Saturday, September 29, 2007

Changing History's Course

Something important has been taking place in a court case in Paris that the world has paid little attention to. Last week the 11th Chamber of the Appeals Court of Paris heard an argument from the lawyer of Philippe Karsenty, a French press watcher who, in 2004-2005, was sued by the national television station France 2 and by its Middle-East correspondent Charles Enderlin.
The plaintiffs had accused Mr. Karsenty of defaming them by declaring on his Web site they had participated in a fabricated news report about the killing by Israeli troops at the Netsarim Junction in the Gaza Strip, on September 30, 2000, of 12-year-old Mohammed el-Dura, the most famous Palestinian "martyr" of the Second Intifada. Found guilty by a lower court, which awarded the plaintiffs symbolic damages, Mr. Karsenty is now appealing his conviction.
The court did not rule last week on this appeal. Instead, it issued an order to France 2 to show it the 27 minutes of rushes originally received from Palestinian photographer Talal Abu-Rahmeh, who shot the events in Gaza. Condensed into 45 seconds of TV reportage, this footage, which France 2 has repeatedly refused to release, provided the raw material for its newscast. Mr. Karsenty and others have long claimed that if it were made public and studied, the hoax perpetrated by France 2 would be provable.
For a hoax it most certainly was. Today, seven years after the event, it should be clear to anyone who has read the literature on the subject and viewed the available film clips that the entire episode of Mohammed el-Dura was staged by the Palestinian Authority. The evidence is overwhelming.
The shots seemingly aimed at the boy and his father could not, because of their angle, have come from an Israeli position; Palestinian civilians were strolling unconcernedly between that position and the two el-Duras at the very moment that they were supposedly being fired at it; while father and son were allegedly taking cover behind a barrel, other Palestinians, who were not being shot at, came running by them and could have been joined by them; there was no blood on the sidewalk where Mohammed el-Dura was said to have been fatally wounded; in the film clips he can be seen calmly changing his position to make himself more comfortable after the alleged moment of his death, etc., etc.
Indeed, Mohammed el-Dura may never have died and may not even have been named Mohammed el-Dura. There was never any autopsy and what was said to be the boy's funeral was very likely that of someone else. He could easily have been any Palestinian child from Gaza, paid a few dollars to play his part in the deception, and make himself scarce afterwards.
If France 2 did not know of this deception at the time it broke the story, Talal Abu Rahmeh certainly did. And there is no way that France 2 and Mr. Enderlin could have failed to become aware of it themselves once they had a chance to go back to the footage and review it more carefully. The worst part of the Mohammed el-Dura story, which did incalculable harm to Israel's image and helped pave the way for many of the other lies spread about the Jewish state during the Intifada, is not that it was uncritically aired by France 2 and just as uncritically picked up and parroted by hundreds of other television stations and newspapers around the world. This was scandalous, but such things happen.
The greater scandal has been that to this day neither France 2 nor any other of the story's propagators has bothered to confess its negligence, much less apologize for it, let alone deal seriously with the whole subject of the international press's collaboration, time and again, with the Palestinian Authority's systematic dishonesty in the Yasser Arafat years.
The prevalent attitude has been: So maybe Mohammed el-Dura wasn't killed by the Israelis as we all said that he was — so what?
Last week's decision by the Paris Appeals Court has been hailed as a victory, not only for Philippe Karsenty, but for Israel and the historical truth. And yet, as Mr. Karsenty pointed out to me in a phone conversation the other day, this is not necessarily so. Even while ordering France 2 to produce the footage, the court's three judges were hostile toward him — and it is these same judges who will view the 27 minutes of rushes in November and decide after doing so whether or not to uphold his appeal. Unless they choose to bring in experts to scrutinize the footage professionally, Mr. Karenty fears, they may overlook the ways in which it was doctored and end up by whitewashing France 2 instead of exposing it.
Mr. Karsenty is now calling upon the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, who as chief of state has ultimate authority over France 2, to appoint such a panel of experts himself. Whether this is politically or legally feasible, I don't know.
If the Appeal Court's judges do their work conscientiously, or order France 2 to make the original rushes available to the general public instead of showing them just once to the court, Mr. Sarkozy's intervention will in any case not be necessary.
The truth about Mohammed el-Dura is not a minor matter, or one having to do with his case alone. It is not even just a matter of the campaign of lies against Israel that has caused it to become the most disliked country in European opinion polls. It is also a matter of how, in general, today's press feels free to manipulate the truth as they wish and then to disclaim all responsibility for what they have done.
Philippe Karsenty is not Dreyfus, but if he can win his case, he may have done something of historical importance. In wishing him luck, I am wishing it to all of us.
Mr. Halkin is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.

Why Is The Temple Mount So Important ?

One Jerusalem proudly brings you an important bloggers interview with one of the world's leading Biblical Archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Yigal Caspi of the Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount. Dr. Barkay succinctly articulates the meaning of the Temple Mount to Jews and Christians as he calls for the world to stop the destruction being carried out by the Waqf.

Listening to Dr. Barkay explain the Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount you further understand why it is vital to stop the destruction of Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount:

"The Temple Mount is the heart, soul, and spirit of the Jewish people. It is the only holy place that Jews have and it is the place that is identified with the place chosen by the almighty which is mentioned in Deutoronomy. This is the place which is believed to be the place of the binding of Isaac, this is the place where David built the altar on the threshing floor of Aravna the Jebusite to stop the plague, this is the place where the first temple was built and the second followed it built by the returnees to Zion from the Babylonian captivity. This is also the place of the third edifice built on the site by King Herod the Great – that is the building which is so frequently mentioned in the New Testament."
"The temple Mount occupies about 1/6th of the total area of the old city of Jerusalem and this is one of the most important cornerstones of Western Civilization. It is at the moment the focus of a political battle and it is embodies within it the crux of the Near-Eastern conflict as both parties claim to have historical linkage to the site."

"The Temple Mount represents the Near Eastern conflict in a nutshell and whatever happens to the Temple Mount will happen to the rest of the country. If the Temple Mount is under Palestinian rule and there is no accessibility to Jews to the Temple Mount and no control upon the antiquities discovered there that means that the legitimacy of Jews in the entire country is questioned."

"The gigantic stones of the Temple Mount are mentioned in the New Testament ; Jesus was presented upon the Temple Mount as an infant, and later in his career he chased away the money changers from the Temple Mount; there are approximately twenty references to the Temple Mount in the New Testament and beyond any doubt the Temple Mount is an integral part of the Christian Heritage… it should be sacred and important to any civilized person all around the world.

"I am amazed that there was a world outcry concerning the blowing up of the statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley by the Taliban Authorities in Afghanistan while the destruction on the Temple Mount didn't hit the media and there was no outrage expressed."

Who really rules Israel?

In light of the battle between Olmert, Netanyahu and Barak for the next premiership, the public debate focuses on the question on who of these three politicians is the "strong leader" many Israelis yearn for At the same time, the failures of all Israeli leaders throughout history and their inability to implement their policies are attributed to a series of elements, including political instability, the plethora of parties, and the low popularity of all government institutions.

However, despite the weakness of leaders and the Knesset, policy is still formulated and decisions are still being taken both on the diplomatic and local level. This gives rise to the following question: Who rules the State of Israel? If we closely examine the state of our political system, and particularly the question of who rules Israel in practice, which is something that is not done often, a disturbing picture emerges:

Four informal "networks," which are unelected and often act surreptitiously, rule Israel, with "strong leaders" associated with them to some extent and even being controlled by them. The membership of these networks is not permanent and their makeup changes. Yet the members of these networks have a joint agenda, common ideological and practical perceptions, joint interests, common ways of acting, and the ability to influence public opinion, and of course influence politicians.

The defense network is made up of senior military officers, both past and present, heads of the secret services and police, and business owners in the security sphere. The members of this network have determined the political and military moves en route to all our wars, and between them. They are both leftist and rightist (as of late, there are more rightist and religious ones) and also took part in important political moves and in the peace process.

In addition, they are also intimately involved in economic, political, and cultural developments that pertain to the defense establishment. It is no secret that most Israeli prime ministers, even if not all of them, were members of this network. There was not always agreement between them and between those serving in the defense establishment during their tenure, but ultimately they acted together – and this can be clearly seen when we examine the evacuation of southern Lebanon, the disengagement from Gaza, the security fence, etc.

The capitalist network is made up of the 12 or 18 wealthiest families in Israel, as well as the large business owners. Its members are interested in the continuation of privatization processes, low taxation levels, low salary levels, etc. The members of this network are connected to senior politicians who enjoy their assistance and are willing to maintain neo-liberal policies, which led to great destruction of the Israeli welfare state and huge gaps between the highest and lowest echelons.

The strictly Orthodox rabbinical network is relatively small, and its members share common interests in all matters pertaining to the relationship between religion and state. They influence, and in fact determine, matters of personal status, yeshiva students' exemption from military service, conversion policy, attitude to foreign workers, and to a growing extent our policy in the territories.

The network of senior bureaucratic officials is particularly important. Its most prominent members include senior Treasury, Bank of Israel, Defense Ministry and Education Ministry officials. On the one hand, they are the ones who determine and formulate most of the important decisions and laws passed by the Knesset, and on the other hand they have the power to torpedo decisions and laws, particularly through inaction.

All Israeli prime ministers and senior ministers in recent decades were connected to or members of these networks. The three candidates for the next premiership are also connected to these networks: Benjamin Netanyahu is affiliated with the capitalist and Orthodox networks. Ehud Olmert is also affiliated with the capitalist and Orthodox networks. Meanwhile, Ehud Barak is associated with the defense and capitalist networks.

The three of them have attempted to, and will continue to attempt to, cultivate their relations with the network of senior bureaucratic officials.

This is one of the major problems of Israeli democracy. Until it gives power to the representatives of the genuine sovereign – the people – Israeli democracy will suffer from these ills, and even talented and inspirational leaders who subscribe to ideology that meets the needs of the people won't be able to function properly.

The writer is a professor at the Hebrew University's political science department and a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Institute

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Internet in the service of terrorist organizations

Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Internet network and the service providers by which the organization is supported Overview
1. The PIJ is a relatively small radical Islamic terrorist organization sponsored by Iran and Syria and directed by its headquarters in Damascus . At the present time the PIJ is the most prominent organization in launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel . Since 2005 it has taken dominance from Hamas in carrying out deadly suicide bombing attacks in Tel Aviv, Hadera, Netanya and other population centers in Israel .
2. Like Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations, the PIJ makes extensive use of the Internet , which serves as one of its main weapons in the battle for hearts and minds . The PIJ's Internet network has six sites , four of them news-oriented and two devoted to the organization's founder and former leader, Fathi al-Shikaki , and to its present leader, Abdallah Ramadan Shalah. As opposed to Hamas, which appeals to world-wide audiences, the PIJ's target audiences are mainly Palestinians and Arabic-speakers. Thus, with the exception of one site, all the PIJ's sites are in Arabic, as opposed to the Hamas sites, which appear in eight languages.
3. Since it is a small organization, and it resources and manpower are limited, its Internet network is smaller and its technical level is lower than that of Hamas. 1However, during the past year the technology and content of its sites have improved . It offers more video clips, its design has been improved and it is updated more frequently.
4. All the PIJ's Websites send messages of hatred for Israel and the West, are rife with incitement to terrorism and foster the ideas of dying the death of a martyr for the sake of Allah ( shahadah ), committing suicide for the sake of Allah ( istishad ), and holy war ( jihad ). The messages it sends and its propaganda are in line with the PIJ's being a militant organization which regards the use of terrorism as the only way to advance its objectives, central to which is the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a radical Islamic state run in accordance with Islamic law throughout all the territory of “Palestine.”
5. Technically, the PIJ's Internet network is supported by ISPs located in Iran (which hosts Qudsway , the PIJ's main site), Malaysia (one site), Canada (one site) and the United States (three sites). 2 The pattern of having the main site Iranian and most of the others American has not changed since our previous examination, carried out in May 2006. That is true although the PIJ is clearly a terrorist organization and appears on the United States list of designated terrorist organizations. That provides an additional illustration that the Internet is the main medium through which the global jihad can spread its propaganda encouraging hatred and terrorism, and the radical Islamic ideology of the Palestinian terrorist organizations.
PIJ Websites classified according to content
6. The PIJ Websites fall into three groups :
A. News-oriented sites :
1) : the central site.
2) : news site.
3) new site appearing in both Arabic and English.
B. Designated sites : (and : the site of the Jerusalem Battalions, the PIJ's terrorist operative wing.
C. Sites devoted to the PIJ leadership :
1 ) : site devoted to the memory of PIJ founder Fathi al-Shiqaqi.
2) : site devoted to organization leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah.
7. Following is a description of the sites, as of September 18, 2007 :
Group A: News-oriented sites
8. The site is called “The net of the call to Jerusalem ” and its Internet addresses are (or or It is the organization's most important site .
9. The site is updated regularly and focuses on organizational activities related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On July 25, 2007 , it was upgraded both technically and with regard to content.
10. The site has news flashes, articles (mostly dealing with the organization), interviews, commentaries, “studies” and links to the organization's other sites. It provides detailed reports about the organization's terrorist activities including announcements, claims of responsibility for terrorist attacks and the wills of shaheeds . 3The site also monitors the Israeli press. The organization's journal, called Jihad , can be reached through a link on the homepage.
11. Qudsway, like the PIJ's other sites, is rife with hate-propaganda against Israel and the West, fosters the shaheed myth (glorification of the suicide bombers and presenting them as role models) and praises violence and terrorism carried out in the name of jihad.

Why Peace Eludes Israel*

Israel is retreating toward its 1949 Auschwitz lines . Many attribute this retreat to Israel ’s ardent desire for peace . This desire for peace, however, peace has resulted in ceaseless Arab terrorism and Israel ’s emasculation . This desire for peace, uttered ad nauseum by Israeli policy-makers and opinion-makers, has stupefied Israelis, emboldened Israel ’s enemies; and made Muslims contemptuous of Jews .

Did England ’s or France ’s desire for peace transform Germans into doves? Germany was the home of humanism, of philosophy and science . Are Muslims more humanistic than the nation that produced Kant, Schiller, Heine, and Einstein?

But let me address Israel ’s current political elites: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak—and of course Israel ’s so-called elder statesman President Shimon Peres . These Alice-in-Wonderland politicians would have us believe that withdrawing from Judea and Samaria will pacify Israel’s distraught Arab neighbors—like giving them a daily dose of Prozac .

I ask these peace addicts: “Why should you expect peace from Muslims who despise Israel as an outpost of Western civilization that threatens the autocratic power structure of Islamic states?”

“Why should you expect peace from Arabs who teach their children to hate Jews and exalt suicide bombers? Is it not foolish of you and shameless to negotiate with Palestinians when 85% of these Arabs are committed to Israel ’s destruction? What do you want to negotiate—the mode and date of your destruction?”

I ask you: “Why should you expect peace from Fatah leaders like Mahmoud Abbas who deceive and despoil their own people? What peace will you obtain from a Muslim whose attitude toward infidels is based on the primacy of fraud and force typical of 22 Arab-Islamic tyrannies?”

Here let me pause to address “right-minded” Israeli politicians and intellectuals who, though skeptical about the land-for-peace policy, also intone the mantra of “peace . ” Suppose you declared: “I do not desire peace with Arab despots who luxuriate in splendor while their people are steeped in abject poverty . ” Are you manly enough to proclaim such an attitude? Then let me suggest some other declarations one might make in a world threatened by Islamic Imperialism .

Suppose you said, “I do not want peace with tyrannies, regimes ruled by evil men . I do not want to dignify them and thereby abet their wicked designs . ”

“I do not seek peace with Arab or Muslim despots lest I confuse, disarm, and foster cynicism among my own countrymen . Better to arouse fear in these despots, instead of allowing them to lull unwary Jews with professions of peace . ”

“Do you think such statements will make these despots more bellicose? What have your “politically correct” professions of peace accomplished? Has Israel ’s peace treaty with Egypt made that dictatorship less militant? Then why is Egypt , a regime threatened by no one, engaged in a vast military build-up? Why do Egypt ’s state-controlled media continue to spew anti-Israel and anti-Jewish venom? Why did Egypt facilitate the shipment of arms to Arab terrorists in Gaza ? And please explain why Egypt ’s tourist maps depict Israel as ‘ Palestine . ’”

To Condoleezza Rice I ask: “Leaving aside the killers and killing fields in Algeria , Bangladesh , Bosnia , Chechnya , Indonesia , Iran , Iraq , Lebanon , Sudan , and Syria , why should Palestinian Arabs, who supported Saddam Hussein’s rape of Kuwait , another Muslim country, live in abiding peace with Israel ?”

I ask Secretary Rice: “Why do you cozy up to Palestinians who cheered the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York and the murder of 3,000 innocent people?

To Condi as well as peace-intoxicated politicians of Israel , I ask: “Inasmuch as Sunni and Shiite Muslim sects since the time of Muhammad have not been able to live in peace with each other, why should you expect them to live in abiding peace with Jews?”

Now let me address critics of Israel ’s land-for-peace policy . Many blame that policy on American pressure, or, conversely, on the timidity of Israeli prime ministers . True but superficial . Let me offer two different ways of understanding why peace eludes Israel .

Exodus 15:3 states that “God is the Master of war . ” Hence must also be the Master of peace . Since war and peace are in the hands of God, whether Israel will have peace or war depends on how its ruling elites relate to God . So long as they dismiss God from the domain of statecraft, or so long as Israel ’s government scorns the Torah, the people of Israel will not have peace .

But the God of Israel is not a man that goes to sleep, indifferent to Israel ’s destiny . This infinitely wise God has given the people of Israel the best of enemies—Arabs who will not and cannot be pacified by giving them parts of the land God promised the Jewish people!

God has therefore given His people an enemy that unwittingly compels Jews to face the ultimate reason why peace eludes the so-called Jewish State of Israel!

Notice that Israel ’s political elites are incapable of competing with Muslims at the negotiating table . Since Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy” in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, one Israeli government after another has surrendered or compromised Israel ’s retention of the land the IDF regained in the Six-Day War of 1967 . This has been the case whether the government was led by Labor, the Likud, or Kadima .

How is one to explain this territorial retreat given Israel ’s superior military power, to say nothing of Israel ’s legal entitlement to the land it repossessed in the Six-Day War?

I have indicated that whatever the merit of conventional explanations, they do not go to the root of the problem . Israel may need American military aid, but Israel gets this aid because it serves America ’s national interest . Yet this fact, which involves Israel ’s geostrategic importance, does not embolden Israel ’s ruling elites . Why not? Don’t they understand that peace depends on the wise and courageous use of power? Or has their estrangement from God stupefied and cowed them?

I contend, first, that peace eludes Israel because it is a secular state which, by posing as a democracy, induces its ruling elites to make foolish concessions to preserve their democratic reputation in the United States . Second, I contend that the ceaseless terrorist attacks and wars waged by Israel ’s enemies serve the world-historical function of making this secular state with its pseudo-democratic institutions non-viable!

Israel has become a pathological state devoid of an authentic and vibrant national identity . Israel has suffered more than 10,000 casualties since the Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement of September 1993 . That agreement was secretly negotiated by Shimon Peres’ lackeys contrary to the Labor Party’s campaign program in the June 1992 election . The Oslo negotiations also violated the 1985 Anti-Terrorist Ordinance . And Oslo was foisted on the public without serious debate .

Fast forward: Labor’s policy of “unilateral disengagement” from Gaza was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the public in the 2003 election . Nevertheless, Likud leader Ariel Sharon, contrary to his long-standing opposition to the Gaza retreat, adopted Labor’s policy without any public debate . By so doing he nullified the 2003 election and became, in effect, Labor’s surrogate prime minister! This is not only treachery: it’s madness, the kind Isaiah attributes to Jews who abandon God .

As predicted, withdrawing from Gaza has not given Israel peace . Gaza has become Hamastan, from which thousands of missiles have been raining on Sderot . Thanks to Egypt ’s benign neglect or complicity, arms are being smuggled into Judea and Samaria . Every city in Israel may soon become another Sderot . Yes, this is suicidal madness .

Prime Minister Olmert, who once idiotically declared that Israel was tired of being courageous, is anxious to extend the inane or insane policy of disengagement to Judea and Samaria —despite his having a public approval rating of less than 10% . What a charming democracy or democratically elected despotism! Yes, and how self-destructive .

So, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that this secular and pseudo-democratic State of Israel is incapable of securing the safety of its citizens . “Regime change” is absolutely essential . But regime change must pave the way for a Torah-oriented system of governance—an absolutely a necessary precondition of achieving peace . Is anyone with noble ambitions listening?
*Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, September 24, 2007 .

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Frivolity of Evil

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got one thing right in his rant at Columbia University. History, he said, can't close the books on the Holocaust because the subject must be approached from different perspectives. That also got him to concede, sort of, what everybody else knows -- that the Holocaust actually happened.

Ahmadinejad in America coincides with the opening of a remarkable new online exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (, which features photographs of Nazi SS officers laughing, flirting and reclining at Auschwitz. These photographs offer a different perspective, true enough, because there aren't many photographs of SS officers at play. Here we see Camp Commandant Hans Hocker, who created the album, smile handsomely into the camera. We see pretty Eva, Angela and Irmgard, "communications specialists" at the camps, enjoying bowls of fresh blueberries. We watch an officer serenading them with an accordion solo.

These photographs document not the banality of evil, but the frivolity of evil. The photographs challenge anew our understanding about how such things can happen among so-called civilized men and women. The devil wears many disguises, and one of them is the appearance of normality, perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon of all, because it's a disguise unto itself.

Museum historian Judith Cohen notes that the photograph of the blueberry feast occurred on a day that 150 new prisoners arrived at the camp, and 33 were selected for work. The rest were sent to gas chambers. The vile odor of burning flesh seems not to have affected the appetites of Eva, Angela and Irmgard. The photographs were chosen because they reveal evil in its deceptive ordinariness: "In their self-image, they were good men, good comrades, even civilized."

That can be said as well of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His clowning, his weaving, his bobbing, his smiling on the podium at Columbia University lent an air of normality to his lies and deceitfulness. He looked silly at times, but he didn't frighten anyone with his stage presence. Imagine how the footage with his applause lines will play in the Middle East where they will, no doubt, censor Lee Bollinger's introduction of criticism. The Iranian media reported none of the questions, only that the students gave him a prolonged standing ovation. (An ovation nobody else there saw.)

He had a lot of the Hitler rant in him. For a long time we didn't take Hitler seriously here. He was easily satirized as the "little dictator." In the whole Ahmadinejad controversy over his invitation to Columbia, no remark was more fatuous than Dean John Coatsworth's observation that in defense of free speech, he would have invited Hitler to speak if he were here. His clarification wasn't much better. "[H]ad he come to the United States in 1939, he would have found a country with lots of admirers of his regime. An appearance by Hitler at Columbia," the dean said, "could have led him to appreciate what a great power the U.S. had already become." Some dean's list.

This dean should, in fact, go back to the history classroom. Hitler was anything but a quick learner. He could never see beyond his own prejudices. He thought Britain would capitulate quickly, that the Americans wouldn't fight and that he could defeat the Russians easily.

When William Randolph Hearst interviewed Hitler in Germany in 1934, he went with the hunch that he might do "some good" by meeting him. When the powerful newspaper publisher asked Hitler about the persecution of the Jews, der Fuehrer replied, "There is no persecution of any sort." Hearst was convinced. When someone later asked him about Hitler's anti-Semitism, he replied: "The whole policy . . . of anti-Semitism is such an obvious mistake I am sure that it must soon be abandoned. In fact I think it is already well on the way to abandonment."

When I hear Hitler evoked in contemporary arguments, I return to my dog-eared copy of "Mein Kampf" to reacquaint myself with what that "petty and cruel dictator" had to say in the years before he assumed the power to wreak ruin on so much of the world. He, like Ahmadinejad, was pleased to be vilified. "Any man who is not attacked in the Jewish newspapers, not slandered and vilified, is no decent German and no true National Socialist," he wrote. "The best yardstick for the value of his attitude, for the sincerity of his conviction, and the force of his will is the hostility he receives from the moral enemy of our people."

Ahmadinejad understands how to update such an attitude for the 21st century. We may think he was humiliated by the hostility he confronted at Columbia, but maybe he, like Hitler, understands how to play it out to his advantage against the gullible, the feckless and the frightened.

Suzanne Fields is a columnist with The Washington Times.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What Israel Really Gained by Bombing Syria

Denis Ross

Sometimes in international relations it is good to preserve mystery. The irony is that often when an action has been taken but not admitted, everyone seems to know anyway. That certainly seems to be the case with Israel's military strike against a target in northern Syria.

The Israelis aren't talking about it or acknowledging anything. The Syrians are describing an episode in which they fired on Israeli aircraft, the aircraft dropped something, and fled Syrian airspace. The President of the United States won't comment on the event -- of course, by not denying it, he leaves the impression that something significant absolutely took place.

And, it appears, something did. The sketchy reports that have emerged, again all citing anonymous sources in Israel or in the intelligence community here, are that Israel took out a facility in northern Syria in which North Korea was helping Syria develop a nuclear capability. The absence of leaks coming out of Israel lends credence to the reports. Israel used to be one of the best keepers of secrets. Excluding this episode, it has become one of the worst. Everything seems to leak -- and not in drips, but in torrents. (Once when I was negotiating, the Israeli prime minister at the time insisted on a one-on-one meeting with me because, he told me, this was the only way he could ensure that nothing would leak out of the meeting. He wasn't concerned with my side, but his.)

In this case, Israel has played it very smartly. Much is being made about the silence of Arab criticism of the apparent Israeli raid and what it says about Arab attitudes toward Syria. In fact, had Israel taken credit for the raid, Arab states would have felt duty-bound to condemn it, Israel's resort to force, and its unilateral effort to impose its will once again.

Why would Israel carry out such a raid now? Anything involving a Syrian nuclear development is going to be a concern for the Israelis -- and their threshold of tolerance is going to be low. Israel has tracked the North Korea-Syrian military relationship very closely for a long time. North Korea has provided Syria with advanced missile technology and surface-to-surface rockets of increasing range, accuracy, and payload. Moreover, the Israelis know that North Korea has practically never developed a weapons system that it has not sold. Given that history, North Korea's nuclear developments and continuing military cooperation with Syrian has drawn extremely close Israeli scrutiny.

So, on one level the Israeli raid simply reflected an effort to blunt North Korean-Syrian nuclear development before it could allow the Syrians to develop a nuclear capability. But that is only part of the story.

The Israeli security establishment has become increasingly concerned about significant Syrian weapons acquisitions, forward deployment of forces, training exercises, and directives about a possible war. Israeli military officials to whom I have spoken have become convinced that Syria's president, Bashar al Assad, has begun to believe that he could fight a limited war against Israel. Using as many as 20,000 rockets -- with some chemically armed as a reserve and a deterrent to prevent Israel from striking at the strategic underpinnings of his regime -- he appears, at least according to many in Israel's intelligence community, to believe he could fight a war on his terms. He was impressed by what Hezbollah did in the war with Israel in the summer of 2006 and believes he, too, could win by not losing in a limited war.

Israel has been looking for ways to convince Assad that he is miscalculating; that he will not be allowed to fight a war on his terms; and that he had better not play with fire. This summer, Israel has conducted military exercises designed not just to improve Israel's readiness but to convey a message to Assad. The raid not only blunts Syria's nuclear development but also reinforces the Israeli message of deterrence. In effect, it tells President Assad that Syria has few secrets it can keep from Israel. For a conspiratorial and paranoid regime, this is bound to keep its leaders preoccupied internally trying to figure out what Israel knows and doesn't know.

Beyond this, the raid sends the message that Israel can hit what it wants -- no matter how valuable and sensitive to the regime -- when it wants, and Syria is powerless to stop it. Here the silence from the Arab world, even if a function of Israel's silence, can provide small comfort to President Assad. No one in the Arab world much cares if Syria suffers blows to its prestige and losses to its military capabilities.

So, the raid is as much about preemption of a potential nuclear threat as it is about reestablishing Israel's deterrent in the eyes of the Syrian regime. Indeed, Major General Amos Yadlin, the head of Israel's military intelligence, was quoted as telling the Israeli cabinet that Israel had "restored its deterrence."

From this standpoint, Israel may also have had Iran in mind. The press is now reporting that an accident took place in July in Syria at a chemical plant at which a number of Iranian experts were killed. Perhaps this is just a coincidence. Or perhaps Israel is also sending messages to Iran that it has the capacity, and more importantly, the will to protect itself from those who would seek to threaten it with weapons of mass destruction.

At a time when Iran appears to be determined to press ahead with its nuclear program and may have doubted Israel's will to do anything about it, Israel may well be acting to show it will do whatever it takes to ensure its security. With the United States bogged down in Iraq and apparently unable or unwilling to prevent Iran's nuclear developments, the Israelis may be signaling everyone, including the Bush Administration, that if the international community doesn't take more decisive action, it will.

Statecraft involves using all the tools of the state to affect the behavior of friends and foes alike. Israel's raid against the Syrian plant reflects the use of a military instrument applied quite selectively to affect the psychologies of many different actors on the world stage. Whether it will have the affect the Israelis desire remains to be seen. But for now, the Israelis have made a statement without triggering a wider conflict in the process.

Dennis Ross is counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World.

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Bush to U.N.: Lay Off Israel

United States President George W. Bush urged the United Nations to reform its Human Rights Council Tuesday, criticizing the body for ignoring abuses in places like Iran "while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel.” "The American people are disappointed by the failures of the Human Rights Council," Bush said. "The United Nations must reform its own Human Rights Council."

In the course of his speech, Bush pointed out several regimes which he termed "brutal" and "cruel." He announced new sanctions against the military dictatorship in Myanmar (Burma), accusing it of imposing "a 19-year reign of fear" that denies the basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship.

"Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma," the president said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly. He purposely used the country's old name, Burma: the military junta renamed the Asian country Myanmar but the U.S. refuses to recognize the change.

"Basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship are severely restricted," he said. "Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking and rape are common. The regime is holding more than a thousand political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party was elected overwhelmingly by the Burmese people in 1990.

"The ruling junta remains unyielding, yet the people's desire for freedom is unmistakable," Bush said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat in the chamber and checked his watch during Bush's remarks. First Lady Laura Bush, also present for the president's speech, walked by the seated Iranian president without making contact, and Israeli Ambassador Danny Gillerman, too, made a point of avoiding Ahmadinejad.

Bush urged the world's nations to support countries that are struggling for democracy.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Gillerman made a point of avoiding Ahmadinejad.

"The people of Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have asked for our help, and every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand with them," he said. "Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under dictatorship," he added. "In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration" of the United Nations.

"In Cuba, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end," Bush said. "The Cuban people are ready for their freedom. And as that nation enters a period of transition, the United Nations must insist on free speech, free assembly and, ultimately, free and competitive elections."

The Cuban delegation walked out of the chamber in reaction to the statement.

Rain of Mortar Shells, Rockets on Negev

Gaza-based terrorists fired four Kassam rockets and some 25 mortar shells at Israeli towns in the western Negev Wednesday morning. hough ten shells fells short and landed within Hamas-controlled Gaza, others landed near the Kissufim and Erez crossings, and 11 of them fell in the Ein HaShlosha area. Kassam rockets landed near Or HaNer and Mefalsim, in the Sderot area, and near the border fence. No injuries were reported.

One of the shells landed in the water supply of one of the towns - left unnamed for security reasons - and caused damage. Kibbutz Kerem Shalom reports that hundreds of mortar shells have landed in and around the kibbutz in recent weeks.
7 Megawatt Hours Per Rocket
A military committee set up by Defense Minister Ehud Barak recommends, among other things, that Israel reduce the electricity it supplies to Gaza by seven megawatt-hours following every Kassam rocket attack. The recommendation follows the Cabinet decision of last week defining Hamas-run Gaza as a "hostile entity."

Other committee-recommended means of retaliation for rocket attacks include stopping the supply of mazut (a type of diesel fuel used to produce electricity), and - in the event of a rocket attack on a border crossing - closing the crossing for 48 hours.

Air Strike Response
IAF aircraft attacked a group of north Gazan terrorists Wednesday morning as they prepared to launch a rocket in the area of Beit Hanoun. Two terrorists were reported wounded in the attack.

Christians Under Attack in Gaza
The 2,500 remaining Christians in Gaza have been under attack of late. An 80-year-old Christian woman was recently robbed by a man demanding, "Where is the money, heretic?" Her family members said the "robber would never have dared to attack a Moslem woman that way." The attack followed a brutal break-in of a Christian church and school several weeks ago. Stocking-clad men hurling grenades blew open the entrances and stole computers and religious items. They also smashed many crucifixes in the buildings.

Counter-Terror Arrests
Seven wanted terrorists were arrested throughout Judea and Samaria overnight Wednesday. Four of the arrested were made in the Arab village of Atra, north of Ramallah, one in Ramallah itself and another in a small village west of the city. The seventh terrorist, apprehended in Shechem, was involved in the lynching of two IDF reservists in 2000.

Terrorists targeted in soldiers in Jenin with a bomb, and in Shechem’s Ein Beit Ilma slums, where the IDF has been operating for over a week, terrorists opened fire on troops. No injuries were reported in either incident.

On Tuesday, an Arab terrorist attempted to enter the Machpelah Cave (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hevron. The man was armed with a large knife and was apprehended by Border Police.

Closure for Holiday
In light of the many terrorist-attack intelligence warnings, IDF officials have announced a closure on Judea and Samaria during the week-long Sukkot holiday, which begins Wednesday night. Arab residents of the area who do not hold Israeli citizenship will not be allowed to enter Israeli towns for the next week.

Spokesmen explained that the closure was meant to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks in major Israeli cities. Judea and Samaria are often under closure during holidays, when terrorist groups increase their efforts to murder civilians.

As in last week's closure over Yom Kippur, however, there is a long list of exceptions, including several professions as well as all those employed by the United Nations and non-governmental aid organizations.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MKs, Organizations Call On Olmert to Resign

Following the Attorney General's decision to open a criminal investigation against PM Olmert, calls are piling up for Olmert to step down "In no other normal country does a Prime Minister continue in office while under criminal investigations," stated MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP). "Instead of dealing with all sorts of gestures to the Palestinians and freeing terrorists, Olmert should wish the citizens of Israel a happy new year and suspend himself immediately."

On Monday, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered a police investigation into the incident known as the Cremeiux Street apartment affair. A separate police investigation has already been ongoing for some eight months regarding suspicions that Olmert, when serving as Trade Minister, acted on behalf of two friends during the privatization process of Bank Leumi. These two investigations are in addition to two other sets of criminal allegations against Olmert, upon which Mazuz is set to hand down his decision soon.

Israel's Basic Law: The Government states that a criminal investigation against the Prime Minister may be initiated only with the Attorney General's approval.

Discount for Zoning Rule Relaxations?
The current suspicions against Olmert concern his purchase of a garden apartment in a refurbished building in a posh Jerusalem neighborhood, off Emek Refaim St. He reportedly bought the apartment in October 2004 for some $1.2 to 1.3 million, when the true value at the time was between $1.6 and $1.8 million.

In exchange, it is alleged that Olmert used his connections in the Jerusalem Municipality to obtain special zoning permits for the same building project that significantly increased its value. Olmert served as Mayor of Jerusalem for a decade before becoming Trade Minister.

The journalist who broke the story over a year ago, Yoav Yitzchak, passed his information on to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who then recommended that the Attorney General begin an investigation.

Legal experts say that Olmert is under no legal obligation to resign or suspend himself.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) called upon the police to expedite its investigation: "The police must complete the investigation process with all due speed, so that Ehud Olmert, the most corrupt Prime Minister Israel has ever had, will find himself where he deserves - on trial - and not spend his time gambling on the future of the State of Israel... The police must hurry and not allow the Prime Minister to evade judgment using his usual tricks."

MK Gideon Saar, the Likud's Knesset faction head, said, "The decision by the Attorney General to investigate Olmert is a slap in the face at the de-legitimization campaign that Olmert waged against State Comptroller Lindenstrauss and the law enforcement authorities. This is already the second time that the Attorney General has accepted the State Comptroller's recommendation to open a criminal investigation against Olmert. This shows that the Comptroller's research was to the point and well-founded."

The Ometz movement (Citizens for Good Government) congratulated Mazuz for his decision and called upon Olmert to resign. The organization released a statement calling upon Olmert to "cooperate with the police, and not use his usual stalling tactics."

The Land of Israel Legal Forum similarly said that the investigations against the Prime Minister do not allow him to function as Prime Minister. The Forum's director, Nechi Ayal, called on Olmert to seriously consider suspending himself until the conclusion of the investigations.

Professors for a Strong Israel issued a strong statement: "While Ehud Olmert continues to support the enemy and Holocaust-denier Abu Mazen [PA chief Mahmoud Abbas], and weave plans to give him the heart of our land, the ring of investigations around him is getting slowly tighter. Once again we see, "the deeper the planned uprooting [of Jews from Israel], the deeper the investigations!... He has no mandate to uproot Jews and give our homeland away; how much more so must he resign after having failed at his senior public positions."

Palestinian blood libel?

Joel Mowbray

In the seven years since the start of what the Palestinians call the “intifada,” perhaps no incident has inspired more Western criticism of Israel, nor generated as much terrorism against the Jewish state, than the supposed cold-blooded murder of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Durra on September 30, 2000.
The video of a terrified Mohammed taking refuge behind his father before being shot and killed generated a firestorm of Western criticism, and the Israeli public was just as outraged. Palestinians, meanwhile, used the apparent murder as a rallying cry for murderous riots and terrorism.
But that video was released before the ascendancy of the blogosphere, back when the mainstream media rarely challenged stories aired by other outlets. In the intervening years, criticism of the original report has mounted, and some are even asking a rather shocking question: Did Mohammed al-Durra actually die?
Now, almost seven years later, a civil lawsuit is doing what other outlets should have done at the time, casting a critical eye on the validity of the original story, which was aired by the France 2 television network.
Although many bloggers have raised serious doubts about France 2’s reporting—none better than Boston University professor Richard Landes—full analysis has not been possible, since the network has never aired the 27 minutes of “rushes,” the raw, unedited footage shot that day by France 2 cameraman Tala Abu Ramah.
That’s finally about to change.
Last week a French appeals court ruled that France 2 must show, in an open courtroom later this fall, the entire 27 minutes of “rushes.”
The order represents a key procedural triumph for Frenchman Philippe Karsenty, who is appealing a verdict last year that found him liable for defamation against France 2 and reporter Charles Enderlin.
But not clear yet is how much of a victory Karsenty actually scored. Most observers of the case don’t believe that he will be able to take possession of a copy of the full 27 minutes of raw footage. It seems the likeliest outcome is that the “release” of the video will consist of it being played in court, and possibly also shown separately to experts chosen by the court.
While having the 27 minutes of unedited footage finally being subject to a public viewing is crucial for Karsenty, it would not be as powerful or beneficial as taking possession of a copy of the video. Without the ability to watch the outtakes as much as desired, Karsenty’s capacity for thorough critical analysis would be curtailed.
This result, though, isn’t completely shocking, as the French legal system in many ways barely resembles its U.S. counterpart. Unlike in American defamation lawsuits, French courts do not attempt to grant defendants maximum “discovery” of evidence held by plaintiffs.
The good news for Karsenty is that the trial court judge last year found significant evidence supporting the criticisms of France 2—and that was without the judge or Karsenty even viewing the raw footage. The network’s credibility is even shakier given that France 2 no longer stands by its original claim that Israeli soldiers were responsible for killing the boy.
Unfortunately for Karsenty, French law is stacked against him. The judge explicitly rejected at least one key claim made by Enderlin, and he did not endorse as true the entire contents of the original report—including the claim that the Israeli military killed the boy. Unlike in an American defamation case, though, a tie does not go to the defendant in France.
And not only did Karsenty bear the burden of proving the truth of what he had written, but he had to do so without the “rushes.” All he could do is rely on people who had seen the footage.
In the hopes of deflating the budding controversy, France 2 allowed three critics—though not Karsenty—to view the “rushes.” The result was that two of them continue to criticize the network and Enderlin, but now believe that Mohammed al-Durra did, in fact, die.
The third person present at that screening, however, Luc Rosenzweig, former editor in chief of Le Monde, under questioning from the court answered, “the theory of the set up [of Mohamed al Dura’s death] has a greater probability of being true than the version presented by France 2,” according to the trial court judge’s written opinion.
What led Rosenzweig to this conclusion was 23 minutes’ worth of footage that has never been available for public inspection. The unaired video “basically consisted of young Palestinians acting out fictitious war scenes,” according to the paraphrasing of his testimony, contained in the written opinion.
The other two people who attended the same screening, despite claiming that the boy’s death was not staged, nonetheless agree with Rosenzweig’s characterization of the secret footage.
So how is that anyone who has viewed footage, 85% of which ““basically consisted of young Palestinians acting out fictitious war scenes,” conclude that the only non-fictitious “war scene” was the shooting of Mohammed al-Durra?
Until the “rushes” are shown publicly, one can only speculate. Perhaps no one wants to suffer the same fate as Karsenty. Or perhaps it is out of fear of being branded an anti-Arab or Islamophobic conspiracy theorist.
Mohammed al-Durra’s dying image has become a powerful symbol across the Arab world. “Postage stamps bearing his crouched image have been issued in Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia, a street in Baghdad and a square in Morocco bear his name, while many schools across the Arab world are named after him,” notes Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America.
Recent Palestinian history certainly suggests a hoax is possible.
During an April 2002 funeral procession, the stretcher carrying the “victim” was dropped. Thankfully, the “victim” sprung up quickly and shook it off.
The West was fooled, though, for at least a few days earlier that month following an intense battle at the Jenin refugee camp, a known terrorist hotbed. Palestinians immediately accused the Jewish state of systematically committing war crimes, and the Western press parroted the claims uncritically. That no massacre actually occurred—even the United Nations found no evidence to suggest one had—received only a fraction of the earlier coverage.
Possibly to be added to that ignominious list is Mohammed al-Durra. But unless the unaired footage is released to the public—and available on the Internet—only people in the French courtroom may know for sure.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

Manipulated by a despot

I do not recall any forum or prestigious institution in the United States inviting Adolf Hitler to provide an opportunity to speak about his policies in 1937. Then, no declarations of "freedom of speech" or "academic freedom" were invoked to justify giving a platform to a leader with an evil ideology and a dangerous world vision to convey his thoughts.
Like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hitler was actively and effectively pursuing his goals through vicious, cruel and inhuman policies. Like Hitler, Ahmadinejad espouses virulent racism and anti-Semitism designed to destroy the very foundations of democracy and our civilization. Cunning and manipulative, he will use this prestigious forum to "sweet talk" the ever-hopeful, peace-seeking peoples of the world. This Holocaust denier will buy himself time to prepare for another holocaust.
As he speaks at Columbia University, Iran is working to fulfill its rogue nuclear ambitions, which will also protect its worldwide network of terror, and hold the world hostage.
Hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University in 2007 weighs more heavily than would have inviting Hitler. Today, we have the benefit of our experience that appeasing, rather than confronting and isolating this hatred and belligerence, led to the murder of millions of people. By inviting such a vocal and aggressive champion of similar actions, not only is Columbia naively playing into his hands and giving him legitimacy, they are also defying historical lessons of enormous and grave consequence.
To those who call for academic freedom and free debate, it is important to emphasize that not everything is debatable. Democracies rightly insist on freedom of speech, but they must also protect themselves from sedition and incitement. A platform that allows criminals to gain stature and legitimacy should never be permitted.
As a virulent denier of the Holocaust who has unceasingly threatened the very existence of the Jewish state, Ahmadinejad has proven himself a sadistic despot and a dictator on par with the most loathsome figures of the past.
Today, under the leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran is the center and root of most troubles in the Middle East, significantly in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. The country's active support of terrorism, indoctrination of youth in hate and murder, and smuggling of military equipment to terrorists such as Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, are but a few examples of its destructive policies. In addition, it pursues an extreme ideology of undermining moderate regimes in the Middle East and aggressively building its nuclear capabilities in the face of unified worldwide opposition, in contradiction to all its obligations.
The country's troublesome policies extend to Venezuela, Nicaragua and the Islamic republics in Central Asia. For more than a decade, the international community has tried to reason with Teheran; every attempt was met with disappointment and failure.
Iran's intentions are no secret to the international community. We are very aware of their policies designed to drive the US out of the Middle East so they can mold the region and the world in their own image.
All of the above raises serious concerns as to why Columbia University would give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a platform. They should have followed New York City's lead when it denied his cynical request to appear at Ground Zero. For quite some time, he has tried to take advantage of his free entry to the US via the United Nations charter to manipulate world public opinion in a legitimate forum, whether at Ground Zero or at Columbia University. New York City had the decency to know better. Too bad Columbia did not.
The writer is a former ambassador to the United States and co-chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Ahmadinejad Blasts Israel, Denies Existence of Iranian Gays During Columbia Speech

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday questioned why Iran can't have a nuclear program when the United States has one, repeated his inference that historical accounts of the Holocaust are myths, and denied that there are homosexuals in Iran. In animated remarks before students and faculty at a controversial speaking engagment at Columbia university, the Iranian leader also denied that Iran sponsors terror, and instead pointed the finger at the U.S. government as a supporter of terrorism.

"We don't need to resort to terrorism. We've been victims of terrorism, ourselves," he said. "Within six months, over 4,000 Iranians lost their lives, assassinated by terrorist groups. All this carried out by the hand of one single terrorist group. Regretfully, that same terrorist group now, today, in your country, is operating under the support of the U.S. administration, working freely, distributing declarations freely, and their camps in Iraq are supported by the U.S. government."
Ahmadinejad did not name the group to which he was referring.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger opened the program with a blistering introduction in which he lambasted Ahmadinejad for calling for the annihilation of Israel, denying the Holocaust and supporting the execution of children, and told the leader of Iran that he resembled "a petty and cruel dictator."

Bollinger levied repeated criticisms against Ahmadinejad, calling on him to answer a series of challenges about his leadership, blasting his views about the "myth" of the Holocaust as being "absurd," and saying that he doubted he "will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions."

"You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," Bollinger told Ahmadinejad about the leader's Holocaust denial. "Will you cease this outrage?"
After sitting through Bollinger's rebuke, Ahmadinejad rose to applause, and after a religious invocation, opened his remarks by objecting to the scolding, saying it was insulting to be spoken about that way.

"At the outset, I want to complain a bit about the person who read this political statement made against me," Ahmadinejad said. "In Iran, we don't think it's necessary to come in before the speech has already begun with a series of complaints ... It was an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here."

He said Bollinger's speech was full of "insults and claims that were incorrect, regretfully," and accused Bollinger of offering "unfriendly treatment" under the influence of the U.S. press and politicians.

He did not address Bollinger's accusations directly, instead launching into a long religious discussion laced with quotes from the Koran before turning to criticism of the Bush administration and past American governments, from warrantless wiretapping to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He asked why the United States was allowed to develop nuclear weapons capabilities, but his country was not.
"How come you have that right and we don’t have it?" he challenged.
On the issue of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad said more "research" was needed on what took place, but he seemed to acknowledge that it did exist.
"I am not saying that it didn't happen at all. This is not that judgment that I am passing here," he said. "Granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people? ... Why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price for an event they had nothing to do with?"
And the Iranian leader denied that homosexuality exists in his country when asked to explain the execution of homosexuals in Iran.
"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he said, to laughter and boos from the audience. 'In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this."

Ahmadinejad began the first full day of his controversial New York City trip Monday--his third in three years-- amid mounting protests and air-tight security, with his first appearance beginning just after noon EDT via video before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. His highly publicized visit to Columbia University in New York City began at 1:30 p.m.

Bollinger, who was strongly criticized for inviting Ahmadinejad to Columbia, had promised tough questions in his introduction to Ahmadinejad's talk, but the strident and personal nature of his attack on the president of Iran was startling.
"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Bollinger said, to loud applause.

He said Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust might fool the illiterate and ignorant.
"When you come to a place like this it makes you simply ridiculous," Bollinger said. "The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history."
Ahmadinejad said he simply wanted more research on the Holocaust, which he said was abused as a justification for Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians.

"Why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price for an event they had nothing to do with?" Ahmadinejad asked. He closed his prepared remarks with a terse smile, to applause and boos, before taking questions from the audience.
During the question and answer period, Ahmadinejad was taken to task on remarks he has made calling for the destruction of Israel, with the Columbia moderator accusing him of failing to answer the question.

"We love all nations. We are friends with the Jewish people. There are many Jews living in Iran with security," Ahmadinejad said. "Our proposal to the Palestinian plight is a humanitarian and a democratic proposal. What we say is that to solve this 60-year problem, we must allow the Palestinian people to decide about its future for itself."

The moderator asked him to simply answer "yes" or "no" on whether or not he wanted to destroy Israel.
"Mr. President, I think many members of our audience would like to hear a clearer answer to that question," the moderator said. "The question is: Do you or your government seek the destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish state? And I think you could answer that question with a single word, either yes or no."
"You asked the question, and then you want the answer the way you want to hear it. Well, this isn't really a free flow of information," Ahmadinejad retorted. 'I'm just telling you what my position is. I'm asking you: Is the Palestinian issue not an international issue of prominence or not? Please tell me, yes or no? There's the plight of a people."

The moderator told him the answer to his question was "yes," and the Iranian president thanked him for his cooperation.
"We recognize there's a problem there that's been going on for 60 years. Everybody provides a solution. And our solution is a free referendum," the Iranian president said. "Let this referendum happen, and then you'll see what the results are."
Ahmadinejad said he believes that the United States and Iran have the potential to be great friends.

"I think that if the U.S. administration, if the U.S. government, puts aside some of its old behaviors, it can actually be a good friend for the Iranian people, for the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said.
"If the U.S. government recognizes the rights of the Iranian people, respects all nations and extends a hand of friendship with all Iranians, they, too, will see that Iranians will be one of its best friends."

President Bush said Ahmadinejad's appearance spoke to the "greatness" of the United States of America.
"He's the head of a state sponsor of terror, and yet, an institution in our country gives him the chance to express his point of view, which really speaks to the freedoms of the country," Bush told FOX News on Monday ahead of the Columbia event. "I'm not so sure I'd offer the same invitation, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about the greatness, really, of America. We're confident enough to let a person express his views. I just really hope he tells everybody the truth."
Bush said that while he's "not sure" he would have offered the Iranian leader a platform from which to outline his agenda, he thinks it's OK that Columbia University did invite Ahmadinejad to speak.

"This is a place of high learning and if the president (of Columbia) thinks it's a good idea to have the leader from Iran come and talk to the students as an educational experience, I guess it's OK with me," Bush told FOX News in an interview. "The problem is Ahmadinejad uses these platforms to advance his agenda, which I suspect in this case ... He doesn't want America to know his true intentions."
Before his Columbia appearance Monday, the Iranian leader, speaking via video from New York City to journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., tossed aside a question about Israel by saying Iran doesn't recognize the "regime," accusing it of killing people and committing various other atrocities.

It was typical of many of Ahmadinejad's responses, which often started with laughing challenges to journalists in which he said, "That's not right," or asked, "Where are you getting that?"

The Iranian president started his speech at the Press Club by reciting some verses from the Koran. No one on the panel or seated in the audience applauded or reacted in any way when he was introduced.

On the Holocaust — which the Iranian leader has called a "myth" — he said that "if the Holocaust is a reality, why don't we let more research be done on it? ... Where did the Holocaust happen to begin with? It happened in Europe, and given that, why is it that the Palestinian people should be displaced? Why should they give up their land?"

He also defended his request to visit Ground Zero--the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City--saying he wanted to "pay my respects." But, he claimed, the U.S. government and other politicians prevented that from happening.
"I was interested in expressing my sympathy to victims of tragedy," he said. "It's the responsibility of everyone to understand the root causes of 9/11."
His request to lay a wreath at ground zero was denied by city officials and condemned by politicians who said a visit to the site of the 2001 terror attacks would violate sacred ground.

Police cited construction and security concerns in denying Ahmadinejad's request. Ahmadinejad told "60 Minutes" he would not press the issue but expressed disbelief that the visit would offend Americans.

During the Press Club address, the Iranian president delivered some remarks through an interpreter and then answered questions from the moderator. A similar format was used at the Columbia event.

Ahmadinejad said the world needs to build a better future "based on peace and security of all humanity," and he spoke of a world full of love, kindness, beauty and allegiance to God as the ultimate goal.

"No one should prevent love and kindness from flourishing in mankind and turn it into hostility," the Iranian president said. "Family is the center of love and beauty."
He said people should follow God, who would lead them to a "sublime" state.
"When we take a look around us, we are not happy with what we see," Ahmadinejad said. "Threats of war have affected everyone. Continuous wars have in fact hurt the human spirit. If we look at the root cause of some of these problems, we will be able to think about how to build a better future, a more prosperous future based on peace and security of all humanity."

Ahmadinejad spoke of the importance of the press, in spite of the fact that Iran's media is state-run and criticized as tightly controlled by the government.
"The press plays a connecting role. It provides information and can serve as a channel for promoting current thinking," he said. "The role of the press is to disseminate moral behavior ... The press can be the voices of the divine prophets."
The Press Club moderator asked the Iranian leader about Iranian weapons and involvement in Iraq, about his views on whether religions other than Islam have a place in the world, and on his country's treatment of women and approach to the freedom of the press.

The Iranian president repeatedly asked where the moderator got his information and challenged the truth of his statements.
And when asked whether Iran was sending weapons into Iraq to fight against American troops, Ahmadinejad replied that "Iraq security means our security." When pressed, he denied that Iran was engaging in that kind of activity.

When asked whether he wanted to go to war, he said he did not.
"Why is there a need for war?" Ahmadinejad said. "Why should they threaten another country? Why should they create more insecurity? I think officials who talk this kind of talk should really be pressured and warn to know what to say and when not to say something."

Ahmadinejad said that the religions of "Christ and Moses" as well as Islam are "all brothers. They all want the same thing."
He defended Iranian women as among the most free in the world, and said they were involved in all walks of life in Iran.
Thousands of people jammed two blocks of 47th Street across from the United Nations Monday to protest Ahmadinejad's visit to New York. Organizers claimed a turnout of tens of thousands. Police did not immediately have a crowd estimate.
The speakers, most of them politicians and officials from Jewish organizations, proclaimed their support for Israel and criticized the Iranian leader for his remarks questioning the Holocaust.

"We're here today to send a message that there is never a reason to give a hatemonger an open stage," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
Protesters also assembled at Columbia. Dozens stood near the lecture hall where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak, linking arms and singing traditional Jewish folk songs about peace and brotherhood, while nearby a two-person band played "You Are My Sunshine."

Signs in the crowd displayed a range of messages, including one that read "We refuse to choose between Islamic fundamentalism and American imperialism."
Ahmadinejad said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press that Iran would not launch an attack on Israel or any other nation.

"Iran will not attack any country," Ahmadinejad told the AP. Iran has always maintained a defensive policy, not an offensive one, he said, and has "never sought to expand its territory."

Asked whether he believed the U.S. is preparing for war with Iran, he responded: "That is not how I see it ... I believe that some of the talk in this regard arises first of all from anger. Secondly, it serves the electoral purposes domestically in this country. Third, it serves as a cover for policy failures over Iraq."
In a 30-minute interview at a hotel near the United Nations, Ahmadinejad struck a soothing tone. He said Iranian foreign policy was based on humanitarian concerns and seeking justice.

He reiterated his call for a debate at the United Nations on world issues with President Bush.
Referring to fears of a military campaign against Iran, he said: "We don't think you can compensate for one mistake by committing more mistakes."
Ahmadinejad's scheduled address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday was to be his third time attending the New York meeting in three years. The New York City police and the U.S. Secret Service are charged with providing a security detail and protecting the Iranian leader along with dozens of heads of state arriving for the assembly.

The Iranian mission has not disclosed Ahmadinejad's specific itinerary.
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kadima MKs vow to fight Ramon's withdrawal plan

Four members of ruling party discuss ways to thwart vice PM's proposal to cede parts of Jerusalem as part of peace agreement with Palestinians Four Knesset members from the ruling Kadima party met in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss ways to thwart Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon's proposal to cede parts of Jerusalem as part of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Following the meeting, which took place at the home of Jerusalem city council member Nir Barkat, MKs Otniel Schneller, Eli Aflalo, Ze'ev Elkin and Marina Solodkin announced the establishment of forum in support of a "unified Jerusalem".

Barkat said following the meeting that the forum would work toward "removing the issue of Jerusalem from the political agenda and emboldening the government's official position on the capital's unification".

MK Elkin said, "I would expect Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to reject the plan unequivocally, but unfortunately that hasn't happened. This plan is a deviation from the party's platform."

A number of cabinet ministers also slammed Ramon's proposal during a Kadima convention held last week.

"Jerusalem is not a piece of real estate, and no one has the authority to redivide it," Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said.

Columbias realpolitik

'Iran is an important country. And like it or not, we are going to have to deal with it," said Dean John Coatsworth of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, in defense of his school's speaking invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "We are not giving him a platform. He has plenty of platforms."
"We are going to have to deal with people like this in the real world," Coatsworth continued. "We need to know more about this guy and what he stands for. And we need to challenge him when we can."
Elsewhere, the same dean claimed that Columbia would have invited Adolf Hitler to speak, provided he was willing to be "challenged" by the school's faculty and students.
In addition to anger, it is hard not to react with sadness to one of America's great universities succumbing to the utter distortion of the hallowed value of free speech. While Columbia officials claim, in effect, that there are no limits to whom it would engage in polite argument, a moment's thought reveals this to be untrue.
We do not know if Columbia would have in fact invited Hitler to speak, had its officials known that he was presiding over mass murder, not to mention being at war with the US, at the time. We would like to think that such an august institution of higher learning would not.
But even if Hitler would have been, or Ahmadinejad is, welcome at Columbia, would an Egyptian tribal leader be invited to defend female genital mutilation, a practice the Egyptian government is finally trying to ban? What about the current president of Sudan, or the leader of the Janjaweed militia that is committing genocide in Darfur?
In Cuba, HIV-positive citizens have been quarantined as a health measure. In China, part of the government's one-child policy is support for forced abortions. Would Columbia be interested in hearing a defense of these policies from these governments?
To take some perhaps less extreme cases, would a tobacco executive, a fur coat manufacturer or a scientist who rejects the contention that global warming is man-made be given as respectful a hearing as the president of Iran will be?
This thought experiment would seem to demonstrate that it is not really free speech that is at issue, but the degree of legitimacy that Columbia is willing to grant, whether by inviting a speaker or by engaging that speaker in respectful dialogue. We would like to think, for Columbia's sake, that if it regarded the Iranian regime as guilty of incitement to genocide, a crime that the US is committed to punish as a signatory of the Genocide Convention, it would not have extended its invitation.
It should not be necessary to enumerate here the crimes of the Iranian regime - from supporting terrorism, to killing American soldiers, to denying the Holocaust, to opposing peace with Israel and seeking our destruction. By inviting a leader who embodies these crimes, Columbia is saying that it does not regard them as seriously as it does other international miscreants to which it would not dream of granting such a platform.
Columbia's message was, perhaps inadvertently, captured in Coatsworth's first point: that the Iranian leader is someone the US "has to deal with." In other words, once a leader reaches a certain level of power, perhaps through terrorism and potential nuclear blackmail, then moral considerations must be set aside.
Columbia is not standing up for free speech, but for realpolitik in its crassest form: might makes right. Or in this case, terror makes right.
It is a shame that the governor and police department of New York see no choice but to grant police protection for this visit, and that the US State Department would not restrict the Iranian leader's presence to the UN building itself.
It is unfortunate that the US and other signatory countries have not fulfilled their responsibilities to enforce the Genocide Convention, which is explicitly designed to prevent genocide, by making incitement to genocide a punishable crime. Such procedures should have been initiated against Ahmadinejad years ago. If they had, perhaps Columbia would have thought differently about extending its invitation, and perhaps the international sanctions campaign to force Iran to back down would have been more successful by now.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on California’s Divestment from Iran

“California has a long history of leadership and doing what’s right with our investment portfolio. Last year, I was proud to sign legislation to divest from the Sudan to take a powerful stand against genocide. I look forward to signing legislation to divest from Iran to take an equally powerful stand against terrorism.”

AB 221 by Assemblymember Joel Anderson (R- La Mesa) creates the California Public Divest from Iran Act which prohibits CalPERS and CalSTRS from investing public employee retirement funds in a company with business operations in Iran. CalPERS, the state’s employee retirement fund, is the largest pension fund in the nation and CalSTRS, the state’s public education retirement fund, is the second largest pension fund in the nation.

JNF to tell court it will market land to non-Jews

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is expected to tell the High Court of Justice Monday that it will agree to market its lands to non-Jews in the near future, although it has long insisted that JNF lands should be used only for housing Jews.

comment: this is another intrusion by the courts-a huge defeat for Israel-we must stop these actions-or the flood gates of litigation will open. JNF to tell court it will market land to non-Jews

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is expected to tell the High Court of Justice Monday that it will agree to market its lands to non-Jews in the near future, although it has long insisted that JNF lands should be used only for housing Jews. This "tactical retreat" reportedly stems from the JNF's concern that the High Court will issue a precedent-setting ruling in the petition now before it. The petition was submitted in 2004 by a group of Arab citizens who were refused permission to bid on an Israel Lands Administration (ILA) tender for residential housing lots in Carmiel. The potential purchasers were told that the land belonged to the JNF, and was therefore intended only for Jewish use. Several Arab rights organizations joined the petition, as did the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The JNF's position received a blow in 2005, when Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ruled that the policy was discriminatory and he would not defend it in the High Court. Mazuz reiterated this stance to the High Court four months ago.
Several public figures, including Nobel Prize laureate Robert (Israel) Aumann and former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon, will be joining the petition this morning as respondents, arguing that the JNF has a responsibility to its contributors to reserve the lands it purchased with their money for Jews only. At a meeting in Mazuz's office last Thursday, however, JNF and ILA representatives agreed to a proposal by Mazuz to market lands to any potential customer, without discriminating based on ethnicity. In exchange, any time JNF land is sold to a non-Jew, the ILA will compensate it with other land, thereby ensuring that the overall amount of Jewish-owned land remains the same. According to the state's response to the High Court, which was signed by the head of the Justice Ministry's High Court department, Osnat Mandel, the new arrangement will be in effect for three months. The brief asks the court to postpone the hearing during this time, which the JNF and the ILA will use to discuss ways for the JNF to preserve its original goals while obeying the law. The brief states that the JNF has not changed its original position, whereby "rights to the land it owns should not be awarded to those who are not Jewish," but the ILA, operating on the attorney general's instructions, recognizes its obligation to market lands, including those of the JNF, without discrimination. Nevertheless, the JNF has been persuaded to give in for the moment out of concern that the court might issue a ruling undermining the JNF's policy, similar to its precedent-setting ruling in 2000 in favor of Adel Kaadan, an Israeli Arab who successfully petitioned the court for the right to build a home in the Jewish community of Katzir. The JNF holds approximately 2.6 million dunams (some 650,000 acres) of land in Israel, which constitutes 13 percent of all state lands. The response to the High Court indicates that the JNF and the ILA view an exchange of lands as a long-term solution and are looking for a mutually acceptable way to apply it on a large scale. In the past, however, Arab organizations opposed this solution, arguing that it preserves a situation in which large amounts of land in Israel are not available for use by all of its citizens.

King renews Jordan support for Jerusalem’s holy sites, residents

AMMAN - His Majesty King Abdullah said that looking after Jerusalem’s holy sites and supporting the steadfastness of its people are “at the centre of our attention” and are a duty for all Muslims. At a meeting with the Hashemite Fund for the Construction of Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock’s Board of Trustees, the King noted that the fund was launched mainly to institutionalise work for the holy city.
He urged the fund officials to do their utmost to stand up to the “multifaceted” challenges facing their work.
Announcing a JD1.113 million donation to the fund, His Majesty ordered a month’s salary to be dispensed to awqaf officials in Jerusalem, as a gesture of support.
The Monarch discussed with board members problems related to the fund’s work and called on all concerned parties to coordinate their efforts and consult over any hurdles blocking projects planned for the holy places.
Under the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace accord, the Kingdom enjoys a special status as the party in charge of the holy sites in Jerusalem, continuing a role the Hashemite leaders of the country have pursued since 1924.
The administratively and financially independent fund was established by the King last year. Yesterday’s meeting was the first by its board of trustees, chaired by HRH Prince Ghazi, after the law governing the institution went into force in April.
In his remarks at the meeting, Prince Ghazi stressed the need for coordination among parties concerned with Jerusalem’s holy sites.
Acknowledging that the three official bodies concerned with the holy city are coordinating well among each other, he said, however, that “there are funds raised in the name of Jerusalem [by other parties] that never reach Jerusalem”.
The other two organisations are Al Aqsa Restoration Committee and the Royal Commission for Jerusalem Affairs.
The Hashemite Fund’s mission, according to the law, is “to secure the necessary funding to look after Al Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and other Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem to ensure sustainable construction and maintenance”.
Prince Ghazi told the press following the meeting that the fund would be working to streamline fund-raising to ensure that money is used properly. The fund, he said, would serve as an umbrella body for all institutions concerned with Jerusalem affairs.
The Prince also called for supporting the residents of Jerusalem to enable them to resist Israeli attempts to evict them from their city.
He cited previous remarks by the King, expressing concerns that Jerusalem, due to the Israeli policies, might turn into a “museum” where the old sites and antiquities remain there, but without people.
“For 40 years, the Jerusalemites have been the ones who defended Jerusalem,” Prince Ghazi said, adding the fund will focus much of its efforts on supporting the Arab residents of the holy city.
At the meeting, Chief Islamic Justice Ahmad Hilayel warned of land sales in Jerusalem, saying the fund is expected to address this problem.
Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdul Fattah Salah briefed the King on the projects under way, including fire warning and extinguishing systems.
He also highlighted a plan to train Jordanians on restoration works in Italy, to join Italian experts fixing worn-out mosaic pieces and other artistic features of Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Local experts will be handling such restoration projects in the future.
Head of the restoration committee, Raef Najem, and awqaf assistant secretary general for Jerusalem affairs, Abdul Atheem Salhab, focused in their remarks on Israeli interference in the restoration plans.
Najem said the Israeli side has, since 2000, stepped up interference in maintenance works in a bid to abort the project.
The Israelis, he said, have come with a plan to construct a metal bridge that is likely to adversely affect the holy shrine. The committee and the Awqaf Ministry, he added, have come up with two separate alternative designs that will within days be presented to UNESCO, which “regretfully endorsed the Israeli design”.
The King said he has concerns over the behaviour of the Israeli authorities and directed concerned parties to update him with any development so that action be taken at the political level.
At a meeting with top clerics last Ramadan, King Abdullah announced a competition to design a fifth minaret for Al Aqsa, which was expected to cost JD400,000 to 500,000. He also donated a huge carpet to Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

An undercover Israeli Border Guard unit detains a Fatah terrorist on list of 180 amnestied by Israel two months ago

Fares Mansour, Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades activist, was detained in Kalil village outside Nablus, for violating the terms of his reprieve and reverting to terrorist activity. Found in his hideout were eight explosive devices, a rifle and a pistol.

No red lines at Columbia University

The invitation by Columbia University to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran beggars belief and brings one of America's foremost institutions of higher learning into disrepute Columbia's distinguished president, Lee Bollinger, defended the invitation as being in keeping with "Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum of robust debate."
Of course, that is nonsense. Does anyone seriously believe that Columbia would invite a politician or scholar who denied that American slavery took place, or alleged that its effects on African-Americans was benign or exaggerated? Would Columbia host a Grand Wizard of the KKK who called for African nations to be wiped off the map?
And yet, Ahmadinejad is far worse. Not only has he denied the Holocaust and called repeatedly for Israel's destruction, he has gone beyond words and worked hard to put his plan into action.
Ahmadinejad's Iran is one of the world's foremost sponsors of international terror, especially the Hizbullah posse of killers, and he is now hell-bent on building thermonuclear weapons with which he might just accomplish what Hitler could not: the annihilation of half the world's Jews with the push of a single button.
Ahmadinejad is also directly responsible for the murder of untold numbers of American troops in Iraq, whose killers, according to reams of reports, he is arming and funding.
TWO YEARS ago, Harvard President Lawrence Summers lost his job for insinuating that women were not as intellectually competent in math and science as men. Yet Ahmadinejad presides over a government that brutally suppresses women, inflicting corporal punishment if they so much as go out in the street without a head covering. But none of this has prevented him from being feted by American academia.
When I read about the Holocaust, I often ask myself how the world allowed Hitler to rise to prominence. After all, humanity bore continuous witness to the hatred and venom that spewed from his evil tongue against Jews. Did the nations of the world not isolate him as soon as he began frothing at the mouth?
But in light of Ahmadinejad being invited, on his last visit, to address the Council on Foreign Relations, and to speak at Columbia University on this trip, I now get it. Whatever Hitler said, nobody took him seriously. They treated his rantings as a tasteless form of benign entertainment. They found him darkly amusing. It took the incineration of six million Jews and the destruction of much of Europe to discover that, ultimately, the joke was on us.
IN LIGHT of Columbia's invitation, it is fair to ask what, indeed, Ahmadinejad needs to do in order to be seen in his true colors? Stated differently, what evil must the president of Iran perpetrate in order to incur a much-deserved boycott?
Since calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state is not enough, one would assume that Bollinger would require him to actually kill a few Jews in order for the invitation to be rescinded.
But wait. He's already done that, and not just a few. Via his proxy, Hizbullah, he's killed a whole lot of Jews. So how many is the cutoff before Columbia denies him a platform? Ten thousand dead Jews, 100,000? Six million?
It is time for the world to boldly sound the clarion call of a new generation: No tolerance for intolerance. Any man or woman whose essential message is one of hatred, racism, or anti-Semitism will be isolated, boycotted and closely monitored. The perversion of freedom of speech to allow incitement to violence makes a mockery of all those who laid their lives down to protect this most important of all freedom's principles.
One can only imagine the thinking of America's brave soldiers in Iraq. There they are, dying for the freedom of complete strangers who don't even seem to appreciate their sacrifice. That's bad enough. But then they hear of how their most sworn enemy, the Iranian president who gives guns and explosives to terrorists who blow them up, is going to preach to American university students.
WE ALL remember how, during Vietnam, there was the vast disconnect between pampered students on campus who tried to burn their administration buildings down in protest against a war that poorer Americans who couldn't afford college were forced to fight. It strikes me that this is nearly as bad. Pampered Ivy League students will accord respect to a man who is silently killing American troops, rather than protesting his visit to the UN (which would bring these students real honor).
My father is currently in Iran (yes, you read correctly). He grew up in Isfahan and left in the early 1950s. Now in his seventies, he wanted to see his remaining family and his old boyhood haunts.
As for me, I would love to see the country where my ancestors lived for 2,500 years, from after the destruction of the First Temple. As a lover of antiquity, I would cherish viewing the great sites of one of the world's greatest civilizations.
But not while Ahmadinejad is president. Not while a country once so enlightened is now grown so dark. And not while a people who were once so authentically religious now blaspheme God and their great faith by electing a leader who is an abominable killer.
The writer is currently in Israel filming a new TV show, Shalom in the Holy Land. His upcoming book The Broken American Male is about to be released by St. Martin's Press.

Abu Mazen: Olmert Agreed to Make Jerusalem Arab Capital

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice last week - and told her that Prime Minister Olmert agrees, finally, to turn eastern Jerusalem into the capital of a future state of Palestine. So reports the PA newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadeeda, quoting an unnamed "senior Palestinian source."
Abbas reportedly told Rice that Olmert had agreed to the demand in an Olmert-Abbas meeting a couple of days before. Another Olmert-Abbas meeting is planned for next week, the paper reports.
Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports on another PA media article. The Palestinian Press claims that Iran has given the order to Hamas and Islamic Jihad to reduce Kassam rocket attacks against Israel during the month of Ramadan, in order to reduce the suffering of Arab citizens in Gaza during this period. Hamas chief-in-exile Khaled Mashaal reportedly told Iran that though Hamas agrees to hold fire, Islamic Jihad does not.
Meanwhile, plans continue for U.S. President George Bush's international Middle East summit, scheduled for this November in Washington. Secretary Rice announced Sunday night that Syria and Lebanon will also be invited to take part, though they will have to commit themselves to help find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not happy with the summit. "Without advance preparations and without an objective," he said, "I don't see what can come of it, and I don't see any reason to convene the summit."
High-level meetings of this nature are often accompanied by Arab violence and terrorism, and some fear that such violence this time will only intensify if the summit does not produce results favorable to the Arab side.

Columbia and Ahmadinejad: The New Woodward and Bernstein

This week the once-esteemed Columbia University will host another speaker in its on-going “Conversations with Islamo-Fascists" series.This is the second time that Columbia University has invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on their campus. His first speech was canceled because of security concerns. No, not security concerns over inviting a terrorist to an American university, but concerns that they couldn’t guarantee the safety of the terrorist.

Rest assured that Columbia doesn’t discriminate. In fact, they would also welcome European anti-Semitic mass murderers. Columbia Dean John Coatsworth told Fox News, “If Hitler were in the United States and wanted a platform in which to speak he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States. If he were willing to engage in debate and discussion to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.”

I can just imagine the hard-hitting questions the faculty will ask Ahmadinejad. I can think of at least one challenge that Columbia Professor Nicholas De Genova may have for him. At a 2003 “teach-in,” De Genova said, “I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.” For the Columbia students that missed that lecture, De Genova was referring to the 1993 incident in which the bodies of American soldiers were dragged through the streets in Somalia.

De Genova would demand, "President Ahmadinejad, how many Mogadishus would you like to see? Answer the question!" If he says any number less than a million, he’s clearly a tool of Halliburton or Fox News. (I was never that good with following the radical left’s logic.)

It’s actually more likely that De Genova thinks Ahmadinejad is a hero. At the same teach-in, De Genova also said the “only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.”

In response to criticism for giving Ahmadinejad a forum, Columbia President Lee Bollinger said it was part of “Columbia’s long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate.” The Ahmadinejad defenders tout the importance of free speech. Their defense is completely laughable because college campuses have become institutions with zero respect for free speech. This is like Sarah Brady touting the Second Amendment when she bought her 22-year-old son a rifle for Christmas.

The “free speech” defense doesn’t seem to extend to conservative speakers. In December 2001, three student groups at Columbia organized an independently-funded lecture by author Ann Coulter. I worked with the students in helping them schedule the lecture and secure funding. The day of the lecture, administrators changed the location of the room because of threats from liberal campus protestors. Nearly two-thirds of the audience didn’t find the room until after the lecture was finished. As the question and answer session began, protestors booed and shouted to the point where neither the speaker nor the questioner could hear one another. That’s the Left’s idea of a “dialogue.” It’s not enough that they not listen to opposing views, they must deny others the opportunity, too. Perhaps they should rename the department the Hugo Chavez School of Journalism.

Several weeks after the lecture, the student organizer called me in a panic because Columbia was threatening to withhold his degree because a bill for two security officers assigned to the lecture wasn’t paid. However, several witnesses, including the speaker, noted that there was not a security presence at the lecture. Perhaps campus security couldn’t find the new location either.

As any organization that sponsors conservative speakers on college campuses know, the security scam is a frequent dirty trick used by liberal administrators in order to intimidate students. As with Columbia, they tell the conservative groups that because our speakers are so “controversial,” the students must pay for additional security. Jason Mattera of Young America’s Foundation wrote about one of the most infamous cases of the security scam, “In 2000, when Charlton Heston was requested, student organizers were told they needed to pay for a bomb-sniffing dog, ten police officers, two full-body metal detectors, two metal detector wands, a paramedic team, and four pints of Mr. Heston’s blood type.”

Let’s not forget that the reason some conservative speakers need security is to protect them from violent liberals. In response to both Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza being invited to speak on campus by conservative groups, a writer for The Columbia Spectator wrote, “Crackpots like D'Souza and Coulter should be afraid to open their mouths on a campus with such a proud left-wing history.”

Obviously, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has nothing to be afraid of when he speaks at Columbia. Later that day he’ll participate in a videoconference at the National Press Club. In case there was any doubt, he would be safe there, too.

It’s obvious that the Columbia University administrators didn’t bother to listen to Coulter’s December 2001 speech, “Terrorism and Its Left-wing Sympathizers.” They should also brush up on the classics and read Dante’s Inferno. Here's a place to start: “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”