Sunday, 1 November 2009

Israel Matzav: Stay classy Hillary

Stay classy Hillary

Somehow I missed this Hillary Clinton comment to Pakistani journalists when she landed there on Saturday (Hat Tip: Power Line).

I think that, look, we all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that is a very serious and difficult problem that we are working hard also to try to resolve. We inherited a lot of problems. If you remember, when my husband left office, we were very close to an agreement because he worked on it all the time. The next administration did not make it a priority and did not really do much until toward the end. And unfortunately, we are trying to make up for some lost time, in my opinion.

At the link above, Paul Mirengoff shows why Clinton's claim is factually incorrect.

But frankly, the Obama administration's "Blame Bush" strategy is tired and lame. The current impasse has nothing to do with Bush and everything to do with Obama and Clinton providing Abu Mazen with a ladder to climb a tall tree (an absolute 'settlement freeze' including 'east Jerusalem') and then pulling that ladder away when Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to follow him.

Stay classy Hillary

Israel Matzav: Stay classy Hillary

Love of the Land: National Geographic vs. the Syrian regime

National Geographic vs. the Syrian regime

Hussain Abdul-Hussain
31 October 09

Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sheikh Naim Qassem delivers a speech 16 November 2003 in front of a giant painting of late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad (AFP/Anwar Amro)

In its November issue, National Geographic magazine ran a feature story on Syria, calling it the “shadowland” and challenging suggestions that the ruling regime can ever raise the country out of its dark past.

The portrait of Syria, past and present, sketched by the author, Don Belt, is indeed dark. Belt describes a nation stifled by a succession of autocrats who have prevented political, economic and social growth. The late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad was involved in a massacre in Hama, the article notes, while his son and successor, Bashar, is suspected of complicity in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Bashar, like his father, remains feared inside Syria for his regime’s notorious intelligence network that has kept the Assad family in power for decades.

Given this context, it is not surprising that the author of the article makes the Godfather analogy, with Bashar Assad filling the role of Michael Corleone, the son of Don, who rises to leadership of “the family” upon the unexpected death of his hothead brother Sonny, which in Bashar’s case would be his late brother Basil.

Whatever the merits of the 3,900-word National Geographic piece, it managed to provoke a 4,250-word rebuttal from the Syrian Ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha.

In the typical manner of the Syrian regime, Moustapha tried first to undermine the credibility of the writer by linking him to former President George Bush, the neocons and Israel. “Reminiscent of the neoconservative literature that was prevalent during President Bush’s era,” Moustapha’s writes in his letter, which goes on to deploy the neoconservative label some seven times, four of which with the word Israeli thrown in for good measure.

Along with hurling unsubstantiated accusations, Moustapha threatens the writer and the magazine, a step also typical of the Syrian regime. “I believe that many other countries in our region will reconsider their working relationship with your organization when they are made aware of this incident,” Moustapha writes, imagining an Arab boycott of the National Geographic in solidarity with the Syrian autocracy.

But Moustapha’s letter doesn’t just attack and intimidate, it also seeks to do the impossible: prove the popular legitimacy of President Assad. As one might suspect, the very attempt ends up undermining his argument.

“[T]he University of Maryland, along with the Zogby International Polling, conducted an opinion poll in six Arab countries earlier this year (all US allies), Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, and the UAE, which showed that President Assad was the most popular figure amongst Arab leaders,” Moustapha writes.

The fact that the evidence of popular legitimacy Moustapha chooses to cite comes from a US pollster — one whose methodology is questionable due to its small sample sizes, and which at any rate suggests at most Assad’s popularity in several Arab countries, but not the one he rules — rather than Syria’s own joke elections in 2000 and 2007 says much about Assad’s true legitimacy.

Having thus accused Belt of being part of a neo-conservative-Israeli conspiracy, warned that displeasing the Syrian regime has negative consequences around the region for the writer and his magazine, and “proved” that Assad is a popular pan-Arab hero, Moustapha now expresses surprise at how any one so fortunate to meet Assad could write such an unfavorable piece.

But how could an unknown journalist, in Moustapha’s words, meet Assad?

Bringing western journalists and academics to Damascus to meet with Assad has become a staple of the regime’s propaganda. Syrian ambassadors, like Moustapha, often meet these “opinion shapers” in person, and generously wave the visa fee while offering all manner of help for the scheduled trip – including a possible meeting with Assad.

Most of these Westerners end up meeting Assad’s wife, who clearly impresses visitors with her cordial manners and Western education. The effect is that many such visitors later become Assad’s defenders.

The New Yorker’s Seymor Hersh was granted such close access that he later reported that he was next to Assad when news broke that Hariri had been murdered. Eric Follath, the author of Der Spiegel’s controversial piece on alleging that Hezbollah was involved in the Hariri assassination, meanwhile, publicly boasted about his ties to Assad. For Academic David Lesch, his meetings with Assad led to his book, The Lion of Damascus. Rob Malley, of the International Crisis Group, often mentions this or that meeting with the Syrian president.

Almost all of Assad’s visitors have become his admirers. But Belt, surprisingly to Moustapha, broke the rule.

Moustapha’s original expectations of Belt could be easily gleaned from the rebuttal: “He should have discussed the mosques and churches… He should have described the over 120 boutique restaurants… he would note that Syria is actually ‘cozying up’ to Turkey… He [did] not interview someone from, say the Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Association.”

When Moustapha received Belt in his office in Washington to give him a visa, he probably “suggested” people to be interviewed, all of whom are the regime’s protégés, in addition to Assad himself. Even though Belt was unknown to Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador probably reasoned that Damascus can always benefit from a pre-planned piece in the National Geographic, at the time the Syrian regime is fighting nail and tooth to win some of the US administration’s attention.

When Belt’s article described Syria and its dictatorship more accurately than Moustapha had expected, the Syrian ambassador received a stern scolding from Damascus and had to rectify the situation by writing a rebuttal that was more incriminating to the Syrian regime than vindicating.

And for all those who could not finish the seemingly endless Moustapha response, rest assured that the Syrian ambassador never refuted Belt’s accusations that the Syrian dictatorship had further tightened its grip by censoring Facebook, YouTube and a dozen other websites. Nor did Moustapha deign to answer the questions about the fate of the activists of the Damascus Spring.

After all, there are limits to how much tyranny an eloquent and intellectual Syrian ambassador can cover in one written document.

Love of the Land: National Geographic vs. the Syrian regime

Honor Killings All Over America;Why Are the Islamists Suddenly Silent?

Honor Killings All Over America;Why Are the Islamists Suddenly Silent?

Rabbi Meir Memorial Event in Toronto, Canada

Rabbi Meir Memorial Event in Toronto, Canada

Rabbi Meir KahaneZ”L

19th Yahrzeit Memorial

“Kahane Was Right, Israel Must Be A Jewish State!”

Thursday, Nov 5th 2009

Zionist Centre - 788 Marlee Ave - Lawrence & Allen

8:00 pm - 10:30 pm

A video of Rabbi Meir Kahane will be shown.

Meir Weinstein, National Director of JDL Canada, will speak on currents threats and will outline an action plan against Canadian Imams whose weekly supremist sermons of hate end in an Arabic saying “"Oh Allah, give victory to Muslims and Islam...Oh Allah, give defeat to the Kufaar and Mushriqeen,"

There will be other speakers - Live Satellite feed with Israel, conversation with Shmuel Sackett, assistant to Moshe Feiglin

Refreshments, Sushi and Snacks will be available

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

Love of the Land: 'Roz Al-Yousuf' Special Supplement: Normalization with Israel – For and Against

'Roz Al-Yousuf' Special Supplement: Normalization with Israel – For and Against

Special Dispatch - No. 2624
30 October 09

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Camp David Peace Accords, the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousuf published a special supplement on the political, economic, and cultural aspects of normalization with Israel.

Following is an overview of the articles and interviews in the supplement: [1]
Normalization - Crime or Complex?

The editorial in the supplement states: "Although much water has flowed under the bridge of Egyptian-Israeli relations since the signing of the Camp David Accords, we still haven't developed a clear position on normalization [with Israel]. This issue has been manipulated for political purposes to such an extent that it has lost its meaning and possibly its value, so that we can no longer tell whether normalization with Israel is a crime or a complex…

"Is rejecting normalization still a useful weapon, which should be used… to cause Israel to make genuine concessions, or is it a weapon that has lost all its effectiveness?...

"Taken literally, normalization does exist; it is embodied in the [Camp David] Peace Accords, in the QIZ agreement, [2] in the export of [natural] gas to Israel, and in dozens of Egyptians who maintain ties with Israel or even are married to Israelis. However, as far as the public and the ideological [climate] are concerned, the Egyptian people has not overcome the psychological barrier of establishing relations with a country that still occupies some Arab land, and still sees Israel as an enemy in [the Arabs'] midst…"

Yes to Peace, No to Normalization

Roz Al-Yousuf editor Karam Gaber states that the publication of the supplement was motivated by several recent events pertinent to the Egyptian-Israeli relations, including the controversy over translating books by Israeli authors into Arabic, [3] the commotion over letting Jewish conductor Daniel Barenboim perform in the Cairo Opera House, a ruling by Egypt's Administrative Court to revoke the Egyptian citizenship of Egyptians married to Israeli women, [4] and others - issues that had sparked dispute between two opposing camps in Egyptian society.

Gaber writes: "While most Egyptians want peace and aren't seeking a substitute for it, they nevertheless oppose normalization… However, the Arab countries are proposing to Israel a peace initiative that includes normalization. Such a peace, as well as full normalization, seems farfetched, but that does not obviate the need for the Egyptian public, and for the Arab people in general, to consolidate a position on this issue.

"It has been 32 years since [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, and 30 years since the signing of the [Camp David] Peace Accords - yet the issue [of normalization] is still up in the air… Discussing the matter is imperative, but opening a door for such a discussion is not tantamount to calling for normalization. This is a call to extricating [ourselves] from the schizophrenic state in which [Egyptian] society has wallowed these past three decades."

A New Debate on 'Ali Salem's Visit to Jerusalem

A substantial part of the supplement is devoted to Egyptian intellectual, journalist, writer, and playwright 'Ali Salem, referred to as "the most famous among those singed by the flames of normalization." [5] In an interview, Salem speaks again of his trip to Israel 15 years ago, of his support for normalization and peace with Israel, and of the heavy price he has paid for his views. Salem - who is still boycotted by the Egyptian media and theaters - says that he has no regrets, since "there should be no regrets for a good deed."

The supplement reassesses Salem's case, with prominent Egyptian intellectuals commenting on normalization and debating whether 'Ali Salem had become a scapegoat or was ostracized for good reason. Egyptian philosopher and researcher Dr. Yousuf Zeidan, director of the Centre for Arabic Manuscripts at the Alexandria library, states that the reaction to Salem's visit to Israel was overly extreme and aggressive. He reports that Salem was not given a chance to defend his position at the meeting that preceded his expulsion from the Egyptian Writers Association. While calling Salem's excursion "an unjustifiable escapade," Zeidan says that the Egyptian intellectuals' reaction to it was irrational, and they should have found a better solution than to expel him from the writers' association.

Egyptian author Muhammad 'Abd Al-Mun'im contends that the main losers in this episode were Salem's detractors, who revealed their true faces by rejecting freedom and democracy. It is inconceivable, he says, that professional associations should impose their will on their members and deprive them of freedom. Al-Mun'im argues that it is wrong for such associations to reject a peace agreement that has been endorsed by the Egyptian People's Council and the entire nation. "Do they live in some other country?" he asks.

Egyptian Writers Association director Muhammad Salmawy refuses to comment specifically on 'Ali Salem, but says: "The Writers Association's position on normalization is clear and steadfast, and we have already made decisions in this regard, [to the effect that] serious steps will be taken against [any] member who maintains ties [with Israel in the framework of] normalization."

Prominent Egyptian author Youssef Al-Qaid states that he "adamantly rejects normalization, since Israeli society is not a normal society; it is nothing but a gang."

For the Egyptian Peasant, Israel is the Root of All Evil

The renowned Egyptian poet 'Abed Al-Rahman Al-Abnodi, who writes for the government daily Al-Akhbar, states that the attitude of the Egyptian fellah (peasant) towards Israel shows that normalization is impossible. He states that in the Egyptian peasantry's collective consciousness Israel is justifiably associated with evil and destruction, while the Arabs in general perceive it as a country imposed on them by force, and therefore consider any relations with it illegitimate.

The Egyptian fellah, Al-Abnodi explains, blames Israel for the rising prices of fertilizer and for the substandard pesticides that have damaged his land and crops. In fact, the peasants attribute all of Egypt's troubles to Israel's ongoing war against Egypt, even though Egypt has declared that the 1973 war was its last with Israel.

In his characteristic lyrical language, Al-Abnodi adds: "The illiterate fellah, who knows only his hoe, his bent back, and his cup of tea, is well aware that Israel has found its way into Egypt's arteries and is [poisoning its blood]… The Egyptians have witnessed the inhumanity with which [Israel] destroyed Gaza and thereby weakened us Egyptians. Anyone who weakens part of the Muslim nation also weakens Egypt, and its government's position vis-à-vis Israel makes no difference at all. I do not like the peace dove, and I do not like it when Egypt takes on the role [of peace dove]…"

Egyptians Marrying Israeli Women - A Demographic Advantage for the Arabs

Egyptian journalist Iqbal Baraka argues that marriages between Egyptian men and Israeli women actually benefit the Arabs, since they boost the Arab population of Israel. She condemns the Egyptian Administrative Court decision to revoke the citizenship of these Egyptian men, calling it tantamount to an ideological death sentence and more extreme and severe than physical execution. She also wonders why there should be legal measures against young people who work in or marry citizens of a country in which Egypt has an embassy and an ambassador.
(Full Article)

Love of the Land: 'Roz Al-Yousuf' Special Supplement: Normalization with Israel – For and Against

Love of the Land: Amnesty Water Report Falsehood #2

Amnesty Water Report Falsehood #2

1 November 09

My colleague Alex Safian has published an in-depth backgrounder refuting Amnesty International's broader claims of discriminatory Israeli water policies.

Meanwhile, Snapshots will continue to refute more detailed specific claims in the Amnesty Report ("Troubled Waters -- Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water").

Falsehood #1 is here.

We find Falsehood #2 on page 4 of the Amnesty report:

The 450,000 Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

This statement is absurd for so many reasons.

1) There are some 280,000 Israelis -- not 450,000 as Amnesty states -- living across the Green Line, called either the West Bank or by the biblical terms Judea and Samaria. (Here, we are citing numbers from the anti-settlement group Peace Now, which if anything would exaggerate, not understate, the number of settlers.)

As Amnesty itself states on page 7 of the very same report: "Currently more than 450,000 Israeli settlers live in the OPT, about half of them in East Jerusalem." In other words, Amnesty cannot be relied upon to even accurately state the number of Jews residing in the West Bank, let alone complex data concerning water usages among the populations.

2) Is it true that 280,000 Israelis living in the West Bank consume more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians residing there? According to page 3 of the Amnesty report,

Palestinian consumption in the OPT is about 70 liters a day per person -- well below the 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) -- whereas Israeli daily per consumption, about 300 liters, is about four times as much.

For argument's sake, let's accept Amnesty's numbers for Israeli and Palestinian consumption. On the Palestinian side, 2.3 million people multiplied by 70 liters is 161 million liters a day. On the Israeli side, 280,000 people multiplied by 300 liters totals totals 84 million liters a day. So, which is larger? You got it, even according to Amnesty's own numbers, Israelis in the West Bank use half the amount of water that the Palestinian population uses -- not more.

3) There is evidence that Amnesty knowingly manipulated its statistics. The footnote on the page 4 falsehood, regarding the 450,000 Israeli settlers and 2.3 million Palestinians allegedly living in the West Bank, states:

This figure excludes the more than 200,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem; though part of the OPT, East Jerusalem has been annexed by Israel.

Thus, while Amnesty was careful to make a distinction between Jerusalem and West Bank Palestinians, it lumped together Jerusalem and West Bank Israelis and passed them all off as West Bank residents.

Love of the Land: Amnesty Water Report Falsehood #2

Love of the Land: Playing With Matches On the Temple Mount

Playing With Matches On the Temple Mount

Honest Reporting/Backspin
1 November 09

The Palestinians and the MSM like to describe the Temple Mount as a tinderbox and Israeli actions could spark a new intifada or regional conflict. Two weekend Israeli media reports knock holes in that conventional wisdom.

First there's Haaretz, which reports that Fatah has been helping organize the latest violence at the Jerusalem holy site:

As is the case with his fellow Fatah activists, it's doubtful that [Hatem] Abdel Qader really wants the escalation on the mount to spark a conflagration throughout the territories. Their main intention seems to be to make their presence felt, to let off steam and then to return to routine in the compound. But the political environment, and especially the media, pushes them to make very aggressive statements against Israel, including accusations of attempts to damage the Al-Aqsa Mosque, even though nothing has changed on the ground at the Temple Mount in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports that Waqf officials who oversee the Temple Mount are quietly pleased that Israel finally clamped down on Qader and Sheikh Raed Salah. As Vered Levine argued two years ago, Salah's another troublemaker whose media fame is disproportionate to the constituency he actually represents.

So if another "the second Al-Aqsa intifada" breaks out, just remember the Palestinians and the big media were playing with the matches beforehand.

Love of the Land: Playing With Matches On the Temple Mount

Love of the Land: Abbas’s War Strategy

Abbas’s War Strategy

Evelyn Gordon
01 November 09

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday that he is urging his government not to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority until the PA withdraws its international legal complaints over alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The real question is why Lieberman is having trouble convincing his cabinet colleagues of this position.

These complaints have only one purpose: to hamstring Israel’s ability to defend itself against Palestinian terror by making it fear that any defensive military operation will land its political and military leadership in the dock. After all, as Col. Richard Kemp courageously told the UN Human Rights Commission last month, the Israel Defense Forces “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare” during its operation in Gaza this past January. And Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan who also served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Iraq, is certainly in a position to make comparisons. Hence, if Israel’s actions in Gaza are deemed war crimes, there is no military action it could take against Palestinian terrorists that wouldn’t be. Avoiding civilian casualties entirely is not possible when terrorists operate, as the Palestinians do, from the heart of a civilian population.

Yet even as he seeks to abolish Israel’s right to self-defense, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also giving his imprimatur to terror attacks on Israel: last month, he accepted a proposed reconciliation agreement with Hamas that not only did not require Hamas to halt anti-Israel terror but explicitly obligated the PA security services to “respect the Palestinian people’s right to resist.” Since “resistance” is the well-known Palestinian code word for anti-Israel terror, that translates as requiring PA forces “to respect the Palestinian people’s right to perpetrate anti-Israel terror” — or. in other words, not to interfere when they do so. (Hamas, incidentally, has not yet signed the document; it is still holding out for more concessions.)

How exactly does Israel talk peace with someone who seeks to cripple Israel’s ability to defend itself even as he endorses anti-Israel terror? That isn’t an act of peace; it’s an act of war. And while Abbas may have had little political choice about jumping on the Goldstone Report bandwagon, he can hardly plead that Goldstone forced his hand: the PA filed its own war-crimes complaint against Israel in the International Criminal Court in January — nine months before the Goldstone Report came out. It even signed a special cooperation agreement with the court to get around prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo’s initial objection that he lacked jurisdiction, since Israel is not a member of the court, and the PA, not being a sovereign state, cannot be.

In short, this looks remarkably like a deliberately strategy for war on Israel. And Israel should be calling Abbas on it rather than keeping up the pretense that he is a “partner for peace” with whom it is eager to negotiate.

Love of the Land: Abbas’s War Strategy

Love of the Land: We Defeat Ourselves - JTA Blows the Call

We Defeat Ourselves - JTA Blows the Call

Paula Stern
This is Israel
1 November 09

Last week, after more than a decade in court with appeals and counter appeals, an Israeli court finally ruled that an old man who had proven that he owned some property, had the right to evict Arabs who had squatted on his property, denying him access and failing to pay rent.

Finally, the man was clear to reclaim what the courts carefully had determined was his. The man went with several others to hand out eviction notices. The Arabs seemed to have been expecting them and began pelting them with rocks. In an attempt to defend themselves after two had been hit by rocks (one in the head and one in the chest), one 63-year-old man pulled out a gun and shot in the air.

As is often the case when an Israeli fires into the air, several Arabs complained to the police that they had been injured. One man insisted he had been shot in the hand and showed the police a scratch. Had the man been hit, explained the Israeli who shot in the air, the man would have lost his hand because of the nature of the bullets he had in his gun.

No, there were no injuries among the Arabs and the police quickly released the Jews that had been taken into custody based on Arab charges and complaints.

What is amazing, however, is how Israeli media covered the news report. I have heard the story directly from someone who was there, one of seven, the wife of the man who fired into the air. She explained to me that it was only when the Arabs started advancing towards her and throwing rocks at her, that her husband raised his gun.

This is Israel - we must defend ourselves. This is, as the man later told the police, our country and if someone throws stones at you when you have broken no law (unlike the people illegally living in the old man's house), you have the right to self-defense.

Yes, this is Israel, but sadly, so is the other side. I have doubts whether anyone from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) spoke to any of the Jews involved in the incident - it certainly doesn't seem so from the ridiculous headlines they used:
"Jews arrested in brawl over home ownership."

A brawl? Doesn't that give the hint of guilt on both sides? Jews with the backing of the Israeli courts went to issue eviction notices to illegal residents and were attacked with stones. This is a brawl? One wonders whether it is perhaps time to buy JTA a dictionary.

The absurd title is only one inaccuracy. Of course, no one was injured among the Arabs; no one was shot in the hand or elsewhere. According to the witness I spoke to, the police watched the video she had taken and quickly agreed that the claims were false and that there was no way any Arabs were shot by this man's bullets.

Also, telling, however, is the file name (URL address) of the JTA article. While they decided to be a bit more diplomatic in the headlines, the assumption of guilt was there in the file name: ""
Related: Jerusalem: Arabs Stone Jews Serving Eviction Papers

Love of the Land: We Defeat Ourselves - JTA Blows the Call

Love of the Land: Test case for European anti-Semitism as top Norwegian university prepares to vote on becoming first in Europe to boycott Israel

Test case for European anti-Semitism as top Norwegian university prepares to vote on becoming first in Europe to boycott Israel

Robin Shepherd
Robin Shepherd Online
1 November 09

(I will continue to update this posting as new information becomes available)

Norway’s University of Trondheim could become the first European university to adopt a formal academic boycott of Israel if a vote by the university’s board on November 12 goes through. The situation is particularly worrying because the rector of the university, Torbjorn Digernes, is (according to some reports) behind the campaign for a boycott himself or at least has been giving a nod of approval to those that are.*

The university, better known as NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), is Norway’s second largest university.

The vote is emerging as a test case of how anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist bigotry is being confronted by anti-racism groups and their sympathisers in Europe. If the boycott proposal is accepted it could set a precedent all across the continent and reignite the academic boycott campaign in Britain in particular.

Dr. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote last week to Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg saying:

“The virus of antisemitism in Norway’s media, unions, NGOs and even government circles is now infecting academia. NTNU has deformed free and open scholarly discourse based upon mutual respect into a campaign of hate propaganda, led by masters of disinformation who exploit their academic credentials to call for a boycott of their colleagues who happen to be Israeli.”

The Wiesenthal Center’s website elaborated on the details of the letter adding:

“Samuels pointed to Norway’s ‘obligations, as a State Party to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to combat all forms of antisemitism under the Berlin Declaration of 2004 – a document which includes the singling out of Israel as a contributing factor to the scourge of Jew-hatred.’”

If the move goes through it is crucial that swift action is taken against the university. In the rest of Europe and also in the United States, students, academics, faculties, funders, university boards and research institutes should be lobbied to ensure that Trondheim itself becomes the subject of a crippling boycott.

* NB: The exact position of the rector of the university is difficult to work out. A reader of this site has informed me that he was quoted in a Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, on October 4 as saying that dialogue rather than boycotts are the way to go. On the other hand he has openly supported a recent seminar series involving extreme opponents of Israel who are themselves supporting the boycott campaign. The seminar series at the university provides the immediate backdrop for the boycott campaign. It is up to the rector to clarify his position.

Since details of the case are scant in the English speaking media I would like to ask readers of this website to send me further information. I am aware that there are readers in Norway itself, and any further details that they could provide would be particularly welcome. Either leave comments below or contact me by email.

To read the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s take on the matter, click here:

Love of the Land: Test case for European anti-Semitism as top Norwegian university prepares to vote on becoming first in Europe to boycott Israel

Israel Matzav: Israel's national day of hatred

Israel's national day of hatred

I urge all of you to read this article in full - especially those of you who live overseas. The writer eloquently makes the connection between the way in which Yitzchak Rabin is memorialized and so much of what is wrong about Israeli government policy regarding the 'Palestinians.'

Politically motivated hatred has practical political consequences. The hatred which finds its expression on Rabin's memorial day had such consequences four years ago, during disengagement, which violated the fundamental rights of hapless Israeli citizens and traduced Israel's civil compact.

It matters little what "security" arguments were deployed by those who legitimated this policy, or that the arguments turned out - indeed were known at the time - to be baseless. At root, the policy was motivated by causeless hatred, as some of its advocates have since acknowledged. The victims of disengagement are the objects of sympathy today, but not yet, as they should be, of repentance.

It has become habitual for those who have appropriated Rabin's memorial day to blame the spiritual ills of Israeli society on "the occupation." That is too easy and facile an explanation. Surely these people are inured against that particular source of spiritual contamination. Those who tolerate or encourage an element of totalitarian culture in the celebration of Rabin's memorial day ought to make the day an occasion for what they are ever eager to urge upon others - heshbon nefesh, taking a critical, reflective retrospective of one's soul.

Read it all. The picture is a Gush Katif greenhouse before the expulsion.

Israel Matzav: Israel's national day of hatred

Israel Matzav: Tram to connect Jewish Quarter to Western Wall

Tram to connect Jewish Quarter to Western Wall

A tram - maybe like the one at left - may soon connect the Old City of Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter with the Western Wall Plaza.

The tram, which is to be named for Baruch Klein, a resident of the Quarter who is financing the project, will descend from Tiferet Yisrael Street, and then enter a 56-meter long tunnel, where riders will exit.

The project is being directed by the Jewish Quarter Preservation and Development Company.

Company director Nissim Arazi told Israel National News that the tram could be extended to reach the Herodian Quarter (the Wohl Archaeological Museum) - an area with many well-preserved buildings from the Second Temple era that is impossible for individuals with physical limitations to reach.

"Some 10 million visitors come to the Old City each year," Arazi said. "The Jewish Quarter has been partially outfitted to enable disable people to reach important sites, but because of worries about preserving the site archaeologically, we were unable to build a connection between the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel Plaza. The tram will enable limited mobility individuals, such as the elderly or families with small children, to easily move back and forth between the two areas."

"This has long been a dream of Mr. Klein's and of the municipality, and it is only due to technological advancement that the project can now become a reality," Arazi added.

I'd want to see a picture, but my first reaction is that it sounds like an out-of-place eyesore. That horrible wooden ramp to the Temple Mount is bad enough!

Israel Matzav: Tram to connect Jewish Quarter to Western Wall

The Torah Revolution: Where? In the "West Bank"?

Where? In the "West Bank"?

B"H -

Beitar Illit is not in the "West Bank" in as much as there is no "West Bank" today. You can say that Beitar Illit is in Judea or, in Gush Ezion. The "West Bank" is a name given to Judea and to Samaria by the occupying Jordanian forces in '48 to symbolize the de-Judaization of the area. It seized to exist with their defeat in '67. If you want to call Judea and Samaria "West Bank", you should call Jerusalem "Al Quds" too. It is the exact same Arab imperialist nonsense.

- This is a censored talkback on "Relatives: Teitel wouldn't destroy his family's life"

The Torah Revolution: Where? In the "West Bank"?

Evil Isn't Banal

Evil Isn't Banal

Ron Rosenbaum (author of, among others, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil), has read some interesting research efforts about Hannah Arendt and her relationship to Heidegger, on the one hand, and the Jews, on the other. Rosenbaum is always worth your time, and this review isn't even particularly long, so I recommend it in its' entirety. My paraphrasing: Arendt preferred Heidigger the Nazi over her fellow Jews, and this warped her understanding of the world. Since she's one of the most influential intellectual figures of the 20th century, and remains important to this very day, this is no small problem.

Wasserstein believes she internalized anti-Semitic literature; I would perhaps modify this to say she internalized the purported universalism of Germanic high culture with its disdain for parochialism. A parochialism she identified with, in her own case, her Jewishness, something she felt ashamed of on intellectual grounds, so primitive, this tribal allegiance in the presence of intellects who supposedly transcended tribalism (or at least all tribes except the Teutonic). One can still hear this Arendtian shame about ethnicity these days. So parochial! One can hear the echo of Arendt's fear of being judged as "merely Jewish" in some, not all, of those Jews so eager to dissociate themselves from the parochial concerns of other Jews for Israel. The desire for universalist approval makes them so disdainful of any "ethnic" fellow feeling. After all, to such unfettered spirits, it's so banal.

Apropos her Banality of Evil thesis, allow me a wee bit of preening. Back in the mid-1980s, after I had read her Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Penguin Classics) three or four times and was utterly convinced of its profound truth, I set out to bolster her arguments with a close look at all the documentation Eichmann and his colleagues left. To my great surprise, it turned out the documents resoundingly disproved her thesis, and this eventually formed the conceptual framework for my first book, Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police And The Banality Of Evil (Continuum Guide in the Third Reich). I have no idea if Rosenbaum ever read my book or not, but he summarizes the matter well:

To my mind, the use of the phrase banality of evil is an almost infallible sign of shallow thinkers attempting to seem intellectually sophisticated. Come on, people: It's a bankrupt phrase, a subprime phrase, a Dr. Phil-level phrase masquerading as a profound contrarianism. Oooh, so daring! Evil comes not only in the form of mustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash types, but in the form of paper pushers who followed evil orders. And when applied—as she originally did to Adolf Eichmann, Hitler's eager executioner, responsible for the logistics of the Final Solution—the phrase was utterly fraudulent.

Adolf Eichmann was, of course, in no way a banal bureaucrat: He just portrayed himself as one while on trial for his life. Eichmann was a vicious and loathsome Jew-hater and -hunter who, among other things, personally intervened after the war was effectively lost, to insist on and ensure the mass murder of the last intact Jewish group in Europe, those of Hungary. So the phrase was wrong in its origin, as applied to Eichmann, and wrong in almost all subsequent cases when applied generally. Wrong and self-contradictory, linguistically, philosophically, and metaphorically. Either one knows what one is doing is evil or one does not. If one knows and does it anyway, one is evil, not some special subcategory of evil. If one doesn't know, one is ignorant, and not evil. But genuine ignorance is rare when evil is going on.


(h/t Goldblog)
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Israel's PATRIOT act

Israel's PATRIOT act

Likud MK Danny Danon has proposed a law that is very similar to the PATRIOT act passed after 9/11 in the United States. Under the law, the Israeli government could confiscate terrorists' assets. Given the unfortunate propensity of successive Israeli governments to release terrorists from prison without making them first serve their full sentences, the seizure of assets could constitute an irrevocable punishment for the terrorists.

The Knesset Law Committee on Sunday authorized a bill proposed by MK Danny Danon that would authorize the government to seize the property of terrorists. The seizure of the property would be an additional punishment for terrorists, whom Danon said are too often freed after only a short time in prison "as an Israeli confidence-building 'gesture,' or for other reasons," he wrote in an addendum to the bill. Danon said that the bill would be more effective than destroying terrorists' houses, which are often quickly rebuilt with help from international organizations.

The bill is similar to the Patriot Act in the United States, passed in 2001, which authorizes the US government to seize assets of terrorists. The bill would authorize the state to confiscate terrorist property not only within Israel proper, but in "security" or "administered" areas, such as at the security fence or in Judea and Samaria. "Let us hope that the desire of the 'martyr' to hold on to his home and property is sufficient to persuade them not to take part in terror attacks," Danon said.

Good luck with that. It's a nice idea but I doubt it is going to be much of a deterrent to the jihadi 'Palestinians' even if the property is distributed among the terrorist's victims (which would seem reasonable).

Israel Matzav: Israel's PATRIOT act

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' to file lawsuits against Israel

'Palestinians' to file lawsuits against Israel

Under international law, a sovereign may not be sued without its consent. In the United States, for example, what allows Americans to sue the United States government in limited circumstances is something called the Federal Torts Claims Act. Here in Israel, our Leftist Supreme Court has ruled in the past that the government is vulnerable to lawsuits by 'Palestinians' who are injured in counter-terrorism activity. However, in Israel the Knesset is supreme to the other branches of government and the Knesset has limited and may further limit 'Palestinians' abilities to sue the government of Israel for damages sustained in counter-terrorism activities. Additionally, we have no rule here - as there is in the United States - against ex-post facto laws (i.e. laws that apply retroactively). With those points in mind, we examine the question of 'Palestinian' lawsuits against Israel arising out of Operation Cast Lead.

The Israeli defence ministry’s prosecution department has received about 1,500 notices of future civil lawsuits against the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) over damage caused to Palestinians and their property, and loss of earning capacity during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s codename for its three-week attack on the coastal territory.

Israel is expected counter-argue that it was fighting on foreign territory and so it bears no legal responsibility for the aftermath of its intensive bombing campaign.

However, under international law Gaza is still considered occupied by Israel as the Israeli authorities continue to control the territory’s borders, airspace, coastline, population registration, and electricity and water supplies.

The IDF has also established wide buffer zones within Gaza’s borders and forbidden Palestinian farmers from approaching their agricultural lands situated within the buffer areas. A number of Palestinians have been shot dead or wounded for entering the zones.

Furthermore, the Israeli navy prevents Palestinian fishermen from pursuing their livelihoods along Gaza’s coastline by limiting fishing to a three nautical- mile zone out to sea. Several fishermen have been killed, many more wounded, and dozens of boats have been shot at or destroyed for going beyond the zone.

The claim that Israel controls Gaza is actually incorrect under international law (Hat Tip: Daled Amos).

There is no legal basis for maintaining that Gaza is occupied territory. The Fourth Geneva Convention refers to territory as occupied where the territory is of another “High Contracting Party” (i.e., a state party to the convention) and the occupier “exercises the functions of government” in the occupied territory. Yet, the Gaza Strip is not territory of another state party to the convention – Egypt, which previously controlled Gaza, is a party to the convention, but Gaza was never Egyptian territory. And Israel does not exercise the functions of government – or, indeed, any significant functions - in the territory. It is clear to all that the elected Hamas government is the de facto sovereign of the Gaza Strip and does not take direction from Israel, or any other state.

Military superiority over a neighbor does not itself constitute occupation. If it did, the U.S. would have to be considered the occupier of Mexico and Canada, Egypt the occupier of Libya, Iran the occupier of Afghanistan, and Russia the occupier of Latvia.

If Israel were indeed properly considered an occupier, under Article 43 of the regulations attached to the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, Israel would be required to take “all the measures in [its] power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety.” Thus, those who contend that Israel is in legal occupation of Gaza must also support and even demand Israeli military operations in order to disarm Palestinian terror groups and militias.

Will that be the end of those claims? In some cases, in Israeli courts, yes. But others may get through. For those cases, the Knesset is working on legislation that will limit the government's exposure.

Of course, several European countries have also threatened to arrest IDF officers who enter those countries. Israel has no control over those arrests, and has advised many IDF officers not to travel.

Finally, the damage that the Goldstone Report has inflicted on Israel cannot be measured in dollars alone.

Read the whole thing.

The picture at the top of this post is Anas Naim. Hamas listed him as a 'civilian' casualty.

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' to file lawsuits against Israel

Israel Matzav: Ex-Egyptian Chief of Staff: 'There will definitely be more Arab - Israeli wars'

Israel Matzav: Ex-Egyptian Chief of Staff: 'There will definitely be more Arab - Israeli wars'

Israel Matzav: Judge Richard Richard Goldstone

Judge Richard Richard Goldstone

In London's Spectator, Douglas Davis examines
Richard Goldstone's past and why Goldstone believes he has the right to sit in judgment of Israel. It's not pretty.

Richard Goldstone will now be lionised from Pyongyang to Ouagadougou, and all points in between where the oppressed find succour. Streets will be named after him, university chairs will be endowed in his honour and state medals will be struck for this great class-struggler. But to senior legal colleagues in South Africa, he will always be Richard Richard Goldstone.

Richard Richard?

‘Oh yes,’ says a former senior colleague who was close to Goldstone for many years. ‘We believed he saw himself as a future secretary-general of the United Nations. At the time Boutros Boutros-Ghali held the post, so it seemed a logical progression for Goldstone to become Richard Richard.’

It might appear unkind to doubt the purity of Goldstone’s motives in joining the human rights industry, poignantly as Israel’s excoriator-in-chief. But he is, it seems, regarded by colleagues who knew him well as an opportunist. And the record suggests they might be right. There is nothing in Goldstone’s biography to imply he was destined to become a hero of the people, let alone a human rights champion. During his career he has executed some canny intellectual and ideological manoeuvres, leveraging past accomplishments to propel himself further up the pole of seniority and celebrity.

You've read about most of these maneuvers before if you've been reading my blog for the last month and a half, and you may even recognize some of the essays about Goldstone that he cites. But the end is a shocker, and I must recommend that you read the whole thing.

The picture that emerges is one of a brilliant opportunist, whose ambition knows no moral scruples. It seems that Richard Richard Goldstone would sell out his own mother to get ahead in life.

One can only scream with frustration that the Jewish people were able to spawn such a scumball.

Israel Matzav: Judge Richard Richard Goldstone

Israel Matzav: First they came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews

The Sunday Times of London has what it bills as the first insiders' account of last November's terror attack in Mumbai. Specifically, they have the story of Nariman House, where the Chabad Center was located. They present the clearest evidence yet that the Jews were a main target (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

Three days after I arrived in Mumbai, I tracked down a man who was one of the first people into Nariman House after the siege ended. It was the first time he has spoken to a journalist, and he asked me not to reveal his identity as he feared upsetting the families of the deceased. He allowed me to say that he has medical training. One windy evening, he seemed to want to talk, as if he were carrying a great burden. So we drove to a promenade ringed by skyscrapers and sat in the darkness as he told his story.

He had waited outside Nariman House as the commandos battled their way in on Friday, he said. He was optimistic; when Sandra escaped on Thursday morning, she had stated that the hostages looked unconscious rather than dead. But what he found appeared different. “They were tortured very badly,” he told me, speaking sombrely and matter-of-factly. He was greatly affected by what he saw, and says of the attack’s organisers: “I want to kill them.” All the hostages had been shot, he said. Some had multiple bullet wounds. But there was more. Two of the rabbis had broken bones. The skull of one of the victims had caved in, as sometimes happens when somebody is shot in the head at close range with a rifle, except the man had not been shot in the head. The two female visitors, Orpaz and Rabinovich, were found bound with telephone cord and lying next to each other on a fourth-floor bed. One of the hostages had bruising all over her body, which the man, who is not a pathologist, said was consistent with being hit by a blunt object. There was a large cut on her thigh. And one of her eyes was out of its orbit and lying on her cheek.

It sounded so extreme, so hard to believe, that the man said in a quiet voice: “I can show you photographs.” So we drove through deserted night-time streets to his home, where he opened a folder on his laptop entitled “Nariman House”. Inside were pictures, presumably taken by the Mumbai police, of the terrorists and four of the hostages: Gabi, Teitelbaum, and the two visiting women. He did not have photos of Rivki or Kruman. The pictures are overwhelming, an almost unbearable tableau of blood and contorted bodies. Nariman House is in disarray, the furniture overturned, bullet holes everywhere. It was not hard to believe that the hostages met a horrific, drawn-out end. Based on the images and eyewitness reports, it becomes clear that most did not die in the first hail of bullets as the terrorists entered the building, as has been reported. They may have fought back. Survivors would hear Rivki through the first night, and Gabi appears to have died some time after being shot in the leg, as there is a tourniquet around his thigh. The most brutal injuries suggest torture, but the organisations that might have conclusive answers, such as Zaka, the Israeli emergency-response group, decline to comment.

I showed the images to Vincent Di Maio, a noted US pathologist. He saw in them something hinting at another controversial rumour: that hostages had been alive when commandos stormed Nariman House, but were killed by crossfire. This was the conclusion of volunteers from Zaka. One volunteer leaked the finding to the Israeli press, sparking an angry reaction from the Israeli government, which said the claims were unfounded and could harm Israeli-Indian relations.

According to Di Maio, one of the female hostages was almost certainly fired on after she died. Bullet wounds to the arm and shoulder of one of the visiting women were inflicted postmortem: “Note no bleeding and visible yellow fat,” he says. It is unclear who shot her. Perhaps it was the terrorists. Perhaps it was crossfire when the commandos stormed the house. If it was crossfire, then the accidental shooting of live hostages does not seem too distant a possibility.

Read the whole thing.

One of the things that struck me as I read this article: The nanny, Sandra Samuel, doesn't seem to understand to this day how she escaped with little Moshe Holzberg (pictured above). It's really quite simple. The only people who escaped Nariman House were the diamond dealer who climbed down from a bathroom window whom the terrorists never saw (it's in the Times article), the Muslim cook, Sandra and little Moshe. The terrorists let the non-Jews go. They probably believed that Moshe was Sandra's son once she climbed up to the 5th floor to get him.

The Times article is entitled "And then they came for the Jews." Neither the Times nor Sandra Samuel get it. They couldn't. They're not Jews. That's why I titled this post "First they came for the Jews." We're always the first target for terrorists and anti-Semites. But rarely the last.

Israel Matzav: First they came for the Jews

Israel Matzav: Indonesia: Israeli tennis player, if we have to, Israeli flag, no way

Israel Matzav: Indonesia: Israeli tennis player, if we have to, Israeli flag, no way

Israel Matzav: Blood libeling 'journalist' in Israel

Blood libeling 'journalist' in Israel

Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet's Donald Bostrom arrived in Israel Sunday morning. You will recall that Bostrom was the reporter who published the blood libel that Israel is killing 'Palestinians' and harvesting their organs.

Infamous Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom arrived in Israel early Sunday morning, to be greeted by catcalls and protests at Ben Gurion Airport from Beitar Youth activists. Bostrom, who earlier this year accused IDF troops of "harvesting" body parts from Arabs, is to appear at a media conference in Dimona Sunday.

In an interview, Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen denied that he was giving Bostrom a platform to denigrate Israel. "He has been speaking around the Arab world for months, so he does not need us to give him a platform. We are going to tell him that we do not accept his accusations, and try to show him how wrong he is," Cohen said.

Good luck with that.

I'm astounded that the government gave this moron a visa.


JPost adds:

Bostrom, who arrived in Israel in order to attend a media conference in Dimona, was greeted with protests and jeers directed at him by members of the Beitar youth movement as he disembarked from the plane in the company of two security guards.

Following the announcement of Bostrom's participation, the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee withdrew the financial support it had allocated to the conference.

[Vice Premier Silvan] Shalom, who on Saturday night had called the journalist's arrival "a shameful event," told Israel Radio on Sunday that the conference had "turned itself into a gimmick-laden stage in order to receive media coverage."

Shalom withdrew an estimated NIS 200,000 in government support for the conference, "which may have been used to fund [Bostrom's] arrival and his stay here."

Bostrom doesn't belong here no matter why he is here.

Israel Matzav: Blood libeling 'journalist' in Israel

Israel Matzav: US and Israel to Moscow: War option still on the table?

Israel Matzav: US and Israel to Moscow: War option still on the table?

Israel Matzav: British nuclear monitoring expert murdered?

British nuclear monitoring expert murdered?

You may recall that on October 23, I reported that a British nuclear expert who was involved in monitoring Iranian nuclear weapons 'fell' 12 stories (since said to be 17) to his death from a UN building in Vienna. I am sure you will all be shocked to hear that his death 'was not a suicide.'

Professor Kathrin Yen, of the Ludwig Institute in Graz, Austria, which specialises in traumatology research, said she had more tests to complete on Mr Hampton, who had a three-year-old son with Ms Gryshcuk.

But she said one possible theory was that Mr Hampton was carried to the 17th floor from his workplace on the sixth floor and thrown to his death.

Professor Yen used new forensic techniques to detect internal bruising caused by strangulation which would not be visible to the eye.

She said: ‘In my opinion, it does not look like suicide. My example is that somebody took him up to the top floor and took him down.

‘At the moment I don’t have the police reports. We did a CT scan. From the external exam, I saw injuries on the neck but these were not due to strangulation.’

It is expected to take three weeks for blood test results to come back. Austrian police said they believe Mr Hampton committed suicide.

He had been working for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) at the UN building.

CTBTO staff monitor tremors in countries worldwide to uncover illegal nuclear tests. It has been suggested that Mr Hampton may have been involved in talks discussing nuclear testing in Iran. The UN has strongly denied the claims.

But here's the most amazing little 'coincidence.'

The IAEA, an independent and separate organisation, inspects nuclear plants worldwide and is based in the building next to the CTBTO in Vienna.

Under a year ago, an American died at the IAEA in strikingly similar circumstances, his body being found at the bottom of a stairwell.

A UN spokeswoman said an investigation into that case continues, though Austrian police have concluded it was suicide.

She said: ‘This might have been a copycat thing in the CTBTO.’

Copycat suicide? Copycat murder would be more like it.

Israel Matzav: British nuclear monitoring expert murdered?

Israel Matzav: 60 Jews escape Yemen to the US

60 Jews escape Yemen to the US

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported on a secret mission to resettle Yemen's Jewish community in the United States and Israel.

From the safety of his new home in suburban New York, Mr. Yakub recounted his last months in Yemen. Rocks shattered the windows of his house and car. Except for emergencies and provisions, Jews began to avoid leaving home. When they did, Mr. Yakub and other Jews took to disguising themselves as Muslims.

"This was no way to live," he said, seated at the head of a long table surrounded by his wife and children.

Salem Suleiman, who also arrived recently in New York, bears scars from rocks that hit his head. "They throw stones at us. They curse us. They want to kill us," he said. "I didn't leave my house for two months."

New York had a community of about 2,000 Yemeni Jews. Yair Yaish, who heads the Yemenite Jewish Federation of America, says he was barraged with "desperate calls from the community here saying we have to do something to get our families out."

The U.S. Ambassador to Yemen urged Yemeni ministers to facilitate the departure. After initial reluctance -- the government preferred to give the Jews safe haven in the capital city -- Yemen agreed to issue exit permits and passports.

"It was the embassy's view, and the Department concurred, that because of their vulnerability, we should consider them for resettlement," says a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Jewish Federations of North America raised $750,000 to help the effort. Orthodox groups also pledged to pitch in. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was tasked with their resettlement.

Word reached Jews in Raida that there was an American plan afoot to rescue them.

Read the whole thing. Somewhere toward the end, they mention that a few people lost their opportunity to immigrate to the US because they could not sell their property and missed their flights.

The picture at the top is the father and sisters of Moshe Nahari HY"D, a Yemeni Jew who was murdered last December for refusing to convert to Islam. They are standing outside the court waiting for his murder trial. Note that the women are dressed in Muslim-style burkhas.

If you know any Jews in Yemen, please urge them to leave while they can.

Israel Matzav: 60 Jews escape Yemen to the US

Israel Matzav: Suddenly, she is loved

Suddenly, she is loved

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the toast of Jerusalem on Sunday morning. And with good reason. Here's the question from Saturday night's press conference that has made all the headlines this morning (emphasis added is mine).

Joe Klein, Time Magazine: I wanted to ask you “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Clinton: Do you want us to burst into song?

Klein: For forty years, we’ve seen American Secretaries of State and Israeli Prime Ministers in a similar situation. Despite the Prime Minister’s optimism, the talks are stalling. While you’ve said ‘yes’ without pre-conditions to talks, you’ve said ‘no’ to a settlement freeze….. Is the Obama Administration in favor of a total freeze? I refer the same question to the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu: Joe, the specific question you asked about the settlements also has to be put factually. The fact of the matter is that I said that we would not build new settlements, would not expropriate land for addition for the existing settlements and that we were prepared to adopt a policy of restraint on the existing settlements, but also one that would still enable normal life for the residents who are living there. Now there has not been, not in the last sixteen years, not forty years, but sixteen years since the beginning of the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians any demand ever put, not on restraint, but on any limitation of settlement activity as a pre-condition for entering negotiations. This is a new thing. Now it’s true that you can take a new thing and you can repeat it ad nauseam for a few weeks and a few months and it becomes something that is obvious and has been there all the time – it’s not been there all the time. No, there’s not been a pre-condition for entering or continuing with the peace process between us and the Palestinians. There’s not been a demand coming from the Palestinians that said ‘We will not negotiate with you unless you freeze all activity, something that is problematic in so many ways – judicial and other ways – I won’t get into that. But this is a new demand, it’s a change of policy – of the Palestinian policy and it doesn’t do much for peace – it doesn’t work to advance negotiations. It actually is used as a pretext or at least as something, as an obstacle that prevents the re-establishment of negotiations. Now mind you, the issue of settlements and the issue of territories and the issue of borders, these will be engaged in the negotiations and they’ll have to be resolved for a peace agreement to be achieved, but you can’t resolve it in advance of the negotiations, and you certainly shouldn’t pile it on as a pre-condition.

Clinton: Well, I would add just for context that what the Prime Minister is saying is historically accurate. There has never been a pre-condition, it’s always been an issue within the negotiations. What the Prime Minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements which he has just described – no new starts for example, is unprecedented in the context of prior-to negotiations. It’s also the fact that for forty years, presidents of both parties have questioned the legitimacy of settlements, but I think that where we are right now is to try to get into the negotiations. The Prime Minister will be able to present his government’s proposal about what they are doing regarding settlements which I think when fully explained will be seen as being not only unprecedented in response to many of the concerns that have been expressed. You know, there are always demands made in any negotiation that are not going to be fully realized. I mean negotiation by its very definition is a process of trying to meet the other’s needs while protecting your core interests, and on settlements there’s never been a pre-condition. There’s never been such an offer from any Israeli government and we hope that we’ll be able to move into the negotiations where all the issues that President Obama mentioned in his speech at the United Nations will be on the table for the parties to begin to resolve.

That's certainly a far cry from Clinton's very uncomfortable press conference with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman back in June. And while I'm not pleased that Netanyahu offered a full 'settlement freeze' in Judea and Samaria, it seems obvious that was a calculated risk: With 'Palestinian' elections scheduled for late January, Abu Mazen has no way down from the tree he climbed with the help of President Obumbler's ladder. After a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Abu Mazen feels duped.

PA officials described the meeting with Clinton as "hard" and expressed deep disappointment over what they said was Washington's refusal to pressure Israel to halt construction in the settlements.

According to Erekat, Abbas turned down an offer by the US to resume the peace talks on final-status issues on the basis of "understandings" reached between Washington and Israel regarding settlement construction.

"President Abbas rejected the offer because the understandings are completely unacceptable," Erekat said.

Netanyahu played it for all it was worth.

Netanyahu said that Israel was willing to talk with the Palestinians without any conditions.

"We are prepared to start peace talks immediately," he said. "What we should do on the path to peace is to get on it and to get with it."

He said that in the past 16 years the Palestinians had never demanded that Israel freeze settlement activity as a precondition to talks and that their stance now was a change in policy.

It's a stance that Erekat said the Palestinians were insisting upon.

"The Palestinian Authority won't make any concessions on the issue of settlements," he said.

He claimed that the "understandings" reached between Israel and Washington did not include a full cessation of settlement construction, including inside Jerusalem.

Erekat said that halting settlement construction was the "only way to ensure the revival of the peace process."

He added that the gap between the Palestinians and Israel remained very wide - a factor that is hindering the resumption of the peace talks.

Asked about the outcome of his meeting with Clinton, Abbas told reporters: "There's nothing new. We reaffirmed that peace requires a complete cessation of settlement construction."

Abbas said that the "problem" with the Israeli government was that it was refusing to stop settlement construction in line with the peace process.

He said that his talks with Clinton focused on the situation in Jerusalem. "The city is in danger," he said. "The Arabs and Muslims must pay attention to this."

The 'Palestinians' also rejected Clinton's claim that Netanyahu's concessions were unprecedented.

Abu Rdainah said: "A settlement freeze and acknowledging the terms of reference is the only way towards peace negotiations. Settlement is illegitimate and it is not possible to accept any justification for the continuation of the settlement activity or to defend it in the lands occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem."

Is Netanyahu being too cute here? What will he do if Abu Mazen calls his bluff? Well the 'freeze' to which Netanyahu has agreed is six months (the low end of what was under discussion) and he has excluded 3,000 'almost completed' apartments and all public building in Judea and Samaria from the freeze. Netanyahu is betting that either Abu Mazen will never say yes, or that with the exclusions, by the time the 3,000 units are finished, six months will be up and no one will notice. And you can bet that if there's no freeze in effect, when the 3,000 units are finished, more will be approved!

Netanyahu has done well handling the situation up to now. Let's hope he's not getting overconfident.

Israel Matzav: Suddenly, she is loved
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