Saturday, October 23, 2010

UNRWA official: Hamas in contact with most foreign nations


Andrew Whitley says Norway, Switzerland and Germany, among others, "quietly" having contacts with Gaza leadership; calls on Palestinians to prepare refugees for near certainty that they will never return to Israel.

WASHINGTON – A senior UNRWA official broached two largely taboo topics at a conference in Washington on Friday, saying governments across Europe and the world have had contacts with Hamas and that Palestinian refugees should acknowledge that they will almost certainly not be returning to Israel. Andrew Whitley, due to soon leave his post as director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s New York Representative Office, told the National Council for US-Arab Relations’ annual conference that contacts with Hamas were commonplace.

'German diplomat continues efforts to free Schalit'
Exclusive: 'No' to UNRWA school ‘near Hamas base'

“I think it’s fair to say that all governments, whether they admit it or not, have had discrete contact with Hamas,” Whitley said. He singled out Norway, Switzerland and Germany as “quietly” having contacts.

Germany has been involved in discussions over a prisoner exchange with Israel for IDF solider Gilad Schalit, whom Hamas has held since 2006.

Whitley suggested that contacts were important as part of efforts to unify the divided Palestinian government as well as alleviate suffering in Gaza.

Whitley also said that Palestinians must start acknowledging that the refugees will almost certainly not be returning to Israel so that they can improve their situation.

Palestinians have long maintained a “right of return” to Israel and the homes they – or their parents and grandparents fled – in Israel 1948 War of Independence. The issue has been one of the most difficult to resolve in peace negotiations.

“If one doesn’t start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be -- for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes -- then we are storing up trouble for ourselves,” he declared.

Whitley acknowledged that few Palestinians and even officials in his own organization have been willing to publicly discuss the issue.

“We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent,” he said. “It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.”

There are now 4.8 million Palestinian refugees, the descendants of less than 1 million who left present-day Israel in 1948. These people are most likely to remain either in Gaza and the West Bank or their current host countries of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, though Whitley noted a very small number might be absorbed elsewhere in the world.

Though UNRWA currently ministers to the Palestinian refugees needs rather than resettles them, Whitley suggested this is a role the organization might take on.

America's Biggest International Problem: Global Political Warming as Neglect Fuels Aggression

Barry Rubin

One of the main features of this sick, sad era in international relations is that hugely important developments are ignored, having no effect on Western policy. Here’s one such case: Indian investigators have confirmed that Pakistani intelligence was deeply involved in the massive, bloody Mumbai terror attack in 2008, killing 166 people.

The story should be on the front page of every Western newspaper. This Pakistani involvement has long been suspected but now there is strong evidence on the record. Just think of it: Pakistan is a huge U.S. aid recipient. It suffers no consequence of being a sponsor of terrorism, not only in this case against India but also repeatedly in previous attacks and in helping terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

Yet there is something in the strategy of ignoring this problem that fits into the broader strategy of the Obama Administration: buy short-term quiet and apparent popularity at the price of strategic decline and future crises. Let’s go through the Mumbai story and then look at the bigger picture.

The group carrying out the Mumbai attack was Lashkar-e-Taiba, an organization completely dependent on Pakistani financing, training, arming, and safe haven.

Now, U.S. officials have new and dramatic evidence of this because the source for the information is an American in U.S. custody. His name is David Headley, who has pleaded guilty in a federal court of involvement in the attack and is cooperating with the government. He has detailed how officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, Pakistan’s notorious intelligence force, helped carry out the raid.

According to Headley, as recorded in a report on the interrogation, the Pakistanis directed and funded the group. In Headley’s case, he was trained as a spy, paid, and sent to India where he took photos and videos of potential places for attack. The material was turned over to the group’s intelligence liaison who then suggested where and how to kill lots of people, including American citizens staying in hotels and the office of the Jewish Chabad group.

This should lead to a major crisis in U.S.-Pakistan relations. Regardless of the fact that Pakistan is “helping” the United States against al-Qaida and the Taliban. But wait! How much is it helping? U.S. officials have also reported that Pakistani intelligence is assisting the Taliban in killing Americans in Pakistan and not working all that hard to find Usama bin Ladin and his friends.

Now let’s be clear. There is a genuine policy dilemma for the United States, the need to balance Pakistani help against Pakistani sabotage of U.S. policy and terrorism. The point is that the Mumbai information should be the last straw, showing the need for some confrontation.

Yes, the popularity of the United States might decline a few percentage points in Pakistan. There might even be—shudder!—tension. Yet it is time for the U.S. government to demand full cooperation, a change in Pakistani behavior, turning over all the wanted terrorists and their handlers to India, or else the United States will take serious action.

Or does the Obama Administration want to be an ally of those who murdered 166 people in Mumbai, the equivalent of backing those who carried out the September 11, Lockerbie, Spanish train, and British underground bombings?

Oh, wait! The U.S. government is now advocating and helping the Afghan government negotiate with the Taliban, the partner in the September 11 attacks. How can this be justified: Easily, by claiming that there are forces in the Taliban that can be moderated. Of course, the problem this isn’t true.

Combined with naiveté and ignorance, what are the other factors in this move? Well, if the Taliban makes some kind of truce or reduces its fighting, the Obama Administration can withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and claim victory, or at least stability, has been attained. This, however, would just set the scene for a strengthened Taliban and far more fighting soon after U.S. combat troops leave.

Yet this isn’t the first time such a strategy has been used by the Obama Administration. It ended efforts to subvert the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and also continues engagement with Syria despite that country’s continued anti-American extremism. While the governments in Venezuela and Turkey trounce U.S. interests, this is also ignored.

Other examples can be cited of this approach toward such disparate countries as Russia, North Korea, and others, as well as benign neglect of problems like the fact that Iraq is suffering from a huge political crisis of having no government at all. In the UN Human Rights Committee, despite the domination of radical states and no change from past misdeeds, the administration justifies its decision to join by pretending there are no problems at all.

The worst problem the United States is going to face may be a political global warming, as neglected crises heat up, while tolerated radical forces set the world aflame with increased violence and aggression in the next few years.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Israeli SWAT team wins International CounterTerror Competition

Posted by Jameel @ The Muqata at 10/22/2010

In a highly under-reported win, Israel's Police Counter-Terror force, the "YaMaM" won the international "Urban Shield" counter-terror competition against 27 top rated police and federal SWAT teams from around the world. Not only did Israel place first, but their point score was the highest ever in the history of the competition Translated by Jameel, from the Channel 2 news site.

Excellence against terrorism: SWAT fighters won first prize this week at a competition of the special counter-terrorism units from various countries, held in California, United States. The "Urban Shield" contest was a two-day exercise, and Israel's team also broke the world record [in scoring points].Israeli unit competed against 27 police units from the United States and abroad, accustomed to different scenarios in the war on terrorism, taking control of terrorists holding hostages and more. SWAT team, consisting of eight fighters under the command of a Commander "B" gained the highest score among the units that participated in the competition, and won first place.

Minister of Defense Yitzhak Aharonovitch also spoke with the commander of the expedition.

"You brought great pride to Israel, have proven that you are step forward before the whole world", said Aharonovitch as he praised the fighters. "You are fighting in the shadows away from the spotlight, and you probided the world with a taste of your abilities, and your readiness to answer the call. You have placed the Israel Police at the top of the world."

The way this was reported in Okaland, CA:

OAKLAND -- An Oakland police SWAT team finished second in a prestigious, internationally known training competition last weekend, losing out to a group of Israeli police but beating more than two dozen other Bay Area law enforcement agencies that participated.

Israel's counter terror units are the best in the world...and I'm proud to serve in our local region's unit as well.

American Jews should demand Pollard's freedom

Gil Troy

What many long suspected has been confirmed. Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger targeted America’s Jewish spy from the 1980s, Jonathan Jay Pollard, to teach Israel a lesson. One of Weinberger’s assistant secretaries of defense, Dr. Lawrence Korb, recently wrote a letter to President Barack Obama saying: “Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard’s sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.” As members of Congress circulate a demand for Pollard’s release after nearly 25 years in captivity, as American Jews once again agonize, as speculation grows about using Pollard’s release as a figleaf to allow Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to extend the settlements’ building moratorium, justice remains AWOL. Pollard should not be freed as part of a deal but as part of a settlement, wherein the American government atones for abusing his rights. The presidents who could have released him, the national security types who insisted on jailing him, as well as the Americans and Israelis who failed to redeem him, should all hang their heads in shame. The hero of the moment, Dr. Korb himself, should explain his quarter-century delay before doing the right thing. While we dithered, Jonathan Pollard has languished in jail.

Since Jonathan Pollard’s arrest in November 1985, most American Jews have wanted to forget all about him. Until Bernard Madoff, Pollard was the undisputed black sheep of the American Jewish family. If Madoff’s swindle brought to life the anti-Semitic caricature of the greedy Jew, Pollard embodied the treasonous Jew, the untrustworthy Jew, the dual-loyalty Jew. Despite the community’s affinity for lost causes, few have dared buck America’s national security establishment to defend the most infamous Jewish Judas since the 1950s’ Ethel and Julius Rosenberg Atomic spy case. Such blaring silence for so long demonstrates a dismaying insecurity about Jews’ place in America.

It makes sense that in 1985 most American Jews wanted to see Pollard jailed. Pollard broke the law when he passed secret navy intelligence documents to Israel. No patriotic American can countenance such behavior – even if the documents went to an ally. Yet even at the time, in denouncing Pollard’s “despicable” and “shameful” acts so vehemently, Jews seemed overly anxious to demonstrate their loyalty at Pollard’s expense.

American Jews got their wish. Pollard was punished, severely. In March, 1987, as part of a deal intended to keep his then-wife Anne Henderson Pollard from jail, Pollard plead guilty to “conspiracy to commit espionage.” His plea spared the government from the risk of spilling more secrets at trial. Yet despite the plea bargain, and swayed by a blistering pre-sentencing memorandum from Secretary of Defense Weinberger, Judge Aubrey Robinson threw the book at both Pollards. Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment; his wife, who was never accused of stealing secrets, was sentenced to five years.

Pollard is no hero. But should Jews ignore the compelling cries for fair, proportionate justice simply because Pollard embarrasses us? Pollard does not deserve special treatment because he is Jewish, but neither does he deserve undue retribution. He is entitled to the same crusade the ACLU might mount for a murderer who, while guilty, does not deserve the death penalty.

When Pollard was arrested, many American Jews were furious because his actions supposedly made all Jews suspect. Since 1985 many Jews have endured more extensive investigations when being considered for security clearances; Israelis have faced more obstacles collaborating in defense-related American industries too. That one person could cause so much damage is mind-boggling. But does this say more about Pollard’s crimes or about Jews’ status in America?

If one rogue can threaten an entire community’s standing, something is wrong. Is that all it takes to derail the Jewish campaign to be America’s model minority? Are Jews merely tolerated, not accepted? American Jews’ reaction to the Pollard case evoked 1950s America, when first-generation greenhorns struggled to prove that Jews could be “a credit to our race and to our country.” Back then, Judge Irving Kaufman presided over the Rosenberg Atomic espionage case determined to rehabilitate Jews’ reputation. Millions of success stories later, American Jews should feel more secure. The many accomplishments, the deep patriotism, should refute the ancient dual loyalty libel.

American Jews do not live at the indulgence of Polish Nobleman patrons or a Russian Czar. American Jews do not enjoy civil rights as long as they sacrifice their Jewish identities, as their ancestors in “enlightened” Germany and “emancipated” France did. Jewish freedom is not contingent on anyone’s good will or on communal good behavior, but stems from inherent rights, “regardless of race, color, or creed.”

The American dream invites all citizens to sit at the table as equals. The American Jewish neurosis compels Jews to act like model dinner guests terrified of being banished from the dining room. Ironically, American Jews’ shame concedes too much to Jonathan Pollard and to anti-Semites – maybe Jews don’t feel as at home as they claim to in the Diaspora.

American Jews should be free, strong, proud, and comfortable enough to demand Jonathan Pollard’s release – unconditionally. This one individual does not reflect on the community but his continued imprisonment does reflect badly on American justice. If Jews lack that comfort, if Jews cannot apply the same standards to this one unfortunate Jew that they do to others the courts mistreat, then maybe American Jews should realize that they too are imprisoned, by delusions and fears. Ironically, by defending this spy, by arguing that Jonathan Pollard has been punished enough, Jews can demonstrate loyalty to America, and to the fundamental fairness that makes America, America.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Playing the Game"

Arlene Kushner

I picked up an article yesterday (written by Sheera Frankel in the Miami Herald) that said:

"The Obama administration has secured pledges from senior Mideast leaders to continue peace negotiations until after next month's U.S. midterm elections, largely to avoid handing the Obama administration an embarrassing diplomatic setback before the Nov. 2 elections." My immediate response was a loud "What?" But then I realized that what she seemed to be talking about were the negotiations to discuss negotiations, not real negotiations on peace:

"Israeli and Palestinian officials told McClatchy Newspapers Tuesday that efforts to reach a compromise would continue until at least Nov. 3, a move they said 'served the current American government.'

"'The time frame we are following has been designed around the elections in America,' said a senior member of the Palestinian negotiating team. 'We have been asked not to issue announcements that could embarrass negotiation officials.'"
This certainly seems a plausible scenario -- that the two sides have agreed, at Obama's behest, not to stop talking about resolving the crisis until after the election, at which point it will all fall apart. Meanwhile Obama and Clinton are able to babble on about the resolution to the impasse coming imminently, and to promote US skill in forging negotiations.

Is the US electorate that naive? I take that back. The US electorate voted for Obama. But maybe they've wised up a bit since then.

From my perspective, it seems that a judicious anonymous leak or two to reveal the improbability of that negotiation impasse being resolved might do wonders for helping the US electorate to see matters clearly. Just a matter of telling the truth. But Netanyahu won't do this, and you and I cannot, of course, because we're not privy to the inside.

But what we can do is share this article broadly. Send out an e-mail to everyone who would pay attention, put this on blogs and post on discussion group lists. Tell people not to be fooled. Tell them Obama is choreographing matters to help him look good pre-election. Include the three paragraphs in quotes above (paragraphs two, three and four), and the article's URL:


Laura Rozen, writing at Politico, says the Obama administration is "really upset" with Netanyahu because he refused to reinstate the freeze for an additional two months in exchange for certain US assurances. (Please note, they're apparently not "really upset" with Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to come to the table. Or, if they are, they won't say so, while they volubly express their discontent with Israel.)

To this I say, "All Right!" So far, our prime minister still hasn't caved. (Although he has conducted himself in a manner that is considerably less than exemplary in another context, see below.)

The package offered to Israel was worked out by Dennis Ross of the National Security Council, speaking for the US, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, for Israel. One of the problems we see right away is that Barak does his own leftist foreign policy. This is a man not to be trusted. The fact that Molcho is involved is troublesome, however, because he is said to have the confidence of the prime minister.

There may have been other elements to the US offer that didn't make press, but from what I have seen, that "best good faith offer" was sorely lacking.


Echoing Frankel's article above, Rozen says that everything is on hold until after the election. Obama does not intend to cross swords with us now. What is important from the US perspective, she says, is that members of the administration have convinced themselves that they really tried and did the very best they could with us, and are now justified in getting tougher.

One thought, not yet crystallized, involves pushing forward an American plan for resolving the conflict that might be forced on Netanyahu.

According to former US negotiator Aaron Miller, there is a plan being considered that might either “shut the game down until the locals are ready to play seriously, or gin it up.”
The mere suggestion that the US might consider putting “ close the process down until the two sides are ready to accept [an American proposal]" is good news. It is by far the smartest thing Obama could do: declare the differences between the sides intractable, promote the notion that efforts to bridge those differences have been pursued with vigor, sincerity and great wisdom, and then say that in the end he cannot want it more than the parties do.


There is much talk about Obama trying to avoid a crisis or appearance of failure before the election. But I'm not reading much speculation as to how the results of that election might affect what Obama decides to do next.

I suggest that the election results may be exceedingly important, and that Obama's ability to come down hard on us might be inhibited by a Republican Congress (which, remember, holds the purse strings). On this we'll have to wait and see.


According to the Financial Times (London) the Palestinian Arabs are mulling an action to ask the UN Security Council to declare communities (known as "settlements") in Judea and Samaria, as well as Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line (incredibly, also called "settlement") to be declared illegal. They think this has a better chance of being approved than asking for full recognition as a state.


See what John Bolton, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has to say about Obama and a Palestinian State:


Ahmed Qurei (aka Abu Ala), former prime minister of the PA and official of the PLO, has now joined the chorus of voices threatening violence if peace talks fail. Speaking in Cairo, he said that the Palestinians don't rule out the possibility of "armed resistance."

So what else is new? Anything to avoid honest give and take at the negotiation table.


According to Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost, the PA is resuming efforts to end its conflict with Hamas. Right now a meeting to discuss unity has been put on hold until a venue agreeable to both parties is decided upon.

There is deep enmity between these two parties, such that a really solid unity coalition over a long period seems to me unlikely. But moving in this direction may serve them both for different reasons, and has several implications. There is the whole issue of Hamas in Gaza and prospects of negotiating with an authority that represents only a truncated portion of the Palestinian Arabs, or conversely expecting Israel to negotiate with a unity coalition that includes Hamas. No good solutions here. The only thing that is clear is that this is a ridiculous time to try to make "peace." This is one of those many things to be watched closely.


Abu Toameh, in the very same issue of the JPost, also tells us that the PA is denying it has set new conditions for returning to the table with Israel (regarding boycotts of Israeli products):

"This report is completely untrue," said Nabil Sha'ath. "We only have two conditions for resuming the peace talks: a total freeze of settlement construction and the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip."

Wait! Since when is the lifting of the blockade a condition for Abbas to come to the table? This seems new to me. (Is the Obama administration noticing this??) It is best understood, I would say, by what I just reported, regarding PA overtures to Hamas. Seems the dynamics may be changing.


Israel is now commemorating the fifteen anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. This is always a highly politicized time, with revisionists notions of what Rabin would have accepted within Oslo being promoted.

Yesterday at a Knesset ceremony for Rabin, PM Netanyahu spoke, extensively citing Rabin's last address to the Knesset, in October 1995:

"We would like this [the final result for Palestinian Arabs under Oslo] to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority [i.e., an autonomy]. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the June 4, 1967 lines, The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of the term.

"Jerusalem would be united as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty that will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev. We came to an agreement and committed ourselves before the Knesset not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement and not to hinder building for natural growth."
Everyone should be clear on this, Rabin's red lines. Good that Netanyahu stated it all forthrightly.

However...Netanyahu went on to proclaim (surely for the ears of the Labor contingent of his coalition) that he was willing to do more than Rabin, of Labor, had been willing to do. He, unlike Rabin, who refused to freeze a single settlement, had instituted an "unprecedented" temporary freeze. And while Rabin spoke of less than a state, he was advocating "a demilitarized state," as long as it recognized the State of the Jewish people.

Is he proud of this? Of having moved past Rabin? It is disgusting.


My dear friends. I know this is long. But there is simply so much to impart. Next I will look at issues regarding Iran that have enormous import. And I may take on Thomas Friedman of the NY Times.


"The Good News Corner"

Dr. Leon Mubenga, a surgeon from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is receiving training in burn treatment and plastic surgery at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. At present such treatment is not available at all in his country:

“Treatment options are few due to limited knowledge and suitable equipment. In contrast to Western countries, many patients with relatively small percentages of burns on their bodies die.”


An organization called Chai Lifeline, underwritten by the Hartman Family Foundation in Chicago, has brought 14 N. American teenagers who have survived cancer, and one parent each, to Israel for a period of ten to celebrate.
They have rejoiced in thanksgiving at the Kotel; toured the Western Wall Tunnels and the City of David; visited Rachel’s Tomb, the Golan Heights, the Dead Sea, and a great deal more.

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov has extended an official invitation to the 33 Chilean miners who were rescued last week to visit Israel with their spouses, during the Christmas season, for a week-long, all-expenses-paid sightseeing tour of sites holy to Christianity.

see my website

Obama & Netanyahu Run Out The Atomic Clock

Dan Friedman

There is some anecdotal evidence making the rounds that supports the idea Obama is bored by his duties as president. Don’t you buy it for a minute. Obama loves the job. It’s just that certain parts of it excite him more than others. For instance, take the Middle East, the Arab-Muslim world, “Palestine” and Israel. No lack of enthusiasm there. The juices are flowing and it’s obvious President Barack Hussein Obama remains psyched about the mission. Most presidents hold off until their second terms, when there is little left to lose, before they step in the deep doo-doo of "peace." But Obama couldn’t wait. Before completing two years in office he has already wasted thousands of man-hours and billions in borrowed political capital on the region and its problems - mostly by beating down Israel and sucking up to her Muslim enemies.

The Israel-bashing changed (superficially) when Rahm and Axelrod whispered in Obama’s ear that beneath Netanyahu’s “hawkish” exterior lay a submissive pussycat. They’re Chicago Jews and they would know. For once, Obama did the smart thing. He listened to reason and good political advice. It worked too. As soon as Obama stopped kicking the kitty and started stroking it instead, “Bibi” came out from under the bed, reborn a grateful, compliant cats-paw.

From that point on, getting Obama’s other pet, Abbas, to the table with Netanyahu to say “cheese” was just an underhand toss. Yet virtually every advocate for the “peace process” – old hands on both the left and right - says neither side can possibly give the other what it needs and these talks will fail along with the rest. If that collapse occurs now, what does Obama plan for an encore? Even more important, if it’s all a waste of time, and destined to be another item on Obama’s impressive list of failures to boot, then really, what gives?

Glad you asked. It’s Iran.

In Obama’s exotic world, the “peace process” is useful, but not for anything approaching peace. He's already won the Nobel Prize by just showing up at the office. Rather, it’s all a dramatic slight-of-hand, a magician’s diversion. While the flashy show is in progress, the important stuff you're not suppose to notice is going on unseen - right before your eyes. Iran is building atomic weapons and may have already passed the point where the monster can be put back into the cage, auguring nothing less than a sea change that will uproot the world order we've built our lives around for the past 65 years. Yet in the media and official circles, the suspense builds around a few Jews pouring cement while virtually no attention is paid (not even by the Tea Party) to the danger and flux that is threatening to overtake us - except to dismiss it.

Alright, to recap part one: Obama's ersatz “peace process” keeps America spellbound and distracted while the Iranians prepare their nuclear suicide bombs.

But wait, there’s more! It also ties the one pair of hands other than America's with the means and the motive to preempt the Iranian threat. After being brought to heel and publicly degraded without a struggle, not enough of the Jew remains within Netanyahu to summon up the requisite chutzpah to defy Obama and disturb the tidy status quo. While "peace" is waiting just around the next corner, Israel's freedom of action is held in suspended animation.

All of the above increases the likelihood that before the Age of Obama ends we will share our world with a hegemonic Islamist nuclear power. Only after Ahmadinejad makes the official announcement will we first see the President appear disinterested and his eyes glaze over.

It is only natural to wonder whether all this is Obama’s intent or an unforced error of Chamberlain-like proportions. In truth, it matters little because we can never know for sure, though we will find an answer of sorts everyday living with the consequences. More than deficits, economic dysfunction, a defunct health care system or a big, oppressive government, it will be messianic mullahs controlling H-bombs that Obama, and the Israeli, will be remembered for.


Dan Friedman

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In International Affairs, Naivete Is A Fatal Disease

Barry Rubin

What is more inspiring than good intentions? War, well it’s just bad and everyone should be against it. We should all love everyone from all countries and groups equally, with no special pride for our own nation (hasn’t it done a lot of bad things?). Nothing is worth fighting for. Other countries and societies are precisely the same as ours and their people just want happy lives. All problems can be solved by dialogue and efforts to understand others. It would be wonderful if the world and human beings were like this. But they aren’t. What could be more brilliant than the way the basic problem keeping all humanity from being good was expressed by Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpola, who spoke to the Creator in the following terms:

“Master of the universe, what do you want from your children? You have, after all, placed them in a benighted world. A world where Satan himself prances amongst them, fanning their evil inclination; where all the things that provoke fleshly desires are ranged before their very eyes, while the warnings of retribution lie hidden between the covers of some moralistic tome. You can be certain that if you had arranged things the other way around–with the place of retribution right in front of their eyes, and all the fleshly desires hidden away in some learned old book, not a single person would ever do anything wrong!”

Alas, that is not so. The rabbi explains that all humans are endowed with both an "animalistic" side and a higher spirit that wage a struggle within each individual. Life, then, is a struggle in which this balance of power is critical to determining an individual's virtue and a nation's success.

Those who fail to comprehend the difference between idealism and the real world pay the price, or others pay that price for their errors.

In this context is a sermon given by Rabbi Harold Saperstein entitled “Must There Be War?” His answer: Of course not. He explains: “We read with horror of a single human sacrifice to ancient idols,” he noted, “What shall we say of this modern offering to the pagan god of war?

Those who do not fight for pacifism, "may be the murderers of your own sons,” sacrificed in needless, easily avoidable fighting. Thus, he continued, “We are pledged to destroy war.”

Of course, the rabbi gives some lip service to realists who scoff at such notions. “There are some who say, `But sometimes war is inevitable. Sometimes there arises the occasion when we must fight.’ I answer, `War is never inevitable unless you make it so.’”

But what of the argument that:

"There are causes for which it is honorable to sacrifice one's life." I answer, "Yes, there are such causes: liberty, justice, truth, peace. But war is not one of them. Give your lives for these causes, as I am willing to give mine, but do not use war as a means, for by now we should know that the issue in war is not democracy or world peace or any of those ideals for which men are willing to die. The issues are colonies and foreign investments and the profits of armament manufacturers. Are these worth the sacrifice of your life?”

And, “Others say, `There are evils worse than war.' I answer, `There are no evils worse than war.'"

War can be avoided, Saperstein claims, because of a “fundamental truth. That is that the people of no nation want war. No people wants its young men killed, its children starved, its country destroyed. If a nation is ready to fight, it is only that they are the dupes of lying propaganda, just as we are, that they feel that they are being attacked and must fight a war of defense.”

Yes, but what if the people are successfully “duped” into being willing and even eager participants in war because they believe their religion mandates it, their national interest requires it, their manhood demands it,
and victory will bring them massive benefits?

Are there such people?

Oh, I almost forgot the date of the sermon: November 11, 1936.

In his book The 'Hitler Myth': Image and Reality in the Third Reich, discussing events going on when Rabbi Saperstein gave his sermon, Ian Kershaw explained:

“Hitler enjoyed more personal popularity in Germany than perhaps any other world leader in history. Many scholars have sought to understand why he was so popular and thus why so many people in a modern, industrialized nation were willing to follow him into madness, barbarism, and self-destruction. Was there something special about Hitler that allowed him to control and manipulate the German people?”

Yes, a lot of things have been used to achieve that goal. These include: extremist nationalism; a thirst for revenge, ideology inculcated by systematic indoctrination; the belief that enemies are weak and easily defeated (because they believe the kind of thing Saperstein says while tearing themselves down in an orgy of self-criticism); the charismatic leader; lies and disinformation; the mobilization of religion to make war seem holy; rewards for adherents coupled with punishments for critics; state control over institutions, the belief that aggression will bring booty as rewards for the victor; and much more.

Is any of this familiar in today’s world, both in the contemporary equivalent of Saperstein and-- with many differences, but some critical essentials in common—those who laugh at their naiveté while scheming to snuff out their lives.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Israel and Congressional Democrats

Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
October 19, 2010

How should American voters concerned with Israel's welfare and security vote in the U.S. Congressional elections on Nov. 2?

This much is clear after almost two years of Democratic control over the executive and legislative branches of government: Democrats consistently support Israel and its government far less than do Republicans. Leaving Barack Obama aside for now (he's not on the ballot), let's focus on Congress and on voters. Congress: The pattern of weak Democratic support began just a week after Inauguration Day 2009, right after the Israel-Hamas war, when 60 House Democrats (including such left-wingers as Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, and Maxine Waters) and not a single Republican wrote the secretary of state to "respectfully request that the State Department release emergency funds to [the anti-Israel organization] UNRWA for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance" in Gaza.

In the same spirit, 54 House Democrats and not a single Republican signed a letter to Barack Obama a year later, in January 2010, asking him to "advocate for immediate improvements for Gaza in the following areas" and then listed ten ways to help Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization.

In dramatic contrast, 78 House Republicans wrote a "Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu" letter a few months later to express their "steadfast support" for him and Israel. The signatories were not just Republicans but members of the House Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus.

So, count 54 Democrats for Hamas and 78 Republicans for Israel.

In the aftermath of the March 2010 crisis when Joe Biden went to Jerusalem, 333 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the secretary of state reaffirming the U.S.-Israel alliance. The 102 members who did not sign included 94 Democrats (including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) and 8 Republicans, a 12-to-1 ratio. Seventy-six senators signed a similar letter; the 24 who did not sign included 20 Democrats and 4 Republicans, a 5-to-1 ratio.

Voters: Public opinion explains these differences on Capitol Hill.

An April 2009 poll by Zogby International asked about U.S. policy: Ten percent of Obama voters and 60 percent of voters for Republican John McCain wanted the president to support Israel. Get tough with Israel? Eighty percent of Obama voters said yes and 73 percent of McCain voters said no. Conversely, 67 percent of Obama voters said yes and 79 percent of McCain voters said no to Washington engaging with Hamas. And 61 percent of Obama voters endorsed a Palestinian "right of return," while only 21 percent of McCain voters concurred.

Almost a year later, the same pollster asked American adults how best to deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict and found "a strong divide" on this question. Seventy-three percent of Democrats wanted the president to end the historic bond with Israel but treat Arabs and Israelis alike; only 24 percent of Republicans endorsed this shift.

Gallup on "Sympathy for Israelis vs. Palestinians in Mideast Situation, by Party ID."

A survey this month asked if a likely voter is "more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate whom you perceive as pro-Israel." Thirty-nine percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans prefer the pro-Israel candidate. Turned around, 33 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans would be less likely to support a candidate because he is pro-Israel. Democrats are somewhat evenly split on Israel but Republicans favor it by a 5-to-1 ratio.

A consensus exists that the two parties are growing further apart over time. Pro-Israel, conservative Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe finds that "the old political consensus that brought Republicans and Democrats together in support of the Middle East's only flourishing democracy is breaking down." Anti-Israel, left-wing James Zogby of the Arab American Institute agrees, writing that "traditional U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not have bipartisan backing." Thanks to changes in the Democratic party, Israel has become a partisan issue in American politics, an unwelcome development for it.

In late March 2010, during a nadir of U.S.-Israel relations, Janine Zacharia wrote in the Washington Post that some Israelis expect their prime minister to "search for ways to buy time until the midterm U.S. elections [of November 2010] in hopes that Obama would lose support and that more pro-Israel Republicans would be elected." That an Israeli leader is thought to stall for fewer Congressional Democrats confirms the changes outlined here. It also provides guidance for voters.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

So, Ascherman Is A "Fig-Leaf" Cover for "Arab Olives"

My Right Word

Even in Haaretz:

Near Har Bracha, a verbal confrontation erupted yesterday between Jewish farmer Erez Ben Sa'adon and Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the head of Rabbis for Human Rights. Ascherman claimed Ben Sa'adon was harvesting olives that belonged to Palestinians from nearby Karyut. Ben Sa'adon, whose nearby vineyard had been destroyed by unidentified parties the previous night, said he had leased that plot for the past 12 years and the olives were his. Civil Administration officials were called to resolve the dispute, and they summoned the mayor of Karyut - who admitted that the trees belonged to Ben Sa'adon.

By the way, it wasn't at Ha Bracha, as far as I know, but near Rachelim where Ben-Saadon lives.

Ascherman put on a show for the reporters, screaming "it's a desecration of God's name" and running around for a few minutes before being assured that the journalists were sufficiently impressed by his fake histrionics.

In Hebrew, we have a term, "eved nirtza", a house servant who refuses to leave even after his indentured period is over and to make sure that all know he yielded on his freedom, his earlobe was to be punctured.

[Here: A servant sold by the court has his ear pierced should he decide to remain in service beyond the six years. This physical imprint labels him as a slave; it marks the change in his personal status.]

Such a poor soul.

I am still investigating his other claims, which, given logic, may be true or part true. In any case, any criminal act or non-defensive violence is, of course, to be condemned, as I do, and attempts made to halt it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Abbas: I won't resume talks until building freeze renewed

10/18/2010 00:39

PA president says he is willing to accept a "silent freeze"; and "whole world" is saying the settlement moratorium must continue, why can't I? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an Israeli interviewer on Sunday that he had passed on four messages to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he was willing to accept a “silent freeze” on building in the settlements to continue negotiations with Israel.

Abbas told Channel 1’s Oded Granot that there was a worldwide consensus regarding the construction freeze, and reiterated that he would not resume peace talks until Israel renewed its settlement moratorium.

Palestinians demand Israel present map of its borders
Right blasts Netanyahu for offer to extend freeze

“When Obama became president, he was the one who declared that the ‘settlement construction must be stopped.’ The United States says it, Europe says it, the whole world is saying it – why should I not say it?” Abbas told Granot that “when we went to Annapolis, everyone who was present – more than 50 states – said that settlement building must be stopped. At the same time, President [George W.] Bush said, ‘We shall carry out this mission and supervise it.

We shall create a freeze committee to supervise the construction freeze in settlements.’ We relied on Bush’s statement and went ahead with negotiations.”

The PA president said that Netanyahu had explained to him that he could not comply with demands to extend the freeze.

“Netanyahu told me, ‘I cannot under any circumstance, because I fear for my government.’ Government is not more precious than peace.

Government is not more precious that the future of both peoples,” Abbas said.

Asked about Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s claim that the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state would prompt future national claims by Arab Israelis, Abbas asserted, “These claims are groundless. We recognized the State of Israel in 1993, we negotiated, the PLO came here and we signed dozens of agreements. We recognize that the Palestinian state should be established on the 1967 borders.

If we reach this, there is something else of importance – ending the conflict.

“We are ready to do this,” he continued. “We are ready to put an end to the historic demands. But when Lieberman comes up with such demands – he is not interested in peace.”

A government official confirmed Sunday night that the issue of a non-publicized freeze had been discussed a number of times, but that it was “impractical.”

“What is a silent freeze?” the official asked. “How do the Palestinians explain they are going back to the talks? They will have to say there is no building, so as a result there will be no ‘silent freeze.’” Likewise, he said, it would be impossible to keep a freeze “silent” when people living in the settlements asked for permits to build and then got turned down.

Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he thought Abbas’s words were a “demonstration of chutzpa.”

“After you clear all the propaganda and all the distortions, the only relevant truth is that Israel came to the negotiating table with clean hands and without preconditions, and Mr.

Abbas refused to negotiate.

This is the only thing that matters. So the fact that he says that Israel does not want peace is a blatant demonstration of chutzpa,” said Dayan.

He called on Netanyahu not to allow a silent freeze, and to authorize new construction in Judea and Samaria.

The last list of public tenders published by the Housing and Construction Ministry did not include any projects in West Bank settlements.

It did include 238 new homes in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

International condemnation of those east Jerusalem homes, said Dayan, is “the direct result of the fact that there are no [tenders for] construction in Judea and Samaria. It moved the front lines to Jerusalem and makes the world concentrate on tenders there.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bibi must sever dangerous link between ‘peace,’ and concept of Palestinian state

Ron Breiman
Courtesy Israpundit

The fundamental assumption underlying the diplomatic process in our region in the past 17 years is that peace in the western Land of Israel requires the establishment of a Palestinian state at the heart of Eretz Yisrael.

This assumption was expressed in the slogan “Land for peace.” Through all those years, we’d been brainwashed to believe that peace is impossible without the establishment of a Palestinian state in addition to the one east of the Jordan River. We keep on slamming our heads against the wall, as leaders of the “Right” keep walking in the Oslo footsteps while reciting the Oslo lies. The “peace process” officially launched in September 1993 (and even before that, secretly) was marketed by Yitzhak Rabin as an experiment that can be terminated at any moment. However, the experiment in the lives of millions of people, both Jews and Arabs, was undertaken in contravention of the criteria defined by the Helsinki Convention in respect to experiments involving even one person.

The experiment did not include careful assessment of inherent risks compared to the expected benefit to the subjects, while their right to forego their agreement to take part in the study at any time was not honored. Moreover, the experiment was not terminated once it became clear to all that it was developing in unpredictable directions- even though many observers sounded the alarm early on.

Any decent researcher would have halted his experiments once his fundamental assumptions were shattered in the face of reality. However, in Oslo, unlike in Helsinki, the dangerous experiment continued while ignoring logic and morality, and without reassessing the basic assumption: The obsessive gamblers kept going.

Those who seek peace, and life, must ask themselves whether a Palestinian state is indeed the basis for peace, or rather, a mechanism for eliminating the Jewish state. The enemy, including its “moderate” elements and “bad” brothers, openly declares that its objective is not peace, but rather, a greater Palestine on both banks of the Jordan River.

Yet only in Israel, and in its wake also worldwide, people continue to pay lip service to the “peace” mantra: Two states for two peoples. Even the enemy – which was and remains an enemy – does not bother repeating the latest slogan uttered by the “Right” – two states for two peoples.

Zionist vision retreating

The enemy does not comply with the latest Israeli “demand,” which is doomed to disappear as well: Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. After all, here at home we also see many people who do not believe this is Israel’s mission, and hence there is no reason that the “good” terrorists – the ones belonging to the Palestinian Terror Authority – would recognize the Jewish state.

The enemy, with the enlightened world’s backing, curries favor with terrorists and threatens to quit the give-and-take sessions (or rather, “take-and-take”) should its dictates not be met. Let it quit!

We cannot have peace that includes the racist expulsion of Jews from their homes in their own land; it’s impossible to have anti-Jewish, anti-democratic, anti-Zionist, and anti-moral peace; we cannot have peace that is not regional, but rather, is limited to the western Land of Israel.

The “vision” of partitioning the land was and remains a deception that Israel, shamefully enough, exported to the world – which did not hesitate to adopt this foolish idea. The result will be the resumption of the Oslo war in the near future, and the elimination of our state in the long run.

For the past 17 years, the enemy did not back down an inch on its original demands, which would mark the Jewish state’s elimination. And what happened around here? The Zionist vision retreated in the face of the two-state “vision” – the “good” terrorists are being dubbed “partners,” while even the “bad” terrorists are already provided with all their needs.

Even the talk of peace had given way to the give-and-give’s current objective – establishing a state for the enemy. The reciprocity disappeared, as the Arabs build in full force while the freeze abomination is only applied to the Jews.

Meanwhile, media outlets, which make pretenses of being an “investigative” means, barely allow us to express the opposite views. The tables have turned in the Israeli media’s lexicon: “Success” means establishing a state for the enemy, while failure to establish such state constitutes the failure of negotiations.

As Israel’s governments forgot that their role is to promote the Jewish state, rather than to bring dangerous Trojan horses into it, Netanyahu now faces some truly difficult decisions – yet not the ones which the radical Left and the media expect of him.

He must sever the false link between the term “peace” and the notion of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River; he must also disconnect from the dangerous slope Israel had been led to since that dark September in 1993. This is his supreme test.

Dr. Ron Breiman is the former chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel

German Negotiator Returns to Gaza for Kidnapped IDF Soldier

Chana Ya'ar

German negotiator Gerhard Konrad has renewed talks in Gaza with Hamas terrorists for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, held hostage since he was abducted in a cross-border raid near the Kerem Shalom Crossing in June 2006. Konrad allegedly traveled to Gaza three weeks ago to negotiate with Hamas over a new deal for Shalit's release, according to a Channel 2 television report quoted by the Gaza-based Quds News Agency. Egypt allegedly remains involved as the second partner in mediation efforts to broker a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the terrorist group for Shalit's freedom.

In an interview with the London-based Arabic-language daily newspaper Al-Hayat, Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk confirmed that talks had resumed two weeks ago with the German negotiator.

A similar report was denied earlier in the week in an interview with Voice of Israel government radio by senior Hamas official Mahmoud a-Zahar.

Shalit campaign activist Shimshon Liebman told reporters, however, that the soldier's family had not been informed of any prisoner swap deals between Israel and Hamas. “If there was such a visit... it shows a real effort by the mediator... but the days are passing and Gilad is still in captivity.”

Shalit's father Noam said he had no idea whether the German negotiator had been to Gaza or not: “The Prime Minister's Office knows everything. I cannot confirm or deny anything.”

Numerous deals have been reported to having come close to an agreement in the past several years, only to fall through at the last minute, with Hamas backing out when Israel refused to hand over a list of top-ten terrorists. Israel has, in the past, agreed to free up to 1,000 terrorist prisoners, including many with blood on their hands.

Those which the Jewish State has refused to free are serving multiple life sentences for murderous attacks on numerous citizens.
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