Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who Do They Like, Who Do They Hate

Barry Rubin

These two polls are very interesting especially when compared to each other, and are not so bad.

Contrary to what we think there are basically two models:

1. Strong support for Israel as against the PA: US
2. Relative evenhandedness: France, Germany, and UK. We are not seeing results of high support for Palestinians versus Israel, even in a country like France, even after years of anti-Israel propaganda.

Note that there are no countries where support for the Palestinians is higher than that for Israel. In Germany there is greater support for Israel; in France and the UK more evenhanded.

But even this understates the case. The Palestinians are represented in this poll by the PA, which is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as moderate, nonviolence, and ready to make peace with Israel. Comparing Israel and the PA is going to end up being more even in result than comparing Israel to Fatah, the PLO, Hamas or talking about Israelis versus Palestinians.

After all, the argument would be that the PA are those Palestinians who want to live in peace with Israel so liking both means wanting the two sides to make peace and have a two-state solution. Presumably, most of those who liked the parties do not perceive a positive statement about the PA as anti-Israel.

Note also that in France, Germany and-to a lesser extent-the UK, support for Israel is not that far behind positive views of the US. After all, if the US can only get 47 percent in France is it so surprising Israel gets 41? And the same applies to Germany (51, 47); though the gap in the UK is a bit wider it is not that extreme.

The situation in Turkey is very bad since in recent years the support for the PA is based on the idea of Muslim solidarity. The high results for the US and USSR are also surprising. Clearly, the Islamic-oriented regime has had a big effect on popular thinking or, to put it differently, its election reflects shifts in public opinion.

So if the result isn't great it isn't terrible either, better than we would expect.

Poll 1

"Transatlantic Trends 2008, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and the Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy), asked respondents in various countries in June to rate their feelings toward countries, with 100 meaning very warm and favorable and 0 unfavorable.

U.S. respondents: US-83, Russia-48, Israel-62, PA-36, Iran-25
French respondents: US-47, Russia-41, Israel-41, PA-40, Iran-24
German respondents: US-51, Russia-49, Israel-47, PA-39, Iran-29
UK respondents: US-56, Russia-47, Israel-45, PA-45, Iran-33
Turkish respondents: US-14, Russia-18, Israel-8, PA-44, Iran-32 (Transatlantic Trends)"

Now look at Poll 2 (below). I have reorganized it for better understanding:

Negative views

Australia Jews 11
France: Muslims 38; Jews 20
Germany: Muslims 50; Jews 25
Spain: Muslims 52; Jews 46
Poland: Muslims 46; Jews 36
Russia: Jews 34
UK: Muslims 23; Jews 9
US: Muslims 23; Jews 7

Some points:

* Australia, the US, and the UK are by far the most tolerant. Despite European "sweetness and light" and "multiculturalism", they are far more bigoted. Note that Americans are ridiculed as narrow-minded and intolerant by Europeans. The shoe is on the other foot.
* Jews are always less unpopular than Muslims.
* Spain, Poland, and Russia can be fairly described as anti-Semitic nations in terms of popular opinion. History is pretty consistent.
* The level of anti-Semitism in France and Germany is quite high although not characteristic.
* Who would have dared dream 20 years ago that one in five Germans would be anti-Semitic? I wonder what the figure would have been if a poll had been taken there-or in France for that matter--say, in 1900?
* Muslims have legitimate concerns about high levels of hatred.

What is amazing in these findings is that anti-Semitism has risen in virtually all countries since 2005. Yet the level of violence has been much lower than during the previous five years, not to mention the Hamas takeover and growing radical Islamist anti-Semitism (a negative or a positive example?), improved Western diplomatic stances toward Israel, and Israel's tireless efforts to prove it wants peace, massive Jewish philanthropy to prove they are good citizens, and so on.

Theodor Herzl was right on everything-including the eternal nature of anti-Semitism and the inability of Jewish action to end it-except that Israel's existence would reduce it.

Poll 2

"Growing numbers of people in several major European countries say they have an unfavorable opinion of Jews and Muslims. A spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center's Pew Global Attitudes Project finds 46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably, with 34% of Russians and 36% of Poles echoing this view. Significant numbers of Germans (25%) and French (20%) also express negative opinions of Jews. Other figures reported include Great Britain (9%), Australia (11%), and the U.S. (7%).

Fully half of Spanish (52%) and German respondents (50%) rate Muslims unfavorably. Negative opinions about Muslims are found in Poland (46%), France (38%), Britain (23%) and the U.S. (23%)." (Pew)

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 Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online.

The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya P.O. Box 167 Herzliya, 46150 Israel
Email: Phone: +972-9-960-2736 Fax: +972-9-956-8605

Comptroller to probe legality of Kadima primary contributions


The state comptroller will investigate whether all of the contributions to the primary campaigns of the four candidates for Kadima Party leader were legal, his spokesman said Thursday. "We cannot say whether any of the contributions were illegal until we investigate each one in detail," said Shlomo Raz, spokesman for State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

Of the four, the only candidate to have received unusually large contributions was Shaul Mofaz - $100,000 from Lucien Selce, $99,970 from Alain Matar, $18,000 from David Emrani and $50,000 from Yacov Menachem.

Those names and figures are on a list of all the donations made to each candidate that includes the name and addresse of each donor, as well as the sum given, that was published by Lindenstrauss's office.

The four Mofaz contributors are all listed as living in the US, although Selce and Matar are French.

Selce serves as board chairman of Arbel SA, which is involved in building and home equipment, railroad equipment and real estate.

Emrani is the owner of Pride Products Corporation, which sells a wide range of products including air fresheners, baby care appliances, disposable bags, paper cups and garden accessories.

Because the Political Parties Law had been unclear regarding contributions to candidates running in party primaries or local authority races, the Knesset passed a law this year limiting the amount that a contributor may give to NIS 40,000.

Under the new law, the time-frame in which the ceiling on donations applies is from 15 days after the end of one primary election until 14 days after the following one.

However, under the previous law, the ceiling on contributions applied for a period of nine months before the primary. The large contributions that Mofaz received were given in October and November 2006.

No other candidate received a contribution that exceeded the ceiling established by the new law.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1221745564728&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Friday, September 19, 2008

Livni Wants Olmert to Resign

The elected leader of the Kadima party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, said at the faction's Friday session that it was time for Ehud Olmert to resign as Prime Minister. "Olmert said that he intended to retire once the results are in and I expressed my appreciation to him for the way his era ended," she said. "From this moment on, because we have a country to run, we must act quickly. Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon, a close associate of Ehud Olmert, disagreed with Livni and said that she should ask Olmert to stay in office until she forms an alternative government. "This is necessary so that we do not lose control of the process," he said. "Tactically, it is wrong for Olmert to resign before there is an alternative government."

MK Tzachi HaNegbi sided with Livni's position and said that "only a resignation by the Prime Minister will move the process forward and make the options for partnership clear."

Livni Trying to Avoid Coalition Talks
Livni meanwhile is trying to convince the Shas and Labor parties that there is no need for negotiating a new coalition agreement with them. Shas and Labor both want Livni to negotiate with them and are threatening that they will initiate general elections otherwise.

Livni attempted to out-bluff Labor Thursday and told senior Labor members that she is not afraid of elections herself. She reportedly said that that their choices were "a government headed by me now or elections in 90 days."

"A few months ago you wanted to replace Ehud Olmert without leading to elections at the end of
"We've gotten rid of a person who could have created an entire camp to oppose us in Kadima."
the process," Livni told senior Labor members, "but now you want to reopen coalition agreements."

Livni Confidantes 'Pleased' Mofaz Left
A source close to Livni voiced satisfaction Friday at Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz's announcement that he would take a break from politics. "It's good for us," the source told IDF Radio. "We've gotten rid of a person who could have created an entire camp to oppose us in Kadima."

"No more ethnic matters in Kadima, no more workers' councils. Now we can concentrate on getting things done," the source added.

'Sorry About Mofaz's Decision'
Livni presided over the first Kadima faction meeting Friday morning since she was elected Kadima's leader, and said she was "very sorry about [Shaul] Mofaz's decision and that he is not here with us today."

Flanked by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and MK Yoel Hasson, Livni said: "I do not believe in camps. There will be no camps in Kadima. Mofaz must continue to contribute in the government and the Knesset."

MK Elkin: Kadima Meeting 'Fake Show of Unity'
MK Ze'ev Elkin, a supporter of Mofaz's candidacy to lead Kadima, said Friday that he would not be going to the faction's meeting because it was "a false show of unity."

Another Mofaz supporter, Minister Ze'ev Boim, also missed the meeting but cited "a family event" as the reason.

Livni Meeting Meretz, Pensioners Heads
Livni was scheduled to meet Friday with the chairman of the Pensioners' Party, Minister Rafi Eitan, and the head of Meretz, MK Chaim Oron.

Saturday evening she is scheduled to meet National Religious Party chief Zevulun Orlev in order to discuss the possibility that the NRP could join her government.

Ahmadinejad says Israel won't survive


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Israel on Thursday, saying the Jewish state would not survive, even if it gave up land for a Palestinian state. He also dismissed allegations that his country is trying to make nuclear arms. Speaking to reporters in Tehran, the hard-line leader smirked at the former mantra of the Israeli right of a "Greater" Israel that would include land Palestinians want for a future state. The idea has since been abandoned, with the Israeli political consensus now being that there would be a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, on either side of Israel.

"I have heard some say the idea of Greater Israel has expired," Ahmadinejad said. "I say that the idea of lesser Israel has expired, too."

Ahmadinejad used the news conference to speak at length before traveling to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly that opened Tuesday.

The Iranian president repeated previous anti-Israel comments, calling the Holocaust a "fake" and saying that Israel is perpetrating a holocaust on the Palestinian people.

The remarks appear to be part of Ahmadinejad's effort to deflect criticism at home over failed economic policies. Iran's inflation hit 27.6 percent last month.

He might also be trying to repair damage caused by his vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, who was recently quoted as saying Iranians were "friends of all people in the world — even Israelis."

Speaking about Iran's controversial nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has "no right" to consider documents provided by the U.S. alleging Tehran sought to make an atomic bomb.

On Monday, an International Atomic Energy Agency report said Iran had blocked a U.N. investigation into allegations it tried to make nuclear arms and that the inquiry was deadlocked.

Ahmadinejad said the report "verified the peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is only for electricity production.

Fitzgerald: Livni and missed opportunities

After the deplorable Olmert comes the only-very-slightly-less-deplorable Zipporah (Tzipi, as all Israeli politicians are known by these undignified and to-me demeaning nicknames) Livni. She too has her own story, of being the child, like Olmert, of Likud supporters, even perhaps Revisionists. Like Olmert, she thinks that she has become a "realist" and therefore put away childish things. But her "realism" is the usual, delusional "realism" of those who ignore the nature of the war -- a Jihad -- being waged on Israel. They ignore its permanence and its scope. They think that there will be peace if they surrender what is rightfully Israel's, tangible assets, the land of the "West Bank" that must be held onto, whatever the Arabs in the Arab-occupied parts may think. And they can, over time, respond to conditions they deem insufficiently favorable and be encouraged to leave, if they know they will never be masters of the place.

A news item tells us that "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is quoted as saying that nine months of peace talks with Israel have failed to bring agreement on any of the core issues. That would include the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements and the borders of a future Palestinian state. Mr. Abbas told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that ‘the gaps between the sides are very wide.’"

If that news item is true, Israelis can breathe a sigh of relief. But if Olmert is replaced by Livni, then they can expect more of the same. More negotiations over what will continue to be called -- without the government of Israel unmasking the farce -- a peace-process. This “peace-process” will be based on the "core issues" that leave out, that overlook, that deliberately ignore, the fact that none of these "core issues" really matters -- because they are trivial given what Islam teaches. Israeli leaders need to understand Islam, the immutability of its texts, and the permanence of its tenets, and understand that there will always be far more primitive Muslims than there will be the kind of suave, advanced ones -- the very ones that Israelis on the left pride themselves as counting among their "friends" and whose personal charm and affability (and that shared mockery of "religious Jews" who are depicted as the true fanatics) get in the way of an unhindered view of things. It is with an understanding of those Believers, and that Islam, and not some nuanced falling-away from it, that Israeli leaders must base their policies.

Any agreement or treaty that Israel reaches with the Gazan Arabs or the "West Bank" Arabs or both, that is, any agreement that a Mahmoud Nobody-Here-But-Us-Accountants Abbas, or someone else (it could be Sari Nuseibeh, it could be Marwan Barghouti, it could be Saeb Erekat -- it doesn't matter for Islam remains the same), will commit the Muslim Arab side to nothing. It has happened again and again, since the Armistice agreements of 1949. No matter what Israel thinks has been settled -- say, the status of the Shebaa Farms, or the Golan Heights (Israel annexed them in 1981, and has no business putting them up on the block yet again) -- for the Arabs nothing is ever settled. For once the Arab Muslim side receives its tangible gains, sooner or later it will renege on its own promises. There are those Israelis who allow themselves to believe that Egypt, and Jordan, can be said to be honoring a "peace treaty" with Israel. This misses the point. Those countries are not at war, in the battlefield sense, with Israel not because they are honoring a treaty, but because they are keeping the "peace" of their truce-treaty, or hudna, for exactly the same reasons that Syria or Saudi Arabia or any other Arab state does: because they have calculated that Israel is in a position to inflict terrible damage, and even, in the case of Egypt, in seizing the Sinai yet again and this time not likely to again surrender it for the sake of "peace."

Once it has pocketed the tangible concessions made by Israel, as always the Muslim side will sooner or later breach every single one of its promises. And it will do so not because this or that particular Arab has turned out to be untrustworthy, but because Islam instructs Muslims that they must never reconcile themselves to the permanent existence of Infidel rule anywhere in the world. And above all, or at least first of all, it is crazy to think that Arab Muslims would ever contemplate the continued existence of Israel, an Infidel nation-state, on land once possessed by Muslims -- and not only that, but land that bestrides the very area that links the Maghreb to the Middle East. It doesn't matter whom they seized the land from. Nor does it matter that in North Africa and the Middle East Muslim Arabs possess lands that together are a thousand times larger than Israel.

No, Livni will not mention this. She will not raise the issue of Islam because, you see, it interferes with her whole "getting-beyond-my-parents" personal narrative -- child of Likud supporters who finally "saw the light" because she became a "realist." What kind of "realist" ignores Islam in attempting to deal with Slow Jihadists and Fast Jihadists? What kind of "realist" thinks that the most important thing is not the physical survival of Israel and the Jews of Israel, but rather whether Israel retains its "Jewish and democratic character" by constantly giving up whatever lands happen to have large numbers of Arabs occupying them, instead of recognizing with grim sobriety that as a matter of national survival -- of border defense, of control of aquifers, of control of invasion routes -- Israel simply cannot give up, and should not be forced to give up, one inch or dunam of what is called, so comically, the "West Bank"?

She, Livni, is not a "realist" at all. For having given up the "West Bank," Israel would simply find itself in the same position it was before, but now much reduced in size, and in this dimidiated state much more vulnerable. For the Arabs, who outbreed the Jews, would increase their numbers. The next place that might have an Arab majority would be the Galilee (where already the Arabs have been attacking Jews with impunity). And along will come Livni, or a later Livni, to say, yet again, that Israel cannot "remain Jewish and democratic" and that, of course, in order to retain its moral purity -- yes, we all know how important that is, don't we? -- it must now give up the Galilee, too. And so on.

For some, for many, for too many, in Israel, there is no understanding of the larger picture, and no attempt to take a longer view. And Islam, the most important force in the Middle East, is ignored. Yet it is the reason why Jews for centuries were treated as dhimmis, and why the Jewish state of Israel will never, ever be truly accepted. No amount of supposed intertwining of economic interests of Jews and Arabs, in, say, Jenin or some other "West Bank" town, disproves this. Instead, it merely shows that Arabs are perfectly happy to pocket whatever they can get from those hated Jews. But that does not change their deeply-held views, and does not change the texts and tenets of Islam that no collaborative efforts in exporting fruit or even computers will undo.

Livni is lacking. And so many others are too.

For now, the people of Israel have, it seems, been saved by the bell. Olmert is a crook, and is being hauled off-stage. But what if he had not been a crook? What if he had not had to leave the stage? Think then what permanent and terrible damage he might have done?

Supporters of Israel, the unthinking kind (there are so many of those), like to take consolation in that famous phrase from silver-tongued Abba Eban. I mean the complacent kind who think that if only, if only...then "peace" can be achieved, the kind who do not see what is wrong with the phrase "two-state solution" or "one-state solution" and who cannot get through their thick heads the real nature, and permanence, of the war -- the Jihad -- being waged on Israel. And that Jihad is being waged not only, or mainly, through qitaal, combat, or through what the Arabs consider to be a justified variant of qitaal, the killing of innocents through terrorism.

What is that phrase from Eban? Oh, it's about how "the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." But what consolation is that? This means that again and again the Israelis have offered grotesquely generous and dangerous concessions, and the Arabs, again and again, have saved the Israelis -- just as the people of Israel have been granted a temporary reprieve thanks to Olmert's petty greed (those expensive cigars, for example) and the loose tongue of Morris Talansky.

But this complacent quote -- "the Arabs have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity" -- shows a terrifying misunderstanding of what this means. It means that eventually the Arabs won't miss that opportunity, and Israel, having agreed foolishly to yield so much, will no longer be saved by the bell -- the bell of corrupt leaders, caught by the police, or the bell of the Arabs who will always manage, so it is fondly believed, not to "miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

No, that will stop. And unless common sense breaks in, unless Israel's ruling elite recognizes the permanent threat, the threat that can only be understood if you allow yourself to understand the meaning, and menace, of Islam, some day Israel will not be saved by any bell.

And that will be that.

Thanks Dhimmi Watch

"No Bargain"

So, Tzipi Livni has won the Kadima primary, making her the new head of the party, beating runner-up Shaul Mofaz not by the landslide polls had predicted but by a mere 431 votes. But the nation deserves better than her as prime minister. The last time I heard her speak, I walked out because I found her "logic" as to why we must give away our country unbearable. She, too, has lost the Israeli narrative.


She is now starting the process of trying to put together a coalition. She has a month to do this(and can request another 15 days beyond this). In some quarters the betting is that she won't be able to do it. It's difficult to call.

If she doesn't, the nation then goes to elections.

There are those -- not just opposition head Netanyahu, but members of Labor as well -- who say elections are imperative now because a primary election in Kadima shouldn't determine who becomes prime minister, our nation must do that.


Olmert had said he would resign as prime minister as soon as the new head of Kadima was elected. But he has not yet handed his resignation to President Peres, and there is now some talk of his delaying until after Rosh Hashana -- which would mean October 2. At the moment he is an anomaly -- a prime minister who is not also head of his party. I don't believe this has ever happened in this country before.

Even after he does hand in his resignation, he can remain in office as head of a transitional government until such as we have a new government. What he should do is step aside immediately, declaring that he is unable to fulfill the functions of his office, and allow Deputy Prime Minister Livni to take over the transitional government. But I'm not sure "should" is in his vocabulary.


When Mofaz first got the news about how close the vote was, he said he would challenge it. He then pulled back on this and has now announced that he intends to take a rest from political life.


Please see my article on the "right of return" from Front Page Magazine:

see my website

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Politicians Demand New Elections

Hillel Fendel

"Forming a new government based on the votes of 431 Kadima members would be a legal farce," says Likud whip MK Gideon Saar. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the new Kadima party leader and the Prime Minister-designate, won her party's primaries on Wednesday by a scant 1.1% margin. The difference between her and Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz amounted to only 431 votes, from among the fewer than 40,000 Kadima members who voted.

"A Prime Minister in Israel should be democratically elected by the entire nation," Saar said this morning, "and not by 431 party members. Forming a new government in these circumstances would be a legal farce that would strike a clear blow at Israeli democracy."

"The parties should display national responsibility, sit together and determine an agreed-upon date for new Knesset elections," Saar said.

Calls for new elections have also been heard from the Labor Party, even though it is currently a coalition member and virtually certain to join Livni's government. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon and MK Shelly Yechimovitch are the two leading Labor voices calling to allow the public to choose the next Prime Minister. Simchon is a close confidante of Labor leader Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is said to strongly favor new elections. During the Kadima election campaign, Barak came out openly against Livni's candidacy.

Livni now has 42 days to form a new government, throughout which period Ehud Olmert will remain Prime Minister, even if he tenders his resignation. Labor ministers have said that they are not in her pocket, though these threats are not being taken very seriously, while Shas is saying that it will join a Livni government only under certain conditions.

"If Livni wants a government," Shas leader and Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai said, "she must meet our demands. If money for underprivileged children is blackmail, then we're blackmailers." He also said that Shas would sit in a Livni-led government only if Jerusalem is not divided. Livni heads the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority that the PA has said are leading to the division of Jerusalem.

Livni herself said, "We have a national mission, and that is to quickly build stability in the Israeli government. We must meet various threats, and there is financial instability. This is not my responsibility alone, but also that of my colleagues in Kadima and the other parties."

Media Predictions Were Way Off
The media is licking its wounds after predicting unanimously last night that Livni had won by a 10-12% margin. The nation's top pollsters admitted that the phone polls asking voters how they had voted were open to distortion. Veteran Israeli pollster Mina Tzemach said, "There really is a problem, and we have to sit and figure out how it happened."

Yitzchak: Media Lied in Order to Help Livni
Some blamed the media not only for mistakes, but even for purposely distorting the pre-election trends in order to bring victory to Livni. "The media publicized purposeful lies," writes Yoav Yitzchak of the Hebrew-language NFC news site, "and failed their obligation to work on behalf of the purity of the democratic process. [I refer] specifically to Yediot Acharonot, Maariv, Haaretz, and Channel Two... For many weeks they have brainwashed the public, specifically the Kadima voters, publicizing again and again that Tzipi Livni is winning by 10-20%. They publicized this over and over, with the purpose of creating public opinion, possibly in the hope that the false polls will in the end bring the result that they want. By doing so, they greatly hurt the chances of the other candidates..."

Palestinians pleased with Livni's win

Palestinian authority officials breathe a sign of relief, say they feared Mofaz victory

Ali Waked
Israel News

Palestinian Authority officials said Wednesday night they were pleased with Tzipi Livni's apparent victory in the Kadima primaries and were looking forward to continuing peace talks with her. PA officials anxiously followed the Kadima primaries throughout the day, and just like Livni's associated were concerned about the low turnout rate earlier in the day. Palestinian sources were concerned that a Mofaz victory would halt the diplomatic process, while a Livni victory was perceived as recipe for continued talks.

A senior PA official told Ynet: "We'll work with anyone, but it's no secret that working with Livni will be much easier. She knows her stuff so there's no need to start from scratch with her. We hope very much that she'd be able to put together a coalition so that we can continue to negotiate."

The source added that a Mofaz victory would prompt him to move closer to Shas and rightist parties at the expense of talks with the Palestinians.

"Livni realizes that the solution to the current situation is a quick diplomatic agreement with us," he said. "We hope that she'd be able to form a government very quickly."

Meanwhile, many PA residents also closely monitored the primaries, while Palestinian and Arab networks offered coverage of the vote.

Olmert expected to step down on Sunday

Prime minister said likely to announce resignation at weekly cabinet meeting, to meet with President Peres upon latter's return from UN General Assembly in New York

Israel News

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to step down from office on Sunday. He will make the announcement at the weekly cabinet meeting and then formally tender his resignation to President Shimon Peres. The exact date of Olmert's meeting with the president has yet to be set, and may only take place after Peres returns from New York, where he is scheduled to deliver an address at the UN General Assembly.

The Kadima primary elections kicked off in late July after Olmert announced his decision to step down amidst a tidal of corruption allegations and police inquiries.

"I'm just a spectator," Olmert said then of the primary race. "We have some excellent candidates, and I promise whoever is elected my full cooperation." He stressed that the "transfer of power will take place in a responsible and statesmanlike fashion – as I have tried to conduct myself in office."

Olmert called the winner of the Kadima primary elections and his successor, Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni late Tuesday night to congratulate her on her win. The two discussed a meeting in the near future and the prime minister pledged to cooperate fully with Livni.

Olmert's resignation will entail the resignation of the government in its entirety. The responsibility for the next move will be on President Peres. After holding consultations with representatives from the

various political factions in the Knesset, Peres will be required to task one of the MKs with establishing a new government.

Most chances are that individual will be Livni, as chairman-elect parliament's largest political party.

In any event, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is also chairman of the Labor party and Olmert's key coalition ally, cannot be called upon to form a government because he is not an elected member of the Knesset.

The MK tasked with the mission will have 28 days to cobble together a stable government. The president can extend the allotted time by an additional 14 days. If his first choice is unable to deliver a government

in time, Peres will then choose another MK, who will also have 28 days.

If the second MK tasked with the job cannot form a government and the Knesset Speaker believes no majority can be reached – the elections will be pushed up and held within 90 days.

If Livni, as party leader can form a coalition, Israel could have a new government in October. If not, an election campaign could take several months. Olmert would remain in office until a new premier is chosen, heading a caretaker government even after he submits his resignation to Peres. The process could extend into 2009.

Amnon Meranda, Roni Sofer and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report

Livni wins by narrow margin, Mofaz to appeal

Candidates' headquarters squabble over final results as clear-cut victory predicted by exit polls decreases to mere 1% advantage over rival Mofaz. Both camps gear for expected legal battle
Attila Somfalvi and Amnon Meranda The exit polls may have awarded Tzipi Livni with a clear-cut victory over rival Shaul Mofaz in the Kadima primary elections – but the picture seemed quite different after midnight Thursday as both camps geared for an unforeseen twist in the results.

According to the final results, Livni defeated rival Mofaz by a narrow margin of 1.1% of the vote. According to the final results released by Kadima Livni won the election with 43.1% (16,936 votes). Mofaz came in a close second with 42% (16,505 votes).

Meir Sheetrit came third with 8.5% (3,327) and fourth was Avi Dichter with 6.5% (2,563). In all only 32,872 registered Kadima members cast their ballot - only 53.7%.

Mofaz's camp initially claimed he was leading the foreign affairs minister by 800 votes, but relented as the night progressed that Livni had indeed won. However the narrow margin is already being contested, with Mofaz likely appeal the results.

His headquarters is also demanding an Ashkelon ballot be disqualified. Mofaz's headquarters surged back to life as news of the final results trickled down, and Mofaz himself is expected to return.

Livni was cautious after the exit poll figures were released. She made no victory speech, choosing instead to settle for brief calls to her staffers in which she told them they had "fought like lions, against many

opportunists, and you were simply amazing – the good guys won."

Throughout the day Livni was concerned that a low voter turnout would give the more organized Mofaz camp an advantage. She requested ballots remain open for an additional hour. The Kadima central elections committee granted her an additional half hour, after appeals by Mofaz and Sheetrit were rejected.

Kadima MK Zeev Elkin, a close associate of Mofaz, said the latter's campaign headquarters plans to demand a recount of all ballots in the Kadima primary elections.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama camp confirms troop pullout delay plan

Spokeswoman denies report; ends up affirming main claim
September 16, 2008

The Obama campaign issued an angry denial to a report yesterday that the Democratic presidential candidate privately urged Iraqi leaders to delay U.S. troop withdrawals, but the statement essentially confirmed the story. Responding to a column by Iranian-born analyst Amir Taheri in the New York Post, Obama spokeswoman Wendy Morigi insisted Obama "has never urged a delay in negotiations, nor has he urged a delay in immediately beginning a responsible drawdown of our combat brigades."

But in the same statement, Morigi said Obama had told the Iraqis they should not rush through a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of U.S. troops until after President Bush leaves office, the Associated Press reported.

In his column, Taheri writes that he interviewed Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who confirmed Obama met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to urge a delay in the withdrawal of American forces.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the U.S. elections and the formation of a new administration," Zebari reportedly said.

Taheri states Obama insisted it was in Iraq's best interest to avoid an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."

That private position would be a stark contrast to Obama's public record.

"The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops," Obama said last year at a university in Iowa. "Not in six months or one year – now."

In January of last year, Obama offered legislation on the floor of the Senate called the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007, which called for troop withdrawals to begin in May 2007 and to conclude by March 2008.

And in his New York Times editorial released the same month the senator toured the Middle East, Obama wrote, "The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated."

Taheri reported that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's advisers wonder if Obama is privately working to delay troop withdrawal until after the election in order to claim credit – should Obama win the presidency – for ending the war.

"Indeed, say Talabani's advisers," reports Taheri, "a President Obama might be tempted to appropriate the victory that America has already won in Iraq by claiming that his intervention transformed failure into success."

The Obama campaign has not responded to WND's request for a response to the Post column.

Kadima heads to ballots

Centrist party gears up as 114 ballots open nationwide. Leading candidates Livni, Mofaz plan to campaign until last possible moment as they vie for every vote

Attila Somfalvi
Israel News

After weeks of internal turmoil within the ruling party, Wednesday will finally see a new chairman elected to lead Kadima and, in all likelihood, the country. Some 74,000 registered party voters will determine who will replace the resigning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit or Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter.

The 114 ballots set up throughout the country will open at 10:00 am and close at 10:00 pm.

At Livni and Mofaz's headquarters tensions are rising as both chase down very last Kadima member to ensure those supporting them cast their votes.

Mofaz is considered the more organized candidate and he has won the support of many of the people on the street and that of the big party constituencies.

Livni has had to work hard over the past several weeks to raise her profile within the party after nearly two and a half years of neglecting her internal political base.

The night before the determinant elections were spent in last-minute attempts to influence the voters.

The Mofaz headquarters hopes to bring more than 15,000 supporters to the ballots. Advertisement

The Livni headquarters is hanging its hopes on a high voter turnout, which will spell out a Livni victory - polls say. Pollster Kalman Guyer estimates a high turnout will guarantee Livni a 20% edge over her rivals.

Mofaz said earlier this week he remains confident and assured supporters he would win 43% of the votes.

Roni Sofer contribute to the report .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Olmert's Anti-Yitzhar Remarks

Hillel Fendel

Prime Minister Olmert's prepared remarks to the Cabinet on Sunday morning, in which he barely related to the attack against the Jews and concentrated at length on the latter's retaliation, continue to draw reaction.
An Arab terrorist entered Yitzhar's outlying Shalhevet neighborhood early Sabbath morning, set fire to a house that was empty at the time - the family had gone to Rehovot to celebrate a grandmother's 90th birthday - and then stabbed a nine-year-old boy and threw him over a fence 4 meters high. The boy, who fought back and broke the terrorist's knife, landed on a bush and was only lightly hurt. Afterwards, men of Yitzhar descended into the nearby hostile village of Asira el-Jabaliya, to where the terrorist was seen fleeing, threw rocks at houses and shot into the air.

Olmert condemned the Jewish response, using words such as "taking the law into their own hands," "brutality," and "pogrom." He further accused the Jews of having "used live weapons and wounded Palestinian residents," and said that there had been "no basis to assume... that [the targeted Arab] residents were at all connected, whether directly or indirectly, to the terrorist attack in Yitzhar."

Danny Dayan, Chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, said that no evidence had been produced that anyone in the targeted Arab village was wounded by Jewish gunfire. Olmert thus spoke without checking the facts, Dayan implied.

In addition, the spokesman for the town of Yitzhar said that Arabs of the targeted village, Asira el-Jabaliya, had set fire to Yitzhar seven times in the past three months - thus putting the lie to the Prime Minister's claim that there was "no reason to assume that [they] were at all connected" with the terrorist attack.

Olmert's Racism
Other commentators related to the fact that Olmert made such short shrift of the attack against the Jews. "It is the very height of racism," wrote Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA, "to act on the working assumption that the Palestinians... should not be held accountable for their violence as a community, nor for their leadership to be expected to both condemn and take measures against Palestinians who engage in violence."

Lerner states that the lack of "any call to the Palestinians in general, and the PA leadership in particular, to condemn and help prevent future acts of Palestinian violence illustrates the low esteem that [Olmert] holds for them."

"The same attitude - that nothing can be expected from the Palestinian[s] - is reflected in similar statements by Peace Now, leftist MKs and others," Lerner concludes.

Olmert Should be the Last One to Preach
Finally, many public figures noted the absurdity of Olmert speaking out against "taking the law into one own's hands," given the recent police recommendation that he should be indicted for several apparent crimes, including bribery, fraud, breach of trust and the like.

MK Zevulun Orlev, head of the National Religious Party, said, "Yes, no one may take the law into his hands. Bu the Prime Minister, for whom the law is not a guide, and who failed in the elementary mission of preventing a pogrom against Jews, is the last one with the ethical authority to preach on this matter."

MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said, "Olmert would be well-advised, as his failed term in office comes to an end, not to attack citizens, not even settlers, against whom he carried out a pogrom in Amona right at the beginning of his term in office."

"Aside from the corruption and the failed Second Lebanon War," Edelstein said, "Olmert's term in office will be remembered for the drop in civil security - the direct result of which is the fact that some take the law into their own hands."

A coalition-member MK - Yitzchak Galanti (Pensioners) - said that a "pogrom" was that which was "perpetrated against the Jews in Kishinev and elsewhere, with the goal of killing as many as possible. This was no pogrom. The settlers are a permanent target of terror attacks, and it cannot be that IDF soldiers would just stand by and allow this to happen."

NIne-Year-Old Saves Town
"The residents of Yitzhar acted the way they should have and responded as was necessary," the Yesha Rabbis Council said in a statement. "When the government prevents the IDF from responding and taking action, and a 9-year-old boy saves the town, there is no alternative other than to praise the residents of Yitzhar on their actions and their courage. May others learn from them."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was more even-handed than Olmert in his remarks, saying Sunday afternoon, "The events in Samaria and Judea prove that firm action against terrorism is needed, while at the same time ensuring law enforcment in the country."

New Outpost
Dozens of youths from Yitzhar and nearby Jewish communities established a small outpost on a hilltop near the hostile Arab village on Sunday. Police and army forces evicted them by the afternoon, but the youths said they would return.

Also on Sunday afternoon, Arabs attacked a Jewish bus near Yitzhar, throwing paint-filled bottles and causing damage to the bus.

Itamar Posen, the General Secretary of Yitzhar, related to the retaliation carried out by his neighbors: "Our official policy is that there should be cooperation with the army. But if the feeling among the people is that their security is dependent on their own actions, this is a feeling that must arouse some self-reckoning in the army. If a citizen thinks that if he does not respond, the Arabs will return - this must make some people in the army think."

Posen said that town officials are working in the schools and kindergartens, seeking out those who may need counseling in wake of the near-tragic attack. "In addition, we are working to help the family whose house was burnt and who lost their property."

Hundreds of Calls
The Shomron Regional Council and the town of Yitzhar have received "hundreds of calls" from people wishing to help the family or to otherwise show solidarity with those living there. "In the face of the smears and slurs by Olmert and the left-wing against us, we see the real Land of Israel people in their full glory," said Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika.


PA Aims for Gaza Seaport

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Pro-Arab activists are assisting the Hamas authority to establish a Cyprus-Gaza passenger line in an attempt to permanently break Israeli sovereignty over the Gaza coast.
The "Free Gaza" movement activists reached the coast in two fishing boats last month after the Foreign Ministry decided not to carry out threats to have the Israel Navy arrest them or turn them back. Ministry officials explained they did not want to give the movement an opportunity to exploit Israeli opposition.

Pro-Arab activists want to prove that the landing was not a one-time publicity stunt and that the breaking of Israeli sovereignty was not just symbolic.

Israel has retained control over air and sea routes in the Gaza area following Israel's uprooting of civilians and the military from the region three years ago. and has said it will continue to do so until the Palestinian Authority (PA) can demonstrate it is able to curtail terror. Last year, Hamas overthrew the Fatah-led PA in Gaza.

Israeli intelligence officials have said that Hamas has used sea routes to smuggle explosives and weapons into Gaza and that surrendering sovereignty would given them free reign to bring in advanced weapons.
Israeli intelligence officials have said that Hamas has used sea routes to smuggle explosives and weapons into Gaza.

After the landing of the two boats last month, Hamas awarded a Gaza passport and honorary citizenship to several activists who could not leave the area because they lacked visas and other security clearance to enter Israel and Egypt through the borders with Gaza. One of those remaining is Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

Seven others boarded the boats on a return trip to Cyprus without interference by the Israeli navy.

Kin Okeiv, an activist in the Popular Committee against the Gaza Siege, said that a new Aloha Palestine Aloha passenger ship company is in the final stages of being established to transfer "patients, students and stranded families" out of the Gaza area.

Palestinian Authority Arabs regularly travel to and from Gaza through the Sufa Crossing each week for medical treatment in pre-1967 Israel without a problem once they have received the proper clearance from the government.

Activists said they plan to send another ship to Gaza from Cyprus next week, depending on weather conditions, and then more ships on a regular basis. In addition, a boat from Yemen is set to sail with a crew of Arabs from around the world.

The Foreign Ministry has not announced whether it will try to stop the ships.


Bringing Water to Jerusalem

Hillel Fendel

The National Infrastructures Planning Commission has approved a proposal for a fifth water line, designed to meet Jerusalem's water needs until 2065. The project has been submitted to the government for its approval.
In light of the project's urgency, the Mekorot Water Company is preparing to begin work as soon as the government approves it. If the new line is not built, water shortages will begin to be felt in the capital and environs as early as four years from now.

The four existing water lines supply the city from north, east, south and west. The new line will roughly parallel the western line, beginning in Hulda, northwest of Beit Shemesh, and ending in Beit Zayit dam area. Its planning takes ecological concerns into account, ensuring minimal damage to open areas and detailing how the construction damages will be rectified.

Jerusalem's new water piping route is expected to provide 150 million cubic meters of water a year, including desalinated water, and thus double the city's supply.

The new line will provide "operative flexibility," the proposal states, and will enable a reduction in the amount of water drawn from the Mountain Aquifer. The project is also expected to save on energy costs, and will improve the reliability of the water supply by creating a separation of pressure areas.

Historically Speaking
Supplying Jerusalem with water has historically been a complex and sensitive matter, from Biblical times through the Roman conquest and up to the War of Independence in 1948. The intricate network of ancient aqueducts, tunnels, pools and cisterns found in and under the Holy City attests to the efforts invested in providing it with water.


Tuesday Talks on Fate of Capital

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas will met Tuesday to discuss the future of Jerusalem and the PA demand that millions of foreign Arabs move to Israel, Channel Two television reported. The Prime Minister's Kadima party will vote the following day on a successor to lead the party and try to form the next government.
Prime Minister Olmert may step down immediately, if one of the four candidates in the Kadima primaries wins 40 percent of the vote on the first round. However, Olmert is going ahead with a "business as usual" approach. Channel Two said that he, and not Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is talking with the PA about the future borders of the capital.

The Shas party has consistently said it will leave the coalition and presumably topple the government if senior negotiators, meaning Foreign Minister Livni, were to discuss the possibility of dividing the capital so that the PA can control part of it and claim it is as the capital of a new Arab country. She has repeatedly denied that she has spoken with PA negotiators on the matter, but Abbas has insisted the issue has been discussed.

The Israeli position on Jerusalem has continually softened in the past year, especially since American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared several months ago that the Har Homa neighborhood, near Gilo in southern Jerusalem, is a "settlement," putting it on par with all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. By definition, all of the neighborhoods added to Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967 have the same status as Har Homa. These areas include French Hill, Gilo, Ramot, Pisgat Zev and East Talpiot, among others.

According to Channel Two, Olmert has now expressed willingness to surrender over 98.1 percent of Judea and Samaria to Arab control, even more than the 94-96 percent he had previously offered. On top of other land concessions, Abbas has asked Olmert for the large Jerusalem suburb of Ma'aleh Adumim which is located on the edge of the Judean desert and is home to approximately 36,000 Jews, as well as Givat Ze'ev, named after Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, located north of Jerusalem and home to approximately 11,000 Jews, including Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe Boruch Yaakov Meir Shochet. Abbas still wants to discuss the possibility of commandeering the large Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and French Hill.

Israel also has softened its stance on the issue of "refugees," the common term that refers to approximately five million Arabs in foreign countries who claim to be descended from Arabs who fled Israel during the wars in 1948 and 1967.

The issue once was a "red line" that no political leader was willing to cross, but Prime Minister Olmert, several months ago, quietly agreed to make several hundred "exceptions" for Arabs from outside of Israel to move to Judea and Samaria. The number later increased to several thousand, during subsequent meetings with Abbas, and now stands at 5,000, with Israel willing to absorb a thousand Arabs per year for 5 years. Abbas has rejected this number, telling Olmert that Israel should accept even more.

One driving force behind Prime Minister's determination to reach an outline of an agreement with Abbas is to satisfy the determination by American President George W. Bush that a deal will be made before the next president takes office next January.

An Olmert-Abbas pact will not have any legal standing without Cabinet or Knesset approval but will be able to be used by the American government and the European Union (EU) as a tool to force the next Israeli government to use it as a base for further Israeli concessions.

Abbas also wants an agreement in order to bolster his claim that his mandate can be extended for another year. He has arranged to meet with President Bush in Washington next week, possibly with an agreement in hand.

Both Israel and the PA have said there is no chance of concluding a pact this year on the final status of a new Arab state within Israel's current border.


UK: "Sharia law now legally binding"

"I think it’s appalling. I don’t think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state." Druid/Archbishop Rowan Williams begs to differ. More on this story. "Sharia law is now legally binding," from Public Service, September 15:

It’s been described by one commentator as an example of Great Britain ‘surrendering’ itself and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was criticised for saying it will happen, but whatever the reaction, Islamic law now officially operates in the UK.

Whereas before rulings by sharia courts in Britain could only be enforced if all parties in a Muslim civil case agreed to abide by them, now what the courts say will be legally binding, backed by county courts or the High Court.


However, Siddiqi admitted that the courts can favour men, with several cases of domestic violence ending with husbands receiving little punishment other than being made to take an anger management course. In every case, the women later withdrew their claims.

Tory shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve was amazed that sharia law had been made legally binding. "If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so."

And Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: "I think it’s appalling. I don’t think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state."

Thanks Dhimmi Watch.

Reaction to Obsession DVD distribution shows many Americans clueless about jihad

The DVD Obsession is being packaged with the morning paper all over the country, and millions upon millions of copies have been distributed. That's all to the good, but the reaction to it shows in numerous ways that many, if not most, Americans have no clue about what we're up against. Of course, the distribution of the film is designed to fix that problem, and for many people it probably will, but in the Jihad Watch echo chamber it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we represent a very, very small percentage of people who realize the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. Polls show that fewer Americans today believe that terrorism is a threat than at any time since before 9/11; several of the larger blogs that used to care about this issue have for various reasons lost interest; and the jihad threat is nowhere discussed fully and adequately in the mainstream.

A few of the news stories commenting on the Obsession distribution indicate the scope of the general ignorance. I had originally intended this as an elephantine post discussing several of these stories, but I went on so long about the first one here that I will save the others for future posts.

"Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide," by Yonat Shimron for the Raleigh News & Observer, September 11 (see also Raymond's comments here):

Bundled in home-delivered editions of The News & Observer today is a paid insert featuring a controversial DVD on Islam that has stirred anger nationwide. [...]
Translation: "Readers, don't take this DVD seriously. It's "controversial." This is what passes for journalism these days, but just consider for a moment how different readers' reactions would have been if the story had started out this way: "Bundled in home-delivered editions of The News & Observer today is a paid insert featuring a DVD on Islam that attempts to alert people to the magnitude of the jihad threat." Which lede is more objective?

Jim McClure, vice president of display advertising for The N&O, declined to say what it is charging to deliver the DVD as part of today's newspaper. He dismissed allegations that it is inflammatory.
"In the beginning of the DVD it clearly states it's not about Islam. It's about radical Islam," McClure said.

That is a key weakness of an otherwise excellent film. Of course, it probably wouldn't be being distributed all over the country if it had spoken more forthrightly about the roots of the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism in core Islamic texts and teachings. The problem is not so much with the use of the term "Radical Islam," which can refer to many things and doesn't necessarily assume that the violent and supremacist elements of jihadist teaching are corruptions of Islamic theology, but with the implication in the film that there is a benign, mainstream and standard version of Islam that does not teach warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. There isn't, and it is misleading in the extreme to suggest otherwise. There are many peaceful Muslims who have no interest in furthering the jihad and never will, but there is no peaceful Islam -- and that makes these peaceful Muslims always vulnerable to appeals to Islamic authenticity.

Despite the disclaimer, the film features prominent anti-Muslim pundits, including Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson and Walid Shoebat, who told the Springfield News-Leader -- a Missouri daily -- that "Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil."
To dismiss Pipes and Emerson as "anti-Muslim pundits" is to ignore the monumental work they have both done to expose the activities of jihadists in the United States and elsewhere, reducing this work to bigotry and trivia. Which was, no doubt, precisely the objective.

Films aim in question
Muslims across the nation and in the Triangle said they are disappointed by the film.

"It adds fuel to the fire and devalues the work we do," said Khalilah Sabra, an organizer with the Raleigh chapter of the Muslim American Society, which lists "promoting understanding" as its mission.

While Pipes, Emerson, and Shoebat are tarred and dismissed as "anti-Muslim," Khalilah Sabra and the Muslim American Society are all about "promoting understanding." The N&O can't find any room for the fact that, according to a 2004 Chicago Tribune exposé, the Muslim American Society is the name under which the Muslim Brotherhood operates in the United States. Nor does it mention that according to a 1991 Brotherhood memorandum about its strategy in the U.S., it is embarked upon a “grand Jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

The film features footage of elementary schoolchildren reciting mantras such as "When I wander into the entrance of Jerusalem, I'll turn into a suicide warrior."
Its aim is to liken radical Islam to Nazism and to promote the state of Israel, said Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, who has seen the film several times.

"One of the running themes is, 'We stand today as the world stood in 1938,' " said Safi, referring to the rise of Nazism. "It's fear mongering. It appeals to people's emotions."...

Not like Omid Safi, who propagandistically stacks the deck for his students by pre-emptively classifying a diverse list of people as "Islamopobes" and asking them to write a report on their evils. No emotionalism in that, oh no. Omid Safi is all dispassionate intellect -- as witness his fearmongering and emotionalism a bit farther on in the story:

In a statement, N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III wrote: "As a newspaper we tend to shy away from censorship. In cases of controversial topics, if we err, we tend to do so on the side of freedom of speech."
But some questioned whether this is a censorship issue.

"If there was a 30-minute DVD warning people against the danger of blacks or Jews, would the N&O distribute it?" asked Safi....

Safi, of course, ignores the distinction that the film makes between non-jihadist Muslims and jihadist Muslims -- however faulty the distinction is made in the film (as I explained above), it is certainly made, and made more than once. And there is no doubt that many Muslims are not on board with the jihadist program. Safi himself professes to be one of them. But in his comment here Safi would have you believe that the film lumps all Muslims together, and is thus comparable to a Klan piece on blacks or a Nazi piece on Jews.

Were Omid Safi at all interested in being fair-minded, he would acknowledge that the film makes this distinction, and would even perhaps explain why a film about an ideological threat does not fall into the same category as scaremongering about racial groups.

But it gets even worse: the story concludes with a Muslim playing the victim card -- and, of course, there is no mention made of how many Muslims-as-victim stories have been fabricated outright or greatly exaggerated:

One Muslim reader wrote the N&O to say that the film can only make local Muslims feel vulnerable.
"I must say that this video makes me fear for my safety and the safety of my family since people may not be able to differentiate between Muslims living here in Raleigh and the way Muslims are depicted in this scary film!" said Shadi Sadi, a data analyst in Raleigh.

To put this in perspective, consider the prospect of a German in 1943 writing angrily about an anti-Nazi presentation that it put Germans in fear for their safety. By contrast, German-Americans were anxious to prove their loyalty to the United States. Those days, it seems, are gone forever.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sderot, Judea/Samaria Targeted

Hillel Fendel

Palestinian terrorists in Hamas-run Gaza fired a rocket at Sderot on Sunday, causing a fire and one injury. Arab rock attacks increase in Judea and Samaria.
For the first time in two weeks, Arab terrorists in Hamas-run Gaza fired a rocket at the Negev city of Sderot. The Color Red warning alarm sounded on Sunday afternoon, frightening many residents but giving them 15 seconds to take shelter. The rocket landed in a field in town, setting a fire and sending one person to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon to be treated for trauma.

Meanwhile, IDF sources say that there has been a worrisome rise in Palestinian terrorism against Jews in Judea and Samaria - as well as a rise in Jewish disturbances. The IDF spokesman said that both sides are involved in "very violent" activity. The army said it views all such activity of this sort in a most grave manner, and will enforce the law to the utmost in every such incident.

Incidents of Arab Molotov firebomb attacks and rock-throwing at Jewish-driven cars have increased over the past several days. Sunday afternoon, several such incidents were recorded: outside the village of Sinjil, near Shilo, where a car was damaged; at three buses just north of Jerusalem; and at a bus south of Hevron.

Beit El, in Binyamin, was attacked with several firebombs over the weekend and on Sunday; no one was hurt and no damage was caused. An Arab was apprehended shortly after infiltrating Kedumim last week, and a similar terrorist attempt in Kfar Etzion the week before ended with no injuries.

Late Saturday night, three residents of the hareidi-religious city of Elad were injured when Arabs threw rocks at their car on the Kvish-Shesh toll-road highway. A year ago, a driver was injured in the same area by a shooting emanating from the western Samaria Arab city of Kalkilye - though the shots may have been fired accidentally.

Over the weekend, two female tourists were lightly injured when their bus was stoned near Tekoa, in eastern Gush Etzion. On Friday, an IDF force was attacked with rocks by an Arab mob, as was an Egged bus slightly to the north.


"Rumors and Games"

Arlene Kushner

Changes are rapidly approaching: There is the Kadima primary, scheduled for this Wednesday, and then, three months hence, the end of Bush's administration -- by which time parameters of a "peace" agreement were supposed to have been nailed down. Reporting on objective "facts" with regard to what's happening in the run-up to these events is sometimes close to impossible, as the rumors are flying fast.


Last week, US Consul Jacob Walles, in an interview in the Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam, stated that Israel had started negotiations with the PA on Jerusalem -- something Olmert promised not to do until all other issues were resolved.

The response from the Olmert government was two-fold: First, official fury at Walles for talking when it had been agreed that the content of negotiations was not supposed to be discussed publicly. And then, a denial by Olmert that Jerusalem was on the table, as this caused something of an uproar inside of Kadima.

But it seems that a bit of mental dissonance has been generated. Says Olmert: We are angry that Walles spoke about something he was pledged not to talk about, but we're not doing what he says we are.

Tzipi Livni, Kadima frontrunner and chief negotiator, also issued a denial.


Meanwhile, Al Shariq, a newspaper in Qatar, has described on agreement that is allegedly taking shape between Israel and the PA; it was carried by YNet yesterday. Reportedly there are 12 clauses, due to be released by the end of this year. Two are of particular note.

First, the Palestinian capital will include "several neighborhoods of Jerusalem."

And then, 20,000 refugees will be permitted into Israel within ten years -- refugees, aged 60-80, who had been uprooted in 1948, not their families, who would be permitted to live out their lives in Israel.

As to the first: One would have to be an incredibly trusting person to believe Olmert's and Livni's denials that Jerusalem has not been discussed. Of course it has! But is the PA going to accept "several neighborhoods" rather than all of eastern Jerusalem (which includes the Jewish holy sites and substantial Jewish neighborhoods)?

And the second: In spite of the cry about "right of return," are we to believe that the Palestinians will settle for a small number of elderly people, without family support, coming to live in Israel? As the Arabs are claiming 4.6 million refugees, this is a token .043%.


And here we are: On Friday, Abbas gave an interview with Haaretz in which he said that "We presented our ideas and demands regarding the six issues, but have not received any answer from the Israeli side."

Abbas, in this interview as elsewhere, is adamant about Israel accepting responsibility for the refugee problem and a "practical" right of return -- which he would base on the Arab initiative of 2002.

That Arab -- read Saudi -- initiative was a horror for Israel. With regard to the refugees, it called for a "just" solution based on UN Resolution 194. (For over 60 years, the Arabs have been basing their claims to "right of return" on this document, which in point of fact guarantees nothing with regard to return.)

What is more, which is a tip-off, it "Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries." This means that Syria and Lebanon, and other Arab states that currently host "Palestinian refugees" in an on-going limbo status are being reassured that they are under no obligation to absorb them permanently.


This morning, an aide to Abbas said that reaching a peace deal this year was becoming more difficult, but that the Palestinians were interested in continuing talks after Olmert left office. What's clear is that they are counting on Livni replacing Olmert. See following...


A Kuwaiti paper, Al-Jarida, also cited by YNet, says that Ahmed Qurei, the chief PA negotiator, supports Livni for head of Kadima because she is "willing to give them what others have not." Understand, Qurei and Livni have established a solid working relationship already in the course of negotiations.

Qurei, according to this report, is structuring things so that she appears tough, in order to win votes. A bit of unintended humor: What was actually said was that he is helping her establish a "radical right-wing aura." Livni cannot convey a radical right-wing aura any more than I can project an aura of being an avid supporter of Peace Now. This is a window on PA thinking: Concern about protecting Israeli security -- which is what Livni is expressing --is in their eyes the mark of a radical right-winger.

In spite of this, Qurei said he would not sign the current agreement that was taking shape on Jerusalem (uh huh...) because it would allow the city to be "an Israeli military camp," which is his version of Israel retaining some areas with security measures.

In fact, he said that the negotiations, in his expectation, would amount to nothing. My expectation as well, but I ponder why it matters to him whether Livni wins the primary if nothing will come of it anyway.


Possible scenarios to watch for, coming down the road when the negotiations run their course:

Another Intifada -- greatly increased violence (terrorism) against Israel. This is hinted at in some quarters, but others suggest that either there is not the resolve for this within the populace or that politically this is not the way to go.

Push for a "one state" solution. In this scenario PA leaders declare that they've given up on a two-state solution and want Israel to incorporate all Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and Gaza so that there is one bi-national state. A dangerous concept.


But perhaps the negotiations will be dragged out for longer than expected (and perhaps this is what Qurei is thinking about):

According to PA Basic Law -- you may read reports to the contrary, but there is no PA constitution -- the presidential term is four years, which means Mahmoud Abbas's term as president runs out in January 2009. Reports are circulating about unease here that after Abbas leaves chaos in the PA will follow. In fact, the Post has indicated that the IDF has held special exercises in preparation for a potential increase in violence.

The Basic Law says that until new elections are held (and this would require 60 days), the Speaker of the Legislative Council takes over once the president has left office. Hamas is pushing hard for this, for the speaker is Hamas-affiliated Abdel Aziz Duwaik. Abdel Aziz Duwaik, it happens, is sitting in an Israeli prison right now. (Acting speaker is Sheikh Ahmed Bahar, who in a Friday sermon a year ago called upon Jews and Americans to be killed "to the very last one.") Undoubtedly, it is the prospect of Duwaik receiving the title of PA president while in prison here that is unsettling the IDF, with good reason.

Of course, Abbas could still schedule those elections. But he has made no mention of this to date, no move to set things in motion. Abbas, it seems, has a different interpretation of Basic Law. The election for president, he says, is supposed to coincide with elections for the Legislative Council, which are scheduled for January 2010 -- four years after the Hamas electoral victory of 2006. (My assumption is that Abbas is claiming the presidential elections are out of synch because of Arafat's death in November 2004, and the need to elect his successor in early 2005, one year before presidential elections would otherwise have been held.)

Anything can happen, and the political in-fighting is likely to be substantial, but there is solid betting that Abbas is about to extend his presidential term to January 2010.


Israel is suffering from drought. But this is apparently nothing compared to the drought being endured right now in Iran. From the Jordan Times, carried by IMRA, comes a report of extreme suffering in the southern Iranian province of Fars, where rainfall is down 68% and 10 of its 11 rivers have dried up. Not only are people without drinking water, but this agricultural region, where 85% of the population relies on farming, is in dire straits.

This is of significance with regard to Iran's strength. The Iranian government has allocated $5 billion to fight the drought, and will have to import 5 million tons of wheat for domestic consumption.

Hard times, it would surely seem, make Iran more vulnerable to the impact of serious economic sanctions. What is more, it's a good guess that the population must have grievous dissatisfaction with the focus of its government in this time of hardship.


This is good news:

Just days ago news reports were saying that the US has been declining in recent months to respond favorably to Israeli requests for military equipment that would make an Israeli attack on Iran more effective. But now in the wake of this comes a different sort of report from Haaretz.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced on Friday that it will sell the Israel Air Force 1,000 new "bunker buster" smart bombs. What we're talking about is the Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39), which was developed for penetration of deep fortified facilities.

This Boeing-developed bomb is able to successfully penetrate more than 1.8 meters of thick reinforced concrete, and has a 50% probability of hitting its target within 5-8 meters. Because of its small size -- 113 kilograms, four can replace a single conventional one-ton bomb on an aircraft.

This, needless to say, will considerably enhance our ability to mount a successful strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, should such a strike be decided upon. It also gives some credence to the theories I've encountered maintaining that public US disapproval of our intention to hit Iran, if necessary, is at least in part smoke screen.


You might want to take a look at Charles Krauthammer's perceptive piece, "Obama's Altitude Sickness," in which he takes a clear-eyed look at the reason why Obama is now losing steam in the campaign.

"...Obama was the ultimate celebrity candidate. For no presidential nominee in living memory had the gap between adulation and achievement been so great.

"...The unease at the Denver convention, the feeling of buyer's remorse, was the Democrats' realization that the arc of Obama's celebrity had peaked -- and had now entered a period of its steepest decline. That Palin could so instantly steal the celebrity spotlight is a reflection of that decline.

"It was inevitable. Obama had managed to stay aloft for four full years. But no one can levitate forever.

"...With every primary and every repetition of the high-flown, self-referential rhetoric, the campaign's insubstantiality became clear. By the time...of the last primary [it was] tired and flat. To top himself, Obama had to reach. Hence his triumphal declaration that history would note that night, his victory, his ascension, as 'the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.'

The moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal??

"Clang....That grandiloquent proclamation of universalist puffery popped the bubble. The grandiosity had become bizarre.

"...One star fades, another is born. The very next morning McCain picks Sarah Palin and a new celebrity is launched.

"...her job is easier. She only has to remain airborne for seven more weeks. Obama maintained altitude for an astonishing four years. In politics, as in all games, however, it's the finish that counts."


Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe, has another take on the current Obama slide: People, he says, are being to see through the Obama economic proposals.


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Olmert Lashes Out at Yesha Jews

Hillel Fendel

"When the regime is weak and the government is corrupt, people who feel that their safety has been thrown to the winds get up and act in protest."

There will be no pogroms against non-Jews," Olmert angrily scolds, referring to the retaliation carried out by Jews who had been earlier victimized in a stabbing/arson attack.

Under fire from government figures and the media, with little sympathy for the Arab arson, stabbing and near-multiple-murders they suffered, residents of the Shomron (Samaria) town of Yitzhar say that government weakness and corruption, together with left-wing self-criticism of Jews, is a deadly combination.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began his weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday with a scathing attack on the beleagured residents of Yitzhar. Quickly dismissing the arson-and-stabbing as "serious and harsh," and adding in the same sentence that "our security forces are dealing with these issues and will reach those who were involved and will do what needs to be done, as they do so admirably throughout the year," he then went on to his main point, some 12 sentences long. He sharply rebuked the residents of Yitzhar for retaliating "by assaulting Arab residents in a nearby Palestinian village. They used live weapons and wounded Palestinian residents even though there was no basis to assume, and no knowledge to the effect, that these residents were at all connected, whether directly or indirectly, to the terrorist attack in Yitzhar."

"In actuality," Yitzhar spokesman Yigal Amitai said, "Arabs of Asira el-Kabaliye have set fire to the fields of Yitzhar seven times in recent weeks, yet the army and the police did not take action to prevent these attacks in advance, nor to thwart them as they were happening, nor to apprehend the guilty parties afterwards. Instead, OC Central Command Gen. Gad Shamni chose to issue orders to one of our residents, distancing him from his home for four months."

"We therefore now have reason to fear," Amitai continued, "that the terrorist who burnt down the home of the Ben-Shlomo family, tried to murder the Ofan family next-door, and then stabbed nine-year-old Tuvia Shtetman, will also not be caught by the police or army."

Olmert Speaks Out Against Law-Breaking
Olmert, against whom the police recently recommended a three-pronged criminal indictment, then spoke out against "taking the law into one's hands." He said, "This phenomenon of taking the law into one's hands, of violent disturbances, of brutality by Jewish elements living in communities in Judea and Samaria, whether in recognized communities or in illegal outposts, is intolerable, and will be dealt with sharply and harshly by the law enforcement authorities of the State of Israel."
"We view with derision the chorus of the hypocrites of the extreme left-wing who are not alarmed by the stabbing of a 9-year-old boy and attempted murder, but scream with all their might about some broken windows."

Olmert implied that the Jews of Yitzhar carried out a pogrom against the Arabs of the hostile village. "There will be no pogroms against non-Jewish residents in the State of Israel," he said sharply. "We have law enforcement authorities. We have police. We have security services. First and foremost, we have a military that knows how to deal with incidents in which Jews are attacked and to fight terrorists, and it will not lend a hand to those who take the law into their hands and attack innocents, as was done over the weekend in the gravest manner."

Response to Olmert
In response to Olmert's remarks, Yitzhar spokesman Amitai said, "The words of the Prime Minister are encouraging and calming. Surrounded as we are by a sea of corruption, it is refreshing to see that there is at least one person, Prime Minister Olmert, for whom the preservation of law is important; his words render him our ethical beacon of light..."

Israeli Media Reports
The Israeli media reported on the Sabbath-morning Arab terrorist attack in Yitzhar throughout the Sabbath, concentrating less on the Arab stabbing and arson and more on the Jewish retaliation.

The arson was reported throughout the day as an attack on an "abandoned building," when in actuality, it is thoroughly lived in by a family with two children that was miraculously away for the Sabbath.

In addition, it took several hours before it was reported that the terrorist not only stabbed the child several times, but also threw him down four meters into an area filled with construction materials.

No mention of the six previous arson attacks against Yitzhar was detected.

The Army and Yitzhar
Itamar Posen, General Secretary of Yitzhar, said, "We do not have specific complaints against the army regarding this particular incident, but we do feel that their actions in general cause an atmosphere that encourages these attacks on us. For one thing, they don't take sufficient pre-emptive actions in [the hostile Arab village] Asira el-Kabaliya... In addition, when they distance Jews from their homes, like they did with Akiva HaCohen of the Shalhevet Yam outpost here [and two other Jews in Shomron] this month, this signals the Arabs that the army is more concerned with their safety than with Jewish security."

"In addition," Posen said, "the statements by military officials that are constantly quoted on the radio are mainly against Yitzhar, and less against the Arabs. We spoke with the regional commander here, and he said that the media quotes only the parts that it likes."

Mayor Mesika Scorns Left-Wing Response
Mayor Gershon Mesika of the Shomron Regional Council said, "The IDF has long refrained from completing the electronic defense system around Yitzhar because of an argument with the town, despite the constant warnings of the dangers of terrorist infiltrations... This entire attack, and the events that followed it, could have been prevented."

In response to the criticism of the retaliation, Mesika said, "We view with derision the chorus of the hypocrites of the extreme left-wing who are not alarmed by the stabbing of a 9-year-old boy and attempted murder, but scream with all their might about some broken windows."

"We're Not Chumps"
Baruch Marzel of the Jewish Front said, "The Arabs must understand that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are not chumps or saps... The army would be better off dealing with those who attempted to murder a Jewish boy, and not with those who sought to defend themselves."

MK Eldad and Libman
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that the Jews' retaliation must be understood in the proper context: "Over the past few weeks, the Jews of Judea and Samaria have felt totally abandoned by the army and police, who are busy giving out orders distancing Jews from their homes and destroying Jewish homes - while at the same time giving thousands of rifles to Abu Mazen's forces, ignoring attacks on Jews and Jewish property, and overlooking thousands of illegally-built Arab houses in territory under full Israeli control."

"This is the backdrop to the violence shown by Jews in Yesha," Eldad said, "who understand that if they do not protect themselves against the Arabs, no one else will do it for them."

Yehuda Libman of Yitzhar, whose brother Shlomo was murdered, together with Harel Bin-Nun, by terrorists just outside Yitzhar ten year ago, said, "Our family has a long account with the Arabs of Asira al-Kabaliya. It is too bad that the left-wing does not recognize the true enemy. The left-wing's criticism is part of the confusion of Jewish identity, and a form of self-flogging. I do not justify violence, but the reality is that when the regime is weak and the government is corrupt, people who feel that their safety has been thrown to the winds get up and act in protest."


Uri Savir to 'Post': It's either continuation of Oslo or nothing

When Uri Savir stood on the White House lawn exactly 15 years ago to watch the signing of the first Oslo accord, he was certain that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be over within five years.

In hindsight, Savir - the Foreign Ministry director-general who was Israel's chief negotiator of the accords - now believes that Oslo marked a critical point in the process, but it was hardly the end point.
Getting there [to a final peace agreement] takes time," Savir told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

"I am convinced that had [then-prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin not been assassinated and if Bibi [Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu] had not won the [1996] elections, we would already be at peace," Savir said.

Many Israelis believe that the Oslo process died with the failed Camp David talks and the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000.

But Savir said the negotiations now taking place between the government and the West Bank Palestinians, as part of the Annapolis process begun in November 2007, were an extension of what began on September 13, 1993.

"It is either the continuation of Oslo or nothing," he said.

"At the Annapolis Conference everything that was said was based on Oslo. That it took longer than we had hoped is a fact of life, but it is still the same process, even if there are some who would like to define it differently," he said.

This month, to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the accords, Savir released an English-language version of a book he published last year in Hebrew and in Arabic called Peace First: A New Model to End War.

While the book examines peacemaking from a global perspective, its analysis is based on Savir's experience with Oslo in the 1990s. Although Savir has become critical of some elements of the Oslo process, the accord, he said, was a necessary measure, without which it would have been impossible to move forward with a peace plan.

Israel was in the midst of a settlement drive and was heading toward de facto annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, Savir said. Oslo put an end to that and instead laid out a blueprint for a two-state solution.

It also legalized direct contact between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, thereby changing the nature of future negotiations, he said.

The fundamentals of Oslo were still intact, including the division of control in the West Bank and the structure of the Palestinian Authority there, he said. The basic issues in the permanent-status talks now under way were based on Oslo, Savir said.

But even though he believes these talks are going well, he fears they are about to be stalled once more by upheavals in the Israeli political system.

It's likely that a final-status agreement would have to be reached under new Israeli and American governments, Savir said.

He believes the peace process would be better served by Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama than his Republican rival John McCain.

Obama, Savir said, would put more emphasis on foreign policy and an active American diplomacy. He would also make the United States more popular overseas and thus he could serve as a better broker for the process, Savir added.

Many of Obama's foreign policy advisers helped US president Bill Clinton and knew the issues very well, Savir said.

Savir himself is no longer involved in peacemaking at the government level. As the president of the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, Savir's focus is on cooperative civilian projects between Israelis and Palestinians.

During the 1990s, he said, not enough was done to cultivate a culture of peace - a critical flaw that must be addressed if the peace process was to succeed, and if any agreement reached was to be sustained.

There should be more people-to-people contact and more economic cooperation, he added.

"We need to get closer. We need to have better cooperation or peace will not be sustained. That is one of the great lessons of Oslo," he said.

War had been modernized, but peace had not, he said.

A peace treaty, Savir writes in his book, is often treated like a divorce agreement, with a focus on distribution and amicable parting. But a modern peace treaty should be more like an arranged marriage that sets out the terms for sustained and continued relationship, he wrote.

In 1945 there were fewer than 20-high and medium intensity conflicts worldwide, but by 2007 that number had risen to 130, including 25 severe crises and six wars, he wrote.

A majority of the more than 100 partial and full peace agreements signed over the past two decades were in trouble or had fallen apart because the agreements were not supported by a culture of peace, Savir wrote.

Israel should have treated the growth of the Palestinian economy as a clear Israeli security interest. Regional tourism, he wrote, could also be a powerful vehicle to create peace.

Instead, Oslo "failed to establish a mechanism against increased social-economic gaps, which grew in each [Israeli and Palestinian] society," he wrote.

With respect to Jerusalem, the city could be split into three sections. Israel, he said, would be given the Western Wall, Jewish holy places and the Jewish neighborhoods for its capital. The Palestinians could receive the Arab neighborhoods, the Islamic holy places and the surface of The Temple Mount.

In the northwest of the city, there could be a section under joint United Nations, Israeli and Palestinian jurisdiction, wrote Savir. There, the UN could declare Jerusalem a world capital of peace.

A quarter of the UN's institutions could be moved to Jerusalem, including UNESCO and the headquarters for the UN's peacekeeping forces. A temporary General Assembly and the secretary-general could hold special sessions on peace-related topics there on an annual basis.

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