Saturday, February 02, 2008

Congress members back Israel on rockets

Two Democrats and two Republicans introduced a congressional resolution condemning rocket attacks on Israel.

U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) on Wednesday initiated the non-binding resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives joined by Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). The resolution called the recent attacks from the Gaza Strip "Iranian enabled," based on intelligence suggesting that some rocket components come from Iran.

It also recognized "the difficult balance Israel faces as the competing pressures of being the primary supplier of numerous necessities for Palestinian civilians, such as fuel, electricity, and medicine, even while rockets are being fired at Israel from Palestinian areas."

Israel has come under criticism in Europe particularly for blockading Gaza in a bid to stop the attacks.

The resolution also called on "all nations, including Egypt, to take affirmative, transparent, verifiable steps to stop the flow of rockets and other terrorism-enabling materials (including human resources) to the Palestinian territories." Israel says Egypt has not done enough to stop arms smuggling across its border with Gaza

Separate Housing for Muslim Women at Georgetown U.

At Georgetown University, Muslim women can live apart in housing that enables them to "sleep in an Islamic setting," as the website puts it. According to a student at the time the policy was adopted, the university housing office initially opposed the idea, on grounds that

all freshman should have the experience of "living in dorms and dealing with different kinds of people." That might sound appealing, Muslim students told a reporter in an article featured on the website. But in their view, the reporter wrote, "learning to live with 'different kinds of people' " actually "causes more harm than good" for Muslims, because it requires them to live in an environment that "distracts them from their desire to become better Muslims, and even draw[s] weaker Muslims away from Islam." Looks like Georgetown University, an institution founded by Jesuits, is promoting a separate society on campus. Or perhaps the goal is to prevent Muslim students there from assimilating.

How many accommodations can the West make before our civilization becomes so fractured as to be nonexistent?

Friday, February 01, 2008

"A Holding Pattern"

Arlene Kushner

The discussions and arguments about Winograd go on. There is a broad feeling -- and much anger -- that Olmert was given a pass in too many ways. But there are also those who see much that is stunningly critical in the Report. In fact, the more I read it, the more that is my sense. But the fight goes on and has not yet begun to play out. I was astonished at the editorial in the very left wing Haaretz that said:

"Because they were so preoccupied with the final 60 hours of the war, and because of the fact that the Winograd Committee exonerated Ehud Olmert from an implied accusation that he decided on a ground operation at the last moment only in order to improve his political position, people seem to have
failed to hear the extraordinarily serious remarks read out by Judge Eliyahu Winograd in his summarizing announcement to the public. The blood libel against Olmert was removed from the agenda, but on the other hand, the committee declared him unfit to conduct a war.

"The prime minister has no reason to rejoice, certainly not to drink a toast, and it is doubtful whether he has a right even to breathe a small sigh of relief. The final Winograd report is worse than the partial one because it asserts that after the failure of the first days, no conclusions were drawn,
no changes were made, there was no improvement in either the level of decision making or in the performance of the government or the Israel Defense Forces, and all this in spite of the fact that the government and the military command had 34 days to pull themselves together."

Additionally, in a survey done by the Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (which included Israeli Arabs), right after Winograd was released, 60% think Olmert should resign.

To clarify: What Justice Winograd read on Wednesday evening at the press conference was a summary, or the "highlights" of the Report. The full Report is not being made available because it contains classified material.

I provide here a link to an English translation of what he said, so that you can see for yourself.

And I note in particular the idea, proposed by Winograd, that SC Resolution 1701 represented a "diplomatic success (which I did not deal with in my preliminary comments)." Anyone who has been reading my postings knows I vehemently disagree: 1701 set in place a UNIFIL force that turned a blind eye as Hezbollah rearmed.

Let me clarify here, as well, that the Winograd Committee was appointed by Olmert and thus was not truly independent. He did this as a compromise after the war, when the nation was upset and demanding an independent judicial inquiry that would have given the commission of inquiry powers to call for the resignation of officials that this committee, by design, does not have. Is it necessary to say more?


Defense Minister Barak reportedly will not be pulling Labor from the coalition or calling for elections, but he is considering a call to remove Olmert (who would be replaced without elections). He is going to be meeting with reservist groups.

Opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) is hitting hard and heavy, as well he would be expected to.


The Israeli Embassy in Mauritania (in northwest Africa -- on the seamline between Arab and Black Africa) was attacked, although details are fuzzy as I write. Somewhere between one and six Islamic gunmen fired on the Embassy early in the morning. Some people have been wounded although because of the hour apparently no Embassy employees were present. Mauritania is an Islamic Republic and a member of the Arab League. It is unusual in that it has diplomatic ties with Israel, but there have calls of late to cut those ties.


As we go into Shabbat, I would like to close with some positive reports.

First, we had a major winter storm here the last couple of days. In many places there was serious snow, although in my location in Jerusalem it was mixed with sleet and hail. The important factor was the large amount of precipitation, in whatever form it arrived. We've been suffering severe drought, with a very dry winter and the Kinneret, our major water source, has been very low. This storm, then, was truly a blessing. Of course, it doesn't remedy everything; it is hoped that we will continue to see solid precipitation in the weeks coming.


And then this, which is very welcome: The Israeli Arab town of Shfaram, in the north near Haifa, has decided that it wants to participate in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations this spring. All right!

Mayor Ursan Yassin has met with national officials to discuss what festivities would take place in the town. "The 40,000 residents of Shfaram feel that they are a part of the State of Israel," he said. "The desire to participate in the festivities is shared by most of the residents...We will not raise our children to hate the country. This is our country and we want to live in coexistence with its Jewish residents."

Please understand what an anomaly this is. Most of the Israeli Arab population marks Israel Independence Day as the "Nakba" (catastrophe). Yassin admitted that most of the residents have trouble feeling connected to the day but said they didn't want to be left out of the party. Good enough, if there is no hostility. In fact, Yassin criticized recent inciteful remarks by the Israeli Arab Higher Monitoring Committee (which I've reported on). "This is our country and we completely disapprove...I want to hold a central ceremony in Shfaram, raise all the flags and have a huge feast."

A glimmer of hope?

The national committee planning events will make a special effort to include Shfaram.


see my website

eBay buys Israeli startup for $169m

Gil Ronen

US online auctioning giant eBay has purchased Israeli online risk tools startup Fraud Sciences for $169 million, Israel21c reported.

Following years of intensive research, Fraud Sciences has developed a technology that differentiates between real and fraudulent transactions with unprecedented accuracy. Using this groundbreaking technology, Fraud Sciences offers a unique transaction verification service to manage online fraud. The small privately owned company only raised $7 million in investment before the buy-out. Fraud Sciences' technology is designed to uncover fraudulent credit card purchases by verifying that the customer making the purchase is in fact the card's owner.

99.9 percent accuracy
"At PayPal we use the same type of tools, and we feel that Fraud Sciences technology is going to be very complementary," PayPal spokeswoman Sarah Gorman told

Gorman said that Fraud Sciences' technology will build on what PayPal calls its "neural detection technique," which "literally gets smarter with every transaction.".

Fraud Sciences has claimed that its system is 99.9 percent accurate, significantly reducing th
The small privately owned company only raised $7 million in investment before the buy-out.
e chance that a fraudulent transaction will be accepted, as well as the chance that legitimate purchases will be rejected. The technology works by evaluating a composite of the purchaser's digital history to ensure that he is both a real person and the authorized cardholder. Further details regarding the system are secret

Phishing for dollars
Risk tools relating to identity verification will improve the security of online transactions executed through PayPal, but eBay's payment-services division has run into other types of fraud over the years, particularly phishing. This term refers to scammers who send e-mail to individuals in which they pose as legitimate companies – like eBay or PayPal – in order to lure their victims into giving up their credit card numbers and other information.

Tel Aviv-based Fraud Sciences was founded in April 2006 by Shvat Shaked and Sa'ar Wilf. They will be joining PayPal's technology and fraud management teams.

Investors in Fraud Sciences include Redpoint Ventures, BRM Capital and entrepreneur Eli Barkat, who acquired a 40% stake in the firm for $5 million. He is set to make 12 times that amount in the exit

eBay and its subsidiary, e-commerce enabler PayPal, have been facing an increasingly difficult battle against online fraud. They plan to use Fraud Science's risk tools and analytics to expose scams and deceptions targeted at their companies, and to accelerate the development of the next generation of fraud detection tools.

Islamists making Inroads with DNC

The executive committee of the Democratic National Committee has elected three Indian Americans to the standing committees at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, convening Aug. 25-28 in Denver, Colo."he three Indians are Sunita Leeds from a DC-based education organization; Smita Shah, founder and president of Chicago-based engineering and construction management company Spaan Technologies; and Iman Malik Mujahid (aka Abdul Malik Mujahid), founder and president of the Chicago-based Sound Vision Foundation. Mujahid was named to the credentials committee, which "coordinates the selection of convention delegates and alternates." The article describes Mujahid as follows:

"Mujahid is a Muslim leader, activist, film producer and non-profit entrepreneur. An imam at three Chicago mosques, he has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago and is currently president of the Council of the Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago."

Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! Alarms are going off..... "Mujahid", BTW, is Arabic for "one who makes jihad" or "one who fights in a war for Islam."

You can read more about Malik Mujahid here. He published a book, Commanders of the Muslim Army, about historical Muslim military leaders "who loved death more than life" and who "led the armies of Islam against the Kuffars and nonbelievers". Mujahid is active with - among other thing - Bosnia and Kosova organizations. I'm thinking that someone didn't do their due diligence in looking into Mujahid's background, similar to the Essam Omeish appointment (quickly rescinded) to a Virginia state immigration commission. Maybe not, though. Maybe the DNC wants Islamist in their ranks.

UPDATE: Given that Howard Dean spoke at the September 2007 Islamic Society of North America convention (the ISNA is one of several Muslim Brotherhood-front organizations in the US), the DNC clearly does want Islamists actively involved with the Democratic party.

UPDATE2: More on Sound Vision and Malik Mujahid, from Militant Islam Monitor:

"Sound Vision, an affiliate of the the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview Illinois. The Mosque Foundation has been under law enforcement scrutiny for more then a decade for ties to terrorism and several of their congregants have been arrested . The most recent arrest of a Mosque Foundation member was Mohammed Saleh, who was charged with involvement in funding and recruiting terrorist operatives in Gaza."

".... (Yusuf) Islam's (formerly Cat Stevens) close friend Abdul Malik Muhajid, the director of Sound Vision, is listed as the National Coordinator for the Bosnia Task Force and Kosova Task Force. The Bosnia Task Force is alleged to have direct ties to Al Qaeda and the Benevolence International Foundation, an Al Qaeda funding front whose founder Ernaam Arnaout, is now jailed on terror funding charges."

UPDATE3: Daniel Pipes has found several examples of radicalism at Sound Vision, this one where Sound Vision forum visitors applaud a bus bombing in Jersusalem, here where Sound Vision offers a boilerplate press release for denouncing terrorism, and here where Sound Vision offers advice on conducting dawah at public schools.

Israel's Lebanon Disaster

January 30, 2008; Page A16

I had fought in war before but had never seen such intensive fire -- tracer bullets, rockets, artillery shells -- nor been assigned a more horrific detail. My unit was escorting the bodies of Israeli soldiers killed on the last night of the Second Lebanon War, a few hours before the U.N. cease-fire agreement took effect. None of us understood the purpose of this last-minute offensive or, indeed, many of the government's disastrous decisions during the war. We agreed that the burden of these failures would be borne by our leaders, military and civilians alike. Now, a year and a half later, veterans of the war are demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accept responsibility for its conduct -- or risk unraveling the consensus on which Israel's survival depends.

The war began on July 12, 2006, when Hezbollah gunmen ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killing eight and kidnapping two. Mr. Olmert's response, a large-scale campaign intended to crush Hezbollah and secure the soldiers' release, was supported by most Israelis until serious mismanagement of the war surfaced. While receiving inadequate or faulty equipment -- my rifle literally fell apart in my hands -- Israeli forces were denied permission to invade Southern Lebanon and neutralize the katyusha rockets that were pummeling Israeli cities. Instead, Israeli jets bombed the Lebanese routes through which Syria resupplied Hezbollah and destroyed the organization's Beirut headquarters.

These attacks obliterated much of Hezbollah's infrastructure and killed a fourth of its fighters, but they also laid waste to a large part of Lebanon, killing civilians and squandering Israel's initial international backing. Hundreds of rockets, meanwhile, continued to smash into northern Israel, displacing a half-million civilians. Only on Aug. 13, after a month of fighting and with a U.N. ceasefire already approved, did the government authorize a ground offensive into Lebanon. The operation achieved nothing, either militarily or diplomatically, and cost the lives of 33 Israeli troops.

In another country, perhaps, such blunders might result in the resignation of senior officers but not necessarily elected officials. In Israel, though, no one is above blame. Accountability for decision making is a tenet of the Zionist ethos on which the Jewish state is based and, unlike most nations, Israel has a citizens' army in which the great majority -- politicians included -- serve. Most uniquely, Israel confronts daily security dangers and long-term threats to its existence. Israelis can neither condone nor afford a prime minister who passes the buck to their army or shirks the onus of defense. The person who sends us into battle cannot escape responsibility for our fate.

No sooner had the war ended than Israelis began demanding an official inquiry into its handling. Why did the government set unrealistic goals for the operation? Why were no orders given for an invasion, and why were no measures taken to protect the home front from missile attack? Above all, Israelis insisted on knowing why Mr. Olmert authorized a final offensive with no apparent objective other than enhancing his image.

Mr. Olmert resisted these demands, but public pressure forced him to appoint an investigative panel headed by Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Winograd. While not empowered to recommend resignations, the commission issued a preliminary report that compelled Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to step down. The second Winograd report, scheduled for publication tomorrow, will focus on the prime minister's performance during the war, but Mr. Olmert has sworn not to cede power, irrespective of its findings. At stake is not merely the government's future but rather the fabric of Israeli society.

Israel lacks a constitution but is bound by an unwritten social contract. Israelis defend their country with their lives and their leaders' pledge not to send them to war heedlessly. Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Menachem Begin resigned in the aftermath of disappointing wars, though both were exonerated of incompetence. By ignoring these precedents, Mr. Olmert, whose culpability began before the war, when he appointed a defense minister devoid of military experience, threatens to break the contract. Israelis will think twice before following his orders -- and perhaps those of future prime ministers -- into battle. The cohesiveness that enabled Israel to survive 60 years of conflict will unwind.

Thousands of Israelis are calling for Mr. Olmert's resignation. Rightists convinced that the prime minister cannot safeguard the country's security have joined with leftists who understand that leaders who fail at war will never succeed at peacemaking. All are united by a willingness to shoulder the burden of Israel's defense. This was the commitment that united us that last night in Lebanon, as we took up the stretchers bearing the remains of somebody's son, somebody's husband, and brought them home for burial.

Mr. Oren is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2008).

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winograd Report: Grave Errors, Lack of Strategy

Ezra HaLevi

The final report of the Winograd Committee examining the government's performance in the Second Lebanon War was delivered to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Wednesday evening. Winograd then read aloud its conclusions at a press conference in Jerusalem's Binyanei HaUmah Conference Center. AThe 500-page report (click here for full report - in Hebrew) found "serious faults and defects in the decision making processes in both the political and the military levels and the interface between them" in the course of the Second Lebanon War. "Israel entered a prolonged war, which it initiated, that ended without a clear victory militarily."

The report summed up the war with the phrase "a great missed opportunity" and laid the blame "mostly with the military." It continued, however, by saying, "Partially responsible was the weakness projected by the political echelon."

The committee stood by its original commitment to refrain from issuing personal recommendations and does not mention PM Olmert by name, though it states: "It should be emphasized that the fact that we avoided laying personal blame does not mean that there was no such blame." It says it refrained from naming names in order not to deter any futureleaders from making tough decisions during war time.

Report Summary
* Failures began before the war, the report said. The decision to go to war was made without strategy. The government had to choose between a quick, decisive air offensive followed by withdrawal or a full-blown ground war that would involve a call-up of the reserves. The government delayed the decision and ended up in a drawn-out conflict with ground-troops unprepared for deployment until the very end.

* It has been pointed out that a 'code word' used in the report whenever the committee wished to say that somebody erred so significantly that something ought to be done is "keshel" (failure). The report explains in Chapter 17, Paragraph 25 that "failure" is not the same as mere faulty judgment.

* The army was criticized for a lack of organization of ground forces and failure to request the call-up of the reserves for a ground invasion until the first week of August. Clear objectives were lacking commanders lacked faith in their superiors, as well as their subordinates in certain cases.

* The report sees the United Nations' Resolution 1701 - the ceasefire - as an accomplishment.

* Contrary to the recent focus of reservists' criticism, the report said that the final ground operation was "practically a necessity." It said that although its goals were legitimate, it was not conducted properly and therefore did not contribute anything positive.

* The report criticized the emphasis on protecting soldiers at the expense of the Home Front. "The IDF comported itself in the war as if the fear of suffering casualties among its soldiers served as a central element in the planning processes and in its operational considerations," the report stated. The committee went so far as to say that "the IDF's most basic values came undone in the war. Much of what had been seen as a basic foundation of the military organization remained, in some of the operations, empty verbiage." In this context, the committee lists "the tenacity in pursuing the target and dedication to accomplishing the mission; strict operational discipline; combat leadership and the role of commanders in battle; the avoiding of taking personal responsibility and a willingness to obey, while giving constructive criticism to those in charge." The report cites a connection between the aversion to suffering casualties and a feeling that the missions were routine security missions (batash) as opposed to actual warfare.

* There were severe failures in the defense of the home front. "Hizbullah rocket fire on the Israeli home front continued throughout the war and the IDF failed to provide an effective response. Daily life was disrupted, residents left their homes and entered bomb shelters...These results had far-reaching consequences for us and our enemies."

* The report cites positive aspects of the conduct of the Second Lebanon War, in addition to criticism of it. The accomplishments cited were, first and foremost, the volunteer spirit of the reservists who were called up for the war, and the heroism exhibited by individual soldiers. It also says that the Air Force had impressive accomplishments.

Winograd summed up his 30-minute oral summary of his commission's report on the Second Lebanon War with a statement that Israel "cannot survive in this region unless the people within it and outside it believe that it has political leadership, military capabilities and social strength that will enable it to prevent their enemies from realizing their goals – even by force."

This basic truth, the committee states, is common to all political approaches. "Attempts to reach peace or an agreement must come from a place of military might and of ability and willingness to fight for the country, its values and residents," the committee stated. "This has deep ramifications, well beyond the Second Lebanon War," it said.

Olmert's Response
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office released statements leading up to the Committee's press conference saying that Olmert is "relieved" and believes the report spares him the harsh criticism many expected, particularly regarding the final offensive of the war.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert released a short reaction to the report Wednesday evening. Olmert's statement said that he has faith "in the IDF, in its commanders, in its soldiers and abilities." The statement did not include any reaction to the criticism leveled at Olmert in the report, but said that he was treating it "with full seriousness," just as he had treated the interim report.

Cabinet Secretary Oved Yechezkel told Army Radio shortly after the press conference that Olmert has no plans to step down. "The prime minister and the government take responsibility and will make the required rectifications," Yechezkel said. "Taking responsibility means staying on the job to fix and improve - continuing to lead the way forward."

IDF Response
IDF officials are noting that the army has not waited until the publication of the report to take action to correct its mistakes in the war. More than 70 committees were appointed within the IDF to examine various aspects and make recommendations that are already being implemented. Those recommendations match those reached by Winograd, for the most part.

Nevertheless, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has appointed a special team to read the Winograd Commission's report on the Second Lebanon War and to come up with conclusions and recommendations. The crew includes the IDF Spokesman, the Chief Military Attorney and three members of the General Staff.

The Winograd Committee
The Winograd Committee was appointed and hand-picked by Prime Minister Olmert as a compromise response to demands for a State Commission of Inquiry, which would have had more authority to investigate and use its results in court proceedings. The committee was headed by retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd. The other committee members were Prof. Ruth Gavison, Prof. Yehezkel Dror, and retired IDF Major-Generals Menachem Einan and Chaim Nadel.

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) maintained that an independent inquiry was necessary, and was joined in its demand by IDF reservists, including senior officers who accused the government and General Staff of behaving irresponsibly. The groups announced in response to the prime minster's decision to put retired Judge Eliyahu Winograd at the head of the commission of inquiry that "Only a commission of inquiry headed by a judge with legal jurisdiction appointed by the president of the Supreme Court, not by the prime minister, is the solution."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Region: Hamas's PR debacle

Barry Rubin

Imagine a very secret meeting held somewhere in the Gaza Strip. Around a table sit various Hamas bigwigs, and their leader makes the following speech:

"OK, here's the plan. We'll wage war on our stronger neighbor, Israel, and lose; destroy our economy; make our people suffer; ensure international sanctions continue against us, and alienate almost all Arab regimes. Then, when things can't seem to get any worse, we'll turn out all the lights and get international sympathy!" "Brilliant!" is the response as the Hamas leaders leap to their feet and chant: "Just 100 more years of this and Israel will be destroyed!"

Not such a great strategy, you say? Then why should anyone say that Hamas won some big public relations victory by shutting off Gaza's electricity and blowing up the border wall with Egypt?

True, that's what Hamas's heads think. They are boiling over with pride at having put one over on Israel, as if this were some huge triumph. Some Israelis seem to agree.

BUT THIS is pure nonsense. Actually, it reminds me of many incidents in Palestinian history. Let me choose one.

After the PLO's 1982 defeat in Lebanon, when it was driven out of the country, Yasser Arafat called the catastrophe "an absolute political victory," while one of his henchmen cautioned, "We should not become arrogant in the future as a result of this victory."

Remember this: You can only make illusory profits out of being an alleged victim if you always lose.

Meanwhile, public support for Israel in America is at an all-time high. In some European countries, notably France and Italy, it has been rising. At any rate, no important Western states are siding with Hamas. If they have any policy obsession it is pushing the peace process, and Hamas is recognized as a barrier to that.

A remarkably anti-Hamas, pro-Israel editorial in The Washington Post, January 24, stated:

"As thousands stream across the border to Egypt, Hamas blockades the peace process."

Two years after Hamas's election victory and six months after it seized the Gaza Strip, international sanctions show no sign of faltering. Other than Syria, no Arab state is helping Hamas. Egypt may be soft on Hamas at times, but it is very angry at the organization.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, now a Fatah regime, is not falling apart (well, not any more than usual). Ask yourself this question: Will the vision of what's been happening in Gaza persuade West Bankers that they want Hamas in power there? Today, if Westerners want to feel friendly to the Palestinians they can support "good-guy" Fatah against "bad-guy" Hamas.

MEANWHILE, Israel is doing very well. Unemployment is at an all-time low; the economy is growing fast; polls show that both patriotism and personal satisfaction are high. Despite the rocket assault, for which it has no answer, Israel's defenses are strong on both the Gaza and West Bank fronts, with terrorism considerably down.

But even if one is just talking about the international media, I think the Hamas publicity stunt largely boomeranged, especially in the print media. Wire services explained Israel's motives and targeting by Hamas to a much greater extent than usual.

The aforementioned Washington Post editorial accused Hamas of disrupting peace efforts, stated that "no one is starving in Gaza," and noted that "Israelis have been relentlessly terrorized" by Hamas rocket attacks. It concluded, "The people of Gaza should get a consistent message that relief lies not in blowing up international borders but in ending attacks on Israel and allowing a peace process to go forward."

A Chicago Tribune editorial, entitled "The Enemy Within," warned that "until most Gazans fix the blame for their miserable living conditions where it belongs - on their elected leaders of Hamas - Gaza will remain poised on the brink of crisis, sending rockets into Israel and then complaining bitterly when its foe retaliates."

That editorial concluded: "As long as Hamas is in power, Gaza will be driven further into misery, further from the path that would lead to an independent state. For Gazans, the real enemy is within."

Certainly, contrary reports can be found, as well as pictures seemingly calculated to mobilize sympathy for ending sanctions on the Gaza Strip. Yet this was scarcely a tidal wave, being largely concentrated in the media institutions that always take such stances.

IN REALITY, there are two major problems with the Hamas strategy. From a pragmatic standpoint, Hamas's radicalism does prevent the creation of a Palestinian state and a peace that would benefit Palestinians. Its strategy of the permanent offensive guarantees not only suffering, but also failure.

Even from a radical perspective, Hamas's policy of the permanent offensive is a big mistake. It would have been better advised to pretend moderation, make a deal with at least Fatah or perhaps even Israel, and then break it in a bid for total victory. If it opted for quiet, Hamas could build up Gaza's economy and social institutions, training a future generation for all-out war. But it also rejects this wisely cynical approach.

Yasser Arafat, of course, made the same error.

So while Hamas will never give up, it also will never win. To portray its latest antics as some kind of success is simply wrong. They are a disaster, and to understand this reality is to comprehend the central blunder plaguing the Palestinian movement since its inception.

The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center ( at IDC Herzliya and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Olmert's Own Doing

January 29, 2008

As far as Prime Minister Olmert is concerned, late is not better than never. Tomorrow will bring, at long last, the release of the final report of the Winograd Commission, appointed to investigate the government and army's conduct of Israel's war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. This is not a day that Mr. Olmert has been looking forward to. No one thinks that the prime minister, who had been in office for only a few months when he ordered Israel's army into Lebanon, will look good in the report. The only question is how bad he will look. If moderately bad, he will probably weather the storm. If very bad, he may not.

In a way, this seems unfair to him. After all, the 2007 war was not, in the final analysis, a disaster for Israel. Any objective account of it would have to conclude that its results were mixed.

On the credit side, the Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, though not routed, were badly mauled. A clear message was sent to them that there was a limit to Israel's willingness to show restraint in the face of provocations. Lebanon itself suffered extensive damage and was made to realize that it could not let Hezbollah attack Israel with impunity. A new United Nations force with a stronger mandate than the old one was put in place in the Lebanese south. Israel's border with Lebanon, previously the site of frequent flare-ups, has been quiet since then.

On the debit side, on the other hand, the army performed unimpressively. It had great difficulty ousting from their fortified positions Hezbollah forces that were greatly inferior in weaponry and numbers. It was to the very end unable to stop Hezbollah's massive firing of rockets into Israel. The two Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping sparked the hostilities were never freed and are captives to this day. And there were substantial casualties: 43 civilians and 117 Israeli soldiers killed, many of the letter in the final 60 hours of fighting, when a full-scale ground operation against Hezbollah forces south of the Litani River was launched.

These last 60 hours, during which an Israeli tank brigade was ambushed with heavy losses, have gradually moved to the center of the public debate over Mr. Olmert's conduct during the war and its aftermath. Three main charges have been leveled against him. The first is that he let the army proceed with the ground operation even though it was strategically pointless, since U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which mandated a ceasefire along lines acceptable to Israel, had already been agreed on, thus obviating the need for military conquest of an area that Israel would just evacuate in the end anyway.

The second charge against the prime minister is that, having ordered the army to launch the attack, he then gave in to American pressure and limited the campaign to 60 hours, even though his generals had told him that they needed a minimum of 96 to reach the Litani. Because of these time restraints, it is said, precipitous assaults were mounted for which the army paid dearly without attaining its military objectives.

Thirdly, Mr. Olmert has been accused of deliberately misrepresenting the facts to the public and the Winograd Commission after the war by claiming that the 60-hour push was a necessary form of international pressure to get Resolution 1701 tailored to Israel's needs, when in fact the resolution had already been approved. In reality, it is charged, the prime minister knew the operation was dispensable but declined to call it off because the army wanted a last-minute victory to restore its hurt pride and refurbish its public image.

Whether the commission will endorse these accusations remains to be seen. Yet the first two of them, it must be said, reflect worse on the army than they do on Mr. Olmert. It was the army, after all, that assured the prime minister that the ground operation would be a military success and that opted to go ahead with it even when limited to 60 hours instead of telling Mr. Olmert that this was not enough time. In retrospect, his mistake was to have yielded to it, even though the indications are that he did so reluctantly and against his better judgment.

And yet what else, it might be asked in his defense, could he have been expected to do under the circumstances? He was not a military expert himself — and to make matters worse, his minister of defense, former Labor party leader Amir Peretz, was not one either and enthusiastically seconded all the army's arguments. Who can fault Mr. Olmert for listening to his generals' promise of a knockout blow against Hezbollah just before the final bell?

Perhaps no one. But the fact that he did not have a knowledgeable minister of defense by his side to serve as a civilian counterweight to the military and overrule it if necessary, and that in the coalition negotiations following his May 2006 electoral victory he made the political decision to give Mr. Peretz a post for which he was supremely unqualified, was his fault.

Had this post been the ministry of transportation or tourism, it would hardly have mattered. But to put Mr. Peretz in charge of Israel's army when he hadn't the foggiest notion of military affairs was, it was to turn out only a few months later, a gross and light-headed blunder.

For the cavalierness of that decision, his worst as prime minister, Mr. Olmert deserves to be held today to the strictest of accounts. If he had no one but his generals to listen to in the summer of 2006, this was entirely his own doing.

Jewish MKs Slam Arab MK Attendance at Habash Funeral in Amman

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish lawmakers harshly condemned two Israeli Arab lawmakers who traveled to Jordan Monday to attend the funeral of George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization. Habash, 83, died Saturday at his home in Amman following an angioplasty earlier in the week. Referred to by TIME magazine as the “Christian Terrorist Godfather, was a Greek Orthodox Christian, Habash’s PFLP carried out a murderous attack at Ben Gurion Airport in 1972 with Japanese Red Army terrorists, leaving 24 people dead.

The PFLP was also responsible for the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane that was forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. Israeli commandos rescued 100 passengers being held hostage by terrorists in a daring raid that inspired a movie and stories of heroism recounted in the generations that followed..

United Arab List-Ta’al Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi and Balad party Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka traveled to Amman with other members of Zahalka’s party for the ceremony.

A number of Jewish Knesset Members slammed the two Arab Knesset Members for going to honor Habash, a vicious terrorist who devoted his entire career to murdering Jewish men, women and children.

National Union Knesset Member Tzvi Hendel congratulated Tibi and Zahalka for attending Habash’s funeral – on condition they do not return to Israel. “Knesset Members who openly mourn and support one of the worst terrorists of our generation” need to be thrown out of the Knesset,” he said.

Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset Member Esterina Tartman also slammed the two Arab lawmakers. The “Israeli Arab MKs show contempt for the State of Israel; they believe in murder, in the destruction of the State of Israel and the obliteration of the Jewish People,” she charged.

Tibi and his party members first traveled to Ramallah Sunday to offer their condolences to Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“He was one of the most prominent leaders of the PLO and always fought for independence,” Tibi said, adding that although Habash often disagreed with PLO founder Yasser Arafat, the two men deeply respected each other.
Arafat co-founded the Fatah terrorist organization with Abbas in 1969, heading the group, and its parent organization, the PLO until his death in 2004, when Abbas inherited the position.

Zahalka has often declared his support for the position of enemy nations claiming that Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem, referring to the Old City as “occupied” and to its Jewish residents as “right-wing settlers.” Zahalka also told Syrian government radio in Damascus last year, “We don’t see Syria as an enemy state.”

Speaking last year at an event to honor the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the PFLP terror group, Zahalka told participants that Israeli Arabs “refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish country.”

He added that “[Israel] demands this (recognition as a Jewish state) in order to gain legitimacy to expel our people and to steal the rights of the Palestinian people ‘on the inside’... The various factions must work

Department of the Defenseless

Joe Kaufman | 1/28/2008

There used to be a time when the greatest threat within the United States government emanated from Arabists in the State Department, Arabists meaning those persons who favor Arab interests and positions in international affairs. Today, a new threat has emerged and from the most unlikely of places, the Department of Defense (DOD), and this time it’s not from Arabists but from Islamists, coming from outside the department, looking to infiltrate the most sensitive of areas in our nation. On September 1, 2006, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England was featured as a speaker at the 43rd annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America or ISNA. He began his speech by stating the following:

Friends, fellow Americans, people of faith - Good afternoon! Thank you to Dr. Louay Safi for the kind introduction, and a special thank you to Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdulla, and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, for your leadership and for the invitation to join you at this Islamic Society of North America conference.

Thank you also for the pleasant lunch, and the opportunity to dialog with the Society’s leadership. It was most beneficial to share ideas and values.

It is a profound honor for me to be here with you today, representing all the men and women in the United States military, and all the civilians who serve America in the Department of Defense and throughout the US Government.

ISNA was established by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)-associated Muslim Students Association (MSA) in 1981, helped into existence by a group of MSA alumni and a teaching assistant at North Carolina State University (NCSU) named Sami Al-Arian, who only two years prior co-founded Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Egypt. ISNA was incorporated using the same physical address as the MSA, which was also the address used to incorporate the American Hamas financing wing, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).

In December of 2003, ISNA was the subject of a terrorism investigation launched by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee “into possible links between nongovernmental organizations and terrorist financing networks.”

In June of 2007, ISNA was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a legal case brought by the Justice Department against HLF officials that dealt with the funding of millions of dollars to Hamas. During the trial, a May 1991 MB document bearing ISNA’s name was presented as evidence, stating: “The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and G-d’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Even today, right on ISNA’s official website, one can read the following quotes: “May Allah fight the jews and the christians. They took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration . Two deens [religions] shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs.” And “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” The statements have been on ISNA’s site since March of 2006, months before England gave his speech.

Furthermore, ISNA Executive Council member Muhammad Nur Abdullah (see above) and board members Jamal Badawi, Yusuf Ziya Kavakci, and Muzammil Siddiqi all currently serve as Sharia Scholars for the ‘Fatwa Bank’ on Islam Online. Contained in it is a fatwa (religious ruling) mandating violence against American troops, entitled ‘Seeking Martyrdom by Attacking US Military Bases in the Gulf.’ It states, “[A]ttacking American soldiers who came to launch war against Muslims is an obligation and Jihad, as they are true invaders. Hence, killing any transgressing American soldier is an obligation and a kind of Jihad since those occupying troops came to invade Muslim lands.”

For such a high-ranking government official, as Deputy Secretary England is, to participate in an event sponsored by ISNA is alarming to say the least, but the series of events that followed the speech were far worse and will have much greater implications for the future.

England was named Deputy Secretary in May of 2005. Prior to that, he had held two terms as Secretary of the Navy. Serving on England’s staff, while he was with the Navy, was an individual by the name of Hesham Islam. Islam, an Egyptian-born former Naval officer (Retired Commander) and former Merchant Marine for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, while at Naval Postgraduate School, wrote a thesis exhibiting what has been described as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic viewpoints. Islam has since moved on to join Deputy Secretary England’s DOD staff as his Special Assistant for International Affairs.

It has been reported that it was Commander Islam that suggested England address ISNA’s annual conference. And of course, England going to ISNA was an open invitation for ISNA to return the favor by coming to DOD, which the group took advantage of.

On April 26, 2007, DOD issued a “News Article” about ISNA’s visit with the agency the day before. A photo in the release depicts Deputy Secretary England with the President of ISNA Ingrid Mattson and the U.S. Vice President of ISNA Mohamed Hagmagid Ali. It was taken at England’s office in the Pentagon.

Also attending the event was the President of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Esam Omeish, who, last September, resigned his government appointed position to the Virginia Commission of Immigration, after a video surfaced showing him advocating violent jihad. Information regarding Omeish’s attendance is found on the website of American Muslims for Constructive Engagement (AMCE), an organization created by the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) to bring radical Muslims closer to the U.S. government. In March of 2002, IIIT’s Virginia offices were raided by the FBI in a terror financing probe. In March of 2006, DOD helped pay for an IIIT conference.

Now, it needs to be said that the April photo op and the England speech were not the first times DOD had had dealings with ISNA. In truth, ISNA has been a part of DOD’s Muslim chaplaincy program since July of 2002, when it was named as an “endorser of Chaplains.” However, not everyone was happy about ISNA’s involvement in this program.

In a meeting of the terrorism subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held in October of 2003, Senators Charles Schumer, Jon Kyl and Dianne Feinstein voiced concern over ISNA’s role at DOD. Senator Schumer cited the fact that Siraj Wahhaj, an individual named by the U.S. government as a possible co-conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was at the time a board member of ISNA. Nonetheless, little was done; ISNA kept its position.

Today, thanks to its chief advocate in the government, Hesham Islam, ISNA’s role within the Department of Defense is stronger than ever. As has been discussed in depth by such journalists as Bill Gertz, Frank Gaffney and Kenneth Timmerman, this relationship has forced the Islamic law expert for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Stephen Coughlin, out of his job.

Coughlin, a major in the Army Reserves working as a civilian contractor for the Joint Staff, had recently put together a 333-page document exposing radical Islam’s threat to the West, entitled “TO OUR GREAT DETRIMENT”: IGNORING WHAT EXTREMISTS SAY ABOUT JIHAD [PDF]. As well, he had raised concerns about the dangerous ties of ISNA and other groups that have been courted by Commander Islam. Coughlin understood what many inside the government do not, that there are mainstream American Muslim organizations that threaten our country from within.

While groups like ISNA and MAS work hard to create a false aura of moderation and modernity, and while they cunningly strive to make inroads in the most sensitive of U.S. government sectors, these same groups hide within their websites declarations of violence aimed at non-Muslims. In reality, they hide their true self. And when individuals, such as Stephen Coughlin, come along, they try to discredit them and remove them from the process. This time, they were successful.

Earlier this month, DOD’s Central Command (CENTCOM) canceled a speech that was to be given in front of its personnel by Ahmed Bedier, a leader of the Hamas-related Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In doing as such, CENTCOM, the arm of the government responsible for combat operations abroad, exhibited integrity.

It is time for the Defense Department to follow its military offspring and match that integrity by removing ISNA and its friends from its offices. These organizations are threats to our security and have no business taking part in our government, let alone being in our country.

DOD does a great job protecting us, by fighting our enemies abroad. It mustn’t forget that those same enemies have counterparts stationed here, as well.

“Ultimately we can never be full citizens of this country… because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.”

- ISNA board member, Ihsan Bagby, ‘Political Activities of Muslims in America,’ 1991

“We are those who have given a pledge of allegiance to Muhammad that we will carry on Jihad as long as we live.”

- ISNA official website,‘Fighting in the Cause of Allah (Jihaad),’ March 17, 2006 - Present

Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate, the founder of CAIR Watch, and the spokesman for Terror-Free Oil Initiative.

Monday, January 28, 2008

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

Olmert today is telling his fellow members of Kadima that they have to all stick together when the Winograd Report comes out (presumably Wednesday evening).

"We must not create camps within Kadima," he said during a Kadima faction meeting. "It is bad for the government and bad for the party." Well...mostly it is bad for Ehud Olmert.

What's got him the most worried is Livni's willingness to meet with the (anti-Olmert) bereaved parents. Whether she has ulterior motives or not (and my guess is that she does), she is absolutely right that this is the least members of the government owe these parents. But it's making Olmert very uneasy.


For his part, Barak is announcing he is going to sit on everything and see how the situation develops before making a statement regarding Winograd and his commitment to pull out. Never mind that his original commitment was to pull out no matter what.


The situation in the Sinai is a grave one with multiple diplomatic and military implications. While the movement of people coming out of Gaza has slowed, the Egyptians have been unable to get the Palestinians back into Gaza. It strikes me that this is a bit like getting the genie (in this case a very bad genie) back in the bottle.

It has been reported that last night Egyptian forces caught 20 Palestinians in possession of arms and listening devices that enabled them to track Egyptian communication. (It should be remembered that in June, Hamas seized sophisticated intelligence equipment that had been supplied to Fatah by the US and then abandoned.) I tend to suspect that this is no more than the tip of the iceberg.

One of the issues that is of concern is the multinational force that is in the Sinai as a function of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty -- to verify terms of the treaty, operate checkpoints, and ensure freedom of international marine navigation. Some 1,800 personnel from 11 nations (with the most from the US) are stationed at two locations in the Sinai, one in close proximity to the Gaza border. Only lightly armed, they are at risk now and the question is whether they will hold their ground. There have been some reports (not yet verified) that Americans withdrew from the Al Gorah base near Al Arish, which is perhaps 30 miles from Gaza along the coast.


There is much talk -- and many pronouncements -- regarding who is now going to handle the Rafah corridor between Gaza and Egypt. The PA is saying that Egypt has promised that they can be in charge at Rafah. Hamas is still pumping to be in charge, either jointly with the PA or independently. To review: When Israel pulled out of Gaza in September 2005, the understanding was that the PA would monitor that crossing, which they did with abysmal incompetence (or lack of commitment) -- permitting much to cross into Gaza. Once Fatah was driven out of Gaza in June of last year, Hamas controlled the crossing. It eludes me how Egypt, on one side of the border, can now tell the PA that it can manage the other side of the border, when in point of fact Hamas is in control.

Abbas is scheduled to meet with Mubarak in Cairo on Wednesday.


Yet another issue is how Israel will now be responding to Gaza. Barak has declared that the crossings will stay closed. Olmert, however, after meeting with Abbas today to discuss the issue, has agreed to minimize the hardship of the Gaza population and to allow fuel and humanitarian supplies to move into the strip. Actually, the decision to renew supplies of fuel came even before Olmert and Abbas met -- after the High Court delivered a ruling in response to a petition from left wing human rights organizations.

With great profundity, Abbas and Olmert agreed that the situation in Gaza/Sinai is serious and that Egypt must be prevailed upon to close the Rafah crossing again.

So where does that leave us? Seems less than nothing has been accomplished. Our leaders still don't want to get it, do they? That this is not the way to handle Hamas.


MK Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) had this to say about the situation:

"A situation whereby Israel, which is under attack, is asked to maintain the Hamas regime firing at our citizens is unthinkable. The demands for the prevention of a humanitarian disaster should be directed to international aid organizations. We most certainly need to also call on Egypt, Gaza's good neighbor, to do something that is called for and natural for a neighbor that is not in war with Gaza like we are - allow humanitarian aid to go through.

"Yet instead of this, we see growing international pressure on Israel to do something completely unreasonable and continue supporting its enemies.

"...The impossible situation whereby the Palestinians continue to fire Kassams, while receiving electricity for their Kassam workshops and fuel used by vehicles that fire Kassams, is deluxe terrorism that fits well with the dictum: 'The master of the house has gone mad.'

"In this case, we are the master of the house, and the price we are paying is the security of Sderot and Gaza-region residents, and the stability of the entire State of Israel."

Another example of how the Israeli establishment tilts towards the Palestinians.

As I reported last week, one guard from the Border Police was killed and a second wounded outside of Shuafat in Jerusalem. At that time I indicated that this checkpoint was a weak one, which made the police manning it more vulnerable. Now let me share exactly how vulnerable:

This checkpoint is one of two leading into Shuafat. The other one is designed for vehicular traffic and is protected by concrete barriers. The one where the attack took place is for foot traffic only and not well protected. The police wanted to close it after dark, requiring everyone to use the better protected checkpoint. Ah! But the High Court ordered that it be kept open out of concern for the quality of life of the residents of Shuafat.

None an inhumane person, I find now that I am greatly weary of hearing about our need to concern ourselves with Palestinian quality of life. There is no greater deprivation of quality of life than to be killed. And that's what happens to people on our side all too often because we are bid to be concerned with relatively minor inconveniences on the other side. There is something unspeakably painful about this.

I think Effie Eitam is correct: "The master of the house has gone mad."

see my website

Sunday, January 27, 2008

20 Years of Research Reveals: Jerusalem Belongs to Jews

Hillel Fendel
Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the legal status of Jerusalem, has concluded: "Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law." Gauthier has written a doctoral dissertation on the topic of Jerusalem and its legal history, based on international treaties and resolutions of the past 90 years. The dissertation runs some 1,300 pages, with 3,000 footnotes. Gauthier had to present his thesis to a world-famous Jewish historian and two leading international lawyers - the Jewish one of whom has represented the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions.

Gauthier's main point, as summarized by Israpundit editor Ted Belman, is that a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I - Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan - agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel.

San Remo
The relevant resolution reads as follows: "The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust... the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory [which] will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration... in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Gauthier notes that the San Remo treaty specifically notes that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine" - but says nothing about "political" rights of the Arabs living there.

The San Remo Resolution also bases itself on Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which declares that it is a "a sacred trust of civilization" to provide for the well-being and development of colonies and territories whose inhabitants are "not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world."

League of Nations
The League of Nations' resolution creating the Palestine Mandate, included the following significant clause: “Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." No such recognition of Arab rights in Palestine was granted.

In 1945, the United Nations took over from the failed League of Nations - and assumed the latter's obligations. Article 80 of the UN Charter states: "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed, in or of itself, to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties."

UN Partition Plan
However, in 1947, the General Assembly of the UN passed Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan. It violated the League of the Nations' Mandate for Palestine in that it granted political rights to the Arabs in western Palestine - yet, ironically, the Jews applauded the plan's passages while the Arabs worked to thwart it.

Resolution 181 also provided for a Special regime for Jerusalem, with borders delineated in all four directions: The then-extant municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns up to Abu Dis in the east, Bethlehem in the south, Ein Karem and Motza in the west, and Shuafat in the north.

Referendum Scheduled for Jerusalem
The UN resolved that the City of Jerusalem shall be established as a separate entity under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The regime was to come into effect by October 1948, and was to remain in force for a period of ten years, unless the UN's Trusteeship Council decided otherwise. After the ten years, the residents of Jerusalem "shall be then free to express by means of a referendum their wishes as to possible modifications of regime of the City."

The resolution never took effect, because Jordan controlled eastern Jerusalem after the 1948 War of Independence and did not follow its provisions.

After 1967
After the Six Day War in 1967, Israel regained Jerusalem and other land west of Jordan. Gauthier notes that the UN Security Council then passed Resolution 242 authorizing Israel to remain in possession of all the land until it had “secure and recognized boundaries.” The resolution was notably silent on Jerusalem, and also referred to the "necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem,” with no distinction made between Jewish and Arab refugees.

Given Jerusalem's strong Jewish majority, Gauthier concludes, Israel should be demanding that the long-delayed city referendum on the city's future be held as soon as possible. Not only should Israel be demanding that the referendum be held now, Jerusalem should be the first order of business. "Olmert is sloughing us off by saying [as he did before the Annapolis Conference two months ago], 'Jerusalem is not on the table yet,'" Gauthier concludes. "He should demand that the referendum take place before the balance of the land is negotiated. If the Arabs won’t agree to the referendum, there is nothing to talk about."

'Terrorism Palestinians' moral right'

jonny paul - london
Jan. 27, 2008

In a lengthy and fiery debate at Oxford University over the weekend, the student union conceded Israel's "right to exist" by just over 100 votes.
Proposing the motion "This House believes that the State of Israel has a right to exist" were Norman Finkelstein, formally of De Paul University in Chicago, and Ted Honderich, professor of philosophy at University College London.

Questions about the seriousness of the event were raised ahead of the debate, since not only opposers of the motion, but also its proposers, were considered detractors of Israel.

Finkelstein, who had been supporting the motion, voted against it, while Honderich, who had crossed sides during the debate, voted for the motion, adding to accusations that the debate was a farce.

Supporting the motion, Jessica Prince from Oxford's University College spoke about the "absurdity" of the debate title. "I didn't think it was a question that we ask anymore," she said.

Opposing the motion, Lewis Turner from Oxford's New College said that if Israel is supposed to be a safe haven for Jewish people, "it's not working out because it's one of the most dangerous places for them to live."

"I was shocked to hear Honderich actually say that, 'Palestinians have a moral right to terrorism,'" said Olga Belogolova, a Jewish student from Boston University studying at Oxford for the semester.

"It was disappointing to see how many people were applauding the obviously radical speakers who were at times dishonest during the debate," she said. "It was disappointing to see students who agreed with the justification of terrorism and who were not questioning the rhetoric of the speakers."

"The debate was another childish attempt at sensationalism by the Oxford Union," said Yair Zivan, campaign director of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). "To have a debate about Israel without a single mainstream voice present shows the debate was the farce we expected. The Oxford Union owes better to its membership to allow for intellectual debate and they should try to seriously engage with issues."

The Oxford University Debating Society refused to comment on the debate.

Meanwhile, Jewish and Israeli students at the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed victory after defeating a controversial motion calling for a boycott of Israel and calling Israel an apartheid state, raised at the university's union general meeting on Thursday.

The motion was defeated by seven votes following a mobilization of Jewish and Israeli students on campus.

The motion, proposed by LSE student Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, an International Solidarity Movement activist, branded Israel an apartheid state and called on the LSE student union to start a campaign to lobby the university and National Union of Students to divest from and boycott Israel.

Released 48 hours before the union meeting, the motion created a huge backlash and prompted Jewish and Israeli students to respond to what UJS called "extreme anti-Israel rhetoric on campus."

"Israel is an apartheid state, a state that promotes racism and xenophobia through acts of parliament, a democracy so-called only for people recognized in Israeli laws as 'Jews,' supported by a set of racist laws under which different laws regarding citizenship, housing, land ownership and marriage apply depending on whether someone is classified in law as 'Jewish' or 'non-Jewish,'" the motion read.

"[The year] 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinian Arabs from their homes and homeland in historic Palestine between 1947 and 1949. The expulsion, planned and systematically carried out by the founders of the State of Israel, was essential to the creation of an expressly Jewish state in the political Zionist sense of the term," the motion said.

The motion also supported the one-state solution and the end of the Israeli state. "Israel should be a state for all its citizens and stop discriminating against the indigenous Palestinian population. The Palestinians have the right to return to their homeland and receive just compensation and Israel should implement all international laws that it is currently violating," it read.

Following a highly tense and hostile meeting, 292 voted for the motion, 285 against it and 100 abstained.

"It was fantastic to see so many students turn out and show their opposition to this horrific one-sided and unconstructive motion," said Zivan. "Jewish student activists once again showed that they will stand up for Israel in even the harshest circumstances and won't let these kinds of actions go unchecked.

"It was welcome to see so many students with no personal affiliation to the Middle East conflict vote against the motion and reject extremist rhetoric at LSE," he continued. "We hope this sets the tone for a more civilized and balanced debate in the future."

"We only had 48 hours to organize the campaign but the response has been phenomenal," said Sam Cohen, a graduate student at LSE who led the campaign and spoke against the motion at the meeting. "Jewish and non-Jewish students proudly opposed extremist language at LSE and have shown that we want a moderate, sensible and constructive debate around the issues of the Middle East. I really hope this is the last time people try to polarize the student body in this way."

"It's [the motion] a really negative development," said Lior Herman, an Israeli PhD student at LSE. "While I'm very happy with the academic level here [LSE] I don't feel as comfortable. Every day there seem to be posters and slogans against Israel. The motion was the culmination... it did nothing to help the Palestinians or promote understanding.

"Not just Jewish and Israeli students want sensible discussion and bridge-building. Instead we're getting bridge-burning. Instead of doing what they should do, looking after the welfare of students, the [LSE] union meetings have become a platform for a minority to push their sinister agenda. Thus a large number of students, not just Jewish or Israeli, attended [the meeting] to make their voices heard," he said.

Hamas Staged Some Of The Blackouts

Khaled Abu Toameh

On at least two occasions this week, Hamas staged scenes of darkness as part of its campaign to end the political and economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday.

In the first case, journalists who were invited to cover the Hamas government meeting were surprised to see Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers sitting around a table with burning candles. In the second case on Tuesday, journalists noticed that Hamas legislators who were meeting in Gaza City also sat in front of burning candles. But some of the journalists noticed that there was actually no need for the candles because both meetings were being held in daylight. "They had closed the curtains in the rooms to create the impression that Hamas leaders were also suffering as a result of the power stoppage," one journalist told The Jerusalem Post. "It was obvious that the whole thing was staged." Another journalist said he and his colleagues were told to wait for a few minutes before entering the chamber of the Palestinian Legislative Council so that each legislator would have time to light his candle. He said that when he saw that the curtains had been closed to prevent the light from entering, he realized that Hamas was trying to manipulate the media for political gain.