Saturday, December 13, 2008

What’s wrong with rightist Likud?

Rightists who resisted disengagement are the real Likud; Sharon was the real rebel
Uri Orbach

We never saw such joyful shock as the one that emerged this week from Kadima’s branches. It was a fake shock. The relatively rightist Likud Knesset list brought great happiness to Tzipi Livni and her comrades, as if they just won the lottery.

We can assume that Moshe Feiglin’s showing in the primaries would indeed stop some Kadima voters from returning to Likud. However, what is worthy of attention is the ease with which former Likud members now spew forth the word “rightist,” as if we are talking about a disease. Mofaz and Hirchson, Bar-On and Boim, and even Tzachi Hanegbi and the entire former Likud group did not move to Kadima because they discovered the leftist light of peace. They simply followed Ariel Sharon’s dark magic, were stuck with Ehud Olmert’s failed leadership, and will freeze to political death with the pale Livni. Now, everything that the Left ever said about them in the past is being hurled back by them at their former party. This is the party that some of them will rush to return to after Kadima evaporates.

So if those are the new leftists, I prefer the old-time leftists from Labor and Meretz.

Likud is not Meretz
We already forgot that Likud is not supposed to carry out the policies of the Left, as there is some kind of deal: The Left and Kadima will win 30-40 Knesset seats, and the victorious Likud will then start to realize their plans. In the morning, it will withdraw from the Golan Heights, by noon it will renounce Judea and Samaria, and in the evening, to finish it off, it will divide Jerusalem.

The relatively rightist Likud Knesset roster may spoil these plans. The leftists woke up in the morning after the Likud primaries and discovered that Likud is not Meretz. How disappointing it is that these Likudniks cannot be trusted.

We already forgot that the real rebels are not the so-called Likud “rebels.” The “rebels” is a derogatory term that was repeatedly attributed to the Knesset members who refused to capitulate in the face of former PM Sharon’s threats and temptations ahead of the Gaza disengagement plan. The rebels were in fact the ones who remained loyal to the Likud platform, while Sharon was the one who rebelled, broke his promises, disregarded the Likud platform, failed to accept the majority’s decision in the Likud vote, and ultimately destroyed a whole region.

The rebels’ return to the Likud Knesset list is a case of poetic justice. The boys are back where they belong. If the residents of Gush Katif cannot go back to their houses, at least the ones who supported them have returned.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Livni's Words Haunt Her

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Livni's Words Haunt Her

Tzipi Livni, trying to get her campaign into forward gear, sputtered Thursday with remarks that were interpreted as showing lack of support for soldiers and unusually hawkish to Arabs. She won international headlines after telling students in Tel Aviv that "it is not always possible to bring every [soldie home." . "It's the first time an Israeli leader has admitted in public that efforts to free Sgt. Gilad Shalit might fail," the Associated Press reported. Shalit was kidnapped 901 days ago in a Gaza crossing terrorist attack by Hamas and allied groups.

The Committee to Free Shalit plans to demonstrate Friday morning opposite the Tel Aviv home of Livni and demand that she retract her remarks. Protest leader Guy Eliasaf said, "It is very sad that Livni is prepared to sacrifice Gilad on her election campaign altar."

Israel always has been known for spectacular missions that have rescued soldiers and citizens and for its efforts to free captives.

During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Foreign Minister Livni vowed that Israel would not stop fighting Hizbullah terrorists until kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and two other captive soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were returned home. Towards the end of the war, she negotiated a ceasefire agreement through the United Nations but promised it would include a mechanism for bringing them back home.

However, the truce resolution only included a clause stating that Hizbullah should release Goldwasser and Regev, who eventually were returned in black coffins in August after outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to release child murderer Samir Kuntar of Lebanon and several Hizbullah terrorists. The public was not informed beforehand that the soldiers were dead.

Livni also took it on the chin from Israeli Arabs who were angered by her remarks to the students that the establishment of a new Arab state within Israel's current borders will mean Israeli Arabs should leave Israel if they do not like the idea of living in a Jewish state.

"And among other things, I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, 'your national solution lies elsewhere,'" she said. "You are citizens with equal rights… in a state that is the national home of the Jewish people."

Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi responded that Livni sounds like Likud chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu. He demanded that she state whether she "intends to transfer a million Arab citizens to the Palestinian State that will be established." .

Hershkowitz Evades the Question

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz Hershkowitz Evades the Question

In an interview with Voice of Israel Radio on Wednesday, the new chairman of the Jewish Home party, Prof. Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz, was evasive when asked directly if he'd reject further territorial concessions and evictions of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. In a later interview with Arutz Sheva, he explained that a clear Jewish vision would have prevented past "expulsions," as he termed the 2005 Gaza-Samaria Disengagement. According to a translation provided by Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA), Hershkowitz told Voice of Israel interviewer Aryeh Golan that "in the development of diplomatic positions, the right of every Jew to live in every place in the Land of Israel wasn't even part of the consciousness of those making the [Ol agreements. When these values are missing it is easy to also make agreements where parts of the Land of Israel are easily ceded."

Aryeh Golan then asked, "You are not prepared to cede any inch of the Land of Israel?"

Hershkowitz : "First of all, I said that it is the right of every Jew..."

Golan interrupted and pressed, "There is 'right' and there is, you know, 'implementation'."

Hershkowitz: "Look, when you come to an agreement, there should be an awareness of this right and it should be in the background. ...[Eac case, according to the circumstances, for each agreement, according to its price, one must weigh everything."

Golan: "So you would be prepared to consider gathering in the settlements to settlement blocs as under the famous Bush Plan?"

Hershkowitz: "To the best of my knowledge at this juncture there is not a specific plan on the table so I prefer not to deal with hypothetical questions."

The Jewish Home chairman went on to reiterate his position that no leader should "forgo the right of every Jew to live in every part of the Land of Israel. This is a value of Judaism and the vision of Zionism - and by the way, not just of the national religious movement, but has always be a general Zionist value and this value should be in the background of matters...."

These values, he said, when held by the decision-makers, "by their nature, influence the nature of the agreements that they accept."

In a later interview with Arutz Sheva Radio in Hebrew, Hershkowitz explained the connection of the religious-Zionist vision to appeasement initiatives: "When there is no vision, you get the expulsion from Gush Katif and the expulsion from Amona, etc."

Hershkowitz's Wednesday interviews echoed the tone of his premier press conference on Monday, when he said of the Jewish Home party: "We do not see ourselves as a right-wing or left-wing party, we see ourselves as a party that is building a vision according to the values of Judaism - the Torah, Land and People of Israel - and in this party there is room for everyone."

In matters of national policy, he explained, the party decided that every Knesset member will be free to vote his or her conscience and will not be obligated by party discipline. The new party has yet to present a platform with detailed positions on specific issues on the national agenda.

UN General Assembly chief tries to block Israeli envoy's address

Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent

The President of the United Nations General Assembly tried to prevent Israel's ambassador, Professor Gabriela Shalev, from speaking at a special commemorative plenary session marking 60 years since the UN adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, scheduled for Wednesday. The General Assembly President, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, tried to cancel speeches that were to be given by representatives of the unofficial regional group known as "Western European and others," after he learned that Israel's ambassador was to represent the group as its rotating chairman.

However, European representatives rejected the motion to cancel the meeting, and voiced outrage at his attempt to prevent the address.

In response, Brockmann announced that he would add a representative of the Arab bloc and a representative of unaffiliated nations, two blocs known to be hostile toward Israel, to the list of speakers at the session.

The event is expected to turn into a political debate in light of these changes.

PA historical distortion

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Since its establishment, the Palestinian Authority has been rewriting history in an attempt to create historical legitimacy for its demand for statehood, as well as justification for the terror and wars against Israel since before Israel's establishment in 1948. The latest example of historical revisionism is the rewriting of the UN Partition Plan of 1947, which recommended the division of the Land of Israel/Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab.

The false Palestinian version of the Partition Plan was expressed on PA TV by Dr. Ahmad Subh, Deputy Minister in the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who accused the UN of permitting in 1947 the establishment of only one state, Israel, and not of an Arab state.

The following are the words of Dr. Subh:

"The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Nov. 29 was not picked coincidentally, that's the anniversary of the [1947 UN] Partition Plan...
In 1977, the UN General Assembly decided to restore the Palestinian people's esteem, following the historic injustice which happened in 1947, when 'a birth certificate' was offered to one state instead of to two states.
One state [Israel] was permitted to be established, while the Palestinian state was not permitted to be established."

PATV (Fatah), Nov. 29, 2008.

Statistics Show Police Discrimination Against Yesha Jews

Police in Hevron atttack Jewish woman

( For the first time, police statistics are shown to confirm official law enforcement discrimination against the Jews of Judea and Samaria.
The 29-page report shows a clear pattern, backed up by columns of statistics, of police discrimination against Jews living in Judea and Samaria. The report was prepared by the Civil Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria (Yesha), headed by Orit Strook of Hevron.. While throughout Israel the number of police-opened criminal files, with no complainant, runs at 14% of the cases, in the Jewish towns of Yesha it is 25% - 80% more.
Treating Jewish Residents as Gangsters
The statistics indicate that the Jews of Yesha are treated as a “community of crime,” in which specially-formulated regulations are implemented. These include:

* using the Shabak (Shin Bet, General Security Service) as an intelligence body, instead of standard police detectives
* usage of restraining and distancing orders
* massive and forceful police presence
* relatively many arrests; unlike elsewhere in the country, the police are obligated to arrest any Jew who causes any harm to a person or property
* police-opened files in a wholesale and initiated manner
* special detective teams
* extra-light criteria in determining when to hand down indictments

“Practically speaking,” the report concludes, “the purpose of formulating the special regulations [against the residents of Yesha], which have no parallel anywhere else in Israel, was to use the law enforcement institutions in order to enable the government to oppress political opponents.”
One chapter deals with the “Yesha Law Enforcement Team”. Though this body was officially dismantled in 1998, by order of the Attorney General, in fact it continues to operate up to this very day.

The report reviews the ways in which this team works: Re-opening closed criminal files, exerting pressure on courts, compiling a ‘black list’ of suspected and accused Jews, issuing administrative distancing orders, and the like. This body operates in violation of Knesset decisions, while on the other hand, it is susceptible to influence by various left-wing groups.
The special regulations formulated by the Attorney General in 1999 regarding Arabs of Judea and Samaria state that any charges that do not deal with “heavy security crimes” must be dropped for “lack of public interest,” that charges must not be leveled against “public figures,” and that persons under 16 years of age must not be incarcerated over night.

Twice as Many Indictments, Half as Many Convictions
Another statistic shows that while the rate of indictments per criminal case averages 14% across the country, in the Judea and Samaria District it was no less than 38% - more than twice the national average.
Even more significant, however, is the rate of convictions: While across the country, 97% of those indicted on criminal files are convicted, in Judea and Samaria it is only 54%. The report therefore concludes that the judicial system ends up doing the “filtering out” work that the police are supposed to do, “and this is a grave blow at the basic civil rights of suspects in Judea and Samaria, who, because of the selective law enforcement policies, find themselves in the status of ‘accused’ who are forced to defend themselves in court, with all that that implies, in order to regain their status of presumed innocence.”

More Police Resources in Yesha
Not only do the police dedicate extra resources for the purpose of opening files against Yesha residents, the report states, but this also comes at the expense of the basic democratic rule of equality before the law.

Left-Wing Left Alone
Another chapter shows that while the Jews of Yesha are over-enforced, their Arab neighbors, as well as anarchists and left-wing outsiders who demonstrate or otherwise act in their areas, enjoy below-average law enforcement.
For instance, during the first 8.5 months of 2008, out of a total of 400 “disturbing the peace” files opened, only 36 of them were against left-wing activists – exactly 9%. This, despite the regular, weekly, violent left-wing protests held in Bil’in and Na'alin against IDF forces.

In addition, in 2007, only 30 left-wing figures were arrested. Out of this total of 66 arrests in ’07-’08, only two (3%) ended in indictments – as opposed to the figure of 38% against Jews cited above.
The report states that no distancing orders have ever been issued against the violent left-wing protestors, even though this would affect only their right to protest. On the other hand, five such orders have been handed down this year against nationalists, distancing them from their families, homes, source of income, and day-to-day life.
Six Times More Zeal Against Jews
Another telling statistic shows that in 73% of the cases opened against Jews in Yesha, the police were able to locate the suspects and verify the charges against them – while this was true for only 13% of the cases opened against Arabs. This percentage, the report states, is the most indicative of the amount and quality of resources used to enforce the law against the various sectors.

More Police Per Jew
Another telling statistic: The number of police officers in the Judea and Samaria District is one for every 241 Jewish residents, while in Um el Fahm it is one for every 1,200 residents. In the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Akko (Acre), the number is one for every 839 residents, and one for every 1,045 in Netanya. “This hurts not only the residents of Judea and Samaria, but all Israelis, who receive low-quality police service. One can only imagine how a more equitable distribution of police forces would help reduce crime in Netanya, for instance.”%ad%

The report cites several judicial rulings that expressed criticism of the police for pressing charges only against the Jews involved in an incident, while letting the Arabs involved go free.

Unanswered Questions
The report sums up as follows: “The reality, as reflected in special rules, data and the above charts, is one of disproportionate and unreasonable over-enforcement of law on one sector, tremendous allocation of police resources, trampling of residents’ civil rights, and lack of protection from attacks. Even worse, it shows that government bodies and law enforcement tools are used to repress a particular population sector that is labeled as having a particular political or ideological bent… The piercing question is: What is the legal, constitutional and moral justification for this? In addition, why is this true picture kept hidden from the public? Why has an opposite picture, one that has nothing to do with reality, been presented to the public over the course of many years?”
© Copyright

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Lo Yafeh"

Arlene Kushner

It's not nice, not seemly. And that's a bit of an understatement. Head of Likud Binyamin Netanyahu, unhappy about the victory in the primary of right wing candidates, is attempting to do something about it.

Netanyahu has sent his former aide, Ophir Akunis, to petition the Likud's internal court regarding the order of the list. The request is being made that those elected in slots reserved for districts and specific groups -- such as immigrants and women -- be moved up on the list, which would have the effect of moving Feiglin and some others who ran on the national list down.. Is this legal? Is the Likud court likely to be receptive to this petition? I have no idea. What I do think is that it's inappropriate and lacking in ethics. What's done is done. He's trying to undo what has been put in place by a list publicized and then voted upon.


I know all of the reasons being offered as to why Netanyahu thinks he has to do this: That he needs a centrist image in order to win big, and without that big win he cannot accomplish what he hopes to accomplish. The question, then, is precisely what is it he hopes to accomplish if he won't align himself with rightists within his own party. Netanyahu rushed yesterday to say he'd do his best to form a unity government if he becomes prime minister. A unity government would freeze us.

It's also being said that old-time Likud people such as Silvan Shalom and Limor Livnot are "furious" that they didn't do better on the list. To which I say, "tough." Netanyahu is trying to give them a boost, post-primary.


While the over-riding concern expressed about the list is that it will cause a drop in Likud popularity, that's not necessarily the case at all. A poll, by Haaretz-Dialog, done after the primary results were announced, gave Likud two more mandates than it had before: up from 34 to 36. Another poll, by Yediot Ahronot, shows a drop of one mandate for Likud, but also shows a drop of two mandates for Kadima.

There is also some finger pointing within the party regarding whose "fault" it is that Feiglin won. If only it hadn't been so obvious that Netanyahu didn't want him, goes the argument, Feiglin's supporters wouldn't have come out in such strength. What astonishes me is that those pointing their fingers are not considering the possibility that the members of Likud are really fed up and ready for a change.

People right of center who might have voted this list -- especially as the Jewish Home party (a merger of National Union and NRP) isn't getting its act together -- may decide otherwise if Netanyahu has his way.


When speculating on how the nation might vote, Netanyahu would do well to consider his image, with regard to trustworthiness and respect for democratic process. Right now what Likud has going for it is the great list that was elected. He should pay this heed.


Oh joy! The rumors are apparently true. President-elect Obama, in a Chicago Tribune interview, says he intends to give a "major address" in an Islamic capital shortly after being elected. The scuttlebutt has it that this capital would be Cairo, but there's nothing firm on this.

He's interested, he says, in "rebooting American's image," in particular in the Muslim world. While he says he will not shrink from the battle against terrorism, he has an "unrelenting" desire to "create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together."

Well, this sounds lovely, but suggests to me more of the naiveté on his part I've seen evidence of already. I would sincerely like to know which Muslim countries he believes are interested in "mutual respect" with the US and have citizens who want to prosper together with American citizens.

My fear is that his eagerness to create these new relationships will result in an even more political correct stance, in which Islamic radicalism cannot even be named as the source of worldwide terrorism, and the American government bends over backward to give Arabs the benefit of the doubt. The simple truth is that the major Arab nations that are generally labeled "moderate" -- Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- routinely undercut US interests. Saudi Arabia is a blatant purveyor of terrorism. Egypt has promoted Hamas, turning a blind eye to the smuggling of weapons -- which they are perfectly capable of stopping -- for terrorist use into Gaza.

And precisely what do you imagine will be Obama's stance with regard to support for Israel, if he is courting better relationships with Arabs hostile to Israel? Are those who have been optimistic about Obama's commitment to Israel quite as sure now as they were?


Two senior research associates for the Institute for National Security Studies have written an article about dealing with Iran. I turn to it here in relation to Obama -- who has expressed readiness to talk to Iran too. Ephraim Asculai and Emily Landau say that negotiations with Iran must be proceeded by strong economic measures and credible military threats. The Iranians must be pushed into taking the negotiations seriously, understanding full well what the alternatives are, or else they will simply use talk as a stalling tactic while continuing nuclear development.

Is Obama tough enough to make the necessary those credible military threats and to carry through as necessary?

see my website

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eldad to push 'anti-Islamization' laws

Dec. 10, 2008

MK Arye Eldad, who is currently with the National Union-National Religious Party but has founded the new Hatikva Party, says he is planning to introduce a package of emergency "anti-Islamization legislation" in the next Knesset to "confront the enemy within and without." The legislation would make military or civil service obligatory for both Arab and Jewish citizens, require all citizens to declare their loyalty to Israel "as a Jewish democratic state" as a condition for voting in national elections and ensure punishments are meted out for illegal construction, which is rife in the Arab sector.

"I am trying to preserve the state of Israel as a Jewish state," Eldad told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "I'm trying to struggle against both a post-Zionist trend and the trend of 'Islamization' of some citizens of Israel, who are saying we no longer need a Jewish state and that this should be a binational state of Jews and Muslims."

MK Ibrahim Sarsour, head of the United Arab List-Ta'al, said that he and other Arab activists will do everything possible to ensure that Eldad's "discriminatory" legislation package, if introduced, does not pass.

The legislation, Sarsour said, would lead to the exclusion of the Arab minority from the Israeli system, something the community "will not accept."

But even if it does pass, Sarsour said, "we will go on struggling within the limitations of Israeli law by peaceful means, [so] that Israel will be a state of all its citizens, not a Jewish state or a state of the Jewish community" in which Arabs are "simply a passing minority."

Most Arab leaders are against making military or civilian service mandatory for Israeli Arabs, saying they want to create their own non-state mechanisms to serve their communities.

Eldad plans to reveal details of the package during a public conference he is hosting in Jerusalem on Sunday, entitled "Facing Jihad."

The seminar at the Begin Heritage Center, which he says aims to educate Israelis about "the true nature of Islam," will feature speakers such as writer Daniel Pipes and Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who will screen his controversial film Fitna, which aims to demonstrate that the Koran encourages hatred of and violence against non-Muslims.

Meanwhile, the primary for Hatikva was held on Tuesday. The secular Zionist party, according to its Web site, aims "to return redemptive Zionism to the center stage of the Jewish state" and believes that "the Land of Israel is the exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people."

Results of the primary were not available by press time.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1228728129918&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull.

Indian police release names, photos of Islamic terrorists who carried out Mumbai siege


Under the caption "The faces of Terror," the Indian police Tuesday, Dec. 9, released the names and photos of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai Nov. 26 and killed more than 170 people. Their places of origin, aliases and real names were also revealed. All ten came from Pakistan's Punjab province.The two terrorists who slaughtered six Israelis at the Mumbai Chabad Center were Abu Umer – real name Nasir, from Faisalabad and Abu Akasha - real name Babar Imran, from Multan.

Two of the eight photos released were taken from dead bodies. Their identity cards were too charred to be used. The ninth was badly defaced and the 10th is in custody. DEBKAfile adds: The exposure of the ten terrorists' identities will further fuel military tensions between India and Pakistan and Islamabad's expectation of reprisals by New Delhi against Lashkar-e-Taiba bases. Yet Pakistan stands by its refusal to hand over or give Indian access to the Lashkar-e-e Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, said to be behind the Mumbai terror strikes.

In a special briefing ion Mumbai, Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria said the names of the nine terrorists killed in the encounter were obtained from Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman who was caught alive.

The two who attacked Mumbai's railway terminus and hospital were identified as Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail from Dera Ismail Khan, and Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman alias Abu Mujahid from Okara. Those who attacked Taj Hotel in south Mumbai were named as Hafeez Arshad alias Bada Abdul Rehman from Multan, Javed alias Abu Ali from Okara, Shoaib alias Soheb from Sialkot and Nazeer alias Abu Umer from Faisalabad.

Abdul Rehman alias Abdul Rehman Chhota from Multan and Fahadullah alias Abu Fahad from Okara were the duo which attacked the Trident Oberoi hotel.

Their ages averaged between 23 and 25, the Indian police officer reported. They were given aliases during training to preserve their identities from each other. Their training in arms and explosives is believed to have taken place for more than a year at four locations in Pakistan. Some also underwent three weeks of indoctrination.

Nasir, Nazeer and Ismail Khan, allegedly the leader of the group, had participated in terror missions earlier, Maria said. He refused to provide details of their previous missions.

While sailing for three days into Indian waters on board the Gujarat-based fishing vessel "Kuber,"

which the terrorists hijacked, they spoke to each other and that was how the captured gunman discovered their names and places of origin.

The police chief reported: "We are examining the contents of the four GPS devices, one satellite phone and nine mobile phones that have been recovered." He refused to say if the SIM cards found in the mobiles were of Indian origin but said one used by the terrorists had been purchased in Kolkata and two people had been arrested for obtaining them using forged documents.

Ten days after the Islamic massacre, the new head of the Chabad center is preparing to restore the facility which was a home from home for Israeli and Jewish visitors and name it for its murdered director Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

The Taj Hotel pledged its reopening would be marked with an interfaith ceremony..

Ministers urge tough action in Gaza

Prime minister, foreign minister and defense minster convene to discuss Israel's course of action against rocket attacks from Gaza. government ministers call on leaders to launch immediate military operations in Strip

Roni Sofer

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak convened Wednesday to discuss the alternatives for an Israeli response to the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza. . Shas chairman, Minister Eli Yishai called on the leaders ahead of the meeting to order "immediate pinpoint operations against the Hamas leadership and those who carry out the terror attacks against Israel."

Yishai added that Israel should impose an economic blockade on the Strip by halting all money transfers to Gaza. He also urged other sanctions, such as the sealing of border crossings, and damaging the electricity, gas and water infrastructure in the area.

"I know of no legal opinion that prevents the decision-makers from responding to the firing of Qassams, Grad missiles and mortar shells at civilians," he stated. "The legal argument shouldn't be used as an excuse for Israeli non-action," he added.

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit stated that it was time to stop discussing the fortifying of Israeli communities. "For years we have been saying that the best defense is offense. I want people in Gaza to fortify themselves, not people in Israel."

According to Sheetrit, "Hamas' missile range could threaten half a million people. No one is suggesting that we fortify Ashkelon and Ashdod. Therefore the no-response approach to rocket attacks must stop."

Housing and Construction Minister Zeev Boim said that "there's a need for a wide-scale military operation in any scope necessary. It's no secret that the entire country is under rocket threat."

Livni, who called the meeting, is demanding an Israeli response to every rocket or shell fired from Gaza. "Fire must be answered with fire," she said.

"I don't care what the return address on the missile is, as far as I'm concerned Hamas is responsible for all artillery fired from Gaza."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

EU foreign ministers vote to intensify diplomatic dialogue with Israel

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)

In Brussels yesterday (8 December), 27 European foreign ministers unanimously agreed to intensify their dialogue with Israel on diplomatic issues. Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni said that this is a meaningful achievement for Israeli diplomacy, opening a new chapter in Israel's diplomatic relations with EU states. It reflects the increasing cooperation between the parties, based on common values and similar world views.
. The intensification of diplomatic dialogue is an important element in the process of upgrading the ties between Israel and Europe, which encompass a variety of areas such as trade, transportation, energy, culture, financial services, welfare, etc. This process began about a year and a half ago, at the initiative of FM Livni, who proposed that the EU states examine the subject from a practical standpoint. Since then, Israel has been negotiating with the EU on the details and nature of the upgrade in their relations, which was confirmed in principle when FM Livni attended the Association meeting in Luxemburg last June.

This move will enable Israel to integrate more fully into the changing global constellation and to confront, as an equal partner, the challenges facing the international community today – the economic crisis, global terrorism, the threat of extremism, WMD proliferation, and the environment.

Ties with the European Union are a central pillar in Israel's foreign policy. In recent years, dozens of European foreign ministers and leaders have visited Israel, a sign of the depth and quality of relations. The EU is Israel's biggest trade partner, and the ties between them, which already extend into many diverse fields, will receive an additional boost when the upgrade in relations begins to show practical expression.

The diplomatic aspect of the upgrade process is wide-reaching and will reflect the special relations that have developed in recent years between Israel and the EU. The new elements agreed upon include holding ad hoc summit meetings with the participation of Israeli and European prime ministers; at least three meetings a year of Israeli and European foreign ministers; periodic meetings of Israeli and European foreign ministry director generals; ongoing professional dialogue on the subjects of the peace process, strategic issues, counterterrorism, international cooperation (MASHAV), organized crime, and others; intensified joint discussions on antisemitism and human rights; European help in integrating Israel into UN institutions; possible integration of Israeli experts in European peace forces; enhancement of the relations between the Knesset and European parliaments, and more.

Israel intends to use the intensified dialogue to convince Europe to increase the pressure on Hamas and the actions against the Iranian threat, while ensuring that Israel's strategic interests are protected in every diplomatic process.

מח' מידע ואינטרנט – אגף תקשורת

West Bank Hardball: Fatah's offensive against Hamas

Jeffrey White
December 9, 2008

After several political and military setbacks, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have waged an effective campaign against Hamas's political, economic, and military position in the West Bank. And as long as Israeli security forces remain in the West Bank, a Hamas seizure of power there is effectively impossible. Although this is an important positive development, Hamas is an adaptive opponent that should not be counted out in the long-term power struggle in the Palestinian territories.. Two Different Worlds
Gaza and the West Bank represent two very different political environments. In Gaza, Hamas is virtually unchallenged. The organization derives its strength from a three-decade effort to build political, social, economic, and military power bases, the fecklessness of Fatah, and Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Gaza is Hamas's home and the birthplace of much of the organization's past and present leadership. Hamas has built an extensive and highly effective outreach program in the Strip, and most of its military forces are located there. The strength of Hamas's position in Gaza was demonstrated in the 2005 local council elections, in which it won two-thirds of the seats, and in its easy elimination of Fatah as a political force in Gaza in June 2007. With no Israeli military presence and the current ceasefire reducing Israel's military pressure, Hamas enjoys a relatively unthreatened environment.

The situation in the West Bank is quite different. Election defeats, the loss of Gaza, and Hamas's continuing political pressure, including calls for PA president Mahmoud Abbas to step down in January 2009, have shaken Fatah and the PA. Fatah, however, enjoys some advantages in the West Bank, including control of key government institutions, relatively strong security forces, and the critical presence and assistance of the Israeli military. Fatah and the PA are exercising their political, military, and economic power to curb Hamas influence in the West Bank, and are working on multiple fronts to increase their advantage.

The Political Front
Internally, the PA seeks to weaken Hamas's political organization by detaining its leaders and members, and disrupting its operations. During the first half of 2008, some 200 Hamas activists were reportedly apprehended, and as of November 2008, Hamas stated that the PA was holding over 600. This past week, Abbas announced that the PA would appoint members of local councils who have expiring terms. Hamas reacted by protesting the move, seeing it as a further attack on its power base in the West Bank.

The Security Front
In the security arena, the PA is using its improved security force to attack Hamas's military structure. PA security forces have increased their presence in West Bank cities, arrested members of Hamas's military force -- the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades -- seized weapons, and uprooted military infrastructure, including two underground facilities and a training site. With this expansion of security force capabilities, the PA has become a more credible and effective military force, something it lacks in Gaza. Israel has permitted the deployment of PA security forces in the West Bank, assisted its actions through the provision of intelligence, and acted directly against Hamas leaders and cells. Perhaps most important, the continuing presence of the Israeli army in the West Bank blocks any possible repeat of the 2007 Gaza coup.

The Economic Front
Hamas's ability to fund political, social, and military activities has been critical to its success in the West Bank and Gaza. But Hamas's financial apparatus has been under attack for some time, with the United States, UK, and Israel closing down charities that act as front groups and terminating banking services. For its part, the PA has begun closing businesses associated with Hamas, dismantling Hamas-controlled charitable organizations, and monitoring financial transactions by local banks. These actions impinge on Hamas's ability to operate effectively as an organization, to continue its terrorist activities, and to maintain popular support. These efforts, however, have not broken Hamas's financial capability. (See PolicyWatch #1436, "Financial Setbacks for Hamas.")

The PA is also benefiting from the improved economic situation in the West Bank, in contrast to the deepening economic problems in Gaza. In the struggle for Palestinian hearts and minds, the PA can at least appeal to the stomach.

Upside Gains
The PA's multidimensional offensive, combined with Israeli cooperation and military presence, has reduced Hamas's political prospects in the West Bank and suppressed the threat of a Hamas seizure of power. While Hamas's control of Gaza remains a serious political and diplomatic problem for many, including the United States, the PA's gains in the West Bank curb any further geographic expansion of Hamas control and provide a prospect for the eventual weakening -- if not breaking -- of Hamas's hold on Gaza. It remains to be seen, however, if Fatah and the PA have the leadership and organizational base to take advantage of the situation.

Downside Risks
Although the position of Fatah and the PA in the West Bank is improving, the situation entails risks. Fatah's popular support may not grow in conjunction with its more effective use of political and other forms of power, and Hamas could possibly react forcefully to the PA's pressure, including the use of violence. Hamas retains the ability to act violently against the PA and to use the West Bank as a launchpad for terrorist attacks within Israel to embarrass and undermine the PA.

Hamas is better led and has greater organizational skills than Fatah. Above all, it is politically, militarily, and economically adaptive at the tactical and operational levels, while maintaining strategic consistency. Hamas is also capable of taking the long view, since it is a model for a "long war" organization. As such, Hamas is unlikely to give up its struggle with the PA, even as it pursues tactical and operational accommodations to relieve short-term difficulties.

The expansion of the PA's West Bank capacity is critical to solving Hamas's control of Gaza and to any progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The PA, with all its faults and problems, is the only political alternative to Hamas. Fatah and the PA must act to realize their potential through internal reform and the delivery of services to the Palestinian people. The PA must be seen as a real alternative that is worth supporting. The PA's external supporters must maintain pressure on Hamas in both the West Bank and Gaza and, considering Hamas's adaptive ability to survive, restrict its maneuvering room. Just as Hamas is prepared for a "long war," its opponents should be persistent and pervasive in countering Hamas.

Jeffrey White is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, specializing in the military and security affairs of Iraq and the Levant.

Defending Yourself Against Terrorism: A Difficult Task

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 mobilize real international strategic support, not just expressions of sympathy for the deaths and destruction? How can it destroy terrorist groups--including installations outside its own borders--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.

And, as one Indian reader put it, "There is a Hindi saying: One and One makes Eleven. It is time for India and Israel to become allies. It is a jihad we are both facing."

Since radical Islamists really believe their own propaganda, they tend to minimize their allies and maximize their enemies. You don't want to make 900 million Hindus and additional other Indians mad at you.


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).

The Meaning of Mumbai

Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Will the horrors unleashed by Islamic terrorists in Mumbai cause any second thoughts by those who are so anxious to start weakening the American security systems currently in place, including government interceptions of international phone calls and the holding of terrorists at Guantanamo?
Maybe. But never underestimate partisan blindness in Washington or in the mainstream media where, if the Bush administration did it, then it must be wrong.

Contrary to some of the more mawkish notions of what a government is supposed to be, its top job is the protection of the people. Nobody on 9/11 would have thought that we would see nothing comparable again in this country for seven long years.

Many people seem to have forgotten how, in the wake of 9/11, every great national event-- the World Series, Christmas, New Year's, the Super Bowl-- was under the shadow of a fear that this was when the terrorists would strike again.

They didn't strike again here, even though they have struck in Spain, Indonesia, England and India, among other places. Does anyone imagine that this was because they didn't want to hit America again?

Could this have had anything to do with all the security precautions that liberals have been complaining about so bitterly, from the interception of international phone calls to forcing information out of captured terrorists?

Too many people refuse to acknowledge that benefits have costs, even if that cost means only having no more secrecy when making international phone calls than you have when sending e-mails, in a world where computer hackers abound. There are people who refuse to give up anything, even to save their own lives.

A very shrewd observer of the deterioration of Western societies, British writer Theodore Dalrymple, said: "This mental flabbiness is decadence, and at the same time a manifestation of the arrogant assumption that nothing can destroy us."

There are growing numbers of things that can destroy us. The Roman Empire lasted a lot longer than the United States has lasted, and yet it too was destroyed.

Millions of lives were blighted for centuries thereafter, because the barbarians who destroyed Rome were incapable of replacing it with anything at all comparable. Neither are those who threaten to destroy the United States today.

The destruction of the United States will not require enough nuclear bombs to annihilate cities and towns across America. After all, the nuclear destruction of just two cities was enough to force Japan to surrender-- and the Japanese had far more willingness to fight and die than most Americans have today.

How many Americans are willing to see New York, Chicago and Los Angeles all disappear in nuclear mushroom clouds, rather than surrender to whatever outrageous demands the terrorists make?

Neither Barack Obama nor those with whom he will be surrounded in Washington show any signs of being serious about forestalling such a terrible choice by taking any action with any realistic chance of preventing a nuclear Iran.

Once suicidal fanatics have nuclear bombs, that is the point of no return. We, our children and our grandchildren will live at the mercy of the merciless, who have a track record of sadism.

There are no concessions we can make that will buy off hate-filled terrorists. What they want-- what they must have for their own self-respect, in a world where they suffer the humiliation of being visibly centuries behind the West in so many ways-- is our being brought down in humiliation, including self-humiliation.

Even killing us will not be enough, just as killing Jews was not enough for the Nazis, who first had to subject them to soul-scarring humiliations and dehumanization in their death camps.

This kind of hatred may not be familiar to most Americans but what happened on 9/11 should give us a clue-- and a warning.

The people who flew those planes into the World Trade Center buildings could not have been bought off by any concessions, not even the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spending in bailout money today.

They want our soul-- and if they are willing to die and we are not, they will get it.

Copyright © 2008 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Chabad Jewish house to be ready in two weeks

The Times of India

BANGALORE: A Chabad Bangalore Jewish centre proposed to be set up by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and Rivkah Holtzberg will cater to the cultural and spiritual needs of Jewish businessmen and technology professionals working in Bangalore. It'll also reach out to the larger community to spread the good word of selflessness. Speaking to TOI over phone from California on Thursday morning, Mordechai Kirschenbaum, a childhood friend of Gavriel, said this centre, which will be ready in two weeks, will connect with members of the Jewish community living and visiting Bangalore to make them feel at home. "There aren't a whole lot of Jews in Bangalore. But some who are part of technology and call centre companies go there. We thought even if there are only a few, it's a good idea to set up the centre for them."

The underlying basis of the centre, Kirschenbaum said, was to inculcate selflessness in people. "Gavriel was selfless, reaching out to everyone in the community and ready to do anything for anyone. He and his family were an inspiration for everyone."

He added: "He has been a fantastic inspiration for me. We studied in the same school in New York. He decided to go to India. His death was the worst thing in my life. It is gut-wrenching. Hopefully, we'll filfil all his wishes when the new centre comes up in Bangalore. God willing, we'll do well."

A few members of the community have a temporary office on Brunton Road and have a blog to stay in touch. Some are meeting to pray for the departed souls on Friday evening with candle lighting, a gesture considered of high spiritual and philosophical value in Jewish culture. .

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Qassam dilemma

Eitan Haber says it may be impossible to end Gaza rocket attacks once and for all

Eitan Haber
Published: 12.08.08, 00:42 / Israel Opinion

Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, and Gabi Ashkenazi are well aware of what needs to be done in the Gaza Strip in the wake of a weekend that saw some 20 Qassam rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel. As all of them are experienced military and political officials, they know that under no circumstances can we assume that as there were no casualties in the latest attacks, we can return to routine following this massive fire.

On the contrary, as opposed to members of the media and other people who claim to understand the issues, these three figures – as well as all IDF officials – must view the 20 Qassams as if they hit their targets and left casualties in their wake. This is how the IDF should be thinking; indeed, this is how IDF officials are thinking.

Well, if this is what they think, we should operate in line with this realization, one would imagine. Yet the opposite is true. Olmert, Barak, and Ashkenazi know well that a military operation in the Gaza Strip would not constitute the end; rather, it would merely constitute the beginning.

Therefore, as opposed to political leaders on the eve of the elections, these three figures do not rush into battle; rather, they weight their steps cautiously in order to ensure that we do not reach a situation whereby we pay a heavy price, without reaching our objectives. Or in other words, they seek to ensure that we do not pay with too much blood, and a day later watch the Qassams flying at Sderot, Ashkelon, and other Gaza-region communities. What would be the advantage of a military operation if this would be the "new" state of affairs?

Unbearable reality
And for the time being, the tens of thousands of Israelis living in the shadow of the Qassams are forced to cope with an unbearable life: They are trying to create a unique way of life between one Color Red anti-rocket alarm and another.

One needs to be particularly cold-hearted in order not to show understanding to their plight. They are waiting for the IDF, Olmert, Barak and Ashkenazi to solve the problem once and for all.

Yet this is the problem, summarized into four words: Once and for all? Even political magicians on the eve of elections, who forgot what they said yesterday and do not intend to deliver on what they will say tomorrow, won't dare pledge to bring about this "once and for all".

And so, we are still left facing this problem, hurting, and shaking our heads: What, in God's name, can we still do?

Likud members elect Knesset list

Nearly 100,000 registered Likud members given opportunity to select party's new roster. Amid malfunctions in computeirzed system, hardliner Feiglin says 'someone may not be able to resist temptation and try tampering with the results'
Amnon Meranda

With the party's prospects to win the next elections looking good, the Likud's 99,000 registered members were given the opportunity to elect its Knesset roster Monday. . Polling stations opened at 10 am at 90 locations nationwide and will remain open until 11 pm. The voter turnout rate is estimated be somewhere in the 50%-60% range. Likud voters will be casting their ballots through a computerized system, in the hopes of averting the computer fiasco in the Labor primaries last week.

Malfunctions were reported in the computerized voting stations in Bet Shemesh and Mevaseret Zion, which are in the greater Jerusalem area.

The glitches were traced back to damaged Bezeq lines in Jerusalem, which were accidentally torn by a tractor on Monday morning. Voting at the Jerusalem station, which includes 20 polling stands, was postponed by an hour an a half due to the problem.

Voting in Jerusalem resumed once the malfunction at the International Convention Center polling station was repaired.

Likud hardliner Moshe Feiglin was one of the first to cast their ballot, amid expressed concerns of election tampering: "I have my concerns that when the system is computerized and unsupervised, someone may not be able to resist temptation and try tampering with the results," he said.

Feiglin further added that Monday's primaries would determine whether the next Knesset will see the Likud become "the pullout's Likud, Kadima's Likud or the real Likud, which will bring back the love for the land of Israel and the Torah. Do we continue on the path of destruction led by (former Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon and by the Left, or do we embark on a new path."

Feiglin rebuffed claims suggesting his hard-line positions could prove detrimental to the party, saying "my induction in the Likud has opened it gates to the entire national camp."

Soon after, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara cast their vote. Netanyahu took his time behind screen and upon coming out said that "we have a lot of excellent candidates. I had to give it serious thought which is why I took my time.

"I believe we are voting for the country's new leadership today, one which can solve the security and financial problems. We are blessed with excellent people," he told Ynet.

Next to vote was former Minister Dan Meridor. "I hope that all the party members will vote by tonight. There is a very good chance we are choosing the next leadership."

As for the statement made against him by his peers in the Likud, suggesting he was the party left-wing marker, Meridor said that he "was first inducted into the Likud 40 years ago. I was privileged to sit with (former Prime Ministers) Menchem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. I am the one who represents the true Likud."

About one hour prior to the vote, Tel Aviv District Court President Uri Goren ordered the Likud to refrain from publishing the results for the party's 26th slot, which has been secured for a non-Jewish candidate.

The decision was made following a petition filed Likud member Rahed Hir a-Din, who claimed that the fact that that party allowed former Knesset Member Ayoob Kara to bid for the slot, was hindering other candidates' chances.

The court order the Likud to hold the results pending a decision on the legality of the relevant clause in the party's codex. Judge Goren also found the party in contempt of court, since it failed to send a representative to the hearing, and fined it NIS 10,000 (about $2,530).

Netanyahu seeks centrist roster

Three main battles will be at the center of attention during the primaries:

* A battle for Likud's image, pitting Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu against hardliner Moshe Feiglin.
* A battle pitting Likud's new "stars" who recently joined the party against incumbent Knesset members.
* An ethnic battle over the number of Sephardic candidates to win realistic spots on the roster.

Netanyahu seeks to present a balanced and centrist roster in the hopes of averting attacks on the part of Labor and Kadima. The Likud leader is therefore concerned about a strong showing by Feiglin's camp, and in recent weeks initiated several moves in a bid to undermine candidates associated with his bitter rival.

Among other maneuvers, Bibi threatened that candidates who form political alliances with Feiglin's camp will not be serving in a future Likud-led government.

Meanwhile, veteran Likud Knesset members are concerned that high-profile new additions, including former Ministers Benny Begin and Dan Meridor and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon were to enjoy a strong showing Monday, thereby pushing incumbent MKs into lower spots on the party's Knesset list.

At this time it also appears that the top 20 spots on the roster will likely be won by Ashkenazi candidates, prompting Likud's "field activists" to promote more Sephardic candidates in the vote. Despite reports of "Sephardic deals" to that effect, it is unclear whether these constitute significant alliances or minor agreements.

Chairman Netanyahu is also concerned that candidates perceived as moderate, such as Dan meridor and Uzi Dayan, will not do well in the primaries. A failure by some of Likud's new additions to win realistic spots would also undermine Netanyahu's image.

According to Likud polls, Begin is expected to win the top spot in Monday's primaries, with MK Gideon Sa'ar and former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom expected to battle for second place. Recent polls indicate that Shalom enjoys a small lead for the time being. Yaalon is also considered a favorite and is expected to secure a top spot.

Attila Somfalvi and Vered Luvitch contributed to this report

Sunday, December 07, 2008


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States, has urged President-elect Barack Obama not to appoint hostile Israel critic Daniel Kurtzer as his Middle East envoy which Obama is reportedly considering. As envoy, Kurtzer would report directly to President-elect Obama, rather than to his secretary of state (Akiva Eldar, 'Obama mulls ex-ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, as special Mideast envoy,' Haaretz, December 2, 2008).. The ZOA opposes an appointment for Kurtzer because of his long, documented record of hostility to and severe pressure upon Israel during the course of his career, which has included stints as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) and Israel (2001-5). Over the years, strong criticism and concern has been expressed about Daniel Kurtzer's statements, polices and actions by an array of Israeli and American Jewish leaders. These include the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, former Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli negotiator and ambassador, Itamar Rabinovitch, veteran lobbyist Morris Amitay, and even leading Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot.

There is a long list of Daniel Kurtzer's troubling statements and record on Israel and the Middle East:
· His support for the 2002 Arab so-called “Peace Initiative”: This Initiative, often described as one that offers Israel peace and normal relations with all the Arab states in exchange for Israel returning to its pre-1967 borders. In fact, it demands Israel's surrender of vitally strategic territory by demanding its full withdrawal to the pre-June 1967 armistice lines, contrary to the language of UN Security Council Resolution 242. It also would involve evicting over 400,000 Jews from these areas, as the unified Arab position is that a Palestinian state must be judenrein (free of Jews as Hitler’s Nazi Germany – jsk).
· It also demands, on the basis of a non-binding 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution (194) which the Arab states themselves rejected at the time, implementation of the legally baseless so-called 'right of return' to Israel for Palestinian Arab refugees and their millions of descendants, at Arab discretion, while Israel would be obliged to compensate those choosing not to return.
· In other words, Israel would have to agree to its own eventual destruction before the Arab League will recognize it.

Additionally this Initiative requires no concessions from, nor does it impose any obligations upon, the Arab parties. Yet, according to the Times [London], "Kurtzer submitted a paper to Obama on the question before [the] presidential elections. He argued that trying to reach bilateral peace agreements between Israel and individual countries in the Middle East, was a recipe for failure as the record of Bill Clinton and George W Bush showed. In contrast, the broader Arab plan 'had a lot of appeal.'" (Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter, 'Barack Obama links Israel peace plan to 1967 borders deal,' The Times [London], November 16, 2008).

· Critical of Israeli strikes at Palestinian terrorists: In August 2001, Kurtzer publicly criticized Israel for striking at Abu Ali Mustafa, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which over the years has murdered at least 14 American citizens and numerous Israelis.

· The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a statement on August 28, 2001 saying it was "surprised and dismayed" that Kurtzer "felt compelled to raise the issue with Prime Minister Sharon," Yet, "We did not hear of any similar actions when American citizens were the victims of terror attacks over the past few months. Indeed, just hours after Kurtzer's statement, an American Jew, Ben Dansker, was shot and wounded by Arafat´s terrorists near the town of Rogalit – yet Kurtzer made no statement about the attack.”

· Criticism of Kurtzer from former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Netanyahu "has said more than once that with Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States" (Haaretz, April 6, 2001).

· Rebukes Israeli negotiators for being insufficiently concessionary: The Israeli Labor government's then left-wing ambassador to the U.S., Itamar Rabinovitch, described a "stormy dispute" between Kurtzer and the head of Israel´s negotiating team, in which "Kurtzer thought that Israel was not going far enough with the Palestinians. There were sharp exchanges between them [and Kurtzer] rebuked" the Israeli negotiators (Haaretz, April 6, 2001).

· Criticism of Kurtzer from former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir: "Kurtzer frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mid East peace, and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel."

· Morris Amitay, former executive director of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has said: "Kurtzer … will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views" (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 29, 2001).

· Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot editorialized on Kurtzer's malign influence: "Possibly more than any other U.S. State Department official, Kurtzer has been instrumental in promoting the goals of the Palestinians and in raising their afflictions to the center of the U.S. policymakers' agenda" (Yediot Ahronot, August 9, 1991).

· In his 1976 PhD dissertation at Columbia University, Daniel Kurtzer blamed Israeli responses to terrorist strikes for "the radicalization of those Palestinians to violence." It is deeply troubling that Kurtzer never characterized as "terrorists" those who carried out massacres of civilians. In his thesis, they were called "guerrillas."

· "Kurtzer's poor relations with Jerusalem's political bureaus reached a new climax" in 1990, when he authored a speech by James Baker strongly criticizing Israel, which was delivered at an AIPAC conference, "causing a commotion among the conference participants ... A Jewish community leader told Kurtzer [shortly afterwards], 'Your children will bear the consequences of the Israeli policy you are encouraging.'"

· Clashes with Israeli officials: Kurtzer had a "vocal conflict" with an Israeli government official in Philadelphia in the summer of 1990, after Kurtzer "attacked the Israeli government for refusing to include the PLO in the peace process [and] said that this constituted the main obstacle to peace" (Haaretz, April 6, 2001).

· Public interference in internal Israeli budgetary policy-making: Kurtzer stated, "Instead of taking care of the disabled and or economic development, Israel is investing in Jewish settlements, which should be dismantled" (Washington Times, January 9, 2002).

· Kurtzer is co-author with Scott Lasensky of a new book, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East, which praises only the stewardship of President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker, who applied ruthless pressure on Israel and held Israeli policies as responsible for obstructing peace. In the book Kurtzer and Lasensky also claim that America falsely labeled Arafat and the Palestinian leadership as responsible for the collapse of the Oslo process, in contradiction of virtually all American officials engaged in the 2000 Camp David and Taba negotiations, including President Clinton and Middle East envoy Dennis Ross.

· In 1988, Kurtzer, then a State Department advisor, counseled the outgoing Reagan Administration to recognize the PLO after Yasser Arafat made a number of statements that suggested the PLO had accepted Israel and renounced the use of terrorism. This is something the PLO, Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas have done in English many times since, while continuing to promote incitement to hatred and murder in Arabic.

Kurtzer was the principal author of one of the most important statements of U.S. policy in the Middle East, a speech by Secretary of State George Shultz to a conference at the Wye Plantation in Maryland in 1988, in which he said that "The legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including political rights, must be recognized and addressed," said Shultz. "Palestinian participation is required at every stage of the negotiations."

· Kurtzer has based his policy of embracing the PLO on words alone, but has refused to confront other, hateful words of the PLO when confronted with them or modify his policy or advice to government. When once confronted in a synagogue by a man armed with harsh rhetoric by PLO officials in stark contrast to their public commitment to peace, Kurtzer responded, "The United States can't and will not base its peace process policy on public statements made by either side. We don't support statements by either side that are excessive. We don't support public statements by either side that are designed not to advance the peace process, and we don't react to those kinds of public statements."