Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Love of the Land: Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast

Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast

Robert L. Bernstein
19 October 09

AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.

The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

But how does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers. Significantly, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an expert on warfare, has said that the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998.

Love of the Land: Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast

Love of the Land: Hamas and Fatah: What Are They Really Fighting About?

Hamas and Fatah: What Are They Really Fighting About?

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
20 October 09

Hamas and Fatah have once again demonstrated that the power struggle that has been raging between the two parties for the past three years is not over who is going to bring democracy and prosperity to Palestine. Nor is it over who is going to build schools, universities and hospitals. They are not fighting over what is good for the Palestinians. They are fighting over money and power.

This power struggle is one of the main reasons why the Palestinians are still far from reaching their goals, first and foremost the establishment of an independent state.

The two sides despise one another so tremendously that some Palestinians have been arguing that Hamas and Fatah hate each other more than they hate Israel.

Had it not been for Israel’s physical presence between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-dominated West Bank, it is highly likely that these two entities would be dispatching rockets and suicide bombers against each other.

Ironically, it is Israel that is preventing Muslims from killing Muslims. In the summer of 2007, when Hamas launched its “military coup” in the Gaza Strip, it was Israel that saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of Fatah members and their families.

These Fatah operatives first tried to run away toward Egypt, but most were blocked by Egyptian security forces, which sent them to knock on Israel’s door for help. Israel was the only country that sent ships, ambulances and helicopters to save Muslims from being slaughtered by their Muslim brethren, to save Fatah from being destroyed by Hamas.

Today, it is Israel’s presence in the West Bank that is preventing the collapse of Fatah and a Hamas takeover. Ironically, if Israel carries out what Fatah is demanding in public - a withdrawal from the West Bank - Fatah will be the first to vanish.

Fatah is now demanding that the same IDF officers who are protecting it in the West Bank be put on trial for perpetrating “war crimes” during Operation Cast Lead. Fatah’s hypocrisy and insolence evidently know no limits.

During the war, Fatah did everything it could to help Israel end the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Fatah representatives provided Israel with vital intelligence about the location of Hamas figures and installations in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, they exerted pressure on Israel not to end the war without removing Hamas from power.

When Operation Cast Lead ended without achieving that goal, Fatah leaders privately expressed disappointment with Israel for failing to “finish the job.”

Fatah’s lies, corruption, incompetence, hypocrisy and failure to reform have severely undermined its standing among Palestinians. Yet this has not stopped Fatah from seeking new elections in the Palestinian territories.

Fatah will win the elections, when and if they are held, only if two things occur : if its leaders steal the vote, or if Hamas chooses to boycott the elections.

Although Hamas has also been a disaster for Palestinians, the Islamic movement is still regarded by many in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an “honest” and “clean” movement.

Now that the latest Egyptian attempt to force Hamas and Fatah to reconcile has failed, there is no point in talking about resuming the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Any agreement that Israel reaches with Fatah will be automatically rejected by Hamas and a large number of Palestinians.

Instead of focusing its attention and efforts on achieving peace between Jews and Arabs, the US Administration should first find a way to end the civil war that has been raging among Palestinians over the past three years. Peace between Palestinians and Palestinians could even pave the way for peace between Palestinians and Israel.

All Palestinians, particularly those living in the Gaza Strip, are continuing to pay a heavy price for the ongoing rift between Hamas and Fatah. Hundreds have been killed and injured in the fighting between the two groups over the past three years.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.

Love of the Land: Hamas and Fatah: What Are They Really Fighting About?

Love of the Land: TV Movie Jihad: Turkish Government Tries to Foment Islamist Hatred of Israel and Jews

TV Movie Jihad: Turkish Government Tries to Foment Islamist Hatred of Israel and Jews

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
20 October 09

You know that the Islamist-oriented Turkish government has cancelled a military exercise with Israel, made a military cooperation alignment with Syria, and aired an antisemitic film. Here’s what you don’t know about the film.

Entitled “Separation – Love and War in Palestine,” the expensively made film was aired in prime time on a state-owned television network. Previews of it were shown in the Istanbul’s small subway system.

The ultimate hypocrisy is that while the government excuses its anti-Israel policy by saying, in the prime minister’s words, “ We cannot be oblivious to the feelings of the Turkish public,” it is doing everything possible to stir up passionate hatred on the part of that public which wasn’t there beforehand. The film is, in a real sense, a hate crime, the kind of thing that goes on daily in the Arabic-speaking world and for which there is absolutely no equivalent in Israel or the West.

When the film opens there is a street battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. A Palestinian boy is killed as the two sides fire at one another. So far, this is possible. But what happens next is that a beautiful young girl then is shown walking down an empty street and an Israeli soldier just shoots her for no reason at all. There is no evidence that any such event has taken place ever.

A group of elderly Muslims wanting to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca is shown being stopped at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers and their papers are thrown in their faces. In fact, Israel has facilitated Palestinians going on the pilgrimage for many years.

So why didn’t Gazans get to go in the real world? Because the Palestinian Authority didn’t want to let Hamas, which rules Gaza, issue the papers and the Saudis refused to accept them. Israel had nothing to do with it. But for an audience of Turkish Muslims, such an act is a basic attack on Islam that would justify Jihad by themselves in response.

In another fictional event made to stir hatred—though Palestinians testifying at the Goldstone hearings made such claims without providing a single example—a husband and his pregnant wife are prevented at a checkpoint from going to a hospital. When she gives birth an Israeli soldier shoots dead the one-minute-old baby. Oh, and the wife dies from bleeding and the husband is killed by another soldier.

Interspersed with such scenes are those of Jews praying and an Israeli soldier is portrayed as saying this is a war of religion not one over territory.

So aside from their humanitarian impulses, Turks are being told by their government that Israelis are murdering and warring on Muslims. What should be their response? Why to hate Israel but also—at least this is how some Turks are likely to interpret it--to kill Jews.

In another scene, viewers are told that their Ottoman ancestors ruled this land for 400 years and there were no problems back then. In another country, this would be seen as a prelude to trying to seize control of that land once again but the Turkish government isn’t interested in that, nor in the Palestinian Authority (PA) taking over, but only in an Islamist regime ruled by Hamas there. (The Turkish government never talks about events on the West Bank because it views Hamas and not the PA as its ally. By the same token, it shows that it doesn't care about the Palestinians but only Islamist-ruled ones.)

By acting to provoke such hatred and possibly even an anti-Jewish pogrom within Turkey—the first time a Turkish government has behaved this way since the republic began—the current regime has taken one more step to bash Israel while still seeking its tourists and trade, as well as a diplomatic role as diplomatic mediator between Israel and Syria .

Turkish Jews--who have always believed that keeping a low profile and waiting out any problems--are taking the hint. Some are leaving; most are thinking about it.

The policy toward Israel or this particular film are not isolated events. They are parts of the regime strategy to do three things:

--Impose the maximum possible Islamist program on Turkey (how far they will get is unclear).

--Create a political and institutional basis for never yielding power. This is being done by a takeover of media, transformation of large elements in the educational system, promoting pro-AKP businesses or intimidating those in the opposition in order to give the regime a powerful economic base, revising the constitution, and taking other such steps. It hopes to become an institutionalized government party like the Republican People’s Party was during the first three decades of the republic. This doesn't mean that the AKP will declare an open dictatorship and cancel elections. Rather, the goal is to be sure it always wins the elections.

--Reorient Turkey’s foreign policy toward the Muslim-majority world, and building an alignment with Iran and Syria, while minimizing any cost in terms of its relations with the West. If forced to choose, however, it will pick the Muslim orientation, especially since the government assumes (though it is still trying) that it won’t get European Union membership any way while the Obama Administration smiles and nods at Turkish policy as more proof that the regime is a “model moderate Muslim democracy.”

Onlookers should have no illusions about what is going on. Nor should any U.S. policymakers—for plenty of other reasons as well—still view Turkey’s government as a reliable ally.

Love of the Land: TV Movie Jihad: Turkish Government Tries to Foment Islamist Hatred of Israel and Jews

The Torah Revolution: Oh noooo! Hang on.. What?!

Oh noooo! Hang on.. What?!

B"H -

Torah prohibits Jews of damaging olive trees. That is exactly how we know for sure that these allegations, like many others coming from the Arabs, are false.

- This is talkback # 17 on "Olive harvest season begins with sabotage"

The Torah Revolution: Oh noooo! Hang on.. What?!

The Torah Revolution: 4.000 BC?

4.000 BC?

B"H -

In "Jewish" we say 4000 BCE, which is a clever way meaning before common era, when we refer to goyishe time. The Jewish calendar is at year 5770, so 4000 BCE is 1770. The nations count time from what they call C. If Israel is meant to be a Jewish state, why to mark time and date as the nations and not as Jews?

- This is talkback # 2 on "Dig reveals weapons cache from 1950s"

The Torah Revolution: 4.000 BC?

Colonel Richard Kemp, British Army - Comment on the IDF's Actions in Gaza

Colonel Richard Kemp, British Army - Comment on the IDF's Actions in Gaza

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare

British Army Hero Tells
UN Human Rights Council:
‘Israeli Defense Forces Most Moral Army
in History of Warfare’

Colonel Richard Kemp served in
the British Army from 1977 – 2006.
Today’s emergency United Nations Human Rights Council debate in Geneva on the Goldstone Report predictably saw a line-up of the world’s worst abusers condemn democratic Israel for human rights violations.

In a heated lynch mob atmosphere, Kuwait slammed Israel for “intentional killing, intentional destruction of civilian objects, intentional scorched-earth policy”, saying Israel “embodied the Agatha Christie novel, ‘Escaped with Murder’. Pakistan said the “horrors of Israeli occupation continue to haunt the international community’s conscience.” The Arab League said, “We must condemn Israel and force Israel to accept international legitimacy.” Ahmadinejad’s Iran said “the atrocities committed against Palestinians during the aggressions on Gaza should be taken seriously” and followed up by the international community “to put an end to absolute impunity and defiance of the law.”
What the world’s assembled representatives did not expect, however, was the speech that followed (see video and text below), organized by UN Watch. The speaker is a man who repeatedly put his life on the line to defend the democratic world from the murderous Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. The moment he began his first sentence, the room simply fell silent. Judge Goldstone, author of the biased report that prompted today’s one-sided condemnation, had refused to hear Colonel Kemp’s testimony during his “fact-finding” hearings.

But UN Watch made sure today that this hero’s voice would be heard – at the United Nations, and around the world.
UN Human Rights Council, 12th Special SessionDebate on Goldstone Report – Geneva, October 16, 2009
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare

Colonel Richard Kemp:

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in
Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.
Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During
Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.
The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.
Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes.
There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President,
Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Originally posted by B'NAI ELIM (Sons of the Mighty)

The Cost of Marriage

The Cost of Marriage


"Abba, how much did it cost you to get married?"
"I don't know, but I am still paying!"
Marriage is a truly constant effort from both members of the couple.
In advertisements, a precious item is sold for a small amount and only in the fine print does it mention the hefty monthly payments.
The wedding itself is inexpensive: You are betrothed to me with this ring – and the ring only need to be worth a perutah (a minimal amount). The Ketubah, however, stipulates many obligations, both daily emotion and financial ones.
One has to exert effort day in and day out! Exertion of emotion, exertion of time, exertion of effort. This is especially true for men who sometimes have the tendency to feel like a tourist at home and do not take responsibility. Someone who thinks that marriage is only romance will be sorely disappointed.
There is great effort involved, but it is so pleasant.
Originally posted by Torat HaRav Aviner

Richard Silverstein: Courageous Coward?

Richard Silverstein: Courageous Coward?

I can't tell you much about Richard Silverstein. He's a figure of some prominence in the small corner of American Jewry which actively dislikes Israel as the Israelis understand it - though he might say he's against AIPAC, not Israel. He's probably in his late 50s, and I'm not clear if he's ever held a real job, with real responsibilites and the need to make decisions that are inevitably less optimal than you'd like; on the other hand, he's got three children, and raising children is a reality-based occupation. So who knows.

He runs a blog called Tikkun Olam; Make the World a Better Place. Yes, that Tikkun Olam. With a vengeance. As long-time readers will remember, from time to time I choose a blog from part of the spectrum I sorely disagree with, and follow it for a while to see if I can figure out what makes its author tick. I followed Juan Cole for quite a while; Glenn Greenwald swiftly turned boring and predictable, and Mondoweiss - well, they're so full of hatred there wasn't much of a handle on which to hang a rational reading. The good people at CiF Watch are doing a fine job so I don't need to, though I do follow the Guardian in general, not only CiF, as a long-term proposition.

At the moment I lack the time to adopt Mr. Silverstein and his blog, but maybe later.

I did however have an interesting introduction to him this week. I was sent to a post on his blog with a report on a large conference call some 150 progressive rabbis had with Richard Goldstone. Having read it, I left a comment, only to learn that Silverstein doesn't just let folks leave comments on his blog: you've got to earn it by hewing to the party line, apparently. That was yesterday; in the meantime he has published a comment that was submitted since I submitted mine, so he's clearly decided to block me.

Google being what it is, I can leave record of the blocked comment by writing this post on my blog, which contains all the words connected to the matter, so even if it's not at his blog, it is on the record. Again, here's Silverstein's post, and here's what I posted:

October 19, 2009 at 5:29 AM
I wonder how many of the 150 rabbis have actually read the report. The bias in it is so profound and counter-factual that I have my sincere doubts if Judge Goldstone himself read it carefully. Take, as a simple example, the statement in para 179: “The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by an Israeli extremist in 1995 dealt a lethal blow to the peace process.” There are indeed many people who believe this, but they’re all in a particular and easily identifiable camp of observers of the Israeli-Palestinian confllict; it is also easy to find numerous factual problems with the statement. In any case, the issue isn’t relevant to the mission of the fact finders; it was only inserted as part of a clumsy attempt to frame the Gaza operation in an a-priori anti-Israeli narrative.
Judge Goldstone signed on it. He owns it.

So that's done.

If you're into comedy, by the way, you might be tickled by this post Silverstein put up today, in which he bemoans the fact the CiF didn't publish enough of his columns, so he quit.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

NASA 'Wannabe Spy for Israel' to be Arraigned - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

NASA 'Wannabe Spy for Israel' to be Arraigned - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

A Cold War against a Nuclear Iran - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

A %u2018Cold War%u2019 against a Nuclear Iran - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Iran: Brits Nixed Loan of 'King Cyrus Cylinder' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Iran: Brits Nixed Loan of 'King Cyrus Cylinder' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

US Org. Hosts Cancer Meet, Israelis not Welcome - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

US Org. Hosts Cancer Meet, Israelis not Welcome - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Rabbi Makes Free-Throw Peace Effort at Madison Square Garden - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Rabbi Makes Free-Throw Peace Effort at Madison Square Garden - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Chabad Opens Revamped Multiple Sclerosis Center - Health - Israel News - Israel National News#replies

Chabad Opens Revamped Multiple Sclerosis Center - Health - Israel News - Israel National News#replies

Facing Tomorrow: President Peres' Int'l Conference - Politics & Government - Israel News - Israel National News

Facing Tomorrow: President Peres' Int'l Conference - Politics & Government - Israel News - Israel National News

RubinReports: Will the Big Story of 2010 Be a Terrorist Attack on the World Cup Games?

Will the Big Story of 2010 Be a Terrorist Attack on the World Cup Games?

(Please subscribe for free and don't miss a single article.)

By Barry Rubin

What will be 2010’s biggest story? Hopefully it won’t be a massive, bloody terror attack on the World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event, which will be held in South Africa, June 11 to July 11.

The problem is that South Africa has a poor security system, an inefficient government, and a dangerously wishful thinking attitude to the potential problems. Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups are organizing their qualifying rounds for the big match.

A recent paper published by the International Institute for Islamic Studies asks, “How prepared are our security services in the face of the terrorist threat posed? The answer has to be poorly.”

The reort lists several incidents of terrorists easily entering or operating in South Africa, pointing to the incompetence of the security agencies, their politicization, the fact that they have been used more against critical journalists than violent threats, and the lack of a dedicated inter-agency counter-terrorism unit.

Confidence is not strengthened by the announcement that the new chief of intelligence will be Mohammad (popularly known as “Mo”) Shaik, until recently head of the shady arms’ dealing company involved in the country’s biggest scandal when his brother was indicted for bribing South Africa’s president, his buddy Jacob Zuma, in a corrupt arms’ deal, then let out of prison after serving only two years of a fifteen year term due to supposed ill health. Mo testified on Zuma’s behalf at the trial.

Shaik was made head of the country’s Secret Service because, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele announced, he had handled intelligence for the African National Congress (ANC) during its underground struggle against the apartheid regime. This probably prepares him better to collect material on the current government’s factional or political rivals than radical Islamist terrorist groups. He had also been South Africa’s ambassador to Algeria and had worked in the Foreign Ministry.

Other high officials in the service have more background in questionable business enterprises than with counterterrorist efforts.

To give you a sense of Mr. Shaik’s career, he attended a 2006 ANC conference with, as his bodyguard, a leading underworld figure named Cyril Beeka, a former ANC military figure who was now reportedly one of the country’s leading drug dealers.

This is the man responsible for protecting the World Cup games. At the same time, the security threat is increasing. For example, the U.S. State Department recently closed offices in South Africa after American intelligence reportedly intercepted cell phone conversations from al-Qaida cells in Somalia planning attacks.

Viewing itself as being in revolutionary solidarity with such groups as Hamas and Hizballah, the ANC-led government has been friendly to a number of radical Islamist groups which have been heavily involved in terrorism.

In addition, sources within South Africa report the existence already of small, informal terrorist training camps at isolated farms being run with the knowledge of elements in the government. Of course, South Africa’s leaders don’t think that those trained in such places would carry out operations on their own soil, but they could be proven wrong.

The South African Muslim community organization has responded by denouncing such warnings with two arguments: proclaiming its own loyalty (which is irrelevant since a tiny number of individuals can stage a huge terror attack) and warning that Somali immigrants might be harassed since terrorists have reportedly been coming from that country. Obviously, innocent people should not be targeted but this is hardly an argument for refusing to confront the potential danger.

According to one source, there is some Israeli role in security arrangements and these are being prepared well.

But the point here is that it is better to make the most serious possible effort to ensure the safety of the games rather than to engage in wishful thinking and pay for it later.

There is a very serious danger that through incompetence, infiltration, or other factors, terrorists from al-Qaida or other groups will be heading for South Africa. It’s not because they are such big football fans.

The best way to ensure that a tragedy does not happen is to take the threat seriously and make thorough preparations based on international cooperation to avoid such an outcome.

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). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

Bibliography (Some items only available through subscription)

, http://www.armsdeal-vpo.co.za/articles00/shaikup.html,

: http://www.news24.com/Content/SouthAfrica/Politics/1057/bf2539efacc04d6696b024527431d9e1/04-10-2009-02-39/Shaik_has_a_tainted_record





Peter Fabricus, “2010 terror plot: 'SA not ready'” http://www.capetimes.co.za/?fSectionId=3531&fArticleId=vn20091012114847309C896372







Makhudu Sefara and Peter Fabricius “Plot to bomb US buildings, disrupt World Cup,” The Sunday Tribune, October 11, 2009

RubinReports: Will the Big Story of 2010 Be a Terrorist Attack on the World Cup Games?

Israel Matzav: The laws of war

The laws of war

This is from a YNet opinion piece which asks whether Winston Churchill was a war criminal.
Public norms and laws changed, and with the end of WWII, the international community rewrote the laws of war. In an attempt to protect civilians, the Geneva Conventions and subsequent protocols categorized people in conflict as combatants or non-combatants, with the latter designated as immune to attack. That categorization may have been fitting for WWII but it does not adequately address the realities of modern day asymmetric warfare, where terror groups such as Hamas and al-Qaeda intentionally target civilians and take cover behind other civilians.

The US suggests an additional category, ‘Unlawful Combatants’, whereby Qaeda and Hamas terrorists would fall under that category. Unfortunately, those who drafted the recent report concerning the battle in Gaza have yet to adopt that categorization and often confuse between non-combatant civilians and unlawful combatant terrorists. That is one of the reasons for the report’s absurd results.

Another terminological and moral reason for the distorted findings of the UN report is the misperceived premise held by Goldstone and his team that the lives of IDF combatants and Israeli citizens are of less value than the lives of Hamas collaborators or disinclined neighbors. In a not-so-speculative scenario where a residential building located in enemy controlled territory (i.e. Gaza) is occupied by scores of terrorists (i.e. Hamas) that target civilians (i.e. Sderot), the correct course of action in Goldstone’s book would be to either let Hamas continue its terrorist attacks or to put IDF combatants under unreasonable risk by sending them into the Hamas controlled compound in an effort to vet between heavily armed terrorist, their collaborators and their reluctant neighbors.

A different course of action would be to warn the coerced civilians of the imminent threat they are exposed to, and to target the armed terrorists from an advantaged military position, after giving the citizens ample time to evacuate the building. The IDF chose the reasonable and moral course of action.
I'm discussing this article because I want to stress something to all of you. The laws of war are definitely in need of revision to cope with an age that is characterized by asymmetrical conflicts between non-uniformed terrorists who hide among civilians and standing armies. But those of us who are taking down the Goldstone Report are not doing so on the basis that the law is wrong. We are doing so based on the Goldstone Commission having found 'facts' that are pure fantasy in a manner that was inherently biased against Israel. It's important to try to keep a distance between the two arguments.

Israel Matzav: The laws of war

Love of the Land: The Price of Engagement

The Price of Engagement

Jennifer Rubin
19 October 09

John Bolton observes that the UN Human Rights Council, in its latest spasm of Israel-bashing, has further damaged the so-called Middle East peace process. (It isn’t like things were going swimmingly, but leave it to the UN to make things worse.) He writes:

In the month since the report’s release, it has roiled the Middle East peace process. An Israeli spokesman said “it will make it impossible for us to take any risks for the sake of peace,” perhaps foreshadowing Israeli withdrawal from negotiations while the report remains under active U.N. consideration.

The HRC resolution endorsing the report’s recommendations repeatedly lacerated Israel, leading Mr. Goldstone himself to cringe, saying he was “saddened” the resolution contained “not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report.” A U.S. State Department spokesman conceded that the adopted text “went beyond even the scope of the Goldstone Report itself.”

But this is what one expects of the HRC – and why the Bush administration thought it best not to give credence to the body. But, as Bolton observes, it is not simply out of solidarity with the Jewish state that it would be a good idea to bug out. It is rather in our own self-interest to do so:

The Goldstone Report has important implications for America. In the U.N., Israel frequently serves as a surrogate target in lieu of the U.S., particularly concerning the use of military force pre-emptively or in self-defense. Accordingly, U.N. decisions on ostensibly Israel-specific issues can lay a predicate for subsequent action against, or efforts to constrain, the U.S. Mr. Goldstone’s recommendation to convoke the International Criminal Court is like putting a loaded pistol to Israel’s head—or, in the future, to America’s.

Bolton’s observation highlights a key problem with Obama’s push to put that “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. As we aim to ingratiate ourselves with Israel’s foes, we also do great damage to our own interests, which, despite the Obamis’ moral and geopolitical obtuseness, are closely aligned with Israel’s. The Goldstone report strikes at the heart of democratic societies’ ability to wage wars of self-defense against terrorists who would use woman and children as shields (and thereby maximize the body count of both for propaganda value). Wouldn’t this be a bad precedent to set for America, which is, after all, engaged in wars against those who employ the very same tactics? You’d think our rhetoric would be more robust in condemning the Goldstone report, and our toleration much less for the HRC’s anti-terror-fighting gambit.

Nevertheless, we can surmise that an administration that sees benefit in putting daylight between America and another democracy beset by Islamic terrorists isn’t likely to put daylight between America and the HRC. In fact, the rush to “engage” Israel’s foes as well as our own, to smother them with words of affection and apologies at all costs, makes itimpossible to disengage, even when their behavior is reprehensible, as is the case with the HRC.

By making “engagement” a central principle of American foreign policy, we hand the foes of democracy, human rights, and the West tremendous influence and immunity from retribution. They can engage in whenever outlandish behavior they see fit to without fear of detrimental consequences. After all, we’ve already told them we’re going to engage with them no matter what. Doesn’t seem like very smart diplomacy, does it?

Love of the Land: The Price of Engagement

HUEY DEWEY and LOUIE, Junior Woodchucks


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