Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Calls for Change to Law of Return - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Calls for Change to Law of Return - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Jewish Spy Shot to Death in Moscow - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Jewish Spy Shot to Death in Moscow - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Hamas Testing Missiles That Could Hit Tel Aviv - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Hamas Testing Missiles That Could Hit Tel Aviv - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Clinton's About-Face: Israeli Offer 'Falls Short' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Clinton's About-Face: Israeli Offer 'Falls Short' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

MK: 'Cruel' Workplace to Blame for Poverty - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

MK: 'Cruel' Workplace to Blame for Poverty - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

'Rock of Ages' Discovered in Akko - Good News - Israel News - Israel National News

'Rock of Ages' Discovered in Akko - Good News - Israel News - Israel National News

Int'l Delegations, Trade Shows and Conferences Flood Israel - Business & Economy - Israel News - Israel National News

Int'l Delegations, Trade Shows and Conferences Flood Israel - Business & Economy - Israel News - Israel National News

RubinReports: Is the Turkish-Israeli Alliance Over? Yes It Is

Is the Turkish-Israeli Alliance Over? Yes It Is

[Please subscribe to read what you're only going to see in the mainstream media months from now.]

I wrote the following article for The Turkish Analyst, Vol. 2, No. 19 published by the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute’s Silk Road Studies Program. Here is my original text which varies slightly from that version.

By Barry Rubin

The Turkey-Israel alliance is over. After two decades plus of close cooperation, the Turkish government is no longer interested in maintaining close cooperation with Israel nor is it—for all practical purposes—willing to do anything much to maintain its good relations with Israel.

The U.S.-Turkish alliance, which goes back about six decades, is also over but much less visibly so, though the two relationships are interlinked.

And that’s one important point in the first development. If the Turkish government was really concerned about protecting the kind of tight links with America that have existed for so long, it would be far more cautious about jettisoning the old policy toward Israel.

But let’s take a step back and talk about the nature of the bilateral relationship and why it has come to an end. Basically, there were four important reasons for the close cooperation between the two countries which made eminent sense in the 1980s and 1990s.

First, Turkey and Israel had common enemies, or at least threats. Iraq and Syria were radical Arab nationalist regimes which had problems with both countries. Syria claimed part of Turkey’s territory—Hatay—and was backing Armenian and Kurdish terrorists against Turkey. Iraq’s ambitions under President Saddam Hussein were also chilling for Ankara. Iran, as an Islamist state, was hostile to Kemalism and promoted subversion within Turkey.

If Arab states were unhappy about Turkey’s growing proximity to Israel, they weren’t prepared to do anything about it, and had not given Ankara any great benefits previously. Moreover, as devotees of realpolitik, Turkey’s leaders thought that if Arab regimes and Iran were upset or fearful of this new alignment, it would give Turkey more leverage. While Turkish leaders complained that Israel didn’t do more actively to help Ankara win its confrontation with Syria over its safe haven for the PKK leadership, Damascus’s willingness to give in was surely related to the fact that it knew neighbors to both north and south were working together against it.

Second, and related to the previous point, was the preference of Turkey’s powerful military which wanted the close relationship with Israel. Aside from the threat assessment, the Turkish armed forces saw Israel as a source of advanced equipment and technology that would be quite useful for itself. Especially useful was Israel’s ability to upgrade existing equipment at a relatively low price.

Third, it was believed in Ankara that the relationship with Israel would help its vital connections to the United States, given the perceived strength of the pro-Israel forces there. This benefitted Turkey in regard to Greek and Armenian criticisms of the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

Finally, there were mutual economic benefits. Commerce rose to high levels. Tourism from Israel brought a lot of money into Turkey. And there was the prospect of water sales, though these have never really materialized.

But perhaps more important it related to Turkey’s need for a new strategy as the Cold War ground to an end. Turkey’s big asset, and the basis of its NATO membership, was Ankara’s value in confronting the USSR and its Balkan satellite states. How could Turkey replace this lost rationale and maintain its value to the West, whose approval it sought and whose aid it needed? The road to Washington thus was seen as going through Jerusalem (though Turkish policymakers might have said “Tel Aviv.”)

These three factors have all eroded, in part due to objective changes in the world though to a very large degree due to the AKP taking Turkey down an Islamist path. I would suggest that while previous governments had their criticisms of Israel, if the AKP were not in power, the bilateral link would continue rather than being terminated.

Basically, of the four reasons cited above, the armed forces’ and commercial interests have not changed at all. The same applies, to a slightly lesser degree, of Ankara’s need and desire for good relations with Washington. Under a non-AKP government, all these would remain pretty constant.

The one change has been the collapse of one previous threat—Iraq—and the weakening of another, Syria, which no longer poses a Kurdish problem either, to the point that it wanted to avoid antagonizing Turkey. Yet even these external changes would not have been sufficient to sabotage the relationship.

From the AKP regime’s standpoint, however, all but the commercial factor are of limited value and, of course, it is ideologically hostile to Israel. The government uses anti-Israel and even antisemitic sentiment to build its base of support. It is not so sympathetic to “Arabs” or even “Muslims” as such but to fellow Islamists. Thus, for example, the AKP regime’s passion for Hamas in the Gaza Strip is not matched by any profound concern toward the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Let’s go through the three non-commercial factors to see how they’ve changed for the AKP. Rather than view Syria and Iran as threats, the AKP government sees them as allies. Relations with both countries have steadily tightened. Turkish-Syrian relations have become a virtual love fest with regular visits, agreements, and cooperation.

Rather than have common enemies, then, it could be suggested that the new alignment of Turkey with Iran and Syria have a common enemy in Israel.

The Turkish military, of course, has faced a steady weakening of its political influence, due both to European Union pressure and to the AKP’s strenuous efforts. Symbolic here, is the cancellation of the planned Anatolian Eagle joint military maneuvers after six successful such exercises. The armed forces may be very unhappy with the Turkish government’s behavior and prefer the close alignment continue but has far less say in the matter.

Especially intriguing is the U.S. angle. The AKP regime has the enviable situation of being able to show disrespect and a lack of cooperation with U.S. interests without paying a price for this behavior. The situation began in the Bush administration and the 2003 invasion of Iraq but has grown more intense with the Obama Administration. Since the new president views Turkey as the very model of a modern, moderate Islamist government and is reluctant to use pressure on anyone, the White House lets Turkey get away with it.

The AKP thus no longer needs Israel as help in maintaining Ankara’s standing in Washington. On one hand, its status with the United States is secure; on the other hand, that connection is far less important for the Turkish regime.

Israel is not in a good position to inflict costs on Turkey for Ankara’s hostile, even insulting, behavior though Israeli policymakers have no illusions about the end of the special relationship. There is serious consideration of cancelling some major arms sales, especially given new fears that the technology could find its way to Iran and Syria. In addition, Israeli tourism fell off sharply, at least temporarily, and Turkish Jews knew their future in Turkey is uncertain.

It should be understood that Israel does not want to respond to the AKP’s hostility by taking steps that would be seen as “anti-Turkey,” such as vigorously backing Armenian genocide resolutions or conducting an anti-Turkey campaign in the United States. There must be some hope that in a post-AKP future—if any—more moderate forces in the country would prevail and at least make the bilateral relationship a good one even if they did not return to the past alignment.

Like all politicians, those of the AKP would like to have their kebab and eat it, too. They still want to play a role as mediator between Israel and Syria as well as Israel and Hamas, yet Jerusalem is not going to play along with magnifying the importance and treating as a fair-minded adjudicator a country which it knows is so hostile. At the same time, Israeli leaders will avoid if possible any confrontation with Turkey which Ankara would use as an excuse to turn the temperature down even further.

It would be nice to be able to suggest some way in which the relationship could be salvaged. Given, however, the AKP’s ideology and redefinition of Turkish interests, the weakness of the Obama Administration, and Israel’s lack of leverage, this is unlikely to happen. The sole real question is how fast and obviously the AKP will move to express publicly—and sometimes demagogically—its hostility in the way that was done during the Gaza War of early 2009.

There is some reason to believe that the Turkish military could play some continuing role as a restraining factor, while American criticism (more likely from Congress than from the White House), and the desire to maintain Israel’s trade and tourism might also restrain the AKP government. Perhaps the most powerful issue in this regard is any lingering hope by the Turkish government that it could play a major diplomatic role in Israel-Palestinian, Arab-Israeli issues.

Finally, there is a gap between Israel and U.S. perceptions. (The Turkish-Israel issue plays no role with EU countries.) Israeli decisionmakers and opinionmakers—except for a very small group of marginal voices whose influence might well be overestimated in Ankara—understand precisely what’s happening. In contrast, U.S. counterparts are barely aware of any problem with Turkey for their own interests. One can expect that the conflict will force itself into their attention in future.

The Turkish-Israel alignment played an important and productive role in regional stability as well as for the economic well-being of both countries for some years. It was a good situation, but clearly not a permanent one.

RubinReports: Is the Turkish-Israeli Alliance Over? Yes It Is

The Torah Revolution: Your criminal, my hero

The Torah Revolution: Your criminal, my hero

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Howard Berman fisks Goldstone

Howard Berman fisks Goldstone

On Friday, I reported that Justice Richard Richard Goldstone had submitted a written response (which may, or may not, have been written by him) to the anti-Goldstone Report resolution that has been introduced in Congress and is up for a vote on Tuesday.

Now, the Washington Independent reports that Representative Howard Berman (D-Cal) has issued a response to Goldstone (Hat Tip: UN Watch).

Dear Colleague:

Last week, Justice Richard Goldstone sent us and other Members a memorandum outlining his “strong reservations about the text of the resolution” (H.Res.867) that will be voted upon by the House tomorrow. We have the utmost respect for Justice Goldstone, but we disagree with his criticisms of H.Res.867. Our primary concerns are as follows:

–The mandate of the commission Justice Goldstone chaired (“The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”) was one-sided and biased, and, even though Justice Goldstone made earnest efforts to alter the mandate, he did not fully succeed, as we indicate below. We intend to alter the resolution to take account of Justice Goldstone’s effort.

–The commission’s report lacks context. It does not take account of the nature of Israel’s enemy – operating from the midst of civilian populations, committed to Israel’s destruction, and fully supported by state actors Iran and Syria. (In fact, it is rather dismissive of claims that Hamas operated from amidst civilian populations.) The report generally gives short shrift to Hamas’ relentless rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, over a period of eight years, which precipitated the war.

–The report does not take into account the extent to which witnesses from Gaza were likely intimidated by Hamas.

–In general, the report is credulous of Hamas claims but skeptical of Israeli claims.

We would like to share with you, below, my point-by-point analysis of Justice Goldstone’s comments.



Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East

and South Asia

Berman then goes on and fisks Goldstone's entire letter!

Read the whole thing - it's awesome!


Here are some highlights of the fisking:



RE: HR 867

“Here are some comments on this resolution in an effort to correct factual errors:
“1. Paragraph 3:That is why I and others refused the original mandate – it only called for an investigation into violations committed by Israel. The mandate given to and accepted by me and under which we worked and reported reads as follows:
‘. . .to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.’

“That mandate clearly included rocket and mortar attacks on Israel and as the report makes clear was so interpreted and implemented. It was the report with that mandate that was adopted by the Human Rights Council and that included the serious findings made against Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups.”

Response: The broadened mandate Justice Goldstone sought was discussed, but not voted on, at a UNHRC plenary session. It was then announced via a press release in an altered formulation, more restrictive than the formulation envisioned by Justice Goldstone. The UNHRC did not create a new mandate. The only relevant mandate remained the one which includes operational paragraph 14 of UNHRC resolution A/HRC/S-9/L.1, as was accepted by the Council on January 12, 2009. The January 12 mandate was also the only mandate referenced in the October 16 UNHRC resolution that adopted the Report.

This whereas clause focuses on the mandate. Of course, the far more important issue is the Report itself, which makes only limited mention of the rocket attacks on Israel.


[Goldstone:] “6. Paragraph 9: The words quoted relate to the decision we made that it would have been unfair to investigate and make finding on situations where decisions had been made by Israeli soldiers ‘in the fog of battle’. This was a decision made in favor and not against the interests of Israel.

“I do not consider that it is fair or just to label the findings as ’sweeping and unsubstantiated determinations’.”

Response: When summarizing the results of investigations into alleged Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, the Report states that “the Mission found in every case [except one] that the Israeli armed forces had carried out direct intentional strikes against civilians” and that “in none of the cases reviewed were there any grounds which could have reasonably induced the Israeli armed forces to assume that the civilians attacked were in fact taking a direct part in the hostilities…”

The assertion regarding “intentional strikes” is particularly mystifying. The Report does not take into account that Israeli soldiers were operating under fire, in an extremely volatile and dangerous environment, in which the enemy was hiding amongst a civilian population.

Nor does the Report generally take into account that testimony from Gazans was given under the watchful eye of Hamas officials. Moreover, the commission heard, at best, only one side of the story, since Israel, despairing of the biased mandate, chose not to participate. Whatever the wisdom of that Israeli decision – and, as indicated below, I do find it understandable – the Report at least should have acknowledged that Israeli non-participation limited the commission’s ability to reach firm conclusions.


[Goldstone:] “8. Paragraph 12: It is again factually incorrect to state that the Report denied Israel the right of self-defense. The Report examined how that right was implemented by the standards of international law. What is commonly called ius ad bellum, the right to use military force was not considered to fall within our mandate. Israel’s right to use military force was not questioned.”

Response: We use the phrase “in effect” in our clause because the Report does not explore why Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist aggression perpetrated by a non-state actor. Justice Goldstone says that “the right to use military force was not considered to fall within our mandate.” Yet, he went beyond his mandate in several other areas of the Report, including discussion of Israel’s policies throughout the occupied territories (including the West Bank) and recommendations that were not called for by the UNHRC resolution that established the mandate. An acknowledgement of Israel’s right of self-defense would have provided vital context to the issues raised in the Report.

[Goldstone:] “9. Paragraph 13: This is the first suggestion that I have come across to the effect that we should have investigated the provenance of the rockets. It was simply not on the agenda, and in any event, we would not have had the facilities or capability of investigating these allegations. If the Government of Israel has requested us to investigate that issue I have no doubt that we have done our best to do so.”

Response: As noted, Justice Goldstone’s Report went beyond its mandate in several respects; looking at the roles of Iran and Syria in assisting Hamas certainly would have provided critical context to the Report. Iran and Syria enable Hamas’ terrorism. The assistance Hamas receives from outside actors allows the Hamas terrorist organization to attack Israel incessantly, certain in the knowledge that its arsenals will be replenished.

Hamas’ support by state actors makes it a formidable foe. The report should have considered that geopolitical context.

[Goldstone:] “10. Paragraph 14: This is a sweeping and unfair characterization of the Report. I hope that the Report will be read by those tasked with considering the resolution.”

Response: The Report uncritically attributes numerous statements to “Gaza Authorities” (meaning, Hamas), while often casting doubt on information derived from the international and Israeli press and from non-government-affiliated Israelis.

For example, the Report criticizes the fact that an Israeli Government web-post cites a Newsweek article reporting on Hamas depredations against its own population and casts doubt on the accuracy of the article. According to the Report, the citing of the Newsweek article, far from being an effort to invoke a neutral source, is merely evidence that Israel itself finds the Newsweek report unconvincing, since Israel does not adduce evidence from its own internal sources (p.143 paragraphs 612-614). This is an odd criticism, since intelligence information, no matter how compelling, is only rarely disclosed to the public.

Perhaps most tellingly, the Report appears only to cite Israeli statements when it finds such statements a useful basis for criticizing Israel. For example:

Section 41 – “The Mission examined the mortar shelling of al-Fakhura junction in Jabaliyah next to a UNRWA school, which, at the time, was sheltering more than 1,300 people (chap. X). The Israeli armed forces launched at least four mortar shells. One landed in the courtyard of a family home, killing 11 people assembled there. Three other shells landed on al-Fakhura Street, killing at least a further 24 people and injuring as many as 40. The Mission examined in detail statements by Israeli Government representatives alleging that the attack was launched in response to a mortar attack from an armed Palestinian group. While the Mission does not exclude that this may have been the case, it considers the credibility of Israel’s position damaged by the series of inconsistencies, contradictions and factual inaccuracies in the statements justifying the attack.”

Section 702 – “The Mission views as being unreliable the versions given by the Israeli authorities. The confusion as to what was hit, the erroneous allegations of who was specifically hit and where the armed groups were firing from, the indication that Israeli surveillance watched the scene but nonetheless could not detect where the strikes occurred, all combine to give the impression of either profound confusion or obfuscation.”

By contrast, the Report is far more forgiving when discussing contradictions in Palestinian evidence:

Section 1092 – “There are some minor inconsistencies, which are not, in the opinion of the Mission, sufficiently weighty to cast doubt on the general reliability of Majdi Abd Rabbo. There are also, not surprisingly, some elements of the long account which appear in some versions and not in others. The Mission finds that these inconsistencies do not undermine the credibility of Majdi Abd Rabbo’s account.”

[Goldstone:] “11. Paragraph 16: Again, this is an unfair and selective quotation taken out of context.”

Response: Our whereas clause reads as follows: “Whereas in one notable instance, the report stated that it did not consider the admission of a Hamas official that Hamas often ‘‘created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen, against [the Israeli military]’’ specifically to ‘‘constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack.’’

This quote was not taken out of context, and it can be found in Sections 477 and 478 of the Report, as follows:

“The Mission is also aware of the public statement by Mr. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, on 29 February 2009, which is adduced as evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields. Mr. Hammad reportedly stated that:

…the Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death seeking. For the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the mujahideen excel and the children excel. Accordingly, [Hamas] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen, against the Zionist bombing machine.

478. Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack. The Government of Israel has not identified any such cases.

The Report also displays numerous examples of credulousness regarding Hamas behavior. For example:

p. 117: “While, in the light of the above reports, the Mission does not discount the use of booby traps by the Palestinian armed groups, it has no basis to conclude that civilian lives were put at risk, as none of the reports record the presence of civilians in or near the houses in which booby traps are alleged to have been set.”

p. 117: “Although the Mission was not able to investigate the allegation of the use of mosques generally by Palestinian groups for storing weapons, it did investigate the incident of a missile attack by the Israeli armed forces against al-Maqadmah mosque on the outskirts of Jabaliyah camp, in which at least 15 people were killed and 40 injured on 3 January 2009 (see chap. XI). The Mission found no evidence that this mosque was used for the storage of weapons or any military activity by Palestinian armed groups. As far as this mosque is concerned, therefore, the Mission found no basis for such an allegation. However, the Mission is unable to make a determination regarding the allegation in general nor with respect to any other mosque that was attacked by the Israeli armed forces during the military operations.”

p. 121: “On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission finds that there are indications that Palestinian armed groups launched rockets from urban areas. The mission has not been able to obtain any direct evidence that this was done with the specific intent of shielding the rocket launchers from counterstrokes by the Israeli armed forces.”

p. 121: “The Mission finds that the presence of Palestinian armed fighters in urban residential areas during the military operations is established. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity of their combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack.”

[Goldstone:] “12. Paragraph 17: That Hamas was able to shape the findings or that it pre-screened the witnesses is devoid of truth and I challenge anyone to produce evidence in support of it.”

Response: The evidence is within the Report itself. Page 111 of the Report reads as follows: “In its efforts to gather more direct information on the subject, during its investigations in Gaza and in interviews with victims and witnesses of incidents and other informed individuals, the Mission raised questions regarding the conduct of Palestinian armed groups during the hostilities in Gaza. The Mission notes that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups. Whatever the reasons for their reluctance, the Mission does not discount that the interviewees’ reluctance may have stemmed from a fear of reprisals.”

Hamas is in full control of Gaza, and this “fear of reprisals” significantly helped Hamas shape the findings. See, for example, an Amnesty International publication that reports on how Hamas murdered its rivals while operation Cast Lead was ongoing: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/hamas-waged-deadly-campaign-war-devastated-gaza-20090212.

Furthermore, the commission conducted some of its proceedings through holding televised open hearings in Gaza. Given its total control of Gaza and its ability to intimidate, Hamas almost certainly would have been able to control the access and message of each witness attending a televised open hearing. What is beyond doubt is that witnesses were keenly aware that Hamas was monitoring the televised proceedings and likely to inflict reprisals for any unwelcome testimony.

Awesome. Read it all.

Israel Matzav: Howard Berman fisks Goldstone

Israel Matzav: Lebanon arrests Fatah al-Islam terrorist

Lebanon arrests Fatah al-Islam terrorist

Lebanon has arrested a Fatah al-Islam terrorist leader and charged him with orchestrating a Katyusha attack on Israel last week.

The man, Fadi Ibrahim, also known as "Sikamo," is allegedly a member of the radical Sunni Muslim militant group Fatah al Islam, an organization with known ideological ties to al-Qaida.

The As-Safir report said Ibrahim is considered an aide to the group's leader, and that he the head of the group's bomb-planting and rocket-launching operations in Southern Lebanon, directed also at UNIFIL forces stationed in that area.

Lebanese intelligence, according to the report, apprehended Ibrahim after drawing him out of the Ein el Hilweh refugee camp, near the costal city of Sidon.

Also on Saturday, Lebanon's Foreign Minister, Fawzi Salloukh, told pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that Israel had overreacted to the launches and that it wasn't waiting until a joint investigation of the incident by UNIFL and the Lebanese army could be concluded.

Salloukh added that the Israeli reaction comes even after Lebanon severely condemned the attacks and as both its and UNIFIL forces are working to maintain regional stability and implement UN resolution 1701, which saw a truce between Israel and Lebanon following the 2006 war.

Why don't we conduct an experiment and see how many random Katyusha attacks you're willing to absorb, okay Mr. Salloukh? I didn't think he'd agree to that.

Anyone believe Hezbullah had nothing to do with this? I don't. Nothing happens in southern Lebanon without Hezbullah's approval. I don't buy this story at all.

Israel Matzav: Lebanon arrests Fatah al-Islam terrorist

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu will offer 'Palestinians' less land

Netanyahu will offer 'Palestinians' less land

Here's another indication that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu understands that the offers made to the 'Palestinians' by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert were suicidal and cannot be repeated.

The new settlement of Maskiot and the expansion of farmland are just two tangible signs of tension over the area. When Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad issued a two-year development plan, he said he wanted to place a Palestinian-controlled airport in the Jordan Valley, and he recently said that any state that does not include it would be "Mickey Mouse."

Israeli officials and others close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have been saying that the Jordan Valley should remain in Israeli hands, encircling any Palestinian state to the east and controlling the international border with Jordan -- steps needed, they say, to make sure militant groups don't infiltrate.

The Jordan Valley, which makes up about 25 percent of the West Bank, is almost entirely under Israeli control, with an electronic fence running the length of the eastern border facing Jordan.

It is an argument that recalls Israel's initial occupation of the West Bank after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when the Labor Party government viewed the Jordan Valley as a security buffer against an Arab invasion and began authorizing the first settlements to create what was intended as a permanent Israeli presence.

For the last nine years, the world has tried to convince us that the 'solution' for our region is the 'Clinton parameters' or something similar. Those parameters would see Israel give up nearly all of Judea and Samaria, and 'compensate' the 'Palestinians' for any land retained by carving out parts of the area within the 1949 armistice lines. Prime Minister Netanyahu realizes that's not acceptable. The 1949 border is not acceptable.

Netanyahu also realizes that most Israeli Jews will back him if he insists on retaining the Jordan Valley and a whole lot of other land in Judea and Samaria. While 'survey after survey' has shown that most Israelis will accept a 'Palestinian state,' what neither the 'Palestinians' nor the West have ever understood is that if you go beyond the basic question of the existence of a 'Palestinian state' and get into specifics - Is the Jordan Valley included? Is Hebron included? Is 'east' Jerusalem included - most Israeli Jews will tell you no, we're keeping those because they are our heritage and they are a security necessity. Most Israelis have reached the point where we're not willing to go back to the 1967 lines, certainly not to give them to an enemy that has repeatedly refused generous offers to live in peace with us, and that has come back and continued to randomly slaughter us again and again. Most Israelis have realized that there have to be some consequences to starting wars against us again and again.

Most Israelis now recognize what the West cannot or will not: That when you say that you want a Jewish state of Israel within secure boundaries, and you want an independent 'Palestinian' state that's both viable and contiguous, you're stating a contradiction in terms. If the 'Palestinian' state is contiguous - particularly between the 'West Bank' and Gaza - Israel will not be. And if Israel is not contiguous, it will never be secure.

Israel won the 1967 war - a war that it did not start. Israel should not be penalized or threatened again by the results of 'peace.'

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu will offer 'Palestinians' less land

Israel Matzav: Is the Iranian opposition an improvement?

Is the Iranian opposition an improvement?

Please forgive the self-interest.

While I'm sure Iranians would be better off if there is regime change, those of us in the West, and particularly in Israel, need to be asking ourselves whether Iran without Ahmadinejad will pose as great a danger to us as Iran with Ahmadinejad. If it will, then we're best off not expending the political capital on regime change in Iran, and instead concentrating on other ways of stopping Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Case in point: opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. We already know about his past (look at the picture). Here's some disturbing news about his future. It's from a Time Magazine article on Iran's rejection of the P - 5+1 offer on its nuclear weapons.

Still, the proposed deal caused an uproar in Iran, where not only conservatives, but also pragmatists and opposition leaders accused the West of trying to steal the country's nuclear patrimony. "Iran's response is that it will not give even one milligram of its enriched uranium to be changed into 20% enriched uranium by foreigners," wrote on columnist in the hardline newspaper Kayhan on Monday. "These American cowboys, old British foxes, and Zionist child murderers want to use this ploy to take Iran's uranium and not give it back." Some of the strongest criticism of the deal came from Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leading opposition presidential candidate in the disputed June election. "If the promises given [to the West] are realized, then the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined," he said. Conservatives had accused moderates of treason over previous attempts to reach a nuclear agreement with the West; now the country's embattled opposition leaders are getting their own back, perhaps fearful that rapprochement between the West and Ahmadinejad would reinforce the regime that has cracked down hard since the election. The breadth of opposition to the deal within Tehran suggests that dealing with the U.S. may be politically radioactive for the Iranian government.

Is he really any better than Ahmadinejad? Maybe. But his comment has to make you wonder.

The silver lining in this cloud:

The biggest winner if the Vienna agreement collapses could be Israel, whose leaders had been publicly skeptical of the deal for its failure to address the question of ongoing Iranian enrichment. Israeli leaders also feared that a deal offering cooperation and further safeguards but not removing from Iran the capability to build a bomb would leave Israel's more hardline position internationally isolated. Israeli military officials heaped scorn on Iran's counter-proposal. "We hope Obama won't play the village idiot and accept," a senior Israeli military source told TIME. "This is bazaar bargaining at its best. It takes the essence out of the ability to control and supervise Iranian enriched uranium." But Iran's negative response may have reassured the Israelis. After a week in which his Defense Minister had questioned the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday called it a "positive first step" — which, of course, Iran appears unwilling to take.


Israel Matzav: Is the Iranian opposition an improvement?

Israel Matzav: Israelis want to speak 'truth to power'

Israelis want to speak 'truth to power'

Judith Apter Klinghoffer provides the results of a fascinating survey that shows that Israelis believe that hasbara (public relations) can be done better than it is currently being done and that they believe that the creation of a 'Palestinian state' won't help anything. Israelis believe that their government should be speaking 'truth to power' as Prime Minister Netanyahu did at the United Nations in September.

Here are the results of a recent poll taken by Israel's premier pollster, Dr. Mina Zemach, which she was king enough to share with me. Note the highlighted results of the last question:

Do you believe it is possible to explain to the non-Muslim world that Israel conquered Judea and Samaria in 1967 and it still there or it is not possible?
Yes - 65.1% No- 32.9% Don't know - 1.9%

Is it possible or impossible to Explain and justify the existence of Jewish settlement in the midst of the Palestinian population?
Yes - 54.4% No - 37.9% Don't know - 7.7%

Is it possible to explain and justify in the non-Muslim world the Gaza operation?
Yes - 85.6% No - 12.2% Don't know - 2.3%

Do you think Israel should or should not have cooperated with the Goldstone Report?
Yes - 32.4% No - 39% Don't know - 28.6%


Would the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria improve Israel's ability to explain itself to the world or not?
Yes - 40.6% No - 51.5% Don't know - 7.9%

The poll was taken on Oct. 1. It is based on a sample of 485 adults and has a 4.8% margin of error.

Unfortunately, much of the foreign ministry bureaucracy disagrees with the survey results. Maybe Dr. Zemach should have added a question asking whether Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should fire any of his predecessors' appointments at the Foreign Ministry.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Israelis want to speak 'truth to power'

Israel Matzav: How Israel destroyed Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor

How Israel destroyed Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor

Der Spiegel reports on how Israel found out about and destroyed Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor in September 2007. It's a long article and you really have to read the whole thing, but here are some highlights to send you on your way.

The Israelis took a pinprick approach to dealing with the "little" Assad. In 2003, the air force conducted multiple air strikes against positions on the Syrian border, and in October Israeli fighter jets flew a low-altitude mission over Assad's residence in Damascus. It was an arrogant show of power that even had many at the Mossad shaking their heads, wondering how Assad would respond to such humiliating treatment.

At that time, the nuclear plant on Euphrates had likely entered its first key phase. In the spring of 2004, the American National Security Agency (NSA) detected a suspiciously high number of telephone calls between Syria and North Korea, with a noticeably busy line of communication between the North Korean capital Pyongyang and a place in the northern Syrian desert called Al Kibar. The NSA dossier was sent to the Israeli military's "8200" unit, which is responsible for radio reconnaissance and has its antennas set up in the hills near Tel Aviv. Al-Kibar was "flagged," as they say in intelligence jargon.

In late 2006, Israeli military intelligence decided to ask the British for their opinion. But almost at the same time as the delegation from Tel Aviv was arriving in London, a senior Syrian government official checked into a hotel in the exclusive London neighborhood of Kensington. He was under Mossad surveillance and turned out to be incredibly careless, leaving his computer in his hotel room when he went out. Israeli agents took the opportunity to install a so-called "Trojan horse" program, which can be used to secretly steal data, onto the Syrian's laptop.

The hard drive contained construction plans, letters and hundreds of photos. The photos, which were particularly revealing, showed the Al Kibar complex at various stages in its development. At the beginning -- probably in 2002, although the material was undated -- the construction site looked like a treehouse on stilts, complete with suspicious-looking pipes leading to a pumping station at the Euphrates. Later photos show concrete piers and roofs, which apparently had only one function: to modify the building so that it would look unsuspicious from above. In the end, the whole thing looked as if a shoebox had been placed over something in an attempt to conceal it. But photos from the interior revealed that what was going on at the site was in fact probably work on fissile material.

One of the photos showed an Asian in blue tracksuit trousers, standing next to an Arab. The Mossad quickly identified the two men as Chon Chibu and Ibrahim Othman. Chon is one of the leading members of the North Korean nuclear program, and experts believe that he is the chief engineer behind the Yongbyon plutonium reactor. Othman is the director of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission.


Ali-Reza Asgari, 63, a handsome man with a moustache, was the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon in the 1980s and became Iran's deputy defense minister in the mid-1990s.


The Americans and Israelis soon discovered that the Tehran insider was an intelligence goldmine. For the Israelis, the most alarming part of Asgari's story was what he had to say about Iran's nuclear program. According to Asgari, Tehran was building a second, secret plant in addition to the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, which was already known to the West. Besides, he said, Iran was apparently funding a top-secret nuclear project in Syria, launched in cooperation with the North Koreans. But Asgari claimed he did not know any further details about the plan.


In August, Major General Yaakov Amidror, the trio's spokesman, delivered a devastating report to the prime minister. While the Mossad had tended to be reserved in its assessment of Al Kibar, the three men were now more than convinced that the site posed an existential threat to Israel and that there was evidence of intense cooperation between Syria and North Korea. There also appeared to be proof of connections to Iran. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, who experts believed was the head of Iran's secret "Project 111" for outfitting Iranian missiles with nuclear warheads, had visited Damascus in 2005. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Syria in 2006, where he is believed to have promised the Syrians more than $1 billion (€675 million) in assistance and urged them to accelerate their efforts.

According to this version of the story, Al Kibar was to be a backup plant for the heavy-water reactor under construction near the Iranian city of Arak, designed to provide plutonium to build a bomb if Iran did not succeed in constructing a weapon using enriched uranium. "Assad apparently thought that, with his weapon, he could have a nuclear option for an Armageddon," says Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, the former director of Israeli military intelligence.


Olmert approved a highly risky undertaking: a fact-finding mission by Israeli agents on foreign soil. On an overcast night in August 2007, says intelligence expert Ronen Bergman, Israeli elite units traveling in helicopters at low altitude crossed the border into Syria, where they unloaded their testing equipment in the desert near Deir el-Zor and took soil samples in the general vicinity of the Al Kibar plant. The group had to abort its daring mission prematurely when it was discovered by a patrol. The Israelis still lacked the definitive proof they needed. However those in Tel Aviv who favored quick action argued that the results of the samples "provided evidence of the existence of a nuclear program."

Immediately following the brief report from the military ("target destroyed"), Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, explained the situation, and asked him to inform President Assad in Damascus that Israel would not tolerate another nuclear plant -- but that no further hostile action was planned. Israel, Olmert said, did not want to play up the incident and was still interested in making peace with Damascus. He added that if Assad chose not to draw attention to the Israeli strike, he would do the same.

In this way, a deafening silence about the mysterious event in the desert began. Nevertheless, the story did not end there, because there were many who chose to shed light on the incident -- and others who were intent on exacting revenge.
By the way, Der Spiegel strongly implies that Israel was behind the assassination of Imad Mughniyah:
For the Israelis, Mughniyah was the epitome of terror, the most notorious terrorist mastermind in the Middle East. He was responsible for the bloody attack on American military headquarters in Beirut in the 1980s and on Jewish institutions in Argentina in the 1990s, attacks in which hundreds of innocent people died. He is regarded by some as the inventor of the suicide attack and was deeply rooted in Iranian power structures.

The Mossad had information that Mughniyah was planning to avenge the air strike on Al Kibar with an attack on an Israeli embassy -- either in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, Cairo or the Jordanian capital Amman.
Read the whole thing. There's much more and it's fascinating.

Israel Matzav: How Israel destroyed Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' doing well under Netanyahu

'Palestinians' doing well under Netanyahu

In American politics, we are always told that "it's the economy, stupid." Elections are decided based on the economy, with voters answering the question, "am I better off than I was x years ago?" If that were the basis for 'Palestinian' voting, they would have to be pleased with the results that the Netanyahu government has achieved.

Economic growth in Judea and Samaria jumped 7 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said in a recent report. Arab building in Yesha is also reportedly undergoing a boom. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he is focusing on boosting the economy of Yesha Arabs.

Previously, the World Bank, had said the local Arab economy had contracted by 13 percent in the eight years between 2000 and 2008.

Hmmm. Give them a state and that economic growth will come to an end

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' doing well under Netanyahu

Israel Matzav: Haaretz's blood libel

Haaretz's blood libel

The police announced on Sunday that they have arrested an American immigrant named Yaakov (Jack) Teitel and have charged him with several unsolved shootings and bombings. Teitel is accused of murdering two Arabs in 1997, planting a bomb outside the home of Hebrew University professor Zev Sternhell and planting a bomb outside the home of a Messianic Jewish couple in Ariel in which the couple's 15-year old son was seriously wounded.

The police have concluded that Teitel was not the shooter in the case that is currently their most vexing - the shooting attack on a gay club in Tel Aviv this past summer.

Teitel has been charged and will stand trial, and that's as it should be. Unfortunately, Haaretz takes the opportunity to bash Israel's law enforcement for not being hard enough on crimes committed against 'Palestinians.' Surprisingly, it's not one of Haaretz's usual suspects doing the bashing. It's Avi Issacharoff, formerly Israel Radio's Arab affairs correspondent, and usually one of their more balanced writers.

Experience - and statistics - show that Israeli law enforcement is remarkably lax when it comes to tackling violence against Palestinians. Twelve years ago, Teitel confessed to killing two Arabs and then took a break from such activity. Sure, he was detained for questioning after the murder of shepherd Issa Mahamra, but he was released due to insufficient evidence. As with many other cases of murder and violence committed against Palestinians, the story of the shepherd from Yatta and the taxi driver from East Jerusalem disappeared into oblivion - until Teitel returned and attempted to harm Jews, bringing the wrath of public opinion, the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police down on his head.

The (justifiably) prevailing feeling among Palestinians in the West Bank is that their blood is of no consequence. It's hard to find a Palestinian today who will make an effort to approach the Israeli police about a settler assault, unless Israeli human-rights groups help him. The way Palestinians in the territories see it, Israeli law is enforced only if Jews are harmed, while incidents in which Palestinians are murdered, beaten or otherwise wounded are treated cursorily at best - and more often, are ignored entirely.

In an editorial on Monday, Haaretz went berserk:

By his own confession, implicating himself in two murders and 10 other acts of terrorism, Yaakov (Jack) Teitel should be regarded as one of the most dangerous terrorists ever to operate in Israel and the territories. Teitel is the Jewish counterpart of "The Engineer," Yahya Ayyash - Hamas' expert bomb maker - with one fundamental difference: Ayyash's targets were all Jews, whereas Teitel operated against everyone, Israelis and Palestinians, homosexuals and policemen. He was active for a dozen long years before his capture by the Shin Bet security service and the police, who thwarted his plans for carrying out further acts of terrorism.

Evelyn Gordon responds.

According to both the police and the Shin Bet security service, Teitel was a lone wolf, perpetrating his terrorist acts with no help from anyone. Moreover, when his deeds became known, he was unequivocally repudiated by his own society. Both the Yesha Council of settlements and the settlement where he lived issued condemnations. So did every settler-on-the-street that Haaretz reporters interviewed. Even on far-Right websites, the paper found very few statements of support for Teitel’s acts (and probably not for lack of trying; Haaretz usually likes nothing better than vilifying settlers). And of course, Israel arrested him itself.

Ayyash, in contrast, belonged to a large, well-funded group whose terrorist acts, far from being denounced, have consistently been lauded by Palestinian society. As leading Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad Sarraj told the Los Angeles Times in 2002, suicide bombers have “unparalleled” status among Palestinians. “Their pictures are plastered on public walls, their funerals are emotional celebrations, their families often receive visits from state officials. They become almost holy,” the LA Times report continued, “praised by imams at mosques or over loudspeakers at rallies, where children are often dressed as shrouded dead or as pint-sized suicide bombers.” Indeed, Palestinians value terror so highly that in 2006, they elected Hamas — a terrorist organization that not only holds the record for most Israelis killed in suicide bombings but flaunts its prowess in anti-Israel terror as its calling card — to run their government. Palestinians don’t arrest their terrorists; they make them cabinet ministers.

This different societal responses also explains the difference in the amount of mayhem the two men succeeded in perpetrating. In a terrorist career spanning a dozen years and about a dozen attacks, Teitel managed to kill two people. In contrast, Hamas suicide bombers killed 57 people in the two years before Ayyash met his death (at Israel’s hands) in December 1995; as the organization’s chief bomb maker, Ayyash presumably shares credit for most of these deaths. It’s not that Teitel was any less enamored of bombs; it’s just that it’s easier to perpetrate mass murder when you are backed by a large organization and a supportive society.

As to Issacharoff, Teitel is far from the first Jew to be arrested for allegedly killing 'Palestinians.' Oren Edri, the Kahalani brothers, Nahum Kurman and the Bat Ayin group all come to mind when thinking of Jews who have stood trial for allegedly killing Arabs.

The truth is that there have been far fewer Jewish terrorists than Arab terrorists. And two of the most prominent alleged Jewish terrorists - Baruch Goldstein and Eden Natan-Zada - were murdered by Arabs in revenge attacks on the spot.

There's another difference between Jewish and Arab terrorists. If Teitel is convicted of doing what he is accused of doing, he will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. 'Palestinian' terrorists, on the other hand, are often released in 'prisoner exchanges.'

There is no basis for Issacharoff's accusations.

Israel Matzav: Haaretz's blood libel

Israel Matzav: LA Times bashes the critics

LA Times bashes the critics

In Friday's Los Angeles Times, Scott MacLeod bashes Human Rights Watch founder Robert Bernstein for Bernstein's criticism of the organization that he founded. A few responses to this attack are below.

Bernstein is just plain wrong that the organization's Middle East program focuses on Israel's alleged human rights violations while ignoring those committed by Arab governments and the Iranian regime. Even a quick glance at Human Rights Watch's website, where recent reports are posted, shows that the majority of those on the Middle East relate to countries other than Israel. According to Human Rights Watch, it has produced 1,776 total documents on the Middle East since 2000 -- 250, or 14%, of which were devoted to Israel.

No, MacLeod is just plain wrong. There are 16 countries covered by Human Rights Watch's Middle East division. 14% is a disproportionate number, especially when one considers that none of the other countries covered is free. How many reports has Human Rights Watch produced on Saudi Arabia? How many on Syria? How many on Iraq while Saddam was in power? How many on Egypt, which has been governed by a 'state of emergency' for 27 years? How many on Iran?

As Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor points out in an as yet unpublished article:

Fortunately, weighted studies exist which better reflect the basis for Bernstein’s concerns at HRW’s recent misguided agenda. Analysis of HRW’s Middle East activities from 2004-8 reveals that their output during this period consistently focused more on condemnations of Israeli defense against terror than on serial human rights abusers such as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

In 2008 specifically, HRW’s focus on Israel was second only to Saudi Arabia and far more than on Libya, Syria, and other chronic human rights abusers. Unlike HRW’s misleading claim that only 15% of its Middle East and North Africa reporting is devoted to Israel (a level which is unjustified in this region), analyses do not simply aggregate all HRW publications as equally significant. This detailed study recognizes the important differences between publications, such as a lengthy published report accompanied by press conferences (the norm when HRW attacks Israel) in contrast to one-page website postings that attract little attention.

Adding more evidence to this number crunching approach, NGO Monitor also studies the use of language, demonstrating that since 2005, HRW has used particular damning and unjustified terminology in attacking Israel. In a region replete with despotic regimes, the only democracy in the Middle East was condemned for “violations of human rights law” or similar terms 33 times in 2008, compared to thirteen such citations for the Palestinians, six for Hezbollah and five for Egypt.

Appallingly, MacLeod then slips into attempting to defend the human rights records of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Hezbullah and Iran.

Bernstein describes a Middle East "populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records," most of which "remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent." Without excusing any of them, the reality is not so simple.

Hosni Mubarak's Egypt, for example, is hardly Saddam Hussein's Iraq; the Saudi ruling family cannot be equated with the Taliban either. When it comes to Israel, Mubarak has maintained the 1979 peace treaty throughout his 28 years in power; Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah sponsored the 2002 peace initiative proposing a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace accord.

Bernstein argues that the militancy of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah "continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve." He does not mention the role that Israel's long military occupation of Palestinian lands has also played in perpetuating Palestinian misery.

Bernstein shouts alarm over the fact that Hamas and Hezbollah receive support from the Tehran regime, which he asserts has "openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere." Not to sidestep the appalling behavior of any of the three, but the reality is more complicated. Hamas and Hezbollah are not Iranian puppets. Each has genuine and substantial popular support within their constituencies and throughout the Middle East -- popularity, incidentally, that is the result of fighting Israeli occupation.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's infamous assertion in 2005 that the "occupying regime" in Israel should be "wiped off the map" did not call for the annihilation of Jews in Israel or anywhere else. Iran itself is home to about 25,000 Jews who are determined to remain there. Ahmadinejad's threat can reasonably be ascribed to rhetorical bombast more than to plans for another Holocaust.

I wonder if MacLeod discussed his claims about Egypt with the country's remaining Christian Copts. I wonder if he ever tried to take a bible into Saudi Arabia, or for that matter to enter Saudi Arabia with a Jewish friend (if he has any). I wonder if MacLeod has ever visited Gaza or southern Lebanon and held an off-the-record conversation with members of the local population to see what life is like in an Islamic caliphate. And I wonder whether MacLeod would be willing to stake his life on his assertion that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn't really mean what he says.

Read the whole thing. It's appalling.

Israel Matzav: LA Times bashes the critics

Israel Matzav: Surprise: Hamas contradicts what it told Goldstone

Surprise: Hamas contradicts what it told Goldstone

Hamas told Justice Richard Richard Goldstone that it had no direct or indirect links to terrorist organizations. Goldstone bought the story hook, line and sinker, and therefore his report makes no mention of Hamas being a terrorist organization. Now that Richard, Richard is out of sight and out of mind, Hamas' true colors are coming through again.

The upper inscription (in red) reads “[Fathi] Hamad: We work in coordination with the resistance factions to make it easier for them to carry out their missions” (Safa News Agency website, October 28, 2009).

The lower inscription (in black) reads: “Hamad: We hold routine meetings with the
faction commanders to remove obstacles.”

There's more:
1. On October 28 Fathi Hamad, interior minister of the de facto Hamas administration, gave a speech at a conference in Gaza City sponsored by the Association of Factions and [Trade] Unions. In his speech he described the close ties between Hamas’ interior ministry and the terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip (“the resistance factions”), and the support it gave to the various organizations. The conference was attended by commanders of Hamas’ internal security forces operating in the Gaza Strip.

2. The following were the main points quoted by the Hamas-affiliated Safa News Agency, October 28, 2009:1

i) The [Hamas] interior ministry “coordinates with all the factions of the resistance in [the] Gaza [Strip]” [i.e., the terrorist organizations].

ii) The ministry makes every effort “to protect them and make it easier for them to carry out every aspect of their jihadist missions.”

iii) There is routine coordination between the interior ministry and the various organizations: “We routinely meet with the commanders of the factions [i.e., the terrorist organizations] to remove obstacles between us. We have ended the security coordination with the occupation [i.e., the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel] and have replaced it with jihadist coordination” [i.e., operational coordination to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel].

3. Fathi Hamad, as Hamas’ interior minister, has a great deal of influence on the implementation of Hamas’ terrorist attack policy. That is because the internal security forces are subordinate to the ministry and serve as Hamas’ main tool for enforcing its policies, and are used by Hamas to supervise the extent, nature and number of terrorist attacks. His statements were intended to deflect Fatah’s accusations that once Hamas won the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, it abandoned the “resistance” and has since prevented the military-terrorist networks of Fatah and the other organizations “from resisting the occupation” (Safa News Agency website, October 28, 2009).
Hamad isn't the first to make statements like that either. Read the whole thing.

So is Richard Richard a naive fool or a malicious opportunist? Based on everything I've read, I'd bet on the latter.

Israel Matzav: Surprise: Hamas contradicts what it told Goldstone

Israel Matzav: It's official: We have reached an impasse

It's official: We have reached an impasse

'Top US officials' are now admitting that the 'Middle East peace talks' have reached an impasse.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. special envoy George Mitchell again Monday afternoon in an attempt to find a way to allow the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Senior U.S. officials admit that the talks have reached an impasse.

It's a safe bet that Netanyahu is not going to yield on building in Jerusalem (he risks his own coalition if he does that) and therefore talks with the 'Palestinians' are unlikely to resume anytime soon.

What could go wrong?

This time I'm going to answer the question: With the Goldstone Report lurking out there possibly limiting Israel's defenses in the event that another round of violence starts, unfortunately, plenty can go wrong.

Israel Matzav: It's official: We have reached an impasse

Israel Matzav: The despicable Gideon Levy

The despicable Gideon Levy

It was entirely predictable that someone from the Israeli media would do a sympathetic interview with Swedish 'journalist' Donald Bostrom while the blood libeler is visiting Israel. It was nearly as predictable that the interviewer would come from Haaretz, Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily. Now, we know the interviewer's identity: Gideon Levy. Why am I infuriated but not surprised?

We ate breakfast at his hotel, which borders on Am Yisrael Hai ("the people of Israel live") Street, and then we went up to his room which overlooks the sea. There he showed me the pictures he had taken of the body of the stone thrower, Bilal Ghanan, from the village of Imatin in the northern West Bank who had been shot by IDF soldiers on May 13, 1992.

The mortally wounded Ghanan was evacuated to the hospital by an Israel army helicopter and his dead body was returned to his family five days later, sewn up along its length, while Bostrom was in the village. Bostrom says the family is entitled to know what happened to their son, why his body was autopsied without his family's permission and whether the rumors are correct that his internal organs were removed at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine.

This legitimate demand was presented by Bostrom in a very problematic article in which he hints that Palestinians were abducted and their bodies were returned without organs. The context in which he published the article, apropos of the trade in body organs by some Jews in New Jersey, also added a problematic and loaded dimension to the article. Bostrom says he published Ghanan's story in a book he wrote several years ago and also tried to have it published in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter which rejected it. He finally published it in the tabloid Aftonbladet in its daily cultural supplement, when the story about the New Jersey Jews broke.

He apparently understands that the connection between New Jersey and the suspicion, which Bostrom does not prove, of garnering organs from the Palestinians, can provide inflammatory material for anti-Semitic groups.

Bostrom says he did not like the headline given to the article: "Our sons are plundered of their organs", but he understands that the responsibility for the article lies with him. He says that dozens of Palestinians believe their family members' organs were stolen.

You have already had scandals at your forensic institute with other bodies, he says, and there is illegal trade in organs, so there is a need to investigate.

It should be added that until the Aftonbladet article came out, the Ghanan family had never claimed that organs were removed from the body, only that the body had disappeared for some period of time.

By the way, I heard that Mr. Bostrom beat his wife twenty years ago and may still be doing it. Maybe Gideon Levy can ask the Swedish government to open an investigation. After all, that accusation has at least as much of a basis as Mr. Bostrom's accusations.

Israel Matzav: The despicable Gideon Levy

Israel Matzav: Your daily dose of 'Palestinian' child abuse

Your daily dose of 'Palestinian' child abuse

Yes, that's a 'Palestinian' child with a fake machine gun (at least I hope it's fake) stepping on Israeli flags and a picture of Prime Minister Netanyahu. It happened at an Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza on Friday. That rally and others like it are the obstacles to peace and are far more important than the obstacles to a 'peace process' about which the 'Palestinians' complained over the weekend. More (and more pictures too) here.

Israel Matzav: Your daily dose of 'Palestinian' child abuse

Israel Matzav: The Number One Paradox of the Middle East

The Number One Paradox of the Middle East

Barry Rubin explains the Number One Paradox of the Middle East.

At the center of this stands the Number One Paradox of the issue, in some ways of all Middle Eastern politics: Why is it that although the Palestinians complain that they are suffering from a horrible occupation and not having a state of their own they are not in any hurry to make a peace agreement, end the “occupation,” and get a state.

The main answer is that the dominant Palestinian view is still the desire to win a total victory and wipe Israel off the map. The back-up stance is that any peace agreement must not block the continued pursuit of that goal. And the back-up position to that is to reject strong security guarantees, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, an unmilitarized Palestinian state, settlement of Palestinian refugees in Palestine, territorial compromise or exchanges, and indeed any concession whatsoever.

There are two implications of this:

--The Palestinians are at fault for the failure to achieve peace.

--There isn’t going to be any Israel-Palestinian peace in the near- or even medium-term future.

If you understand the preceding 176 words then you understand the issue comprehensively.

I would say that the paradox becomes a lot easier to understand when one considers that the 'Palestinians' don't live in a truly democratic regime and have been manipulated for decades by their political and religious 'leaders,' and by the Arab countries. If the 'Palestinians' were given free choice, they might choose to compromise with Israel, or maybe even to live under Israeli rule. Look how many of them are trying to escape from Judea and Samaria into Jerusalem to make sure that they are under Israeli rule when the music stops playing. Of course, it would take a generation or two without incitement for the 'Palestinians' to even be capable of exercising free choice.

Meanwhile, the 'Palestinian' leadership continues its paradoxical behavior. It complains about suffering, while continuing to hold out for maximalist demands that no Israeli government will ever be able to grant. The 'Palestinian' leadership hopes to sacrifice its 'people' for the sake of jihad and for the sake of the destruction of the Jewish state. It's not the 'Palestinian' leadership that's suffering. It's the 'Palestinian' people.

What Rubin refers to as the 'dominant Palestinian view' is certainly the view of the 'Palestinian' leadership. Whether ordinary 'Palestinians' support that view is unfortunately irrelevant. They continue to play along with it.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: The Number One Paradox of the Middle East

Israel Matzav: Israel should call Abu Mazen's war strategy

Israel should call Abu Mazen's war strategy

For those of you who don't visit Commentary's Contentions blog regularly, here's another reason to start: Evelyn Gordon has joined their list of contributors. Here's her first post, and it's spot-on:

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.


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 deliberate 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.

Who is Lieberman having trouble convincing? Gordon doesn't say. Among the 'security cabinet,' I'd guess Dan Meridor, Ehud Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu. Possibly even new member Eli Yishai. My guess is that Moshe ("Boogie") Yaalon and Benny Begin support Lieberman's demand.

While it was clear over the weekend that Netanyahu was doing everything possible to show that Israel is cooperating with the US and the 'Palestinians' are not, this particular demand should be one that the Americans can support. Abu Mazen has no right to play both sides of the fence. Either he and his 'Palestinian Authority' are on the side of peace or they're on the side of Goldstone.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Israel should call Abu Mazen's war strategy

Israel Matzav: Iranian minister: 'Israeli journalist sneaked into country'

Iranian minister: 'Israeli journalist sneaked into country'

The Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance complained on Friday that an Israeli journalist had sneaked into Iran.

The Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance claims that an Israeli journalist entered the country during the post-election unrest to report on developments.

"In the course of post-election incidents, we witnessed an Israeli journalist posing as a correspondent for another media outlet. This individual reported on developments in our country," said Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini.

Speaking at the Basij and Media summit in Mashhad, Hosseinian said that people were being flooded with so much information to cripple their ability to think.

"When they bombard the individual with information, the individual becomes incapable of thinking," he said. "We must understand that nothing can be achieved merely by trying to control the situation or countering it. Instead, we must adopt an active posture."

He went on to accuse 'the enemy' of repetitively using certain vocabulary to express [and advance] its special interests. "This repetition is so extreme that even some o f the elite fall for it," he said.

Hosseinian then turned to media activities by the Reform government. "Due to the nature of the news coming from universities, we had been falsely led to believe... that hot political issues were of importance to the students," he said. "However, when we spoke to students it became clear to us that they cared about scientific, welfare and union issues and politics did not hold much significance for them."

Yeah, right.

My guess is that the reporter to whom they are referring is JPost's Sabina Amidi. I doubt she'll be going back there any time soon.

Israel Matzav: Iranian minister: 'Israeli journalist sneaked into country'

Israel Matzav: Haaretz gets religion

Haaretz gets religion

You can always count on Haaretz to try to misinterpret Torah to be used as a club against the Jewish people. Here's the latest example from one Alex Sinclair.

There is a famous Rashi on Genesis 2:18, in which God decides to create a partner for Adam. The Biblical narrator has God say "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper against him." The Hebrew here, "ezer k'negdo," is tricky, and has always perplexed translators. Some try "corresponding to him," some try "beside him," some try "fitting." None of these captures the oddness of the Hebrew.

Rashi comments as follows: "If he is worthy: a helper; if he is not worthy: against him, to fight with him." Generations of rabbis have used this beautiful comment to talk about the complexity of the relationship between spouses, and to suggest that a true marriage is based on the ability and willingness to give honest and critical feedback to one's spouse if they lose their way. A spouse is not a yes-man (or ?woman); a spouse is someone who disagrees with you when you are wrong.

The current crisis - and it is a crisis, make no mistake about it - in the relationship between American Jewry and Israel is because we have forgotten this Rashi.

We need to remember this Rashi because it suggests that American Jews should offer angry, vocal, confrontational critique when they feel that Israel is practicing particular policies that they find unworthy. Note the word that Rashi uses: "to fight." Not just to critique, not just to gently remind, not just to seek to influence, but to shout, to confront, to demand to be heard.

If we want American Jews and Israel to be in a truly deep relationship, then we need to enable American Jews to be the ezer k'negdo, the helping spouse who fights. After all, they do enough helping. We can't ask American Jews to support us, visit us, give us their money, and be inspired by us, without allowing them - demanding of them - to tell us what they think. It is taxation without representation. It is an abuse of the relationship between us. It is blasphemy to the very notion of a Jewish state.

Rashi, of course, suggests nothing of the sort. "If he is unworthy, she is against him," is a curse; it's not the way marriage is intended to be. The Gemara is quite clear about that, by the way. The Gemara says that on the morning after a wedding, the husband would be asked, "matza o motzei," which literally means "did he find or is he finding," but which is actually a reference to two different types of marriages. One, which is written in Ben Sira (and which my mother-in-law gave me on a plaque :-) is "matza isha, matza tov" (a man who found a wife found good). The other is a reference to a verse in Ecclesiastes (Koheleth), "u'motzei ani eth ha'ish mar mi'maveth" (and I find the woman more bitter than death). It's not about constructive criticism.

Spouses live together and share daily lives and concerns. Someone halfway around the world with little appreciation for our day-to-day life is not a spouse. A friend, maybe, but not a spouse.

For one to give constructive criticism, one must first be in a loving relationship. Imagine if a stranger came up to you in the street and criticized the way you were dressed, the way you disciplined your child, the way you kept your hair or the pace at which you walked. Would you listen to them? Would you ignore them? Would you punch them in the face? Would you hope never to see them again? Now imagine that your loving spouse gently chided you about one of those things, would your reaction be different?

The problem with Israel's relationship with the diaspora today is not that American Jewry doesn't criticize us enough - it's that the loving relationship with much of American Jewry is missing.

It's missing because much of American Jewry has no appreciation for Israel's day-to-day existential problems, because much of American Jewry has never even visited Israel, because much of American Jewry has no love for Israel or Israelis (partly because much of American Jewry is intermarried and either not Jewish or Jewish in name only), and because much of American Jewry has abandoned Judaism and replaced it with a religion called Liberalism. As the prophet Isaiah wrote in God's name (1:12) regarding the idol-worshipers of his time, who considered themselves righteous when they visited the Temple, "Who asked you to come see Me, to trample in My courtyards." Until the proper relationship is there - a relationship that puts the continued existence and well-being of the Jewish people ahead of all else - no criticism is appropriate or should be taken seriously.

American Jews who have a loving relationship with Israel have the right and the duty to criticize it. The kind of people Alex Sinclair wants to hear from - like many of the people at the J Street Conference last week - have no loving relationship with Israel and no right to criticize.

Israel Matzav: Haaretz gets religion
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