Saturday, November 29, 2008

JEWISH WORLD / What American Jews don't get about Israelis

Anshel Pfeffer
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

I am very sorry. I didn't attend last week's General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities, the annual jamboree of North American Jewish federations and organizations. But I have an excuse. My current duties in London meant that I had to cover President Shimon Peres' visit to Britain. No matter, this newspaper was well represented at the GA even without me. Not good enough apparently for many GA delegates. My colleague at the Jerusalem Post, Haviv Rettig, published last Friday an excoriating account of how the leaders of American Jewry were hurt and indignant at the way the Hebrew-speaking media (including the Hebrew edition of Haaretz) appeared to ignore their gathering, which was
actually taking place in Jerusalem.

According to Rettig, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, the Americans were so angry that they "lashed out at the Israeli media and society for failing to notice - and learn from [them]." Rettig gathered the responses of the Jewish world reporters on Israel's main newspapers and also called me as an occasional writer on the Israel-Diaspora divide, but I was too busy catching my breath from trying to keep up with Peres'
frenetic pace to answer.

Let me therefore use this opportunity to disassociate myself from the disparaging remarks of those reporters who did find the time to answer. Unlike them, I think Israel's media should be extensively covering the affairs of the Jewish world in its many locations and certainly that of the largest Jewish community on earth. (I find the demographers who claim that there are more Jews in the United States more credible than
those who say that Israel has more, but that is stuff for another column.)

But I would also have said that this is not just the media's fault, but simply a reflection of a much wider gulf existing between Israeli society and the Jews of the world. And though they shoulder a significant portion of the blame, Israelis are not the only ones to have widened this divide. As if to answer the charges, just two days later, Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most popular tabloid, carried an interview with one of the grandest grandees of the American community, dedicating a full double spread to the fulminations of Edgar Bronfman. Bronfman has just published a book in which he explores the question of Jewish identity in the 21st century and was using the interview to have a go at the religious establishment for their rejection of those who are not halakhically Jewish and who call for the inclusion of anyone calling themselves Jews
into the tribe.

I'm not sure Bronfman is the best person to carry this particular torch but I don't want to get in to that right now, nor ask why, in his 30 years as President of the World Jewish Congress, he didn't see fit to address this issue. I am bringing up the interview simply because it illustrates exactly what is it that American Jews don't get about Israelis.

Bronfman justified his stance by saying that "Judaism belongs to every Jew. There is no need to belong to any religious stream. No need for belief in God or ceremonies and prayers." All very conventional, but here he had to make this dig: "Many Israelis who describe themselves as secular are effectively cut off from their people's tradition."

Ironically, Bronfman's complaint against secular Israelis is identical to that made by those very rabbis he so vehemently attacked in his interview; they also believe that the secular Jews are ignorant and have separated themselves from tradition.

A similar view is expressed by some of those interviewed for the report in the Jerusalem Post on indifference to the GA. What is it about secular Israelis that so aggravates these American Jews, many themselves irreligious?

I think deep down it's jealousy. While the Jews in America and other communities have been grappling for decades with the question of how to define a Jewish identity that is not tied down only to religion, secular Israelis simply don't have that problem. Sure, many of them lack a lot of Jewish knowledge and they certainly are not very aware of the Jewish world outside Israel. But they're not very bothered about it, because for them every moment in Israel is passed within a Hebrew speaking Jewish environment.

And that's also why, as some of those interviewed by Rettig said, when secular Israelis go off to the United States, they are not usually very interested in getting to know the local Jewish community. They have lived all their lives among Jews; once they get out of Israel they are looking for something different.

Israel, the Zionist project, was founded exactly for that reason, to serve as a secular Jewish alternative to life in the Diaspora. And while it's far from perfect, for most Israelis, it is still a credible option. They are not blind to its shortcomings, but they are still content with living their Jewish lives here.

And at least on a sub-conscious level, this contentment is galling to many Jews in America and elsewhere, especially those who are struggling to come up with an alternative Jewish life of their own that will be sufficiently attractive to a disinterested young Jewish generation.

8 soldiers injured in mortar attack

Palestinians fire barrage of mortar shells on IDF base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Two mortars land within base, hitting officers' and female soldiers' quarters. Two troops seriously injured, six others sustain light to moderate wounds. Hamas' military wing claims responsibility
Ilana Curiel

Eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded Friday evening by mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip at an IDF base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Two of the troops were seriously injured, one of them suffering from shrapnel in the head. The other six soldiers sustained light to serious wounds and were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba and the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

Earlier Friday
IDF clashes with gunmen in Gaza / Ali Waked
Paratrooper unit spots cell approaching border fence near Khan Younis in attempt to plant explosive device. Gaza sources say four injured in clash with soldiers
Full story
The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the mortar fire, but Hamas later declared that its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was behind the attack.

Two of the shells fired landed within the base, one hitting the officers' quarters and the other hitting the female soldiers' quarters. Two other mortars landed in open areas in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council.

Shells also landed in the Netiv Haasara area, where there were no reports of injuries or damage.

IDF soldiers outside Emergency Room (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)

Benny Sela, Kibbutz Nahal Oz's security coordinator, told Ynet that the explosions were heard across the region's communities.

"I immediately called on all kibbutz members on the loudspeaker to enter the fortified areas. We then searched for fallen shells, but luckily for us they didn't fall in the kibbutz but rather in the nearby base. The army told us to stay near the bomb shelters."

Sela said the past few days have seen a rise in the number of mortar shells fired at the area. "Luckily, almost every house in the kibbutz has a protected space," he added.

The injured troops' relatives who arrived at the hospitals said that the soldiers' stationed at the Nahal Oz base have gotten used to the mortar fire in the area.

"This time it was closer, and someone she knows was hurt," said a relative of one of the soldiers.

Not the first time

About a year ago, a Qassam rocket hit the Zikim military base, near Ashkelon, wounding 67 soldiers. Four troops were seriously injured in the attack. The rocket landed next to a tent containing several soldiers from a battalion in basic training.

Earlier Friday, four Palestinians were injured in an IDF attack east of the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Palestinian sources had initially reported that at least one Palestinian gunman had been killed, but later revealed that he had returned to his home unharmed.

During the exchanges of fire Palestinians fired six mortar shells, which landed within the Strip.

One Qassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, landing within a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries, but one house sustained light damage.

Senior Defense Ministry Official Amos Gilad told Egyptian officials in Cairo Wednesday that Israel was willing to resume the ceasefire with the armed Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Gilad, who is currently heading Israel's indirect negotiations with the Palestinian groups in the Hamas-controlled territory, further told Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman that was prepared to extend the truce beyond December 19 end-date.

Gilad's monthly visit was defined by the Defense Ministry as "routine", but officials said it would have been called off had Israel not been interested in resuming the ceasefire.

Efrat Weiss and Ali Waked and Reuters contributed to this report

For Crooke, it seems the Arab world is crawling with pro-Western secularists just waiting for the opportunity to construct open, liberal democracies,

Jamie Glazov | 11/28/2008

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Jonathan Schanzer, director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center. He has served as a counterterrorism analyst at the U.S. Department of Treasury and as a research fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the author of the new book, Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine. Daniel Pipes wrote the foreword to the book and some of the research was undertaken at Pipes' Middle East Forum. FP: Jonathan Schanzer, good to have you back.

Schanzer: Good to be back, Jamie.

FP: I'd like to talk to you today about Fatah’s role in the Palestinian civil war. But first, for our readers, describe the thesis of your new book..

Schanzer: The book is about the power struggle between the Palestinian Fatah faction and its Islamist rival, Hamas. The struggle between these two violent organizations dates back to 1988, in the early days of the Palestinian uprising, or intifada, when Hamas began to compete openly with Fatah and the PLO, which were both controlled by Yasir Arafat. What began as a political struggle has since evolved into a violent conflict for control of what are commonly regarded as the Palestinian territories – the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What is hard for readers to understand is that there really may not be a “good guy” and a “bad guy” in this struggle. In fact, radio personality Michael Medved likes to joke that this struggle is not unlike the movie, “Alien vs. Predator.”

FP: This is an important point. What exactly is the background of the Fatah organization?

Schanzer: Fatah was formed in 1958 as a socialist, revolutionary guerrilla group with the intent to destroy Israel. Fatah was actually founded by a number of practicing Muslims, some with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, including Yasir Arafat. The group’s original name was Harakat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniya (Palestinian Liberation Movement), with an acronym that should have read “HATAF.” However, the group elected to reverse the order of the letters to give it a Quranic meaning; FATAH means “conquest” or “victory.” Thus began the Fatah tradition of adopting Islamist words and symbols when convenient.

By 1960, Fatah began to publish a magazine called Filastinuna: Nida’ al-Hayat (Our Palestine: The Call to Life), which left the impression that there was an active Palestinian underground. Then, in 1965, Fatah launched a series of attacks against Israel from Syrian, Egyptian, and Jordanian territory. Nearly all of them failed. By 1966 and 1967, however, Arafat’s terrorist group was responsible for dozens of attacks, some successful.

After the June 1967 Six-Day War when Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza, Arab regimes were disgraced. Perhaps the only Arab personality to emerge with more power was Arafat, who captured the imagination of the Arab world as a Palestinian “freedom fighter.”

In 1968, Arafat took control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was originally created by the Arab League. When Arafat and Fatah infiltrated the PLO, it soon became synonymous with shocking acts of terrorism around the world.

FP: Please describe those acts of terror.

Schanzer: The spate of violence carried out by Yasir Arafat’s Fatah-backed PLO against civilians in the 1960s and 1970s was unprecedented. Beginning in 1968, Palestinian terrorists initiated 35 airplane hijackings. Other acts of terror included the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games; the 1973 attack on the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, that led to the murder of the U.S. embassy’s chief of mission; and the 1985 attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, in which a wheelchair-bound American Jew was shot dead and dumped into the ocean.

FP: Were Jews and Israelis the only victims?

Schanzer: No. The mere presence of Arafat’s Fatah and PLO produced death and destruction in nearly every territory they inhabited.

In the early 1970s, for example, the Fatah-backed PLO attempted to hijack the kingdom of Jordan. The result was Black September, a bloody war that resulted in thousands of Palestinian and Jordanian casualties, and the eventual ouster of the PLO.

Fatah and the PLO then attempted to create a mini-state inside Lebanon in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which contributed to a brutal civil war. Unable to control the violence launched against it from the north, Israel invaded Lebanon and the Palestinians were forced to flee once again, leaving a decimated Lebanon in their wake.

Finally, following a decade of exile in Tunisia, the PLO descended on the West Bank and Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993. Since then, the two territories have plummeted into utter disarray, culminating in the 2007 civil war and the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Thus, with the exception of Tunisia, every home base of the PLO has been destroyed by the tragic blight of the Palestinian mini-state.

FP: So why is Fatah commonly referred to as the “good guy” in the mainstream media?

Schanzer: Arafat worked with Israel and the United States in the name of Middle East peace from 1988 to 2000. However, he was also responsible for attacks during that time against Israel. Then, in the year 2000, when peace talks broke down, Arafat launched a war against Israel known as the al-Aqsa Intifada. He called upon Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to join forces with Fatah to “march on Jerusalem.” The intifada resulted in more than 1,000 Israeli civilian and military deaths and perhaps 5,000 Palestinian deaths.

FP: What about this recent flare up in violence with Hamas? Is Fatah the good guy there?

Schanzer: Fatah is commonly viewed as the less aggressive of the two primary Palestinian factions. This is misleading. After the 2007 Hamas coup that toppled Gaza, Fatah set out to get even with its Hamas rivals in the West Bank. Fatah rounded up hundreds of known Hamas activists throughout the West Bank. Scores of other acts of violence were reported around the West Bank. Fatah’s leadership was undeniably responsible for dismantling a number of Hamas-controlled city councils, along with charities and businesses tied to Hamas in the West Bank. Some Hamas political offices were set ablaze. In less than one year, hundreds of Hamas charities were shut down.

By the fall of 2007, rights groups were reporting that Fatah was using “the same practices on Hamas detainees that Hamas is using on Fatah detainees in Gaza.” According to one report, 600 suspected Hamas members were arrested in the West Bank between June and October 2007. Amnesty International claimed the figure was closer to 1,000. As arrests continued into 2008, Palestinians wondered whether Fatah was any less brutal than Hamas.

Just like Hamas in Gaza, Fatah also engaged in heavy-handed press restrictions. Fatah arrested several journalists sympathetic to Hamas. Indeed, Fatah arrested the director of the Amal television channel, which is not affiliated with Hamas, but had aired a speech by Hamas’ political leader in Gaza, Ismael Haniyeh, which the police said was “illegal.”

FP: Did Israel approve of these crackdowns?

Schanzer: In some cases, Israel helped Fatah round up Hamas terrorists. But, for the Israelis, Fatah’s successes were bittersweet. For years, Fatah leaders had claimed that the very presence of Israeli forces in the West Bank made it impossible to detain Palestinians linked to terrorist attacks. All the while, Hamas, PIJ, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades carried out suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians.

Finally, with a clear interest in neutralizing Hamas, Fatah has accomplished what it always insisted it could not: a clampdown on Hamas operatives within its jurisdiction.

FP: So, what exactly are the differences between Hamas and Fatah?

Schanzer: The main difference is that Fatah has a faction within that appears to be interested in negotiating peace with Israel, while Hamas is unanimous in its refusal to engage.

Still, there are fewer differences than the mainstream media would have us believe. The charters of both Hamas and Fatah both openly call for the destruction of Israel. Both groups have been consistently responsible for terrorist attacks against Israel. And both appear to be willing to let the Palestinian people suffer as the struggle continues for control of the Palestinian territories.

FP: Jonathan Schanzer, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

Schanzer: Thanks again for having me, Jamie. It has been a pleasure.
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at

Battle between good and evil

Battle between good and evil

Hopefully altruism represented by Chabad emissaries in Mumbai will win over terrorists' murderous egotism
Rabbi Levi Brackman

It seems so surreal. I have been watching the news that has been coming out of Mumbai, India in virtual horror. Any terror attack targeting innocent people is nothing short of evil. However, this attack has been especially troubling for more reasons than one. We have become accustomed to terror attacks that are over within a few moments. These attacks have lasted days instead of minutes. Those of us who are following the news coming out of Mumbai are witnessing horror happening in slow motion. The fact that one of the locations targeted by the terrorists is a Jewish center makes these brazen and malevolent attacks more significant for us as Jews. That the Jewish center is a Chabad House run by a fellow Chabad representative makes this terror attack even more personal for me. I have been deeply affected by this attack not just because it has targeted a colleague, his wife and family, but because it has pitted good against evil in the clearest manner possible.

What motivates a young ultra-orthodox Jew to move with his young wife from a religious enclave in Brooklyn, New York to Mumbai in India? Clearly it wasn’t a lucrative contract. It was done with one aim in mind: to help his fellow Jews. There is little material reward for a religious Jews to move to a developing country where they may end up in harm’s way.

Despite the dangers, for Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, living in Mumbai was worth it simply because it provided them a unique opportunity to serve the needs of others. The selflessness inherent in the work the Holtzberg’s are doing and in the way they live their lives is staggering.

Danger to civilized societies

Contrast this with the terrorists. These evil people are completely self-serving. They are only concerned with their own needs and desires. The fact that their selfish requirements hurt the lives of others is of little concern to them. They are comfortable killing innocents if it fits in with their own nefarious aims.

According to Judaism murderers must be put to death because they blight civilized societies. The act of murder maintains that the murderer’s life takes precedence to that of the murdered person. Thus, taking another’s life is the ultimate act of ego. It is saying, “My life is more important than yours” when in fact no human has the ability to make such an assessment. People who feel that they and their cause are so important that they are willing to kill for it are the essence of evil and pose a danger to civilized societies.

This is what terrorists are. They think that their cause trumps innocent people’s right to life. As a result of this ego-centric and evil mindset they are motivated to kill innocent men, women and children in cold blood so that their self-centered cause can be served.

Over the last few days we have seen an encounter between the forces of evil and destructive egotism and people who represent goodness, kindness and selflessness. That these beacons of light, positivity and altruism have now been prematurely extinguished is beyond tragic and is another blow to humanity and a heartbreaking victory for the forces of terror, destruction and darkness. That the inspiration the Holtzberg’s have left us will live on is little consolation. Real courage is in short supply and clearly the Holtzberg’s had that in large quantities.

The day evil triumph’s is a bleak and dark day for the world. I refuse to be consoled. May G-d have mercy upon all the victims of this senseless display of malevolence.

Rabbi Levi Brackman is co-author of "Jewish Wisdom for Business Success"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tzipi and the drug lords


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has finally found a mission she can sink her teeth into. This week Israel's would-be prime minister declared that she will leave no stone unturned in her quest to commute the sentences of two Israeli drug dealers just condemned to death by a court in Thailand. Yigal Mahluf and Vladimir Agronik were arrested in Bangkok last December while in possession of some 23,000 Ecstasy pills. Livni has promised that she will take their case all the way to the King of Thailand if she needs to.

Livni's decision to champion degenerates appears to be just another example of what happens when a government has no sense of priorities. Indeed, she seems to have no idea what her job is. Rather than use diplomacy to advance the national interest, Livni uses diplomacy to help two criminals who have harmed Israel's reputation. More tellingly, she embraced these national embarrassments the same week she chose to do nothing as Israel was repeatedly condemned for its crime of existing at the UN General Assembly.

As it does every year, this week the UN marked the General Assembly's November 29, 1947 decision to accept the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state with a full schedule of events bemoaning that decision and decrying the existence of Israel. If Livni had any sense of priorities, she would have used the week as a means of delegitimizing the UN, which is today the largest and most powerful anti-Semitic organization in the world.

She would have ordered Israel's ambassadors in places like Thailand to use the week as a way of persuading foreign governments to stop supporting the UN's anti-Semitic agenda. But instead, her ministry announced that it was going to ignore the UN this week. There is no point, the Foreign Ministry said, to defending the country when the cards are stacked against us. The notion that Israel can win by losing never seemed to occur to Livni.

ARGUABLY MORE disturbing than Livni's failure to grasp the purpose of diplomacy is what her embrace of drug dealers tells us about what she values, and what the government she represents values. Livni's actions on behalf of Mahluf and Agronik call to mind the government's decision to free unrepentant baby killer Samir Kuntar and four other Hizbullah terrorists and hand over the bodies of 200 Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian terrorists to Hizbullah, in exchange for the bodies of murdered IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser this past July.

Livni, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and their colleagues presented their decision as a testament to their commitment to IDF soldiers. But in their self-praise they conveniently forgot that their actions empowered Israel's enemies and so increased the chance of war. Far from a testament to their dedication to IDF soldiers, their decision increased the chance that countless soldiers and civilians will be killed in another war.

As with the bodies-for-terrorists swap last summer, so with the clemency-for-drug-dealers this week, Livni exhibits a consistent moral obtuseness in her repeated habit of placing the interests of the few above the general interest of the country. And then after abandoning the common good, she cynically presents her devotion to the few as proof of her patriotism and leadership skills.

While Livni's actions lend to the conclusion that the government lacks any sense of priorities, the truth is far more disturbing. The fact of the matter is that the Olmert-Livni-Barak government lobbies for drug dealers and frees baby killers not because they don't know what they are doing. They advance these absurd policies to divert public scrutiny away from their actual priorities - which are truly dangerous.

One of the government's main priorities is to inculcate Israel's vital national institutions with its perverse view of the national interest. Doing so will ensure that Israel suffers from the government's legacy of incompetence and failure long after it is gone.

Take the IDF for instance. Last week the Prime Minister's Office leaked a classified document to Haaretz which detailed the view of senior military brass that Israel should give the Golan Heights to Iran's best Arab friend Syria. By placing its national security in the hands of Iran's Arab proxy, the General Staff claims absurdly that Israel will be better off because Assad will disavow the very ties to Iran to which he owes Israel's willingness to give him the Golan Heights.

More than anything else, the leaked document showed that despite all the added training that soldiers have undergone since the Second Lebanon War, and all the talk about learning the lessons of that war, the IDF is still led by politicized generals who are willing to sacrifice the nation's security if it makes them popular with the leftist media.

Top commanders like Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, OC Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and their underlings are the legacy of this government which promoted them. Their unreasonable and frankly dangerous willingness to trust Assad exposes an ugly truth: If Hizbullah (which thanks to Livni, Olmert, Barak and their strategically challenged IDF subordinates has tripled its military strength since the 2006 war) renews its war against Israel tomorrow, there is no reason to believe that the IDF would be any more successful in defending the country and defeating Hizbullah than it was in 2006.

The corruption of the IDF General Staff by incompetent and opportunistic leaders exposes clearly some of the massive challenges that will face the next government. But those challenges pale in comparison to the strategic disaster that Olmert, Livni and Barak are preparing for their successors.

IN ITS waning days in office, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is seeking to tether the next government to a set of policies that when taken separately and together empower the country's enemies, destroy Israel's strategic importance as a US ally and make it impossible for Israel to defend itself either diplomatically or militarily.

During his visit last week to Washington, Olmert set out his agenda for his last months in office. First, he is ceding massive amounts of territory to the Palestinians. And second, he is seeking to commit the next government to ceding still more territory to the Palestinians.

Over the past few months, Olmert has been rolling back all of the IDF's military successes from Operation Defense Shield in 2002. He is transferring control over Judea and Samaria to Palestinian militias and restraining IDF operations in the areas to such a degree that within a short period of time, the Palestinians will be able to rebuild their terror infrastructures in the areas. This week Bethlehem was the latest city surrendered to the Palestinians and from which the IDF will be all but barred from operating. Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus have already been handed over to Fatah.

Olmert's massive land giveaways are being carried out with absolutely no public discussion. They are being billed as a way to "empower" weak, lame-duck Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But the fact is that they simply set the course for Hamas's takeover of Judea and Samaria.

As for Hamas, while Olmert was in Washington, he sent his emissary Amos Gilad to Cairo to negotiate an extension of Israel's one-sided cease-fire with Hamas. The cease-fire that Gilad secured this summer did four things. It enabled Hamas to stage a massive build-up of its military capabilities in Gaza free from any threat of Israeli attack. It surrendered the military initiative to Hamas. It paved the way for Hamas's international legitimization. And it committed Israel to cease its counter-terror operations in Judea and Samaria six months later.

This last devastating aspect of the cease-fire is the least discussed. Hamas demanded that in return for its limitation of rocket and mortar offensives against southern Israel, Israel cease its counter-terror efforts not only in Gaza, but in Judea and Samaria as well. Israel balked but reportedly agreed to curtail its activities in Judea and Samaria in six months.

In the intervening six months, Israel has set the conditions to do just that. By transferring control over Palestinian cities to Fatah, which is no match for Hamas, Israel has not only curtailed its own operations. It has set the conditions for a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria in the coming year.

But this not all Olmert is doing. Aside from actually handing over territory to the Palestinians, Olmert is striving to commit Israel's next government to ceding still more territory including all remaining portions of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians. With Livni's full support, Olmert is attempting to conclude a US-guaranteed agreement with Abbas that will make such Israeli concessions binding on his successors.

If the next government tries to disavow Olmert's 11th hour surrender talks, Olmert is setting conditions that will make it all but impossible for the country to disengage from his commitments without wrecking its relations with Washington. During his visit to the US capital, Olmert sought to formalize his view that Israel is a US client state rather than a US ally and so render it all but impossible for a future Israeli government to stand up to US pressure.

Olmert's declared goal in his meeting with President George W. Bush was to have Bush provide a meaningless pledge that the incoming Obama administration and the Congress will honor Bush's already proffered empty pledge to provide Israel with financial handouts for the next decade. By presenting his request for handouts - in the midst of the gravest financial crisis to hit the US economy in decades - as his chief concern, Olmert cast Israel as a strategic liability and welfare case and so tried to undermine any residual US support for Israel as a strategic ally and asset for Washington.

AND THIS isn't all. While Olmert surrenders Israel's military initiative to its enemies on all fronts and wrecks Israel's most important international alliance, he seeks to take away Israel's long-term capacity to defend itself from future military and diplomatic assaults. With his enthusiastic embrace of the so-called Saudi peace plan, Olmert is committing Israel to accepting the Arab narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Saudi plan is predicated on the wholly mendacious claim that there has never been any Arab aggression against Israel - only Israeli aggression against Arabs and legitimate Arab resistance to Israel. With Olmert now giving his stamp of approval to the Saudi plan, he is denying the country its moral right to defend itself both militarily and diplomatically.

In the coming weeks, as the elections draw near, the Israeli public will be subject to countless mini-crises of the magnitude of the plight of Livni's drug dealers to convince the public that she is a competent leader. Some of these crises will be aimed at obfuscating the fact that she is a full partner in Olmert's agenda. But no matter what their proximate cause, all of these crises will serve the wider aim of hiding the government's real priorities and actions from the public.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1227702352800&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Livni, Olmert Swap Accusations

Maayana Miskin Livni, Olmert Swap Accusations

Kadima head Tzipi Livni and Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert traded accusations on Thursday as Livni called on Olmert to step down and Olmert refused to do so. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has announced that Olmert is facing indictment for his part in the Rishon Tours affair. Livni's aides said Thursday that Kadima continues to drop in the polls as Olmert remains in power. His refusal to leave “gives the impression that Olmert has made a deal with Bibi [opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu—ed,” they said.

Livni and other Kadima members called on Olmert to step down during a party meeting on Thursday. “The citizen Ehud Olmert must conduct the legal battle for his innocence from his house and not from his seat in government,” Livni said. “The state of Israel cannot take one more day in which he serves as Prime Minister. This is a test of our values, a test of morals, a test of actions.”

Olmert's aides accused Livni and her supporters of making cynical use of Mazuz's announcement for her own political gain. Livni is hoping to force Olmert to step down so that she can take his place and increase her own political power prior to elections, they said. Livni failed to create a coalition, they said, and now hopes to show voters she is capable of leadership by running the country for the two months remaining before the elections.

2007 Olmert: Politicians facing indictment must step down

Olmert's critics have pointed out that when it came to then-President Moshe Katzav, he felt differently about indicted officials in office. When Mazuz announced his intention to indict Katzav in January of 2007, Olmert gave a public address in which he said, “The President cannot continue to fill his position, and he must leave the president's office.”

Livni reminded Olmert of his statement regarding Katzav during Thursday's Kadima meeting. She also mentioned former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, who stepped down temporarily in 1977 when it was reported that his wife had a United States bank account. At the time, state officials were forbidden to maintain foreign bank accounts. “When Rabin was serving as Acting Prime Minister prior to elections, he announced his suspension immediately,” Livni said.

Prosecutors: This time we have enough evidence

Unnamed officials in the State Prosecutor's Office were quoted by Ynet on Thursday as saying that the planned indictment in the Rishon Tours affair will be more substantial than that filed against Katzav. “We have enough documents and proof, and we will be very surprised if the hearing leads us to change our mind,” they said.

The sources said evidence in the case indicated wrongdoing “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If he is found guilty, Olmert could serve up to seven years in prison, they said.


Arlene Kushner
Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Near East Policy Research

The Ambassador hotel in Jerusalem was the setting, on Wednesday, November 26, for a press conference called under UN auspices to announce the launching of the "2009 Consolidated Appeal," a fund-raiser with a goal of bringing in $462 million for UN and NGO humanitarian assistance programs in the "occupied Palestinian territories" (by which is meant Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem). While 159 projects are expected to benefit, $275 million is earmarked for UNRWA — the UN Relief and Works Agency, responsible for Palestinian Arab refugees. Presentations – by Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator; Philippe Lazzarin, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; and Filippo Grandi, Deputy Commissioner-General of UNRWA –. focused on the hardship endured by the "oPt" residents as a result of Israeli practices.

Of primary concern was the Israeli closure of Gaza: Gaylard reported that the Israeli position is to keep crossings into Gaza closed as long as rockets [shot from Gaza into Israel] continue, with humanitarian goods permitted to go in if the rockets stop. But, he said, with crossings frequently shut down, even basic supplies are not reaching the people.

In any event, he declared, "we want more than this." While allowing that the rockets attacks are to be condemned, he explained that the UN wants the crossings opened more fully, with imports and exports moving in and out. What's happening now, he stated, is "collective punishment." When queried by a journalist as to whether he was demanding that Israel open the crossings fully even if the rockets kept flying, he skirted the question.

Lazzarin made it clear that from a UN perspective there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gaylord concurred, indicating it was so severe that the closure represented an "assault on every human right."

A brief discussion was held regarding the growing number of blackouts in Gaza caused by failure of an electric transmitter, either because fuel or parts for repair were not available.

Grande lamented the fact that during the truce [the last five months of relative calm] there has been only a disappointing 20% increase in the transport of goods into Gaza, so that UNRWA still has not been able to bring in sufficient humanitarian supplies. He noted that 12 UNRWA trucks bearing supplies were expected to be allowed through that day.

A subsequent interview with Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, provided a perspective vastly at odds with that presented at the press conference. In some instances, Dror directly refuted statements made by the UN representatives:

Most significantly, he stated that it is absolutely not Israeli policy to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza only when the rockets stop. While a broader opening of the crossings is keyed to a cessation of rocket attacks, humanitarian supplies are permitted in whenever it is possible to open a crossing. Evidence of this is provided by the fact that trucks went into Gaza on November 29, the day of the press conference, even though rockets had been launched that day, and for three days prior. Grande referred to 12 UNRWA trucks, but there are also other agencies at work. In total that day, 40 trucks went through.

The point ignored by UNRWA, when it complains about closed crossings, is that the crossings themselves are often under attack – by bombs and shootings, and the Israeli operating personnel endangered. What UNRWA officials are actually demanding is that Israelis risk their lives so that goods can move through.

Yet, never, said Dror, has he heard a word regarding Hamas culpability. Never has there been a demand by the UN that terrorists stop targeting the crossings, because this makes it impossible for Israel to open them.

It is a mark of Israeli intentions that funds were spent revamping the Keren Shalom crossing to permit passage of a greater number of trucks.

Dror explained that sometimes when there is a lull in rocket launchings into Israel, the crossings are still targeted and must stay closed. But even then Gazans seeking medical help are allowed into Israel. And water and electric power supplied to Gaza by Israel continue to flow without stop. (As Israel supplies 70% of Gaza's electric power, and Egypt another 5%, it makes little sense to talk about blackouts because a generator isn't working.)

Dror categorically denies there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. There are dozens of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, and every sort of material imaginable moves into Gaza, with the exception of generator fuel.

"Even cows are brought through the tunnels."

Last January, when the fence at Rafah was breached and Gazans by the thousands moved into the Sinai, it was said these were people suffering a lack of essential goods. But, said Dror, many were seen bringing back TVs and satellite dishes.


Arlene Kushner, senior policy analyst for the Center for Near East Policy Research, writes extensively on UNRWA. Her most recent report, just completed, is "UNRWA: Overview and Policy Critique."

Encyclopedia of Race and Racism‏

Nov. 27, 2008

Warner Books

F1 Hallmarc Business Park
2 Westall Road
CLAYTON VIC 3168PO Box 1312

Dear Sirs,

I understand that you have included Zionism as a form of racism in your encyclopedia. I have been told that your representative suggested that this was to offer a broad reflection of public opinion.
suppose you know that the United Nations has repudiated the association of Zionism with racism. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the encyclopedia, but I hope it contains the following information on this subject that was gleaned from the Internet. “The anti-Zionism resolution was repealed by an overwhelming vote of the General Assembly on December 16, 1991. The repeal was advanced by President George H.W. Bush following the Persian Gulf War. The vote was 111 nations for repeal, 25 nations against (mostly Islamic nations) and 13 abstentions.”

Since you apparently want to provide all opinions on various forms of racism, I trust you will include the views of white supremacists who believe that Blacks are an inferior race. Their views are about as hatefully racist as are the views of Islamic Jew haters whose Zionism is racism project you dignified in your encyclopedia.

I hope the irony of an Encyclopedia on racism being racist is not lost on you

Sincerely yours,
Larry Shapiro

Comment: Cudos to Mr. Shapiro-if more like minded individuals would take time and have the courage to write these kinds of publications we might, over a long period of time, inject our point of view into the slippery slope of social engineering going on by the Islamic world.

“Thanksgiving Massacre” in Mumbai Targets Westerners, Indians and Jews

Marcus Sheff: 011-972-2-6236427,
Leah Soibel: 011-972-2-6236427,

In the Indian city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) terrorists killed more than 125 people and wounded another 300 in numerous strikes across the city. The attacks began on Wednesday night (Nov. 26) when gunmen invaded two five star hotels, a restaurant, train station, a Jewish center and a number of other sites, armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives. [1] Indian security forces are operating against the terrorists at this time The Jewish center in Mumbai, a communal site of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement with visitor centers all over India, is still under siege with hostages being held inside. Among those captured are the Rabbi of the center, Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and six others. The couple’s two-year-old son and a staff member at the center managed to escape the building. Sandra Samuel, 44, the cook who pulled the boy out the building, said she saw Rabbi Holzberg, his wife Rivka and two other unidentified guests lying on the floor, apparently “unconscious.” [2]

Rivka Holtzberg’s family live in the Israeli city of Afula. Her father, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, said “I got a call telling us to listen to news of terrorists attacking in Mumbai. We tried to get in touch but all the systems went down and later we heard that the terrorists stormed the building and they were being held hostage.” [3]

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder & president of The Israel Project said “Just like the Passover Massacre in Netanya, Israel, this attack was by Muslim extremists who are targeting those who love freedom, tolerance and peace. While the victims were not sitting at their tables eating turkey, the timing of the attack was clearly done to capture news headlines as Americans celebrate one of their most important holidays. Indeed, Thanksgiving is a celebration of freedom and cooperation -- the opposite of what these Muslim extremist terrorists want for the world. The world must work together to stop such threats no matter from where they stem.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister Tzipi Livni stated on Nov.27, “I condemn this criminal terrorist attack that is still going on in Mumbai. This is further painful evidence that the terrorist threat is the greatest challenge which Israel and the international community have to face. Nothing justifies the unforgivable slaughter of innocents; it is therefore incumbent on the international community to cooperate in the ongoing war against this contemptible, heinous manifestation of terror. I would like to convey my sincere condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the government and people of India.” [4]

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is currently preparing to send paramedics and other rescue personnel to Mumbai. The ministry is also examining the possibility of sending a team of Israeli doctors based in New Delhi to Mumbai to assist the local authorities in treating the injured. Plans are also put in place for Israel to deliver medical supplies and other equipment to India. [5]

Israel’s international emergency medical organization Magen David Adom Spokesman Zaki Heller, who is in charge of sending aid said, “We are preparing to send a team of doctors, paramedics, medical assistants and professionals and are preparing for the possibility that we may be called to treat victims in hospitals or locate families and friends. We have already made contact with the joint organization's envoys in the area to help us understand what is needed.” [6]

A report on Thursday morning (Nov. 27) from an Indian news outlet said that gunfire was heard at the Chabad House, and three people were killed there, including a couple and a 16-year-old. [7]

Indian Special Forces succeeded in killing one of the terrorists in the Chabad house although another four are still suspected to be inside. The Israeli Foreign Ministry stated that it was trying to locate 20 missing Israelis in Mumbai. [8]

A spokesman for the Chabad movement in New York, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, said “It seems that the terrorists commandeered a police vehicle which allowed them easy access to the area of Chabad House and threw a grenade at a gas pump nearby” adding “Pray that we should hear good news.” [19]

Mumbai's Chabad House is a popular stop for Israeli tourists. The Holtzbergs offer visitors a number of different programs and also provide kosher food. The word “Chabad” is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of: chachmah-wisdom, binah-comprehension and da'at-knowledge. Today, 4,000 full-time emissary families direct more than 3,300 Chabad institutions around the world. [10]

Israel and India opened diplomatic relations in 1992. Since then, relations between the two countries have blossomed with bilateral trade standing at more than two billion dollars. [11]

Indian police say that the dead include 14 police officers, 81 Indian nationals and six foreigners. A Japanese businessman and an Italian national were confirmed to be among the dead. The police added that four suspected terrorists have also been killed and nine arrested. A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahadeen, which was previously unknown, is claiming responsibility for the attacks in a series of emails. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the attacks appear to probably have “external linkages.” [12]

The two hotels targeted, the Taj Mahal Palace and the Oberoi Trident, are both luxurious hotels popular with foreign businesspeople and tourists. According to eyewitness reports, the gunmen entered the various sites and demanded that people with American and British passports indentify themselves. [13]

In an address to the nation, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said “The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of terror by choosing high-profile targets.” He added “I'm confident the people of India will rise united to face this challenge to the country's security and integrity.” [14]

India is an extremely popular destination for young Israeli backpackers and thousands of them visit the country every year after finishing their national army service or after their university studies.

Experts available for press comment

Eitan Azani, Deputy Director Institute for Counter Terrorism, IDC Herzliya,
Contact through spokesperson
Office: 972-9-960-2754; e-mail:

Israel Defense Forces Spokespersons Unit, International Desk
Office: 972-2-548-5800; 972-2-548-5801

Rabbi Josh Runyan, Editor of, Spokesman Chabad-Lubavitch International
Cell: 00-1-484-802-2138

Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, Spokesman for Chabad in America
Cell: 00-1-917-804-7137

Yeruham Mandola, Magen David Adom Spokesman
Office: 972-3-630-0222
Cell: 972-52-256-9955


[1] “104 killed in Mumbai terror rampage,” The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2008,

[2] “104 killed in Mumbai terror rampage,” The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2008,; Horovitz, David, Wagner, Matthew, “'Eight Israelis held by terrorists in Mumbai Chabad House'” The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2008,

[3] Ashkenazi, Eli, “'I just grabbed the baby and ran,' says Mumbai Chabad employee,” Haaretz, Nov. 27, 2008,

[4] “FM Livni condemns Mumbai terror attacks,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nov. 27, 2008,

[5] Sofer, Roni, “Israel to send medical team to Mumbai,” YnetNews, Nov. 27, 2008,,7340,L-3629501,00.html; “MDA preparing to send rescue personnel to Mumbai,” The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2008,

[6] Sofer, Roni, “Israel to send medical team to Mumbai,” YnetNews, Nov. 27, 2008,,7340,L-3629501,00.html

[7] “Mumbai Chabad gunmen: We'll release hostages if gov't agrees to talks,” Haaretz, Nov. 27, 2008

[8] “India sees 'external links' in Mumbai attacks which killed 104,” Haaretz, Nov. 27, 2008,

[9] “Jewish centre seized in Mumbai,” BBC, Nov. 27, 2008,; “'Eight Israelis held by terrorists in Mumbai Chabad House'” The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2008,

[10] “About Chabad,” Web site of, Accessed Nov. 27, 2008, from

[11] “India – Israel Bilateral Trade and Economic Relations,” Israel Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor. Accessed Nov. 27, 2008, from

[12] “Indian PM vows action on attacks,” BBC, Nov. 26, 2008,; “PM says attacks plotted by overseas groups,” Reuters, Nov. 27, 2008,; “Indian PM vows action on attacks,” BBC, Nov. 27, 2008,

[13] “India sees 'external links' in Mumbai attacks which killed 104,” Haaretz, Nov. 27, 2008,

[14] “PM says attacks plotted by overseas groups,” Reuters, Nov. 27, 2008,; “Indian PM vows action on attacks,” BBC, Nov. 27, 2008,

The Israel Project is an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. The Israel Project provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel. The Israel Project is not related to any government or government agency.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Barry Rubin
For years, India has been subjected to periodic terrorist attacks throughout the country. But what happened in Mumbai is something new and different: a full-scale terrorist war.
This is the kind of threat and problem Israel has been facing for decades. What are the lessons for India from Israel’s experience, points also reflected by India’s own recent history?
First, India needs and has the right to expect international sympathy and help. It will get sympathy but will it get help? Once it is clear that other countries must actually do something, incur some costs, possibly take some risks, everything changes.
If the terrorists come from bases or training camps in Pakistan, after all, India wants international action to be taken. Pakistan must be pressured to close such camps, stop helping terrorists, and provide information possessed by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
But how might this happen? Will Western countries make a real effort? Are they going to impose sanctions on Pakistan or even denounce it? Will they make public the results of their own investigations about responsibility for the terror campaign against India?
Not likely. After all, such acts would cost them money and involve potential risks, perhaps even of the terrorists targeting them. Moreover, they need Pakistan for various things, notably to cooperate on keeping down other Islamist terrorist threats, not spread around nuclear weapons’ technology too much, and being cooperative on maintaining some stability in Afghanistan.
This parallels Israel’s situation with Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. For decades, the United States and some European countries have talked to the Syrian government about closing down terrorist headquarters in Damascus. The Syrians merely say “no” (though sometimes they have just lied and said the offices were closed). The United States even did put on some sanctions. But by being intransigent, pretending moderation, and hinting help on other issues, Syria has gotten out of its isolation.
So, despite all the pious talk about fighting terrorism, in real terms, India—like Israel—is largely on its own in defending itself from terrorism.
Another problem India faces, like Israel in the case of Lebanon, is that it is dealing with a country that lacks an effective government. Pakistan is in real terms a state of anarchy. Even within the intelligence apparatus, factions simply do as they please in inciting terrorism. Given popular opinion and Pakistan’s Islamic framework, even a well-intentioned government would be hard-put to crackdown.
In Israel’s case, the whole rationale for regimes like those in Iran and Syria is a radical ideology. So pervasive is the daily incitement to hatred and the lies, that popular opinion supports the most murderous terrorism. The murder of Israeli civilians brings celebrations in the Arab world. The usual types of appeals to law and order, holding governments responsible for their actions, shaming them, or going over their heads to appeal to the masses on humanitarian grounds simply don’t work.
So what’s a country to do? It will consider cross-border raids against terrorist camps or retaliation to pressure the terrorist sponsor to desist. Sometimes it will actually take such action. But can India depend on international support for such self-defense measures or will it then be labeled an aggressor?
How much is India willing to risk war with Pakistan even though it has a legitimate casus belli due to covert aggression against itself by that neighbor? And let’s not forget that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, a situation which Israel may soon face in regard to Iran.
Now we can see the logic of terrorism as a strategy by radical groups and countries pursuing aggression by covert means. The terrorists and their supporters have lots of advantages; the victims are not only put on the defensive but have to make tough decisions about self-defense.
Finally, there is the dangerous “root cause” argument. Many Western intellectuals and journalists—as well as some governments—are ready to blame the victim of terrorism. In Israel’s case, despite desperate efforts to promote peace, making of concessions, withdrawals from territory, and offer of a Palestinian state, it is said to be the villain as not giving the Palestinians enough.
The terrorists and their sponsors use this situation to their advantage. By being intransigent—demanding so much and offering so little—they keep the conflict going and are able to pose as victims simultaneously.
Will some suggest that if India merely gives up Kashmir and makes various concessions, the problem will go away? This might not happen but it is worth keeping an eye on such a trend.
The Indian government is thus going to have some very tough decisions to make. How will it try to mobilize real international support, not just expressions of sympathy for the deaths and destruction? In what ways can it seek to destroy terrorist installations and deter their sponsors?
Israel’s experience offers some lessons: depend on yourself, be willing to face unfair criticism to engage in self-defense, take counter-terrorism very seriously, mobilize your own citizens as an active warning system, and decide when and where to retaliate.
Defending yourself against terrorism is not easy. Unfortunately, even in an era of “war against terrorism” those truly willing to help in the battle are few and far between.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Israel: UN downplaying Hizbullah buildup


The UN has an interest in downplaying Hizbullah's rearmament and activities in southern Lebanon because it wants "industrial quiet" in Lebanon, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said Wednesday.

"The UN is denying any Hizbullah activity south of the Litani, even though Hizbullah admits to it," the official said. The official's comment came on the day that the UN Security Council was expected to discuss Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's periodic report on the implementation of Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War.

The resolution calls for the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, bans weapons transfers to any group except the Lebanese armed forces, and urges the Lebanese government to secure its borders to prevent arms smuggling.

It also calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and long-term solution based on full respect for the UN-drawn Blue Line along their border and security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities.

In his report, Ban said the Israeli government continued to report "that it has detailed information regarding significant breaches of the arms embargo across the Lebanese-Syrian border."

However, he said that while the United Nations "takes these claims seriously, it is not in a position to verify this information independently."

Still, Ban said he remained concerned about "the porous nature" of Lebanon's border with Syria, noting that a team of independent border security experts sent to assess the situation in late August found the border as penetrable as it had been the previous year.

"I reiterate the need for the immediate and unconditional respect of the arms embargo on Lebanon," the secretary-general said. "It must be observed fully and without exception. Regional parties, particularly those that maintain ties with Hizbullah and other groups in Lebanon, are obliged to abide fully by the arms embargo."

Ban again called on Israel to immediately halt all overflights of Lebanon and reiterated "with the utmost urgency" his call to Israel to provide data on cluster bombs fired during the 2006 war.

The secretary-general urged Israel and Lebanon to "seize the moment" of relative calm and move closer to a permanent cease-fire and long-term solution to the issues that sparked the war.

Ban said the election of Michel Suleiman as president of Lebanon, the formation of a national unity government and the launching of a national dialogue "have led to a greater degree of stability in the country."

"The general improvement of the situation in Lebanon, together with the continued stability in the area of operations and encouraging prospects in the region create a potential momentum that both Lebanon and Israel must seize to make bold strides toward a permanent cease-fire and long-term solution," he said.

The secretary-general said he was "disturbed by the repeated exchange of threats between Israel and Hizbullah, in particular when apparently directed against civilians." He reiterated his call on both sides "to refrain from statements and actions that could serve to increase tension."

He also welcomed the decision by Syria and Lebanon to establish diplomatic relations, a decision that "heralds potential future progress on a number of issues of common interest."

He added that he was pleased that the issue of abducted IDF soldiers and Lebanese prisoners in Israel had been fully resolved.

"In the coming months, Israel and Lebanon have an opportunity to move away from confrontation by making further progress in the implementation of Resolution 1701," Ban said. "I call upon their leaders to seize the moment that is afforded to them, for the good of their peoples and for the stability of the region."
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1227702334384&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Obama's Bad Green Deal

Steven Milloy
November 27, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to combat unemployment by creating 2.5 million public works jobs could only be loved by someone ignoring the economic and political realities of public works, alternative energy and the Greens.
“Rebuilding roads and bridges, wind farms and solar panels, fuel efficient cars and alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead” is what Obama said he intends to accomplish.
It’s true that road building can contribute to economic growth, but not like Obama seems to think. The road building boom of the 1950s and 1960s did boost U.S. economic growth, according to Federal Reserve economist John Fernald. But this was because mass expansion of the interstate road system facilitated growth-producing economic activity. While necessary for keeping traffic moving safely and smoothly, simply re-building roads and bridges doesn’t spur commerce and, so, isn’t a strategy for economic growth.
While appropriate expenditures on new roads can produce high economic returns, according to a 2002 study published by George Mason University transportation experts in Public Works Management Policy, this isn’t what Obama is proposing. His reticence on new construction is likely due to his indebtedness to the Greens, who oppose new roads. The Natural Resources Defense Council testified before Congress last June, for example, that “footprints,” or new and existing road construction, should be “minimized.”
Moreover, capital spending on infrastructure doesn’t seem to work fast enough in economic hard times. The U.S. has only “limited experience with capital spending as a countercyclical device” and “the results have been largely negative,” according to the George Mason study. Capital expenditures on infrastructure take four to six quarters to implement because of the necessary planning, contract bidding and construction phasing.
The public works programs of the Great Depression, the historical event with which our current economic crisis is being compared, failed to stimulate the economy. As described in Jim Powell’s book, FDR’s Folly, the Civilian Conservation Corps spent $2 billion between 1933 and 1939 working in wilderness areas and parks planting trees, controlling tree diseases, and building paths, picnic areas and firefighting infrastructure.
Not only did the Public Works Administration only build roads, bridges, schools, dams and naval ships, it tended to employ architects, engineers and skilled workers rather than the unskilled people who needed work. Newspaper columnist Walter Lippman concluded that the PWA was “worse than a failure” when it came to jobs creation and economic stimulus.
Other New Deal infrastructure public works programs, including the Federal Emergency Relief Act, Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration, “do not appear to have had the strong effect on productivity” in the areas where the money was spent, concluded National Bureau of Economic Research economists in 2001.
Then there are the Greens, who tend to oppose any sort of construction, even for so-called renewable energy projects. Prominent Greens such as Maryland Gov. Marvin O’Malley and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have opposed wind farms as eyesores. Canadian Greens oppose a wind farm in British Columbia because it allegedly will “wipe out” migratory birds. A wind farm proposed for the Georgia coast cannot proceed without a multiyear study of its impacts on whale calving grounds. Green activists currently oppose dozens of applications for solar farms across more than 518,000 acres of public lands in the Southern California desert because of alleged concerns for tortoises, squirrels and other wildlife.
What about the fuel-efficient cars and alternative energy to which Obama referred? A Washington Post headline this week said it all, “Hybrid vehicles are popular, but making them profitable is a challenge.” Batteries that add $8,000 to sticker prices and $7,500 tax credits that about one-half of Americans can’t take advantage of because they don’t earn enough money didn’t make economic sense when gas cost $4; they make much less sense with $2 gas. Hybrid and plug-in cars may use less fuel, but they are light years away from economic efficiency. If the cars aren’t cost-effective -- which is the only reason to buy them -- they won’t be flying off the assembly line and won’t be creating jobs in the flagging U.S. car industry.
One great green alternative energy hope is cellulosic ethanol, which uses biomass (like switchgrass) rather than food (like corn) as a feedstock. But there are no commercially viable cellulosic ethanol plants because the technology is expensive. The Department of Energy is spending $385 million to build six plants over the next four years in hopes of producing 130 million gallons of ethanol per year. The purpose is to show that the plants can be run profitably once their construction costs are covered by taxpayers.
But not only will these test plants be too small and not be built in time to provide economic stimulus, the long-term feasibility of cellulosic ethanol itself is questionable. Americans consume about 140 billion gallons of gasoline annually. Will the Greens -- who oppose the 149 gasoline refineries now operating -- really permit the construction of hundreds of cellulosic ethanol refineries that make greenhouse gas-producing fuels? And what about the environmental impacts of the plants themselves?
Finally, let’s keep in mind that, for most of us, energy is an expense that we like to minimize. How does forcing consumers to buy expensive “green” energy contribute to economic recovery and growth?
If Obama wants to solve the economic crisis when he's president, he’s going to have to promote policies that encourage real economic growth, rather than regurgitating green talking points that are a recipe for making a bad situation worse.
Steven Milloy publishes and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Iran Dropping 'Information Bomb' on Israel

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
( Iran uses Hizbullah and Hamas to drop an "information" bomb against Israel , whose media counteroffensive should be in Europe, a University of Haifa researcher Dr. Yaniv Levyatan wrote in an Italian journal
The "information explosion" is already in the air as Iran uses anti-Israel animated films and computer games in an "organized information war against Israel ," according to Dr. Levyatan's research published in the Limes: Italian Review of Geopolitics journal.
"Hizbullah and Hamas are Tehran’s 'front line' in this war, [and] the aim of Hizbullah and Hamas, amongst others, is to push Israel into a disproportional response in an attempt to portray the IDF as 'barbaric and 'inhumane' in the international media", he explained.
He told Israel National News that the Israel government's concern should be to counter the propaganda in Europe and noted that Iran is using brainwashing methods similar to those used by the Nazis before the Holocaust.
"Even before missiles and bombs are launched, the 'information bombs' are landing unrelentingly as preparation for, or as a way of protecting against physical escalation," explained Dr. Levyatan, who analyzed Israeli and American media and the media production of Iran , Hizbullah and Hamas in the last 18 months.
He also wrote that Israeli media are unwittingly helping Iran by broadcasting details of Iran 's and Hizbullah's military strength.
“These reports are quoted…with the aim of demoralizing the Israeli public or causing the government of Israel to refrain from taking offensive measures” noted the researcher, who is part of the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that Hizbullah has stockpiled three times the number of rockets it had before the Second Lebanon War two years ago. A Voice of Israel government radio newswoman commented on the "scary" revelation.
Dr. Levyatan warned that Iran "employs new media methods as weapons to win the hearts and minds of the general public," such as disseminating short animated films on the Internet that showed Israeli soldiers harming children. The films can be downloaded anywhere in the world. Tehran also produced a computer game which let the players release prisoners held by the IDF.
His research also shows that the frequent threats of senior officials of the Iranian regime to destroy Israel , the description of Israel as “small Satan,” the denial of the Holocaust, and the constant reminder of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are tools of the Iranian information war that serve to harness the support of the Muslim world.
Hizbullah's efficient use of the "information war" is aided by the terrorist organization's "one voice and one message," according to Dr. Levyatan. "In Hizbullah, there are no leaks and all members communicate the identical message. This way of management permits the organization to operate the media as a strategic tool and hurt Israeli society."
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Palestinians: Aid boat en route from Libya to Gaza

Libyan government dispatches boat laden with 3,000 tons of supplies to Gaza; Israeli official: Decision to ignore earlier ships was wise as it avoided bad publicity, so Israel should let this ship through as well, after checking its cargo
Associated Press

The Libyan government has dispatched a boat that will try to reach the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli sea blockade, a Palestinian lawmaker said Wednesday.

The ship left the Libyan port of Zuara carrying 3,000 tons of food, medicines, blankets and powdered milk, according to Jamal Khoudary, a member of the Palestinian legislature involved in organizing an international campaign against Israeli sanctions Khoudary said Libya's foreign ministry confirmed the ship was en route to Gaza and would arrive early next week. Libyan officials declined comment, but witnesses saw the al-Marwa boat leaving Zuara on Tuesday evening.

The Libyan ship follows three boats that have sailed to Gaza from Cyprus since August to break the Israeli blockade, imposed last year to put pressure on Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Those boats, organized by the private US-based Free Gaza group, carried international activists and some aid supplies. The Navy let them through, with IDF officials saying they wanted to deny the protesters the publicity they would gain from a confrontation.

'Israel should not automatically block ship'

The case of the Libyan ship, however, presents a far bigger test. It would be the first significant shipment of goods to reach the territory. It also is the first time such a journey had official government sponsorship.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor would not say how the State planned to handle the Libyan ship, saying only that each case is considered separately. The IDF had no immediate comment.

"Israel's decision to ignore the earlier ships was wise and avoided bad publicity, and Israel should consider letting this ship through as well for the same reason, after checking its cargo," said Shlomo Brom, a strategic expert at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"Israel should not automatically block the ship because it comes from Libya," he said, noting the north African nation's pro-Western tilt in recent years.

"It depends what's on board. If there is something that can pose a threat, then Israel should stop it, but if not there is no good reason to do so," he said.

The closure on the Strip, due to continuous rocket fire towards Israel despite a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, has greatly limited the arrival of goods into Gaza and the area is suffering from a shortage of fuel and basic items.

About 10 trucks carrying aid and basic supplies entered Gaza on Wednesday, and Mahmoud Khazundar, who chairs an association of gas station owners in Gaza, said Israel allowed cooking gas in for the first time since early November.

He said 70 tons were to be sent in Wednesday and would be given to bakeries, about a dozen of which have shut down since the shortages began. But he said the gas was only a fraction of what Gaza needed.

Comment: International fairness, media objectivity: continuous reporting of Gaza closure by...Egypt! Hmmm, no such news item? Understand what is REALLY at play here-it is not what you are being lead to believe.

Israeli family held hostage in Mumbai

Terrorists seize Chabad offices in Indian city of Mumbai. Several Israelis held hostage, including rabbi and his wife; gunshots heard from building. At least 10 sites across city attacked overnight; 101 people killed, 287 injured
Jonathan Weber

Terror attack in Mumbai continues: At least 101 people were killed and 287 were injured in a terror attack on 10 different sites across the Indian city of Mumbai. Terrorists have taken over the Chabad offices and appear to be holding an Israeli family hostage by terrorists, local police reported. Gunshots have been heard from the house.

Indian news network IBN aired photos from Nariman House, where Chabad offices are located, showing the house surrounded by security forces. The network reported of exchanges of fire heard in the area but did not report on the condition of the people inside the building.

Meanwhile, Chabad's website reported that the organization's emissary to India, Rabbi Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, and his wife Rivka, were missing. According to the report, one of Holtzberg's friends received an email from the rabbi at around 11:30 pm (local time). Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation.

Menachem Cohen, editor of the Chabad On Line (COL) website, told Ynet that "Gabby Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were sent to India several years ago by the Education Center, which sends Chabad emissaries across the world."

The Chabad organization is working with the Foreign Ministry and American Consulate, as well as with a local team of volunteers, in a bid to locate the Holtzberg family and other Jews staying in Mumbai.

Foreign Ministry representative Lior Chayat told Ynet, "We are aware of the reports on what is happening in Nariman House, but we have no official confirmation. We are in contact with the local forces, with the army and police commanders there.

"The Indians are treating this event as one with hostages, but we have no information on what is happening inside the building."

Hayat added that throughout the night the Foreign Ministry's situation room received calls from 300 Israelis who are looking for their loved ones in India and believe they may be in Mumbai.

Hotel battles

The battles between the terrorists and the Indian security forces continued Thursday morning at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. Exchanges of fire and explosions were heard from inside the Taj Mahal Hotel, part of which went up in flames.

Shortly before 7 am, the CNN network reported that there were no more hostages in the Taj hotel, following reports of 45 foreign nationals being held there.

Explosions were also heard from the Oberoi Hotel. According to different reports, gunmen were holding onto four or five hostages in the hotel.

Battles for the release of hostages were reportedly being held also in a women and children's hospital in southern Mumbai.

So far, dozens of people have reportedly been killed in the combined terror attack, including 12 Indian police officers and Hemant Karkare, the chief of the police anti-terrorist squad in Mumbai. Police said they had shot dead four gunmen and arrested nine suspects.

A little-know group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen sent an email to news organisations claiming responsibility for the attacks, television channels said.

Witnesses said the attackers were young South Asian men speaking Hindi or Urdu, suggesting that they were probably members of an Indian militant group rather than foreigners.

India has suffered a wave of bomb attacks in recent years. Most have been blamed on Islamist militants, although police have also suspected Hindu extremists of carrying out some bombings.

Reuters contributed to this report

Analysis: Tripped up in the dash to the wire

Nov. 27, 2008

By notifying Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday that he plans to indict him in the Rishon Tours affair, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz effectively tripped Olmert up in his dash to some kind of diplomatic achievement before he hits the finish line.

In almost Taba-esque fashion, Olmert went to Washington this week still determined to reach an agreement in principle with the Palestinians before leaving office. "In principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future," Olmert said of the prospects of coming to an agreement with the Palestinians.

"I believe it is possible. I believe it is timely. A declaration is needed. I am ready to make it. I hope the other side is."

To some, the prospects of Olmert pushing for a declaration now, at the very end of a scandal-shortened tenure, is surrealistic, very reminiscent of the last-ditch attempt in the waning days of then prime minister Ehud Barak and former US president Bill Clinton's terms in office to reach an agreement with the Palestinians at Taba.

But then Barak made clear that nothing would be agreed upon with the Palestinians until everything was agreed upon, and if no agreement was reached, what was discussed would not bind the next government.

Olmert seems to be taking the exact opposite approach, trying with all his might to reach a declaration that would bind the next government.

Olmert argues that he is doing this because if an agreement is not reached now, there is a real likelihood that the opportunity for reaching a two-state solution would be lost, as the torch would be passed to a new generation of radicalized Palestinians advocating a one-state solution, something perilous for Israel.

Olmert's critics say there is more to it than that. According to his critics, Olmert is concerned now about how he will be remembered: the legacy thing. This reasoning argues that Olmert needs a diplomatic achievement because in the absence of any such achievement, his three-year term as prime minister would be remembered for two things: a less-than-successful war in Lebanon, and corruption scandals that hounded him from office. An agreement with the Palestinians would go a long way toward rectifying the balance sheet.

Mazuz, however, has just made that more difficult. If prior to Mazuz's announcement Olmert could argue that he had all the authority in the world to conclude an agreement with the Palestinians until he was legally bound to leave office, his critics will now say that Mazuz has now robbed him of any remaining moral authority he may have retained to do anything.

Moreover, as much as Olmert might have liked to come to terms with the Palestinians after two years of negotiations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would likely think twice now, knowing that Olmert's weak moral position would make it nearly impossible for him to pass any agreement through the cabinet, let alone the Knesset.

Why would Abbas want to expose himself to inevitable criticism on the Palestinian street for dealing with Israel, if he knows that the next government might not feel itself bound by whatever Olmert signs off on?

Ironically, the big loser in all this is likely to be Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

First of all, Kadima will now, even more than in the past, be attacked as a party of corrupt politicians.

Secondly, had Olmert suspended himself at the end of July, rather than holding on until a new government was formed, Livni would have had precious months to prove herself as prime minister, and gone to the elections in a much stronger position than she is in right now.

Until now, Olmert has argued that there was no reason to suspend himself because all the allegations would amount to nothing, and no indictment would be served.

But as of Wednesday, this doesn't look like the direction things are headed. Mazuz has indeed cast a cloud of indictment over Olmert, yet Livni didn't get her golden opportunity to sit in the prime minister's chair and influence events from there.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Israeli world first: Surgeons weld wounds shut with surgical laser

Nov. 25, 2008
judy siegel , THE JERUSALEM POST

Surgeons of the future may have to learn welding rather than sewing, now that a team of applied physicists at Tel Aviv University have developed an efficient and safe way to close incisions in the skin that they say could also be used on cuts inside the body.

The team was led by Prof. Abraham Katzir, who found a way to maintain laser heat at the correct temperature so that the incision is sealed to minimize the risk of infection and scars and speed healing. Katzir says the development is "a groundbreaking medical technology" and could also be used quickly and easily by medics on the battlefield and at road accidents, as well as by plastic surgeons and other surgical specialists.

Katzir is the son of the late Prof. Aharon Katzir, the world-famous biophysicist who was murdered in the 1972 Japanese Red Army terror attack at Lod Airport; he is the nephew of Israel's fourth president, 92-year-old Prof. Ephraim Katzir.

The Health Ministry, which studied the technology carefully, gave permission for the first clinical trials in 10 gall-bladder surgery patients a few months ago.

The test procedures were performed by Dr. Doron Kopelman, head of the general surgery department of Emek Medical Center in Afula, and Dr. David Simhon, who was a partner in the TAU research.

The results on patients were judged recently and found to be very successful, with comparisons made between the parts of the incisions closed by sutures and the parts using welding.

Now the team will see how the welding technique works on longer incisions, such as those in cesarean sections or inguinal hernias.

"The technique of sewing the human body with needle and thread is an old one that has existed for thousand of years," Katzir noted.

"Modern medicine has advanced in many fields. Now the time has come to upgrade one of the most common and important procedures in surgery - sealing the two sides of an incision.

"Suturing often requires much skill, creates scars and always opens the possibility of infection through the wound, because sutures are not watertight. Using more advanced techniques such as pins or speedy glues can often create large and ugly scars that remain on the body for years and cause much distress. Our new technique is meant to solve these problems."

Back in the 1970s, surgeons used a laser to try to fuse together the two flaps of skin, but it caused burns that disrupted the skin's ability to heal and even encouraged scarring.

But Katzir and his team use another technique called "laser welding" in which biological glue - a special albumin protein produced by the Israeli biotechnology company Omrix - is smeared on the two sides of the incision.

Then a laser warms it at the correct temperature to make the glue thicken and create a hard "shell" that protects the wound and allows it to heal speedily without allowing pathogens to enter.

They used a temperature-controlled carbon dioxide laser and special silver halide optical fibers that they developed. The technology prevents overheating and burns.

The breakthrough has aroused world interest and is presented on the Web site of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (

The TAU team will soon apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization to carry out larger clinical trials of the procedure. If they are as successful as the operations so far, the technology could be turned into a commercial product in a few years.
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Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln
I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens... to set apart... a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

Washington, DC, October 3, 1863
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

By the President:
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.