Saturday, December 08, 2007

Good news in Israel

Yoram Ettinger

In spite of the 2006 Lebanese War, in defiance of sustained Palestinian terrorism, irrespective of no progress in the "peace process" and independent of Israel's political uncertainty:. 1. Israel is ranked as the top foreign source of deal-flow, ahead of Canada, China and India, by US VC funds managers. The survey, conducted by Delloite Touche, has also ranked Israel as the second (to Canada) most attractive source of entrepreneurs. 46% of US VC funds invest abroad (The Marker, Dec. 6, 2007).

2. Standard & Poor raised Israel's credit ratings, for the first time since 1995, to A (long-term foreign currency rating), to AA- (long-term local currency rating) and to A1+ (short-term domestic rating). S&P based its decision on Israel's economic indicators: GDP growth, shrinking budget deficit, reduced public debt per GDP (2000-87%, 2001-92%, 2002-100%, 2003-102%, 2004-101%, 2005-97%, 2006-88%, 2007-80%), low inflation, balance of payment and balance of trade surplus, tax decrease, continued market reforms, etc. Improved rating is expected to attract more overseas investments and lower interest on loans (The Marker, Nov. 28).

3. Israel leads the world in civilian R&D per GDP - 4.5%, compared to 3% expected by the EEC by 2010. Israel was 5th in the world in GDP growth - 5.2% in 2006 (Globes, Dec. 5). Israel's GDP grew 6.1% during the 3rd quarter of 2007, the 17th quarter of straight growth since mid-2003, the longest growth streak since 1948 (2001 - minus 0.4%, 2002 - minus 0.6%, 2003 - 2.3%, 2004 - 2.5%, 2005 - 5.3%, 2006 - 5.2%, 2007 - projected 5.5%-6%). Overall investments rose 24% during the quarter (Globes, Nov. 26).

4. Israel has the second largest concentration of startups per capital next to Silicon Valley. Israeli startups developed crucial flash drive, call center and instant messaging technologies. According to Jon Medved, both share energized entrepreneurial spirit, informal work atmosphere, pioneering risk-taking ethos and a large number of high-quality immigrants. 400 Israeli start ups emerge annually, more than any European country. The number of funded startups has doubled since 2000. Next to the US, Israel has more stocks traded on NASDAQ than any other country. High tech (which is minimally vulnerable to terrorism and political instability) accounts to 50% of Israel's exports - about $15BN annually. Israeli companies have easier access to Asian markets, since they are not perceived as a commercial threat (Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2007).

5. SAP and McCaffee expand their R&D operations in Israel, hiring additional personnel (both) and constructing a new site (McCaffee) (Globes, Nov. 14).

6. Israel's Telematics is acquired by Singapore's St. Electronics (Globes, Nov. 20). Israel's Esther Neuroscience was acquired by Britain's Amarin for $15MN and additional $17MN per milestones (Globes, Dec. 6). Israel's Oridian was acquired by India's Ybrant for $15MN (Globes, Dec. 5).

7. GE Medical participated in a $30MN round by Israel's InsighTech (Nov. 30). US-based Radius Venture participated in a $27MN 2nd round by Israel's Mendigo (Globes, Nov. 21). Varburg-Pinkus participated in an $8MN 3rd round by Israel's NuLens (Globes, Nov. 21). Sequoia invested $8MN in the 1st round of private placement by Israel's DensBits (Globes, Dec. 3). Taiwan's CIDC VC fund led a $6MN 3rd round by Israel's AdvaSense (Globes, Nov. 22).

Where's our Churchill?

Frank J Gaffney Jr.
Center For Security Policy | 12/7/2007
Seventy years ago, Winston Churchill repeatedly took to the floor of the House of Commons to warn his nation against the growing menace posed by the steady accretion of military might by Nazi Germany. He contested the determination of his party (which at the time ruled Britain) to appease the Nazis, in the face of enormous public resistance to his message and over the blithe assurances of his nation’s intelligence services that Hitler’s build-up either was not real or posed no threat.

Upwards of 40 million people subsequently lost their lives in the horrific, global conflagration that ensued. Many of them died and untold millions of others lost their homes, their livelihoods, and even their countries because Churchill’s warnings were not heeded at a time when the danger could have been dispatched with relative ease.

Today, we find ourselves at a similar crossroads. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a regime animated by apocalyptic visions every bit as dark as Mein Kampf, is steadily working to acquire the means to carry them out. In the name of bringing back the Mahdi — the messianic 12th Imam whose arrival will usher in the Golden Age of Islamic rule following the end of days — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mullahs he fronts for are determined to acquire and use nuclear weapons.

Confronted with this frightening prospect, the Bush administration has decided to “engage” Iran, hoping that the distant prospect of serious multilateral sanctions will induce Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Leading politicians are determined to avert their gaze, or worse, to insist that military action against Iran to prevent an Iranian-launched Armageddon is out of the question. Public-opinion samples indicate that, while many Americans are deeply worried about Iran, they recoil from the idea of undertaking any additional combat responsibilities and the associated losses.

Tragically, these all too familiar examples of democracies’ cognitive dissonance and fecklessness in the face of real and growing threats are — as in Churchill’s time — being encouraged and exacerbated by a failure of the intelligence community.

The just-released unclassified Key Judgments of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) confirm that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons as recently as 2002 or 2003. This homogenized product of the various intelligence agencies performed under the supervision of the deputy director of national intelligence, Thomas Fingar, avers though that the Iranians may have abandoned this program. The reasons given for such a contention are, to say the least, highly subjective and debatable.

The truth is that neither the U.S. intelligence community, nor the International Atomic Energy Agency, nor anybody else outside a very small circle in Iran has certain knowledge about the current state of Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, or how far it is from producing one or more usable devices. But, like their counterparts in pre-World War II Britain, today’s spies are serving up soporific conclusions certain (if not calculated) to encourage inaction by the West — and to buy our enemies time to prepare their onslaught.

This outcome is no surprise. In fact, a number of decisions taken in recent years have made it virtually inevitable.

For example, the misguided belief that 9/11 demonstrated the necessity of another layer of bureaucracy to coordinate the work of the United States' already over-bureaucratized intelligence organizations, President Bush agreed to establish a director of national intelligence. He then appointed a foreign-service officer, John Negroponte, to serve as the first DNI.

Negroponte defied congressional expectations by building an empire — a bloated office with over 1,000 employees, many of them torn from their line responsibilities elsewhere in the community and the often-important work they were doing there. Worse yet, he put a coterie of fellow foreign-service officers, like Tom Fingar, in key leadership positions. A number of these displayed a visceral hostility to President Bush and his most robust policies, including Fingar and the national-intelligence officer for weapons of mass destruction (lead author of the new Iran NIE), Vann Van Diepen, and yet remain in place even since Negroponte's move back home to the State Department as its deputy secretary.

The result of these institutional and personnel choices — as evident in this NIE — has been an unmitigated disaster. The insights into the real problems that led up to 9/11 have gone uncorrected. The intelligence community remains ponderous, unimaginative, and yet given to wishful thinking. Where hard knowledge is unavailable, judgments are served up that are either unfounded or simply ludicrous. The idea that Iran has given up its quest for nuclear weapons is only one of the most glaring.

The question is: Will America find its Churchill? Will it find among the ranks of its present or future leaders one or more individuals who will say the unsayable, challenge the prevailing complacency and rouse the nation to action? If so, will do it be done in time?

There may yet be a window in which to take steps to address the danger posed by the Iranian regime, short of military action. Wholesale public and private divestment of stocks of publicly traded companies doing business with the regime would be one. Ending the absurd practice of broadcasting into Iran pro-regime propaganda via U.S. taxpayer-funded instruments like the Voice of America and Radio Farda would be another.

Still others would include requiring every car sold in America to be a Flexible Fuel Vehicle, enabling them to run on ethanol, methanol, or gasoline (or a combination thereof), beginning at last the process of weaning this country from its oil addiction that so benefits our enemies in OPEC. We should also be engaging in serious covert operations to assist the people of Iran who detest their regime at least as much as we do.

If all else fails, we had better be prepared to use military force. It would be an act of the utmost irresponsibility not to be making such preparations now, because as things stand now, all else may well fail. Whether that will happen, however, may depend on whether we find our Churchill, and soon.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Augean Stables

The Arab Israeli Conflict and Modern Anti-semitism

The perspective developed above offers a wide-ranging analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Here we have a virtual morality play of the conflict between civic and prime-divider values. On the one hand, the Zionist (i.e., modernized) Jews, who come to the area with the most developed sense of civil commitments, quite unlike the imperialist Europeans (British, French, German). Many came with radical social values of egalitarianism and justice for the in-group, and non-coercive attitudes for the outgroup. On the other, the Arab Muslims, inheritors of a long tradition of prime-divider politics, with wealthy and arbitrary elites dominating impoverished commoners, to whom they threw the bone of dhimmi inferiors, religious minorities legally impotent before the law, against whom they could always direct their frustration and rage.

On the one hand, we have a society in which the discourse of civil society has advanced so far in practice, that they launched the most successful experiments in radical communist egalitarianism in recorded history (kibbutzim). On the other, we have a prime divider society where the elite violently defend their right to distribute wealth as they see fit. On the one hand, a culture committed to values of impartial justice, free press, and vigorous self-criticism, on the other, a classic case of the Anthropologists’ “shame culture,” an honor society that held sacred the right of a man to shed the blood of another for the sake of his own honor. On the one hand, a culture in which a rigorous epistemology of skepticism and demand for honesty informs both the journalistic and academic standards; on the other, one in which lying, especially to outsiders, is an art.

Normally the results of such a culture clash, played out on the home turf of the prime-divider societies, and not accompanied by the massive use of military force, dooms the experiment in civil society. Only with great difficulty do civic (modern) cultures successfully resist the hostility of prime-divider societies, who try to destroy the civic experiments in their midst — as Walter Map put it, “if we let them in they will drive us out.” Characteristically, even predictably such pressures drive the leadership in these revolutionary experiments in egalitarianism to adopt techniques of totalitarian control in order to survive. The French, in a pattern we would see repeat with variants all over the world for the next two centuries, started in 1789 with a revolutionary enthusiasm for egalitarianism (liberté, égalité, fraternité) only to swing wildly towards a paranoid terror that maintained its purity by shedding the blood of anyone – even its own – who criticized the leadership. Under pressure the political pattern of revolutionary movements seems quite consistent: the older patterns of prime-divider culture resurface with a vengeance – the violent reaction to criticism, the remorseless grip on the mechanisms of power, the projection of blame onto enemies, real and designated. Prime divider values triumph, and the revolutionary movement subsides and the political culture returns to a different but recognizable prime divider – the restored monarchies, the “Third Republic.”

The common accusation against Israel – that it is not “really” a democracy, but rather an apartheid state – gets the story precisely wrong. Under conditions of enormous security and self-confidence, it took America centuries to stop committing genocide against natives, and grant African-Americans full civil rights. Under the conditions of radical insecurity and immense pressures of attack, no democracy has survived, even in terms of the rights of the “in” group, much less those of a hostile minority. Except Israel. The apartheid is about two different cultures with radically different atmospheric pressures — a prime divider society with a heavy, debilitating atmosphere that favors honor-sensitive alpha males, and a civil, open society in which women and beta males can also carry public weight. The more hostile the former, the more the latter must insulate itself from the atmospheric pressures of hostile prime divider societies. (The current “barrier” is actually a form of space-suit. — added RL)

Indeed, were people to have an historical perspective, the endurance and continuously expanding world of Israeli democracy over the last half-century – the free press, the academic revisionism, the multiple parties, the almost complete lack of assassination (except, tragically but exceptionally, Rabin), even the presence of Arab members of parliament (who continuously push the very limits of the system) – represents an anomaly almost as exceptional in the history of politics as the survival of Jewish communities under the crushing pressures of diaspora for millennia represents in the history of culture.

If societies that have advanced far enough to generate their own revolutionary forces (popular literacy, free press, rule of law) can rapidly regress into the paranoid conditions of the dominating imperative (e.g., France, Germany), societies that have civil rules thrust on them react even more violently. The Ottoman Empire had been under pressure from the Europeans for most of the 19th century to adopt the modern legal commitments to equality and rescind the dhimmi laws that made Christians and Jews legal inferiors. These efforts led to responses similar to those of the Ku Klux Klan in the US after the legal emancipation of the slaves. What official policy no longer enforced, the “self-help” community of those who needed inferiors whom they could dominate worked “extra-legally” to assure the status quo. The massacres of Jews and Christians (Armenians!) that punctuate the history of Ottoman lands throughout the 19th century, as well as the importing of the “blood libel” in Damascus in 1840, offer a classic insight into the ways in which commoners sometimes handle threats to their stake in the prime divider.

Among these pogroms against Jews that struck both eastern Europe and the Ottoman empire in the 19th and 20th centuries, the riots and massacres of 1936 a.k.a. The Great Uprising deserve particular attention, partly because of the role that nascent Arab nationalist ideologies adapted from Western cultures played, partly because the British Peel Commission investigated them so thoroughly. The British asked a key question which reveals the core of the culture clash I argue lies at the core of the longue durée of Antisemitism: “Why do you hate the Jews so much, given that this region has clearly prospered since they have begun to come?” The response embodies the zero-sum world of the dominating imperative, the choice of crabs to stay in the basket: “You say we are better off: you say my house has been enriched by the strangers who have entered it. But it is my house, and I did not invite the strangers in, or ask them to enrich it.” (Weathered by Miracles, p. 207 (Palestine Royal Comission Report, p. 131). Sooner rule in misery than share in wealth; poke out one of my eyes. Note, this man is not a representative of all Arabs in Palestine; he comes from the specific pool of rioters, of the bully “street” where might makes right and wretched dominion rules the heart of men… the very Muslim Arabs who killed the largest number of their fellow Arab Muslims in the course of the same riots.

With Zionism, this challenge of civil society became far more disturbing, threatening even more fundamental fears of the prime-divider elites. As the Athenian general explained to the Melians before killing all their men and selling their women and children into slavery: “One is not so much frightened of being conquered by a power which rules over others, as Sparta does, as of what would happen if a ruling power is attacked and defeated by its own subjects.” For Sparta, read the Christian West, for subjects, read Jews. A successful Zionism in the heart of the Islamic world represented not only an indignity, it represented a shame so staggering, that it could only herald the death of the dominant culture that allowed it to happen.

And the success of Zionism against all the “power” odds of traditional culture illustrated both the power of modernity (technology, democracy, mass education) and underlined the impotence of Islamic and Arabic culture in the modern world. For political and cultural reasons, Israel meant living death to elites of the Arab prime divider, and their allies on the “street,” below that divider, men who would kill their daughters for shaming their family, who had been taught by their culture that they could intimidate and kill certain target populations of economically and legally defenseless groups.

And if these political and cultural threats did not suffice, we must add the religious dimension to our understanding of Arab (Muslim and Christian) response to the Jews. For the entire history of Islam, the Jews had been a subject people. [Unlike Christianity, which formed during the waning decades of semi-autonomous Palestinian Judaism, Islam had come into a world where the Jews were a subject people, and who rapidly passed under Islamic subjection as a dhimmi people.] Howevermuch the Muslims treated the Jews in some 9th-12th century golden age of tolerance better than the Christians of the same period, the permanent dimension of Jews in Islam was that they needed to buy the good favor of their neighbors with distinct acknowledgment of the inferiority, of their subjection, and humiliation.

At no time do we find Muslim rulers and religious leaders invoking principles of religious equality, or of equal civil rights before the law.] Jewish (and Christian) subjection, formed an essential element of Islam’s image of itself, a pillar of Dar al Islam, the Islamic imperial realm of submission/peace where Sharia, Islamic law, prevailed. For Jews to act like citizens, to use the laws for protection, to thrive by the rules of an international market place of ideas, technology, and goods, posed inconceivable challenges to Muslim and Arab self-definition. For Jews to declare independence, to take a core territory out of the realm of dar al Islam, could not stand. Just as the Russians cannot permit the Chechens to become the first ethnic group to establish their freedom from Russian rule, so the Muslims could not allow the Jews to become the first dhimmi people to declare independence. They had to nip it in the bud.

Their failure to do so – collectively remembered in the Arab narrative as the Nakba – reveals all of the weaknesses of prime-divider society when confronted with a motivated civil society whose participants feel empowered rather than subjected by their elites. Unless cornered, no one begins a war they don’t think they’ll win, and the Arab league, fully certain of its superiority, declared a genocidal war on Israel in 1947.

Their previous sympathy for and alliance with the Nazis should not surprise us here. Arab political culture had every intention of resisting the cultural demands of modernity: the offending civil society must be removed, just like any other growth malignant to the health of the prime divider. The Arab campaign, which was supposed to be a walkover, turned into a catastrophe. The “allies” foundered in lack of coordination, corruption, competition, and incompetence. The loss proved a cultural and religious humiliation on a scale and of an intensity that few of us can imagine.

Nor did Arab political culture deal well with this self-induced catastrophe. They blamed everyone but themselves. The international Jewish conspiracy, the western imperialists, the vicious Israelis who chased out the Arabs with massacres. They made no effort to recognize the catastrophe they had brought on their own people, but rather engaged in venting their frustration of the Jewish populations at hand, still under their dhimmi control, driving many out to Israel in an orgy of ethnic cleansing. To all intents and purposes, the late 1940s and early 1950s saw an ethnic cleansing of Arab countries (especially neighboring “Jordan”). Once the Zionist Jews had thrown off their dhimmi status, even dhimmi Jews proved intolerable to Arab Muslim prime-divider societies. Their own Jews now represented fifth columns who had to be either further subdued (Syria) or driven out (Iraq, Yemen, Egypt and the rest of North Africa, etc.). At the same time, they redoubled their efforts to destroy this alien presence which they refused to recognize and referred to not as Israel, but the “Zionist entity.”

And for a prime-divider goal, they adopted a prime-divider tactic: sacrifice Arab commoners. As one member of the Arab League said: “If it takes ten million of the 50 million Arabs to destroy Israel, it would be a worthy sacrifice” (cited in Israel in the Arab World, p. 477f). True to their values, they despised the weak, including their own weak, and thought nothing of using them as cannon fodder. Thus, in the five years following the Nakba we find the emergence of a pattern, partly improvisational, partly systematic, to enclose the poor Arabs who fled Palestine in “refugee” camps, while allowing the better-connected to arrange a more comfortable exile.

But exile it must be: the refugees were assigned an identity through a kind of secular dhimmitude, a systematic subordination before the law. Depending on the country that took them in, they could not become citizens, they had inferior political rights, no rights to buy and sell property, to leave the camps, even to build more permanent housing in the camps. The refugee poor became the sacrificial victims on the altar of Arab Muslim irredentism: they must suffer, and they must believe that the Zionists caused that suffering, that only with the destruction of the “Zionist entity” could their lives return to “normal.”

Initially, the Arab refugees were quite clear in the aftermath of 1948 who was responsible for the Nakba. As Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East office in Cairo (and no friend of Israel or the Jews), noted with some surprise that the refugees

express no bitterness against the Jews (or for that matter against the Americans or ourselves) they speak with the utmost bitterenesss of the Eugyptians and other Arab states. “We know who our enemies are,” they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes…. I even heard it said that manyu of the refugees would give a welcome to the Israelis if they were to come in and take the district over. (quoted in Islamic Imperialism, p. 141).

(It took decades of oppression and propaganda — another generation who could be brainwashed with demonizing the Israelis — for these memories to turn into the Israeli crimes — a state born in sin — that sear the souls of people like Tony Judt.)

In the aftermath of 1948, in the immediate and irredentist response to the Nakba (i.e., to the establishment of a civil society in the midst of Arab Muslim prime divider societies), we have the outline of medieval anti-Semitism under transitional conditions. The Arab resistance to modernity confronted a dual situation – the inability to eliminate the civil enclave (“Zionist entity”) on the one hand, and the threat to their prime divider control outside the enclave on the other. Thus, the refugees become pawns in a ruthless struggle: the camps impose an especially oppressive prime divider with the blame directed at the demonized, but unsubdued, scapegoat.

One could not ask for a more transparent example of elites conspiring against their own commoners to assure their hold on power. The elites carrying out this conspiracy against their own people then mobilize all the classic products of European anti-modern, anti-Semitism – the conspiracy theories of the Protocols, the demonizing of the blood-libels, the hysterical rage of humiliated warriors, unable to bear the shame, unable to shrug off the offending presence. To paraphrase Churchill’s famous remark about the Arabs as the fathers, rather than the sons of the desert, the Arab League and the PLO are the creators of the terror-generating swamp of misery and poverty, not the passive victims of it.

Normally this tactic of beleaguering Israel and driving her to militarism and beyond, however ruthless, should have worked, at least to eliminate the civil dimensions of the Zionist entity. When the European monarchies threatened to invade revolutionary France and Russia, the revolutions turned to cannibalistic totalitarianism and eventually a restored prime divider, and when they realized that their armies were superior to their neighbors, they turned into empires (Napoleon, USSR). Under the threat not only of the death of the revolution, but a genocidal threat to the very people, history suggests that the ruling elites of Israel should have gone both authoritarian/totalitarian (at the least a semi-permanent martial law), and, given their vast military superiority, imperialist (respond to the open and avowed efforts of their neighbors to conquer them by conquering and subduing them).

Instead, under conditions that no other revolutionary movement has tolerated, the Israelis turned to building a democratic society in which free press and academic institutions could publish virtually at will, in which positive-sum relations and educational institutions addressing the entire population’s needs produced a rapid rate of economic development. Rather than ethnically cleanse their Arab minority (20% and growing) or reduce them to dhimmi status, the Israelis felt guilty for not doing enough to make them equal both in principle and in practice.

The Arabs found such developments still more humiliating, still more intolerable. Not only did the Israelis not succumb at least to the moral swamp of Middle Eastern politics, they continued to modernize. The rage of impotence that seized upon Arab elites under these conditions has produced a restless search for the right political formula to achieve the elimination of this standing affront, this thorn in the Arab eye – from monarchy to secular nationalist regime, to religious theocracy. And with each shift, the rhetoric became increasingly apocalyptic, replete with conspiracy theories on a cosmic scale, and now, with the revival of an anti-modern “fundamentalist” Islam, we enter the full-fledged realm of cataclysmic apocalyptic millennialism – the world must pass through a devastating destruction before it can enter the millennium of a global Dar al Islam.

And, just as the Christians of medieval Europe put the Jews at the heart of their apocalyptic fears, so now have the Muslims. Half a century of frustration in attempting to eliminate the offending Zionist presence has now produced suicide terrorism on an ever-increasing scale, from restaurants to the WTC. “Destroying the world to save it.” Nothing, not even nuclear bombs detonated in major cities, can give pause to such apocalyptic hatreds.

This is by no means intended to portray Israel as some perfect incarnation of civil, egalitarian society, nor the Arabs, and especially their designated victims, the Palestinian people, as the incarnation of evil. No one in this world, and certainly no polity, can behave with perfect moral consistency, and in the neighborhood in which they live, the Israelis cannot afford the exquisitely nuanced and generous concerns that mark the most progressive polities of a relatively peaceful post-war Western world — “Moral Europe.” But if we grade on the curve, taking into account the conditions under which the Israelis have built their democracy, no other culture even approaches the resistance of the Zionist revolution to melting down in its commitments to civil values and the empathic imperative. As for the Palestinians, questionable polls and the behavior of their testosteronic male youths in the “street” aside, we have yet to hear from them. Their elites do all the talking.

The simple and deeply embarrassing fact remains that while the Arab world became Judenrein (and it is a supposition of the demand that Israel dismantle the settlements that the Palestinian state has a right to be so), the Israelis not only learned to live with a (silently but clearly) hostile Arab population in its midst, but to grant them a degree of political and civil autonomy that no Arab nation has granted to its own Arab commoners. Israel has proven an ability to live at peace with its minority populations, and the lack of an exodus of Arabs in the aftermath of the state’s establishment, including the reluctance of Arab-Israeli villages and towns to get transferred to a hypothetical Palestinian state, tacitly acknowledges that their demonizing rhetoric has little relationship to the social realities.

Still more significantly, Arabs, even members of the elite, did not all line up in favor of the irredentist, genocidal policies of their frustrated and imperiled elites. Indeed many of the Arabs in Israel refused to join the forces of war against Israel, and even refused to cooperate with the “volunteer army” of Arabs who came to fight. One of the most striking elements of the Zionist experience, one that occurred largely unintentionally, was that many Arabs and Jews had learned to live and prosper together in Palestine despite the violence, and, like the burgers of the Rhineland of 1096, some of them tried to protect the Jews from the imported violence of thuggish warriors who threatened everyone’s prospering way of life (while others, more covetous of their neighbor’s goods, helped the marauders). These populations of Arabs who really do want peace are still there, although they are terrorized (and have their honor besmirched) by the same people who try, with less success, to terrorize the Israelis. The tragedy, as we shall see, lies in the fact that those outsiders who sympathize with the Palestinians strengthen the vicious grip of their elites on them, rather than helping their designated victim-charity case.

If this analysis of the political culture of the Arabs and the Israelis seems overly simplistic, it is because the Arab-Israeli conflict represents a virtual caricature of a modern drama, and only so “simplistic” (read: clear) analysis can explain the exceptional anomalies on both sides:
• Zionism is the only revolutionary movement to take power, institute egalitarian reforms, be attacked from the outside, and not turn into a totalitarian party autocracy (proof of their commitment to civil society).
• Israel is the only nation to go from third world status to first world status in the course of the 20th century. Few countries have even made the move from third to second, or second to first (proof of their commitment to positive-sum interactions).
• Arab refugees are the only refugees not to find repatriation among a host population that shared the same language, religion, and culture as they (proof of the willingness of the elites to sacrifice the commoners for their own gains).
• Arab League countries, despite drawing on trillions of petro-dollars, still have the classic lineaments of prime-divider society: widespread poverty, uneducated commoners, and virtually non-existent production capacities (proof of the elites’ commitment to zero-sum interactions focused on dominion).

In this analysis, Abba Eban’s famous quip – “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” – actually misses two key points. First, it is not the Palestinians, but their “prime-divider” leadership that makes these choices at the expense of the Palestinian people, most recently in 2000. And second, they turn down these occasions precisely because they offer not the opportunity sought, namely destroy the subversive and humiliating Zionist entity, but to do something for which these elites have never prepared either themselves or their commoners, namely build an autonomous, well regulated, and just state and allow Israel also to win.

In the hard zero-sum world of honor humiliated, “if you win, I lose.” And in their enraged response to perpetual (if self-inflicted) humiliation, the Arab world has chosen to poke out both their eyes if only they can get one of the Israelis. Again, this is not the place to explore these issues in detail, but most of the anomalies of the conflict, including staggeringly depraved policy of suicide terrorism attacks on both sides of the green line, make most sense when viewed as a clash, not of civilizations, but of a humiliated honor culture enraged by its impotence in the face of a smaller but highly effective civil society.

Nor do I think this conflict means that Palestinians, more generally Arabs, and even more broadly, Muslims, are incapable of establishing civil societies. On the contrary, I think that they have ample resources – both religious and secular – to accomplish this. Indeed the Quran has passages that suit such an endeavor admirably. But right now, these cultures are dominated by prime-divider elites in full reaction against modernity, who mine their religious texts for justifications of sacred violence, and feed a demonizing conspiracy narrative about Zionist victimization to their oppressed masses as a drug to kill the pain inflicted by their own leadership.

Note how virtually all public voices in the Islamic world subscribe to this victim narrative and scapegoat the Israelis – feudal, revolutionary, religious, secular, “moderate”, extremist, Arab, non-Arab. As Taguieff put it, “if all the fishes are swimming in the same direction, it’s because they’re dead.” I would offer the variant: if everyone is toeing the same line it’s because, as in the Emperor’s New Clothes, fear of appearing shameful rules a culture too worried about what other’s think to acknowledge what’s right in front of their eyes.

One might be tempted to ask, “is it possible that they are all wrong in this demonization and Israel is innocent of most of the consequences of their failure with which they blame Israel?” One could certainly suggest that until they kick the addiction of scapegoating and demonization, they will continue to illustrate textbook case of the “poverty of nations.” Those who curse the Jews in this manner, curse themselves.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Yoram Ettinger

Prime Minister Olmert contends that the Jewish State must retreat from Judea & Samaria, lest it share the fate of South Africa. President Bush said in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Oct. 3, 2007) and in NYC (Sept. 26, 2007) that Israeli leaders told him that a giveaway of Judea & Samaria would spare the Jewish State a demographic calamity. Mr. Prime Minister, you are mistaken and misleading!

Israel's Prime Minister is convinced that demography constitutes a lethal threat to the existence of Israel. He employs demographic scare tactics to galvanize support for "disengagement" from Judea & Samaria. He has embraced projections made by Israel's demographic establishment, which are based on the erroneous numbers, published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The goal of the PCBS - in publishing highly inflated numbers - is to extract excessive financial assistance from the US, and to scare Israel into sweeping territorial concessions.

The Prime Minister ignores the most recent World Bank report on the state of education in Gaza, Judea & Samaria, which documents a 32% gap between PCBS numbers and actual registration for first-fifth grades. The World Bank has concluded that Palestinian population growth rate projections have been inflated, that the Palestinian fertility rate has declined and that the Palestinian emigration rate has escalated.

The Prime Minister overlooked the March 17, 2006 Gallup survey, which documented a substantial decline in the Arab fertility preference - in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and within the "Green Line" - while the Jewish fertility preference ascends. He did not notice the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) Nov. 5, 2007 news release, which documented a reduced Arab fertility rate - 20 years faster than projected - and an impressive growth of the Jewish fertility rate, in contrast with projected drop. He disregarded the September 2006 ICBS statement, that admitted the failure of its 2000 projections, which were conducted under the influence of the demographic scare.

Contrary to the "Demographic Scare" school of thought, the demographic momentum is Jewish and not Arab, as documented by the Bennett Zimmerman-led "American-Israel Demographic Research Group" ( AIDRG was the first to expose the 36% rise in the annual number of Jewish births between 1995 (80,400) and 2006 (109,000), while the annual number of Arab births within the "Green Line" has stagnated (around 39,000), with the Arab fertility rate converging toward the average Jewish fertility rate. The trend is expected to persist. AIDRG has also uncovered a sustained annual Arab net-emigration from Gaza, Judea & Samaria - since 1950 - of substantially above the annual average of 10,000: 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005 and 25,000 net-emigration in 2006. The official number of Arab residents of Judea & Samaria is inflated by 70% - through the inclusion of non-residents and overly-projected birth and immigration - and it is 1.5 million and not 2.5 million. A solid, long-term 67% Jewish majority exists over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza), compared with an 8% and a 33% Jewish minority in 1900 and 1947 respectively between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The Prime Minister is aloof to the statement made by Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a leading US demographer at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who stated at the Herzliya Conference that AIDRG "caught Israeli demographers asleep at the switch!"

The Prime Minister is wrong: demography constitutes a strategic asset, and not a liability. There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal, and the long-term demographic trend is Jewish, irrespective of the absence of demographic policy. A skillful leveraging of the demographic momentum, bolstered by a long-term comprehensive demographic policy, would substantially expand the Jewish majority and enhance Israeli options in the battle for the future of the Jewish State in general and Judea & Samaria in particular. On the other hand, ignoring the demographic momentum, and being obsessed with the demographic scare, could inflict lethal damage upon the Jewish State.


Christianity and Islam: How Common is the Ground?

Bob Burney
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

As this column goes to press, hundreds of presumably Muslim protestors in Sudan are shouting for the execution of a British school teacher. Her offense?
. Insulting Islam because her class of 7-year-olds named a teddy bear Muhammed. According to the New York Times report:

The protesters, some carrying swords, screamed, “Shame, shame on the U.K.!” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.” They were calling for the death of Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced on Thursday to 15 days in jail. Under Sudanese law, she could have spent 6 months behind bars and received 40 lashes.

It’s events like this—and similar ones around the globe—that add to my skepticism about the value of a recent exchange pleading for peace between Muslim and Christian leaders.

Last September, 138 of the world’s most prominent Muslim theologians, scholars and leaders sent an “open letter” addressed to Christians worldwide. The document titled, “A Common Word Between Us And You” is an extraordinary communication from the Muslim world. In it the Muslim leaders plead with Christians to recognize in two of the world’s great monotheistic religions their essential “common ground” namely, love to God and neighbor. Only by recognizing this common ground, the letter submits, will Muslims and Christians learn to live in peace. (Of course, by the very existence of this letter, these Muslim leaders are assuming Christians are not at peace with Islam.)

Ecumenicists around the world have undoubtedly leapt for joy at the offering of this “olive branch” to Christianity from Islam. As expected, there were quick and positive responses from the Vatican, the Archbishop of Canterbury and several mainline American denominations.

In response to the “Common Word” document, Yale Divinity School drafted its own “open letter” to Muslims on behalf of Christians everywhere. (While most of the signatories of the Yale letter are a “who ’s who” of today’s theological left, there are a number of evangelicals on board.) The letter titled, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You,’” heaps praise on the representative Muslim scholars for their efforts to bring about peace among Muslims and Christians. In addition, the letter agrees that the essential “common ground” between Islam and Christianity is love to God and neighbor. A closer analysis of both documents, however, should give Christians pause.

The Yale-drafted response begins by begging for forgiveness from the Muslim community for the evils of the Crusades and the “excesses of the war on terror.” Can someone explain why American Christians are responsible for the Crusades? And as far as the “excesses of the war on terror”—when did the Christian world get together and vote to kill a bunch of Muslims in the name of the war on terror? (It is naïve at best to think that a group of Christians “admitting” that the war on terror has been at all motivated by hatred toward Muslims will somehow help pacify the hard-liners within Islam.)

This blatant political statement is followed by paragraph after paragraph of ecumenical jargon about “our common ground,” “your courageous letter” and “our common good.” Most concerning, however, is the following theologically unsound statement:

It is therefore no exaggeration to say, as you have in “A Common Word Between Us and You,” that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians” … The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.

The future of the world and our eternal souls depends not on interfaith dialogue, but on the sovereign plan of God (cf. Psalm 115:3, Isaiah 46:8-11; Ephesians 1:11). Our confidence is not in our ecumenical efforts, but in the finished work of Christ.

In addition, while the Muslim document is filled with quotations from the Qur’an proudly proclaiming that their god is the one, true god and indirectly attacking the deity of Jesus Christ, the Yale document uses almost no Scripture and omits a clear proclamation of the deity of Christ.

Finally, in the light of recent global events, it seems reasonable to question whether or not the heart of Islam really is love to god and neighbor in the same sense that Christianity teaches love to God and neighbor. True, the Muslim document does say that “Muslims, Christians and Jews should be free to each follow what God commanded them” and that justice and freedom of religion are a “crucial part” of love to neighbor. However, whether or not this sentiment is pervasive in the global Muslim community is vigorously debated today.

No true Christian desires conflict between Christians and Muslims. A Christian who follows the directives of the Bible will love Muslims and respect them—and seek to tell them about the saving love of God in Christ. They will not, however, compromise the truth of Scripture to start a dialogue, for to do so would not demonstrate love to God or love to our Muslim neighbors.


Social Protest in Sderot Interrupted by Kassam

Hillel Fendel

A Kassam rocket slammed into an apartment in Sderot Wednesday night, precisely as a joint Chanukah celebration and social protest was underway downtown.
. Four people, including the two elderly residents of the apartment, were treated for shock. Heavy damage was caused to the building.

The Kassam was the fourth of the day; three others were fired from Gaza at Israel earlier - two towards Sderot, and one that exploded south of Ashkelon. No other damage or injuries were caused. Over 2,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel this year, according to IDF statistics.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said this week that the army is ready for a full-scale military offensive into Gaza to remove the missile threat, but is awaiting orders from the government.

A social protest was underway in downtown at the time the fourth rocket hit, and the Color Red early-warning alarm sounded just as Teachers Union Chairman Ran Erez was in the midst of speaking. As he was lamenting the fact that many classes in the country have as many as 40 or more children, the Color Red announcement was heard by some in the audience, who quickly passed the word around. People scrambled for cover, in accordance with the frequent practice they have received over the years.

The protest featured several social action groups, including reserve soldiers, teachers, the handicapped, and others, who banded together to make their voices heard. They chose to hold their protest not in Tel Aviv, but in Sderot - the city that symbolizes for them the refusal of the government and political leadership to attend to the citizens' needs.

"We are starting something new here today," Ilan Cohen told Arutz-7's TV news department. Cohen is a social activist who initiated the protest event. "Until now everyone held separate protests, which were very nice, but nothing happened as a result. This is the first time that we are going out all together, and the hope is that the people will wake up and realize that since they can't depend on the government, it's up to them - and I don't mean via talkbacks over the internet, but rather by coming out physically to make their voices heard."

Momo Alnekaveh, the wheelchair-bound Chairman of the Association for the Handicapped, said, "If our politicians were real social leaders, they would be with us here today. But they seem to have no interest in coming where there are no cocktails and the like." He was disappointed to see that both Sderot City Hall and shelters had no easy access for the handicapped. "They told us to run to the City Hall or to a nearby shelter if a Color Red alarm is sounded, but how are we supposed to get in?" he asked.


Large 2nd-Temple House Adjacent to Temple Mount

Hillel Fendel

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday afternoon the discovery of a large-sized house from the Second Temple Period several dozen meters south of the Temple Mount.
. The remains were excavated in the well-known Givati Parking Lot, just outside the entrance to the Western Wall.

A map of ancient Jerusalem. The house was found south of the Temple Mount, which is outlined in purple.

Writings of the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus Flavius (Joseph son of Matityahu) indicate that the uncovered building may well have belonged to the family of Queen Helene, who converted to Judaism in the 1st Century BCE. However, excavation chief Dr. Doron Ben-Ami said that this may or may not be true, "and we can only hope that we will discover more findings that will help us identify this building with certainty."

The excavations are just outside the Old City's walls. Temple Mount is in background of picture.

The find includes massive foundations, walls whose remains soar five meters high in some places, two-story-tall halls, a basement, ritual baths (mikvaot), remains of colored frescoes, and more. The archaeologists say they can see, in the narrow openings discovered in the basement level, evidence of the drama that transpired in the structure prior to its destruction by the Romans. It appears that the inhabitants attempted to flee through the openings. Attempts were also made to destroy the structure at the time.

The large edifice was overlain with remains dating to later periods: Byzantine, Roman and Early Islamic, while below it there are remains from the Early Hellenistic period, and even artifacts from the time of the First Temple.

The dig is being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority together with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David (City of David) Foundation.

Ancient Israeli coins found at the site. The coins have ancient Hebrew writing and depict leaves and vessels.


Olmert, don't renege on the Jewish state

Isi Leibler

In the week preceding Annapolis, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, dropped a bombshell proclaiming that "one of the more pressing problems is the Zionist regime's insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state... Israel could call itself whatever it wanted, but the PA would never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity."
Erekat also made the bizarre observation that "no state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity." Yet the PA constitution stipulates that Islamic law will become the basis for the future Palestinian state and the PA reiterates its determination to ensure that its territory remain "Judenrein." Nor does Erekat relate to the fact that 57 nations are affiliated to the Islamic Conference, many of whom deny Christians and Jews freedom of worship. Erekat‚s remarks were immediately endorsed by other major Palestinian leaders.

In response, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert repeatedly vowed "we won't hold negotiations on our existence as a Jewish state...Whoever does not accept this cannot hold any negotiations with me."

Yet the final joint communiqué at Annapolis omitted any reference to a Jewish state and subsequently PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League adamantly reiterated their determination never to accept a Jewish state.

As far back as 1922 the League of Nations referred to a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine. The UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947 related 25 times to a "Jewish state." As recently as May 2006 President George W. Bush expressed his "strong commitment to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state" and in his Annapolis statement described "Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people."

The Arab denial of Israel as a Jewish state lies at the very heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It became the rationale for the Arab portrayal of the Jewish claim to statehood as being based on war and occupation rather than faith and nationhood. The latest declarations attest that to this day, this fundamental Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state has not altered one iota.

Article 20 of the Palestinian National Covenant explicitly states: "Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own."

In reinforcing their denial of Israel as the sovereign land of the Jews, the Palestinians (now bolstered by radical Israeli Arabs) even deny the ancient historical Jewish links to Jerusalem going so far as to allege that the Jewish temple was a Zionist myth concocted to justify Jewish colonization.

Regrettably the architects of Oslo compounded the problems inherent in their flawed peace plan by failing to confront the Palestinians with the core issue of accepting Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Subsequently, we ignored Arafat's repeated guarantees to the Arabs that he would never accept the validity of a Jewish state. It was only when he rejected Ehud Barak's offer to effectively withdraw to '67 borders that it finally dawned on most Israelis that the elimination of the "alien" Jewish presence in the region remained Arafat's overriding objective.

Now, despite the hype and euphoria prevailing during Annapolis, we must hearken to Abbas's and Erekat's wake-up call reaffirming the PA's unequivocal determination not to accept a Jewish regional presence. Instead of the customary duplicitous double-talk about peace and goodwill, Abbas and Erekat spoke the truth. Their words underline the absurdity of the mantra that the Israel-Palestinian conflict represents a struggle between two peoples seeking accommodation over land.

In again denying Jewish sovereignty, they also demonstrate that the "moderate" PA and the "extremist" Hamas remain birds of a feather. They also highlight the fact that since the "moderate" Abbas inherited the mantle of Arafat, the fundamental attitudes toward Israel within the PA remain unchanged.

The ongoing Palestinian employment of terror and incitement against Israel is based on this premise. Hatred against Jews who are dehumanized and portrayed as pigs and monkeys, is inculcated from kindergarten level and infuses the entire Palestinian religious, cultural and educational framework as well as the media. The sanctification of martyrdom as a means of reaching Paradise is ongoing, with suicide bombers who kill Jews enshrined as heroes in monuments and memorials, and even have football teams named after them. To this day, our peace partner Abbas provides pensions to the families of "martyrs." In the PA as well as Hamastan, any Arab selling land to a Jew faces mandatory execution.

These tactics are all directed toward undermining Jewish sovereignty. Thus once the "occupation" is terminated, Jerusalem divided, and the '67 borders in place, the final phase of the Palestinian offensive to dismantle Israel in stages would move toward the Arab "right of return," designed to bring about the dissolution of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian entity would be a "pure" Islamic state, whereas Israel as a bi-national state inundated by Palestinian "refugees," would soon be transformed into another Islamic domain.

Regrettably this is the true face of the PA to which Prime Minister Olmert is currently offering unprecedented concessions without reciprocity. If and when future negotiations do take place, Israel will already have theoretically forfeited everything.

There are also serious ramifications relating to this issue within Israel.

The radicalized Israeli Arabs have now partnered with Israeli post-Zionists in order to "dejudaize" and transform Israel from a Jewish state to a "state of all its citizens." To her credit, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni responded by suggesting to Israeli Arabs that if they are unhappy with their status as a minority in a democratic Jewish state, an adjacent Palestinian state could constitute the answer to their national aspirations. She told them that, "Those supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state as a national solution to the Palestinians cannot have it both ways - to demand the establishment of such a state and at the same time act from within against the existence of the Jewish state."

Prime Minister Olmert recently warned Israelis that unless a two state solution is achieved, Israel "would be finished." Hopefully he was not hinting that he was contemplating abrogation of his vow not to negotiate with the Palestinians if they reject Israel as a Jewish state. Of course, in the light of his broken commitments and daily zig zags, it is difficult to give credence to anything our prime minister says.

However if Olmert reneges on this pledge, he would not only irreparably undermine the Zionist vision of a "Jewish homeland." He would also pave the way for the Arab right of return. That could become a first step toward transforming into reality his prediction of "Israel being finished."

The world must understand that we can move forward only if the Palestinians recognize that this tiny sliver of land is our Jewish homeland. If Palestinians are unwilling to reconcile themselves to accepting Jewish sovereignty in the region, there is nothing more to discuss and there must be no further concessions.

The writer is a former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress and a veteran international Jewish leader.


Day Jobs for Terrorists

Asaf Romirowsky and Jonathan Spyer
The Washington Times | 12/5/2007

For Israelis the United Nations is a double-edged sword On the one hand, they are fully aware of the anti-Israel sentiment that the United Nations perpetuates, but on the other hand they want to be part of it and to have their voices heard. This stance is understandable. But it produces positions which sometimes directly contradict Israel's clear interest.

Observe: During a recent conference titled, "Hijacking Human Rights: The Demonization of Israel by the United Nations," Daniel Carmon, Israel's deputy permanent representative at the United Nations stated that "We [Israel] encounter hypocrisy and cynicism on the one hand, and we are all witness to that when we walk into the building, but we are also trying with relative success to identify how, within the existing mandate, [to find] parallel paths of working with the world body." Reflecting this problematic and paradoxical Israeli stance, Mr. Carmon urged the approximately 200 conference participants to state that UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East) was "doing a good job" providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Palestinian territories.

The matter of UNRWA perhaps above all others illustrates the difficulty of the Israeli position on the United Nations. Israeli officials well tell you that if UNRWA does not take care of Palestinian needs then these will become Israel's responsibility. And despite UNRWA's well-documented terrorist ties, Israel prefers not to bear this burden.

This position produces a situation in which Israel itself ends up forming one of the factors blocking the way to the dismantling of UNRWA. UNRWA, in turn, is a central factor blocking a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue — which is one of the central factors preventing the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Understanding the way that UNRWA helps perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem requires taking a closer look at the way that the agency functions. Doing so reveals the workings of a dysfunctional bureaucracy.

While Palestinian refugees benefit materially from UNRWA, the agency benefits in return from the refugees. The refugees are the organization's raison d'etre. And bureaucracies tend to dislike dissolving themselves. So, like any good bureaucracy, UNRWA has zero incentive to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem if it is to continue to exist. Ending the refugee problem would render UNRWA obsolete.

Instead, UNRWA finds a hundred and one ways to perpetuate Palestinian dependency. The interests of the refugees and UNRWA are fatally intertwined; UNRWA is staffed mainly by local Palestinians — more than 23,000 of them — with only about 100 international United Nations professionals. Tellingly, while the U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) avoid employing locals who are also recipients of agency services, UNRWA does not make this distinction. Terrorism does not exclude one from being a part of UNRWA. In fact, quite the opposite is true: UNRWA-overseen hospitals and clinics routinely employ members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Employing Palestinians for decade after decade and providing them with subsistence-level food aid and rudimentary education are a far cry from giving them usable skills and a positive attitude about creating their own independent economy and viable civic institutions.

In addition, the Palestinian agenda (and sympathy for the Palestinian cause) have infiltrated every aperture at Turtle Bay. UNWRA has spent decades keeping this single issue, key to the organization's survival, at the forefront of the U.N. agenda whether it belongs there or not. It has engendered Arab and Western support for the delegitimation of Israel, and facilitated comparisons between Nazism and Zionism — a false linkage that bolsters Palestinian claims of oppression. When former Secretary-General Kofi Annan appeared at a U.N. "Palestine Day" event which astonishingly featured a map of the Middle East that conspicuously omitted Israel, it was emblematic of the way in which the United Nations has transformed itself into a propaganda machine for such thinking. UNRWA has no parallel in the U.N. system. UNRWA is dedicated solely to providing assistance to Palestinian refugees; no other group of refugees, whatever their circumstances, warrants this much attention.

As we look toward the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the United Nations as a member of the Quartet has a special obligation to uphold the commitment outlined in the 2003 "road map" for Israeli-Palestinian peace to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. In an effort to insulate good works from terrorist infiltration and exploitation, Washington should stand ready to help the United Nations live up to this obligation by funding an "Office of Competent Standards" for UNRWA and similar agencies.

It's also in the interest of Israel to support such an initiative. As it stands, the self-perpetuating bureaucracy of UNRWA is one of the central factors offering day jobs to members of terror groups, propping up Palestinian dependency and perpetuating the myths and falsehoods about Israel which help prevent a solution to the conflict.

Asaf Romirowsky is the Manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum. Jonathan Spyer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Illusions at Annapolis

Arlene Kushner | 12/4/2007

President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have found it useful to claim that last week’s summit in Annapolis, Maryland, has brought peace between Israel and the Palestinians a step closer to reality.
. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, whether or not they genuinely believe that to be the case, have found it useful to echo the Bush administration’s upbeat assessment of the summit and its achievements.

But a brief review of recent developments in the Palestinian territories suggests that genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is no more than a figment of these leaders’ imagination.

Consider the findings of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, an Israeli NGO that reviews textbooks produced by the Palestinian Authority to replace Jordanian and Egyptian texts that had previously been in use. On November 25, the institute held a briefing in Jerusalem in which it released the results of its seven-year study of Palestinian texts for the 11th and 12th grades. The criteria used in assessing these books have been established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The institute’s disturbing findings:

Jews are represented as foreigners without rights in the land. There are no Jewish holy places. For example, Rachel’s tomb is alluded to as "Bilal bin Rabbah Mosque."
Palestinians are seen as the only legitimate inhabitants of the land, descended from the Canaanites and Jebusites, who are said (without genuine historical justification) to be Arabs.
When information is given about the inhabitants of the land, the Jews are excluded.
Israel is not recognized as a legitimate state. Israel is instead portrayed as a Zionist, imperialist, western, racist usurper.
Israel is omitted from all the Palestinian political maps. When Israel must be alluded to, alternative terms are used, such as “pre-1948 lands.” For example, Modern History of Palestine, Grade 11, 2006, says “The green line is an imaginary line separating land occupied before 1967 and land occupied after.”
Palestine is presented as an existing sovereign state, established in 1988.
Jews are demonized, seen as a hostile enemy, and the source of all evils in Palestinian society, e.g., cause of drug addiction. Twenty-five alleged crimes against the Palestinians are enumerated.
Individual Jews are never mentioned, so the humanity of the Jews is lost.
The fabricated, anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was represented in a text as factual. When representatives of Belgium, which underwrote production of this book, were informed, they protested and a new version of the book, omitting the “Protocols” was published. However, the old version is still available in PA book stores and there is no evidence that the new version is actually in use in the schools.
The textbooks contain praise of jihad and martyrdom. Terrorism is not openly advocated but its acceptance is implicit. Armed groups are celebrated.

When Mahmoud Abbas first came to power as PA Chairman, there was a marginal improvement in the textbooks that were released. This improvement was reflected, for example, in two Israeli maps that were reproduced in one text. It now appears that this will be the extent of the progress under Abbas.

These textbooks are not the only signs that talk of peace is premature. Four days before Annapolis, a Friday sermon was delivered at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and broadcast by PA radio, which is Abbas-controlled. The translation from the Arabic includes the following:

Israel wants to be recognized as a Jewish state…If this request is granted…there will be no withdrawal to 1967 boarders, no partition of Jerusalem and no deportation of the Israeli settlers. This is a serious danger to the Palestinian people…Israel's request to be recognized as a Jewish state confirms that they are a racist regime…The effects on the Palestinians will be vast…The 1948 refugees will not be allowed to return to their homes…Jerusalem will become more Jewish…with the support of the U.S, which views Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli state.

The conference coincides with American interests…The enemies of the Arab nation are mistaken. We [reject] the attempt to turn our holy city Jerusalem to Jewish. There must be an Islamic awakening…We call for a unified nation that follows one leadership and obeys the Koran. The conflict is a conflict between religions, but Allah has declared Palestine to be the land of Islam at the beginning of Al Israel' verse in the Koran. The same verse heralds victory to the Muslims.

On the day after Annapolis, Palestinian Media Watch caught on PA television a map in which Israel – not labeled as Israel – was shown in the colors of the Palestinian flag. The PA, inarguably, is promoting a vision for its people of Palestine “from the river to the sea” and not a “two-state solution.”

On security issues, we also see failure of honest intentions. In the weeks before Annapolis, much was made of the increased willingness and capacity of PA security forces to take control in the West Bank and to defeat terrorist forces.

But Abbas is the unchallenged master of make-believe. Earlier this month, after considerable delay, a contingent of 300 from those security forces was deployed in Nablus to keep order. They were then sent into the nearby UNRWA Balata refugee camp – a major action because all of the UNRWA refugee camps in the West Bank are controlled by armed militia and barred to PA forces. Jerusalem Post journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reported that one of the officers of these forces said that "he and his men had not received clear instructions to crack down on the gunmen, especially those belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. ‘No one told us that our mission was to disarm or arrest members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.’”

With regard to the PA posture towards Hamas, the picture is similar: several Hamas “militants” were arrested by the PA in recent weeks. But not one has been prosecuted, and most have already been released. It’s the old “revolving door” policy, which has not changed from Arafat’s time.

Not only is the PA not acting against Hamas, but it considers the terrorist organization an ally in its unrelenting war against Israel. Thus, two days after Annapolis, a senior Fatah official told Abu Toameh that that if and when there is an Israeli invasion of Gaza, “Fatah won't remain idle…We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers…The homeland is more important than all our differences.” So much for peaceful partnership with Israel and the crackdown on terrorists.

At issue is more than Abbas’s reluctance to take out the terrorist infrastructure. The terrorists, at his bidding, are incorporated into the very heart of the PA. Now we learn that Ido Zoldan, an Israeli killed in a drive-by-shooting, was in fact murdered by Al Aksa terrorists who are members of the PA Security Forces.

The idea that Annapolis has changed the political situation in the Middle East is not just nonsense. To the extent that it ignores the Palestinians' ongoing war to exterminate the Jewish State, it is dangerous nonsense.

American-born Arlene Kushner is an investigative writer and author in Jerusalem. UNRWA is a frequent topic of investigation for her. She has done major reports on this subject for the Center for Near East Policy Research, and has written articles on UNRWA for Azure Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and Front Page Magazine. .

Monday, December 03, 2007

How UNRWA creates dependency

Asaf Romirowsky and Jonathan Spyer
Washington Times
December 3, 2007

For Israelis the United Nations is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they are fully aware of the anti-Israel sentiment that the United Nations perpetuates, but on the other hand they want to be part of it and to have their voices heard. This stance is understandable. But it produces positions which sometimes directly contradict Israel's clear interest.

Observe: During a recent conference titled, "Hijacking Human Rights: The Demonization of Israel by the United Nations," Daniel Carmon, Israel's deputy permanent representative at the United Nations stated that "We [Israel] encounter hypocrisy and cynicism on the one hand, and we are all witness to that when we walk into the building, but we are also trying with relative success to identify how, within the existing mandate, [to find] parallel paths of working with the world body." Reflecting this problematic and paradoxical Israeli stance, Mr. Carmon urged the approximately 200 conference participants to state that UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East) was "doing a good job" providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Palestinian territories.

The matter of UNRWA perhaps above all others illustrates the difficulty of the Israeli position on the United Nations. Israeli officials well tell you that if UNRWA does not take care of Palestinian needs then these will become Israel's responsibility. And despite UNRWA's well-documented terrorist ties, Israel prefers not to bear this burden.

This position produces a situation in which Israel itself ends up forming one of the factors blocking the way to the dismantling of UNRWA. UNRWA, in turn, is a central factor blocking a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue — which is one of the central factors preventing the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Understanding the way that UNRWA helps perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem requires taking a closer look at the way that the agency functions. Doing so reveals the workings of a dysfunctional bureaucracy.

While Palestinian refugees benefit materially from UNRWA, the agency benefits in return from the refugees. The refugees are the organization's raison d'etre. And bureaucracies tend to dislike dissolving themselves. So, like any good bureaucracy, UNRWA has zero incentive to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem if it is to continue to exist. Ending the refugee problem would render UNRWA obsolete.

Instead, UNRWA finds a hundred and one ways to perpetuate Palestinian dependency. The interests of the refugees and UNRWA are fatally intertwined; UNRWA is staffed mainly by local Palestinians — more than 23,000 of them — with only about 100 international United Nations professionals. Tellingly, while the U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) avoid employing locals who are also recipients of agency services, UNRWA does not make this distinction. Terrorism does not exclude one from being a part of UNRWA. In fact, quite the opposite is true: UNRWA-overseen hospitals and clinics routinely employ members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Employing Palestinians for decade after decade and providing them with subsistence-level food aid and rudimentary education are a far cry from giving them usable skills and a positive attitude about creating their own independent economy and viable civic institutions.

In addition, the Palestinian agenda (and sympathy for the Palestinian cause) have infiltrated every aperture at Turtle Bay. UNWRA has spent decades keeping this single issue, key to the organization's survival, at the forefront of the U.N. agenda whether it belongs there or not. It has engendered Arab and Western support for the delegitimation of Israel, and facilitated comparisons between Nazism and Zionism — a false linkage that bolsters Palestinian claims of oppression. When former Secretary-General Kofi Annan appeared at a U.N. "Palestine Day" event which astonishingly featured a map of the Middle East that conspicuously omitted Israel, it was emblematic of the way in which the United Nations has transformed itself into a propaganda machine for such thinking. UNRWA has no parallel in the U.N. system. UNRWA is dedicated solely to providing assistance to Palestinian refugees; no other group of refugees, whatever their circumstances, warrants this much attention.

As we look toward the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the United Nations as a member of the Quartet has a special obligation to uphold the commitment outlined in the 2003 "road map" for Israeli-Palestinian peace to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. In an effort to insulate good works from terrorist infiltration and exploitation, Washington should stand ready to help the United Nations live up to this obligation by funding an "Office of Competent Standards" for UNRWA and similar agencies.

It's also in the interest of Israel to support such an initiative. As it stands, the self-perpetuating bureaucracy of UNRWA is one of the central factors offering day jobs to members of terror groups, propping up Palestinian dependency and perpetuating the myths and falsehoods about Israel which help prevent a solution to the conflict.

Asaf Romirowsky is the Manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum. Jonathan Spyer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Another slip of the tongue?

What possessed Olmert to publicly declare Israel has no future without two-state solution? It is doubtful whether the statement “I never say what I believe and I never believe what I say,” attributed to Machiavelli among others, was ever fully adopted by anyone. Yet we can assume that some political figures do not insist on their views and words matching. Some observers even attribute this incongruity to our prime minister, who said: “If the two-state solution is shattered…the State of Israel is finished.”

It’s not completely clear whether Olmert indeed believes what he says in this matter, or whether he too, just like the other “peacemakers” in our region, already reached the moment of truth where he must start lying to the public. In any case, if he indeed believes in the necessary link between the failure to establish a Palestinian state and the end of the Jewish State, he should do everything in his power to establish a Palestinian state.

And if indeed we are dealing with the question of the Jewish State’s life or death, why the hell should it matter that our top negotiator would be a failing prime minister suspected of many deeds of corruption, with the chances of him reclaiming his post following elections close to zero? And why the hell does it matter whether the “partner” is a weak leader and the Fatah (which he is an integral part of) is responsible for more than 50 percent of terror attacks against us in recent years, if bestowing him with territory would prevent the “destruction of the Third Temple?”

And what significance is there to the fact that this same leader declared only several years ago that “Israel made its worst mistake by signing the Oslo agreement,” when what is hanging in the balance is rescuing the Jewish state from its own “territorial greed” and “demographic catastrophe?”

And why should we care about minor security issues, such as the renouncement of defensible borders, when removing the “Judea and Samaria disease” has suddenly become the ultimate cure for the ruin at our doorstep? And why should we waste our time worrying about the meaningless danger of Judea and Samaria being taken over by Hamas and having the group’s rockets in range of Ben Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Towers, when the country has no future without the “two-state vision?”

Our bargaining position shattered
Yet despite the great things we are expected to receive from this longed for agreement, which will take us from the slavery of occupation to the freedom of the 1967 borders, we shall still be left to ponder the following question: What caused an Israeli prime minister to publicly state something along the lines of “if I don’t give you a state, my own state will be finished”, whether he believes in it or not?

After all, Olmert is known as a crafty politician who is a master of working out good deals. What is the other side supposed to conclude when it hears Olmert claiming, even before talks got underway, that in his view the failure to establish a Palestinian state is a disaster that could ultimately terminate the State of Israel? The other side would conclude that it should boost its demands, or at least not compromise on the current ones.

Assuming this is not yet another Olmert slip of the tongue, like the nuclear one he made before, one wonders what caused him to publicly shatter whatever was left of Israel’s bargaining position? The most logical explanation is that the prime minister thinks that in order to sell an agreement that includes far-reaching concessions to the Israeli public he will have to make clear what the “horrific alternative” is – even at the price of gravely undermining our bargaining position.

And just like lately he has been repeating the warning that if a Palestinian state won’t be established, Hamas would take over Judea and Samaria, he will likely again be discussing the finished State of Israel, until his plans, or us, run out of steam.

Abbas: The master of playing the victim!

Aid meant to strengthen Abbas against Hamas Islamists and revive Palestinian economy; ' if the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza don't feel an improvement in their daily lives, Abbas' peace policies will be weakened,' analyst says President Mahmoud Abbas' government will ask donors in Paris this month to provide $5.5 billion in aid to strengthen the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, Palestinian officials said on Sunday.

The aid, to be used for budgetary support and development, is meant to strengthen Abbas against Hamas Islamists and revive the Palestinian economy after the president launched formal peace talks withIsrael last week.
Peace Summit
Abbas says Annapolis conference achieved its goal / News agencies
Palestinian president says Annapolis meet succeeded in jumpstarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, sets out to undermine Hamas' hold on Gaza
Full Story

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will ask donors at the Paris conference, scheduled for Dec. 17, to provide $5.5 billion in aid over three years. The request is based on an economic plan for 2007 to 2010, a senior Palestinian official told Reuters.

The conference is the first forum for international donor states to make pledges to the Palestinian Authority since 1996, officials said.

"The government desperately needs the aid because by the end of the year it will not have funds to pay its outstanding private sector debts and salaries to the government employees, which amount to more than $500 million and other expenses," another official said.

'Peace policies will be weakened'
Abbas and Israel last week launched talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state by the end of 2008.

Hamas routed Abbas' forces in the Gaza Strip in June, prompting him to sack the Hamas-led government and appoint the Western-educated Fayyad to lead an administration in the West Bank.

After the move, Western countries removed economic sanctions in place since Hamas won a parliamentary election in January 2006 that had pushed the Palestinian Authority to the brink of collapse. Sanctions remain on Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Fayyad's government is expected to approve on Monday the final draft of the document which will be presented at the Paris conference to international donors, Palestinian officials said. Some Western and Arab states have sent aid to Fayyad's administration, they said.

According to a draft of the report, 71 percent of the aid will be used for budget support and 29 percent for development.

"Twenty-six percent of the plan's budget will go to reforms, such as reforming the security services, judicial system and other governance sectors. Twenty-one percent is allocated for the economic sector and 23 percent for the infrastructure," a senior official said.

Analysts say Abbas' credibility will be undermined if his government does not manage to revive an economy damaged badly by violence and sanctions.

"If the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza don't feel an improvement in their daily lives, Abbas' peace policies will be weakened," Palestinian analyst Abdel-majid Sweilem said.


Dear Mr. Bush

Dear President Bush,

Now that Sec'y of State Rice has placed just about all of Israel before the very countries that would like to destroy her and also made all kinds of demands that limit Israel in protecting herself, what is Ms. Rice going to demand of the Arabs who insisted that Israel not even use the same door that they used at Annapolis? How could you, Mr. President, permit foreign delegates to assume that power on American soil?>!~!!!!!! You have allowed a despicable act in the name of a 'peace conference' and emboldened the enemies of world peace.

We have all borne witness to this shameful behavior on the part of your administration. Immediately following the Annapolis conference the non-'moderate' the PA presented a map that had no Israel; this is a slap in the face for the U.S. sponsorship of that event.

Hopefully, you will not tolerate this manipulation in the future.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Syria’s Bio-Warfare Threat: an interview with Dr. Jill Dekker

Jerry Gordon (Dec. 2007)


When news leaked out of the September 6th Israeli Air Force and commando raid on a Syrian Nuclear facility followed by revelations about the deaths of dozens of Iranians and Syrians in a Chemical warfare missile accident in July the world was jarred. Recently, it was revealed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) had aided Syria in its chemical warfare programs. I noted in a recent interview with former US UN Ambassador John Bolton his early concerns about the Syrian Bio Warfare threat. Questions arose, specifically about the size, nature and danger of the Syrian bio-warfare military programs. For answers and professional views on how extensive the Syrian bio-warfare threat is, we turned to Dr. Jill Dekker, a consultant to the NATO Defense Establishment in bio-warfare and counter terrorism. Dr. Dekker is also a member of the board of advisors of the Intelligence Summit.

Dr. Dekker’s answers give a foreboding picture of how large and refined the Syrian bio-warfare programs are and how little Western Intelligence knows about how the programs were developed. The potential exists for a significant WMD threat in the Middle East and the West, especially, against America. Syria is a proxy ally of Iran, North Korea (DPRK) and terror groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Thus, the supply of bio-weapons and delivery platforms that could results in mass casualties makes it a real and present danger.

We were pleased that Dr. Dekker took time out from her professional work to answer questions about the Syrian bio-warfare establishment and WMD threat.

Jerry Gordon: Tell us briefly about your professional background and research background in Bio-warfare.

Jill Dekker: Well, I started working on bio-safety several years ago under the guidance of a colleague at the World Health Organization in Geneva and the concern then was Laboratory Acquired Diseases (LAD’s) and how best to protect workers and the environment from accidental exposure to dangerous pathogens. There were few national requirements to report sharps and sticks accidents as well as other accidents. If you recall Vector in Novosibirsk Russia had an accident with a senior scientist who subsequently contracted Ebola-Vector failed to report the incident until 12 day had passed and by then it was too late for the US team en route to save her life. I also worked on notification for zoonotic diseases (transmissible from animal to human) to public health authorities. Back then in the EU emergency animal disease outbreaks, even with public health consequences, were only notified to the OIE, which is the World Organization for Animal Health. There was little regulation on the reporting of public health cases of Campylobactor, Listeriosis, E-coli 0157 and or strains of Salmonella. Keeping in mind here that with the exception of variola (smallpox) nearly all Category A biological warfare pathogens are zoonotic. I then worked with several organizations involved with the UN Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in Geneva. It was during this work in 2000 that I really came to understand the threat state biological weapons programs posed.

In 2001, when the US suffered its anthrax attacks, everything changed. We went from looking at bio-safety as an aspect of protecting workers and the environment, to bio-security and trying to safe-guard High Consequence Pathogens mainly in P3 and P4 facilities from terrorists. The P4 or Biological Safety Level 4 (BSL4) before 2000 were usually associated with national defense programs. A P4 laboratory or is the highest level of laboratory containment for handling mainly warfare agents or what might be considered battle strains. We went from bio-safety to developing various interventions to prevent the theft, diversion and sale of High Consequence Pathogens by terrorists from laboratories. After the US postal attacks, institutions such as Sandia, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and the World Health Organization in Genève were instrumental in developing this concept of “bio-security” or protective measures for laboratories. Bio-security has remained a focus in the United States and Europe. Events over the last three or four years have shifted the perception of bio-security significantly. While bio-security is certainly still on the agenda, the relationship of states and terrorists has changed. I now focus on state supported bio-terrorism whereby pathogens don’t need to be stolen or diverted. A state warfare lab, such as exists in Iran and Syria today, could easily provide their terrorist surrogates with the most advanced biological agents for covert operations. This is far more likely and would be far more devastating in terms of kill ratios than some lone terrorist group trying to weaponize pathogens without state support or a warfare laboratory.

Gordon: You are currently a consultant with the NATO Defense Establishment, what are your principle duties?

Dekker: For the past few years, I’ve developed a number of programs which NATO supports and in which NATO is a full participant. Additionally, I represent both governmental and defense industry clients who are interested in collaboration with supranational military structures such as NATO, US Dept. of Defense or Ministries of Defense on this side of the Atlantic. I’ve also worked on national assessments of Mid-East bio-warfare programs and as a strategic advisor for McKenna, Long and Aldridge, LLP in Washington D.C. on their Bio-Defense practice. I have consulted with the Public Health Preparedness program for the European Homeland Security Association under the French High Committee for Civil Defense. I developed and ran war games for this program.

Gordon: You have written and presented extensively to international groups in the US, EU and Middle East on Syrian Bio-warfare. How did you get interested in the subject?

Dekker: Initially, I became interested in looking at bio-safety standards mainly of East European laboratories and the types of pathogens which were being transported pretty much without regulation to other nations in Africa and the Mid-East. The World Health Organization, which I consulted with, was interested in these areas as well. Some laboratories in Africa and the Mid-East tend to have a lower level of bio-safety containment. A P4 is extremely expensive to build and maintain so nations with fewer resources tend to work on their bio-warfare programs in labs which may not be suitable. In the course of this two things happened; I was looking at issues related to the Soviet programs, what pathogens they may have provided to Iraq, Syria, Iran and the DPRK, specifically I was looking at their smallpox and botulinium programs. Then in Afghanistan, you may recall, the US recovered documents which Al Qaeda had on their bio-programs. I moved from an interest in bio-safety and bio-security to looking at the threat state biological warfare labs pose and the types of criteria we need to assess them. Most biological weapons research is dual use. It is quite difficult to determine if it falls within the BTWC, which allows defensive research, or if it is "offensive" which is prohibited. These programs are usually a nation’s most sensitive weapons sections. Thus, it can be very difficult, but not impossible, to estimate how advanced they are.

Gordon: What have your investigations revealed about the level of commitment and investment in Bio-warfare programs by the Syrian military establishment?

Dekker: Contrary to how the US State Department and other agencies tend to downplay the sophistication of the Syrian biological and nuclear programs, they are very advanced. Syria has always had the most advanced chemical weapons program in the Middle East. The US and other western agencies have in a sense been distracted by this, but their biological programs and the “concept of use” are robust. Syria’s biological weapons capability today is closely tied to the former and current Soviet and Russian programs respectively, the DPRK, Iran and the former Iraq regime. A major concern is their strategic concept of use - which has gone from one of ‘special weapons’ to incorporation into their ‘conventional arsenal.’ That is a significant shift and one that seems to have eluded the US. The Syrians run their biological programs out of the Syrian Scientific Research Council (SSRC) in Damascus. They have separate wings for separate pathogens. They also have a number of programs running in Aleppo. The Syrians are 100% committed to deniable operations as their modus operandi. Biological weapons, particularly those which might occur naturally, are the ultimate in deniability, for example, their cryptosporidium program for force reduction. The Wednesday Report noted a few years ago that in terms of the Syrian anthrax program, Syria has extensive expertise in the industrial cultivation of germs and viruses for the civilian production of anthrax (and smallpox) vaccines. It also noted that Russian experts, contracted by Syria, are apparently helping them to cultivate a highly virulent anthrax germ for installation in missile warheads. Their pharmaceutical infrastructure is fully integrated with their defense structure. Syrians cannot reach parity with US and Israeli conventional weapons. However, they view their bio-chemical arsenal as part of a normal weapons program. This is a huge shift in thinking by the Syrian military. It means they condone the use of biological pathogens as 'offensive' weapons. NATO and the United States should be very concerned about that re-designation.

Gordon: What external resources did the Syrian military establishment draw upon to develop its Bio-warfare capabilities?

Dekker: The Syrians work on most Category A pathogens: anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin, camelpox. Some of these they acquired during natural outbreaks, others they acquired from the Soviets, Russians, DPRK, Iran and Iraq. Some of these pathogens such as their botulinium program have their own facilities and sections within chemical weapons institutes and defense labs; others are in veterinary vaccine research facilities and have a ‘latent’ component. Keep in mind ‘defensive’ biological research is completely legal and prior to the 1980’s it was normal to trade in pathogens, even dangerous ones. Although the US gave up its bio-warfare program in the 1960’s, the BTWC of 1972, ratified in 1976, had no verification mechanism. Offensive programs were not that uncommon. The Soviets hid theirs (Biopreparat) and it was massive. US intelligence agencies denied the Soviets could possibly have such a massive program - even after the defection of high level scientists- such Vladimir Pasechnik. You have to wonder at what point they are going to sharpen up and see that nations like Syria also have a robust advanced biological weapons program. Things have changed with genetic modification and other technologies which make the need to 'stockpile' biological weapons obsolete. The Syrians are intent on having a very agile program; additionally they work on a number of crash programs. Thus, we see a progression from the old Soviet days of bio-weapon development to a far more contemporary way in which the Syrians have made tremendous gains from the Soviets and more recently the Russians and the DPRK. The Syrians also acquired some of their dual-use technologies completely legally when companies such as Baxter and other bio-pharma concerns were developing factories in Damascus. The majority of their bio-programs stocks have come from Russia, Iran and the DPRK.

Gordon: We heard that some of the late Saddam Hussein’s Bio-warfare research and pathogens may have been transferred to Syria during Operation Enduring Freedom. Is that accurate to your knowledge, and who facilitated the transfer? What types of bio-warfare agents and materials might have been transferred?

Dekker: Yes. It is important to remember that the Iraqi programs were far more advanced at the time than what the Syrians had, and were developing. The delivery of certain pathogens in a ‘weaponized’ form taught the Syrians new techniques they previously had not mastered. This is very problematic. I am less concerned about the types of pathogens or specific pathogens as these were available to Syria from other sources. What Hussein’s transfer taught the Syrians was more sophisticated ways of weaponization and dispersal. I believe Russian special ops- their Spetsnaz teams - transported sections of the programs. Remember these are not MIRVed ICBM’s we are talking about - you don’t need to stockpile biological weapons. It is the quality of the pathogen and ‘weaponization’ or aerosolization, milling processes that count, not the quantity. I don’t believe they moved some biological arsenals into the Baqaa Valley in Lebanon, perhaps sections of their chemical and nuclear weapons, but not the biological programs. Those are much too sensitive to dump in the desert. They must be carefully maintained in a defense laboratory. If you take something like Bot - I gram of crystalline Botulinium is estimated to kill about a million people if it were evenly dispersed - you don't want to bury it out in the desert.

Gordon: To your knowledge what pathogens and toxins are the Syrian bio-warfare establishment developing and what is their propensity to produce mass casualties?

Dekker: Syria posesses Category A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. To my knowledge the most problematic program, I believe was transferred, was the Iraqi camelpox program - the fact that Iraq had this program in the first place is a problem. That it was one of their major programs, which UNMOVIC had detailed the first time around, is a big problem. It’s a problem because camelpox research and other types of orthopox research can and have been used as a safe substitute for conducting smallpox research. A particular issue I have with smallpox research conducted in rogue states is that these programs most likely are not based on vaccine preventable strains. So the US national strategic stockpile of smallpox vaccine, which has cost the US tax payers billions of dollars to stockpile, may be totally non-efficacious against a battle strain developed in Syria, Iran or the DPRK. There were reports a few years back, that something like the India 1 strain, which is considered exceptionally virulent, can be prevented with modern attenuated vaccine. However, this is first of all not an absolute and secondly India 1 which is associated with the 1971 Smallpox outbreak in Aralsk, Kazahkstan which came from Vozrozhdenie Island may not resemble genetically modified strains. It creates a false sense of security to think that out of 128 strains, only four (the most prevalent previously naturally occurring strains) are the ones rogue states would choose to reintroduce smallpox. It is naive to think that states developing weapons of mass destruction are going to select a strain we can prevent. The Soviets ramped up their work on smallpox once they knew the WHO had declared it eradicated and that the United States had ceased vaccination against it. The US national stockpile is based primarily on the Ankara strain (Modified Vaccinia Ankara). Syria also has high capacity samplers now that are exceptionally useful in field testing biological weapons, again, another possible acquisition from Iraq. They have recently mastered different types of dispersal methods which may have come from the Iraqi programs. As I previously mentioned, Syria works ‘offensively’ on most Category A bio-warfare pathogens as do a number of other states.

Gordon: To your knowledge have Syrian Bio-warfare programs been supplied by Russian, West German and even American research and technical processing entities?

Dekker: Yes, several West European nations (Germany, the UK, Holland, France), the US and Russia were trading partners of Syria and supplied technologies which could and were used for offensive programs. At that time it was not illegal - the only firm I know specifically which seems to have caught the attention of the US Dept. of Justice was Baxter Pharmaceutical. At the moment the main bio-pharma trading partners are the DPRK and Russia. The Iranians have supplied scientific teams which will advance their weapons knowledge. The Syrians have also been somewhat successful at third party bidding through countries in Africa.

Gordon: How extensive has the Syrian Bio-warfare program become and who in their military and defense establishment is directing and controlling its development?

Dekker: The Syrian biological warfare programs are administratively run under the SSRC in Damascus. They have one of the most highly developed pharmaceutical industries in the Mid East. It is overseen by the Ministry of Defense under General Talas and their intelligence services. This is rather unusual as most western pharmaceutical firms are overseen by a Ministry of Public Health. There is also Saydalaya which is their foreign procurement board for all chemical and biological imports. I would say the Syrian bio-pharma sector is highly interfaced with the defense establishment. They also have a number of veterinary institutes – again oversight is from the Ministry of Defense.

Gordon: What means of delivery does Syria have available for its bio weapons?

Dekker: Well they’ve mastered micro-encapsulation which is necessary for aerosol dispersal. They have experimented with parachute dispersal techniques for orthopox based on Soviet methods. They are also developing micro aerosol dispersal technologies which have no military application. This is probably the most alarming as it is designed for terrorist use. They are also looking at amplifying virulence. Syria wants to develop a very high quality arsenal and a very agile one, hence their crash programs. They do of course have a sophisticated chemical weapons program for which missile delivery is far more complementary. Remember, if you are preparing to do a covert release of a biological agent you don’t necessarily want to use something as traceable as a crop sprayer. The Syrians are perfecting advanced dispersal technologies that will be for use against civilians but far more sophisticated than the use of a crop duster.

Gordon: How much of a threat is the Syrian Bio-warfare capability to Israel and US forces in the Middle East, e.g. Iraq?

Dekker: Syria poses an immediate and imminent threat to the United States and Israel. The most likely use of their biological weapons arsenal against Israel would be to reduce IDF fighting forces prior to an attack on the Golan. It’s conceivable they could incapacitate the IDF for a few days even with a non-lethal pathogen or repetitively weaken civilians in Lebanon, where the water supplies are unprotected. This could be an optimum use of their bio-arsenal. That might not be as catastrophic as some fear, but it would be very effective. Obviously, there are more serious scenarios one can imagine in terms of deniability, if they have produced vaccines to protect their military and maybe their civilians against more lethal strains of virus such as smallpox. The immediate threat is their ability to reduce fighting forces. They have a strain of pneumonia that is probably very effective and they had a crash program on cryptosporidium prior to last year’s war in Lebanon. If you look at regions in Lebanon with known concentrations of anti-Syrian civilians, it may be possible for Syria to contaminate water distribution systems with a pathogen like Crypto which is impervious to chlorine and will pass through most filtration systems. Such a contamination could infect significant sections of a population. Even in the United States, there have been natural outbreaks. There is no treatment available, so it could have quite an impact. There are other concerns such as the use of pre-deployed biological agents in the event that Iran is attacked by the United States. Again, here we should pay close attention to how the Soviets planned for Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). They planned their smallpox program specifically in the event of MAD so that smallpox would wipe out whoever was left. It’s not beyond reason to consider that the Syrians and Iranians have engaged in such contingency planning

Gordon: Does the Syrian Bio-warfare establishment have co-operative weaponization programs on-going with Iran, Sudan and other terrorist sponsoring states?

Dekker: Similar to Iran’s collaboration on their nuclear testing with the DPRK, Syria has joint efforts for field testing their biological agents. It appears they have done some field testing with the cooperation of Khartoum. There is also evidence to suggest they have conducted tests on sections of their prison populations. Iranian scientific teams are known to work within the SSRC system on bio-warfare programs and certainly they have high level exchanges on their chemical and nuclear programs. Russia has sent scientists recently to work within their bio-chem programs.

Gordon: We noted Israeli and some mainstream media reports about an alleged chemical warfare accident in July 2007 that took place in Syria and killed ‘dozens of Iranian and Syrians technicians and officials.’ Are you able to confirm that through your sources? Have there been equivalent technical accidents in the Syrian Bio-warfare programs?

Dekker: There have been a number of accidents with their biological weapons programs that have killed civilians in the past in cities like Homs and Aleppo. The July 2007 accident was a far more serious and immediate one. As is the case with chemical munitions, the types of previous accidents took time to develop and tended to produce chronic symptoms. Some of those programs were ended and it appears that casualties from former bio-programs were related to ventilation problems. This latest accident appears to have occurred while they were mounting a warhead. Syria is known to have a stockpile of chemical weapons and accidents happen. It is interesting to note that Iranian scientists were involved in that activity.

Gordon: How much does the US Bio-warfare establishment and intelligence community know about the Syrian Bio-warfare threat?

Dekker: It is similar to the US negligent underestimation and denial that the Soviets had a massive biological weapons program. The US Intelligence Community negligently underestimates and denies the sophistication of the Syrian biological weapons programs which is very unfortunate. I think it has been very difficult for the US Intelligence Community to procure knowledgeable sources due to internal institutional problems. Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton has tried since 2001 to warn the US about the threat the Syrian biological weapons programs poses. His warnings have fallen on deaf ears. I hope Israel is helping the United States because it would appear the US is really not up to this challenge. The US public should demand that our military is first and foremost protected. Every soldier should carry Factor Seven and should be vaccinated against smallpox, have botulinium anti-toxin available and anthrax vaccine. This should be standard protection for our military personnel operating in the Middle East. Obviously in other areas we need counter medical measures to prevent VHF's (Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers). The US public needs to be informed that the intelligence community is falling far short here in protecting them. Other US allies are not, they are up to speed. Again as an American citizen it is unbelievable to see such negligence in the US intelligence community. Having lived in Europe for 20 years and working as a defense consultant on Category A warfare agents, this is not the standard approach of other NATO nations. There is something deeply disturbing with the US approach. Time will tell as unfortunately it did with 9/11.

Gordon: In your opinion, what has prevented the US from recognizing the significance of the Syrian bio-warfare threat and developing effective counter measures?

Dekker: I believe there is a specific mind-set within the US intelligence community which makes it difficult for them to procure sources in the Middle East and of course the lack of language ability is a problem for them as well. I’ve lived outside the US for nearly 20 years now and what I’ve seen in their approach is not reassuring. Most of their experienced officers are gone. The US State Dept. moves their staff about every three years which is not compatible with building long-term relationships. They appear not to have the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) resources required for long term assessment of WMD programs. Because they have not taken appropriate defensive measures in view of the potential consequences of a WMD attack, they have left the US exposed. It’s also problematic that the US relies heavily on technology and has done so for a number of years. Biological weapons cannot be assessed by satellites anymore. Perhaps during the old Soviet era but now science has moved beyond this. I believe the US incompetence in this field and its arrogance could eventually lead to a successful strike on the US by a rogue nation-possibly in the very near future.

Another problem for the United States as a result of their inability to assess Syrian programs accurately is their failure to inform the US public on the real threat they face. The smallpox program is a case in point. The US may not be able to protect its citizens with its ‘treasured’ national strategic stockpile of smallpox vaccine. Who wants to be the one to come out and announce that to the US public? Who wants to say they have no idea how advanced the Syrian Botulinium or Plague programs are because they don’t have any access? It would be very unpopular if the US public knew they were potentially defenseless and that the people charged with protecting them had dropped the ball again. What is disconcerting is they don’t seem to be able to recognize, acknowledge and correct their prior mistakes, such as the denial of the Soviet Biopreparat programs. If they don’t start taking Mid-East biological weapons programs more seriously the U.S. is likely to suffer far worse attacks than 9/11. The US intelligence community is inadequately equipped to deal with this threat.

Gordon: Could Bio-weapons developed by the Syrian military establishment be used as WMD producing significant mass casualties in Israel, the EU and here in America?

Dekker: Yes, Syria is very good at conducting covert operations. They have a number of technologies available which they could provide to either Special Forces or terrorists who could release them in airports, other transportation hubs, airplane ventilation systems and that would cause mass casualties. I certainly believe they have very advanced biological weapons capabilities and we are at a point where there really aren’t any technological obstacles for them to overcome in dispersal or deployment. This is why intelligence is so vital in this area. It is probably the last line of defense, so to neglect it, or deny that one should allocate resources for prevention, is odd. Some biological weapons use pathogens which don’t need to be ‘weaponized’. This requires specialized intelligence techniques not used for tracking chemical or nuclear weapons. Of all the countries Israel is by far the most prepared to handle the release of biological weapons. The nations of Western Europe are unevenly prepared and the United States is probably not prepared. In such an attack, the country would probably suffer major mass casualties. I think the Syrians are much more sophisticated than the US intelligence community realizes. This puts American lives at immediate risk. The American public should demand that the US intelligence community close the gap in their intelligence on the Syrian biological weapons programs. Additionally, they have underestimated the Syrian nuclear programs for several years as well.

Gordon: In your opinion what should America, Israel and NATO do to combat the Syrian Bio-warfare threat and its proliferation to terrorist groups?

Dekker: The US intelligence community could start by acknowledging that Syria has an advanced, well developed program and take things a bit more seriously. It would be helpful if they stopped tasking resources to intimidate US scientists abroad who are informed on Syrian biological weapons. The US Intelligence Community seems particularly risk averse. It’s almost as if Syria couldn’t possibly have such a program because their scientific community isn’t advanced enough. Syria’s scientific community is exceptionally advanced and sophisticated. They work closely with Iran, Russia and the DPRK. They have vast expertise to draw upon. Their conventional weapons programs may fall far behind Israel and the US but they have leveled the playing field considerably with their unconventional weapons arsenal. It has been their goal to do so. If you deny something exists and seek to intimidate those who say it does, then any preventive measures to protect your citizens are lacking. Other NATO nations are preparing for deliberate disease outbreaks and acknowledge that Syrian biological weapons programs are a threat. These efforts may now be accelerated given concerns over Syria’s nuclear program that caught many off guard.

Israel on the other hand is well prepared. Its citizens have experience with Scud attacks and Israel is poised to interdict WMD attacks because their intelligence services are so competent.

Biological weapons and terrorist use of them require excellence in intelligence not incompetence and denial.

Gordon: Thank you Dr. Dekker for this most informative and I’m sorry to say, frightening discussion of the Syrian bio-warfare threat and why America has not done enough to recognize and combat it.
Dr. Dekker suggests that for more information you consult “Biological Terrorism: The Threat of the 21st Century” by Marie Sultan for the types of technological advancements which might be a concern.