Saturday, March 01, 2008


Barry Rubin

One of the things least understood by people in the West is the framework—or should I say straitjacket?—of the dominant ideology in the Arabic-speaking world in shaping thought, speech, and political alternatives. This shows up in the smallest of exchanges. But atoms, too, are very tiny yet make up all the wide variety of things in the world. Call it AIDS (Arab Ideological Doctrine Syndrome), a disease that doesn’t just threaten the Middle East, it’s been a plague since the 1950s with few signs of a let-up. Here’s a little example that illustrates the big picture. On February 25, Lebanese cabinet minister Marwan Hamada gave an interview to Press TV.[1] It is a commonplace for supporters of Lebanon’s government to be accused of being Western agents, an implication often repeated in the Western media referring to it as “pro-U.S.”
Claiming this about anyone who doesn’t want to go to war with America or Israel, or opposes radical forces, or who doesn’t want a radical Arab nationalist or Islamist state is a common weapon used to weaken non-extremist forces. While in the West, the label “moderate” is a compliment (the “moderate” Palestinian Authority; “moderate” states); in the Arab world it is an insult, an imputation of treason.
Angered at being accused of being a Western spy (a claim often made by Hizballah toward its opponents), Hamada replied that if anyone was a spy it was Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah who is “a spy for Iran. I am not a spy for anybody.”
The interviewer responded sarcastically and Hamada continued:
“I defend my country. I defend my independence, I defend my democracy, I defend my integrity, and I will not accept anybody impeding on it--even if he believes he's a saint.”
What Hamada is saying is that he is a Lebanese patriot. And he does what a patriot does: fights so that Lebanon is independent of Iranian-Syrian control; so that Hizballah does not impose an Islamist state on Lebanon; so that Lebanon’s interests don’t suffer by being dragged into an unnecessary, damaging, unwinnable war with Israel.
Anywhere else in the world this would be a winning argument. A man who strives for his country’s interests is a patriot; one who, like Nasrallah, is in fact funded by one state seeking to take over his country (Iran) and who champions the interests of a country which did run and looted his country for decades (Syria) is a hero. Nasrallah, after all, is the official representative in Lebanon of Iran’s supreme guide; Hamada represents a coalition of Lebanon’s majority, Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Druze. When tens of thousands of Lebanese demonstrated in favor of Syria’s withdrawing its army from Lebanon, Nasrallah led a large demonstration demanding that Syria’s soldiers stay in the country.
But this is not how the system works in the Middle East as a whole. Thus, to act as a Lebanese patriot is perceived as being a traitor, to Arabism, Islam, and ultimately to Lebanon itself. Like any Iraqi who rejoices in Saddam Hussein’s downfall or any Palestinian really ready to make permanent peace in order to get a state, in the kingdom of the ideologically blinded, the one-eyed man is king. It is the upside-down world of the poet John Milton’s Satan who said, “Evil be my good.”
Thus, in Hamada’s case, the interviewer retorted (or should I say “snorted”):
“A spy for Iran does not offer his son to sacrifice and spill his blood on the soil of Lebanon, for the sake of Lebanon. If he was a spy for Iran, he wouldn't go and fight the Israelis since 1982.”
Well, wait a minute. Nasrallah has fought since 1982 to take over Lebanon. And even if he fought Israel, that is completely in line with Iran’s policies and interests. The interviewer, and most Arab intellectuals, journalists, and the other people who have a public voice, however, don’t buy that argument. To fight Israel is to be a saint, to show true love for one’s country, to be above criticism. You can lose the war (like Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser), wreck your own country (like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein), be a dictator (like Syria’s Hafiz and Bashar al-Asad), lead your people into catastrophe (like Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat), and be extraordinarily corrupt (like…everybody) but it doesn’t matter as long as you fight Israel and the West.
Hamada and others are trying to overcome that knee-jerk reaction. It is an uphill struggle. Hamade concludes:
“Who has given [Nasrallah]--except what he supposes is God--this authority to engage Lebanon alone in this battle…? I accuse him of sacrificing his son.” And, in order to play the game, Hamada has to give his own call to fight Israel, but just not from Lebanese soil: “Why doesn't he go and fight from the…real occupied Arab territories…Palestine and the Golan Heights?”
Of course, Hamada is right. But that doesn’t mean he can win the argument. If the central issue is pride, not material benefit, and if battling the West and Israel are the prime directives, whether this policy leads to defeat, bankruptcy, tyranny, and general disaster is irrelevant. And despite the existence of courageous dissenters from this doctrine, it still rules the Arab world, something every Arab but few in the West understands. This is why peace, moderation, and pragmatism still cannot win there.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal His latest books are The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

Friday, February 29, 2008

World to Sderot: It’s Your Tough Luck

P. David Hornik | 2/29/2008

A planned march by Gazans on the Israeli-Gazan border fence fizzled out on Monday with a small turnout and relatively minor incidents. It was feared the march would be a replay, and worse, of the Hamas-driven breaching of the Gazan-Egyptian border a month ago. Apparently, though, warnings by Israeli leaders and Israel’s placing of artillery batteries and other forces along the border had a deterrent effect. No such deterrent effect was evident in continued Gazan rocket fire on Monday. Yossi Haimov, a ten-year-old Israeli boy in the hapless town of Sderot, took a severe shrapnel wound to the shoulder; doctors were able to save his arm but he faces multiple operations for shoulder reconstruction. Earlier this month another Sderot boy was even less fortunate and lost a leg in a Qassam attack.

In other words, the dysfunctionality that became part of Israeli governance in the early 1990s continues: deciding that a mass march on the border fence posed unacceptable risks, the Olmert government moved effectively to deter it; deciding that the shelling of civilians by armed terrorists is acceptable, the Olmert government lets it continue and turn life into hell for the residents of southwestern Israel.

The malaise is manifest in a different form in Jerusalem, where Olmert is seeking to appease and bribe the Shas Party into remaining in his governing coalition. Shas is a Sephardic-Orthodox, purportedly politically right-wing faction that has held the balance in several coalitions and earned a deserved name for political extortion and cynicism.


Shas supposedly finds the current Israeli-Palestinian Authority “final status” talks, particularly on the division of Jerusalem, deeply objectionable. The party is under heavy pressure to leave Olmert’s government over these talks and the continued inaction on Gaza.

With the right-leaning Yisrael Beiteinu faction having left Olmert’s coalition over the PA talks in January, his government now hangs by the thread of the reputedly nationalist Shas Party. Shas is playing the situation to the hilt.

Olmert and his political cronies are now trying to get legislation passed that would increase the authority of the rabbinical courts over marital and divorce issues. Since these courts operate by outmoded religious laws that discriminate against women and are in need of reform, this is bad enough.

Even worse, Olmert is seeking to reinstate inflated benefits to families—i.e., ultra-religious families—with large numbers of children. Trimming back these benefits was a major socioeconomic achievement of Binyamin Netanyahu in his term as finance minister.

Every Israeli understands that the secular Olmert and his allies do not think these initiatives are good things in their own right and are pursuing them for sheer political survival; and that Shas, anxious to mollify its genuinely hawkish voters with populist-“religious” gains, is a full partner in the venal dance.

The losers, if these machinations succeed, include—among others—the residents of Sderot and the smaller Gaza-belt communities, and the state of Israel itself as Olmert steers it into the suicidal waters of concessions to the jihadist PA.

For those mystified by the seeming nonchalance of the Israeli populace even in the face of terrorist and existential threats, part of the explanation is the corrosive effect on morale of these repeated spectacles of cynicism. They stem from a dysfunctional parliamentary structure lacking regional representation and beset with small factions wielding blackmail power—and from an overburdened Israeli system’s inability, so far, to resolve the problem.

And another part of the explanation is that it’s the most weak, feckless Israeli tendencies that consistently get the most U.S. and Western backing and encouragement. Last week Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch “urge[d] caution and proportionality” regarding possible Israeli military action in Gaza.

He also “argued that Palestinians in Gaza should stop the rocket fire out of their own self-interest” and stated: “If people in Gaza are to enjoy a better life, then it is incumbent upon those who claim they control the situation in Gaza to stop these actions which usually bring no benefit and only harm.”

Since it’s not plausible that Welch thought the Hamas “controllers” of Gaza would heed his words, what they really mean is that in the State Department’s view of the U.S. national interest the martyrdom of Sderot is not a significant concern and might as well continue. That national interest is instead thought to entail, among other things, the “Annapolis process” of Israeli offers of control of strategic land, Judeo-Christian holy places, and half of Jerusalem to the terrorist-infested Palestinian Authority.

And for the European Union, even Israel’s current measures toward Gaza are too much. Last week the European Parliament stated that Israel’s “policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level. The civilian population should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment.”

Again, since even the Eurocrats probably grasp that military action in Gaza (like just about anywhere else) without harming civilians is impossible, the message was the same: let the rocket fire on Israelis continue; we don’t see it as enough of an issue that anyone should do anything about it.

Along with the Israeli boy who almost lost his arm on Monday, that day's dose of rocket fire lightly wounded a mother and her one-year-old baby and sent seven other people to hospital from shock. But, after all, the Israeli-PA talks are proceeding, the Olmert government is surviving, the U.S. and Europe are (or think they are) in the Arabs’ good graces, the oil is flowing, and all’s right with the world. Human decency does not encompass mostly working-class, politically powerless Israelis in their hell of daily barrages.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at

17-year-old female jihad/martyrdom bomber stopped in Jerusalem

Due to her hatred of Jews and "personal family problems," she volunteered for this mission, and went to Mecca beforehand to purify herself.

"Would-be teen bomber arrested in J'lem," by Etgar Lefkovits in the Jerusalem Post (thanks to all who sent this in):A 17-year-old female Palestinian from Jerusalem was arrested three weeks ago for allegedly offering to carry out a suicide bombing in the city, police said Thursday. The girl was apprehended in a joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police operation.

The would-be bomber, a resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, is suspected of having suggested to Islamic Jihad operatives in the West Bank that they use her to carry out a terror attack, due to her hatred of Jews and "personal family problems," Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

The teen, who has confessed to the allegations against her, said that her family had no knowledge of her plans to become a suicide bomber, police said.

As part of her enlistment, the teen traveled to Mecca to "purify" herself, after undergoing a series of tests by the Palestinian terror group to ensure that she was not an Israeli mole, police said....

Rice Urges End to Hamas Rocket Attacks

Associated Press

TOKYO — Secretary of State Rice said today that Hamas rocket attacks against Israel "need to stop," demanding an end to the escalating violence that has rocked the Gaza Strip and set back American efforts to promote a Middle East peace deal.

Her appeal came after she met for an hour with Prime Minister Olmert of Israel, who also was visiting Japan. "I am concerned about the humanitarian conditions there and innocent people in Gaza who are being hurt," Ms. Rice told reporters following her meeting with Mr. Olmert. "We have to remember that the Hamas activities there are responsible for what has happened in Gaza — the illegal coup that they led against the legitimate institutions of the Palestinian Authority. It is very clear where this started."

The Rice-Olmert meeting came just hours after Israeli aircraft blasted Hamas government offices and metal shops in the Gaza Strip late yesterday, killing a baby and wounding more than 30 people in a retaliatory strike after a militant rocket killed an Israeli college student.

The bloodshed fed worries about a new outbreak of heavy fighting between the Israeli army and militants in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the violence, Ms. Rice is planning to visit the region next week to meet with Palestinian Arab and Israeli leaders to discuss the push to negotiate a peace accord, which could lead to a Palestinian Arab state one day.

Ms. Rice said she assured Mr. Olmert of American support, but she also called for more attention to be paid to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"We were all sorry about the death of the Israeli university student and affirmed to him (Mr. Olmert) that we will continue to state clearly that the rocket attacks against Israel need to stop," Ms. Rice said. "I again reiterated our concerns for the humanitarian circumstances there and the need to find a more durable solution to the question of the passages," she added, referring to the inability of everyday Palestinian Arabs to leave the Gaza Strip.

Hamas overran Gaza in June, expelling forces loyal to the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. While Hamas controls Gaza, Mr. Abbas rules the West Bank. Hamas has done nothing to stop militants from using the tiny, densely populated territory to launch rocket attacks into Israel, and Israel responded with a near-total security seal that has prevented Gazans from leaving and has crippled cross-border commerce.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the deadly rocket attack on the college in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which came a few hours after two Israeli airstrikes killed seven people in Gaza, including two senior commanders in the Hamas rocket operation.

The fatal attack on Sderot intensified calls in Israel for a large-scale ground offensive in Gaza aimed at clearing the border area of rocket squads, though previous incursions have halted such attacks only briefly.

So far, Mr. Olmert has ruled out such an invasion.

But during a visit to Sderot late yesterday, the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, vowed to "get those responsible" for the rocket attack. He dismissed arguments that Israel "cannot or will not (carry out) a wide-ranging operation in Gaza."

Ms. Rice, asked whether she told Mr. Olmert not to use disproportionate force in Gaza, dismissed the question.

"I think that's not a good way to address this issue," she said, then repeated her call for calm on both sides. "The issue is that the rocket attacks need to stop, there needs to be due concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, there needs to be a durable way to deal with crossing."

In the end, Ms. Rice said that the only long-term solution is for Israel and the Palestinian Arabs to negotiate a peace deal to end the cycle of violence, although chances of that happening anytime soon appear to be diminishing despite President Bush's goal of reaching agreement by the time he leaves office.

"The most important thing that can be done, of course, is to use the opportunity before the parties to have this vision of a Palestinian state become one that is concrete," Ms. Rice said. "That is what will ultimately give Palestinians and Israelis the confidence that they have a future of peace and security and not one of continuing conflict."

Ms. Rice said Mr. Olmert confirmed his commitment to the "roadmap" peace plan and she said that Lieutenant General William Fraser III, whom Mr. Bush appointed in January to monitor its progress, would travel to the region soon to discuss obligations of both the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

Qaeda Sympathizers Are Said To Be Gathering in Gaza

ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
February 28, 2008

WASHINGTON — Groups sympathetic to Al Qaeda are amassing in Gaza, according to both the president of the Palestinian Authority and Israel's top military intelligence general.

In an interview published yesterday in one of the Arab world's leading newspapers, Al-Hayat, Mahmoud Abbas went so far as to accuse Hamas — his political rivals who are now running Gaza — of facilitating Al Qaeda's presence there. "I can say without doubt that Al Qaeda is present in the Palestinian territories and that this presence — especially in Gaza — is facilitated by Hamas," the paper quoted him as saying.On Tuesday, the chief of the Israel Defense Force's military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, told the Knesset's Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs that Al Qaeda had sent operatives into Gaza from the smuggling routes in the Sinai.

An Israeli diplomat Wednesday confirmed the Israeli press reports of Mr. Yadlin's briefing. "There is emphasis on groups self-identified with Al Qaeda," he said. "It means there are jihadist elements, and they are loosely affiliated, but they are not from Afghanistan or Pakistan, the hard-core Al Qaeda."

Since 2005, Israeli leaders and even Palestinian Arab officials have warned that Al Qaeda has been trying to establish itself in the Palestinian territories. But the threat from Al Qaeda has come into greater focus for the Jewish state in the last week in light of Hamas's plan to hold a demonstration at the border between the walled-off territory and pre-1967 Israel. The demonstration, scheduled originally for Monday, was called off. But Israeli officials fear it will be an attempt to dismantle the wall that separates the two territories and allow terrorists to infiltrate the tiny country.

Yesterday, Hamas escalated the firing of Kassam rockets into southern Israel as Israeli officials promised an "unprecedented response" to what it said was an escalation. Earlier yesterday, Israeli helicopters led a raid on the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in Gaza, where early reports said 11 people were slain, including a baby. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rice is scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority next week.

The vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross yesterday said he believed part of Mr. Abbas's interview in Al-Hayat. "There are two parts to this," he said. "One, is there an Al Qaeda presence in Gaza? This is something we have seen since September 2005. You have had Hamas spokesmen say this then. The question, of course, is Abbas's claim that Hamas is helping Qaeda infiltrate Gaza."

Mr. Gartenstein-Ross said yesterday that he doubted Hamas would be supporting Al Qaeda. "The backdrop here is that there has been a war of words going on between Hamas and Al Qaeda for some time." He added that Al Qaeda's no. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri "has released multiple tapes blasting Hamas. Initially, Al Qaeda seemed to be concerned that they would negotiate. Al Qaeda took Hamas and their words more seriously than the United States or anyone else did."

In a tape last March, Mr. Zawahri blasted Hamas for agreeing in Mecca to a power-sharing arrangement with the Fatah Party, a deal that has since dissolved after Hamas fighters seized the government in Gaza in June through a coup. "Hamas has made a mockery of Muslims' minds and feelings by saying that the accord reached in Mecca respects international agreements," Mr. Zawahri said at the time.

Hamas for its part yesterday denied the charge from Mr. Abbas. A spokesman told the Times of London that there was no truth in the allegation. But Israeli officials yesterday said they have had their own concerns about Al Qaeda's plans for Gaza in particular.

Last December, Osama bin Laden promised to focus his organization in the coming year on the Palestinian Arab territories.

Most Al Qaeda watchers now agree that Qaeda has adopted a franchise model for the organization, meaning that fellow travelers can quickly learn terrorist skills and be accepted into the organization without physically traveling to its main base of operations in the provinces of Pakistan that border Afghanistan.

The concern about outside groups coming into Gaza from Egypt is also shared by the new U.N. special representative to the Middle East peace negotiations, Robert Serry. "Reports of smuggling continue to be of concern, as are reports of outside militant groups now gaining foothold in Gaza," he told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.


Arlene Kushner

Saying "Damn them all" is not enough. It provides a brief catharsis, perhaps, and lets people know where we stand with regard to what's going on here. But by itself it's sorely insufficient. What must follow is action. And that I will address today. In an interview today with the Jordanian paper al-Dustur, the "moderate" PA President Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), our "peace partner" said he doesn't rule out returning to the path of terrorism (known as "resistance"):

"At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can't succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different." There is, you see, no final renunciation of terrorism, no moral condemnation of it. If it would help his cause, he'd gladly use it.

This, by the way, was precisely the position of his mentor, Yasser Arafat, during the Oslo years. As then special negotiator Dennis Ross later noted, Arafat never dispensed with the "terror card." This is the default position: Try negotiations and if they're not successful, fall back on violence.


Abbas additionally admitted here something that those of us who are familiar with his background understand well, but which is denied by those eager to embrace him as a "moderate." He not only tells us that he has his own terrorist credentials, but that he is proud of this:

"I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it's like; when it is effective and when it isn't effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is.

"...We (Fatah) had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hezbollah, who trained in our military camps."


Is this not incredible? Who dares to say Abbas is a moderate after this? A rhetorical question, still, I'm afraid, because many will dare.

But we can make it as difficult as possible for those who would continue to embrace Abbas. And I ask each of you to do your part, and to pass this message along for others to do the same.


First, this question needs to be asked of the White House and the State Department: How can you ask Israel to negotiate with and make concessions for Abbas who says this -- and quote from Abbas.

President George Bush

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Fax: 202-456-2461

Comment Line: 202-456-1111 TTY/TDD Comment Line: 202-456-6213

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Fax; 202-647-2283 or 202-647-6434

Phone: 202-647-5291 or 202-736-4461 TTY: 1-800-877-8339

Remember, a fax or phone call is best.


Then, contact either the Israeli Embassy or your nearest consulate and ask, in essence, the same question: How can you negotiate with the man who says this. Please stop! It puts Israel at risk. My information is that the Foreign Ministry notes American public opinion, so this can have an effect if it is done in solid numbers.

Use this link to find contact information for the Embassy or appropriate consulate. (Thanx Doris M.) If you navigate within the selected site you will find fax numbers and the rest.


Contacting the US government would be appropriate in any event, but what makes it even more critical now is that Rice is coming next week to help "move the negotiations forward." Negotiations with the man who made the above statement. Incredible!

What is more, while Rice gives lip service to our right to defend ourselves, there is concern that the situation shouldn't "get out of hand" while she's here. This merely increases or reinforces Olmert's reluctance to do that ground operation, even after the outrages of yesterday and in spite of the intense pressure on him from many quarters here. It has been suggested that action will come after she leaves, but there's been so much stalling I'll believe that when I see it.


Olmert did meet with Rice in Tokyo, where he told her that "The Palestinians are testing our patience to the limit." This could be read as a veiled declaration of intention to act very soon.

And Rice, being Rice, expressed understanding of our position and then launched into an expression of concern about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza. (Hint to Olmert: Don't think of making those conditions worse.)

She said she believes that the only solution to the "cycle of violence" (an inappropriate term of moral equivalency) is a negotiated peace. But she conceded that this seems less and less likely to happen any time soon.


Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that we will continue to defend ourselves. What is happening is a ratcheting up of the limited operations -- missile strikes on those launching the rockets and their launching bases -- that have been on-going. Today 18 Palestinians in Gaza were killed. This time a strike was done near Haniyeh's home, likely as a message, as he is assumed to be in hiding.

The problem, as I've noted before, is that these operations are not effective against what we're facing.


I end by citing in total a JTA news release concerning the Jewish Council for Public Affairs:

"The Jewish Council for Public Affairs endorsed for the first time a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"At its annual plenum Tuesday in Atlanta, the body, an umbrella organization representing 14 national Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils, resolved that 'the organized
American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states -- the Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine-- living side-by-side in
peace and security.'

"The resolution also included compromise language reflecting American Jewry's "diverse views about current and future policies of the Israeli government towards settlements," and blamed
the standstill in the peace process on Palestinian intransigence. It appeared to pass unanimously, though the Orthodox Union, which has been outspoken in objecting to any deal to share or divide Jerusalem, had considered abstaining. According to one of its officers, David Luchins, the O.U. was satisfied with the final text, but still felt it represented an attempt to "micromanage" the peace process.

"The resolution came about in response to recent events like the seizure of Gaza, the 'reconstitution' of the Palestinian Authority and the latest U.S.-backed peace initiative, said the JCPA's senior associate executive director, Martin Raffel."


Before I comment on this state of affairs, let me add that the OU has put out its own release elaborating on its position, which it felt was not fairly represented in the JTA release.

See for the OU explanation. Apparently OU abstained from the final vote and, among its actions, "succeeded in defeating a proposed amendment to the resolution text which would have stated that the American Jewish community views the establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements as an 'impediment to peace.'"


Now, as to the position of the established Jewish community: There are multiple reasons for this resolution, only one of them being an ideological bent. We're looking, as well, at a reluctance to cross the government of Israel and the US government. And yet, it takes my breath away. From here in Israel, it feels as if we've lost the established American Jewish community to a considerable extent. They just don't get it.

Perhaps this also takes your breath away. And perhaps you are associated with or active in one of the national Jewish groups that belongs to this umbrella organization. A number of big groups is involved -- ORT, Hadassah, Bnai Brith, etc. See for the list. Perhaps you donate money to one or more of these groups, which increases your leverage.

Raise your voices. Let your distress be heard. This is not a time for remaining passive.


see my website

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Future Of Jerusalem:First Know The Facts

Elan Ezrachi
Special To The Jewish Week
Over the past 40 years, a new reality has emerged in Jerusalem. Most people cannot recall what existed prior to 1967. The “new” Jerusalem is a mixture of irreversible developments as well as problems that are extremely difficult to resolve. Further, the 730,000 residents of Jerusalem, Jews and Palestinians alike, have created their own existential mechanisms and invented a reality that enables them to manage their lives in a vibrant multicultural city. And now we learn that Israel and the Palestinians are closer than ever to discussing the future status of the “eternal” city.The question of Jerusalem cannot be reduced to the “slogan of the week” competition. If Jews around the world, as well as Israelis and Palestinians, wish to have a constructive rol in this conversation they must find ways to learn the facts on the ground. The future of Jerusalem will not be shaped by sentimental or theological assertion.

At the end of the day, Jerusalem is a living urban organism that has a history and a reality. The “real” Jerusalem has to be taken into account in determining the future. For the many Jews in the diaspora who are preparing to make a pilgrimage to Israel, and for the Jews who will follow the debate only from afar, the time has come to bring reality into the discourse.
The public arena in Israel is heating up while it is addressing the future of Jerusalem. The tensions are getting higher as the core issues of the conflict are brought to the negotiating table, among them the future of Jerusalem. One major question in the debate is whether the fate of Jerusalem can even be considered. Some argue that Jerusalem’s future cannot be determined through the ordinary democratic process of general elections.

Rather, some believe the fate of Jerusalem has to be brought to a national referendum. Others demand that a special majority in the Knesset will be required to make such a decision. Similarly, an old debate is being reopened regarding the role of diaspora Jews as participants in deciding the future of the city. And all this is happening without any viable proposal on the table. Israel and the Palestinians have not shown any signs yet that a practical solution for the future of Jerusalem is being considered.

Still, the emotional and political barometer is on the rise. Special campaigns are under way, political threats are voiced and slogans are fired from all directions. In addition, pollsters and researchers are trying to predict what the public reactions will be when different scenarios are considered.

A poll commissioned by the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based think-tank, revealed that only 16 percent of Israelis believe Diaspora Jews should be involved in the decision. The people trust the prime minister even less, with only 5 percent believing that the prime minister should determine Jerusalem’s fate. Among those who feel that such decisions should belong to Israelis, 34 percent say they mean “all” Israeli citizens and 32 percent say they mean only Jewish citizens.
Let’s assume that diaspora Jews could have a voice in determining the future of Jerusalem. To what extent are leaders and representatives of the Jewish diaspora prepared to make informed recommendations?

The likelihood is that for the vast majority of world Jewry, the question of Jerusalem is remote and obscure. How many Jews can tell the difference between Jerusalem prior to 1967 and afterwards? Who knows how and why Israel created the current municipal boundaries of what is called today “unified Jerusalem?” What are the Jewish neighborhoods that were built in East Jerusalem after 1967? What is the status of Palestinians living in the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem? Just like most Israelis, perhaps even more so, it is safe to say that diaspora Jews are unfamiliar with the basics of these issues.

Assuming that we have a short amount of time until the two sides will come up with a proposed solution, it behooves all sides to look carefully at the real dimensions. Jerusalem deserves a solution that will ensure a livable and vibrant metropolis that will enable the perpetuation of the legacy of this eternal city. Lovers of Jerusalem should rally behind a viable and constructive option for the generations to come.

Elan Ezrachi is the director of the International School for Jerusalem Studies, at Yad Ben-Zvi.

Silence Over Sderot

New York Sun Staff Editorial
February 27, 2008

It's hard to describe as anything but shocking the silence over Sderot. There have been a few eloquent columnists writing about the spectacle of the Palestinian Arabs shelling Israeli civilians, nearly every day for years; they've included Richard Cohen, Bret Stephens, and our own Hillel Halkin. There was an important protest in New York, where red balloons symbolized the thousands of rockets that have hit Sderot, which, since this shelling aimed at civilians has started, has suffered a dozen deaths and many more wounded. Those statistics tell only half the story — an entire city, an entire region of Israel within five kilometers of the Gaza strip border, are now vulnerable to rocket attack. There is constant terror in the sky.
The Israeli reaction has been constrained by the expectation of international rebuke. The European Union did not wait for a full scale ground intervention by Israeli forces. The parliament at Strasbourg last week called on the Jewish State "to cease military actions killing and endangering civilians, and extrajudicial targeted killings." Strasbourg did criticize Hamas, both on the grounds of its "illegal takeover of the Gaza Strip" and its failure "to prevent the firing of rockets by Palestinian militias from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory." But for the Europeans, it's as if Hamas were merely failing to prevent rather than encouraging the attacks by its own members and other terror groups.

Strasbourg went further, declaring "that the policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed." But the European Union parliament put the onus on Israel for the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, calling on the Jewish state to put "an end to the blockade and [allow] … a controlled re-opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza." Not even a mention of the original reason the crossings were closed: the danger that suicide bombers would slip through along with fruits and vegetables bound for the West Bank and Jordan and laborers bound for Tel Aviv.

The E.U. called for limitations on Israeli defense measures, declaring that in Gaza the civilian population "should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment." On top of all this, the E.U. Parliament called on Israel "to fulfill its international obligations, as an occupying power, in the Gaza Strip." An occupying power? Israel bowed two years ago to international pressure and withdrew entirely from the Gaza district. It isn't occupying Gaza at all. George Orwell's estate should be demanding royalties.

All this catches America asleep at the wheel, dreaming of a peace process that has no traction and with one major party committing itself to the rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq beginning in January. During the fighting in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the Bush administration gamely held off the forces urging an immediate cease fire in Lebanon in the hope that Israel would inflict a blow to Hezbollah from which Hezbollah would not recover. If Israel makes its move in the spring — after the rains — will the Bush administration, or more correctly the thinned out forces of those in the administration who steered the course in 2006, be able to give Israel the time needed to bring an end to the rocketing from the territory controlled by Hamas?

“Obama will win the nomination but lose the election.”

Ted Belman

I thought I would begin with a prediction. “Obama will win the nomination but lose the election.”

Fox News are on to him and all the arguments our “smear” camping is making and for the most part it is running with them. Sean Hannity is the best.

Slowly, but surely Obama, is doing himself in. It is not just the company he keeps but also what he is now saying.Ed Lasky, the News Editor of The American Thinker, reports on Senator Obama’s Coming Out Party in Cleveland. Ed does a brilliant job of ferreting out the true meaning of Obama’s remarks. But in my opinion he mis-states two things which I want to address first.

“Most supporters of Israel now understand there will need to be a viable Palestinian state and that Israel will need to make territorial concessions.”

Recent polls disclose that 2/3 of Israelis are against dividing Jerusalem and retreating from Judea and Samaria and that is despite the fact the the entire world including the Government of Israel and its media have been embracing the two state solution.

“Senator Obama also sought to dispel rumors of anti-Semitism within his church (American Thinker has never made this accusation; nor do we support this allegation).”

I submit that The American Thinker is wrong in taking this position. Organizations and individuals who take positions critical of Israel, which Obama’s church does, often cross the line into antisemitism. Lasky knows the difference between legitimate criticism and antisemitic criticism. Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ sure fits the later category.

Bill Levinson posted to very important articles on Israpundit which can’t be ignored; Obama’s Church Connected to Sabeel, Naim Ateek and Obama’s Church and Black Liberation Theology

The respected NGO Monitor had this to say about SABEEL’s Ecumenical Facade

Reflecting its mission statement, Sabeel is active in promoting an extreme anti-Israel agenda in Protestant churches in both North America and Europe. Sabeel’s efforts have promoted the campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel through the divestment campaign, which have recently been adopted by the World Council of Churches, the Anglican Church in Britain, the Presbyterian Church, and others.

What could be clearer? Now here is part of Lasky’s article.

Nevertheless, other parts of his speech were far from reassuring, and once again cast substantial doubt on his views not just toward Israel but also specifically toward supporters of the America-Israel relationship here at home. Senator Obama believes words matter; it is a mantra of his candidacy. Therefore, it is only fair to look at the words he used in Cleveland to divine his views.

He seems to be addressing many supporters of Israel in America who have questions regarding his views and his plans. He finds fault with them:

“I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel”.

Senator Obama characterizes those who have concerns about policies he might follow as President as being Likud-supporters. This has been a charge propagated by the fiercest opponents of Israel, who have often slipped into conspiracy theories regarding American supporters of Israel. (Try googling Likudnik and “dual loyalty” or “conspiracy theory”; Likudnik has become a term of opprobrium. As David Berstein notes, “Likudnik has gradually become a general anti-Semitic term for Jews whose opinions one does not like.”

One wishes Senator Obama would be bit more sensitive going forward when he uses such a term. After all, the Likud Party has not been in power for years, and Americans should feel free to express their concerns without being characterized as that party’s supporters, with its suggestion of dual loyalty. The suggestion that supporters of Israel who express their concerns are subscribers to the view of the Likud Party of Israel is simply not grounded. After all, supporters of Hillary Clinton have also expressed qualms regarding Senator Obama’s views of Israel. Are they supporters of Likud, too?

Haaretz columnist Shmuel Rosner raises an additional reason to have qualms. Will a President Obama be supportive of an Israel headed by a Prime Minster who hails from the Likud party? Does this statement by Senator Obama risk interfering with Israeli politics?

It is important to note that Likud did give up the Sinai and that Ariel Sharon — a former Likud leader — did remove all the settlements from the Gaza Strip. So one wonders why Senator Obama is so anti-Likud to begin with? Does he not know the history of this volatile region? Who has he been his counsel when he chooses to use such a term?

Senator Obama also sought to distance himself from Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose anti-Israel views are well known. However, he made no mention of two other advisors with a long record of hostility toward Israel: Robert Malley and Samantha Power. Power, in particular, is very close to the Senator and is a key foreign policy adviser . Why the omission of any mention of both?

But in trying to disentangle himself from Brzezinski, Senator Obama engaged in some rhetoric that is unsettling:

“Frankly some of the commentary that I’ve seen which suggests guilt by association or the notion that unless we are never ever going to ask any difficult questions about how we move peace forward or secure Israel that is non military or non belligerent or doesn’t talk about just crushing the opposition that that somehow is being soft or anti-Israel, I think we’re going to have problems moving forward.”

Senator Obama apparently views Israel as a “belligerent” and perhaps wants to see America’s support for Israel’s military reduced. This is hardly reassuring. Israel is not a belligerent, it only defends itself. It is a tiny sliver of a nation of a few million people surrounded by 300 million people who have made quite clear over the past 60 years that they desire its destruction. Few supporters of Israel indeed think that the only way to bring peace to the region is for Israel to crush all the opposition. Israel herself, since her founding, sought — and sometimes fought — for peace. These steps did not involve crushing all the opposition. Israel has taken great risks in it steps towards peace (leaving Lebanon — which led to the rise of Hezbollah; leaving Gaza — which led to the rise of Hamas; allowing Yasser Arafat to come to the West bank, where he set up a terrorist regime and brainwashed Palestinian children to hate. A leading Presidential candidate all but accuses Israel of being “belligerent” — is that unsettling to anyone?

Also unsettling is the implication that may lie behind his statement that we are going to have “problems moving forward” if critics raise questions about his views. Is this a statement meant to forestall discussion? If so, it would be similar to the views expressed by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who abhor the role that pro-Israel Americans (including Christians) sometimes play in the foreign policy discussion.

These statements are difficult to square with his position that he has a long record of support for Israel. If he is perturbed by critics and indicates questions may cause problems in the future regarding his policies and actions, then perhaps people have legitimate reasons to be concerned about the depth of his support for the America-Israel relationship and the role of Americans in the foreign policy discussion.

Senator Obama also said that supporting the view that only by defeating its Islamic foes can Israel enjoy any semblance of peace and security “can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.”. This is disconcerting. How firm and deep will President Obama’s support for Israel be when it comes to dealing with terrorists? Israel needs to defeat its Islamic foes who seek its destruction and who celebrate martyrdom for peace to reign. Even Palestinian moderates will feel constrained in making peace deals with Israel until these Islamic extremists are defeated. Wouldn’t Israel be justified in stopping Islamic foes that are calling for another Holocaust?

Would President Obama feel the same towards Islamic foes who target America?

Senator Obama also indicated that siding with those who seek the dividing of Israel does not make him anti-Israel. This is true. Most supporters of Israel now understand there will need to be a viable Palestinian state and that Israel will need to make territorial concessions. He stated that backing the Jews’ biblical, historical and legal claim to all of the land in question also can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel. Of course, Israel has already made such concessions: the result is Hamasstan in the Gaza, which has become a center for terror directed daily against Israel. As Israel moved its forces out of the West Bank, those areas became centers of terrorist activity.

Senator Obama has already telegraphed his views regarding land, which seemed to prejudge the final outcome. But it might be wiser from a diplomatic point of view if he does not signal to opponents of negotiations his position if he becomes President. Also, violence has ensued when Israel voluntarily withdrew from lands; the world has remained silent and expresses very little sympathy for Israeli victims. Is counseling the division of land now something a friend would do?

Notably, the word “Jerusalem” is entirely absent from Senator Obama’s remarks. Surely that is not inadvertent. Does Senator Obama support or oppose the division of Jerusalem? Is Senator Obama aware of the destruction of Jewish and Christian religious sites when Jerusalem had been divided previously? Is he aware of how Jews were denied access to their religious sites when the city was divided? If Senator Obama does support the division of Jerusalem, how would it be divided? American Jews certainly cannot evaluate the Senator’s views on Israel when in a lengthy speech to Jewish leaders he keeps his views on Jerusalem to himself.

Senator Obama also stated that a full withdrawal from Iraq would strengthen America’s ability to deal with Iran. This logic is difficult to see. How would that happen? A precipitous withdrawal would embolden Iran. There would be no fear of American forces near its borders and its Shiite allies within Iraq would be strengthened. If anything, Iran would be empowered by such a retreat. How leaving would help us deal with Iran is opaque.

Senator Obama also sought to dispel rumors of anti-Semitism within his church (American Thinker has never made this accusation; nor do we support this allegation). Within the speech was this nugget:

“But I have never heard an anti-Semitic comment made inside of our church.”

And I suspect there are some of the people in this room who have heard relatives say some things that they don’t agree with. Including, on occasion, directed at African-Americans — that’s maybe a possibility that’s just, I am not suggesting that’s definitive.”

This is a Clintonesque statement if there ever were one. Senator Obama has never heard anti-Semitic statements “inside his church.” How about members who may have made such comments outside the church? How about his pastor’s relatively recent written anti-Israel statements that he excuses on the ground of Israel’s former relationship with South Africa. This also conveniently elides the fact that his Church’s magazine very recently gave an award to Louis Farrakhan, one of the most infamous anti-Semites in America.

In an attempt at self-justification, Senator Obama relegates his pastor, who is his spiritual mentor, and who inspired the title of his book The Audacity of Hope, as something like a crazy old uncle in the attic. Worse, he suggests that Jewish leaders may themselves have relatives who have made remarks that might be considered anti-African American. That is entirely irrelevant. There is a substantial difference between relatives who make private (or even public) comments that are disagreeable, and a relationship with a pastor that was sought out and supported, praised, and regarded as a mentor for two decades. Although one can distance oneself from relatives, it’s not so easy to resign from them. The same is not true of a pastoral affiliation.

Undoubtedly, the Jewish community would expect a presidential candidate to resign from a church whose pastor publicly supported David Duke and whose magazine gave him an award. The community would hope that Senator Obama would have taken such a step many years ago. Some may consider it disingenuous of the Senator to excuse his own voluntary association on the ground those Jewish listeners might have family members who harbor private prejudices.

Senator Obama’s speech occurred in the wake of comments made by Ralph Nader on Meet The Press. Nader claims that Senator Obama is too pro-Israel these days and remarked that the Senator was pro-Palestinian for years before he began his campaign for higher office. While some may view this as a reflection of Senator Obama’s evolving views (certainly his supporters will), others might question the coincidence of changing his views when he sought to garner support for his campaign.

Now that he has racked up a string of victories and vast amounts of financial support, he apparently feels comfortable in articulating some views regarding Israel and supporters of Israel in America that may give comfort to Ralph Nader but might leave others with even more questions than before.

Finally we can’t forget this quote from Obama’s book Audacity of Hope

“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

Whatever did he mean by that?

Obama is not legally African-American as he claims but Arab-American and Islam still considers him to be a Muslim. Surely Americans are entitled to take this into account when they are voting for the next President of America.

No, Obama is going down and rightly so.

Ted Belman

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MKs Debate Jewish Presence in Yesha

Hillel Fendel

The Knesset Audit Committee held a session on Monday regarding the unauthorized Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria, and voted not to request a State Comptroller review of the situation. Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan protested the vote. MK Vilan, aided by former senior State Prosecution attorney Talia Sasson, demanded to know why the government was not fulfilling its own decisions to evacuate and destroy Jewish outposts (new development communities) on Judea and Samaria hilltops. Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon, who heads a ministerial committee on the outposts, said that during the period of the Disengagement, in the years 2004-5, "the government decided not to open up two fronts, and therefore nothing was done to remove the outposts."

Sasson, who authored a detailed anti-outpost report for the Sharon government three years ago, strongly condemned the Justice Ministry's plan to allow some construction in and around some of the outposts.

MK Demands Approval for Jewish Towns
MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Religious Party), however, took the opposite approach, saying the Jews of Yesha should not be discriminated against: "If the Bedouin, who clearly took over lands that were not theirs, and who certainly did not have any government help in doing so, are now about to have their communities regulated and legalized, then all the more so - and the very comparison is demeaning - we should also have a government authority for the purpose of regulating and legalizing the communities in Judea and Samaria."

"Instead of talking about evacuating and destroying these communities," Slomiansky said, " - I don't even want to call them outposts - we should be expanding them."

"The Jews in Judea and Samaria have rights, and these must be respected," Slomiansky said. "Just like all other towns in Israel, they must be recognized and approved, period, so that people can live normal lives. Afterwards, if Olmert want to negotiate with the PA and make agreements and concessions, we can have our big argument [over this] then."

"All Towns in Israel Were Built This Way"
Another participant, Gush Etzion Regional Council Chief Sha'ul Goldstein, told Arutz-7's Hizky Baruch after the session that the Jewish towns in Yesha must be treated no differently than all the others in Israel: "We did a study of 200 towns in Israel, out of 1,000, and we found that every single one of them was first built, and only years later received final approval. Every single one! And this was true for towns built not only before the State was established, but even for towns built in the 1980's."

"To accuse us of building illegally, when a host of government offices helped us, and when this is how the entire State of Israel was built, is simply to lie and deceive," Goldstein said.

Ramon's Position
Ramon, an outspoken proponent of withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, said that not a single unauthorized outpost has been established in Yesha since 2005. "No monies are transferred to the existing outposts without the approval of a committee headed by the Deputy Attorney General," he boasted.

Ramon lamented that caravans had been added to some of the outposts, and claimed as fact that "the construction in Judea and Samaria is not the result of a lack of housing, but from a desire to create political facts on the ground that will make it hard for Israeli governments to [give up the land]."

He admitted that adding a classroom or building another floor onto an existing building in Yesha need not require governmental approval, but "to add 20-30 homes to a community of 100 families has political significance and therefore requires government approval."

A Third Can be Legalized
Ramon said that out of 100 outposts that he checked, "a third of them can be easily legalized, a third cannot, and regarding the rest, there is what to talk about." He said that he would be happy to reach an agreement with "the settlers" on all the outposts in order to avoid violence, but said, "If there is no choice, I believe that in the end, the government must fulfill its legal and political obligation."

Ramon further said that 26 outposts were built after March 2001, when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised the Americans that he would not allow new Yesha neighborhoods. "This is a promise that will be very hard to violate," Ramon said.

Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev said that Sharon made this promise without informing his coalition partners - of which he was one at the time.

Migron in Danger
Eitan Baroshi, the Defense Minister's Assistant for Settlement Affairs, said that in any event, "the outposts cannot be removed immediately... We are in contact with the Yesha Council," noting that Migron - 43 families in a strategic spot in Binyamin, north of Jerusalem, is a good example of an outpost whose future fate can be negotiated, "since it is built [partially - ed.] on privately-owned land... No one wants to have another Amona [where heavy violence accompanied an expulsion two years ago - ed.]. In the coming months, we have a Supreme Court decision coming up on this issue, and the Yesha heads know that we have to reach an agreement."

Vilan's Complaint
The session was originally initiated by MK Vilan of Meretz for the purpose of investigating why the government's decisions to remove unauthorized Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria have not been implemented. His objective was to have the committee vote to have State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss investigate the matter. However, he later withdrew his proposal in order to wait for a report being prepared by the ministerial committee on outposts.

Later in the session, Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) submitted an opposite proposal, namely that the committee vote not to ask Lindenstrauss to investigate the matter. The Committee voted to approve this notion - and MK Vilan said he would complain to the Knesset Legal Counsel over Orlev's behavior.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is That Your Final Question?

Tonight, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will debate in Ohio. It will be the 20th debate, and possibly the last, of the Democratic presidential campaign. Is there anything left to ask? The Op-Ed page asked five experts to pose the questions that they feel have not been answered over the course of more than a year of campaigning. Here's what they would ask the candidates if they were moderating tonight's debate. 1. Responding to a questionnaire from The Boston Globe on presidential power, you both criticized President Bush's use of signing statements, with which he has asserted a constitutional right to bypass more than 1,000 sections of bills that he has signed into law. You both also said you would continue using signing statements, though in a less aggressive way.

But the American Bar Association has called for an end to this practice, and Senator John McCain says he will never issue a signing statement. Why are they wrong?

2. Both of you have said the Constitution does not allow a president to detain a citizen without charges as an enemy combatant. But President Bush won court rulings upholding the indefinite detention of two Americans as enemy combatants. Were the courts wrong? Does a president have the authority to interpret the Constitution differently from the judiciary? Would you ever use the court-approved authority to hold a citizen indefinitely as an enemy combatant?

3. Both of you have said that President Bush cannot attack Iran without first obtaining Congressional authorization for the use of military force. But two Democratic presidents, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, ordered American forces into extended armed conflicts without Congressional authorization. Did the Korean and Kosovo wars violate the Constitution? Would an attack on Iran be legally different, and if so, how?

4. Are there any circumstances — including in matters of detention, surveillance, interrogation and troop deployments — under which you believe that presidents have the constitutional power as commander in chief to bypass laws in order to take an action they think is necessary to protect national security?

5. Proponents of the so-called unitary executive theory argue that the Constitution does not allow Congress to enact statutes that place the actions of executive-branch officials beyond the president's control, such as by giving independent decision-making authority to the head of a regulatory agency. Do you agree?

— CHARLIE SAVAGE, a reporter for The Boston Globe and the author of "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy."

1. Social Security will go into a cash deficit during the next president's prospective second term. Therefore, if elected, you will: a) do nothing and leave growing deficits to your successor; b) cut benefits, eligibility or both, as President Bush tried; c) raise the payroll tax; or d) there is no d. Those are the only options.

2. Domestic gun owners kill more Americans each year than terrorists have in total since 2000 (even if you define all American fatalities in Iraq as related to terrorism). Can the homeland be secure when our schools are not? If your answer is no, will you take on the National Rifle Association and work for a gun law with teeth?

3. Senator Obama, virtually all economists say trade is good for growth, but you have blamed trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement for the loss of American jobs. Do you really think building an economic wall along the Rio Grande will promote a stronger, more resilient American economy, and if so why?

4. Senator Clinton, will you take on your Wall Street friends and raise the effective income tax on private-equity fund managers and hedge fund managers, who are now taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent? Please explain why the richest Americans should pay the lowest taxes.

5. Senator Obama, you rail against the oil companies, but under the American system of free enterprise, aren't companies supposed to earn a profit — and even to charge what the market will bear?

6. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a president you both have evoked, said Americans need fear only fear itself. Under President Bush, Americans have been told to so fear terrorism that the executive branch has been permitted to snoop on citizens, hijack the powers of Congress and torture foreigners. Do you agree that fear of terrorism has been pushed too far, and if so, what measures would you adopt to return the United States to a more normal civilian life?

— ROGER LOWENSTEIN, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of the forthcoming "While America Aged."

1. Both of you have argued for more widespread access to the Internet in schools. Given the recent "To Read or Not to Read" report from the National Endowment for the Arts, which revealed a steep decline in reading among young people, and the lack of evidence that computers in the classroom help students learn, wouldn't federal funds be better spent on projects that encourage reading and engagement with the arts?

2. The Internet is often praised as a liberating force in American culture, but it has also drawn comparisons to an unruly mob. Would you support a federally financed, long-term study of how our use of this technology is changing our behavior, for good and for ill?

3. You have both admitted to being BlackBerry addicts. How has this desire for constant connection and endless information changed your personal relationships and how has it transformed political culture?

— CHRISTINE ROSEN, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a senior editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society.

The long advocacy for universal health-care coverage by Democrats has earned a base of public support, but it has also provided an easy focus for political attacks. Although universal coverage will protect businesses and families from unmanageable costs, it will also increase government spending considerably and increase government involvement in health care.

The strategy you have adopted as candidates is the same one that Democrats have used for decades without success (including in 1993, when I was a health policy adviser in the first Clinton administration). You have both designed plans that aim to minimize government costs and to minimize changes for Americans with good health coverage, while still constructing a safety net of coverage for the growing millions without insurance.

This approach, however, inevitably increases the complexity of our Rube Goldberg health system. It has made your policies difficult to explain. It has failed to prevent charges that you are promoting "socialized medicine." And it has cost you the enthusiasm of Americans who want a simpler, tax-based, Medicare-for-all system.

How do you persuade supporters of single-payer health care that your proposals are worth fighting for? And how can you assure the rest of us that the costs and complexities of your plans are actually manageable?

— ATUL GAWANDE, a general surgeon, a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of "Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance."

1. Senator Obama, as commander in chief an American president must understand the sense of honor that motivates his armed forces. Last September, ran an advertisement in The Times that mocked Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, as "General Betray Us." You chose not to vote on the Senate resolution that condemned the advertisement. Would you still characterize the Senate vote as a "stunt" and "empty politics"?

2. Samantha Power, one of Senator Obama's chief foreign policy advisers, strongly criticized the United States in her book "A Problem From Hell" for failing to intervene in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and for the three-year delay in intervening in the Bosnian war, until the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Saddam Hussein also committed genocide by killing thousands of Iraqi Kurds with chemical weapons in the late 1980s and massacring thousands of Shiite marsh dwellers in southern Iraq after the first gulf war. How could we have left Mr. Hussein in power? How can Senator Obama say that removing a genocidal killer was a "dumb" war?

3. Senator Clinton, you have stated that American troop withdrawals from Iraq will begin as soon as you take office as president. But you also note on your campaign Web site that you will order "narrow and targeted operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region."

Isn't that what the surge is about? The United States and local leaders have allied to drive out members of Al Qaeda from Baghdad and other areas. How is your policy any different from the policy of President Bush?

4. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution bars any former president from election to a third term. Is it truly consistent with the spirit of the Constitution to have the same professional couple occupying the White House for 12 years? Isn't this all the more true when Bill Clinton promised that voters would receive, during his first term, "two for the price of one"?

— RUTH WEDGWOOD, a professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins, was an adviser to the Rudolph Giuliani campaign.


Ted Belman

Tonight, Toronto Jews and Christian Zionists rallied for Sderot and what a rally it was. Over 2000 people were in attendance including many high school and university students. They filled to capacity a huge hotel room.

For many of us, Sderot represents a news story about the daily rocket attacks and the question of when and how is Israel going to stop them.No longer, at least for those in attendance. We were hooked up with the Community Hall in Sderot. Though it was three in the morning there many residents of all ages with emphases on the youth, in attendance and we all participated in a two way hook up.

A video was shown depicting the attempts of the residents including children to live a normal life and the reality of the constant threat of incoming rockets was made clear. Apparently they receive about 15 seconds warning and have to immediately run to the nearest shelter. As a result everyone, children included, know where every shelter is located and how many seconds it will take to get to the nearest one. Today fifteen rockets landed in Sderot and one boy was severely injured. Over 200 rockets landed this year, over 1000 last year and over 7000 in the last seven years. Can you imagine trying to live a normal life under these conditions. Yet the people of Sderot do and for the most part won’t leave. In fact some idealistic families move there to make a statement. “If not me, who?” one woman with six children said.

Canada’s National Post ran a major article on the people of Sderot under the title ‘We are going to stay forever’. They interviewed Alon Davidi, the head of Committee for a Secure Sderot, who is featured in this VIDEO. In the next few weeks he will be travelling to many cities to deliver his message.

There were a number of 16 year olds interviewed who had lived half their lives under this barrage and they all talked about what it takes to live a normal life. They are there to stay. It is their lot in life, just as it was the lot of the early settlers in the settlements pre ‘48 to hold the line against the attacking Arabs, and the lot of the soldiers at the Bar Lev line in Sinai to hold back the Egyptian attack in the Yom Kippur War, and the lot of citizens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Netanya to suffer suicide bombers, and the lot of the soldiers to attack the fortified positions of Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War. And it is our lot to support them financially, politically and in every public forum.

Israelis understand that they must hold the line and never retreat. The country depends on each and everyone one to do its part.

Alan Dershowitz was the keynote speaker and he delivered an emotional address in which he voiced our duty to them and voiced his criticism of the international community including all the Human Rights Organizations and the UN for criticizing Israel’s legitimate self defense.

He particularly laid into Canada’s own Louise Arbour for her criticism of Israel.

Dershowitz honoured the Toronto community for always showing the way to Jewish communities throughout the world by coming to the aid of Israel in such exemplary fashion. He said he was going to rally all the cities of America to follow Toronto’s example.

Sderot Media Center has videos and articles about what is going on and I urge you to visit.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Islam's Universal Blasphemy Fatwa

Andrew G. Bostom

Early Tuesday morning (2/12/08) “three men with a Muslim background” were arrested by Danish police on anti-terrorism charges, suspected of having plotted to murder Kurt Westergaard, a cartoonist for Jyllands-Posten. Westergaard is one of the 12 cartoonists who on September 30, 2005 published cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad to protest the tacit enforcement in Danish society of Islam’s taboo on depictions of Muhammad, no matter how banal, or inoffensive, through intimidation—a clear violation of Western freedom of expression. Upon learning of the arrests, Westergaard (noted for this cartoon) commented aptly, “I think…that the impact of the insane response to my cartoon will last for the rest of my life. It is sad indeed, but it has become a fact of my life.” And within 3-days, by February 15, 2008, confirming the pervasive fear of violent Muslim reprisal that apparently grips Danish society, Westergaard was ejected from his police-protected hotel room having been deemed, “too much of a security risk.” Now the 73-year-old cartoonist and his wife are homeless.

Not surprisingly, when newspapers in Denmark, and across Europe re-published the 12 original cartoons in solidarity with the threatened cartoonist, violent protests ensued by Danish Muslims (including burnings, and perhaps a bombing). Other violent demonstrations took place in Muslim communities across the Middle East and Asia.

Yet scant attention has been paid to a remarkable—and remarkably chilling—statement that was issued on Friday February 15, 2008 by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish Secretary General of the Jeddah-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the world’s unique pan-Islamic political body, comprised of 57 members, including “secular” Turkey. Conveniently ignoring that the re-publication in Denmark of 12 banal cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad was an urgent, sane protest of the disrupted plot by Muslims to murder one of the original Danish cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard, and oblivious to the immoral equivalence he was making, Ihsanoglu stated,

By reprinting these cartoons we are heading toward a bigger conflict and that shows that both sides will be hostages of their radicals.

Continuing, Ihsanoglu further demonstrated both the complete absence of self-criticism, and triumphalism of the Islamic worldview that seeks to impose its Shari’a-based conceptions—antithetical to true freedom of conscience and expression—on all of humanity. And he concluded with a thinly veiled threat of violence:

It is not a way of improving your rights and exercising your freedoms when you use these rights for insulting the most sacred values and symbols of others and inciting hatred…This is a very wrong, provocative path - unacceptable.

Two years earlier, on 1/18/06, in response to the initial printing of the Danish cartoons, Ihsanoglu had denounced, “…the publication of blasphemous and insulting caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.” He concluded that this “Islamophobic” act of “sacrilege” somehow contravened, “…international principles, values, and ethics enshrined in the various resolutions and declarations of the United Nations.”

These sentiments of Ihsanoglu (and the OIC he represents) were reiterated more brazenly by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi during a sermon which aired February 3, 2006. Qaradawi demanded action from the United Nations in accord with purely Islamic, Shari’a-based conceptions of “blasphemy”:

…the governments [of the world] must be pressured to demand that the U.N. adopt a clear resolution or law that categorically prohibits affronts to prophets—to the prophets of the Lord and his Messengers, to His holy books, and to the religious holy places.

But the unctuous Ishanoglu, in stark contrast to his sharp attacks on the Danish cartoonists, has never issued a statement condemning the sermons of authoritative, hugely popular Muslim clerics such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, who elsewhere, has openly proclaimed Muhammad as the prototype jihadist.

Sheikh al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential contemporary Muslim thinkers, “spiritual” leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and head of the European Fatwa Council, reaches an enormous audience during his regular appearances on Al- Jazeera, and other Arabic television outlets. Qaradawi’s inflammatory February 3, 2006 sermon, which addressed the original publication of the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad, opens with seething, self-righteous anger, segues into Qaradawi’s now standard, pro-forma Jew hatred, and closes, most disturbingly, with thinly veiled threats of terrorism to “…Westerners, the Americans, and Europeans.”

The sheer, blatant hypocrisy of these statements decrying the cartoon portrayals of Muhammad can only be appreciated when viewed in the larger overall context of his pious jihadism, most notably Qaradawi’s prior characterization of “Muhammad as a jihad model”:

The prophets that Allah sent prior to Muhammad were sent for a limited time …and to a specific people. … Allah established in the life of the Prophet Muhammad general, eternal, and all inclusive characteristics, and he gave every human being the possibility to imitate him and take his life as a model…The Christian is incapable of imitating Jesus regarding war and conciliation since Jesus never fought or made peace.

Allah has also made the prophet Muhammad into an epitome for religious warriors [Mujahideen] since he ordered Muhammed to fight for religion.

Previously, Qaradawi elaborated both the targets and allowable “tactics” for those contemporary Muslims whom he encourages to wage jihad. Jews, and their allies, figure prominently in these statements. For example, at the July 2003 meeting (in Stockholm) of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Qaradawi emphasized the orthodox Islamic basis for human homicide bomb “martyrdom operations” to be directed against all Israeli citizens, whom he further described as classic “harbis”, licit targets in the Dar al Harb.

Although neither Qaradawi’s admonitions for all out jihad against Israeli Jews, nor his constant Jew baiting, are surprising, he has also called for jihad martyrdom operations against American forces in Iraq, and more ominously, Qaradawi has made unabashed appeals for Muslims to wage a “jihad re-conquest” of Europe. His public fatwa on December 2, 2002 stated, “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and a victor after being expelled from it twice – once from the south, from Andalusia, and a second time, from the east, when it knocked several times on the doors of Athens.” Qaradawi’s fatwa ruled, in addition, that Muslims should re-conquer, “…former Islamic colonies to Andalus[ia] (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Mediterranean islands.”

And even in that purely mythical paragon of Islamic ecumenism—“Andalusia,” Muslim Spain during the Middle Ages (which not only Qaradawi, but legions of “moderate” Muslims openly profess they would like to restore)—Islamic supremacism, as codified in Islamic Law, engendered the same deep-seated, sacralized intolerance that has always predominated under Muslim rule. Already by the end of the eighth century, the rulers of Andalusia (and North Africa) had established rigorous Malikism as the dominant Islamic school of jurisprudence, rendering the Muslim Andalusian state, as noted in historian Evariste Levi-Provencal’s seminal Histoire de l’Espagne musulmane, “…the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.” Consistent with this historical reality, Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq, a pre-eminent scholar of Muslim Spain, observed that the myriad religious and legal discriminations suffered by non-Muslim dhimmis (i.e., the non-Muslim Iberian populations vanquished by jihad, and governed by Islamic law, Shari’a), included lethal punishments for “blaspheming” the Muslim prophet, or the Koran:

[For] having insulted the Prophet or blasphemed against the Word of God (i.e., The Koran)—dhimmis were executed.

A millennium later, Islam’s draconian punishment for infidels accused of blaspheming the Muslim prophet Muhammad persisted, with uncompromising ferocity. French painter Alfred Dehodencq’s striking “Execution of a Moroccan Jewess” is based upon the actual blasphemy execution of a Jewess from Tangier, Morocco, Sol Hachuel, believed to have occurred in 1834. A detailed, near contemporary account of Sol Hachuel’s heroic martyrdom—using eyewitness interviews—was published in 1837 by Eugenio Maria Romero. Accused, falsely, of having become a Muslim, and then “blaspheming” Muhammad, upon adamantly and steadfastly maintaining her Jewish faith (“A Jewess I was born, a Jewess I wish to die”), the 17 year-old Sol was beheaded publicly for both this contrived “apostasy” from Islam, and “blasphemy.” Among the narrative details Romero provides of the young victim’s execution day in Fez is this depiction of how the Muslim masses reacted to the charge of “blasphemy” against her:

…the streets were crowded with Moors [Muslims] of all ages and sexes, who made the air resound with their discordant cries. “here comes,” said they, “she who blasphemed the Prophet—death! death! to the impious wretch!”

Abundant contemporary evidence demonstrates that Islamic law and mores regarding blasphemy, today, remain distressingly incompatible with modern conceptions of religious freedom, and human rights. Thus writing in the early 1990s, the esteemed Pakistani scholar Muhammad Asrar, whose opinion was accepted by Pakistan’s Shari’a Court, defined “blasphemy”, focusing on the Muslim prophet, as:

Reviling or insulting the Prophet (pbuh) in writing or speech; speaking profanely or contemptuously about him or his family; attacking the Prophet’s dignity and honor in an abusive manner; vilifying him or making an ugly face when his named is mentioned; showing enmity or hatred towards him, his family, his companions, and the Muslims; accusing, or slandering the Prophet and his family, including spreading evil reports about him or his family; defaming the Prophet; refusing the Prophet’s jurisdiction or judgment in any manner; rejecting the Sunnah; showing disrespect, contempt for or rejection of the rights of Allah and His Prophet or rebelling against Allah and His Prophet.

And in accord with classical Islamic jurisprudence (for example, The Risala of al-Qayrawani [d. 996]), Madani argues that anyone who defames Muhammad—Muslim or non-Muslim—must be put to death.

Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo has documented how this orthodox Islamic doctrine—incorporated into the Pakistani legal code (Section 295-C, “defiling the name of Muhammad”)—has wreaked havoc, particularly among Pakistan’s small Christian minority community:

…the blasphemy law is felt to be a sword of Damocles and has developed a huge symbolic significance which contributes substantially to the atmosphere of intimidation of Christians. The detrimental effect of the law…is most dramatically illustrated by the incident at Shanti Nagar in February 1997 in which tens of thousands of rioting Muslims destroyed hundreds of Christian homes, and other Christian property, following an accusation of blasphemy. Furthermore the blasphemy has engendered a wave of private violence. Equating blasphemy with apostasy and influenced by the tradition of direct violent action and self-help which goes back to the earliest times of Islam, some Muslims feel they are entitled to enforce the death penalty themselves.

After at least four such murders, and the “blasphemy” case of Ayub Masih (who had been incarcerated in solitary confinement since October 14, 1996 and sentenced to death on April 27, 1998 by Sessions Court Judge Rana Abdul Ghaffar), Bishop John Joseph of Faisalbad committed suicide on May 6 1998, to protest the continued application of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

And incidents which have occurred within just the past 2-months illustrate that what prevails in Pakistan is hardly unique, but rather emblematic. Pervez Kambakhsh, a 23 year-old Afghan journalist was recently convicted (January 2008) of “blasphemy”—consistent with classical Islamic Law—for downloading and distributing an article “insulting” Islam, including the “blasphemous” allegation that “…Muhammad had ignored the rights of women..” Subsequently the Afghan Senate issued a statement on the case—signed by its leader, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, a reputed ally of President Hamid Karzai—approving the death sentence conferred on Mr Kambakhsh, also in full accord with the Shari’a, by a city court in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Within days, the Afghan Senate bowed to international pressure, and apparently reversed itself, withdrawing the confirmation of Kambakhsh’s death sentence for blasphemy. However, although not universal, commonplace public sentiments in support of this Shari’a ruling were expressed by Afghans across the age spectrum. Abdul Wasi Tokhi, an 18-year-old student at the American University in Kabul, argued for a swift execution, stating: “The guy should be hanged. He was making fun of Islam’s rules and regulations. He was making fun of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. You cannot criticize any principles which have been approved by sharia. It is the words of the Prophet.” And Qari Imam Bakhsh, a Muslim cleric, concurred, maintaining: “I think he is not a Muslim. A Muslim would not make this kind of mistake. He should be punished so that others can learn from him.”

This January, 2008, as well, in Iraqi Kurdistan—upheld as a successful model of regional Islamic moderation, even secularization—more evidence of oppressive, re-emergent Shari’a was on display. A court in Halabja (where Saddam Hussein’s minions gassed thousands of Kurdish civilians in 1988, 15 years prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom), sentenced a Kurdish author in absentia to six months in prison for blasphemy. The author, Mariwan Halabjaee, was accused of writing in a book that Mohammed had 19 wives, married a 9-year-old when he was 54, and took part in murder and rape—all of which can confirmed from the “sira,” the authoritative, earliest pious Muslim biographies of his life (like this one by Ibn Ishaq/Ibn Hisham). From his asylum in Norway, Mr. Halabjee maintained that a fatwa calling for his death unless he pleads for forgiveness, has also been issued.

Intrepid historian David Littman has been chronicling, nearly alone, for almost two decades, the concerted efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to Islamize international human rights instruments, and apply the Shari’a “standard” for blasphemy—pace the current Kambakhsh and Halabjee travesties—to all nations. Littman warned, for example, about the development of the Shari’a-based 1990 Cairo Declaration (i.e., the so-called Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam), to which all member states of the OIC are signatories, publicizing the immediate objections of a brave Senegalese jurist, Adama Dieng. Dieng, a Muslim, who subsequently became a United Nations special rapporteur, then serving as secretary-general to the International Commission of Jurists, declared forthrightly in February 1992 that the Cairo Declaration, under the rubric of the Shari’a,

…gravely threatens the inter-cultural consensus on which the international human rights instruments are based; introduces, in the name of the defense of human rights, an intolerable discrimination against both non-Muslims and women; reveals a deliberately restrictive character in regard to certain fundamental rights and freedoms..; [and] confirms the legitimacy of practices, such as corporal punishment, that attack the integrity and dignity of the human being.

K.S. Lal, the late Indian Professor of Islam, noted this difficult, if not intractable conundrum:

Muhammad could not change the revelation; he could only explain and interpret it. There are liberal Muslims and conservative Muslims; there are Muslims learned in theology and Muslims devoid of learning. They discuss, they interpret, they rationalize—but all by going round and round within the closed circle of Islam. There is no possibility of getting out of the fundamentals of Islam; there is no provision of introducing any innovation.

Confirmation of Lal’s observations at the “macro” level of international relations is manifested by the ceaseless, and increasingly successful campaign of the OIC to enforce universal application of a Shari’a standard, in complete opposition to bedrock principles of modern human rights, such a freedom of expression, and conscience.

More than a decade ago, Samuel Huntington observed appositely, and with a candor that is now exceedingly rare,

The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture…

During his recent debate with the cultural jihadist Tariq Ramadan, Ibn Warraq elucidated what is at stake should such Islamic supremacism prevail:

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. It was the West that took steps to abolish slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in Africa, where rival tribes sold black prisoners into slavery. The West has secured freedoms for women and racial and other minorities to an extent unimaginable 60 years ago. The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.

…Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.
Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.

Shas Plans to Quit Within Months, Some Say It May be Too Late

Hillel Fendel

The Sephardic hareidi-religious Shas party hopes to make some political gains before quitting the government. Shas observers and opponents say: It won't work.

Comment: Never mind what's best for the country-"get mine" first is still in play-disgusting!"The die has been cast," writes political commentator Sophia Ron-Moriah in the Makor Rishon newspaper. "Shas will quit the Olmert government before mid-summmer, or before - depending on the pace of the two or three matters that are important to Shas."

The legislation that is important to Shas includes the expansion of rabbinical court authorities, restrictions on internet access to pornographic sites, and the restoration of previous levels of monthly child allowances.

Shas has been under heavy pressure from the religious and right-wing camps to quit the Olmert government before significant progress is made in the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to divide Jerusalem and give away major portions of the Land of Israel.

Olmert Keeping Shas on a Short Leash
Prime Minister Olmert, for his part, is interested in granting gestures to Shas at a slow pace, in order that Shas remain in the government coalition for as long as possible. If the 11 Shas MKs leave the coalition, the government will be left without a majority in the Knesset.

Coalition chairman MK Eli Aflalo (Kadima) has even asked Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to shorten the current winter and upcoming summer sessions, in order to provide fewer opportunities both for the coalition to lose important Knesset votes and for Shas to quit the coalition.

Warning to Shas
Yossi Elituv, a widely-read political commentator who specializes in Shas, recently wrote an open letter to Knesset Members of the party, warning them that Olmert is using them in order to give away Jerusalem."

Olmert has "decided to take advantage of the time that is left until the coming elections," Elituv wrote, "to formulate an unreal and dangerous diplomatic agreement that has major and far-reaching concessions. Jerusalem is being torn to pieces, and all in the merit of the votes of the Shas Knesset Members... You said you would rush out of the government the moment they begin talking about Jerusalem. Really now. What do you think [Foreign Minister] Tzipi Livni and Abu Ala were talking about on the day that a terrorist blew himself up and murdered a woman in Dimona? Do you think they were exchanging recipes for Hamentaschen [Purim pastries]?! ... You well know that someone has sold Jerusalem at the same time he was selling you contradictory messages. But you are addicted to the false sweetness of the illusion... Jerusalem is not 'about' to be put on the agenda; we're already in another phase: Jerusalem has already been sold out!"

"Olmert is speaking to you in two voices," Elituv continued, "without even clearing his throat in between: On the one hand, he freezes construction in Jerusalem, and with the other he enwraps you with embraces of promises. With one voice, he calls rabbis and swears allegiance to Jerusalem, and with the other voice, he calls his clerks and instructs them to stop every project, to strangle the city, and bring down the hareidi cities. All the neighborhoods that were built past the '67 borders have been arbitrarily and unforgivably frozen. His hand did not tremble when he signed away our normal lives here..."

UTJ's Ravitz
MK Avraham Ravitz, of the rival hareidi-religious party United Torah Judaism, refused to criticize Shas. Speaking to Arutz-7 on Monday, he said only, "I have enough trouble trying to get my own party to do what it should; I should try to advise Shas?" He admitted, however, that he was "doubtful" that Shas would succeed in its apparent two-pronged goal of achieving certain religious-political goals and also being able to quit before the negotiations on Jerusalem reach a critical stage.

"The MKs of Shas are themselves unsure whether they will succeed," Ravitz said. "It's not that Olmert is giving them what they want little by little - he's barely giving them anything at all."

Sderot Children Wounded in Kassam Attack on Israel

Hana Levi Julian

Two children were who were wounded in a Kassam rocket barrage on Israel - targeting the western Negev city of Sderot - were rushed to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon early Monday afternoon. A 9-year-old boy suffered a serious injury to his hand in the attack. A one-year-old baby and another child were lightly wounded as well. At least four adults were treated for emotional shock. Three rockets exploded in the city, one hitting a bomb shelter and a second scoring a direct hit on a house. The third rocket exploded elsewhere in the city without causing further injuries or damage.

The Salah a-Din Brigades terrorist gang, a splinter group of the Popular Resistance Committees terror umbrella organization, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two other rockets slammed into fields in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. No injuries or damage reported.

Two More Rockets
Earlier in the day, two other missiles were fired by terrorists in northern Gaza, as 60 trucks filled with sacks of flour, sugar and other supplies made their way from Israel through the Sufa Crossing into the region under pouring rain.

One of the rockets exploded in a southern area in the coastal city of Ashkelon. The second missed its mark and did not even make it out of Gaza. It landed in an open area and did not hurt anyone.

Study: 3 in 4 U.S. mosques preach anti-Western jihadist hate

It isn't as if we haven't seen this coming. For years now I have pointed out the shallowness and flimsiness of condemnations of terror by American Islamic groups, and noted that American mosques and schools have no programs to teach against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism, as one might have expected them to institute after 9/11 if they really stood where they claimed they stood. And in 1999, the Naqshbandi Sufi Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani testified before a State Department open forum that eighty percent of American mosques had extremist leadership. And then there was the January 2005 report from the Center for Religious Freedom, "Saudi publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques" (pdf here).

"Study: 3 in 4 U.S. mosques preach anti-West extremism," from WorldNetDaily (thanks to TCS):

An undercover survey of more than 100 mosques and Islamic schools in America has exposed widespread radicalism, including the alarming finding that 3 in 4 Islamic centers are hotbeds of anti-Western extremism, WND has learned.

The Mapping Sharia in America Project, sponsored by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, has trained former counterintelligence and counterterrorism agents from the FBI, CIA and U.S. military, who are skilled in Arabic and Urdu, to conduct undercover reconnaissance at some 2,300 mosques and Islamic centers and schools across the country.

"So far of 100 mapped, 75 should be on a watchlist," an official familiar with the project said.

Many of the Islamic centers are operating under the auspices of the Saudi Arabian government and U.S. front groups for the radical Muslim Brotherhood based in Egypt.

Frank Gaffney, a former Pentagon official who runs the Center for Security Policy, says the results of the survey have not yet been published. But he confirmed that "the vast majority" are inciting insurrection and jihad through sermons by Saudi-trained imams and anti-Western literature, videos and textbooks.

The project, headed by David Yerushalmi, a lawyer and expert on sharia law, has finished collecting data from the first cohort of 102 mosques and schools. Preliminary findings indicate that almost 80 percent of the group exhibit a high level of sharia-compliance and jihadi threat, including:

* Ultra-orthodox worship in which women are separated from men in the prayer hall and must enter the mosque from a separate, usually back, entrance; and are required to wear hijabs.

* Sermons that preach women are inferior to men and can be beaten for disobedience; that non-Muslims, particularly Jews, are infidels and inferior to Muslims; that jihad or support of jihad is not only a Muslim's duty but the noblest way, and suicide bombers and other so-called "martyrs" are worthy of the highest praise; and that an Islamic caliphate should one day encompass the U.S.

* Solicitation of financial support for jihad.

* Bookstores that sell books, CDs and DVDs promoting jihad and glorifying martyrdom.

Though not all mosques in America are radicalized, many have tended to serve as safe havens and meeting points for Islamic terrorist groups. Experts say there are at least 40 episodes of extremists and terrorists being connected to mosques in the past decade alone.

Some of the 9/11 hijackers, in fact, received aid and counsel from one of the largest mosques in the Washington, D.C., area. Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center is one of the mosques indentified by undercover investigators as a hive of terrorist activity and other extremism.

It was founded and is currently run by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Imams there preach what is called "jihad qital," which means physical jihad, and incite violence and hatred against the U.S.

Dar al-Hijrah's ultimate goal, investigators say, is to turn the U.S. into an Islamic state governed by sharia law.

Another D.C.-area mosque, the ADAMS Center, was founded and financed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has been one of the top distributors of Wahhabist anti-Semitic and anti-Christian dogma.

Even with such radical mosques operating in its backyard, the U.S. government has not undertaken its own systematic investigation of U.S. mosques....

Which is an ongoing scandal.