minister did not meet the minimal requirements of Abbas for an agreement. This was not the first time that the myth of an impending Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough, that never happened, was widely promoted.  
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at end of the Taba talks issued a joint statement on January 27, 2001 when their meetings concluded, saying: "The sides declare that they have never been closer to reaching an agreement.." Yet when Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami repeated this to a radio reporter from Kol Yisrael, Muhammad Dahlan responded immediately afterwards by saying Kharta Barta (slang for baloney).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Michael Savage: Obama’s lies about Israel are deadly


Hillary Clinton’s statement to a Muslim audience in Bangladesh that President Obama has a particular respect for Islam among all religions accentuates the administration’s dangerously naive relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, says nationally syndicated talk-radio host Michael Savage.
The secretary of state speaks “as if Islam built America,” Savage told his “Savage Nation” listening audience last night, which ranks third nationwide.

According to Clinton, said Savage, “It wasn’t Christians who came over on the Mayflower; it wasn’t Christians who wrote the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution; but it was Muslims.”

Savage, who has presented his case against another Obama term in his new bestselling book, “Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream Of The Socialist States Of America,” declared: “You can only bend over backwards so far until your spine breaks.”

Clinton was responding to a student at a public forum Sunday in Muslim-majority Bangladesh who asked about the perception that the U.S. was against Islam.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Winners and Losers: Israel’s Historic Unity Government


Left behind in the wake of Netanyahu’s surprise unity maneuver are some serious winners and loser. There is no doubt that elections would have shaken things up, but this unity coalition shakes up things even more.
What Netanyahu managed to do today is of historic proportions and has some serious ramifications for many people on both a personal and national level. We present to you our list of winners and losers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Winner. Bibi would probably have done well in elections, but now he runs the largest unity government ever in the history of Israel, giving him a support base not even Ben-Gurion could have dreamed of.

Shaul Mofaz: Winner. Mofaz made a fool out of himself when he jumped ship to Kadima, but after sitting it out on the back benches behind Tzipi Livni on the back benched, he’s manages to come out on top and resuscitate the essentially dead Kadima party.

Kadima Party: Winner Until yesterday they were completely irrelevant and simply dead in the water; the largest individual party in the Knesset was forced to face the fact that they might as well not even have been voted into office. Now they have a seat at the table, and perhaps some influence too.
Tzipi Livni: Loser She could have been in the government 3 years ago, 2 years ago, and even 1 year ago. This could have been her and not Mofaz. At the end of the day, Kadima was kept in failure and disgrace because of her. Now it’s obvious to all.
Likud Party: Winner The Likud as a party is more powerful than ever.
Likud MKs: Losers For the most part, their individual influence and power has been diluted. Perhaps significantly.
Labor: Losers They were positioned to be the second largest party. Who knows what will be in a year and a half. They may be in for an even bigger shock in the opposition (see Ahmed Tibi below).
Shelly Yachimovitch: Black eye Labor lost, but Shelly only got a black eye out of this. Perhaps she’ll lead the Tel Aviv summer block party, if it happens.
Yisrael Beiteinu: Winner/Loser Yisrael Beiteinu didn’t really want elections, so this is good for them. The downside, their influence has been diluted, perhaps almost completely. One of the goals of this unity coalition is to implement a good replacement for the Tal law. It may happen. Yisrael Beiteinu may even get part of the credit for it, so they can at least bask in the reflected glory.
Avigdor Lieberman: Loser Lieberman will keep his job, avoid elections, and get the opportunity to try to pass more laws he wants. But on the downside, the investigation(s) against him will now continue, and his influence has been severely diminished. We’ll see if he can make a comeback out of this.
Ahmed Tibi: Winner What does Ahmed Tibi have to do with this? It’s simple math. Depending on a few factors, there will be only around 26 MKs in the opposition. The Arab have the largest number of opposition members compared to Labor, Meretz (and maybe Ichud Leumi). Ahmed Tibi is poised to be the new head of the opposition.
Meretz: Losers Outside, irrelevant, no following, and not going to be opposition leader. Not even the Tel Aviv summer block party will be able to help them.
Aryeh Deri: Loser No explanation needed.
Shas: Winners See Aryeh Deri above.
Yair Lapid: Loser No explanation needed, but we’ll give one anyway. Sure he can go back to TV and perhaps try again next year, but he really lost his opportunity, even as his followers lost their enthusiasm for him the longer he stayed in the race.
President Obama: Loser Obama is a partisan president, while Bibi is the leader of the largest national unity coalition in the history of Israel. Netanyahu has the support of most of the country behind him for whatever he may need to do. Obama may have hoped he’d be facing a weaker Bibi after November, there’s no chance of that now.
Dagan, Diskin, etc.: Losers Netanyahu and Barak are messianists, and irrational? Well, then add Mofaz too, and 80% of the Knesset. Now the former security chiefs sound like sore losers.
Ehud Barak: Winner He still has a job.
Yuval Zellner: Winner Yuval Who? We asked the same thing. Zellner just replaced Livni in the Knesset. Until this morning, he was going to go down in history as one of the shortest serving MKs (who would never get a second chance at it either). Now he gets a chance to serve.
Moshe Feiglin: Loser (Netanyahu election shenanigans aside) Moshe would have done well in elections. It remains to be seen if Likud MKs will still have as much influence in the unity government, because right now his influence is through them. On the other hand, there’s a slight chance he may be entering the Knesset as a new MK to replace someone else who might be leaving. In which case, he will become a winner.
Chareidi Parties: Losers In or out of the coalition, it doesn’t matter. Some new, improved Tal law will pass, and that battle will be lost. Now it’s up to them to decide if they want to work together to make it a good law or not.
The Chareidim: Winners A new version of the Tal law will pass that will help integrate Chareidim into the work force and perhaps the army/national service, removing them from the cycle of poverty they’re currently in. And they’ll still be able to learn Torah. Exactly how good things turn out for them will depend on what their parties fight for and what they’re leaders are willing to compromise on.
Mafdal-Bayit Yehud-Ichud Leumi: Winners Really! They are just as irrelevant now (on a legislative level) as they were before, and they probably weren’t going to do that much better in the next election. But at least they got their act together and learned they can unify. That’s a very good thing. Hopefully it will last.
Ichud Leumi: No difference In or out of the coalition, it won’t make much of a difference, but do they really want to sit outside with just Meretz, Labor and the Arab parties?
Ulpana, Beit El: Losers The Supreme Court just decided to only give the government 2 weeks to destroy the homes. The new unity government is likely to do it. But they’ll probably compensate the owners at least. We’ll know in a few weeks if they are really losers here or not.
Settlements: Winners (hopefully) For the most part, we won’t see another Hitnatkut (expulsion), and Bibi may eventually legalize more outposts and pass laws to help others, perhaps even annex settlement blocks or Area C. As long they stay out of direct conflict with the Supreme Court, individual settlements should be safe. Overall the Settlement Enterprise should be OK.
Supreme Court: Winner Kadima is on their side, and will block legislation that will put limits on their extrajudicial expanded powers.
Israel’s Political Media Pundits: Losers They’re like deer in the headlights, they were completely surprised by what happened.
Israel: Winners As an aside Israel saved NIS 400 million on election costs. National Unity is a good thing (for all the vague reasons). It also means that the country is united in whatever challenges it may need to face with Iran. Perhaps we’ll also see a real revamping of the government system.
The Palestinians: N/A They don’t even have a pony in this race.
Iranian Government: Losers There’s a much higher probability that with such a large, stable unity government, and with (the Iranian) Mofaz at Bibi’s side, that a strike against Iran’s nuclear weapon production facilities is very likely.

The Iranian People: Winners Perhaps there will be more outside support to help them overthrow the Islamic regime, now that there is a stronger Israel.

The Jewish People: Winners
National unity is a good thing in religious thought. So overall, this should be good for the Jews.

The battle for America

Special: Israeli, Jewish students fighting back as hostility grows on leading campuses in America
Published: Israel News
It happened at the end of a Sabbath eve supper of a group of Jewish students. Amir Lev, Jewish Agency emissary at UC San Diego, went out for a smoke. He saw two cars wrapped with Palestinian flags. “I took a few steps in the direction of the cars and they left,” Lev recalls. “Two days later an Israeli student came over to his car and discovered that they spray painted the words ‘Zionist terrorist.’”
“This does not happen every day, but there is definitely an escalation in the anti-Israel atmosphere in this university. And this is happening because for the first time Israeli students are responding,” he says. “There is an approach which says it is preferable not to respond, because if we make noise we only give the other side more public relations. But we cannot continue giving them the stage. Some 90% of the students don’t understand what this is about at all. We need to fight in order to bring them to our side. Now they see us; we are active.”
This is exactly what is happening in the last two years in universities throughout the US and in particular in southern California – anti Israeli movements are no longer playing on an empty field. There are Israeli and Jewish American students who are fighting back against the heart of the intellectual elite in the US.

California, one of the most liberal and left-wing states in the US poses a particularly difficult challenge: Most of the universities here are anti-Israel among both professors and students. On the other hand, Los Angeles alone is the largest Israeli population center outside of Israel, and all the universities have a relatively high percentage of Jewish students. So there is a big vacuum.
The emissary program of the Jewish Agency entered this vacuum, and it includes at this stage 50 young people in their 20s, who come on service for a year to three years in the largest universities in the US. The objective is to impose order on Israeli public relations efforts on the campuses. The financing comes jointly from the Jewish Agency, Hillel and private donors. In the case of California the main donor is the Israel Leadership Council (ILC,) a five year old Israeli organization that became a significant player in advancing Israel’s interests in southern California.
Under the wings of Adam Milstein, a real estate tycoon who is one of the wealthiest men in the Israeli community, the organization also finances the Ambassador project, which trains local students to serve as a public relations force for Israel on campuses under the supervision of Israeli monitors. These are young people who are already located at the universities, usually US natives or some who came at a young age, and in fact most of them love the US and do not consider immigrating to Israel – but one visit to Israel is all that they need to form a deep emotional bond.

“Everything most of these university students know about Israel is so distorted and baseless they are positive we are Nazis,” says Sagi Balasha, director of ILC. “But when they see our representatives, they see human beings – young people, educated, civilized. Very few people work on campuses with tens of thousands of students. It is a full-time job facing people some of whom are Jews who oppose Israel. These are Israel’s reserve soldiers on the campuses.

Boycotting hummus

Representatives of this “reserve unit” gathered in the beautiful living room of the home of Adam and Gila Milstein one cold evening. All impressive, strictly polite, perfect speaking fluency, tremendous desire, and impressively level-headed. Defining them isn’t important, salt of the earth or Silicon Valley, these representatives give Israel an appearance that is 180 degrees different than what the average American absorbs from television. Most of them, by the way, hold left-wing political opinions.

“In the period of Operation Defensive Shield I served at the IDF Spokesman’s Office and worked with foreign journalists”, says Neri Johnson, the emissary to UCLA. “It was almost impossible to talk to them. The pictures that came from the field were difficult and it was impossible to say something in their defense, but no one even tried to understand the context. Everything was black and white. I couldn’t forget it even after the army, so I came here.”
“The other side is much better than we in relaying its messages, and this is frustrating,” says Lian Kimia, who came to the US with her parents at age 7, studied in UCLA, and now at age 25 is immigrating to Israel.
“They have Apartheid Week, which takes place in almost every American… the entire week is overflowing with effective gimmicks. Once they set up a roadblock in the middle of the campus, so one of us got dressed like a Palestinian, went there and told the students gathered there: 'Imagine that I was a terrorist, this place would have blown up already.’ But we generally don’t behave like that but try to create a dialogue. The question is always whether to go down to their level, because this propaganda is so strong.”
This is also the week in which pro-Palestinian organizations try to pass a resolution supporting the BDS movement, which was founded in 2005 for the purpose of reviving the economic boycott against Israel. A significant part of its activities is held on campus, with Palestinian students and supporters seeking to cancel deals with Israel.
“This boycott proposal passed only once until today, at Berkeley,” says Ido Adulami, the USC emissary. “It passed unanimously, but the university president cast a veto. They tried to remove Sabra hummus from the cafeteria, claiming that the owners, Strauss, contribute to the IDF. It gets down to the level of boycotting hummus.”
IN UC San Diego there is a relatively new phenomenon – in recent years there has been a pronounced rush against Israel that reached the point where Israeli students preferred not to wander the main paths of the campus during Apartheid Week.
“Two months ago we heard that the demand to impose a boycott will come up this week,” says Amir Lev. “From the moment that we discovered this we charged at members of the student government of the university with aggressive lobbying. This is a political effort in every way. Now it is clear to everyone that we are here.”
“We got there at 5:30 pm and left at 2:00 am. We sat in a small room with 250-300 students who were divided clearly into two sides… some 90% of the people in the room were never in Israel, don’t know anything about the conflict, it is doubtful if they can even identify Israel on a map. They conduct a debate full of fire and shouts as if they have any idea of what they are talking about. This is a university with more than 30,000 students, and all the lists that take part in the next elections to student government are running on one platform only – whether they are for or against a boycott against Israel. So what if most of the students don’t know what this is even about?” he says.
“The proposal lost by a 20-13 majority. If we had not been there, the resolution no doubt would have been passed. They were in shock. They wept as if we prevented the establishment of their state at that moment.”

Exposing the extremism

The force of anti-Israel feeling is something that changes from campus to campus and sometimes also at the campus itself from year to year. Everything depends on the students who study there at any particular moment. In Berkeley it was always hot – in the past year students built models of West Bank roadblocks in the middle of campus, but this year it is relatively quiet there.

The University of California, Irvine in Orange County was considered until a few years ago as one of the most hostile campuses to Israel in America. Two years ago pro-Palestinian students disrupted a lecture by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, and as a result of this the number of Jews studying at Irvine reached a new low for the last 15 years.
“They come to the lectures we organized, sit in the first row, and at the moment the lecture starts they get up and leave,” says Eren Hoch, the Jewish Agency emissary to the university. “Once we brought a lecturer, a former IDF officer who said plainly that he is in favor of two states, and they got up and left anyway.”
When asked whether the pro-Israel activists interact with the other side, Amir Lev responds: “Definitely. We manage to keep it respectable. This is America. Everything is terribly politically correct and you must keep it polite. This is not about persuading them. When I sit with one of them in a café, I do not speak to them but to the people sitting around and listening. There are people who don’t agree even to speak with me because I served in the army, I am an oppressor. But we try to prompt others not to see us one-dimensionally.”
“They are clever,” adds Ido Adulami. “They are careful to say they are not anti-Jewish, but rather, anti-Zionist. They also use the word Zionism all the time. They made it a word of contempt and this is propaganda that also influences us. But the innovation we bring is focusing on things that are not tied to politics.
“We try to place a human face on what they know about Israel. For example, we have a group that deals with Israel only from the high-tech business angle. It is most important to cause people to understand the gap between what they see on television and reality. At least they will know what they are talking about. In a world in which your life is summed up by your status on Facebook this is a big challenge,” he says.

Lev concludes: “It is only 5% of the students, but these are the activists; they make the noise. And what is most important is that they are also the next generation of American leaders. Our objective is to expose the extremism of the other side and we feel we are succeeding, because suddenly now for the first time the organization of black students is trying to make contact with us and people feel at ease walking on campus.”

Letter Protests DO Work

Dear Speaker Rivlin,

I am deeply distressed at the continuous destruction of Jewish communities and neighborhoods such as that which may happen in Bet -El in the near future.

As one who wishes to fully support the present government I request that you do your utmost to preserve the rights of Israeli citizens who are entitled to live without fear of being uprooted from their homes.

The consequences of not protecting Jewish families impacts not only those individuals but also erodes the trust of many of us.



Shavua tov!

Chana Givon

This letter prompted a response-here is the reply from the MK's office:

Dear Chana,

We received your latter at the Knesset's Spear Rivlin.

MK Rivlin is trying to do what he can to avoid distraction of Jewish communities and neighborhoods in Beith El, Migron and other places.

He hope that there will be good solution to the extremely complicated situation.


Chaim Neria
Knesset's Speaker  Office

Comment:  Multiple this by 100 and the motivation on the part of MK's to take appropriate action will be intense.  Please help and take only 5 minutes of your time to join us. Numbers do matter!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Israeli Political Shocker May Change Country Forever


Over the weekend we learned that Israeli elections were scheduled for September 4th because of the collapse of Netanyahu's coalition. Late last night the Israeli Prime Minster and the head of the leading opposition party Kadima, have reached an agreement to bring the opposition party into the coalition forestalling the election till the official end of its term on October 22, 2013. 

The inclusion of Kadima, the party formed by former Prime Minster Ariel Sharon brings the ruling coalition to 94 seats, almost 80% of the 120 seat Knesset--the largest coalition in Israeli history.  This new government may add some stability to the disjointed Israeli system.

 The great thing about Israel's political system is its inclusiveness. The 120 seats in the Knesset are handed out proportionally to each party that receives at least 2% of the vote.  The lousy thing about the Israeli political system is its inclusiveness.

Monday, May 07, 2012


Arlene Kushner

Little Zakkai is home.  He's not yet "all clear" as some of that problem with air in the cavity surrounding  his lungs remains -- or remained when he was discharged yesterday.  As he was not having trouble breathing, and it was thought that there was no leak in his lungs, he was sent home with the hope that the situation would resolve itself.  He became much happier once the drain was removed from his thorax.  He will be closely monitored, returning to the hospital for a scan in about two weeks.
Here you see a somewhat confused or retiring little boy (all the transitions likely being bewildering) sitting in front of the very large cupcake his grateful parents got him for celebration.
Please G-d, may there be only good news from this point on.  Keep praying, with gratitude for his progress in recovering.
And then other happy news of medical progress.  I had asked for prayers for a student in Toulouse who had been injured in the attack on the school and was at one point unconscious.  For this information I thank my friend, Sharmaine, in Paris:  Aaron Ben Leah is out of danger but still recovering.  Keep praying for him, please.  A group of women in Paris will be coming together tonight for prayers on his behalf, as well.

Is this "progress"?  
At the Likud Central Committee Convention which opened yesterday in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Netanyahu, just up from sitting shiva for his father, announced that for the sake of "governmental stability," elections would be held in four months. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Beinart, Israel, Gaza, & Auschwitz

Challah Hu Albar 

On Wednesday evening Peter Beinart and Daniel Gordis had a debate, sponsored by Tablet Magazine and The Columbia Current. At one point Gordis highlighted a sentence of Beinart’s book in which he writes that Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza "sometimes" shell Israel.
I honestly thought that this was a joke, so I went and found the quote.
At the core of the tragedy lies the refusal to accept that in both America and Israel, we live in an age not of Jewish weakness, but of Jewish power, and that without moral vigilance, Jews will abuse power just as hideously as anyone else. American Jewish organizations do not deny that Jews wield power; privately, they exult in it. Emotionally, power is what groups like AIPAC sell: the power to be a modern-day Esther, whispering in the ear of the King and saving your power from destruction. What they don’t acknowledge is what happens at the end of the Purim story. By discussing power only as a means of survival, the American Jewish establishment implicitly denies that Jews can use power for anything but survival. They deny that Jews, like all human beings, can use power not merely to survive, but to destroy.

Elections bring Egypt to the edge of abyss

About a year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime, the crisis in Egypt has brought the country to the edge of abyss.

The political crisis escalated shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood decided to appoint its own candidate for presidency. This decision came after the Brotherhood, together with the Salafists, obtained an overwhelming majority in the Egyptian parliament.

Shortly after this decision it became clear that the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed Egypt since Mubarak's fall, are not on the same page any more. Their differences involve key issues such as the drafting of a new constitution and the power of the Egyptian parliament.

In addition, negotiations regarding a much needed IMF loan ended without a deal because of lack of political support for acceptance of the IMF conditions.

Another complicating factor is the lack of progress in drafting the new constitution.
Tensions further increased after several presidential candidates, including Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, and Salafist leader Abu Ishmail, were disqualified as presidential candidates.

The disqualified candidates appealed against the decision of the supervisory body of Egypt's election committee, but their appeals were dismissed. The Muslim Brotherhood then simply appointed a new candidate: Mohammed Mursi, the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party.

Last Wednesday unknown assailants shot dead 11 Salafist protesters in Cairo’s Abbaseya neighborhood. The Salafist protesters demonstrated against the disqualification of Abu Ishmail.

On Friday new clashes broke out in the same neighborhood prompting the army to impose a curfew. Most Egyptian media accused the SCAF of being behind the bloodbath in Abbaseya.

Several political parties, among them the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party announced new demonstrations in Tahrir Square and decided to boycott meetings with the SCAF.
Read the full article here:

Adieu Ken Livingstone

Jonathan Hoffman
May 6, 2012
Boris Johnson is a supremely gifted man. His command of the written and spoken English language is sans pareil. He writes at lightning speed. He has bucketfuls of charisma - his personality is as powerful at an Afro-Caribbean husting as it is at a Jewish Charity dinner or at Mayor's Question Time. He has impeccable judgment - he knows when to be jokey and when to be serious. And he's very modest. It was not Johnson who told the Press how he had come to the aid of a woman under attack in Camden:

So congratulations to this thoroughly decent guy (and his campaign team) on a terrific win on Thursday. It was a very different campaign from 2008. Then there was a real bandwagon effect: Johnson started off as a no-hope candidate but as revelations mounted about Livingstone's profligacy at City Hall (eg £36000 for him and his entourage to go to Cuba and Venezuela, and producing "The Londoner", a propaganda sheet read by no-one) so support for Johnson mounted. This campaign was a joyless slog with Johnson doggedly defending his many successes and insisting that Livingstone's plan to cut underground fares by 7% was uneconomic.

What about Livingstone and the Jewish Community?
Undoubtedly Livingstone is unacceptable to the vast majority of Jewish Londoners. He has told me for example three times that Israel should not have been created:
The third time he lied that the previous Chief Rabbi said the same thing.
And undoubtedly those Jews who stuck with Livingstone despite all the evidence should be ashamed of themselves:

Even Jonathan Freedland refused to support him!
But there was a very heartening statistic in an opinion poll in The Times last week (1 May):

40% of those who intended to vote for Johnson said that Livingstone's bad relations with the Jewish Community were a factor in their voting intention.
In other words Livingstone's distaste for Israel and her Jewish supporters was not a vote winner.
It was a vote loser.
I find that very heartening. Antisemitism should never be just a Jewish problem.
Two excellent pieces from a centre Left writer - Rob Marchant - here:

Mahmoud Abbas Issues Decree to Lift Ban on Critical Websites

Challah Hu Akbar

Last Monday, Ma’an News Agency reported that “The Palestinian Authority has quietly instructed Internet providers to block access to news websites whose reporting is critical of President Mahmoud Abbas.” This report confirmed what I had been reporting since JanuaryShortly thereafter, PalTel said that it had “no choice” but to follow the censorship orders. Victoria Nuland, spokesperson at the U.S. State Department, said that the United States was “concerned” by the reports.

Last Thursday reports emerged that Mashour Abu Daka, Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, was resigning. Abu Daka had helped Ma’an with their report as he said that the Palestinian Authority Attorney General was “responsible” for the censorship and that he had made up his own laws. Abu Daka has since made a number of harsher comments towards the Attorney General. In addition, he has revealed that the PA cabinet was opposed to the censorship, but could do practically nothing to stop it.