Saturday, March 21, 2009

Can Israel Still Be Saved?

P. David Hornik

This week Israeli officials were in Cairo for talks with Hamas, mediated by Egytpian officials, on freeing kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for a number of Hamas terrorists generally put at 450. But with the talks having broken down, it appears the outgoing Olmert government won’t be able to claim a last “achievement.” Prime Minister Olmert’s office released a statement saying Hamas had “hardened its position, gone back on understandings that had been reached in the past year and raised extreme demands in spite of the attempts to advance the negotiations.” Reportedly, at the last minute Hamas rejected Israeli positions on dispersing the released terrorists to places other than the West Bank, and on keeping some of the most heinous terrorists—responsible for planning mass-casualty attacks and the like—out of the deal.

Hamas could, for reasons of psychological warfare, have been toying with the Israeli negotiators all along; or it could have decided that, with a presumably more hawkish Israeli government soon to take office, Shalit as a hostage in Gaza still provides valuable blackmail power; or that the longer it waits, it will eventually be able to extort the maximal deal from whichever Israeli government sits in Jerusalem.

But, whatever the reasons, it marks an ignominious end for a government trying to salvage something from three years of failures and fiascos and, specifically in this case, from its Gaza campaign that ended in mid-January. For the bitter fact is that at that time, the Israeli army had the upper hand in Gaza and presumably—especially given the many intelligence feats during the war—had access, or at least potential access, to Shalit.

Instead of pressing the advantage, though, Olmert, fearful of frictions with the incoming Obama administration, decided to end the war and withdraw the IDF. The short time since then has already seen the frittering away of the war’s achievements as both rocket attacks and arms smuggling have resumed.

On the Shalit issue, however, Olmert believed that Hamas—apprehensive of the incoming Netanyahu government—would also, for its part, be anxious to get the best deal still available. So Olmert set out to obtain, as a sort of last legacy, another of the grossly lopsided, severely harmful exchanges that various Israeli leaders have succumbed to over the past few decades.

Apart from the compassion that all loyal Israelis feel toward Shalit and his family, rationally speaking one has to be relieved that the attempt failed. Still, the overall picture left by the Olmert years is a bleak one.

In the security sphere, the Olmert government will go down in history with two important achievements to its name: the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007 and (though Israel officially denies responsibility) the assassination of master-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in February 2008. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza may also, along with its squandered potentials, retain some lasting value in having demonstrated the IDF’s regained proficiency after Olmert sent it into Lebanon in summer 2006 under the unqualified, incompetent defense minister Amir Peretz, with abject results.

But the state of the Israeli security environment, after three years of this government, was illustrated by a recent report that Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza now have a total of 50,000 rockets aimed at Israel. The former terror organization now has far more rockets than it had before the 2006 war, and the latter one is rapidly rebuilding its strength since Cast Lead and has already obtained Iranian Fajr-4 rockets—Hamas’s longest-range model yet, capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona.

As for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, Olmert has issued a final lament that the supposed peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas and other Fatah leaders failed because of, as he put it, “the Palestinian leaders’ weakness, lack of will and lack of courage in reaching an agreement.” What he left out, however, is that these leaders’ problems regarding “peace” go much deeper; he could have mentioned, for instance, a one-hour celebration on official PA TV this month of the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which Palestinian terrorists incinerated and otherwise killed 38 Israeli civilians.

What Olmert left out, in other words, is what he and his foreign minister Tzipi Livni have persistently omitted throughout the tenure of his government: that the West Bank Palestinian Authority is also, like Gaza, a hothouse of anti-Israeli hatred and is relatively kept in check only because, unlike Gaza, the Israeli security forces have reasserted a strong presence there. With their whitewashing and indeed glorification of the PA and its leaders as ripe, or close to ripe, for peaceful statehood, Olmert and Livni have further burdened Israel by reinforcing Western delusion and helping make the demand for a Palestinian state—however detached from reality and prudence—all the more strident and reflexive.

Add, then, the ongoing Iranian nuclearization, and the perennial Syrian hostility, to the Hamas threat, the Hezbollah threat, the Shalit captivity, and the pressures for capitulations to the Palestinian Authority, and the reality the new Israeli government will inherit is grim. At present prime minister-designate Netanyahu—still fearful of confronting that reality with a narrow right-wing government that will be an axiomatic whipping-boy both for the Israeli Center-Left opposition and internationally—is making a last-ditch effort to get Ehud Barak and his Labor Party to join his coalition even though Labor was itself part of Olmert’s problematic crew.

Apart from specific blunders like initially appointing an incompetent defense minister, or reacting impulsively to both Hezbollah and Hamas provocations without formulating clear goals or planning for contingencies, the Olmert government’s record of failure stems from a belief, now prevalent in the Israeli elite, that fighting—or at least defeating—one’s enemies is passé and instead Israel can rely on a benign and impartial Western world to extricate it from its problems. Thanks to the depredations wrought by this mindset over the past 16 years, the real nature of what faces the new Netanyahu government is that of a rescue mission—against, unfortunately, considerable odds.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at

When Will Obama’s Pro-Israel Promoters Admit They Were Wrong?

Sultan Knish

sultanknishMind you I’m not talking about Obama’s core Jewish supporters. They never supported Israel. They might support the destruction of Israel. I’m not even talking about his core base of support among Jews, young unaffiliated liberals who couldn’t give less of a damn about Israel.

I’m not even talking about the likes of Michael Bloomberg, cynical politicians eager to trade on anything for their own self-advancement.. I am talking about people like Ed Koch, Martin Peretz, and Alan Dershowitz, who had built up legitimate Pro-Israel credentials, and in some cases had turned right after 9/11, only to turn around and be taken for a ride on the Obama bandwagon. Enlisting people like them played a crucial role in convincing Jewish organizations that Obama was not dangerous and that his positions on Israel would be just fine.

(They were certainly not alone. Plenty of non-Jewish liberal Republicans proved willing to get on the Obama bus. They’ve hemmed and hawed, but they’ve yet to admit their mistake.)

Now hardly two months in, it’s clear that they were tragically wrong, that they were played and in the process helped con others. From the beginning, from his phone call to his first interview, Obama put terrorists and the Saudis first. The Chas Freeman appointment was not an isolated event, along with James L. Jones, Samantha Power, for whom Obama created a special position, Dennis Blair he was meant to be part of a whole raft of Anti-Israel figures now calling the shots.

Meanwhile J Street, an Anti-Israel lobbying group funded by Soros, is getting primacy at the White House.

In case anyone doubted the meaning of the message, when Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli Chief of Staff, came to D.C. to meet with administration officials, he found all the doors had been barred against him. From the Defense Secretary, to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or Blair himself. Ashkenazi’s one meeting was set to be with James L. Jones, himself closely tied to the Saudis, whose role was to warn Israel to start making concessions to Israel immediately. Ashkenazi was almost lucky though by comparison to Uzi Arad, Israel’s new National Security Advisor, who isn’t even being allowed to enter the United States.

Israel has been virtually shut out of the process as D.C. has worked to bring together a Unity government, and made so many approaches to Iran that even some of the Gulf States are panicking and warning Obama to run any concessions by them first. Though when not even Iran openly admitting to collaborating in the murder of US troops prevents American diplomats from giving away the kitchen store, it’s not clear what if any limits exist anymore.

Meanwhile the Administration has turned a blind eye to the growing anti-semitic invective and attacks by left wing South American governments, particularly Chavez’s Venezuela. And now a new CIA report supposedly claims that Israel has twenty years to live, terminating in a One State Solution. By no coincidence the prefered outcome promoted by Chas Freeman.

All that and it’s only the middle of March. Still there are few signs of Teshuvah, repentance and atonement, by those who helped foist King Hussein on us. Martin Peretz appeared shaken by the Freeman battle and its larger implications. Alan Dershowitz insisted on condemning Freeman alone, without an honest examination of how or why someone like that would have ever gotten the nod to take charge of the National Intelligence Estimate. Ed Koch has focused only on the economy, repeatedly praising Obama, but questioning some of his economic steps, yet blaming Congress for most of it.

None of these men are of course ideal subjects. Alan Dershowitz is a liberal whose pro-Israel activism, laudable as it might be, was mainly a reaction to growing Muslim and left wing hate on campus. Without that political “mugging”, he would have likely continued churning out talky biographies and musings heavily salted down with name dropping. Peretz typically lacks either the conviction of his courage or the courage of his conviction. Ed Koch can be relied on to change his position by 180 degrees every few years. Had Carter made it to a second term, Koch who did much to damage his reelection prospects, might well have become his biggest cheerleader.

Still they are the paradigm for a larger blindness within the Jewish organizational leadership, much of which had grave doubts and concerns about Obama. Doubts and concerns that mostly stayed quiet. They didn’t take a stand for him except in the faintest sort of way, but neither did they take a stand against him. And far too many public figures like Dershowitz and Koch proved eager to be talked into supporting him.

78 percent of Jews did not vote for Obama, a number repeated over and over again, despite its blatant falseness. (A topic I have written on before.) But however many Jews voted for Obama, they cast their ballots for a man determined to make war on America and Israel. While that cannot be undone, growing concern over his policies can force the administration to excercise some more caution. The large pro-Israel rally in D.C. early during Bush’s first term helped show that American Jews did care and would not be silent. The time may be coming to launch another such show of solidarity, and that may serve as a chance for Teshuvah for those who have put us and millions of their brothers and sisters in grave danger. Those who like Kayin have claimed not to know or hear the blood of their murdered brothers and sisters crying to them from the earth.
thanks Ted Belman.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Anti-Zionism as Anti-Semitism in Europe

Raphael Israeli
Friday March 20, 2009
from The Author

Since the 1980s several high level European politicians have made radical anti-Semitic declarations which accorded with Arab and Muslim positions. In a public statement in 1982, Greek Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou compared Israelis to Nazis. But no mainstream European leader went as far as Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti, many times the Prime Minister and then the President of Italy, who declared in Geneva, during an inter-parliamentary conference in 1984,his support for a Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi motion, which equated Zionism with racism, supported the boycotting of Israel, and defended the right of the “armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine [that is terrorism]. Italy was then the only Western country to vote with the Soviet Bloc for this motion. Later, such occurrences became even more frequent. n April 2002, Franco Cavalli spoke at a demonstration of the Swiss-Palestinian Society in Bern. He was then the parliamentary leader of the Social Democratic Party (SP), which is part of the Swiss government coalition. He claimed that Israel, “very purposefully massacres an entire people” and undertakes the “systematic extermination of the Palestinians.” Was he ignorant of the comparatively higher number of Palestinians massacred by the Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, and their own infighting, or did his anti-Semitism drive him to ignore the numbers? Or could he not explain why the Israelis were so inadequate and impotent at “annihilating” the Palestinians, that they are stronger and more numerous than ever before. Senior members of the Greek Socialist Party routinely used Holocaust rhetoric to describe Israeli military actions against Arabs, even when they are defensive in nature. In March, Parliamentary Speaker in Athens, Apostolos Kaklamanis, referred to the “genocide”of the Palestinians, forgetting that no one people can undergo so many genocides and still survive. Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat MP in the U.K. declared at a meeting of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 2004 that she might consider becoming a “suicide bomber” if she lived in the Palestinian territories. But in contrast to the other cases, which remained undisputed, her party distanced itself from her statement, explaining that it did not condone terrorism.

Raising the very question of Israel’s legitimacy, or even “recognizing its right to exist,” in itself carries a connotation of suspicion, uncertainty, hesitation, temporariness, and remonstration, as if it were under probation, like a criminal on parole, who has to prove constantly that he deserves his freedom. If Israel concedes, withdraws, shrinks back to its “natural size” (as the Egyptians would have it), obeys, effaces itself, admits “guilt” or plies to, in short behaves like a dhimmi of old, then it is considered by the nations of the world as peaceful, reasonable, moderate, and conciliatory. But when she stands up to her enemies, demands that her rights, territory, heritage, security, people, way of life, and sovereignty be safeguarded and respected, then the world is amazed at her arrogance, self-assertion, aggression, selfishness, spirit of rebellion, fanaticism, extremism, and disregard of others. When diplomats and world leaders admit Israel’s right to exist (thank you), this is often taken as a special favor to her and some Jews are happy at the daily confirmation of that favor, which they never take as a matter of natural right. The dhimmi spirit that they perpetuate dictates to them a grateful mode of behavior towards anyone who condescends to affirm what otherwise would have been considered a matter of course. Perhaps that is the reason why sixty years after Independence Jews continue to express in their national anthem the “hope” of attaining freedom in their land. They cannot believe they already have it.

Consider this: a major or minor world leader tells Israel that she has the right to exist, but she ought to evacuate territory, allow Palestinian refugees to go back to their previous homes, give up her defences, (fences) and depend on international guarantees. This means that her right to exist is conditional on her meeting certain expectations even if they run contrary to her interests or to her very chances of survival in a hostile environment. Thus, not only is Israel, of all nations, required to take steps towards her own demise, as a prerequisite to her conditional recognition by others, if she does not comply, her admission into the family of nations may be rescinded. Can anyone tell the British that they would be recognized provided they return the Falklands to their owners, or the Americans, the Canadians, and the Australians that they can be recognized only if they restored rights to the dispossessed natives that they had conquered, or that the Japanese, Syrians, Iraqis, and Sudanese will be accepted only when they recognize their minorities and stop persecuting them, or Iran, China, and Egypt—only if they accepted democracy or stopped threatening their neighbors? Unthinkable?

Not in the case of Israel, even though it cannot be reproached for any of those violations or improprieties. Take for example the question of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years. In December, 1995, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a resolution, with an overwhelming majority, as in previous years, denying the validity of the Israeli laws, which confirmed united Jerusalem as the capital of modern Israel once again. That resolution also condemned the “Judaization” of Jerusalem as if someone could blame the Chinese for the Sinification of Beijing or the French for the Francification of Paris, or Saudi Arabia for the Islamization of Mecca. When the Arabs dominated East Jerusalem, which they never made their capital, not only did they effect a full Arabization of the city, but they did that to the detriment of Jewish sites such as Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, the Jewish Quarter, and no one complained (except Israelis, but they are not counted). But as soon as the Jews restored their sites to their sovereignty, without so much as touching the Aqsa compound, which the Muslims had knowingly constructed upon the holiest site of the Jews, outcries about “Judaization” began, which was heralded as “threatening world peace.” So, when the UN declares that the Israeli measures were “null and void,” one wonders whether the restored Jewish Quarter, which had been destroyed by the Arabs, should have remained in ruins, or demolished again after it was repaired, or that the reparations of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, which had been demolished by the Jordanians and its tombstones used to pave a road, should revert to its state of profanation in order to qualify for the terms of that resolution.

In October 1996 the European community demanded that Israel should rescind all those measures of restoration and construction and return things to their “original state.” Original since when? If the splendor of Jerusalem is returned to its Davidic and Solomonic origins, then al-Aqsa Mosque should be removed to allow for the original Temple to re-emerge. Or perhaps they meant that the latrines that the Jordanians had constructed on the sites of the synagogues that they destroyed in the Old Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem should be reinstituted on the ruins of those now reconstructed sites? The occasion for those European demands was the reopening of an ancient tunnel, dating back 2,400 years in history, to the times of the Jewish Hasmonean Dynasty, before there was any idea of Europe, of Christianity, Islam, Arabs, or Palestinians. And because the Muslim Palestinians who had usurped the holy Jewish Temple Mount, now claim that the tunnel endangered their holy sites, themselves built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Europeans moved to make Israel close it again. And all that, under the Palestinian threat of violence if Israel would not conform. Which one of those new European nations would have acquiesced in a situation where its right to relate to its ancient heritage was called into question?

Jerusalem is but an example. At stake is the self-appointed right of Western countries to determine the standards of behavior to which Israel is held and their presumption to act as supreme arbiters of that conduct. Exactly like the Jews in their midst, treated with suspicion and guilty till proven innocent, so is the Jewish state. It is in this sense that the Jewish state has become the Jew among states. For decades, most nations took the right to call Israel “the Jewish State,” or the “Tel Aviv Government,” lending to it the same legitimacy as the “Vichy Government” ; they made their representations and sent their representatives to that non-existing address; the international media also dispatched their reports from Tel Aviv, while the pictures they showed often originated from Jerusalem, the seat of the government of Israel. All that in order to avoid recognition of Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Israel, which had predated their own respective capitals, as the reconstituted center of modern Israel. So widespread has been that fiction that many people ended up believing that it was Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, that was the capital of Israel. What other country in the world would have been submitted to such treatment, or accepted the systematic negation of its legitimacy, of which the choice of a capital city is part?

This inordinately critical view of the Jews in history has somehow carried over and rubbed off on Israel as well, and directly aided the Arabs and Muslims in their rejection of Israel, lock, stock, and barrel. The intense scrutiny and obsessive coverage of Israel’s every fault and detail sends to Tel Aviv (but more to Jerusalem) regiments of reporters and correspondents, more than to any other world capital save Washington, DC. And all those journalists have to justify their presence in Jerusalem (under the Tel Aviv disguise) and they hunger for news to feed their avid media audiences. Thus, the most absurd of gossip can become reported news, and the most insignificant events can become “history.”

In reports about the Intifadah, for example, articles were written about the special wood used to manufacture police truncheons to maintain order, and the workshops where they were made. Similarly, we have seen that the tedious and repetitive detail that is of no interest elsewhere finds its way into international media news. The nature of the “Jewish” truncheon, which caused suffering to the Palestinians and also tarnished the Jewish reputation, was only a symptom. No one has ever checked the truncheons used by the British police in Northern Ireland or by the French police in quelling street riots in the Parisian slums. But a Jewish truncheon deserves special scrutiny. Palestinian children and adolescents can throw Molotov cocktails at Israeli police, occasionally killing, wounding, or maiming them, but those are “only kids” standing up courageously against their oppressors; repressed by police wielding those redoubtable Jewish truncheons, for Jews have to submit to special standards of conduct, unlike all others.

A Palestinian spokesman made the remark: “We are so lucky that our enemies are the Israelis. If they were Singhalese, who would care to mention us?” The late Father Marcel Dubois, Head of the Dominican Order in Jerusalem, made a similar comment: “Had the occupied territories been under Margaret Thatcher’s responsibility, the Intifadah would have lasted three days only and no one would have talked about it any more.” Both statements were corroborated by a former member of the foreign press corps in Jerusalem Thomas Friedman, of the NewYork Times, who repeated the same observation in almost the same words: “the great luck of the Palestinians is that they are in a state of conflict with Israeli Jews.”

# reads: 76

"Wait a Minute"

Arlene Kushner

I've seen it in a variety of different places with changeable climate (Calgary comes to mind as one): natives of the area say, "You don't like our weather? Wait a minute, it'll change."

Right now that's about how I'm feeling with regard to reporting on the process of forming a new coalition here. Don't like what I told you now? Wait a minute, the news will change.I will be brief here in my reportage, precisely because everything is up in the air:

After saying he would not be seeking an extension, Netanyahu has decided to seek one. On Sunday, when his time will be up (according to a Mazuz ruling), he will be asking President Peres for two more weeks to form his coalition, as he is permitted to do under law.

This is because of Barak, whom he approached again (with the two men having come to some private understanding). Apparently, it was said, Labor would be unable to meet until next Tuesday to decide about whether to join. There was some indication that Barak might convince his party -- some reason for Netanyahu to delay.

But since that indication was made public, I waited a minute, and now there is indication of enormous resistance to Barak's hauling Labor into the coalition. So much resistance that there is talk of holding a primary and replacing him as head of the party. There is fury inside the party about Barak's manipulations.

And what is more, there may be some legal technicality that prevents a decision on this. The Labor by-laws may forbid a convening of the Central Committee in sufficient time. It apparently takes three weeks, and that's more time than Netanyahu has.

Those who are adamantly against joining the coalition are insisting that the party constitution cannot be "trampled with." But wait a few more minutes and we'll see what comes next. The issue of making Barak defense minister again is being bandied about.

In the meantime, Netanyahu had better be continuing his negotiations with the outstanding four parties on the right with great intensity, so that he will, at least, have a right wing coalition at the end of the day. The coalition agreement with Lieberman stipulated that there might be changes if a unity government is established, and he would presumably do this across the board.


Does it pay to say it? Don't know. But I must: This is not how it should be. We are facing a world that is increasingly against us. For starters, the parties on the right should be cooperating for the sake of the nation. And even on the left, were that there were less divisiveness. Either way, whether Labor joins or not, there will be tensions within the party that generates turmoil.

But that is human nature. And at times such as this, I feel sad: We should have had a new government already. One established in cohesiveness and strength, for the larger goals. Ha!


On the other hand, I'm pleased about dissension between Palestinians, for their unity would do us no good.

The Hamas-Fatah talks have broken down. The only thing they agreed upon is that there would be elections next January. But they couldn't decide upon a program for a joint government.

And the whole issue of recognizing Israel and honoring past agreements was a stickler. How's this for fancy footwork (they are creative): Instead of committing to past agreements, Hamas wanted the new unity government to say it "respected" PLO commitments. Words only.

But dangerous words. According to the Post, earlier this week Egypt sounded out the US and European diplomats regarding whether they would accept a unity government that offered something less than full commitment to PLO agreements. Apparently they would not, or the negotiations would not have ended so soon.

Today the Egyptian negotiators told the Palestinian factions to pack their backs. They may come together again after an Arab summit at the end of March. But possibly not until there's reason to believe there can be resolution of the difficulties, which would mean a long wait.


And there was another failure to reach an agreement this week.

A meeting of European parliamentarians was held on Tuesday in Paris as part of a forum launched by the Middle East subcommittee of the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly to facilitate the peace process without interfering in negotiations.

MK Danny Ayalon (Israeli Beiteinu) was there on behalf of the Knesset, while Palestinian MP Abdullah Abdullah (Fatah) represented the Palestinian Legislative Council. They failed to agree upon a joint declaration aimed at promoting peace and cooperation.

The Palestinians wanted a clause that said a settlement would be based on pre-67 lines, and the Israelis rejected it.

Do the European parliamentarians not see something significant in this?


According to the Washington Post, Obama today abandoned a proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for treatment of combat-related injuries. This was in response to public and Congressional outcry. (Thanks, Bob H.)


Now to Durban 2: When the US delegation pulled out, they didn't make it final, but instead made noise about the fact that they might reconsider if the wording of the declaration were changed.

Well, now there has been some change in the wording but the situation remains very troublesome. What was dropped were recently added references to Israel that went beyond what had been in the text that was adopted in the 2001 conference.

Thus the changes are political/cosmetic only. For the draft text for the second conference, to be held in Geneva next month, states in its first paragraph that it affirms that first document from 2001, which was virulently anti-Semitic. As has been previously explained by analysts such as Anne Bayefsky, this conference must affirm the first document, for it is being convened to oversee enactment of the principles of the first conference.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Roni Leshno-Yaar explains:

"We have come full loop and we are back to square one, where we reaffirm and single out Israel as a racist state.

"What we have gone through is that the Iranians and their friends...loaded the draft document with all kinds of paragraphs and then removed them, hoping we would forget that ancient thing, which is back in full force in the first paragraph."


Writes Bayefsky:

"The new draft is a textbook example of diplomatic double-talk. Diplomats often couch objectionable outcomes in superficially unobjectionable language, using a tool that lawyers call 'incorporation by reference.' Don't repeat the offensive words in the new document; just include them by referring to another document where they can be found -- and which most people won't bother to read."

There is no indication at this time that the US delegation will return, but this is what must be watched carefully.

Bayefsky says that one of the conditions set out by the Obama administration for renewed participation was that the Durban 2 declaration, "not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration." But indeed it does reaffirm it in toto.

See her entire article at:


see my website

Thursday, March 19, 2009



A new joint Israeli-Palestinian poll has shown that a clear majority of Palestinians – 54 percent – support terror attacks upon Israelis inside Israel, as opposed to only 42 percent who oppose such attacks. The poll, jointly conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah, between March 1-7, 2009, also found that only 40% of Israelis support a return to Palestinian-Israeli final status negotiations before cessation of Palestinian violence, while 58% oppose such talks. (Press Release, ‘Joint Israeli-Palestinian Poll, March 2009,’ Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, March 15, 2009). The Palestinian majority support for terrorism against Israel is similar to a January 2009 Jerusalem Media & Communications Center poll that found that 55.4 percent of Palestinians support continued suicide bombings against Israel, as against 37.6 percent who oppose it. (Jerusalem Media & Communications Center, Poll No. 67, January 2009).

Other polls showing Palestinian majority support for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians:

· March 2008: 83.5% of Palestinians approve of the March 6 terrorist attack on the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem in which 8 people, mainly teenagers, were murdered and a further 40 wounded; 63.6% support rocket attacks on Israeli towns, as against 32.6% who oppose it. (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research poll, March 2008).

· September 2006: 57% of Palestinian Arabs support terrorist attacks upon Israeli civilians; 75% support the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in a bid to obtain the release of jailed Palestinians terrorists; 63% are inspired by the Lebanese Islamist terror group Hizballah and seek to emulate it (Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) poll, September 2006).

· September 2006: 61.3% of Palestinian Arabs support terrorist attacks upon Israeli civilians; 52.5% support rocket attacks upon Israeli population centers (Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University, September 7-9, 2006).

· June 2006: 56% of Palestinians support terrorist attacks upon Israeli civilians (Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research (PCPSR) poll, June 2006).

· February 2006: 56.2% support terrorism against Israeli civilians (Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC) poll, February 8-12, 2006).

· December 2005: 69% of Palestinians see terrorism as legitimate; 65% support Al-Qaeda actions in the USA and Europe (Fafo poll, December 22, 2005).

· October 2005: 60% of Palestinian Arabs oppose the PA disarming the terrorist groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Bir Zeit University poll, October 2005).

· April 2003: 75.6% of Palestinian Arabs support terrorism against Israeli civilians (Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC) poll, April 2003).

Previous polls showing majority Israeli opposition to concessions to the Palestinian Authority:

· July 2008: 73% of Jerusalem’s residents (including Israeli Arabs) opposed the division of the city with physical barriers, as opposed to only 27% who were willing to support it. (Maagar Mohot Survey Institute poll, July 23, 2008, ‘Polls: 73%:27% Jerusalem residents oppose physical separation in city in wake of attacks,’ Independent Media Review & Analysis, July 24, 2008).

· October 2007: 53% of Israelis opposed U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA), only 16% supported it. (Brains’ Trust (Maagar Mochot) Research Institute, October 2007).

· October 2007: A clear majority of Jewish Israelis – 59% to 33% – oppose, even in return for a peace agreement, Israel handing over to the PA various Arab neighborhoods in the eastern half of Jerusalem (Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University poll, October 2007).

· July 2007: 56% of Palestinians support rocket attacks on Israel, while only 44% oppose them. (Fafo poll, July 2007).

· May 2007: 53% of Israelis opposed withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, even in return for a “real peace.” (Dahaf Institute poll for the Knesset Channel, May 2007).

· March 2007: 72% of Israelis opposed uprooting Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria; 71 percent believed that the Palestinian Arabs’ goal is destroying Israel, not a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel; only 28% of Israelis supported the ‘land for peace’ formula, while 58 percent opposed it. (INSS, previously Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, poll, March 2007).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is often said that Palestinians no longer embrace a program for eliminating Israel, but merely wish to live in their own independent state within the territories Israel captured in 1967. As a result, many conclude that Israel has an obligation to negotiate a peaceful outcome with Palestinians. However, as the evidence shows, this latest poll and several others over recent years show that the majority of Palestinians continue to support unreconstructed terror movements that do not accept Israel's existence as well as further suicide bombings and rocket attacks upon Israel. This demonstrates that that Palestinians do continue to embrace Israel's elimination.

“Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) has demonstrated in countless ways that it neither accepts Israel as a Jewish state nor prepares its public for peace with Israel. It is notable that before, during and after the 2007 Annapolis conference, Abbas and other senior PA figures explicitly rejected the idea of accepting Israel's existence as a Jewish state. Abbas said in 2006 to an Arab audience that ‘It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel.’ In 2007, his Fateh party celebrated its 43rd anniversary by producing a new poster showing Israel entirely draped in a Palestinian kfiyyeh called ‘Palestine’ and flanked by a smiling photo of Yasser Arafat and a Kalashnikov rifle. More recently, PA TV has broadcast a music video of a song saying that the Jewish country of Israel was stolen from them. There is no map in PA stationary, publications, atlases or school texts that show Israel as anything other than ‘Palestine.’ The consistent Palestinians majorities that favor continued terrorism is ample proof of the reality that Palestinians have yet to accept Israel.

“This latest poll result also confirms many others that show that most Israelis today are reluctant to proceed with any further negotiations or concessions to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and do not believe that concessions, even up to and including the setting up of a Palestinian state, would bring the long awaited peace for which Israelis yearn.”

PA officials welcome failure of Schalit talks

Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST

Some Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah have welcomed the failure of the prisoner exchange negotiations between Israel and Hamas as good news.

The PA has many reasons to fear a deal between Israel and Hamas.

First, the release of hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners would have been seen as a major victory for Hamas. Recent public opinion polls have shown that Hamas's popularity is on the rise, in part thanks to Operation Cast Lead, which won the Islamic movement more sympathy among Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

A prisoner exchange agreement would have further boosted Hamas's popularity, said a local newspaper editor.

"I know several Palestinian officials here who were happy to hear that the talks between Israel and Hamas had collapsed," he said. "They were concerned that such a deal would embolden Hamas and undermine the credibility of Fatah."

An official closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas said he was particularly concerned about the possibility Israel and Egypt would reopen the border crossings into Gaza in the context of a prisoner swap.

The reopening of the crossings, especially the Rafah terminal, would only help Hamas tighten its grip on Gaza, the official pointed out. "We must not forget that Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip through a military coup [in 2007]. As such, Hamas is not a legitimate authority there," he said.

Reports about secret contacts between some European diplomats and Hamas representatives over the past few weeks have also left officials in the Mukata "presidential" compound worried.

Over the past two years, the PA has worked hard to isolate Hamas both in the local and international arenas.

"We don't understand those voices that are coming from Europe and the US and which call for ending the boycott of Hamas," complained one official. "Are they trying to reward Hamas for the bloody coup that it staged in the Gaza Strip?"

The PA was also worried the release of hundreds of Hamas operatives to their homes in the West Bank would have created a big headache for its security forces. The PA would have preferred to see many of the Hamas prisoners and their families "relocated" to other areas, such as the Gaza Strip.

The top 10 Hamas prisoners whom Israel has refused to release in return for Gilad Schalit are regarded by the PA as the "commanders of Hamas's army staff" in the West Bank.

Hassan Salameh, Ibrahim Hamed, Abdullah Barghouti, Abbas a-Sayed and Jamal Abu al-Hija were behind one of Hamas's deadliest military infrastructures in the West Bank. As experts in preparing various types of explosive devices, they are responsible for the killing of hundreds of people during the second intifada.

These men are seen as heroes by many Palestinians, and this is how they would be received in their villages and towns if they were released from prison.

Abbas's aides are not worried as much about the parties that would be held for the released Hamas prisoners as about the high probability the released men would rebuild their movement's military infrastructure in the West Bank and resume terror activities not only against Israel, but also against the PA.

In the past year, the PA security forces, with the help of Israel and the US, have waged a massive campaign aimed at eliminating Hamas's political and military presence in the West Bank. The campaign has resulted in the arrest of more than 600 Hamas supporters and members, most of whom are being held in prison without trial.

The crackdown, PA officials explained, was a preemptive measure designed to thwart any attempt by Hamas to extend its control to the West Bank. As far as these officials are concerned, the tough anti-Hamas measures are "working." Today, there's almost no such thing as a Hamas political or military leadership in the West Bank, since most of the movement's prominent figures are either in Israeli prisons or in Abbas's detention centers.

The return of senior Hamas activists to the West Bank would certainly increase the movement's chances of staging another coup against the PA. Abbas's security forces wouldn't be able to arrest any of the released prisoners - even if they were seeking to undermine the PA - for fear of being accused of collaboration with Israel.

Another PA official said the only way to "minimize the damage" resulting from a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas was by persuading Israel to release a large number of inmates as a gesture to Abbas and Fatah. He said it would be a "disaster" for Abbas if Israel released important prisoners such as Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in the context of a deal with Hamas and not Fatah.

If that happened, the official cautioned, "I won't be surprised if Barghouti and many Fatah members join Hamas."
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1237392661955&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Durban II revisions don’t sit well with Israel


NEW YORK (JTA) -- Israel rejected a revised draft of the closing statement for the Durban II anti-racism conference.

A senior Foreign Ministry source said Wednesday that the draft, aimed at dropping direct criticism of Israel, reaffirms a declaration from the United Nations-sponsored conference in 2001 that refers to Israel as “a racist state” and “the change is cosmetic only,” the Ha'aretz daily reported.In a bid to keep the European Union from boycotting, direct references to Israel and the Israel-Palestinian conflict were removed.

"This is a diplomatic ruse intended to blur matters and introduce criticism of Israel by the back door," the official said.

The statement will be issued at the end of the Durban Review Conference, to be held next month in Geneva. The conference is a follow-up to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa.

Israel, the United States, Canada and Italy have announce they will boycott the Geneva conference. Other EU countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, also have threatened to boycott.

Israel and the United States walked out of the 2001 conference when it turned into an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hate fest.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Parting Shot That Maligns Obama, Too

Charles Lane
Washington Post

There's been much talk about Charles Freeman and the angry parting shot he aimed at the "Israel Lobby," which he blames for forcing him to withdraw as President Obama's choice for chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Amid the hubbub, however, no one seems to have noticed that Freeman's broadside against "unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country" was also a not-very-implicit indictment of the president himself.

To be sure, Freeman protested his "respect" for both Obama and Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence directly responsible for picking Freeman. But if Freeman's attack on the "Israel Lobby" means anything at all, it is that the president and his staff are either too weak to resist the machinations of these foreign agents -- or are in cahoots with them. The same would go for the senators and House members who also opposed Freeman.

Freeman himself wrote that the affair "will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide, what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government."

So far, however, President Obama has had exactly nothing to say about this extraordinary claim -- either in his own defense, or in defense of the American citizens whom Freeman has impugned.

Asked on Tuesday whether Obama agreed that Freeman was "unfairly driven out," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn't talked to the president about it and left the briefing room. When I contacted the White House press office on Friday, a spokesman e-mailed back that they "don't have anything additional to add."

No doubt the president faces a dilemma. I imagine that he finds Freeman's comments repugnant, but to say so publicly would raise questions about why the man was appointed in the first place. And Obama has other things on his plate. If I were him, I'd rather deal with Citibank than dive into the nasty Freeman fight.

But the administration's silence is disappointing just the same. The president needs to knock Freeman's insinuations down hard -- for two reasons. The first is to stop them from gaining any more currency than they already have in the rest of the world, especially in Arab and Muslim regions.

The second has to do with the United States itself and the quality of our political culture. Barack Obama first electrified the country when he told the Democratic convention in 2004 that "we are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." That ennobling message helped propel him to the White House, and it is a major theme of his presidency.

Letting Freeman's comments pass unchallenged would undercut it.

To be sure, Freeman and his supporters feel ill used. The criticism he faced was not 100 percent fair; some of it went over the top in labeling him a pawn of the Saudis, etc. But for the most part it wasn't "libelous," as Freeman claims. It was basically a strong policy reaction based on his own voluminous paper trail.

That paper trail ranges from the brilliant to the offensive to the strange -- such as Freeman's 2006 speech to the United States Information Agency Alumni Association, in which he labeled both American political parties "xenophobic, Islamophobic, Arabophobic, and anti-immigrant." The United States, he opined, had become "the planet's most despised nation, with its most hateful policies."

Even if Freeman had a perfectly legitimate grievance, even if he had been maligned, he wouldn't be entitled to respond in kind -- much less to brand large numbers of his fellow citizens as fifth columnists. His accusations of dual loyalty went a step beyond even Patrick Buchanan's famous rant against Israel's "amen corner" in America.

Accepting his party's nomination for president last summer, President Obama declared that "one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and each other's patriotism."

Now would be a good time to say it again.

Charles Lane is a member of the editorial page staff.

Bin Laden Targets Jordan, Israel

Hana Levi Julian Bin Laden Targets Jordan, Israel

International terrorist chief Osama bin Laden has added Jordan to his hit list.

A new audio tape attributed to the head of the al Qaeda terrorist organization targets the Hashemite Kingdom for the first time, calling on terrorists to infiltrate the country and behead its rulers. “It has become clear that some Arab leaders were complicit with the Crusader-Zionist alliance against our people. These are the leaders that America calls moderate,” said bin Laden on the tape, broadcast late last week on Al Jazeera satellite television.

The terrorist leader, whose capture is worth $25 million to bounty hunters around the world, said that “a mujaheen victory in Iraq” would be the springboard for an incursion into Jordan.

He recommended that Jordan then be used as a base from which to enter Judea and Samaria, and from there to destroy Israel completely, according to the translation of the tape released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“The West and its Arab allies are preventing the mujahadeen from coming to the aid of the Palestinians,” claimed Bin Laden. “Our state after the Gaza [Cast Lead operatio should not be the same as our state before it,” he declared. “We should work hard and prepare for jihad [holy wa in order to bring about what is right.”

The terrorist leader also named media outlets, including a number of Arab television channels, as potential targets, exhorting his followers to compile a list of “our hypocrite enemies and their media, especially newspapers, books, magazines, radio stations and satellite channels.” Among those he named were the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Al-Hurrah and Al-Arabiya television networks.

The 33-minute tape was the second to be issued by Bin Laden since Israel ended its three-week counterterrorism Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

MEMRI Project Head: ‘Pay Attention”

MEMRI’s director of the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project, Eli Alshech, warned in an interview published Tuesday in The Jerusalem Post that government officials should pay attention to the tape and its message.

“As always, bin Laden’s messages have to be taken seriously,” Alshech told the Post. “He poses an ideological threat, which has grown stronger. He focuses the energies of the most uncoordinated jihadists, and they internalize his message.”

Alshech pointed out that the tape has already created “a buzz on Islamic web sites.” He also noted there had been an upswing in terror attacks on oil rigs in Yemen and Saudi Arabia after bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, called for a jihad on Western investments in Arab oil.

U.S. Officials: ‘Nothing New’

U.S. officials who analyzed the tape seemed unperturbed, however, saying there was nothing new in the message.

“Al Qaeda addresses these themes with some frequency and at this point, there doesn’t appear to be anything new there,” said a counterterrorism official quoted by the AFP news agency on Saturday.

“Al Qaeda’s message is always one that advocates murder and destruction. The indisputable fact is they murder indiscriminately women and children, Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” said the U.S. official, who requested anonymity.

The al Qaeda terrorist organization is particularly known for its massive attack on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001.

Terrorism experts in Israel have said that the Gaza-based Army of Islam terrorist group in Gaza, and its allied Dughmush clan, are associated with al Qaeda.

The Army of Islam was one of the three terrorist groups that participated in the June 2006 abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit during a raid on an IDF outpost located near a Gaza crossing. Two other soldiers were killed and a fourth was gravely wounded in the attack, also perpetrated by members of Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) terror groups.

Israel Nixed ‘Mega-Terrorists’

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Israel Nixed ‘Mega-Terrorists’

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday night he will not agree to all of Hamas’s demands for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. He blamed the terrorist organization for blocking an agreement by rejecting Israel’s offer to free more than 300 Hamas terrorists, including those who carried out murderous attacks against Israel. The government agreed to free several of the terrorists on condition that they be deported to other countries. They include those who were convicted for planning or carrying out suicide bombings and other attacks that resulted in the deaths of more than Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The Prime Minister has informed the Shalit family of the status of negotiations.

He added that Israel is the only country in the world that would offer to free terrorists convicted of murder in exchange for a single soldier. However, the Prime Minister added, "We will not agree to release more prisoners from the Hamas list beyond the hundreds of names that we agreed to and announced to them."

Government negotiators trying to win the release of Shalit told the Cabinet Tuesday afternoon that they could not agree to Hamas’s demands for freeing 120 terrorists because doing so would damage national security.

Hamas issued a statement blaming Israel for changing the list of terrorists at the last minute and breaking up the chances for an agreement. Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil, stated that Israel was trying ‘to avoid” Hamas’s demands. Prime Minister Olmert said that efforts still are being made to reach an agreement.

Meanwhile, Israel is continuing to restrict the movement of goods at Gaza crossings to humanitarian shipments. A key Hamas aim is re-opening the crossings to all commercial shipments and traffic.

Among the terrorists who the negotiators, Ofer Dekel and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Yuval Diskin, refused to include on Hamas’s “wish list” are those behind the attacks on the Moment and Hillel restaurants in Jerusalem and on the old central bus station in Tel Aviv.

The Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency claimed that Israel will free all 450 "heavy" terrorists whom Hamas demands but that the status of four of them is not clear. They are among terrorists whose release was denied by the government, according to the Voice of Israel report.

They include Abbas al-Sayyed, who planned the Netanya suicide bombing that killed 29 Israelis, and Abdullah Al-Barghouti, who is serving 67 life terms in jail for attacks that murdered 66 Israelis and wounded hundreds of others, including those in the attack on Moment.

The other two who Ma'an named are Ibrahim Hamid, who planned several murderous attacks that led to the killing of more than 60 Israelis, and Ahmed Saadat, the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who was convicted of arranging the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evi at the Hyatt Hotel in Jerusalem in 2001.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If there were no Israel

Edward Glick, guest opinion

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is busy seeking a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, is spending almost all his waking moments calling for Israel's destruction. The world's other Jew-haters spend nearly all their time hiding their politically incorrect anti-Semitism behind politically correct anti-Israelism.

So let's imagine that a genie makes Israel disappear and also makes all of us lose our memory of the "Zionist entity" and of the modern Jewish state.

What would an Israel-free Middle East be like?

For starters, the only democracy in the region will have vanished.

And since there would still be Arab hostility, dictatorship, cronyism, corruption, overpopulation and socioeconomic dislocation, Hamas, Hezbollah and the other Arab leaders would have to find a new scapegoat toward which to deflect the anger and despair of their people.

Palestine would still be as underdeveloped as are most of the Arab states, whose combined gross domestic product is less than that of Spain.

Their people saddled with one of the highest birthrates in the world, most Palestinians would still be unemployed and unemployable, partly because of the inability or unwillingness of their rulers to create viable institutions and infrastructures, and partly because there would no longer be an Israel for the Palestinians to work in.

East Jerusalem and the West Bank would be still ruled from Amman, the Gaza Strip would still be ruled from Cairo and the Golan Heights would still be ruled from Damascus. Syria would still be the de facto ruler of Lebanon and its Christian minority, and it would still be a threat to both Palestine and Jordan, which it considers to be part of southern Syria.

The Arab states without oil would still resent the Arab states that have oil -- and the wealth and power that flow from it. And water, always in short supply in the Middle East, would eventually become the most precious liquid in the region.

The animosity between the 85 percent of Muslims who are Sunnis and the 15 percent who are Shiites would not abate.

Egypt would still be persecuting its Coptic Christian minority. And Cairo, the capital of the only real nation-state in the Arab world, would still be vying with Baghdad, Damascus and Riyadh for the leadership of that world. The Kurds would still be pressing Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran for a state of their own, and the latter would still be refusing to give them one.

Iraq would still covet Kuwait, which it considers a renegade province. Iraq and Iran -- like their Babylonian and Persian forebears -- would still despise and occasionally go to war with each other. Both would still be seeking weapons of mass destruction, and Iran would probably have them.

Iran would still be run by the ayatollahs. And the United States, even under President Barack Obama, would still be facing the specter of an atomic, biological or chemical version of 9/11.

Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, funded in no small amount by Saudi money, would still be trying to punish us for, among other transgressions, stationing our infidel soldiers -- especially our women soldiers -- in the land which contains Islam's sacred cities of Mecca and Medina.

Finally, even without a Jewish polity and without either a one-state or a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, there would still be at least 1.3 billion Muslims living on this planet. If only 1 percent of them are Islamists and jihadists, that means 13 million people who are hellbent on terrorizing infidels back to earlier centuries of real and imagined Islamic glory.

Edward Bernard Glick, a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University, is the author of "Between Israel and Death." He lives in Southwest Portland.

Gilad: Hamas, Hizbullah can't be trusted

Terror groups can agree to 30-year truce, violate it 30 days later, top security official says

Roee Nahmias
Israel News

Both Hamas and Hizbullah will continue to seek Israel's destruction and must not be granted any legitimacy, top security official Amos Gilad said MondaySpeaking at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau said terror groups were "decent enough to say what they think – that Israel has no right to exist." He said both Hamas and Hizbullah are "entities with an incredibly radical worldview, but they're flexible in terms of timetable. For them, there is no such thing as defeat or surrender."

"If they sustain a blow, as happened in Operation Cast Lead for example, they may accept a temporary agreement. However, in terms of their value system, they can always violate such deal the moment they feel strong enough," he said.

"This is what happened with the previous lull," Gilad said, noting that he was deeply familiar with the issue. "I'm telling you that the lull was unlimited and was not restricted to six months, as Hamas claimed. They violated it because they thought Israel is weak and won't enter Gaza."

"They are capable of agreeing to a 30-year ceasefire and violating it after 30 days," he said. "Those who think that such agreements can serve as a basis for negotiation are wrong. We should never be tempted into strategic negotiations with Hamas."

'No chance for peace deals'
Turning his attention to the recent British willingness to engage in dialogue with Hizbullah, Gilad said: "I see elements in the Western world that are considering dialogue with these groups in an attempt to convince them, but it won't make a difference. It's possible to reach agreements with them, but we should never think this will lead to peace treaties."

Replying to Ynet's question about whether Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's latest speech, where he hinted of willingness to engage in talks with the US, constituted a change in policy, Gilad replied: "Hamas and Hizbullah are open to any kind of dialogue. Legitimacy is very important to them. If the Western world is willing to recognize them, they will of course accept that, and this is what Nasrallah meant. However, they will not change their ways, and Israel will always be a target for elimination in their eyes."


David Basch

"The Arabs remain greatly advantaged because Israel will not use her power to gain victory over her enemies,... keeping Israel at perpetual war with the Arab enemy, which ... puts the US in the Middle between Israel and an Arab world that the US wants
to have a friendly relationship with.... something a good ally should never do." In Israel's struggle for existence, the Arabs have a great advantage:
The Arabs know full well that they want to destroy Israel, root and
branch, but Israel's ruling elites refuse to recognize this. As a
result, Israel's elites constantly make diplomatic concessions and
show restraint in order not to forgo an imagined possibility of living
in peace with the implacable Arabs -- concessions that gravely weaken

The situation truly resembles lambs bargaining with jackals and
offering all kinds of thoughtful goodies to get the jackals to not
seize them by the throat. Such peaceful offers, of course, avail not
in the nature of the case -- the case of Israeli lamb bargaining with
the Arab jackal.

Unfortunately, those Israelis with liberalistic ideological obsessions
-- too many for the health and long term prospects of Israel -- reject
the lamb-jackal analogy as racist and on grounds that all men are
interested in striving for peace, if only the seeker of peace will be
willing to make some sacrifices to eliminate the unjust causes of
friction. This Israel perpetually strives to do, surrendering
strategic territories and strong diplomatic postures, ever empowering
the enemy that uses such empowerment to redouble their efforts in the
war to destroy Israel.

When such liberal obsessions are the rule among the ruling classes of
a nation -- the very situation known as "over righteousness" that
Ecclesiastes/Koheles warned against as leading to self destruction --
you can forget about making your case to those leaders by reasoned
argument for this is completely ineffective with those obsessed, for
the arguments are not heard, which is why the Arabs remain greatly

As a result of this obsessive liberal mind set -- which, generalizing
from his past behavior, some say that Netanyahu shares -- the Arabs
remain greatly advantaged because Israel will not use her power to
gain victory over her enemies, making it impossible through Israeli
decisive military victory for the Arab enemy over the foreseeable future
to carry out their desire to destroy Israel. Hence, it keeps Israel at
perpetual war with the Arab enemy, which is bad enough in itself but
which has another downside in that it puts the US in the Middle
between Israel and an Arab world that the US wants to have a friendly
relationship with.

Think about this situation. What kind of wise friend does this? What
kind of good friend puts its great US ally in a position that
compromises this ally's position to keep in friendship an Arab world
it wants to befriend and even to make that US ally the target of
terrorism and war from that Arab world? At least this is the kind of
poisonous charge that is made by people like Ambassador Freeman to
receptive ears in the US administration. A wise Israel, a friend to
the US, would prevent that poisoning from happening by not letting
Israel's war situation with the Arabs continue to fester by failing to
achieve victory.

Because Israel will not win her war and continues to make the Arabs
realistically think that eventually the Arab side will weaken and
destroy Israel, the Arab-Israeli war festers and keeps the US
perpetually compromised. Isn't it time, before it is too late, for
Israel to end that situation, not by surrender, which would be
catastrophic to the Israeli people, but by finally defeating the Arab

A situation of Israeli victory had occurred at the time of Begin and
Shamir. Israel was so successful in a series of victories then that the
Arabs actually had to sue for peace. But instead of Israel being wary
of an Arab enemy with all religious and nationalist incentives that
make it implacably unable to live in peace with Israel, the enemy was
soon enough able to trick Israel into unwise, weakening concessions.

This was a process fostered by Israeli leftist sentiment that saw the
new Arab conciliation that emerged because of Arab defeat as nothing
but a sign of the truth of the fanciful leftist world view. Sure
enough, the Israeli leftist dreamers came into leadership in Israel
and embarked on a series of unwise concessions that have by now almost
totally reversed the consequences of earlier Israeli victories and
again placed the US in the Arab cross hairs along with Israel. It once
more turned Israel back into the bad ally-friend. For surely, it is
a friend who is not in need that is a friend indeed.

When one reads of the latest machinations of the Arabs and see how
they are quite willing to have the Hamas, openly dedicated to Israel's
destruction, join with Fatah, barely covert in its dedication to
Israel's destruction, and add a so-called "friendly" Arab leader like
Fayyad into the mix to pose as peaceniks -- though even Arabs like
Fayyad insist on bringing in millions of new Arabs called refugees
into Israel, a real killer demand that clearly reveals their true mind
-- and to draw financial and military support from the world,
including from the US, it becomes evident that Arab peace intentions
are a complete sham -- a conclusion evident to all except to the
self-destructive, surrender artists of Israel.

Were Israel to face the reality of the deadly, implacable intentions
of her Islamic enemies, Israel's leaders could devise war policies
that would bring her the decisive victory, for which there is no
substitute. This would remove her US ally as well as herself from
the enemy's cross hairs. But so far Israel won't do it.

And Jewish leaders wonder why Diaspora Jewry is fed up with this kind
of Israel and is plunged into virtual apathy about her fate, which
Israeli leaders compromise daily.


David Basch is an architect and city planner in New York as well as the Freeman Center's political philosopher. Basch is also an expert on Shakespeare and the author of the book, The Hidden Shakespeare, which proves through talmudic and other Jewish sources that Shakespeare was in fact Jewish.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Durbin Doctrine’s Assault on Free Speech

Heritage Foundation

Following a premeditated White House campaign to demonize Rush Limbaugh, Newsweek aided the left’s “Hush Rush” campaign with a cover story pushing for Rush to be silenced. Now, Rush can handle criticism from the White House and Newsweek just fine. But there was also a little noticed vote in the Senate late last month that could enable the left to accomplish by government regulation what they coulDuring the debate over the unconstitutional bill that would give the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) each sponsored amendments with major implications for the First Amendment. DeMint’s amendment banned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine which, prior to 1987, was used by the government to stifle free speech on our nation’s airwaves. DeMint’s amendment passed 87-11. Score one for free speech.

However, Durbin’s amendment also passed, although by a much narrower 57-41 margin. And what does Durbin’s amendment do? It forces the FCC to “take actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest.” In other words, Durbin wants to bring the wonders of government enforced affirmative action to our nation’s airwaves. Sen. James Inhofe warns: “The revocation of broadcaster licenses [under the Durbin Doctrine] is a real possibility, which at the very least will threaten the willingness of broadcasters to appeal to conservative listeners.”

The true intention of the Durbin Doctrine could not be more clear. Its language is modeled after a Center for American Progress report that aims to fix “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.” And just two years ago, Durbin told The Hill: “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Durbin’s commitment to squelching free speech has not diminished at all since that 2007 statement. But Durbin has gotten smarter. He knows that reinstating the old Fairness Doctrine is a non-starter so he has come up with a new but equally pernicious law that will accomplish the exact same thing. Conservatives need to wise up in the fight for free speech. The Fairness Doctrine is dead. The real threat is the Durbin Doctrine.


President Hugo Chávez ordered the navy on Sunday to seize seaports in states with major petroleum-exporting installations, part of his effort to assert greater control over infrastructure that had come under the dominion of political opponents in regional elections last year.

Billions of American taxpayer dollars used to bailout insurance giant AIG are flowing to some of the largest foreign banks in the world.

President Barack Obama’s new small-business loan plan will be run through an agency that the GAO says has insufficient oversight in place for that program.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has downgraded the jobs created by the stimulus from 4 million down to 3 million.

Govs. Rick Perry (R-TX), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Haley Barbour (R-MS), and Bob Riley (R-AL) have all rejected federal unemployment stimulus money that would have forced them to permanently expand their states unemployment programs.

"Worry and Reprieve"

Arlene Kushner

Worry? With regard to some of my concerns right now, this word is an understatement. Deep apprehension might better describe my state of mind. Near panic? Serious foreboding? You've got the picture.

And no where is this more the case than with my concerns about the US. I've been taking to heart the analyses of some serious and respected commentators who have left me quite troubled. The issue here is the financial stability of the country and the very real danger that the US might implode fiscally. In brief, the situation as described both by Michael Barone, a senior writer with US News and World Report, and Tony Blankley, a visiting senior fellow in National Security Communications at the Heritage Foundation, is this: What Obama is doing is tacking on to his fiscal recovery program enormously expensive, tax-guzzling projects that reflect his progressive-left agenda, but which threaten to bring the whole system down.

This is how Blankley describes it:

"But vastly more dangerous to the Obama presidency (and the nation) was his decision to go full steam ahead to immediately start to transform health care; fight carbon dioxide energy sources with new taxations that will increase the cost of all energy, goods and services; and increase new expensive education entitlements as part of a federalization of American education.

"It is this decision not to postpone those multi-year, multi-trillion-dollar programs until the economy and the financial system are revived that exposes Obama's presidency to a possible catastrophic meltdown in its first term.

"Obama not only is failing to focus more or less exclusively on protecting the financial system and the economy that depend on it but also is letting his ideological ardor drive him to expend both his own and his administration's attention, along with the vast new tax dollars, on those programs rather than on the financial and economic crises.

"Thus -- and here is his political danger -- if the financial system fails (and much of the economy along with it), it will be a fair, true and politically lethal charge against Obama that he didn't do all he could as soon as he could to protect us from the catastrophe."


I urge every single American reading this to ponder this material carefully, and then to respond before it is too late. An enormous outcry from within your nation is urgently needed.

This is not a question of political orientation. It is possible to be for universal health care, new educational entitlements, etc., and still understand that the poor state of the nation's economy will not tolerate support of these programs at present.

Barone points out that Franklin Roosevelt did not institute the New Deal until he had worked for two years to bring increased strength to the economy. Contrast this with the comment of Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of Staff, who said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste" -- implying that the fiscal crisis and ensuing legislation will provide the opportunity for getting new programs passed.

America, you are in trouble.


Word on whether there will be a prisoner trade for Shalit is still out.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, in Cairo this afternoon, told AP that Olmert's actions in sending Dekel and Diskin to negotiate was nothing more than a bargaining tactic. "We have not received anything new. We will not change our position."

However, the Egyptians have summoned Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas politburo in Damascus, and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, Secretary-General of Islamic Jihad, to Cairo. This is reportedly so that there can be work on the issues surrounding Palestinian unity negotiations.

But the timing made it clear that the Shalit issue was also on the agenda for Mashaal. And indeed, a Palestinian source cited by YNet confirmed this, saying that only small issues (how do we define small?) separate Israel and Hamas at this point, but that a deal would not be finalized in the next few days.

My own take is that the issue will be resolved by the Cabinet (and perhaps the Security Cabinet). Either it will cave on this issue, and accede to Hamas demands -- which is certainly possible -- or they will not. I know that at least until very recently there were prisoners on the list submitted by Hamas that were not acceptable even to very concession-minded members of the government; another issue of contention is Israel's insistence that the more dangerous or notorious of the prisoners who would be released had to be deported -- something Hamas objected to. But with all this, there is that pressure I wrote about yesterday, and the feeling that it's now or never because Netanyahu's take will be different.

Yet, according to an Olmert confidante speaking on Channel 10 today, "We will be surprised if a deal to release Gilad Shalit is effected in the coming days." Those close to Olmert were said to not be optimistic that efforts would yield success before his term ended.


And tonight it's looking a bit better regarding how soon Olmert will be vacating the position of prime minister. Yesterday I reported that Netanyahu had thought he might have to request a two-week extension to cobble together his coalition. But a lot has happened since then.

This morning there were reports of unofficial feelers going out to Livni again, regarding formation of a unity government. This time -- even though the prospect definitely did not go down well -- I understood. Netanyahu was tired of dealing with right wing parties who thought they could demand the maximum, making formation of that government very problematic.

Should Livni have come on board, she would have been given the Foreign Ministry and would have demanded a rotation of the prime minister's position -- something Netanyahu was definitely not keen on.

There was, therefore, some speculation that these feelers were a negotiating gambit to deliver a warning to the right wing, so that they would not think they had him over a barrel. This now seems to be the case, as there are reports that an agreement with Yisrael Beitenu is imminent.

Let us hope so.


It appears that negotiations between Hamas and Fatah for forming a unity government have failed. Just about every issue on the books remained a source of contention without resolution:

There was Fatah's failure to release all Hamas detainees in its prisons. And there continued to be a dispute over the reforming of the PLO, which Fatah now controls and Hamas would like to control. And there was the issue of elections -- with Hamas saying presidential elections had to be now and Fatah saying not until next year when the legislature is elected.

If all of this has a deja vu feeling about it for you, you're not wrong.


But the really big issue, said Hamas, was the Fatah demand that it accept previous agreements with Israel and recognize Israel's right to exist. And this is one place where the dynamic is fascinating.

Hamas negotiator Salah Bardaweel said that this demand was Fatah's "way of foiling talks," for they were setting "impossible conditions." (Note once again that Hamas is up-front about its policies.)

"Unless the Egyptian hosts exert pressure on Fatah to change its position, there is no point in continuing the talks," declared Bardaweel.


Another Hamas official blamed the US for the failure of the talks. For during negotiations Fatah revealed that they had been warned by the US that they will not deal with any government that does not accept the three Quartet conditions.

Said this official: "Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas have succumbed to American pressure once again." This is true, because Abbas knows on which side his bread is buttered. This dynamic explains the shift in Abbas's position, for I had been observing for some time that Abbas was not making demands of Hamas regarding recognition of Israel.

But then the official made a statement that was essentially erroneous: "The Americans don't want to see the Palestinians reunited." The Americans want this very much, on their terms, so that there can be peace negotiations and everyone can live happily ever after.

What the Americans have yet to learn is that they cannot manipulate events in the Middle East to their liking and that attempts often backfire.


Adm. Mike Mullen gave an interview on the Charlie Rose show the other day that merits attention. Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi is in Washington right now, and Mullen said with regard to him:

“I’ve been with my Israeli counterpart a number of times and, by and large, we see it the same way... We are in agreement and have been for the better part of six months or so. There was a time that we weren’t, but we’ve actually worked pretty hard to understand where we both are, so I think that generally we’re in agreement. But the Israelis for sure believe that the Iranians are on a path and are going to develop nuclear weapons.”


Mullen indicated concern about the destabilization of the area, and the risk to US troops, that would occur with an Israeli attack on Iran.

However, with regard to a US attack on Iran, he said:

“We have the capacity to do it but we are stretched. My ground forces are very stressed, very worn… On the other hand we’ve got a very strong strategic reserve in our Air Force and in our Navy and in fact that’s a part of the world, it’s a maritime part of the world, where the emphasis would certainly be on those two forces. And it’s not like the Navy and the Air Force haven’t been working hard at what we’ve doing but there’s plenty of capacity there.”

Does this suggest the possibility of this happening? Don't know. I do believe that the Americans are more likely to go for it if they're afraid that we're going to go it alone and cause "destabilization."

See a video of Mullen's interview at: (move to minute 32 of the video)


According to a NY Times analysis:

“The Israelis have seized on the Iranian milestone [UN confirmation that Iran had collected enough nuclear material to produce a bomb] to redouble pressure on the United States for a tougher stance against Iran and to remind the new American president that their patience has a limit. In fact, Israeli officials have quietly been delivering the message that the diplomacy Barack Obama wants to start with Iran should begin promptly — and be over quickly.”

Added the Times:

“Mr. Obama’s top aides suspect that Netanyahu, Israel’s likely next prime minister, will not risk acting alone. It would undercut his relationship with his most important ally before that relationship really gets going. But that’s a guess.”

I would call it a very bad guess. Obama's people, and I would guess many others, do not understand how seriously Israelis take this existential threat. From my perspective the notion of putting our relationship with Obama ahead of eliminating that threat is nothing if not ludicrous.

Most reassuring was the statement that Jeffrey G. Lewis, a nuclear specialist at the New America Foundation, in Washington, gave to the Times:

“In the race between an Iranian bomb and bombing Iran, we would win. We would cave in the roof before they got a bomb’s worth of material.”

I would like to believe he's right.


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Sunday, March 15, 2009

50,000 Rockets Aimed at Israel

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu 50,000 Rockets Aimed at Israel

Hamas and Hizbullah terrorists have amassed an arsenal of 50,000 rockets aimed at Israel, United Press International (UPI) has reported. Israel still has no defense against the threat, and the government’s highly touted Iron Dome short-range missile defense system is far from being in operation and may not even be practical. “Even if Iron Dome works perfectly, it is never going to have the firepower in interceptors to credibly intercept most, let alone all,” of the rockets, according to the UPI report.

Hizbullah has amassed far more rockets than it possessed before the Second Lebanon War in 2006, despite Israel’s agreeing to a ceasefire on the condition that United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL) would prevent arms smuggling into Lebanon.

In the south, Hamas continues to smuggle weapons into Gaza despite a similar ceasefire ageement, supposedly conditioned on a cessation of arms smuggling, that the Olmert administration announced when concluding Operation Cast Lead in mid-January.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised two years ago that the Iron Dome short-range missile defense system, along with other systems, would protect Israel from 90 percent of missile attacks, although mortar shells would continue to explode in Israel without interception.

Barak announced in October 2007 that the Iron Dome was near completion and would be in place by 2010. He also has stated that its deployment is a precondition for handing over part of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority.

Last year, officials admitted that the Iron Dome system would not be effective against Kassam rockets fired from less than two miles, meaning that it had no solution for tens of thousands of residents in the Gaza Belt communities, including Sderot.

State Comptroller and Ombudsman Micha Lindenstrauss’s recent report of his investigation of the timetable of the Iron Dome system “documented endless delays, indecision, go-it-alone chaotic planning and sheer bureaucratic incompetence,” in the words of UPI reporter Martin Sieff.

Likud officials: Netanyahu not interested in rotation

Coalition talks with Kadima resumed last week, but sources close to PM-designate say he is unenthusiastic about Livni's demand for rotation in prime minister's role. Netanyahu, Livni hold several secret meetings in bid to bridge gaps

Attila Somfalvi
Israel News

The resumption of secret coalition talks between the Likud and Kadima parties have stirred the political system. Over the weekend, Likud, Kadima and Labor Party officials continued to discuss the possibility of forming a national unity government. However, senior Likud officials who spoke to Benjamin Netanyahu got the impression that the prime minister-designate is unenthusiastic about Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni's demand for a rotation in the prime minister's role.

Netanyahu and Livni met several times last week and spoke on the phone a few more times. Ynet has also learned that the Likud leader's associate, Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, was privy to the talks and was helping bridge the differences.

Sources involved in the talks told Ynet that Livni wants "the entire package" from Netanyahu and would not settle for only part of the demands. In the meetings, the Kadima chairwoman reiterated her demand for an equal government which would be based on Kadima and the Likud, and a commitment from Netanyahu in the diplomatic field.

Ynet reported on Friday that the secret talks between Kadima and the Likud were resumed in recent days. Netanyahu even spoke to senior Kadima officials, but a party source clarified that "these are not negotiation discussions".

Other senior officials from both parties also held secret talks, including Knesset Members Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) and Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima), who discussed the possibility of resuming the official negotiations for the establishment of a unity government.

A source involved in the talks told Ynet, "The negotiations on the technical issues can be finalized within a very short while. It's nonsense. The problem is with the demand for a rotation."

Sources in the political arena noted that Netanyahu planned to meet with President Shimon Peres in the coming days in order to receive an extension for the mission of forming a new government, but that he appeared not to be pleased with the matter.

"He prefers not to ask for two more weeks. The agreement between the two parties could be finalized this week if wanted," one of the sources said.

Sources close to Livni clarified that in spite of the talks with the Likud chairman, there was no essential change in the matter. "At the moment nothing has changed in terms of the fundamental issues," one of them said. "Netanyahu hasn't changed his views in a significant manner."

One of the proposals raised in the secret talks was an unequal rotation, which would have Netanyahu serve as prime minister for three years and Livni serve as prime minister for less than two years. Netanyahu is unsatisfied with the rotation demand, while Livni's associates say she is interested in an equal rotation.

Marathon meetings with right-wing parties

The talks are expected to continue in the coming days, in a bid to lead a move which would allow Kadima to join Netanyahu's government. However, the chances that the talks will bear fruit are unclear.

There are those who believe that the differences can be bridged soon and that Kadima will be able to join the government, but there are also officials in both parties who believe that the move is doomed to fail, particularly in light of Netanyahu's refusal to accept Livni's demands.

President Peres is also privy to the talks. Knowledgeable sources told Ynet that Peres had held several discussions with various elements and had been briefed on the details of the talks.

Meanwhile, the Likud's negotiating team is speeding up its talks with Yisrael Beiteinu and the other right-wing parties in a bid to sign coalition agreements soon. Marathon meetings are expected to be held into the night Sunday with the parties slated to join the coalition.

The Likud and National Union representatives agreed on Friday to make the yeshiva funding an integral part of the State Budget, but there are still disagreements in regards to the National Union's demand to receive the Housing portfolio and the role of deputy minister in the Defense Ministry.

"As a New Week Begins"

Arlene Kushner

The traditional greeting at the end of Shabbat is "Shavua tov" -- have a good week. And dearly do I wish for all of us a good week. But as I look at the news I have more than a little ambivalence.


Big news here (which may come to nothing) is that Ofer Dekel, chief negotiator on the release of Shalit, and Yuval Diskin, head of Shin Bet, have been sent to Cairo by Olmert for last ditch negotiations on Shalit before a new government takes over. With the Shalit family in a protest tent this past week, pressure has been growing to secure a final deal. They will remain in Cairo until tomorrow night, and will return to report any progress to the Cabinet, which would be called into special session on Monday.. There is such a hullabaloo with regard to Olmert's obligation to secure the release of our kidnapped soldier, that it's difficult for me to tell whether I'm in the minority in opposing what is being projected: the trade of Shalit for hundreds of terrorists who have taken many Jewish lives and would undoubtedly work towards that end again if freed. I shudder at the prospect.

While Olmert is thinking about becoming a hero at the last minute, I am thinking ahead to what this projected deal means:

There is an issue of justice: The urgent necessity to hold those who kill our people accountable and make them pay for their deeds. There is enormous compassion for the pain of the Shalit family, but what of the disregard for the pain of the families who lost members to these terrorists, and the ultimate insult of letting the murderers of their loved ones go free? This is also essential so that potential terrorists understand what would be facing them if caught and are disabused of the notion that they would be freed in a trade.

And there is the risk posed to others in several regards -- the soldiers who would be at risk of kidnapping so that the release of additional terrorist prisoners might be secured, and the ordinary Jews living here would be at increased risk of terrorist attack.

The price is not acceptable.


And I think of something else, as well: We are supposed to have just "won" a war with Hamas. This is what is necessary following a victory? Does this not make fools of us?

We stopped too soon. That much is clear. And we failed to sufficiently weaken them. We should be setting terms, and this is not what is happening.

We indeed should secure Shalit's release; he deserves this from us, but in ways other than what is now under consideration.


More on Hamas.

According to a Reuters report, the US, the UK, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway have just signed on to an agreement to try to stop smuggling of weapons into Gaza. They have devised an anti-smuggling policy which would include interception at sea, information sharing and diplomatic pressure, declaring that they will "take action, to the extent that national legal authorities permit and consistent with international law, to support interdiction efforts."

Hamas's reaction, as might be expected, has been one of anger. They accuse these nations of "canceling our right to resistance." According to Arutz Sheva, "Hamas leaders claimed that international law allows them to smuggle weapons, which are then used against Israeli civilians, as a means of 'resisting the occupation.'"

I give Hamas leaders credit for one thing: they are honest in their intentions and don't endorse subterfuge. If we listen to their words, we know where they stand.


Unfortunately, not everyone listens.

According to the Boston Globe, Economic Recovery Adviser Paul Volcker, former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and six others have signed a letter to the president calling on him to talk with Hamas in order to coax them to disarm and join the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

The other members of this group are former Republican senators Chuck Hagel and Nancy Kasselbaum Baker, former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, former United Nations ambassador Thomas Pickering, former US trade representative Carla Hills and former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy Theodore Sorensen. The full contents of the letter have yet to be made public.

I ask you (rhetorically, of course): Where are their heads, that they can even suggest "coaxing" Hamas to disarm?

Anyone who suggests this likely has not the remotest concept of the revolutionary Jihadist ideology espoused by Hamas. To stop trying to destroy Israel would be for Hamas to surrender its raison d'etre. Would that more people understood this.

Or perhaps these particular letter writers really do understand Hamas ideology, but don't particularly care, and are using this as a lead-in to the ultimate suggestion that Hamas be embraced with eyes averted.

Either way, beware.

Reportedly, the White House has said they will be given an opportunity to make their case with the president.


In phone calls yesterday to leaders in the Philippines, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, President Obama has declared that he will forge new ties with Muslims.

But he's not yet at the place of embracing Hamas. Recently, Great Britain began outreach to Hezbollah, and now a top US official has said that the Obama administration is not in favor of this. The reasoning is worth noting:

A State Department official said that while the Obama administration is ready to meet with regimes such as those of Syria and Iran, which support terrorism, their governments might be swayed on the basis of national interests, while terrorist organizations have a single agenda. Hezbollah and Hamas are both listed as terror organizations in the US.


A coalition agreement has still not been signed between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu. Seems Lieberman is playing his hand for all it's worth. Some of his demands -- e.g., civil marriage -- are unacceptable to religious groups slated to also join the coalition and compromises must be worked out.

There is still time, but it is scant, and there is now the possibility that Netanyahu will request of the president a two-week extension for completing negotiations.

This is distressing first because it signals a coalition that will not come together smoothly at a time when stability in government is urgently needed, and then because we need very badly to be done with the Olmert administration.

There are rumors -- just unsubstantiated rumors that I am hoping carry no weight -- that Barak might reconsider joining the coalition now that Friedmann, to whom Labor objected, will not be Justice Minister. This would likely place Barak as Defense Minister again, and it is Yaalon who would be best in this position. Along with these rumors are reports that other members of the Labor faction are still adamantly opposed to joining the coalition.

None of this is a done-deal until it's over. Let that be soon.


IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi is in Washington this weekend. Iran is high on the agenda in meetings, and, if truth be told, the issue of Iran trumps all the rest in importance.

Just days ago, US Intelligence Director Dennis Blair indicated that it would be "difficult" to get Iran to give up nuclear efforts via diplomatic efforts. (Is Obama listening?) They might reign in their nuclear development, he said, via "credible" incentives and "threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures," but "it is difficult to specify what such a combination might be."

What is more, this would not indicate a change of Iranian heart, so much as a response to a particular set of circumstances, and efforts might resume at any time.


Can I avoid mentioning this? It is an uncomfortable, but very public subject: That of the indictment, at last, of former president Moshe Katzav on sexual charges that include rape. This entire process has not been one of the prouder moments for the legal/justice system of our country, for the matter has dragged on altogether too long and with too much vacillation. The issue at hand was whether the witnesses were truly reliable and whether the charges should include rape. The public has been left with the uncomfortable impression that what should have been irrelevant side issues helped to shape the final charges.

Katsav, who has been prone, during the unfolding of this process, to furious responses that border on the hysterical, called a press conference Thursday night that went on for 2-1/2 hours. During this time he blasted law enforcement officials, the attorney general, the witnesses, and others involved. Sadly, while it is credible to believe that he has reason for anger, this behavior does not serve his cause well.

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