Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Torah Revolution: IT'S ALMOST ROSH HASHANA by Daniel Pinner

The Torah Revolution: IT'S ALMOST ROSH HASHANA by Daniel Pinner

Israel Matzav: Marc Garlasco's picture album

Israel Matzav: Marc Garlasco's picture album

Israel Matzav: Obama's foreign policy flops

Obama's foreign policy flops

In the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl notes the lack of success President Obama has had at 'engaging' with Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela. But he hopefully claims that the administration has learned its lesson.

The administration does seem to be learning from all the rebuffs. One of the first to draw some hardheaded conclusions has been -- no surprise -- Hillary Clinton. In April the new secretary of state suggested at a congressional hearing that bad U.S. relations with Chávez were the result of the Bush administration's refusal to engage with the caudillo. "Let's see if we can begin to turn that relationship," she proposed.

It took less than three months for Clinton to be disabused of the idea -- a stretch during which Chávez took advantage of the administration's extended hand to launch another crackdown on his own domestic opposition while attempting to foment a left-wing coup in Honduras. Now Clinton is devoting herself to boxing Chávez out of the continuing Honduras crisis; far from consulting the Venezuelan strongman, she went out of her way to meet with journalists from a television station he is trying to close.

Clinton dismissed Kim as "an unruly child" several months ago. When his regime suddenly began seeking bilateral meetings last month, she invited him to return to the multilateral "six-party" negotiations organized by the Bush administration. She has repeatedly expressed doubts about whether fruitful negotiations with Iran are now possible. The rest of the administration is not far behind. Both at the State Department and the White House officials are focused not on arranging bilateral contacts between Tehran and Washington but on persuading European governments, China and Russia to support sanctions going well beyond those put in place by Bush. George J. Mitchell, the Middle East envoy, appears to have given up on including Syria in the Middle East negotiations he is preparing to launch.

None of this means that dialogue with enemies is inherently wrong or not worth trying. Obama may yet find an opportunity for talks with Chávez or Assad, if not Kim or Khamenei. But what seems pretty clear is that the most notable foreign policy idea Obama offered during his campaign has fallen flat during his first months in office. When he was asked that question two years ago, Obama was probably thinking about George W. Bush. It might not have occurred to him that American enemies also don't see much benefit in "direct diplomacy."

Read All at :

Israel Matzav: Obama's foreign policy flops

Israel Matzav: Carter's blindness

Carter's blindness

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former President Jimmy Carter, in which he once again slammed Israel for 'blockading' Gaza (a 'blockade' that is apparently becoming quite effective in convincing 'Palestinians' of the need for regime change there) and for not implementing a 'settlement freeze.' I blogged it here.

In Tuesday's Washington Post, Elliott Abrams responds to Carter. Here's his bottom line (Hat Tip: Memeorandum):

Carter claims that the expansion of Israeli settlements is "rapidly" taking Palestinian land. Yet four years ago Israel gave up the Gaza Strip and all the settlements there (plus four small West Bank settlements); moreover, Carter presents no data suggesting that Israel's West Bank settlements are actually expanding physically. Their population is growing, but new construction is almost all "up and in," meaning that the impact on Palestinians is limited -- and that the picture Carter paints of a rapidly disappearing Palestine is inaccurate.

Most inaccurate of all, and most bizarre, is Carter's claim that "a total freeze of settlement expansion is the key" to a peace agreement. Not a halt to terrorism, not the building of Palestinian institutions, not the rule of law in the West Bank, not the end of Hamas rule in Gaza -- no, the sole "key" is Israeli settlements. Such a conclusion fits with Carter's general approach, in which there are no real Palestinians, just victims of Israel. The century of struggle between moderate and radical Palestinians, and the victories of terrorists from Haj Amin al-Husseini to Yasser Arafat, are forgotten; the Hamas coup in Gaza is unmentioned; indeed the words "Hamas" and "terrorism" do not appear in Carter's column. Instead of appealing for support for the serious and practical work of institution-building that the Palestinian Authority has begun, Carter fantasizes about a "nonviolent civil rights struggle" that bears no relationship to the terrorist violence that has plagued Palestinian society, and killed Israelis, for decades. Carter's portrait demonizes Israelis and, not coincidentally, it infantilizes Palestinians, who are accorded no real responsibility for their fate or future. If this is "the Elders' view of the Middle East," we and our friends in that region are fortunate that this group of former officials is no longer in power.

Jennifer Rubin adds:

So the question remains: can Carter be this ignorant? Well, it would be hard to miss so much recent history and avoid so many facts unless you were trying. One can’t but conclude that Carter—and his fellow “Elders” Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu, fresh from their Medal of Freedom award ceremony—share an underlying animosity toward the Jewish state. Their determination to perpetuate falsehoods that all—like magic!—line up against Israel should be seen for what it is.

Carter's not just ignorant or an anti-Semite. He's also a liar. In his Sunday op-ed, he wrote this:

Just south of Jerusalem, the Palestinian residents of Wadi Fukin and the nearby Israeli villagers of Tzur Hadassah are working together closely to protect their small shared valley from the ravages of rock spill, sewage and further loss of land from a huge settlement on the cliff above, where 26,000 Israelis are rapidly expanding their confiscated area. It was heartwarming to see the international harmony with which the villagers face common challenges and opportunities.

Read All at :

Israel Matzav: Carter's blindness

Israel Matzav: HRW's Israel investigator a Nazi-obsessed collector?

HRW's Israel investigator a Nazi-obsessed collector?

Omri Ceren reports on the curious case of Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch's Israel investigator who seems to have a fettish for Nazi memorabilia.

There are two Marc Garlascos on the Internet. One is a top human rights investigator who, having joined Human Rights Watch after several years with the Pentagon, has become known for his shrill attacks on Israel. The other is a Marc Garlasco who's obsessed with the color and pageantry of Nazism, has published a detailed 430 page book on Nazi war paraphernalia, and participates in forums for Nazi souvenir collectors.

Both Marc Garlascos were born on September 4, 1970. Both have Ernst as their middle name. Both live in New York, NY. Both have a maternal grandfather who fought for the Nazis. I've put links and screenshots on all this after the jump, and you can click through for full-sized versions. It's hard to escape the conclusion that both Marc Garlascos are the same person.

Bloggers and activists concerned about Israel have been baffled and frustrated by the first Garlasco almost since he joined HRW. On his public photography site he posts gratuitous Palestinian and Lebanese death porn in between galleries of cute Western-looking kids playing soccer (no link - keeping his kids out of it). He provides a seemingly never-ending stream of interviews to all kinds of outlets, where he spins tales about ostensible Israeli atrocities. The only problem is that many of these tales - per Soccer Dad and IsraPundit and Elder of Ziyon and NGO Monitor and CAMERA and LGF - are biased and inaccurate. That doesn't stop Garlasco from putting them into the kind of HRW reports that make their way into international anti-Israel condemnations and academic anti-Israel dissertations.

Israel Matzav: HRW's Israel investigator a Nazi-obsessed collector?

Israel Matzav: Van Jones: Raving anti-Semite

Van Jones: Raving anti-Semite

President Obama's 'green czar' went under the bus on Saturday night after Jim Hoft exposed him as a 9/11 'truther.'

But there were other reasons why Jones deserved to go under the bus. One of the reasons that has not gotten a lot of exposure is that the man is a virulent anti-Semite. Jim alluded to that here with a post of some of Jones' 'music.'

Here's a transcript of a 2002 radio interview with Jones that gives us some more insight into yet another Jew-hating associate of Barack Obama:

Dennis: now w Van Jones "AUDIO of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in San Francisco.. Van: I came to the holy land to get a view of the human rights situation.. I was totally unprepared.. THE WORST RACIAL PRACTICES OF THE LAST CENTURY ARE PRESENT HERE, IN SHOCKING COMBINATION.. Arab citizens under a pass situation like apartheid.. about the harrassment of an Arab American in our group at the airport.. people in the US don't have a clear view of what is going on.. like 'settlements'.. 30,000 people in massive cities, with Burger Kings and malls, and defended with the whole might of the Israeli army.. wholesale demolition of Palestinian homes.. the US supporting the whole mess.. to see it.. to see what it means for Arab people is really really distressing.. Dennis: US media shows Israel backed into a corner.. Van: I came over here very concerned about Israeli children living in fear.. nobody is winning here.. WHAT I'VE SEEN HERE GOES FAR BEYOND WHAT COULD BE CONSIDERED FOR SAFETY.. ABSOLUTE HOUSE ARREST FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN A CITY.. 24/7 FOR WEEKS AT A TIME.. NONE OF THIS COULD RATIONALLY BE CONCEIVED OF AS DEFENCE.. I HAVE BEEN A LIFELONG OPPONENT OF ANTI-SEMITISM.. NOW NOT TO SPEAK OUT HERE IS ANTI-SEMITIC.. WE OWE IT TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.. AND PALESTINE.. TO PUT AN END TO THESE KIND OF ABUSES.. THERE IS NO DIVISION BETWEEN US POLICY TOWARD IRAQ AND TOWARD ISRAEL-PALESTINE.. THE US GOVERNMENT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF SANITY.. to push Iraq into a corner and threaten it with massive war.. we need new leadership in Tel Aviv and Washington.. let's link all these situations together.. boldly speaking the truth.. I went to the funeral of a young Palestinian boy shot by Israeli soldier.. I saw his bloody body being placed into the ground.. since I've been here four children killed by soldiers.. not being reported by the media.. but being recorded in the hearts and minds of the mothers and fathers here.

Nice guy, eh? Anyone still think it's a coincidence that Barack Obama seems to find one Jew-hating associate after another (no, I don't believe Biden's a Jew-hater, but the others sure are)?

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Van Jones: Raving anti-Semite

Israel Matzav: 'Blockade'? What 'blockade'?

Israel Matzav: 'Blockade'? What 'blockade'?

Israel Matzav: A worldwide web of anti-Israel bias

A worldwide web of anti-Israel bias

The UN has its new web site, and I'm sure that none of you will be shocked to hear that it Israel gets special treatment. STEP 5:

And here (http://www.un.org/apps/news/html/whatwhen.html) we are at the gateway to everything happening at the UN. Under "At a Glance: Recent Action," you can "browse meeting summaries & press releases" by just choosing "select body and date." What body and date, you ask? A handy drop-down menu makes it very easy to understand the programs and priorities for anyone who isn't quite sure what the UN does. There are ten choices: "All venues, General Assembly President, 1st Committee (Disarmament), 2nd Committee (Economic & Social), 3rd Committee (Social, Humanitarian), 4th Committee (Special Political), 5th Committee (Administrative & Budgetary), 6th Committee (Legal), Palestinian Rights, and Committee on Information."

Of course, one thing that can be said in favor of the latest UN outrage is that it makes the double-standards applied to Israel even more obvious. The UN undoubtedly needed to expand the index because the mammoth number of resolutions, documents, press releases, meetings and conferences devoted to condemning Israel had become so large that the hatemongers needed assistance organizing all their Israel-bashing campaign material.

Read All at :

Israel Matzav: A worldwide web of anti-Israel bias

Israel Matzav: Italian MP rips Carl Bildt over anti-Semitism

Italian MP rips Carl Bildt over anti-Semitism

At the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Visby, Sweden on Monday, Italian MP Fiama Nirenstein ripped Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt for his refusal to condemn the Aftonbladet blood libel (Hat Tip: Richard Landes).

Statement by MP Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies

During the discussion following the speech of Sweden Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, at the meeting of the EU member States' Foreign Affairs Committees, which was held today in Visby, Sweden, MP Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, asked the Minister to clarify his program for combating anti-semitism in Europe. The phenomenon is dramatically increasing, as demonstrated by the 2009 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA): the study, which examined the trend from 2001 to 2008, has - in fact - demonstrated the rise of anti-semitism throughout Europe, and throughout Northern European countries as well. It's a phenomenon which can partly be explained as a consequence of the increasing tensions in the Middle East and as result of the recent global economic crisis.

Among the most significant episodes as of late, MP Nirenstein cited to Minister Bildt the article on IDF killing Palestinians in order to traffic in their organs, published this August by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet , a report that the Swedish government refused to condemn.

MP Nirenstein told that the fight against anti-semitism is an essential priority in the continent where the Shoah was perpetrated, as well as emphasized that contemporary anti-semitism feeds on radical, anti-Israel prejudices: the moral clarity of Europe, and moreover its authoritativeness, cannot but reaffirm the priority in relation to the fight against this disease of the conscience.

Since Minister Bildt, in his response, has totally ignored the demand of a clear commitment against anti-semitism and has denied the attested growth of this phenomenon also in his area, and since he has felt the need to protest against a presumed "attempt of some countries to dictate to Sweden the content of its own newspapers, which is against the principle of free speech", Nirenstein declared:

"I'm stunned that Bildt, after the authentic blood libel of the Swedish newspaper, ignored the occasion to firmly condemn anti-semitism. A condemnation that Sweden refused to express numerous times in these days"; a condemnation, she asserted, that "has nothing to do with limitations of free speech".

Visby, Sweden, 7 September 2009


Here's a prediction: Within six months, Bildt will be caught making an openly anti-Semitic statement.

Israel Matzav: Italian MP rips Carl Bildt over anti-Semitism

Israel Matzav: IDF warned of rockets on Ashkelon in 1993

IDF warned of rockets on Ashkelon in 1993

To anyone who lived in Israel in the mid-90's and understood the extent to which the Rabin- Peres government repressed the opponents of the so-called 'Oslo accords,' this will not be surprising. Some of Oslo's proponents may try to dismiss the import of this post because Yaakov Amidror - the source - is a known critic of Oslo who was forced out by the Left. Still, it bears posting. It's the smoking gun that shows that the Rabin - Peres government was warned. It's the best proof for the idea that there ought to be an investigation into how and why this country resurrected a dying PLO in the first place.

A secret Military Intelligence Directorate report dating back to 1993 warned of the dangers of rockets raining down on Ashkelon in the event that the Palestinians fail to uphold their end of the Oslo Peace Treaty, a former army intelligence chief revealed on Monday.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who once headed the IDF's Research and Assessment Division, said during a lecture at the Netanya Academic College that the government had completely ignored the military's warning on the security pitfalls of the peace deal with the PLO.

"There were clauses which clearly could not be upheld from a military perspective, like pursuing terrorists in Palestinian Authority territories," Amidror said.

He added that Shimon Peres, who was then foreign minister, called for military officers to leave a meeting room when a vote was taken on the peace agreement.

Read All at :

Israel Matzav: IDF warned of rockets on Ashkelon in 1993

Israel Matzav: Nefesh b'Nefesh landing ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport

Israel Matzav: Nefesh b'Nefesh landing ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport

Navel Gazing and Genocide

Navel Gazing and Genocide

An important point in my education about how craven the media often is came in the late 1990s. Back in 1994 I had been perfectly aware in real time that a genocide was happening in Rwanda. Samantha Power later documented the efforts of the international community and the American government not to know (see her excellent A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (P.S.) ), but regular people such as myself, we knew. Then, about three months after the genocide began, there were suddenly gigantic refugee camps across the border in Congo, most famously at Goma. TV crews, NGOs, and all manner of Western compassion. Israel, ever eager to be part of such outpourings of sympathy, sent an entire field hospital, along with a government minsiter, Yossie Sarid, who stood in front of our cameras and told how the Jewish State wouldn't stand idle in face of such persecution and suffering.

A few years later, I read the harrowing but profoundly important We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, by Philip Gourevitch. Beyond the general horror of the tale, I was also horrified to learn that the suffering people in those refugee camps... had been the perpetrators and their families, fleeing from the victorious Tutsi army that had put an end to the genocide. The victims of the genocide were dead, you see, and couldn't congregate by their hundreds of thousands in refugee camps.

How had the entire world got it so extraordinarily wrong, I asked myself in disbelief?How idiotic had we been?

The answer, I suppose, was that no-one cared. It's only Africans, after all.

In the years since then I've been aware - and have even commented on this blog - that mass murder on a horrific scale is taking place in the Congo. Millions of people have been murdered, probably no less than 4,000,000. This month there appears to be a lull in the killing, but earlier this year - that's 2009 - the killing was in full throttle. Not that you'd know it unless you really wanted to, and knew where to look. The media would not be the place to look, with the partial exception of the Economist, and, with lots of patience, the NYT.

Howard W. French has read three recent books on the topic, and summarizes their findings for us at the New York Review of Books.

Although it has been strangely ignored in the Western press, one of the most
destructive wars in modern history has been going on in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Africa's third-largest country. During the past eleven years millions
of people have died, while armies from as many as nine different African
countries fought with Congolese government forces and various rebel groups for
control of land and natural resources. Much of the fighting has taken place in
regions of northeastern and eastern Congo that are rich in minerals such as
gold, diamonds, tin, and coltan, which is used in manufacturing electronics.

He puts the number of dead (so far) at 5.4 million, which means we're talking about magnitudes unseen since WWII, and tragically comparable, too. Beyond the sheer horror of the story, a depressing aspect is that if we're to believe the three authors, the limited media that does notice the events has them wrong, again. The Tutsi forces are instigating much of the killing. The genocide of 1994 wasn't the first; there was an earlier one in the 1970s, with 300,000 dead Hutu in Burundi. And so on.

I don't know who's right and who's wrong. I can't say if perhaps there's a side to the conflict which is bad, and another side that is fiendishly worse. My mind boggles at the possibility that everyone is equally right and wrong, culprits and victims according to the decade you choose to look at. I don't think history works that way. But I admit I don't have the tools to sort it out; nor are some of the witnesses being cited, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, credible reporters. We know how unreliable they can be.

The Apartheid regime in South Africa was despicable, and the world community eventually helped topple it. But it was nothing compared to this. Alas, the people suffering in the Congo are Africans being murdered by Africans deep in the Jungle. Nothing the world needs to care about. Matter of fact, nothing the world needs even to try to decipher.
taken from Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

What are Newspapers For?

Us bloggers, we can write whatever we wish, whenever we wish, about whatever we wish, with or without regarding truth or accuracy as we wish. The rest of you, our readers, either continue or discontinue your subscriptions according to whatever whim takes you. (I assure you I don't fork out all that money to read Mondoweiss or Juan Cole because I like them).

Alas, it's exactly the same with real newspapers except their business model is dependant on enough people forking out enough real money for them to remain viable. Other than that, we're all the same. Indeed, far too many newspaper folks even behave as if they were bloggers. See Isabel Kershner in yesterday's New York Times, the most venerable of newspapers. Ask yourself if she isn't simply talking through her hat. She doesn't have any facts beyond what she heard on the radio, I assure you, to which she has added a few sprigs of opinion:

It is not clear when construction of the additional 455 units will start, but settler representatives said it was their understanding that these units would not be subject to a freeze.
The seemingly paradoxical moves — a raft of approvals and then a formal freeze — represent Mr. Netanyahu’s attempt to balance competing political and diplomatic pressures. His own Likud Party supports settlement building, but the Israeli left and much of the international community denounce it.

And see the previous post for hard facts.

Still, indavertantly and unintentionally, one might even say against their own better judgement and political inclination, the staff at the NYT has added some valuable information to the discussion. Look at the picture at the top of the report, and you'll notice two interesting things. The first is that there are no Palestinians - not towns and villages, not farmers - losing space because of this construction. The picture is of a town in the desert, and as is often the case with deserts, no one lives there before the developers arrive.

The second is the identity of the construction worker. He's an Arab. A Palestinian Arab.
Read All at :Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Even Less than a Sham

Even Less than a Sham

Chaim Levinson at Haaretz took the extraordinarily unusual step of actually trying to figure out the facts behind a headline, and has the details about those 455 apartments whose construction was authorized yesterday.

Apparently, they've mostly been authorised long ago in one way or the other.

"The fact is, these apartments were approved last year, otherwise we wouldn't
have begun the infrastructure. How apartments that have already been approved
and have begun to be built are approved again, you should ask the defense
minister, not me."

taken from Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Looks to me like a sham in a sham in a muddle.

Love of the Land: Egyptian (and Arab) Hypocrisy

Egyptian (and Arab) Hypocrisy

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson Institute
08 September 09

The Egyptian media in particular and the Arab media in general are full of stories about the “siege” that Israel has been imposing on the Gaza Strip since Hamas came to power. Hardly a day passes without an Egyptian or Arab government official condemning Israel for turning the Gaza Strip into a “big prison.” However, none of these officials or media representatives point out the fact that the Gaza Strip, home to some 1.3 million Palestinians, also has a joint border crossing with Egypt. This border crossing, known as the Rafah terminal, has been closed by the Egyptians for most of the time during the past two years. The closure denies Palestinians access not only to Egypt, but to the rest of the world. One can understand why Israel does not want Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to enter its territories. But it is hard to understand why the Egyptians are keeping the border crossing closed, thus sending Palestinians to knock on Israel’s door for help. If the Egyptians do not want Palestinians to enter their country, that is fine. But why not open the terminal so that Palestinians could at least travel to other countries? Why, for instance, are the Egyptians banning many patients from the Gaza Strip from crossing the border to seek medical treatment in Arab and Western hospitals? And why are the Egyptians banning students from ...

Love of the Land: Egyptian (and Arab) Hypocrisy

Love of the Land: The Latest Human Rights Watch Bombshell

The Latest Human Rights Watch Bombshell

Noah Pollak
08 September 09

I’m a believer in the truth of O’Sullivan’s First Law, formulated some years ago by the former editor of National Review, John O’Sullivan:

All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don’t like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world.

The law holds true for human-rights organizations as well, many of which over time have become staffed and led by people far more impassioned about condemning democratic societies than repressive or despotic ones. Human Rights Watch has earned the attention it has been receiving lately because it is the leader in this trend. And nowhere in the organization is O’Sullivan’s Law more apparent than in HRW’s Middle East staffers. They are fetishists, people who have an obsession with a certain country (Israel) and with a certain cause (condemning Western militaries). How many reports has HRW issued about Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s successful three-week offensive to neutralize Hamas’s rocket war against Israeli civilians? I’ve lost count, although I have heard that HRW’s forthcoming report—perhaps the fourth or fifth on Cast Lead—will document a few instances in which Palestinian homes were vandalized by IDF soldiers. Graffiti spray-painted on a wall during a war is a pressing human-rights issue in the Middle East? Is vandalism even a human-rights issue? Only if you’re an Israel-obsessive.

So we get to Marc Garlasco, HRW’s “senior military analyst” and a frequent critic of Israel. Garlasco, as disclosed by Omri at Mere Rhetoric, has an interesting avocation: he writes about and collects Nazi paraphernalia. He has contributed almost 8,000 posts to a Nazi web forum called Wehrmacht Awards under the handle “Flak88,” with his collection of swastikas and Nazi medals all lovingly photographed and posted online. Garlasco’s Nazi hobby is actually quite ambitious: he wrote a 400-page book on Nazi military awards, and his car’s license plate is personalized—it reads “Flak88.”

A Nazi-memorabilia hobby sure is a strange one for a professional human-rights activist to have. Are there any senior staffers at PETA who moonlight as collectors of fur coats and leg-hold traps? Garlasco must know how odd this looks because he maintains aphotography website that contains pictures of many diverse things—but no tip-off that one of his favorite photography subjects is . . . Nazi medals.

The more we learn about Human Rights Watch, the more the mask slips. There is Sarah Leah Whitson, the intifada-era activist for Palestine and apologist for terrorism; Joe Stork, the radical leftist and anti-Zionist; and now Garlasco, the Nazi-memorabilia collector.

Love of the Land: The Latest Human Rights Watch Bombshell

Love of the Land: NGO Monitor report: Experts or Ideologues?

NGO Monitor report: Experts or Ideologues?

A Systematic Analysis of HRW's Focus on Israel

On September 8, 2009, NGO Monitor released a research report – Experts or Ideologues? A Systematic Analysis of Human Rights Watch’s Focus on Israel – examining HRW’s publications and campaigns related to Israel from 2001 to 2009.

This report is the most detailed analysis of HRW that has been published to date, revealing a consistent pattern of double standards, inconsistencies, and exploitation of human rights to attack Israel.

The report consists of three sections:
1) An examination of key HRW staff members – their professional backgrounds, research expertise, and ideological bias concerning Israel, including:

  • Ken Roth
  • Sarah Leah Whitson
  • Joe Stork
  • Marc Garlasco
  • Reed Brody

2) Five detailed HRW case studies which show:

  • Consistent bias
  • False and contradictory claims
  • Reliance on irrelevant “evidence”
  • Speculation disguised as fact
  • Inappropriate methodologies (“eyewitness testimony,” NGO and media reports, and “weapons assessments” that are neither credible nor verifiable).

3) A broader quantitative analysis of HRW publications from 2001 to 2009, showing greatly disproportionate emphasis on Israel in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division, double standards in the use of terminology such as “war crimes,” “collective punishment,” etc., and in highly distorted uses of international legal terminology.

PDF of the full report

Executive summary [PDF]

Click here for further analysis of Human Rights Watch and excerpts of the report

Love of the Land: NGO Monitor report: Experts or Ideologues?

Love of the Land: Dialogue of the Deaf: Obama Sanctions' on Iran Fall Flat on their Face

Dialogue of the Deaf: Obama Sanctions' on Iran Fall Flat on their Face

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
08 September 09

The big, highly advertised meeting of six great powers—China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States--to raise sanctions against Iran seems to have ended without any major breakthrough. According to available sources, China and Russia took such a strong stance against sanctions as to make it clear that unity on this issue--which means effective sanctions--is impossible.

This is a huge failure for a main--perhaps the main--U.S. policy in the Middle East.

It was thus with little credibility that the meeting warned Iran that it must resume talks about its nuclear program by the end of September.

Or else what?

To which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

“We have not heard anyone setting a specific time for talks. Interaction on the basis of respect and justice does not go with setting deadlines. Perhaps some people have made comments but it is obvious that this…is not compatible with today’s needs and Iran nation’s approach.”

Or, in other words, “No.”

So we are set for the next act: more dramatic announcements of relatively small sanctions’ actions followed by months of inaction as Tehran gets around them to some extent.

The Western powers still don’t seem to realize that whatever you can say about the Iranian regime a year or more ago, it is now a super-radical government increasingly in the hands of the most extreme faction. Some countries, including those in the meeting, still view Iran as a great opportunity for good profits.

Here's something you're going to be hearing a lot more in the future, from an article, "Limited options: Deterring North Korea and Iran by Lowell H. Schwartz in the
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists :

"The question today is no longer whether the U.S. can still prevent the emergence of nuclear-armed regional adversaries, but instead, how to prevent them from being empowered by their nuclear weapons.

"Deterrence of nuclear use through the threat of retaliation--a mainstay of Cold War military strategy--is highly problematic with nuclear-armed regional adversaries. The reason is simple: These leaders may believe their sole chance of surviving is brandishing or using nuclear weapons. Indeed, they might choose to abstain from nuclear use only if they felt that course would enable them and their regimes to survive intact.

"U.S. decision-makers in regional crises should seek to devise policy options that avoid putting the enemy leadership in a position where nuclear use seems to them to be the least bad option available."

Read All at :

Love of the Land: Dialogue of the Deaf: Obama Sanctions' on Iran Fall Flat on their Face

Love of the Land: Rivlin, in Hebron, Slams Netanyahu: You Can't Build TA By Destroying Ariel

Rivlin, in Hebron, Slams Netanyahu: You Can't Build TA By Destroying Ariel

Chaim Levinson-Nir Hasson
08 September 09

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to freeze settlement construction while on a visit to Jewish compounds in Hebron yesterday.

"Anyone who believes Jerusalem can be built by destroying Hebron hasn't learned a thing," said Rivlin, in Hebron for a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1929 Hebron massacre. "Anyone who thinks you can build Tel Aviv by drying up Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim, or that we'll get our territorial rights recognized this way, is destined to repeat past mistakes. Anyone who thinks we will thus escape a Holocaust is embracing false hopes," said Rivlin.

Read All at :

Love of the Land: Rivlin, in Hebron, Slams Netanyahu: You Can't Build TA By Destroying Ariel

Love of the Land: What Carter Missed in the Middle East

What Carter Missed in the Middle East

Elliot Abrams
Washington Post
08 September 09

In an op-ed on Sunday ["The Elders' View of the Middle East"], former president Jimmy Carter, speaking on behalf of a self-appointed group of "Elders," described a rapacious Israel facing long-suffering, blameless Palestinians, who are contemplating a "nonviolent civil rights struggle" in which "their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela."

As with most of Carter's recent statements about Israel and the Palestinians, instead of facts we get vignettes from recent Carter travels. And while he finds "a growing sense of concern and despair" among "increasingly desperate" Palestinians, polls do not sustain this view. The most recent survey by the leading Palestinian pollster, Khalil Shikaki (done in August, the same month Carter visited), shows "considerable improvement in public perception of personal and family security and safety in the West Bank and a noticeable decrease in public perception of the existence of corruption in [Palestinian Authority] institutions." This does not sound like despair. In fact, positive views of personal and family safety and security in the West Bank stood at 25 percent four years ago, 35 percent two years ago and 43 percent a year ago, and they have risen to 58 percent in the past year, Shikaki reports. There are other ways to measure quality of life in the West Bank: The International Monetary Fund recently stated that "macroeconomic conditions in the West Bank have improved" largely because "Israeli restrictions on internal trade and the passage of people have been relaxed significantly."
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Love of the Land: What Carter Missed in the Middle East

Love of the Land: The Bogeyman in The Hills of Judea and Samaria

The Bogeyman in The Hills of Judea and Samaria

Ariel Harkham
07 September 09

Earlier this month, Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now and former Haaretz reporter, revealed an alarming, even terrifying, bit of news in an opinion piece for the Washington Jewish Week: There are bogeymen in the hills of Israel. Citing only an incident in 1988, and one in 2000, Nir argued that the "brutality" of soldiers and settlers in the West Bank has spread across the Green Line, causing the wave of violent crime the country seems to be experiencing lately.

Never mind, for the moment, that Israel has one of the lowest murder rates in the world - a statistic that even the most basic level of research would have confirmed for Nir. But the fact that the Peace Now spokesman so vigorously set out to identify the settler movement as the cause of a pseudo-effect goes to show just how much this cause is an apparition conjured by fear mongering, a moral bogeyman in the hills of Judea and Samaria.

NIR'S OPINION piece, like the logic of the entire anti-settler machine, reminds me of the story of the man who walked into a bar, only to be physically assaulted by another customer. Rising to defend himself, the man inadvertently broke a few bottles and glasses. After tensions had cooled, the bartender took the man aside and berated him, but left the instigator alone with his drink. The man, indignant at being unfairly targeted, retorted, "Why aren't you saying this to the other guy? I mean, he's responsible." The bartender stared at him incredulously, and said, "It wouldn't make any difference. That guy is deaf."
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Love of the Land: The Bogeyman in The Hills of Judea and Samaria

Love of the Land: Settlement Freeze May Be Permanent If Amorphous Requirements Met

Settlement Freeze May Be Permanent If Amorphous Requirements Met

Dr. Aaron Lerner
08 September 09

So the settlement freeze will be extended if I we get some minor gestures from Arab countries that we have already had in the past and - here is the big requirement for the Palestinians: something is done about incitement.

Why the cynicism about making incitement the litmus test?

Take a look at the article for a hint: "The official said Israel expected that in return for the moratorium there would be an end to incitement against Israel in the PA media and education system - although a way of measuring this still needed to be worked out."

Repeat: "a way of measuring this still needed to be worked out".

Been there. Done that.

When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wanted to keep his buddy Uri Dan busy so he wouldn't be tempted to share his misgivings over Sharon's policies with the public, he appointed him the "Anti-Incitement Committee". Dan seized the opportunity to meet with Palestinian officials and complain about Palestinian incitement. He got nowhere. Which is no surprise since none of the people before him and none of the Israelis after him got anywhere in what amounted to nothing more than a debating society since it was impossible to come up with a workable measurable definition of incitement.

Consider the following: Which is worse? An inciting item in a Palestinian school book or unfriendly remarks in a pamphlet distributed in some synagogues?

So when the Netanyahu team focuses on what anyone who knows the history of Oslo knows is a profoundly unenforceable requirement you have to wonder:


#1. They don't remember.
#2. They are fooling themselves.
#3. They are trying to fool us.

Which is worse?

'Settlement freeze will last 6 months'

A moratorium on new construction in the settlements, expected in the wake of Monday's announcement of 455 newly approved housing units in the West Bank, will last for six months, with an extension dependent on whether the Palestinian Authority and neighboring Arab countries step up to the plate and deliver what is expected of them, a senior political official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The official's comment came a week before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell to discuss the US-brokered package that is expected to lead to a renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu spoke to the official over the past few days and explained both the sudden approval of the 455 homes and the soon-to-be-announced moratorium.

The new construction plans in the settlements, which were announced on Monday morning, included 149 apartments for Har Gilo, 12 for Alon Shvut, 89 in Ma'aleh Adumim, 84 in Modi'in Illit, 76 in Givat Ze'ev, 25 in Kedar and 20 in Maskiot, as well as a sports park in Ariel and a school in Har Adar.

Mitchell is expected to arrive on Saturday night for two days of high-level meetings in Jerusalem.

At a Ma'aleh Adumim rally on Monday, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said that the Construction and Housing Ministry had issued an order not to make any more plans for Jewish housing in east Jerusalem.

But political officials said that in addition to the six-month moratorium, Netanyahu would reiterate to Mitchell that Jerusalem will not be included, and that public buildings in the settlements will be approved where necessary to enable normal life to continue.

The official said Israel expected that in return for the moratorium there would be an end to incitement against Israel in the PA media and education system - although a way of measuring this still needed to be worked out - as well as significant normalization steps from the Arab world.

If these steps were not forthcoming, the source intimated, the construction moratorium would end.

Israel, according to the official, expected a number of Arab countries - such as Morocco, Qatar and Oman - to renew their former low-level presences in Israel, as well as allow for educational and cultural exchanges, and for Israeli airline flights over their territory.

The prime minister's plans to please the settlers, the US and the Palestinians, did not mollify anyone.

The Americans and the Palestinians continued to publicly demanded an immediate and total freeze.
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Love of the Land: Settlement Freeze May Be Permanent If Amorphous Requirements Met

Love of the Land: Editorial: Taking Responsibility for Pollard

Editorial: Taking Responsibility for Pollard

07 September 09

Israel's state comptroller, retired judge Micha Lindenstrauss, last week released a report on the country's handling of the Pollard affair. In a nutshell, the report exonerates Israel's political leadership and blames Jonathan Pollard's continued incarceration on the "fierce and consistent" opposition of U.S. administration and intelligence officials. It also recommends that Israel press the Americans to give Pollard a new trial.

The report is, to put it charitably, a huge disappointment.

For starters, it makes contradictory claims. On one hand it states categorically that since 1996, the governments of Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert acted "continuously and consistently" to obtain the release of Pollard. "The Pollard issue challenged the prime ministers of Israel," it states. "Their actions were continual and consistent, and the issue was brought up in their meetings and conversations with U.S. presidents."

At the same time, Lindenstrauss admits that Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon and Olmert made sure that their discussions with U.S. presidents and senior administration officials on this sensitive issue were never documented. (He calls this failure a "significant transgression," because it makes it impossible to reassess past efforts to get Pollard freed and try to come up with a more successful approach.)

But if Lindenstrauss didn't have any transcripts of these meetings, how could he be so sure that these prime ministers acted "continuously and consistently" on Pollard's behalf?

Without going into all of the details of the Pollard case, the pertinent facts are as follows: Jonathan Pollard is an Israeli citizen (as of 1995); the government of Israel has recognized him as an Israeli agent (as of 1998); and he has spent the past 24 years in prison for providing Israel with information that saved many, many lives.

In this sense, Pollard is like any other Israeli prisoner, be it Ron Arad, the navigator downed over Lebanon in 1986, or Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier
kidnapped at the border with Gaza three years ago. But there's one crucial difference: While Arad and Shalit are being held in unknown locations by terror organizations, Pollard is in the hands of Israel's closest ally, the United States. And it is inconceivable that Israel leaders acted "continuously and consistently" and still came up empty-handed.

How can it be that 24 years have passed - with U.S. administrations that were Republican and Democrat; more friendly to Israel and less friendly; with prime ministers from Labor and the Likud - and that at no time was it
possible to close a deal that would send Pollard home?

If the efforts of Israeli prime ministers were truly continuous and consistent, if there was the proper sense of hakaras hatov to Pollard for what he did for Israel, then surely there were ample opportunities in the past 24 years - be it at the signing of Oslo or the disengagement or the end of the administration of former president George W. Bush - to gain the release on humanitarian grounds for a man who is sick and who has expressed remorse for his deeds? (The notable exception was then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who truly tried to engineer a deal upon signing the Wye Plantation agreement on a Chevron withdrawal, only to be bitterly disappointed by Bill Clinton.).

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Love of the Land: Editorial: Taking Responsibility for Pollard

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Israel Matzav: Will Farouk Hosni go down to defeat?

Will Farouk Hosni go down to defeat?

In the post-Camp David euphoria of 1980, I spent three days in Egypt with my grandmother a"h (may she rest in peace), visiting Cairo, Luxor and Alexandria. One of the things that we insisted was that the Egyptian tour guides take us to Jewish sites in Cairo. The Egyptians were embarrassed. There were none.

The situation has not changed much since then. The New York Times reports that the Egyptians are rebuilding a dilapidated old synagogue in which the Rambam, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) served as Rabbi during the last years of his life. I saw that synagogue in 1980. I even have pictures of it. We went inside for no more than a few minutes. There was nothing there.

The Times says that the Egyptians are now rebuilding the synagogue - and Egyptians are discovering that a sizable Jewish community used to live in their country - as a result of their desire to get Farouk Hosni elected as the head of UNESCO. The Times reports that the Egyptians would like to go just far enough for Hosni to win, but no further.

“The irony is they have done something,” Rabbi Baker said. “It goes back at least several years now. They didn’t want to do it in a formal relationship with us. They said, ‘We accept this as our responsibility to care for our Jewish heritage, so we will do things ourselves.’”

For Egyptians like Mr. Hawass, who seems most comfortable around Pharaonic tombs and mummies, speaking about Egypt’s Jewish past with pride has required a degree of finesse. Mr. Hawass has in the past refused a suggestion by the American Jewish Committee to consider building a small museum to house Egypt’s historic Jewish artifacts, as the government has done to preserve many of Egypt’s Christian artifacts.

As he strode through the old Jewish quarter recently, waving his handwritten list of all the Jewish preservation projects he is now overseeing, Mr. Hawass said that he would not build a Jewish museum in Cairo until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved.

“If you make a museum like that while Israel is killing Palestinian children, people will kill me,” he said. “What we are doing now is not for the Jews; it is for us, for our heritage,” Egypt’s Jewish heritage.

The Times only gives brief mention to why Hosni, once the leading candidate, is in trouble.

But to appease — or please — his local constituency, he said in 2008 he would burn any Israeli book found in the nation’s premier library in Alexandria. He has apologized, but that has done little to end the attacks on his candidacy to lead an organization dedicated to promoting cultural diversity.

To the Times, Hosni has 'apologized' and therefore the controversy over his candidacy should be over. But since that hasn't worked, the Egyptians are going to bribe the Jews not to oppose Hosni's candidacy. And the bribe seems to be working: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has promised not to oppose Hosni.

In its coverage, Time Magazine asks whether Hosni is an anti-Jewish bigot. And it admits that his candidacy is in trouble:

The most notorious of Hosni's comments came during an angry exchange last May with Muslim Brotherhood legislators who suggested the Minister was softening on previously stated hostility to cultural exchanges with Israel. "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt," Hosni spat back.

The chorus of voices opposing Hosni's candidacy is growing. In August, an article in Foreign Policy magazine called him a mouthpiece for "rampant Judeophobia" among Egyptian elites. "To say that Farouk Hosni doesn't much like Israel is putting it lightly," the piece began.

As a result of such comments, the number of countries which plan to support Hosni's UNESCO bid have thinned, and eight other rivals have stepped up.

But the Wall Street Journal tells us that Hosni is a bigot and should not be elected to head UNESCO. And not 'just' because he hates Israel.

But there is another reason to pause before appointing Egypt's Culture Minister as Unesco head: namely, the unbroken social, political and cultural repression in Egypt under his tenure.

Having told Agence France-Presse that he believes he has won over 32 of the 58 nations on Unesco's executive council, the 22-year steward of Egyptian culture can taste victory. Cairo is now scrambling to quash any stray quibbles with his candidacy ahead of a vote this week on his appointment. To this end, since the Unseco job campaign began, Egypt has announced plans to allow the translation of Israeli books while feverishly "contextualizing" Mr. Hosni's past tirades against the Jewish state. And last month Egypt ostentatiously unveiled the ongoing restoration of an important synagogue in Cairo.

That scramble, sincere or not, cannot erase Mr. Hosni's sorry record as a culture czar in general. Human-rights activists are not the only ones reeling at the thought of one of Egypt's pre-eminent censors being named standard-bearer in Unesco's self-described goal to "build peace in the minds of men." One can only imagine the peace in the minds of thousands of Egyptian writers, bloggers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, lecturers, broadcasters and other culture-purveyors who have been tortured, harassed, imprisoned or banned in Egypt since Mr. Hosni took office in 1987. Or the 100-plus heavy-metal fans arrested there over the last decade for their supposed Satanism. Or any of the remaining 80 million Egyptians regularly denied access to any new ideas their government deems harmful.

Even if Mr. Hosni's supporters succeed in cajoling or coercing pro-Israel groups to back their man, he would remain as suitable to lead Unesco as a Cairene cat would be to guard a stew. Try convincing jailed blogger Kareem Nabil Soliman, or blackballed satirist Ali Salem, or chronically harassed activist Wael Abbas, that Mr. Hosni's brand of cultural preservation should be exported throughout the world.

Read it all. Hosni does not deserve to head UNESCO.

Israel Matzav: Will Farouk Hosni go down to defeat?

Israel Matzav: Obama's miscalculations

Obama's miscalculations

As you might imagine, I am not particularly happy about the upcoming 'settlement freeze,' but it is clear that the 'freeze' is far less than what the Obama administration tried to impose on us back in May. How did that happen? How did Binyamin Netanyahu come out the winner and Barack Obama the loser (even assuming that the 'Palestinians' come back to the table on the basis of what's being offered)? JPost's Herb Keinon explains.

First of all, the initial US demand was completely impractical. It was impractical not only from a political point of view, since Netanyahu, in his government constellation, could not agree to such a demand, but also practically impossible - there is no way that real needs would not be provided for the nearly 300,000 Israelis living beyond the Green Line.

Furthermore, the administration misread the Israeli public, thinking that the settlements were enormously unpopular, and that the public would back the US president. The administration confused headlines and certain columns in Haaretz with Israeli public opinion, a public that saw the US demand as unreasonable and rallied around Netanyahu.

Secondly, it became clear with time that there had indeed been agreements with the Bush administration on where and how Israel could continue to build in the settlements, and that the Obama administration was simply tossing those out the window.

This in turn led to criticism and some push-back, not only in Israel, but also in the US, with some asking how the Obama administration could call on Israel to fulfill its commitments, when it itself was not doing the same.

Thirdly, it became clear as time went on that the US was a prisoner to its own demand. Netanyahu said he would not agree to a complete freeze, and that talk about stopping construction in east Jerusalem was completely out of the question, even as the Palestinians - taking their cue from the US's initial statement - threw in a condition that they never had when they were negotiating with Ehud Olmert: they would not start talks until there was a total settlement freeze everywhere.

But with Israel standing firm that it would not freeze everything, the US had to decide whether it wanted to launch a process or not, and if it did, then it would have to agree to some construction.

The fourth element that has led to a change in the US position was Saudi intransigence. Even as Washington was trying to get Israel to agree to a freeze, the Obama administration also tried to get the Arab world - especially Saudi Arabia - to ante up some significant confidence-building measures.

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Israel Matzav: Obama's miscalculations

Israel Matzav: Video: The Shofar and the Pooch

Israel Matzav: Video: The Shofar and the Pooch

Israel Matzav: Shocka: Israel's Gaza 'blockade' is changing opinions

Shocka: Israel's Gaza 'blockade' is changing opinions

A survey of 'Palestinians' in Gaza, the 'West Bank,' Jordan and Egypt shows that Israel's Gaza 'blockade' is making 'Palestinians' want to get rid of Hamas. Hamas is extremely unpopular in Gaza (with 58% disapproval, including 42% strong disapproval) - even more so than in the 'West Bank' where 57% disapprove of Hamas, but only 16% disapprove strongly.

Further, if elections were held today, Fatah would win despite that organization's continued corruption (several Fatah members have stated that the cheating that went on at last month's Fatah convention votes makes Iran look fair and honest).

Additionally, many 'Palestinians' (including a majority in the 'West Bank' and Jordan) now regret that Yasser Arafat turned down Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David in 2000. Of course, they would love to have that offer back now, but with Netanyahu in power, I doubt that they are going to be offered anything close to that anytime soon.

The poll, conducted by Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, included face-to-face interviews with hundreds of adults in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, along with a series of focus groups in Cairo and Ramallah.

While the numbers indicate ongoing, deep hostility toward Israel in the Arab world, the poll also shows signs that powerful players in the region, such as Hamas, are in deep trouble at home, and that the people living under their direct rule are becomingly increasingly vocal in their criticism.


"I've polled in a number of war zones in the 20th century, including Nicaragua and El Salvador during the conflicts there [in the 1980s], and I polled in Afghanistan under the Taliban, before 9/11," Greenberg said. "And I thought that in Gaza, after [Hamas's 2006] takeover, people would be cautious about responding to the poll. But just look at the results. Nearly 60% of the people there have a negative image of Hamas, and felt free to say it, which says to me that it's even worse than that."


When asked who was responsible for the current crisis in Gaza, Israel was overwhelmingly blamed by all the groups polled. But while 5% of Egyptians and Jordanians blamed Hamas for the current crisis, 35% of Palestinians in the West Bank said Hamas was to blame, while 16% of Gazans agreed.

Additionally, of all the places polled, Gazans made up the highest percentage - 38% - of those who said they believed that both Israel and Hamas, together, were responsible for the current Gaza crisis.

Nonetheless, Gazans and Jordanians both showed a surprisingly high level of support for direct negotiations with Israel. More than half of those two groups - 52% of those polled - said they believed Palestinians should negotiate directly with Israel, accept its right to exist and honor past agreements. Thirty-nine percent of Egyptians said the same, compared to 36% of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Also surprising, Greenberg said, was that while 35% of the other groups polled stressed the importance of releasing captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, an overwhelming two-thirds of Gazans said the same.

Maybe keeping Gaza under a blockade making the 'Palestinians' pay a price for their actions and for the actions of their leadership isn't such a bad idea after all. Right Ismail?


Israel Matzav: Shocka: Israel's Gaza 'blockade' is changing opinions

Israel Matzav: Iran to Obama: There's nothing to discuss

Iran to Obama: There's nothing to discuss

Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that there is nothing further to discuss with the 'six powers' (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) regarding Iran's nuclear program.

"From our view point (discussion of) our nuclear issue is finished," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his first news conference since he was sworn into office on August 5 following a disputed re-election in June.

"We will continue our work in the framework of global regulations and in close cooperation with the (U.N.) International Atomic Energy Agency. We will never negotiate on the Iranian nation's obvious rights," he added.

Obama has given Tehran until this month to take up a six powers' offer of talks on trade benefits if it stops nuclear enrichment, or face harsher sanctions.

Ahmadinejad invited officials from the six powers -- the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany -- to take a look at Iran's upcoming package of proposals addressing global "challenges."

Iran was ready to negotiate and cooperate on making "peaceful use of clean nuclear energy" available for all countries and in preventing the spread of nuclear arms, he said.

The semi-official ISNA news agency said Iran was likely to unveil the package by the end of this week.

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Israel Matzav: Iran to Obama: There's nothing to discuss

Israel Matzav: Human Rights Watch's precisely wrong report

Israel Matzav: Human Rights Watch's precisely wrong report

Israel Matzav: Real liberals should support Israel

Real liberals should support Israel

Ryan Mauro argues that real liberals should support Israel.

There will be haters no matter what, but on the Israeli side, such hatred is not mainstream or institutionalized. In every conversation I can remember I had with an Israeli, the suffering of the Palestinians was always mentioned as part of the equation. While discussing their own suffering, they’d always turn and say something along the lines of: “You know, the Palestinians don’t deserve what they’re going through either; it’s unacceptable.”

Israel has adopted virtually every liberal cause. The Jewish state has taken in 1,700 refugees from Darfur, giving Africa the attention Hollywood has demanded. Israel does not do so for recognition, as surely they know by now they will never get any, but because it’s simply the right thing to do.

Environmentalists should be hailing Israel as a model. Twenty percent of the water used by Israel will be desalinated by 2010 and, according to Israel @ 60, “Israel treats 92 percent of its wastewater and reuses 75 percent in agriculture, the highest rate in the world.” Israel stands nearly alone as having more trees today than at the beginning of the last century and “is one of two countries in the world in which deserts are shrinking rather than expanding.”

Investing in electric cars and other forms of alternative energy, bacteria that can dissolve oil spills, and other green technology, Israel is taking a leading role in helping the environment. With the current health care debate in the U.S. raging, liberals should also take notice that Israel provides national health insurance — or, as conservatives would say, socialized health care. When we visited a hospital, our guide articulately defended the concept and criticized the American health care system in a way that would have made any Democratic Party operative proud.

Whether it’s protecting and respecting human life or preserving the rights of citizens despite the highest temptation to restrict them, Israel is a bastion of liberalism and progressivism. For liberals to not support Israel is to not support the very issues they fight for at home.

So why do so many liberals not support Israel?

Mauro doesn't deal with that issue. My sense is that it's for two reasons. First, because liberals tend to support the underdog and Israel hasn't really been the underdog in more than forty years.

Second, liberals have a worldview in which there is no exceptionalism. If you don't recognize the possibility of exceptionalism, you won't recognize that Israel is an exceptionally good country.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Real liberals should support Israel
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