Saturday, October 27, 2007

Abbas’s opportunity

Branded an incompetent failure last spring by the Winograd Committee's interim report on the Second Lebanon War, told publicly by his foreign minister that he ought to resign, and since further discredited by the opening of three criminal investigations into alleged financial improprieties, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is nonetheless rising in the polls. Not, it should be stressed, rising high, but moving inexorably out of the abysmal single figures of a few months ago and on through the teens. This is not because the Israeli public is slowly learning to love its prime minister. And though there may be a grudging admiration in some quarters for his sheer bloody-minded determination to retain a job that so much of his electorate so plainly regrets giving him, that's not the secret of his slow float upward in the polls, either.
It is, rather, a consequence of Israelis' near-desperate desire for peace - or, more accurately, for a means to sever our connection to the Palestinians. Having concluded years ago that the conflict that had so obsessed his predecessor was unsolvable for the foreseeable future, US President George W. Bush has now U-turned and is engaged in a last-ditch, end-of-second-term bid to secure progress. And since Olmert is making discernible efforts to crown this improbable mission with glory, a proportion of the Israeli public, as so often in the past, is apparently willing to suspend its disbelief, put aside the bitter skepticism born of brutal experience, and give Olmert its backing.
With each passing year, the strategy of delegitimizing Israel by depicting it as the recalcitrant holdout against viable compromise with the Palestinians gains more adherents. It was hugely boosted by Yasser Arafat's post-Camp David peddling of a mendacious account of Israeli rejectionism, is now the dominant narrative in most of Europe and, thanks to the efforts of Messrs. Carter, Walt, Mearsheimer et al, is taking an ever-greater grip in the United States as well. (The campaign is enhanced by the rewriting of Middle Eastern history, notably by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to present the establishment and maintenance of the modern State of Israel not as the belated restoration of an ancient sovereign power, but as the implantation of an alien and intransigent entity imposed on a blameless Arab world in order to salve Europe's Holocaust-scarred conscience.)
In truth, however, mainstream Israel is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths, and contemplate extraordinary risks, in the cause of a viable separation. When Ehud Barak returned from Camp David seven years ago, having offered to relinquish far more territory than he had previously intimated and to concede a sovereign Palestinian role in Jerusalem, he was met with greater demonstrations of support than denunciation. Since then, Israel has risked rending its own social fabric to drag 8,000 Jews out of their homes in Gaza without even the cover of an accord, and would have reelected Ariel Sharon, with his unstated blueprint for a likely withdrawal from 90 percent of the West Bank, had his own failed health not intervened.
Now the Olmert government is publicly contemplating the previously unthinkable notion of a 100% West Bank pullout, with one-for-one land-swap adjustments to maintain the larger settlement blocs. Like Barak before him, the prime minister is openly questioning Israel's need for a united Jerusalem that takes in the Arab neighborhoods. And the peace-parched Israeli public's response is less hysterical opposition than gentle encouragement in the shape of an upturn in the prime ministerial personal popularity ratings.
Of all the "final status" issues, it is only on the question of refugees that the government, and public opinion, are holding firm, rejecting the national suicide inherent in a capitulation to the notion of a "right of return" to Israel for millions of Palestinians. Barely 20 years ago, mainstream Israeli public opinion resisted the very idea of Palestinian statehood. Today, the only substantive Israeli objection to a Palestinian state is that it not be achieved, whether by violence or demographics, at the expense of ours.
Here is where Mahmoud Abbas and the "moderate Arab states" might be expected to make their voices heard, to mirror the energetic ideas for compromise being floated by the government's indefatigable trial balloonists with conciliatory scripts of their own, most especially on the refugee issue. And yet, mere weeks before the scheduled convening of the Annapolis summit, from the Palestinian side there is only silence.
THE PALESTINIAN academic Sari Nusseibeh, formerly Arafat's PLO representative, observed famously some years ago that the primary right that the Palestinians should be seeking was the right to freedom, and that this right took precedence over the claim to a "right of return." Indeed, he argued that the paramount right to freedom would never be achieved so long as their leadership insisted that millions of refugee descendants be granted permission to live within the sovereign borders of the State of Israel.
At a large gathering of Middle East politicians, academics, businesspeople and others, a senior Egyptian minister once assured me that the Arab world in general, and the Palestinian leadership in particular, recognized all this, and that the wording of the Arab peace initiatives now being advanced, with their references to an "agreed" solution to the refugee issue, represented the formal reflection of this shift. That word "agreed," he said, indicated that Israel's needs would have to be satisfied in the determination on the fate of the refugees.
And yet today, even while Iran terrifies the likes of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia by seeking nuclear clout to reinforce its Islamist ambitions, and as the Islamist Hamas cements its hold on Gaza and looks to repeat the feat in the West Bank at Fatah's expense, neither the moderate Arab leaders, nor Abbas, have been able to bring themselves to make this critical compromise explicit and thus begin to pave a constructive road forward. A road forward that would help save their own regimes by proving the emptiness of the extremists' bleak vision.
This week, for instance, Abbas has been touring Muslim states in Asia, and expressing optimism about Annapolis yielding "a concrete outcome that is going to be positive for our people." In the run-up to the conference, he has been confirming, Israeli and Palestinian teams are working on a document that will cover the key final status issues, the refugees included. What he has notably not said, however, is that he is ready to endorse anything similar to Nusseibeh's formulation.
Though Abbas is regarded by his Israeli interlocutors as both well-intentioned and committed to a viable two-state solution, the sad fact is that, since succeeding Arafat, he has not proved this. As the first serious stab at peacemaking since the disaster at Camp David seven years ago looms, he, like Arafat in 2000, has chosen not to prepare his people for compromise. He has not made explicit that an accommodation will require concessions on both sides, chiefly including the abandonment of the refugee demand. Unlike Arafat, Abbas has not actively fostered terrorism, but nor has he moved decisively to delegitimize and thwart it.
He has intermittently and half-heartedly opposed the Kassam rocket crews, and he has taken very public and very personal offense at Hamas's alleged efforts to assassinate him. But overall, Abbas's term as Palestinian No. 1 has to date been a litany of loss, humiliation and, above all, inactivity. He is the Palestinian leader who rearranged the deck chairs as the Fatah ship went down.
He lost half his kingdom to Hamas; he lost his parliament to Hamas; he failed to reform Fatah and thus reverse the Palestinian public's disillusion with his party that so helped Hamas; he failed to curb terrorism even within his own Fatah ranks; he failed to stand decisively against incitement to terrorism in his education system and in his media, and he failed to publicly endorse positions that would render a peace process viable and restore more than a modicum of Israeli faith in the notion of a Palestinian partnership.
Israel is not without blame for the pitiful performance of the Palestinian president. Leaving Gaza, though bitterly traumatic, was viewed across most of the political spectrum, deep into the Likud, as vital to Israel's long-term demographic interests. But beating a unilateral retreat from the Strip, rather than coordinating with the far-from-ideal Abbas, meant that the withdrawal was understood by the Palestinians as a vindication of terrorism. Similarly, denying calls from Abbas for prisoner releases, but countenancing large-scale asymmetrical prisoner exchanges with the ruthless extortionists of Hizbullah, represented further reward for hostility and a veritable disincentive to compromise.
IT IS not too late, however, for Abbas, and the scheduled convening of the summit at Annapolis represents a perfect opportunity - an opportunity to salvage the beginnings of constructive progress from the engulfing waves of extremism.
It is not too late for Abbas, with the support of the purported Arab moderates, to publicly counter Ahmadinejed's rewriting of three millennia of Jewish history and to publicly acknowledge the Jewish historical right to our revived sovereign Middle East homeland. It is not too late for him to endorse the notion of a two-state solution in which Israel is explicitly defined and recognized as the Jewish state. It is not too late for him to publicly stress to his own people that they will never achieve freedom if it is predicated on the demographic destruction of Israel, and that, therefore, the refugee issue will have to be resolved without a "return." (There could be no better exemplar of compromise than the man who was himself born in Safed.)
It is not too late for Abbas, in short, to challenge his own people to forego impossible demands in the cause of an accommodation from which they will be the primary beneficiaries.
For him personally, such a course would be risky. He would be putting his life on the line. But those who wish to lead their peoples to better futures, those who seek and take on the responsibility of leadership, must be prepared to stand firm in the face of extremism, at whatever personal risk... as reemphasized only days ago by the vicious terrorist attack on the undaunted Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto and by the terrible anniversary we in Israel marked this week.
And it's not as though Abbas would be short of friends worldwide anxious to help him steer his people to that better future - to steer the Palestinians toward statehood by setting up a competent judicial authority, effective institutions of government and capable security forces. At present, the prospect of the Palestinian Authority taking responsibility for territory that might be relinquished by Israel is a bad joke. Israel cannot contemplate any such transfer of power - in areas, remember, that are within easy rocket range of Ben-Gurion Airport and the entire heartland of our country - so long as the phrase "Palestinian Authority security force" remains an oxymoron.
Abbas, if he were to seize the moment, would be able to accurately depict his push for moderation as a necessary move to marginalize Hamas and its Iranian extremist paymasters, and to counter the coercion and repression, autocracy and inequality of the Islamist vision that Hamas is gradually introducing into Gaza.
The likes of Egypt, Jordan and some in Saudi Arabia and beyond, terrified by the emboldening of Teheran, should rush to back Abbas and support any message of compromise. It is their prime interest, too, to see the rapacious Islamists thwarted. Palestinian self-interest requires that Abbas follow this course. Non-Islamist Arab self-interest requires it, too.
The impact on the battered, bloodied Israeli psyche would be enormous - quite dwarfing Olmert's current little poll boost from the optimists - even though, it must be stressed, the most dramatic public comments would mark only the beginning of a long road back to sanity. They would represent only the opening words of good intent that would have to be translated into action, notably in a determined, unrelenting assault on terrorism. We've heard many fine words over the years...
Nonetheless, Abbas would serve four sets of interests - Palestinian, Israeli, moderate regional and global - if he severed the line from Arafat, defied Hamas and his own radicals by urging international assistance in the battle against terrorism, and issued an unequivocal public rejection of the refugee "right of return" and an endorsement of Jewish Israel as the first step toward reviving a peace process. A win-win-win-win situation, though pregnant with personal risk.
Do I think Abbas is going to seize the moment - to tell his own people where their true interests lie? I do not. Whether or not he has the inclination, I don't think he has the guts. I hope he'll prove me wrong.

PM: Israel won’t cause crisis in Gaza

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday that he would not cause a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, despite his government's declared intention to carry out power cuts to the territory in an attempt to curb Palestinian rocket attacks into southern Israel. He made the pledge over a two-hour working lunch with Abbas at the Israeli leader's Jerusalem residence, responding to Abbas' concern that electricity stoppages could hit hospitals and other essential services, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

The meeting was the latest in a series aimed at hammering out differences between the two ahead of a US-sponsored peace conference. The two men greeted one another with warm handshakes and broad smiles and aides on both sides say they have good chemistry, but talks between them are so far showing little evidence of progress.
Arriving from his West Bank headquarters in a motorcade of sedans and SUVs Abbas strode into Olmert's heavily-fortified house and Olmert put his arm around Abbas' shoulders. Then they sat down for lunch at a table adorned with red and yellow flowers, with four Palestinians and four Israelis sitting on either side.
Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the "road map" peace plan, which envisages an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

The plan was endorsed by the United States in 2003 but never moved past the declaratory stage, with each side blaming the other for failing to meet its commitments.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was at Fridays's meeting, said Olmert and Abbas agreed to make a fresh push to implement the program and have the so-called "Quartet" of Mideast peacemakers - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - act as referee.

"There is a need to activate the role of the Quartet as mentioned in the road map, if we want to establish a credible peace process," Erakat said.
But on the key question of a joint statement of principles to guide the conference, the two sides agreed only that their negotiating teams would meet again on the subject during the coming week.

A day earlier, Olmert sought to lower expectations for the regional meeting - expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland in November or December - saying it would not result in a final peace deal with the Palestinians and it might not take place at all.

On Friday, Erekat said that no invitations for such a conference have been sent out yet.

The Palestinians want a statement addressing the core issues at the heart of the conflict with Israel: final borders, the status of disputed Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. They also want a timeline for creation of a Palestinian state. Israel, saying it is premature to address many of these issues, wants a more general document. The United States wants Olmert and Abbas to present the joint declaration at the conference to pave the way for a full resumption of peace talks.
Erekat said the Israeli threat to cut power cast a shadow over the two sides' talks, calling Barak's decision "particularly provocative given that Palestinians and Israelis are meeting to negotiate an agreement on the core issues for ending the conflict between them."

The Israeli plan, approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday, is to cut electricity for an initial 15 minutes after a rocket attack, gradually increasing the length of outages if the attacks continue.

Despite the threat, Palestinians fired at least eight rockets and 10 mortar rounds into southern Israel Thursday and another five rockets on Friday, the military said. No casualties were reported.

There was no disruption of power to Gaza but Israeli forces continued operations against operatives there on Friday and Palestinian officials said five gunmen were killed in various firefights and an airstrike.

In Gaza City, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government, said the meetings between Abbas and Olmert are meant to distract from Israeli attacks and sanctions against Gaza. He said the Mideast conference would offer nothing to the Palestinians.
"These meetings have become a cover for the continued aggression against the Palestinian people," Haniyeh said after Friday prayers. "We warn against the dangers of falling into the traps of American-Israeli policies."

Also Friday, Hamas took responsibility for a shooting attack two days earlier near a West Bank Jewish settlement in which an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded - an indication the group could be stepping up its militant activity in the West Bank, where Abbas's Fatah movement has been ruling by itself since Hamas' bloody takeover of Gaza in June.

Civil Fights: The Palestinians don’t want a state

In last week's column, I discussed one delusion behind the current "peace process": Ehud Olmert's assertion that Palestinian leaders have accepted Israel as a Jewish state. . Yet the talks also rest on an even more fundamental delusion: that most Palestinians truly want an independent state alongside Israel.
Granted, polls have repeatedly shown a majority for this proposition. The majority may be razor-thin (the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center's latest poll put it at 51.1 percent), but it exists.

Yet those who seize on this as proof of Palestinians' desire for peace have neglected to ask one crucial question: When Palestinians say they favor a two-state solution, what kind of two-state solution are they envisioning? And the answer, as both these same polls and past Palestinian behavior make clear, is not a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one - the only solution that Israel could, or the world should, accept. What they want is two Palestinian states, or at best one Palestinian and one binational state.

The JMCC poll, for instance, found that 69 percent of Palestinians want all 4.4 million refugees and their descendants relocated to Israel under any agreement, dismissing alternatives such as compensation, resettlement in Palestine or a quota for relocations to Israel. Previous polls have consistently produced similar results. Yet given Israel's current population of roughly 5.7 million Jews and 1.3 million Arabs, that is a clear recipe for eliminating the Jewish state demographically - not for living in peace with it.

Like others before it, this poll also found that 94 percent of Palestinians oppose any Israeli authority over the Temple Mount. In other words, they refuse to accept any Jewish rights in Judaism's holiest site - and if Jews have no rights there, then by implication, they have no rights anywhere in Israel. This denial of any Jewish right to this land is incompatible with acceptance of a Jewish state. But it is perfectly consistent with a two-state solution in which the second state is Palestinian or binational.
SUCH POLLS are not merely theoretical: Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed over precisely these issues in 2000-2001. And Palestinians wholeheartedly supported this outcome: A July 2000 poll found that 83 percent approved Yasser Arafat's rejection of Israel's offer at that month's Camp David summit; only 6 percent felt he should have been more conciliatory.

And that is the principal reason for doubting that Palestinians' true goal is statehood: People who actually want a state do not keep saying "no" when one is offered.
At Camp David, Israel offered the Palestinians approximately 90 percent of the territories, including parts of Jerusalem. Not only did they refuse; they responded with a terrorist war. In December 2000, the offer was upped to 95 percent, including the Temple Mount; Arafat refused again. At Taba the following month, Israel sweetened the offer to 97 percent; Arafat still said no. Yet Palestinian support for him, and his decisions, remained undiminished.

HAD PALESTINIANS truly desired to "end the occupation" and acquire a state, they would not have rejected these offers; they would have acted as the Jews did in 1947, when the UN partition plan offered them a state on a mere 10 percent of the territory promised by the 1922 League of Nations Mandate. The offer did not even include Jerusalem, to which Jews have prayed for over 2,000 years. In short, it was incomparably worse than Israel's 2000-2001 offers to the Palestinians. Yet Jewish leaders accepted, believing that given their people's sufferings, even a tiny state was better than nothing.

The Palestinians, in contrast, rejected a proffered state that fell a mere 3 percent short of their putative demands, just because it (a) involved acknowledging a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and (b) required the refugees to resettle in Palestine rather than Israel.

In other words, they preferred continued occupation to any deal that accepted a Jewish state.

One reason for Jewish urgency in 1947 was the refugee problem created by the Holocaust. Israel, with 800,000 inhabitants in 1948, consequently absorbed 687,000 immigrants over the next three years. Palestinians, too, face a pressing refugee problem. Yet far from seeking statehood to assist their refugees, they have repeatedly refused it unless Israel absorbs the refugees in their stead. Such behavior is inexplicable if what Palestinians want is their own state. But it makes perfect sense if the goal is eradicating the Jewish state.

Even on territorial issues, Palestinians' lack of interest in statehood is glaring. The JMCC poll, for instance, found that 82 percent oppose Israel's retention of any settlements, even "in exchange for equal Israeli land." In other words, faced with a theoretical deal for statehood on the equivalent of 100 percent of the territories, fully 82 percent of Palestinians would reject it solely because it would not expel some 100,000 Israelis from their homes. Is that truly the response of people who want a state? Or who want to live in peace with their neighbors? The delusion that Palestinians want a state is far from harmless. Indeed, it perpetuates the conflict by diverting Israeli and international efforts into endless vain attempts to satisfy unsatisfiable demands, instead of focusing these efforts on the true problem:
Palestinian unwillingness to accept a Jewish state in any part of this land. Even worse, it reinforces this unwillingness - because as long as the world responds to every impasse not by confronting this problem, but by pressuring Israel for more concessions, Palestinians will continue to believe that by standing firm, they can eventually secure a deal that will indeed eradicate the Jewish state. And if so, why settle for less?

The only way to truly achieve a two-state solution is for Israel, and the world, to insist that there will be no progress - no talks, and no Israeli concessions - until Palestinians are prepared to accept the Jewish state's existence. That will not produce results quickly, and success is not guaranteed. But unlike the current process, it at least offers a chance - because only if Palestinians see no hope of getting the whole loaf will they ever agree to settle for half.

Haniyeh speaks at Islamic Jihad rally

The head of the Hamas government spoke Friday at a rally of thousands of supporters of the Islamic Jihad movement, trying to reduce tensions after deadly clashes this week between the two political rivals. Hamas and Islamic Jihad share an Islamic militant ideology, are directed by leaders based in Damascus and receive some support from Iran. Tensions between the two rose after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June, and insisted it had a monopoly on carrying weapons in public. There have been repeated clashes between Hamas police and Islamic Jihad gunmen, including fighting several days ago that left two people dead.
On Friday, an Islamic Jihad rally commemorating the assassination of its founder by Israel in Malta in 1995 drew some 10,000 people, an unexpectedly large turnout for the group.
The crowd gathered in a field in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, and the group's leader in exile, Ramadan Shalah, spoke by telephone. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, and other senior Hamas figures, also attended the rally.
"We will not accept disagreement with any faction, foremost with our brothers in the Islamic Jihad," Haniyeh told the audience. The crowd responded by chanting "Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad."
Haniyeh said leaders from both sides will work to contain tension. "Our relation with Islamic Jihad is strategic, stable and will not be shaken with a few events," he said.
Islamic Jihad is much smaller and more radical than the ruling Hamas. It doesn't participate in elections and says only fighting Israel will lead to ending occupation. Hamas took part in elections and has reached cease-fire deals with Israel in the past.
Shalah, speaking from Damascus, said Islamic Jihad is not trying to challenge Hamas' rule.
"Out of concern for the Islamic undertaking and for Hamas .. .which is facing the trials and tribulations of engaging in politics, I tell them we are not competing for authority or positions or gains .... or even for mosques," he said. "Our project is jihad (holy war) and resistance."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Islamo Fascism Awareness and Appeasement at Penn

David J. Rusin

Two sharply contrasting images from life at the University of Pennsylvania confront students pondering the threat posed by radical Islam. One is a plaque just off College Green that bears the names of alumni murdered on September 11. Another is the notorious set of photos from Amy Gutmann’s 2006 Halloween bash, where an undergraduate dressed as a suicide bomber playfully “executed” revelers — and then posed with the Penn president herself.

Are Islamist violence and oppression matters of grave concern to the free world? Or are Islamic radicals the stuff of costume parties, akin to the werewolves and vampires that haunt only our imaginations? The dichotomy marking Penn’s recent past reflects the ongoing confusion that grips society well beyond the ivory tower. It is precisely this fog that Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week intends to clear.

Technically, there was no IFAW at Penn. It was renamed “Terrorism Awareness Week” following objections that the events conflicted with the Muslim Student Association’s Islam Awareness Week. Moreover, in the words of local MSA chairman Samir Malik, the original designation “was very narrow-minded, wasn’t respectful, and wasn’t conducive to the open dialogue environment that Penn strives to foster.” The Penn College Republicans accepted the change as part of a compromise in which Penn’s MSA would compose a statement condemning violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.

However, the MSA failed to uphold its end of the bargain, as its statement does not offer an unambiguous reproach of Islamic-inspired bloodshed. The text instead features lamentations that Islam is misunderstood, a quote decrying the term “Islamo-Fascism” from 9/11 “Truther” Paul Craig Roberts, and other metaphysical murk. Moreover, the Koranic ayat (5:32) put forth to allegedly denounce “violence against innocent civilians” was edited to exclude a phrase that permits the killing of those who promote “mischief in the land.” Were the denizens of the World Trade Center “innocent”? Was Theo van Gogh making “mischief” when he filmed Submission? Were the Penn College Republicans?

While the intention had been to read the statement — or have an MSA representative read it — at the start of IFAW/TAW events, organizers scrapped the idea, rightly deeming the MSA’s words useless. The text has not been officially released by either party. Surely this episode provides a valuable lesson. Based on my conversations with PCR officials, that lesson has been learned — the hard way.

IFAW/TAW kicked off on Monday, October 22, with another compromise that did not quite turn out as expected. Rather than giving Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes his own platform, the organizers placed him in a panel discussion with two Penn professors, terrorism expert Stephen Gale and War on Terror critic Ian Lustick. Unfortunately, the late arrival of Pipes both diminished the impact of his expert voice and demanded a last-minute modification of the format. The panelists instead gave short talks and fielded questions from an audience that totaled about 75 members.

Lustick — who famously endorsed the tenure bid of Israel-hating pseudo-academic Norman Finkelstein and once lamented that the U.S. had achieved its victory in Afghanistan too easily — spoke first and accounted for most of the highlights/lowlights. Gale followed him with an exposition on terrorism from a largely tactical standpoint; he also criticized universities for offering insufficient courses to help students grasp this phenomenon. Pipes closed with a more strategic perspective, identifying radical Islam as the enemy and proposing to bolster moderate forces in the Muslim world.

But the evening belonged to Lustick, whose conspiracy-driven diatribes included many hanging curveballs that Pipes would have hammered if only he had been there to swing away. The professor’s fundamental argument was that the reaction to 9/11 has been overblown, due in no small part to the repeated airing of footage that shows the planes cutting into the Twin Towers. He claimed that this had traumatized viewers into a vastly exaggerated sense of the terrorist threat — which he believes is minimal for America — thus feeding the aims of a “neocon cabal” eager for war in the Middle East.

In response to his implication that 9/11 was a one-off event and that terrorism should be of limited concern to Americans, I recited a list of thwarted and failed attacks against Western targets over the past eighteen months: the Toronto terror plot, the trans-Atlantic airlines plot, the Fort Dix plot, the JFK plot, the London car bomb plot, and the German and Danish plots — not to mention the recent conviction of would-be dirty bomber Jose Padilla. Those familiar with the professor’s work will not be surprised by his counter.

First, Lustick asserted that since many of the above plans were spawned in Europe, terrorism is primarily their problem, not ours. Second, he argued that disrupted U.S.-based plots are often characterized by entrapment or bungling, and hence pose little significant danger. Third, he claimed that the most perilous domestic threat uncovered over the last few years centered on a Christian extremist of whom virtually no one has heard — because the media and politicians are unjustly fixated on the notion that the majority of terrorists are Muslim.

Former Senator Rick Santorum offered greater clarity and purpose when he addressed a few hundred listeners on Wednesday evening. Opening with a condemnation of academia for presenting only one side of controversial issues, Santorum proceeded to do the teaching that American teachers will not do. Indeed, his talk was highlighted by cogent interludes exploring the Islamist mindset, the fundamental differences between Christian and Muslim social systems, the contrasting worldviews of Sunnis and Shiites, the history of Islamic aggression, and the advent of modern Islamism.
Santorum also challenged left-leaning students to heed the testimony of self-described radical feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who escaped genital mutilation and arranged marriage in Somalia. She is now a refugee from Europe as well. He likewise cited the experiences of author Bruce Bawer, who moved to Amsterdam with his homosexual partner in order to free himself from what he had considered America’s oppressive religious atmosphere. Once there, however, Bawer found Muslim youths beating gays on the streets and the Islamist agenda advancing through Dutch society.
The erstwhile senator concluded with the words of Winston Churchill on the eve of World War II, urging action in the face of gathering threats. “How long are we going to wait?” Santorum asked, noting that the Greatest Generation did essentially nothing for two years while Hitler plowed through Europe. He also cautioned against the tendency to always “think that the people opposing us are like us.” The Islamists are not — and we must calibrate our response accordingly.

Despite a couple of obvious missteps, Terrorism Awareness Week both engaged and informed its audience. Chairwoman Abby Huntsman and President Zac Byer of the Penn College Republicans cheered the solid turnout and expressed hope that the events will spark an extended debate. They also reiterated the plea of Professor Stephen Gale for universities to provide additional courses on these vital subjects.

Finally, the Penn community should be praised for the respectful treatment that it accorded each of its distinguished guests. Other than some defamatory flyers, a handful of protesters outside the Santorum talk, and the coordinated walkout of a few dozen attendees midway through his remarks, the opposition hardly mustered a peep. If only the hooligans at Berkeley and Emory could learn to exhibit comparable self-restraint.

David J. Rusin holds a Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania. His interests include foreign affairs and security policy. He may be contacted at

Sabeel’s “Peace façade”

Thanks to Sabeel, an East Jerusalem-based Ecumenical Liberation Center, Americans will soon be provided a window into the backwards nature of the so-called “human rights movement.” On October 26-27, Boston’s well known Old South Church will host a conference led by the North American Friends of Sabeel, a group that purports to “seek justice and peace in the Holy Land.” Their conference, entitled “The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel,” will engage in continued political warfare against Israel.

Israel will be blamed for the plight of the Palestinians. Calls for divestment based on Jimmy Carter’s discredited notion of apartheid will be made. Renouncing violence and recognizing Israel are absent from the agenda. So is another critical issue, making it ludicrous for Sabeel to claim the status of a peacemaker.

Not a single session of the Sabeel conference addresses the precarious situation of Christians living in Gaza. That life has become even direr for this community with Hamas in power seems irrelevant to Sabeel. Such indifference can be attributed to the identity of the aggressor. Because the ones perpetrating attacks against Christians are Muslim extremists, Israel can’t be blamed. And if Israel can’t be blamed, the abuse is not worth pointing out.

Sabeel did not venture a word of criticism following the murder on October 7 of Rami Khader Ayyad, a prominent Palestinian Christian activist and Gaza’s only Christian bookstore manager. Nor did they say anything during the summer coup when a convent and Christian school were attacked.

As the Jihadia Salafiya militia roams around Gaza, “enforcing” Islamic law and targeting Christians, Sabeel prefers to sit in Back Bay and hear Noam Chomsky deconstruct the “apartheid paradigm.” Perhaps someone ought to remind these guys that in Hamastan Christians are expected to accept “Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza,” according to Jihadia Salafiya spokesman.

Such insouciance should come as no surprise to those familiar with Sabeel: their most recent quarterly publication that followed the Gaza takeover contains not a single reference to “Hamas.” Instead, the focus is on “Israeli Violations against the Palestinian Environment.” Such behavior demonstrates that Sabeel is more concerned with criticizing Israel than protesting the mistreatment of its own

Radical anti-Israel agenda
This is only one aspect of Sabeel’s odious behavior. Their rhetorical invectives against Israel stifle any attempt towards reconciliation. Sabeel's leader, Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, has described Zionism as a “step backward in the development of Judaism,” and Zionists as “oppressors and war makers.” With rhetoric resembling Iranian President Ahmadinejad's, Atik suggests that the Jewish homeland ought to reside in Europe.

As for their treatment of Palestinians, Sabeel undermines its own commitment to “empower the Palestinian community as a whole.” By consistently refusing to assign requisite responsibility to Palestinians for their plight, Sabeel suggests to Palestinians that their behavior is inconsequential to promoting peace. They are treated as helpless victims.

Although Palestinian human rights would be well served by investing their energies to reform the PA and Hamas security services, tackle widespread internal human rights abuses, build accountable governing institutions, and end corruption, nepotism and terror, such steps receive no attention from Sabeel. In fact, Sabeel ends up undermining the promotion of Palestinian human rights.

So too does Jeff Halper, executive director of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, and perennial speaker at Sabeel’s conference. ICAHD is a non-governmental organization funded by the European Union, which ostensibly focuses on housing issues. Instead, they use their resources to promote a radical anti-Israel agenda.

Like Atik and Sabeel, Halper disempowers Palestinians by focusing exclusively on Israel. In June 2007, he patronizingly wrote that, given Israel’s supposed desire for turning Gaza into a Bantustan, “what happens in Gaza…is irrelevant to Israel.” He writes that, “not only are Palestinians irrelevant, in Israel’s view, but the Hamas 'takeover' is actually a positive development since it furthers the apartheid process.” The statement is fallacious and Palestinians are depicted as helpless in their quest for peace.

Sabeel and ICAHD are failing dismally to fulfill their responsibility to Palestinians. Deluding Palestinians into thinking that internal human rights violations, internecine Fatah-Hamas violence, incitement and lack of educational reform are secondary and irrelevant to Israeli policymakers is irresponsible and destructive.

How can these groups act in good faith when they know concessions undertaken by Israel are contingent upon a positive change in Palestinian behavior? By promulgating this disempowering narrative, Sabeel strips the Palestinians, not only of their responsibility, but also their dignity - the primary underpinning of any human rights movement.

Despite what the Annapolis Peace Summit could portend, Sabeel and ICAHD will resist every temptation to engage Palestinians in self-criticism. Instead, while Christians are being killed by Muslim Palestinians in Gaza, members of Sabeel and ICAHD find it more useful to travel half way around the world to blame it on Israel.

One more Request-Arlene Kushner

I have learned that a "pro-peace" group is generating a grass roots campaign to "congratulate" the State of Israel for being flexible in negotiations. Their communication is going to the Israel ambassador in Washington and the Israel Consul General in NY. It behooves us to let these representatives of Israel know that not everyone in the US thinks that what Israel is doing is wonderful. Especially is this the case since Natan Sharansky on his One Jerusalem website is saying that the ambassador and the consul general are getting NO protests about what Israel is doing.

So hang in there with me, guys, please! Take the time to send two more messages and, again, get this word out to absolutely everyone you can reach on this.

The message this time:

Jerusalem is an eternal Jewish heritage and should not be divided under any circumstances. You protest the idea that Jerusalem might be on the table at Annapolis.

Negotiations with the PA will NOT lead to peace but to the establishment of a terrorist state at the border of a weakened Israel. You therefore protest the Olmert government's willingness to negotiate with the PA and to make concessions. This will serve neither the US nor Israel well.

Ambassador Sallai Meridor
phone 202-364-5590 fax 202-364-5560

Ambassador Asaf Shariv
phone 212-499-5450 fax 212-499-5455

To all of you who are cooperating with me during this difficult time, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot emphasize enough how much numbers count and what power is in your hands collectively.

(I give permission to anyone who wishes to share this request for action to copy the above from the full posting that follows, and to put it out separately, with attribution to me-Arlene Kushner)

Envisioning a divided Jerusalem

Nadav Shragai

It is hard to decide which is more embarrassing: The inconceivable quiescence with which the division of Jerusalem is being discussed, or the unforgivable impotence and weak arguments evinced by the right and the religious in this debate.

Forget about ideology for a moment. Anyone who has not yet understood why Jerusalem is the embodiment of Jewish rights in this land is not going to understand it now. Pragmatism, for better or worse, is what will decide the battle for Jerusalem. Yet on this of all issues, the obliviousness is almost total: It is impossible to talk again and again about the hundreds of thousands of Jews who visit the Old City and Western Wall without explaining that this will stop once Jerusalem is divided. It is impossible to fight for Jerusalem without telling the sorry tale of Rachel's Tomb, which the Oslo Accords turned into a half-abandoned border post on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It is impossible to wage this battle without recalling the 19 years in which Jews were forbidden to visit their holy places, even though the armistice agreement with Jordan ostensibly guaranteed such visits.

There will be no safe, quiet houses in Neveh Yaakov, French Hill or Pisgat Ze'ev without control over "outlying neighborhoods" such as Shoafat and Beit Hanina, which abut them. There will be no safe shopping at Jerusalem's Malkha Mall, no visits to the Biblical Zoo, no train rides from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and no peaceful houses in Givat Masua and Malkha without the adjacent "outlying neighborhood" of Walaja. There are also "outlying neighborhoods" adjoining Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Talpiot and Har Homa. Beit Jala, the "outlying neighborhood" next to Gilo, was inhabited by thoroughly decent people, just as Walaja and Shoafat are - until one day (and this was before the rise of Hamas), it was taken over by armed gangs, who shot at Gilo from it every day.

Those who give the Palestinians control over the Temple Mount, the "outlying neighborhood" next to the Western Wall, will no longer be able to pray in peace at the Wall, or hold Memorial Day ceremonies or induction ceremonies for paratroopers there; nor will they be able to ensure the safety of the president or prime minister should either wish to participate in such ceremonies. Imagine the street battles in the alleys of Sajiyeh and Beit Hanun, in the Gaza Strip, transferred to the ancient streets of Jerusalem, which today teem with Jews.

Think about how bar-mitzvah ceremonies or wedding pictures could be held at the Western Wall, or even plain old visits to place a note in the cracks, if Palestinians "controlled" the area a few hundred meters away. How would Jews visit their loved ones who are buried on the Mount of Olives in a divided Jerusalem? In armored cars? Would Mount Scopus, which contains the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, once again become an isolated enclave? Har Gilo would also become an enclave. And what would happen to cars on Route 1, one of the city's main arteries, which is dominated by Issawiyeh, Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jarrah; would they also be armored? Granted, in many people's eyes, Jerusalem is already divided. We have discriminated, in terms of both infrastructure and services, against the residents of East Jerusalem. We have ignored many parts of the city's eastern half.

The question is whether one fatal folly justifies another. Would it not be preferable to rectify the first folly and reunite the city, instead of ratifying the division and thereby sinking all of us, Jews and Arabs alike? Do we need to simply accept the "demographic problem," or should we deal with it by strengthening the Jewish presence in the city, through finally implementing an infinity of decisions that were never carried out? In 2000, it was Ehud Olmert who fought for Jerusalem's unity. Today, the city is still searching for a leader to wage the battle against him

Europe condemns Iran over human rights abuses

EU Parliament passes bill with vast majority in favor of criticizing Tehran for death penalty, persecution of journalists, homosexuals, and human rights activists. Israeli ambassador to EU: Resolution doesn't have teeth, but it helps build European consensus against Iran In another diplomatic blow to Iran's international standing, the European Union Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to pass a motion condemning Iran for human rights abuses including torture and the persecution of homosexuals and journalists.

The motion said that the parliament "expresses its concern with the deterioration in the state of human rights in the last few years. (The Parliament) appeals to the Iranian authorities to respect their commitments to international human rights standards… (The Parliament) severely condemns the practice of stoning and seeks reforms in the methods used for punishment and a cease of the practice of stoning."

Human Rights

Iran hits back at Canada at UN rights forum / Reuters

Tehran accuses Ottawa of racism, police brutality and treating its indigenous people like second class citizens
Full story

The decision was not an Israeli initiative, but comes at a time of considerable change in European attitude towards Iran which Israel has actively encouraged.

Ran Koriel, Israel's ambassador to the EU, told Ynet that "this four-page resolution is a charge-sheet against Iranian human rights practices. This decision refers to human rights and is not only limited to the nuclear program, regional instability or Holocaust denial because there is mechanism that allows human rights motions to be passed in a expedited manner."

Koriel explained that "this decision enumerates Iranian crimes: The death penalty—this year over 200 people (were put to death)—and the manner: stoning, public hangings, death sentences for journalists, human right activists and homosexuals. This is in addition to the oppression of religion, public opinion, journalists and more and it is mentions the names of those who are imprisoned in order to gain their release."

Building consensus in Europe
The motion does not carry the threat of action but it does help shape the public consensus on the matter in Europe and may help the passing of future sanctions against Iran.

"On the operational side, there aren't teeth," Koriel said. "It is mostly directed towards the UN, to strongly condemn Iran and to take steps to halt the death penalty. This is an important decision and it was well received by all parties in the Parliament. It is safe to say that this is part of consensus-building in Europe on the character of the Iran regime."

Koriel was skeptical that this represented a victory for Israel, but he promised that Israel would work to get a resolution passed in the EU on the Iranian nuclear program.
Comment: Wait and watch for Iran's response-it will inclde counter charges-thus takingfocus off of them.

The Personal Becomes Political The Attitudinal Prism of Condoleezza Rice

Joel Fishman
Last week in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, articulated some of her personal views which ultimately found their way into the press. For Dr. Rice the struggle of the Palestinians is analogous to that of the Afro-Americans for civil rights and she identifies with the Palestinians. She recalled what it meant to travel in segregated buses as a little girl in Alabama. She also compared the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to Reverend Martin Luther King, because, in her mind, both were committed to peace.

Abbas as committed to the struggle for Palestinian independence and, like Martin Luther King, opposed to terror and violence (Haaretz, October 16, 2007). Independently, David Bedein reported Rice's statements in The Bulletin (Philadelphia, October 17, 2007).

While this juxtaposition of the Afro-American campaign for civil rights and the Palestinian (armed) struggle seems strange, by using methods of political analysis it is possible to appreciate the significance of this type of information. Condoleezza Rice has given us the "Attitudinal Prism" of her decision-making process. Political scientists Gabriel Almond and G. Bingham Powell defined the term and explained its importance: "Men choose among alternative paths in accordance with their perception of the world in which they must act. The lens through which that setting is filtered may … be called the Attitudinal Prism. The content of that which they perceive is the Image. Together these constitute the Psychological Environment, the framework of choice, decision, and action. In foreign policy, as in all politics, the prism is shaped by three interacting variables—political culture, historical legacy, and the personality traits of the decision-makers."

It is clear that Rice personally considers that the Palestinians have a strong moral case and that Israel does not. Furthermore, she bases her views on her personal experience, drawing upon an analogy from the memories of her own childhood, particularly her identification with the Afro-American struggle for civil rights. According to Almond and Powell's analytical criteria, such attitudes are critically important because they become part of the decision-making process.

The problem is that Rice has adopted an incorrect analogy. Mahmoud Abbas was never a man of peace. It certainly would be a positive step forward if Rice could deal with the facts on their own merits and try to grasp why the Palestinians have reached their present situation. She should also face the fact that the Palestinians could have done much better had they refrained from launching the Second Armed Uprising in 2000.

Returning to the civil rights struggle, Condoleezza Rice's statements reveal that in her quest for a simple analogy, she forgot the one group that proved its friendship for the Afro-Americans. American Jewry unreservedly supported the civil rights struggle through participation and financial contributions. No other group in America demonstrated its commitment to social justice, as did American Jewry and its representative institutions. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a personal friend of Martin Luther King and marched with him. The Secretary of State should not forget that Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were martyrs for her people's cause, real martyrs – not to be confused with the terrorist murderers who blow up innocent civilians in public buses. The Afro-Americans did not win their campaign for civil rights on their own. They needed allies in Americans society, and the American Jewish community stood by them.

Further, Rice has overlooked a fundamental but not obvious, historical fact: Israel gave the world the idea that that all men are equal, because God created all men in His image. Israel also gave the world the principle that all men are equal under law. "One law and one ordinance shall be both for you and for the stranger that sojourns with you" (Numbers 15:16). This rule is called "isonomia". In Against Apion, written between 96-100 C.E., Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian, states that Moses "the Lawgiver" established this rule three thousand years previously, long before the Greeks (and well before the birth of the other two monotheistic religions). Josephus adds: "…. Persons who have espoused the cause of order and law – one law for all – and been the first to introduce them, may fairly be admitted to be more civilized and virtuously disposed than those who lead lawless and disorderly lives." (Against Apion II: 15, 151).

Josephus' statement explains why today many Palestinian Arab residents of Jerusalem stubbornly insist on remaining under Israeli rule. They prefer equality under law – even if they do not particularly care for the Jewish state. Israel's laws and legal system are still superior. And one should not forget that, if it were not for Moses "the Lawgiver," there could not have been a civil rights movement or a Reverend Martin Luther King.

Condoleezza Rice's Attitudinal Prism reveals a perception of the current situation which is limited by her personal experience and hopelessly superficial. It also lacks an awareness of history. Such perceptions, based on a false and oversimplified analogy, prevent the Secretary of State from seeing the facts objectively and dealing fairly, which are the prerequisites of statesmanship.

Dr. Joel Fishman is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Director general of SDC expresses willingness to meet Haneyya

GAZA, (PIC)-- Walter Fust, the director-general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), confirmed his willingness to meet with Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, expressing concern at the difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip During a meeting with a number of Palestinian journalists in Gaza on Tuesday evening, Fust underlined that his government has no objection to cooperate with the caretaker government in Gaza to deliver human aid to the Palestinian people, pointing out that his country have contacts with all the Palestinian parties and have never once happened to reduce the volume of assistance to the Palestinian people.
The director-general of SDC added that the Swiss government's position has never changed, highlighting that it recognized the results of the legislative elections in 2006 and the 10th government formed by Haneyya following the announcement of the election results as well as the Makkah agreement and the government of national unity.
The Swiss official expressed sorrow when he did not find the previous vitality and vigor he had found in the faces of Palestinians ten years ago when he visited Gaza, pointing out that he recently noticed that there was malnutrition in the Gaza children's faces during his visits to primary schools and health centers affiliated with UNRWA.
The Swiss official also pointed out that he also saw during his visit to the Shati refugee camp to the west of Gaza Strip that a third of about one million and a half Palestinians, living in an area of about 362 square kilometers, is below the poverty line and without jobs.
The Swiss official promised to persuade Swiss MPs and officials to increase the share of the Gaza Strip from the Swiss support for the Palestinian people which amount to about $ 24 million during the current year.
In reply to a question about the thing which most affected him in Gaza, he said: "The future of Gaza children," adding that he would convey a message to the Swiss Parliament to increase the funding allocated for children education and health programs in the Strip, adding that his government will never stop its political pressures to guarantee the freedom of movement and commercial transactions in and out of the Gaza Strip.

Abbas attempts crack-down in Nablus

The Palestinian Authority is planning to deploy some 500 policemen in Nablus, the largest West Bank city, as part of an effort to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy and undermine Hamas's influence, PA security officials said Thursday. The officials told The Jerusalem Post that the PA security forces were ready to assume their full responsibilities in the city in the coming days.
They were speaking shortly after meeting with US security coordinator Lt. General Keith Dayton, who visited Nablus for talks with PA security officials on the PA's security plan. He was accompanied on his visit by security officials from Canada, Britain and Australia.
"This is where the Palestinian state will get its first real test," Dayton said. "When you succeed in Nablus, it will send a message throughout the West Bank and it will send a message to your neighbors that you're serious about law and order and that you can do the job."
A PA security official said, "Our forces are ready to enter Nablus on November 1. We are only waiting for a green light from Israel."
Col. Ahmed Sharqawi, commander of the PA police in Nablus, said the policemen would be deployed in many parts of the city. He added that militiamen would be banned from roaming the streets and expressed hope that the residents of Nablus would cooperate with the police.
Sharqawi was among the security officials who met with Dayton. The other PA officials who participated in the meeting were Gen. Majed Faraj, head of the PA Military Intelligence Force, Gen. Abu Al-Fateh, commander of the PA National Security Force, Akram rajoub, head of the PA Preventative Security Force in Nablus and Col. Abu Jihad, head of the PA General Intelligence Service in the city.
Dayton hailed the PA's security plan for Nablus, saying Washington supports any effort to bring security to the West Bank.
The PA governor of Nablus, Jamal Muhaisen, said the Palestinians briefed the security team on the situation in the city. He accused Israel of destroying the economy of the city by repeatedly launching military operations there. He also called for resolving the problem of dozens of Fatah gunmen in the city who are wanted by Israel.
It's not clear at this stage if the PA intends to deploy its forces inside the three main refugee camps surrounding Nablus. Previous attempts by the PA to dispatch policemen to the camps were foiled by members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades who, according to local residents, are largely responsible for the ongoing state of anarchy.
In Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun condemned US aid to the Fatah-controlled security forces in the West Bank. He said the Americans were rewarding PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his security forces because of their "campaign of repression and destruction against Hamas in the West Bank."
Another Hamas representative, Mushir Al-Masri, warned that his men would overthrow Abbas's regime in the West Bank if the clampdown on Hamas continues. "Abbas will never be able to impose his American-Zionist agenda on Hamas," he said. "The Gaza scenario will be copied to the West Bank if
the pressure on Hamas persists."

Sderot residents Cutting electricity won't stop Qassams

Residents of rocket-battered city waiting to see if defense minister will go through with his threats to cut off power to Gaza After experiencing a particularly harsh barrage of rockets and mortars Thursday, Sderot residents have their eyes on the lights of the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun to see if Defense Minister Ehud Barak will carry out his threat to cut electricity to the coastal strip in response to continuing rocket and mortar fire.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said that he was "happy that the government is trying, because we live with the feeling that they are not trying, and we need to try this step as well. The government apparently also understands that the response (to the rocket and mortar fire) up until now has been restricted. If (cutting off power) doesn't work, we need to try other things."

Palestinian Response

'Limiting Gaza power supply a crime' / Ali Waked

Defense minister's decision to reduce power supplies to Strip angers Palestinians. 'Decision is a severe escalation which may lead to a humanitarian crisis in the Strip,' says spokesman for Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestinian
Full story

"I hope the government continues to look for ways to combat the rockets," he added.

However not all residents of the beleaguered city believe the government's promises, and most do not believe that Gaza's lights will go out.

"I am sure that there won’t be darkness in Gaza. I remember how workers at the electric company used to switch off the power to protest, but we notify the Palestinians that we're going to cut the electricity, if we want to do this we should just do it without warning them just like that don't tell us when they are going to fire at us," Sasson Sarah, head of the parents' committee in the city said.

Alon Davidi, head of Sderot task force, is also not so sure that a power cutoff will be effective in curbing Qassam rocket attacks on the Gaza periphery community.

"Barak's decision is a mockery and an attempt to throw sand in the face of Sderot residents and Israeli citizens. Power outages are a good way for unions to demonstrate for better work conditions, but in the war against terrorism they are ineffective and a demonstration of weakness," Davidi said.

Most Sderot residents are not satisfied with punitive measures against Gaza residents and are more interesting in see a military response to the unceasing rocket and mortar attacks that are disrupting their day-to-day lives.

The majority of those in Sderot are finding it difficult to have a positive outlook on their situation.

"Shutting off the power is a move to calm (Minister of Strategic Affairs) Avigdor Lieberman, not residents of Sderot, we're not threatening to leave—quite the opposite, we're staying here.

"Maybe as a gesture we'll donate a couple hundred emergency light bulbs to the Palestinians for Lierberman and Abu Mazen," Rina Mor-Yosef, a resident of the besieged city, said sarcastically.

Fatah instigating conflict between Islamic Jihad, Hamas

Palestinian source tells al-Sinara newspaper Fatah members infiltrating into other groups to stir up conflict with Hamas Since Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza, their rivals in Fatah have been trying to regain control of the coastal strip—or at least regain some respect.

The Nazareth-based daily al-Sinara reports that Fatah members have been slyly joining other Palestinian groups, such as the Islamic Jihad, in an attempt to push these groups toward confrontation with Hamas.

Fatah activists in question did not join other Palestinian groups to aid them, but rather to "incite them into a civil war with Hamas," he continued.

"Fatah members in Islamic Jihad are the ones that have been shooting at the Executive Force (Hamas' security body) and at Hamas activists," the source said.

According to the source, the recent confrontations between Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces have been a result of this phenomenon.

On Sunday, a Palestinian was killed in an exchange of fire between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The victim was the nephew of Khaled Mansour, an Islamic Jihad commander in southern Gaza. He was apparently killed in a Hamas attempt to murder his uncle, Palestinian sources said.

Islamic Jihad claims that Hamas is trying to liquidate Palestinian opposition to its rule in Gaza.

The Islamic Resistance Committee has refused to integrate Fatah members into its ranks because of a fear that this will incite conflict with Hamas, according to the source.

Since Hamas seized control of the Strip, exchanges of fire between various armed Palestinian groups has become a common occurrence. The latest confrontation between Fatah and Hamas led to four deaths at least 20 injured.

Erekat calls for intl intervention against Gaza electricity cuts

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat appealed for international intervention and called the Israeli decision to cut off electricity to Gaza after each Kassam rocket "particularly provocative given that Palestinians and Israelis are meeting to negotiate an agreement on the core issues for ending the conflict between them." Defense Minister Ehud Barak's approval earlier Thursday of an IDF plan to impose sanctions on the Gaza Strip in wake of the escalation in Kassam rocket attacks was the first step, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post, towards a "complete disengagement" including the gradual reduction in Palestinian dependency on Israel for gas and electricity.
During his weekly security meeting on Thursday Barak approved the plan that had been formulated by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav in line with the recent cabinet decision that defined Gaza as a "hostile entity."
According to the plan, one of the power lines connecting Israel and Gaza will be shut down at first for 15 minutes after a rocket attack, gradually increasing the cutoff length if the barrages continue, up to a two-hour limit. In addition, Israel will begin reducing the amount of gasoline it allows into the Gaza Strip.
Defense officials stressed that the fairly-limited sanctions were not capable of creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and were being imposed with the eventual goal - of the defense establishment - to completely cut off Palestinian dependency on Israel. The cuts to electricity will not affect Gaza-based hospitals, defense officials said.
Palestinians and human rights groups denounced the measure as collective punishment. One of the groups, Gisha, issued a statement warning, "Playing with electricity is playing with fire," adding, "Even a brief interruption in electricity threatens the safety and well-being of Gaza residents."
Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel had no choice but to take punitive measures. "Should we tell them to continue firing rockets at the same power station that provides them with electricity and continue to bomb the water system that provides them with water?" he asked.
Defense officials stressed that the cuts to electricity and gas were not being taken to "punish" the Palestinians but to instead gradually begin the final disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which was started in 2005 when Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory.
This plan has was recently raised by outgoing Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky during a series of meetings within the defense establishment.
According to the proposal, which officials stressed was in its early stages, Israel would completely disconnect from Gaza by closing off the Erez, Karni, Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings and instead direct humanitarian organizations to work with Egypt.
A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said that while in the long run Israel hoped to reach a situation where Israel could completely cut itself off from Gaza, "we are not at that stage yet."
The official said that such a decision would need to come to the security cabinet and the government, something that has not yet happened. According to the official, the decision to cut back on electric and gas supplies was part of September's cabinet decision that declared the Gaza Strip "hostile territory."
Anticipating a barrage of criticism following the decision to scale back the volume of electricity and gasoline that will be provided to Gaza, the Foreign Ministry already on Wednesday sent out background information and talking points to Israel's representations abroad explaining that the move was a "non- violent response to continued attacks."

The material emphasizes that the actions are a response to the unrelenting Kassam attacks that continued even after Israel fully withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The material stresses that the actions are within the realms of international law, and that Israel's first responsibility is to protect its citizens.

Israel's ambassadors and spokesmen are expected to say that Hamas is engaged in war crimes by targeting innocent civilians, and that Israel's steps are not collective punishment but rather the justified response to attacks on Israeli citizens.

Meanwhile in violence on Thursday, IDF troops shot and killed four armed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Two Hamas operatives were killed during clashes with an IDF reserve unit in southern Gaza and large amounts of weaponry, including an RPG and a grenade, were found on their bodies. The other two, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, were killed after they were spotted laying roadside bombs along the Gaza security fence.

Comment: Right out of their playbook-I called this yesterday in a post on docstalk-they are very predictable

Thursday, October 25, 2007

From Arlene Kushner in Israel

And so I ask each of you who is a US citizen to help.

Below you will find a short list of the aides to key influential members of Congress with contact information. It is always most productive to contact the aides; a fax or phone call is most effective; e-mail if that is what is possible for you.

The message is simple:

Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace; he has terrorist associations. Pushing negotiations is counterproductive to US interests and goals.

Please, work to stop all pressure on Israel to negotiate and make concessions; the US needs a strong Israel in the Middle East.

Please also work to block further appropriations to the PA, as some of this money will inevitably fund terrorism, which is what the US is supposed to be fighting.

Change the wording a bit to personalize the message. In each instance ask that the message be conveyed to the appropriate Congressperson (or Congresspersons).

Please! Try to do several of these names, and if possible all of them. They all need to hear from us. This is democracy in action and the power is in your hands.

Also, please distribute this information as widely as you can -- on your lists, to family and friends. Numbers count and we need large numbers now.


Alan is the senior professional Majority staff member for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He doesn't work with one Congressperson, but rather with the committee. Ask that he convey your message to all Democrats on the Committee.

phone 202-225-6735 fax 202-226-3581


Deputy Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN GARY ACKERMAN, Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia, of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

phone 202-225-2601 fax 202-225-1589


Professional Staff Member, Minority Staff, for House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Works with CONGRESSWOMAN ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, ranking member of the committee (was chair before the elections) and a good friend to Israel. Ask that he convey the message to all Republican members of the Committee and especially to Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.

phone 202-226-8467 fax 202-226-7269


Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN JIM SAXTON, who has opposed Oslo on Capitol Hill and been a staunch friend.

phone 202-225-4765 fax (202) 225-0778


Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN ELIOT ENGEL, who is on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia and a good friend to Israel.

phone 202-225-2464 fax (202) 225-5513


Chief of Staff to CONGRESSMAN TRENT FRANKS, a Congressman with growing influence, who is a solid friend and has taken on the issue of the inciteful PA school books.

phone 202-225-4567 fax 202-225-6328


Legislative Assistant to CONGRESSMAN HENRY WAXMAN, who has powerful influence on matters of foreign policy and speaks out for integrity in government.

phone 202-225-3976 fax 202-225-4099


Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN MARK KIRK, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which has considerable power, and co-chairs a Republican caucus group, thus having contact with others.

phone 202-225-4835 fax 202-225-0837


Staff director for CONGRESSMAN BRAD SHERMAN, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

phone 202-225-5911 fax 202-225-5879

If you want to check for your own Congressperson, see:

UN Report Points to Lebanese Militias Re-arming

The latest semi-annual report on Lebanon from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paints a gloomy picture. Among the points of concern: groups such as Hizbullah are re-arming, in contravention of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701; weapons smuggling into the country is continuing and Beirut’s political crisis shows no signs of ending. The Lebanese government seized a truckload of Grad rockets, mortars and ammunition for automatic rifles and machine guns belonging to Hizbullah in June, according to the report. A similar cache was discovered in February.

Spencer at DePaul University

Robert Spencer | 10/24/2007

Last night I had the great honor of speaking on a panel with Iranian freedom fighter Amir Abbas Fakhravar. We were at DePaul University, where the crowd was hostile but only made a few attempts actually to shout us down. They restricted their chanting about racism -- an absurd charge to hurl in any discussion of Islam and jihad, but particularly inappropriate to shout at a former inmate of the mullah' prison cells -- to before and after the event. It was hard to be heard at less than a shout level during the book signing after the event, when the peaceful, tolerant folks' moronic chanting made it almost impossible to carry on a conversation.
Should I be glad that nobody got hurt? On one level, I suppose so. But that that kind of gratitude would even cross my mind (and not just mine) is in itself an indication of how bad things have gotten on our college campuses. The posturing, yelling, and windy self-righteous lecturing during the question period indicated just how thoroughly the DePaul student community, with a few courageous exceptions, has been propagandized.
Freedom Folks, whom I had the pleasure of meeting there, has coverage of the evening, plenty of pictures, and video of the talk I gave.
And that reminds me: if you really like that tie, you can see it again in Atlas' video of a talk I gave at the Counterjihad Summit in Brussels last week, which comes at the end of a long and informative post about the summit itself.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.

Letter to the President

To President George W. Bush
The White House
October 24, 2007

Dear President Bush,

It appears that you are desirous of creating a Palestinian state regardless of any conditions that you required at the beginning of this goal.
There are daily attacks on Israel from already relinquished territory - 'in the interest of peace' but the only interest that the Arabs have is the destruction of Israel which they announce daily. Then, took, there was a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Olmert when he was enroute to Jericho to meet Abbas. Hardly a minor detail is the fact that the perpetrators of the thwarted plan were no other than those whose task it was to protect the Prime Minister - Abbas' special security guards!

Despite this, Mr. Bush, Sec'y of State Rice feels that there is a desire for peace. Her willingness to forgive the noncompliance of the PA and its leadership with your demands and her desire to overlook the warlike statements and actions of the PA as it relentlessly attacks innocent Israeli citizens - all serve to embolden Israel's enemies. They know in advance that if they wait long enough the big strong United States will yield to their desires!!

Sec'y of State Rice is returning to the Middle East to pressure Israel for more concessions.
Our American government is giving in to Muslim/ Arab blackmail and that is not in the best interests of the country. It is time to stop this downhill effort immediately, Mr. Bush, lest your plan create greater danger for the United States.


Middle East Studies Profs Make Unfounded Claims that They're Smeared by Critics

A group of professors, mostly from the humanities and with a large contingent from Middle East studies, have formed the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University. They claim that "outside groups" are "seeking to influence what is taught and who can teach." It's the subject of this story in the web magazine Inside Higher Ed.

But the professors aren't concerned with generic complaints; their real target is more specific. Although Campus Watch isn't mentioned, the Committee clearly alludes to it:

Unfortunately and ironically, many of the most vociferous campaigns targeting universities and their faculty have been launched by groups portraying themselves as defenders of Israel. These groups have targeted scholars who have expressed perspectives on Israeli policies and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with which they disagree.

Aside from there being nothing ironic about that claim, there is also nothing true about it. CW does not target anyone for disagreeing with Israeli policies or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. W

e critique professors of Middle East studies for myriad problems in their writing and teaching, whether Israel is involved or not.
Yet the Committee's first two complaints deal directly with Israel:
*unfounded insinuations and allegations, in the media and on websites, of anti-Semitism or sympathy for terrorism or "un-Americanism;"
*efforts to broaden definitions of anti-Semitism to include scholarship and teaching that is critical of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and of Israel;
Among the signatories (there were 173 as of Wednesday morning) are several professors of Middle East studies. Among them are: Gabriel Piterberg of UCLA; Magid Shihade of UC-Davis; Lisa Hajjar of UC-Santa Barbara; Gil Anidjar of Columbia; Laurie Brand of USC; Joel Beinin, listed as at Stanford, although (for now at least) at the American Univ. in Cairo; Lawrence Davidson of West Chester Univ.; Elliott Colla of Brown; Ahmad Dallal of Georgetown; Mark LeVine of UC-Irvine; Zareena A. Grewal of Yale; Suad Joseph of UC-Davis; Lila Abu-Lughod of Columbia; and others.

Since so many professors of Middle East studies are signatories, let's see if the charges made by critics of contemporary academe are in fact "unfounded," and if the term "anti-Semitism" is in fact tossed around so loosely. Here are just a few examples; judge for yourselves:

Juan Cole of Michigan, writing at his blog on Sunday, Oct. 21:
No one in the US media ever talks about Zionofascism, and the campus groups who yoke the word 'fascism' to other religions and peoples are most often trying to divert attention from their own authoritarianism and approval of brutality.

Joseph Massad of Columbia, writing in Al-Ahram Weekly this past March:
Israel is willing to do anything to convince Palestinians and other Arabs of why it needs and deserves to have the right to be racist. Even at the level of theory, and before it began to realise itself on the ground, the Zionist colonial project sought different means by which it could convince the people whose lands it wanted to steal and against whom it wanted to discriminate to accept as understandable its need to be racist.

Same man, same paper, December, 2004:

All those in the Arab world who deny the Jewish holocaust are in my opinion Zionists.
Saree Makdisi of UCLA, writing on his blog in April:

[Israel's] demand that its 'right to exist' be recognized reflects its own anxiety, not about its existence but about its failure to successfully eliminate the Palestinians' presence inside their homeland — a failure for which verbal recognition would serve merely a palliative and therapeutic function.

Scott Alexander of the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago, speaking in June, 2004, as an expert witness in the defense of Fawaz Damra, charged with immigration fraud and ties to terrorists:

[W]hen Palestinians refer to Jews as 'descended from apes and swine' or encourage support for those who 'kill Jews,' they do so with the reasonably justifiable self-image of victim and persecuted, not of victimizer and persecutor.
Omid Safi of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, speaking to the Associated Press in June, regarding the recent Pew Research Center Poll showing that 26 percent of American Muslim between the ages of 18 and 29 say that suicide bombing is justified in at least some circumstances.

Given what's happened in Iraq and Palestine, I would be shocked if there wasn't discontent.

Rashid Khalidi of Columbia, speaking of the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June, on National Public Radio:

[T]his has to be laid at the doorstep of Bush administration and Israeli government policy, they almost willed this result.
Winfield Myers is director of Campus Watch.

PA worried by attempt to create new PLO

Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority officials here expressed concern on Wednesday over attempts by Hamas and other Palestinian radical groups to create a new PLO at a conference due to take place in Syria and the Gaza Strip early next month.

The officials told The Jerusalem Post that they were trying to persuade the Syrian government to ban the conference.
They called on the Arab countries and the US to join their efforts to thwart the planned conference.

The conference, which will bring together several Palestinian "rejectionist" groups, has been called in response to the US-sponsored peace conference, which is due to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, late this year. The conference will be held simultaneously in Damascus and Gaza City through a video-conference link.

"The conference in Damascus will deepen divisions among the Palestinians," warned a senior PA official. "This is the first time that several Palestinian factions are talking about the possibility of establishing an alternative to the PLO, which is still regarded by many Palestinians as their sole and legitimate representative."
In addition to the extremist groups, a number of prominent Palestinian figures have been invited to the conference in Syria, including estranged and veteran PLO leader Farouk Kaddoumi. The Tunisian-based Kaddoumi, who also serves as secretary-general of Fatah, is an outspoken critic of the Oslo Accords and the current PA leadership under Mahmoud Abbas.

Invitations issued by Hamas and its political allies described the Syria parley as the "Palestinian National Conference for Resisting Schemes Aimed at Liquidating the Palestinian Cause."

"Their declared goal is to foil the Annapolis conference," said another PA official. "What's worrying is that the conference will be held under the auspices of the Syrian regime, which is also unhappy with the US efforts to reach a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians."

The PLO's parliament-in-exile, the Palestine National Council, urged the Syrian authorities to prevent the gathering for fear that it would escalate tensions on the Palestinian arena. The council also warned against attempts to establish a new PLO, "which was built thanks to the sacrifices of our martyrs, first and foremost President Yasser Arafat."

The council accused Hamas of seeking to exploit the conference to divert attention from its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip. "Hamas wants to legitimize its coup in the Gaza Strip through this conference," it said.

"Hamas's attempt to create a new PLO is doomed to failure," said Yusef al-Qazzaz, a senior official with the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. "Hamas's attempt is aimed at serving the interests of regional powers and won't help the Palestinians achieve independence and freedom," he said. "Hamas's attempt to drive a wedge between our people won't succeed."

Palestinian columnist Omar al-Ghoul said the Syria conference, which will also be attended by Arab and Islamic parties, was primarily aimed at helping Hamas break the state of isolation it has been facing for many months. "The conference in Syria is aimed at consolidating Hamas's rule in the Gaza Strip," he said. "We must not allow this to happen and the PLO must take measures to explain the dangers of this meeting."

No more doubts

The revelations regarding the Palestinian cell that attempted to assassinate Israel’s prime minister in Jericho on August 6 put an end to the debate on whether Mahmoud Abbas is the true representative of the Palestinian people. The cell’s detention and subsequent release, in line with the good old “revolving door” tradition, takes the Palestinian Authority 20 years back, to the days of the Palestinian convention, armed struggle, and the slogan “from revolution all the way to victory.”

Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and their spokesman Erekat belong to the same organization, Fatah, which is home to the activists who planned to assassinate Ehud Olmert. This organization is indeed representative of Palestinian society – a society that is very far from peace with Israel.

The foiled assassination highlights three fundamental facts that we would do well to promptly discuss. The first one is Palestinian strategy, which has not changed. The second one is Abbas’ helplessness. The third one – what should the Israeli approach be?

Palestinian strategy: If we needed further proof, there it is: Fatah has not changed at all its good old strategy, which views Israel as the bitter enemy. Israeli leaders who push for a peace process are overly impressed by the suit-wearing trio: Abbas, Fayyad, and Erekat. The three use a European look and fluent English to sell real estate that does not belong to them to the Americans. Time and again they are revealed to be the public relations managers of a tough people that supports terrorism and is unwilling to accept any historic and territorial compromise. The three are doing the unbelievable by marketing the Palestinians as a “peace loving nation,” but the latest assassination attempt removes at once the mask on their face. What else needs to happen so that both the US and Israel realize the Palestinians are ideologically unprepared for peace? Arafat at least showed up to meetings in uniform and carrying a gun…will a suit serve to mask all crimes?

Palestinian helplessness: Here is more proof that Abbas and the Fatah organization are unable to implement their rule over even part of the territories, and with every passing day their abilities decline and the area under their control shrinks. It is no coincidence that Abbas does not want to assume responsibility for security in West Bank towns, even in a relatively easy to control peripheral town like Jericho. And if this is the case in Jericho, what can be said about Nablus and Hebron? Not to mention the Gaza Strip? There is no doubt that the bodies under Abbas’ command – the ones that collapsed like a house of cards in the Gaza Strip – are the police scarecrows that will collapse in West Bank towns as well the day the IDF departs. Therefore, while his people “chatter about peace” all that is left for the real Fatah leaders to do is to behave like a fighting opposition to Hamas dominance.

The foiled attack against Israel’s prime minister is exactly the pattern of activity expected of Palestinian opposition – an inter-organization competition over terrorism hegemony. It is easy to predict that if, heaven forbid, the assassination would have succeeded, Fatah would have won the next elections by an overwhelming majority because only a major terror attack is the key to political success across the territories, rather than an agreement with Israel.

The Israel angle: We could assume that in wake of the attempted attack, Abbas will attempt to deny these were Fatah men and that they do not even appear on the list of people who receive salaries from the organization, justify the cell’s release from prison with claims of “insufficient evidence,” promise it will be detained again, or say that those were Hamas members who sought to create a quarrel between Fatah and Israel. It is also likely to assume that Israel’s contacts with Fatah will continue.

It’s a waste of time. If the group that planned to assassinate Israel’s prime minister indeed belongs to Fatah’s armed struggle, and Abbas indeed knew that, the prime minister should be careful of the guest that has been visiting Jerusalem as of late. And if Abbas is so weak and has such feeble control over his own organization, who exactly are we talking peace with?

The writer served in various posts in the territories and currently researches Palestinian society at the Shmuel Neeman Institute at the Technion
From Arab media: Occupied Palestinian Territories: Palestinian factional strife fuelling abuses
notice how they always teach lies, "occupied territories"-simply not true. Interfactional fighting between Hamas and Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip earlier this year left 350 Palestinians dead and has been followed by further serious abuses in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
The 57-page report, Occupied Palestinian Territories: Torn apart by factional strife, accuses Hamas of resorting increasingly to arbitrary detentions and torture since it took power last June in the Gaza Strip, and of allowing its forces to attack and assault peaceful demonstrators as well as journalists reporting on their protests. In the West Bank, the report blames security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas of arbitrarily detaining hundreds of Hamas supporters but of failing to take action against Fatah militants responsible for abductions, arson and other attacks.
"The leaders of both the PA and Hamas must take immediate steps to break the cycle of impunity that continues to fuel abuses, including arbitrary detentions, abductions, torture and ill-treatment by their forces," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East Programme Director. "The ongoing factional struggle between Fatah and Hamas is having a dire effect on the lives of Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, compounding and exacerbating the human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by Israeli military campaigns and blockades."
The report calls for the establishment of an independent commission of experts to investigate human rights abuses committed by both parties since the beginning of 2006 and for the leaders on both sides to commit to implementing its recommendations.
According to the report, Palestinian interfactional fighting in the Gaza Strip reached unprecedented levels during the past year, culminating in June 2007 when Hamas seized control of Palestinian Authority security institutions in the territory. It argues that both PA and Hamas security forces and armed groups displayed a flagrant disregard for the safety of the civilian population by launching indiscriminate attacks and reckless gun battles in residential neighbourhoods. This left civilians virtually trapped like prisoners in their own homes while dozens of unarmed bystanders who were not involved in the confrontations, including children, were caught in the line of fire.
The report contains harrowing accounts from victims of both sides and from residents who were directly affected by the waves of armed clashes which took place in the Gaza Strip in June and previous months: "For three days we could not leave the house. Gunmen had taken position on tall buildings and were firing rockets at each others. We feared that a missile could come through the window any time," a resident of Gaza City told Amnesty International in June 2007.
Rival security forces whose responsibility it was to uphold and enforce the law, and to protect the population, betrayed this responsibility and instead acted as partisans, in concert with armed groups that serve as their proxy militias, and themselves broke the laws and committed gross abuses with complete impunity.
President Abbas' decision to suspend the operations of PA security forces and judicial institutions in the Gaza Strip following the de-facto takeover of Hamas in Gaza has created a legal and institutional vacuum. This paved the way for Hamas to establish a parallel security and law enforcement apparatus - but one which lacks appropriately trained personnel, accountability mechanisms or safeguards.
As a result, arbitrary detentions and torture of detainees by Hamas forces are now widespread in Gaza, as are attacks against demonstrators and journalists covering such incidents. The initial improvements in the security situation which followed Hamas' takeover in Gaza are fast being eroded .
In the West Bank, human rights abuses by PA security forces are also rife, though much less well publicised - as the international community is seemingly unwilling to rock the boat ahead of forthcoming US-convened conference aimed at resuscitating the long-stalled peace talks between the Israeli government and the PA emergency government.
Hundreds of Hamas supporters or presumed sympathizers have been arrested and arbitrarily detained by PA security forces, violations of legal detention procedures are routine and reports of torture or other ill-treatment are becoming more frequent. Detainees are held in sites not authorized by law for this purpose and security forces frequently ignore orders the judges' orders to release detainees for lack of evidence.
The PA emergency government has failed to hold to account Fatah gunmen who abducted Hamas supporters and burned down their houses, businesses and charity organizations suspected of links to Hamas in the West Bank - even though the perpetrators of these attacks were often known in their communities and acted in full view of the security forces.
The arrest and detention of more than 1,000 presumed Hamas supporters, most of whom are not accused of any crime, stands in stark contrast to the PA's failure to arrest and bring to justice members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, responsible for unlawful killings, hostage-taking, arson and other attacks against people and property.
"The lawlessness which has increasingly gripped the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent years, culminating in the recent interfactional fighting, is to a large extent the result of the prolonged and systematic failure of the PA to uphold and enforce the law," said Malcolm Smart.
The report also calls on the international community to cease the sale or transfer of weapons to any parties until guarantees can be secured that they won't be used to violate human rights.
"The international community must hold all Palestinian parties accountable to the same human rights standards," said Malcolm Smart. "It must ensure that the population of the Gaza Strip is not punished for the positions and actions of the Hamas de-facto administration and that emergency assistance essential to fulfilling fundamental human rights is never used as a bargaining tool to further political goals."
Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:
For latest human rights news view

The Israel Project is an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. The Israel Project provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel. The Israel Project is not related to any government or government agency.
Board of Advisors: Senator Evan Bayh (IN), Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA), Senator Norm Coleman (MN), Senator Ben Nelson (NE), Senator Arlen Specter (PA), Senator Ron Wyden (OR), Congressman Rob Andrews (NJ), Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (NV), Congressman Tom Davis (VA), Congressman Eliot Engel (NY), Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ), Congressman Jon Porter (NV), Congressman Jim Saxton (NJ), Congressman Brad Sherman (CA), Congressman Joe Wilson (SC), Actor and Director Ron Silver