Thursday, 26 November 2009

STAND WITH US : Urgent : Action Alert - Sign Petition - Overturn Spain's Boycott of Israeli University





Click Here to sign now.

Political extremists have launched yet another Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. They pressured Spain into abruptly expelling Ariel University Center (AUC) from the 2010 Solar Decathlon, an international competition for building a self-sustaining solar house, even though Ariel’s team was chosen as one of 20 finalists. The U.S. Department of Energy created the first Solar Decathlon in 2002, agreed in 2007 to have Spain host the competition in alternating years, and is co-sponsoring the 2010 event.

BDS’s goal of spreading the 60-year-old Arab boycott against Israel violates all standards for international cooperation which call for transcending political grievances in joint research that will advance human knowledge and benefit humanity. BDS activists oppose and threaten those ideals. Spain has capitulated to their demands.


To: U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. State Department; Members of U.S. Congress; Secretary General of Housing, Kingdom of Spain; Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, Kingdom of Spain; OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

We, the undersigned,

Demand that Spain reinstate Israel’s Ariel U in the international solar competition immediately. The AUC team had been accepted as one of 20 finalists, had already received some Decathlon funds to complete their project, and had worked for over a year when, with no warning, Spain’s Minister of Housing wrote on 9/11/09 that they had been expelled.

Urge U.S. officials to revoke U.S. co-sponsorship of Spain ‘s Solar Decathlon if Spain does not reverse the policy. The U.S. should not be complicit in a boycott against Israel.

Condemn Spain’s violation of its 2007 “Memorandum of Understanding” with the U.S. which granted it the right to the host the 10th Decathlon. The agreement did not give Spain the right to arbitrarily exclude teams on political grounds.

Condemn Spain for capitulating to the malicious BDS political campaign. The BDS letter to Spain (Sept. 14, 2009) is a screed of extremist demands, distortions of international law, and demonization of Israel and even of its environmental innovations. BDS has no interest in furthering this crucial area of research, and should not be allowed to impose its political vendettas on students engaged in serious research that will contribute to human progress. “Boycott is incompatible with the hallmark of academic culture: a free, research-based dialogue,” according to the Rector of Norway’s University of Science and Technology.

Condemn Spain’s misrepresentation of EU policy to justify the exclusion. Ariel’s location in the West Bank does not violate any EU policy on cooperative projects. Israel has extensive economic, cultural and scientific programs with the EU. Between 2007 and 2009, there were 428 joint scientific projects, some of which were located over the Green Line, the 1949 Armistice lines. Israel and the Palestinians have been negotiating to determine what the future borders between them should be.

Condemn Spain for punitive, discriminatory actions against Arab and Israeli students at Ariel U, and against the diverse group that was on the Decathlon team. They have been a model of Arab-Israeli cooperation.

We respectfully remind all parties that Israel and the Palestinians are trying to work out a solution to their conflict. Many peace proposals have placed Ariel within Israel’s final borders with the Palestinians. This boycott presupposes and prejudices the outcome of future negotiations.

Call upon the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to investigate whether Spain’s actions qualify as anti-Semitic according to the OSCE’s 2004 Vienna Declaration. Anti-Semitism includes “the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena,” according to the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism of 2008. International polls have shown Spain has the highest rate of anti-Semitic attitudes of any country in Europe.


Urgent : Action Alert - Sign Petition - Overturn Spain's Boycott of Israeli University

Israel Matzav: Hamas promises Marwan Barghouti he will be part of any deal

Hamas promises Marwan Barghouti he will be part of any deal

Hamas has promised Fatah Tanzim terror leader Marwan Barghouti that he will be released as part of any exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Tanzim terrorist head Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five live terms in an Israeli prison for his role in murdering over 30 Jews, has been promised that he will be released in any deal to exchange kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit for terrorists held by Israel. Barghouti was made the promise by Hamas leaders, a Hamas source told Arab media, although he himself belongs to the Fatah terror group.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Hamas promises Marwan Barghouti he will be part of any deal

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

Some of you may have seen a reference to this video in the comments. It's the same song as last night. But this time it's Mayan Lawent's concept video of the real "heroes" and real "weapons" of the Jewish people, to the same song performed by Avraham Fried.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: What price Gilad Shalit?

What price Gilad Shalit?

My son came home tonight and I drove him back to yeshiva with more supplies. In the car, we were talking about Gilad Shalit and the price that the Israeli government is apparently willing to pay for his release. We understand why it's wrong. So does Mordechai Kedar. But apparently, an awful lot of other people do not.

In the name of which set of morals should we choose Gilad Shalit's life over the lives of people to be abducted in the future because of the surrender that prompted his release? And once all prisoners demanded by Hamas will be released, how many of our citizens will be murdered? Is each one of those calling for securing Shalit's release "at any price" willing to pay that price personally when they are murdered, heaven forbid, by a released detainee? And what will we be paying for abductees in the future? A Jerusalem neighborhood in exchange for a solider and half a neighborhood for a civilian?

A greater problem is the fact that people who abduct Israelis are going on with their lives while feeling nothing bad will happen to them and that they won't have to pay any price for their acts. Only once in history did abductors of Israelis have to pay with their lives for the abduction: The kidnappers of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, apparently because the captives were murdered.

The Hamas leaders who hold Gilad Shalit are sleeping in their beds, sitting in their offices, and traveling worldwide as if there is nothing wrong with their acts and conduct. On Monday, the man who abducted Shalit and is holding him, Ahmad Jabri, traveled to Egypt while realizing that an IDF drone is flying above his car. The State of Israel no longer scares anyone, and many in the Arab world feel that they can do anything against it, without paying any price for their actions, as grave as these may be.

Has anyone in a position of power thought through the implications of trading 1,000 terrorists for one kidnapped soldier? What will happen the next time? How many people will die to bring Gilad back to his family? These are the real issues, and no one in power is facing them.

Kedar asks whether we belong here if this is how we respond to abductions of our troops. It's a good question. Trading 1,000 terrorists, including hundreds of murderers for one soldier may be a watershed event in our existence here. I shudder at the potential consequences.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: What price Gilad Shalit?

Israel Matzav: Why there is no solution to the Israeli - Arab conflict

Why there is no solution to the Israeli - Arab conflict

Asaf Romirowsky gets it right.

Historically, Palestinian society never saw Israel's existence as a "right." The only right in the Palestinian narrative is their own connection to the land, although they do see Israel as a temporary military fact. But there will come a day, the narrative goes, when they will be able to defeat the Israelis.

The notion of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state existing alongside Israel was never part of the Palestinian worldview, and they have also always rejected the notion of a single binational state.

If from the late '80s into the Oslo years it was politically correct to call for a two-state solution, two sides living side by side, many Palestinians now openly call for a one-state solution, a de facto final solution for the state of Israel.

Just look at what Rashid Khalidi, ex-PLO spokesman, now professor at Columbia, writes in his book "The Iron Cage": "among some observers . . . a realization has been growing for years that is increasingly unlikely. This realization has taken shape irrespective of the merits or demerits . . . of the two-state solution, in spite of the long-standing desire of majorities of Palestinians and Israelis for their own state, and notwithstanding the (often grudging and hedged) acceptance by each people of a state for the others."

In fact, on the Palestinian street, where things really count, the preference is for a one-state solution - Israel is nowhere to be found.


Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem should start looking at other options as the Obama administration tries to reignite "peace talks" that have no viable end result. The two-state solution in its current formula is actually just a placebo for those who'd like to believe that peace will come when there are two states living side by side. Absent real acceptance of Israel by the Arabs, this isn't likely to occur - and the probability of Hamas-run Gaza being included in any resolution is slim to none.

FOR PRAGMATIC reasons, Palestinians may not admit a return to the one-state policy, particularly since American aid and support flows from a peace process based on a two-state solution, but the signs are everywhere.

We need to face the fact that peace and security are not going come from the "two-state solution," and without understanding that, there can't be a real discussion of what peace and security in the region really looks like.

Israel Matzav: Why there is no solution to the Israeli - Arab conflict

Israel Matzav: Hezbullah official, son-in-law indicted on weapons charges in US

Hezbullah official, son-in-law indicted on weapons charges in US

A Hezbullah official and his son-in-law have been indicted in Philadelphia on charges of trying to smuggle 1200 machine guns to Hezbullah in Lebanon via Syria.

Hassan Hodroj and Dib Hani Harb, both of Beirut, were among four men accused of conspiring to support Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite group with close ties to Iran and Syria that is on the State Department's list of terrorist groups, U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy of Philadelphia said.

Harb, Moussa Ali Hamdan of Brooklyn and Hasan Antar Karaki of Beirut were also charged with seeking to funnel to Hezbollah counterfeit money and stolen cash generated by the sale of phony passports, with Hamdan acting as a U.S.-based conduit to a confidential government witness based in Philadelphia.

Hodroj was identified in court documents as a member of Hezbollah's political council and has been identified in news reports as spokesman and head of its Palestinian issues portfolio. None of the four is in U.S. custody and all are believed to be overseas, said Patricia Hartman, spokeswoman for Levy.

The six others indicted Tuesday allegedly formed a criminal smuggling ring that trafficked in purportedly stolen goods, including cellphones, Sony PlayStation 2 video game systems, automobiles and fake Nike tennis shoes.

Hezbullah has a presence in the US? Someone had better call Eric Holder and tell him. Hezbullah's political wing is involved in smuggling? Someone had better call Hillary Clinton and tell her.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Hezbullah official, son-in-law indicted on weapons charges in US

Israel Matzav: Iran threatens to sue Russia over S-300

Iran threatens to sue Russia over S-300

Iran is threatening to sue Russia for failing to deliver the S-300 anti-missile system that Iran wants to protect its nuclear facilities.

"The Russians, surely under the pressure of the Zionist lobby and America, refuse to fulfill their commitments," the official IRNA news agency quoted Brigadier General Mohammad Hassan Mansourian as saying.

"And because this is an official agreement it can be pursued through international legal bodies," said Mansourian, who is deputy head of Iran's air defenses.

Good luck with that.

Iranian officials say the country can produce a S-300-style system by itself, if Russia does not deliver it. Iranian media say a new anti-aircraft defense system will be tested during war games this week.

As they say in Missouri, show me.


Israel Matzav: Iran threatens to sue Russia over S-300

Israel Matzav: Another world leader spits in Obama's face

Israel Matzav: Another world leader spits in Obama's face

Israel Matzav: Shalit negotiations postponed

Shalit negotiations postponed

Hamas announced on Wednesday evening that negotiations for the 'Gilad for terrorists' exchange have been postponed until after the Muslim holiday this weekend.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hamas complained of Israel's refusal to release two particularly vicious terrorists, even if they were sent out of the country: Abdullah (not Marwan) Barghouti and Ibrahim Hamad.

Among other things, Barghouti designed the bombs that ripped through the Sbarro restaurant, as well as in Cafe Hillel, Cafe Moment, and the Hebrew University cafeteria, attacks that all took place at the height of the second intifada. Hamad was head of the military wing of Hamas during the intifada years. Although, the Hamas sources said, Israel has agreed to release other "heavy" prisoners, it has refused to release these two, even if Hamas agrees to send them abroad to live.

Does someone in the Israeli government finally get it?

Israel Matzav: Shalit negotiations postponed

Israel Matzav: Clinton buys into the 'two wings' of Hezbullah fraud

Clinton buys into the 'two wings' of Hezbullah fraud

Back in April, I debunked the myth that Hezbullah has a 'military wing' and a 'political wing.' (If you don't remember the interview at that link, please go back and watch it). Now, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - and apparently the Obama administration - has bought into it.

So here’s a wonderful example of what happens due to two seemingly small errors, shown during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance on the Charlie Rose interview show.

She stated:

“The Iranians not only worry us because of their nuclear program, they worry us because of their support for terrorism, their support for the military wing of Hezbollah, their support for Hamas, their interference in the internal affairs of their neighbors, trying to destabilize gulf countries and other countries throughout the greater region.”

This was in the context of a relatively tough statement, right? But note two things: a tiny detail in the paragraph above and later on in this article (patience, please, it will be worth it) the explanation of U.S. policy she made immediately after.

Can you find the error? Ok, I’ll tell you: the words “military wing of Hezbollah.” This is a gimmick used by Hizballah [my transliteration] and Hamas, too, to fool people in the West. It is used by advocates of engagement with these radical Islamist terrorist groups in places like Britain.

Sure, they say, there is a military wing and a political wing. The latter is moderate or becoming so and thus you can negotiate with them separately. This is rubbish. There is no such differentiation except for normal administrative purposes. The same leadership and doctrine runs both.

So one could interpret this slip—and I do believe it was a slip—as a change in U.S. policy toward Hizballah. Don’t think so? Well, it happened.

Why the about face? Because having shown nothing but weakness to the terror organizations, the US under Obama was now left with the choice of either finding a fiction to continue talking to the new Lebanese government that includes Hezbullah, or acknowledging the reality that Lebanon - like Syria and Iran - is now a state sponsor of terror. The Obama administration doesn't acknowledge reality. It tries to change it bows to it.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing (yes, there's more).

Israel Matzav: Clinton buys into the 'two wings' of Hezbullah fraud

Israel Matzav: Breaking: Cabinet approves Judea and Samaria 'building freeze'

Breaking: Cabinet approves Judea and Samaria 'building freeze'

The Netanyahu - Livni government (soon to be?) has approved a 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria 11-1. The only minister to vote against the freeze was Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu). The ministers of the Shas party, whose leader says "we cannot agree to freeze construction even for one day," absented themselves from the meeting without explanation.

The head of the Samaria Council has called on Netanyahu to resign:

Head of the Samaria Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, said in response to the freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria that "Netanyahu deceived Israeli voters and must resign."

"I'm ashamed that the Likud chairman has supported a policy that stands in direct contradiction of the platform under which he was elected. He is thereby choking the settlement enterprise in a way even the most extreme left-wing governments have not done," he added.

No one should be surprised by this freeze. We all saw it coming.

Israel Matzav: Breaking: Cabinet approves Judea and Samaria 'building freeze'

Israel Matzav: T-Shirt seen in Israel

Israel Matzav: T-Shirt seen in Israel

Israel Matzav: 13-year old Israeli girl wins chess championship, Turks refuse to play anthem

13-year old Israeli girl wins chess championship, Turks refuse to play anthem

Jihad Watch reports that when 13-year old Israeli Marcel Efroimski won the World Youth Chess Championship in Turkey, the Turks refused to play the Israeli National Anthem, as is customary on such occasions. But Marcel is no dhimmi. She stood defiantly holding her trophy in the air.

The Turks claim that no anthems were played. Would they play NO anthems to avoid playing the Israeli one? I would bet on it.

By the way, Israel is ranked third in the world in youth chess after Russia and Ukraine.

Smart Jews.

Israel Matzav: 13-year old Israeli girl wins chess championship, Turks refuse to play anthem

Israel Matzav: Abu Bluff spits on Obama

Abu Bluff spits on Obama

They're not smiling and laughing together anymore, but you would have to have been blind not to see this one coming: 'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen complained on Tuesday from Argentina that the President who made the 'Palestinians' his top priority is 'doing nothing' for Middle East 'peace.'

"For now he is doing nothing, but he has invited us to revive the peace process. I hope that in the future he can play a more important role," Abbas said in an interview published Tuesday by the Argentine daily Clarin.


Abbas expressed the hope that "the United States [will] put pressure on the Israelis to abide by international law, so that the roadmap can be implemented."

And of course, the 'Palestinian people' aren't making 'any more' concessions:

"We accepted to have only 22 per cent of Palestine, and that is the biggest concession. And we also accepted that Israel had 78 per cent. So, what kind of concessions are they expecting from us?" he said.

JPost reports that Abu Mazen actually believes that Israelis want peace:

He opined that the current government, with Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister and Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister, "is not seeking peace," though he said that 73 percent of Israelis were in favor of peace.

Well, yes, but not a peace that is likely to result in another existential war a year or two down the road.

How low can Obama go? My guess is that we have not seen the limit. But when the powerless Abu Mazen feels it's okay to spit on you, you're pretty low already.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Abu Bluff spits on Obama

Israel Matzav: Don't expect pragmatism from Iran

Don't expect pragmatism from Iran

Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, who founded Hezbullah on Iran's behalf, was harassed during a recent trip to Damascus. That says a lot about what's going on in Iran today, and who is likely to control that country for the foreseeable future.

The treatment of Mohtashamipour provides the West with a strong indication of the roots of Iran's current erratic behavior. When the Iranian founder of Hezbollah is treated this way because he disagrees with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, others who stand in their way have much more to worry about.

One factor that helped Khamenei deal with the West throughout the years was the presence of well educated, pragmatic reformists in key positions. Even after Ahmadinejad won his first term, people like former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and moderate conservatives such as Ali Larijani had a say in the formulation of policy presented to the Supreme Leader.

But Larijani resigned as Iran's top nuclear negotiator because he could no longer stomach working with Ahmadinejad. And after Ahmadinejad's controversial reelection, people like Velayati and Rowhani were sidelined. Those who surround Khamenei these days are almost exclusively all neo-conservatives. Despite their lack of experience, they have another important quality: loyalty. Iran's Supreme Leader has one goal in mind, and that's to build a bomb -- be it a physical device or the "breakout capacity" to build one on demand. Until then, he has no time, patience or sympathy for those who may question him, no matter how knowledgeable or skilled they may be. This is why he is allowing President Ahmadinejad, his loyalist soldier, and his foreign policy-ignorant allies to spearhead important policy bodies such as the Supreme National Security Council.

And for those who want to see a pragmatic Iran, this will likely be the case for the foreseeable future.

Anyone who believes that Iran will voluntarily give up its quest for nuclear weapons is fooling themselves. The treatment of Mohtashamipour proves that.

Israel Matzav: Don't expect pragmatism from Iran

Israel Matzav: What to do about American nukes in Turkey

What to do about American nukes in Turkey

I'll bet a lot of you didn't know that NATO stores American nuclear weapons in Turkey. Frankly, neither did I. But they do.

For more than 40 years, Turkey has been a quiet custodian of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, Washington positioned intermediate-range nuclear missiles and bombers there to serve as a bulwark against the Soviet Union (i.e., to defend the region against Soviet attack and to influence Soviet strategic calculations). In the event of a Soviet assault on Europe, the weapons were to be fired as one of the first retaliatory shots. But as the Cold War waned, so, too, did the weapons' strategic value. Thus, over the last few decades, the United States has removed all of its intermediate-range missiles from Turkey and reduced its other nuclear weapons there through gradual redeployments and arms control agreements.

Today, Turkey hosts an estimated 90 B61 gravity bombs at Incirlik Air Base. Fifty of these bombs are reportedly assigned for delivery by U.S. pilots, and forty are assigned for delivery by the Turkish Air Force. However, no permanent nuclear-capable U.S. fighter wing is based at Incirlik, and the Turkish Air Force is reportedly not certified for NATO nuclear missions, meaning nuclear-capable F-16s from other U.S. bases would need to be brought in if Turkey's bombs were ever needed.

The reason for this situation is that NATO no longer uses tactical nuclear weapons. If the Turkish nuclear weapons were ever needed, it would take 'months' to ready them, according to the authors. The question is what, if anything, to do about them.

The authors argue that they should be left alone:

The U.S.-Turkish relationship cooled when Turkey refused to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, after which Turkish support for U.S. policy declined through the end of the George W. Bush administration. Obama's election has helped to mend fences, and his visit to Turkey in April was warmly received. In fact, all of the administration's positive interactions with Turkey have been beneficial: Washington has supported Turkey's role as a regional energy supplier and encouraged Ankara as it undertakes difficult political reforms and works to resolve regional diplomatic conflicts. For its part, Turkey recently doubled its troop contribution to NATO's Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan--a boon to U.S. efforts there.

By incorporating Ankara into its new European missile defense plans--intended to protect Turkey and other countries vulnerable to Iran's short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles--Washington could further shore up its military relationship with Turkey. Ship-based Aegis missile systems will be the backbone of the strategy, with considerations left open for later deployments of mobile ground-based interceptors in Eastern Europe or Turkey. This cooperation could provide the bond with Washington and perception of security that Turkey seeks in the face of a potential Iranian bomb.

Because Russia weighs significantly in Turkish security calculations, reductions to Russian strategic and nonstrategic nuclear arsenals also would help improve Ankara's peace of mind. The United States and Russia soon will seek ratification of a follow-on agreement to START. And treaty negotiations in pursuit of further reductions to the U.S. and Russian arsenals should involve forward-deployed nuclear weapons, including the U.S. weapons in Turkey. During any such negotiations, Turkey must be fully confident in NATO and U.S. security guarantees. Critically, any removal of the weapons in Turkey would need to happen in concert with efforts to prevent Iran from turning its civil nuclear energy program into a military one. Otherwise, Washington would risk compromising Turkey as a NATO ally and key regional partner.

I'd be comfortable with that but for one small point about Turkey that the authors don't even mention: Islamism. Turkey is on its way to becoming an Islamist state and that greatly complicates the picture.

If the US does not want another Pakistan on its hands, it may be wise to find a way to quietly disable those nuclear weapons so that they cannot be used to threaten American allies in Europe or the Middle East. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away.

Israel Matzav: What to do about American nukes in Turkey

Israel Matzav: Why Israel needs a Logan Act

Why Israel needs a Logan Act

I have discussed the United States' Logan Act several times on this blog, most recently here and here.

Many of you outside of Israel may never have heard of Shaul Mofaz, but he's a former defense minister and IDF chief of staff, and he's number 2 in the opposition Kadima party. For the past two weeks, he has been promoting a 'peace plan' of his own in the United States. He doesn't represent the Israeli government, and for that matter, his own opposition party hasn't even discussed his plan. But he's been in the US, meeting with high level Obama administration officials on 'Israel's behalf' to discuss his plan. And he's not the first one to do this either.

Evelyn Gordon explains why what Mofaz is doing is harmful to Israel's interests.

First, it feeds the illusion among overseas governments that they don’t have to contend seriously with the positions of actual Israeli governments elected by actual Israeli voters; they can just sit and wait until the inconvenient incumbents are replaced by their pet opposition politician. Barack Obama’s failure to realize that treating Israel’s capital as a “settlement” would bolster Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rather than weaken him, since Netanyahu’s positions on Jerusalem in fact reflect those of Israel’s majority, is a classic example of the pitfalls of such illusions.

In reality, people freelance precisely because they are unable to convince their own public to put them in power. [Yossi] Beilin, for instance, went freelance after failing to make it into the Knesset in 2003; Mofaz is freelancing now because he lost Kadima’s leadership contest last fall. And there is no reason to believe such freelancers will be more electable in the future.

Second, international backing for freelancers can panic Israeli governments into moves that undermine the world’s stated goals. Global enthusiasm for the Geneva Initiative [Beilin's plan. CiJ], for instance, helped push Ariel Sharon to unilaterally quit Gaza: he considered Geneva disastrous and wanted to distract attention from it. Yet the disengagement, which Palestinians considered a victory for terror, led to Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006 and its subsequent takeover of Gaza in 2007, both of which complicated peacemaking efforts.

Thus the proper response to freelance diplomats should be “first, convince your own public; then we’ll talk.” Granted, that would force world leaders to deal with actual Israeli positions rather than unelectable fantasies. But since Israel must ultimately approve any deal, a plan that can’t command an Israeli majority isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on anyway.

I would go a step further, and I believe that Evelyn would agree with me. It's not enough for Israel to sit back and expect foreign governments not to talk with their favorite Israeli politicians, or with Israeli politicians who present plans that the foreign governments prefer. We need to be proactive. We need a law on the books that will prohibit anyone who is not authorized by the incumbent government from negotiating with foreign governments on 'our behalf.' We need a Logan Act. And unlike the US, we might even need to prosecute someone under it to convince everyone that we mean what it says.

Israel Matzav: Why Israel needs a Logan Act

Israel Matzav: Hamas offers cash for more Gilad Shalit's

Hamas offers cash for more Gilad Shalit's

With Israel and Hamas on the verge of agreeing to exchange 1,000 terrorists for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, Jihad Watch discovers the unsurprising next step in Hamas' plan.

(ANSAmed) - GAZA, NOVEMBER 24 - While the exchange of prisoners with Israel and the release from Gaza of Corporal Ghilad Shalit seem to be on the way to a solution - after three and a half years of indirect negotiations -, Hamas is already thinking ahead and is planning to kidnap more Israeli troops. "Our strategy is simple," a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, told ANSA. "We offer money to anyone who manages to capture an enemy soldier". The movement offers one million Jordanian dinars per prisoner, the equivalent of USD 400 thousand, enough for an entire family to live a very comfortable life. (ANSAmed).

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Hamas offers cash for more Gilad Shalit's

Israel Matzav: The Wall Street Journal reviews Start-Up Nation

The Wall Street Journal reviews Start-Up Nation

In Tuesday's edition, the Wall Street Journal reviewed Start-Up Nation, the best seller by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Curiously, the reviewer seems to have similar questions about the authors' theory about the country's technology leadership that I have without having read the book:

One important question that "Start-Up Nation" raises is: Why Israel and not elsewhere? The authors—Mr. Senor, a foreign-policy official in the George W. Bush administration who now advises an investment fund, and Mr. Singer, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post—dispose, a bit too blithely, the argument from ethnic or religious exceptionalism, dismissing "unitary Jewishness" or even individual talent as major reasons for Israel's high-tech success. (George Gilder, in a recent book treating some of the same matters, "The Israel Test," disagrees: "Israel today concentrates the genius of the Jews.")

Instead, Messrs. Senor and Singer point to a "classic cluster of the type Harvard professor Michael Porter has championed [and] Silicon Valley embodies": the tight proximity of research universities, large firms and start-ups, a talent pool drawn from around the world, and an ecosystem of venture capital and military and other government R&D funding. In addition, they contend, Israel has a unique entrepreneurial culture that combines individualism, egalitarianism (a penchant for organizational flatness) and nurturing.

Where does this culture come from? Mainly, the Israeli military. "You have minimal guidance from the top," Messrs. Senor and Singer write, "and are expected to improvise, even if this means breaking some rules. If you're a junior officer, you call your higher-ups by their first names, and if you see them doing something wrong, you say so." High-school stand-outs are recruited into elite military units and trained intensively, with an emphasis on technology. When they're done, everything required to launch a start-up "will be a phone call away. . . . Almost everyone can find some connection to whomever he or she needs to contact to get started." Israel is a country, it seems, where everyone knows everyone.

It is also a country with mandatory military service before college. For nations that want to emulate Israel's start-up success, Messrs. Senor and Singer advocate similar mandatory service, military or otherwise, to get "something like the leadership, teamwork, and mission-oriented skills and experience Israelis receive." The trick is to combine what's learned in the Israeli Defense Forces (or its non-defense equivalent elsewhere) with an almost abrasive individualism and the kind of self-reliance that occurs in a country that has to go it alone to survive.

Yes, I buy into "the Jews" theory that Gilder expounds. But my chance to see Senor and Singer's argument in print is in the mail already as of yesterday. (Same publisher as Gilder's by the way).

Israel Matzav: The Wall Street Journal reviews <i>Start-Up Nation</i>

Israel Matzav: If he lived in 'Palestine' he couldn't say things like this

If he lived in 'Palestine' he couldn't say things like this

Unlike most 'Palestinians,' comedian Ray Hanania has freedom of speech. He lives in Chicago. Hanania is a candidate for President of the 'Palestinian Authority.' Although he has no chance of winning, he has some radical ideas that are actually compromises with Israel.

The following is the text of Hanania's outline. I have taken the liberty of numbering the clauses, with an eye toward facilitating discussion:

1. I support two-states, one Israel and one Palestine. As far as I am concerned, I can recognize Israel's "Jewish" character and Israelis should recognize Palestine's "non-Jewish" character.

2. I oppose violence of any kind from and by anyone. I reject Hamas' participation in any Palestinian government without first agreeing to surrender all arms and to accept two-states as a "final" peace agreement. But I also reject allowing Israeli settlers to carry any weapons and believe Israelis must impose the same restrictions on them.

3. I can support some settlements remaining - given the reality of 42 years of time passing - in a dunam-for-dunam land exchange. If Ariel is 500 dunams with a lifeline from Israel, then Israel gives Palestine 500 dunams in exchange.

4. Jerusalem should be a shared city and Palestinians should have an official presence in East Jerusalem. The Old City should be shared by both permitting open access to the city to all with a joint Palestinian-Israeli police presence.

5. Palestinian refugees would give up their demand to return to pre-1948 homes and lands lost during the conflict with Israel. Instead, some could apply for family reunification through Israel and the remainder would be compensated through a fund created and maintained by the United States, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.

6. I also think Israelis should find it in their hearts to show compassion and offer their apologies to Palestinians for the conflict.

7. I support creation of a similar fund to compensate those Jews from Arab lands who lost their homes and lands, too, when they fled.

8. I think the Wall should be torn down, or relocated to the new borders. I have no problem separating the two nations for a short duration to help rebuild confidence between our two people.

9. All political parties, Palestinian and Israelis, should eliminate languages denying each other's existence, and all maps should be reprinted so that Israeli maps finally show Palestine and Palestinian maps finally show Israel.

10. A subway system should be built linking the West Bank portion of the Palestine state to the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestine State. Palestine should be permitted to build a seaport access to strengthen its industry, and an airport to permit flights and too and from the Arab and Israeli world.

11. I would urge the Arab World to renew their offer to normalize relations with Israel if Israel agrees to support the creation of a Palestinian State.

12. And I would ask both countries to establish embassies in each other's country to address other problems.

13. While non-Jewish Palestinians would continue to live in Israel as citizens, Jews who wish to live in settlements surrendered by Israel could become Palestinian citizens and they should be recognized and treated equally.

14. If Jews want to live in Hebron, they should be allowed to live in Hebron and should be protected, just as non-Jews. In fact, for every Jewish individual seeking to live in Palestine, a Palestinian should be permitted to live in Israel. In fact, major Palestinian populations in Israel could be annexed into Palestine (like settlements).

15. Another concept is to have non-Jews living in Israel continue to live there but only vote in Palestinian elections, while Jews living in Palestine would only vote in Israeli elections. A special citizenship protection committee could be created to explore how to protect the rights of minorities in each state.

16. Israel and Palestine should create joint-governing and security agencies working with the United States to monitor the peace, and establish an agency to pursue criminal acts of violence.

Hmmm. But there's no chance of it happening. Unlike Hanania, the 'Palestinian leadership,' the Arab states and most 'Palestinians' don't want a state. They want to destroy the Jewish one.

Israel Matzav: If he lived in 'Palestine' he couldn't say things like this

Israel Matzav: Obama bows down again

Obama bows down again

President Obama bows to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (Hat Tip: Drudge Report).

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama bows down again

Love of the Land: Refusing to remain silent in the face of evil

Refusing to remain silent in the face of evil

Jonathan and Esther Pollard
JPost Opinion
25 November 09

Why is the life of one Israeli captive deemed so precious that Israel's leaders are willing to dispense with all logic and morality in order to redeem him? Why is the life of another Israeli captive dismissed as if it were worthless?

Why is the life of one captive such an urgent national priority that the safety and security of every single Israeli citizen must be put at risk? Why is the life of the other captive so inconsequential - after decades of captivity - that negotiations for his release have never been undertaken?

Are we, the People of Israel, so incompetent, so bereft of will, talent, imagination and faith in God that we really believe the only way to secure the release of the former captive is at a price so exorbitant that it beggars the imagination? Do we really believe that the wholesale release of terrorists and murderers is a rational response? Are we, the People of Israel, so bereft of vision that we cannot grasp that burying one captive alive while we pray for the release of the other drives the blessing away and brings shame and dishonor upon us all?

Are we, the People of Israel, so politically brainwashed that we cannot see that, in both cases, mere expediency reigns supreme in a morally-bankrupt government? This is not fulfillment of the mitzva of pidyon shvuyim!

AS LONG as Israeli leaders demonstrate a unanimous will to exploit the value of rescuing one captive because it suits their political ends, while simultaneously ignoring another captive, there can be no national honor, nor national self-respect. There is only political expediency. Self-serving, opportunistic, political expediency.

Those who are willing to close their eyes to the truth and follow lockstep with Israel's "leaders" in support of this unconscionable plan to unleash the forces of evil by allowing the architects of mass murder to pour forth from Israeli jails are placing their own lives at risk as well as the lives of their loved ones.

Those who fail to speak out and protest Israel's lopsided, immoral policy of selective rescue - damning one captive while saving the other and simultaneously putting the lives of all citizens in jeopardy - must know that they are complicit in this criminal deed.

It is painfully clear that Israel's mainstream media has stymied all rational debate on this issue, just as it has, for its own self-serving reasons, lent its support to the government's cowardly abandonment of the latter captive.

Nevertheless, moral conscience does not permit us to remain silent.

If our words are not heard today, so be it. A time will come when they will be heard. We hope that by then, it will not be too late.

Jonathan Pollard is an American-born Israeli citizen currently in the 25th year of his life sentence in an American prison. Esther Pollard is his wife.

Love of the Land: Refusing to remain silent in the face of evil

Love of the Land: We still have hope

We still have hope

Yael Mishali
Ynet/Israel Opinion
25 November 09

I was overcome by an unrestrained sense of joy after seeing a group of soldiers holding up ideologically motivated signs. Signs like "Shimshon will not evacuate Homesh" and "Nachshon won't evacuate either" are a great form of Prozac at a time where all we hear about youngsters in Israel starts and ends with alcohol, drugs, and murder.

You can go ahead and refer to them as refuseniks, condemn them, roll your eyes, and threaten us with the upcoming destruction of the IDF, the State, and the nation; I will continue to be pleased with their acts, seek comfort in their character, and count on them.

Perhaps you think that you will be safer with the soldiers who abused younger troops in line with the armored corps tradition, or with commanders who beat up annoying soldiers in Golani. Perhaps you would do well to count on them, because they are loyal to the IDF spirit and its glorious traditions. Yet I will continue to bet on the rightist refuseniks. When we hear the alarm, I want to be at the place they will be defending.

I've always supported insubordination, both on the Left and the Right. There is something about the young refuseniks which is precisely what I'm hoping for among our young generation. Something that thinks, hesitates, chooses, decides, shows courage, and pays the price. I just can't see how we can have it any other way.

Wouldn't you want to hear about one armored corps soldier holding up a sign reading "Regiment 74 refuses to abuse?" Wouldn't you want to see that soldier who shot a Palestinian in the foot, just because he thought that's what his battalion commander wanted, hold up a sign reading "Regiment 71 doesn't shoot people for the hell of it"? Wouldn't you want to see people saying they refuse to beat up someone for no reason, or do drugs or drink alcohol?

I would, and this is what I told my sons before the joined the army. "It's more important to know when to refuse than when to comply with orders." I prayed that they will be able to withstand those tests during their military service.

(Read full article)

Related: G-d or Country?

Love of the Land: We still have hope

Love of the Land: Terra Incognita: Where is the banality of the Jews?

Terra Incognita: Where is the banality of the Jews?

Seth Frantzman
Terra Incognita/JPost
23 November 09

The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall reminds us once again of the theory of the "banality of evil." It is important to explore the way in which contemporary thought views the actions of the East Germans and their Nazi forebears as "banal" and yet many of those who see their actions as dull, tend to judge the IDF harshly.

A discussion of the subject should begin with celebrated filmmaker and Israeli intellectual Eyal Sivan.

Sivan is primarily famous for The Specialist, a 1999 film about Adolph Eichmann. Sivan's main themes in his work have been that Israel has created a national Holocaust cult; that Israelis are capable of becoming more and more like Nazis in their dealing with the Palestinians and that Eichmann, one of the greatest Nazi organizers of mass murder, was "banal" or dull, therefore merely part of a system, and not particularly evil.

Sivan's work follows in the footsteps of philosopher Hannah Arendt, a German-born Jew who had an affair with the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger before fleeing to New York in 1941. She resumed the affair after the war, defended her philosopher-partner at his trial and then defended Eichmann's "banality" in her famous book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963).

Both Arendt and Sivan are well-known, respected intellectuals whose ideas influence contemporary views on the Holocaust.

Many have challenged Sivan and Arendt by trying to prove that Eichmann was far from banal; that he was a crusading individual, a unique person who excelled at his work and was thus evil, not merely part of a larger bureaucratic "machine" that was Nazism.

But perhaps the question shouldn't be whether Eichmann was banal, but whether the Jews are banal.
(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Terra Incognita: Where is the banality of the Jews?

Love of the Land: Ha'aretz Finds Another Jericho Pool

Ha'aretz Finds Another Jericho Pool

Tamar Sternthal
25 November 09

intercontinental Jericho pool.jpg
The swimming pool of the Intercontinental Hotel in Jericho (Photo from Checkpoint Jerusalem blog by Dion Nissenbaum)

Once again, the professional news writers of Ha'aretz contradict their less-than-professional colleagues. Today, Avi Issacharoff reports on the International Conference on Palestinian Prisoners in Jericho held at the "plush InterContinental Hotel," writing:

Several women sat in the courtyard, next to the swimming pool -- the mothers and sisters of Israeli Arabs and East Jerusalemite prisoners. (Emphasis added)

But, wait -- according to Gideon Levy, there's only one swimming pool for Palestinians in the entire West Bank, and that's Banana Land water park (also in Jericho).

Also, on the Ha'aretz front, today CAMERA staff photographed Palestinian private cars, buses, taxis, trucks and pedestrians on Route 505 in the West Bank, which Ha'aretz hasdubbed "an exemplary apartheid road -- for Jews only."

Related: Amnesty's Travesty also Ha'aretz's Ode to an 'Apartheid Road'

Love of the Land: Ha'aretz Finds Another Jericho Pool

Love of the Land: Lebanon cabinet deal signals Syrian return

Lebanon cabinet deal signals Syrian return

The formation of Lebanon's unity government took more than four months

A new joke has been making the rounds in political circles of Beirut: "The birth of Lebanon's new government was so long and painful that in the end, a Caesarean had to be performed."

But it is the punchline that makes some politicians here cringe: "The obstetrician was Syria," it says.

By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Beirut

Love of the Land: Lebanon cabinet deal signals Syrian return

Love of the Land: Palestinians and Obama: The End of a Honeymoon

Palestinians and Obama: The End of a Honeymoon

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
23 November 09

Now it’s official: the honeymoon between the Palestinians and the administration of President Barack Obama is over. It was a honeymoon that lasted for nearly one year.

Many Palestinians were convinced that because of his color and background, Obama “was on our side.” They believed that in the White House there was finally a president who was more sympathetic to their causes and who would abandon Washington’s “bias” in favor of Israel.

Over the past year, mainstream Palestinian and Arab media outlets had been heaping praise on Obama, especially what they perceived to be his hostile attitude toward settlement construction. Reports about a crisis in relations bewteen the US and Israel were welcomed by many. It is hard to remember when the last time a US president had received positive coverage in the Arab media.

The Palestinians and Arabs liked Obama especially because he was not George W. Bush. They liked him because he said he would close Guatanamo Prison. They liked him because he traveled all the way to Cairo to address Arabs and Muslims and offer them an olive branch. They adored him because he seemed to be exerting heavy pressure on Israel.

Now, however, they feel betrayed by the Obama Administration. They have discovered that Obama is actually “continuing the Bush doctrine” with regards to the Middle East conflict. As far as they are concerned, Obama has “succumbed to pressure from the Jewish lobby in the US.”

The Palestinians discovered that Obama was “unfaithful” the day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an unconditional resumption of peace talks and praised the Israeli government for offering to slow down construction in some settlements. They viewed Clinton’s remarks as a departure from past US calls for a complete freeze on settlement construction.
(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Palestinians and Obama: The End of a Honeymoon

Love of the Land: The UN Kicks Out a Leading Critic

The UN Kicks Out a Leading Critic

Joe Klein
25 November 09

The United Nations security department briefly detained a leading UN critic, Anne Bayefsky earlier this month and then escorted her out of the building after stripping her of her accreditation pass. Ms. Bayefsky, who is affiliated with a UN-recognized non-governmental organization and is an accredited United Nations observer, also happens to be a human rights watchdog who for years has publicized the rank hypocrisy at the UN when it comes to dealing with Israel and its terrorist enemies.

Her offense was that she dared to approach a microphone outside of the General Assembly hall in the press area and denounce the one-sided Goldstone Report on Gaza that the General Assembly had just endorsed. In her two minute comments, she criticized the General Assembly for passing a resolution that “doesn’t mention the word Hamas.” “This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but”, she said.

That is a pointed statement but hardly an incendiary one. Apparently, even two minutes of straight talk was too much for the UN Palestinian representative who complained to UN security. Ms. Bayefsky was whisked away by security and reportedly held for a time in the UN’s security office before being forced to turn in her pass and leave the building.

“The Palestinian ambassador is very upset by your statement,” Ms. Bayefsky recounted the U.N. security chief telling her as the reason for these drastic actions. The Palestinian, who himself has only observer status at the UN, was reported to have been overheard asking whether UN security had “captured” Ms. Bayefsky.

Ever since this disgraceful episode happened, the UN security and press offices have been constantly changing their stories. They have been spinning a bunch of mistruths to cover up for the fact that the UN establishment went along with a Palestinian-inspired effort to censure free expression at UN headquarters.

The cover up went into high gear last week when I asked at a daily press briefing the status of Ms. Bayefsky’s case. I was told by the deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary General that everything was fine. In his words, Ms Bayefsky’s “credentials and the credentials of her organization are not changed at this stage. She belongs to a non-governmental organization. It’s possible in the future that there could be a review, but at this stage there has been no removal of credentials from that non-governmental organization or from Ms. Bayefsky.” (Emphasis added)

It turns out that was not true. Her credentials were lifted and she was barred from the UN premises.

(Read full article)

Related: Banished at Turtle Bay

Love of the Land: The UN Kicks Out a Leading Critic

Love of the Land: The Invention of the Jewish People

The Invention of the Jewish People

Review by Simon Schama
Financial Times
13 November 09

The Invention of the Jewish People
By Shlomo Sand
Translated by Yael Lotan

(This book is popping up in many places and should be addressed. While not agreeing with every point made by the reviewer, his critique is about as good as will be found in a major publication. Y.)

Book cover of 'The Invention of the Jewish People' by Shlomo SandFrom its splashy title on, Shlomo Sand means his book to be provocative, which it certainly is, though possibly not in the way he intends. Its real challenge to the reader is separating the presentation of truisms as though they were revolutionary illuminations and the relentless beating on doors that have long been open, from passages of intellectual sharpness and learning.

Sand’s self-dramatising attack in The Invention of the Jewish People is directed against those who assume, uncritically, that all Jews are descended lineally from the single racial stock of ancient Hebrews – a position no one who has thought for a minute about the history of the Jews would dream of taking.

Sand’s sense of grievance against the myths on which the exclusively Jewish right to full Israeli immigration is grounded is one that many who want to see a more liberal and secular Israel wholeheartedly share. But his book prosecutes these aims through a sensationalist assertion that somehow, the truth about Jewish culture and history, especially the “exile which never happened”, has been suppressed in the interests of racially pure demands of Zionist orthodoxy. This, to put it mildly, is a stretch.

To take just one instance: the history of the Khazars, the central Asian kingdom which, around the 10th century, converted to Judaism and which Sand thinks has been excised from the master narrative because of the embarrassing implication that present day Jews might be descended from Turkic converts. But the Khazars were known by every Jewish girl and boy in my neck of Golders Greenery and further flung parts of the diaspora, and celebrated rather than evaded.

For Sand, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University, the antidote to a national identity based on what he argues are fables, is to shed the fancy that there is any such thing as a shared Jewish identity independent of religious practice.

By this narrow reckoning you are either devoutly orthodox or not Jewish at all if you imagine yourself to have any connection to Israel past or present. Sand confuses ethnicity – which, in the case of the Jews, is indeed impure, heterogeneous and much travelled – with an identity that evolves as the product of common historical experience. Rabbinical arguments may rest on an imaginary definition of ethnicity, but the legitimacy of a Jewish homeland does not. Ultimately, Israel’s case is the remedy for atrocity, about which Sand has nothing to say.

His book is a trip (and I use the word advisedly) through a landscape of illusions which Sand aims to explode, leaving the scenery freer for a Middle East built, as he supposes, from the hard bricks of truth. This turns out to require not just the abandonment of simplicities about race, but any shared sense of historical identity at all on the part of the Jews that might be taken as the basis of common allegiance, which is an another matter entirely. En route, he marches the reader through a mind-numbingly laborious examination of the construction of national identities from imagined rather than actual histories. A whole literature has been devoted to the assumption that nations are invariably built from such stories, in which, nonetheless, grains of historical truth are usually embedded. The important issue, however, is whether the meta-narrative that arises from those stories is inclusive enough to accommodate the tales of those whose experience is something other than racially and culturally homogeneous.

(Read full review)

Love of the Land: The Invention of the Jewish People

Love of the Land: U.N. rights chief says criticism of Israel-bashing council is ‘propaganda’

U.N. rights chief says criticism of Israel-bashing council is ‘propaganda’

Hillel Neuer
U.N. Watch
24 November 09

Criticism of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s problematic record — where there have been more condemnatory resolutions, special sessions and fact-finding missions against Israel than on the whole world combined — is “propaganda,” UN rights chief Navi Pillay told the Irish Times.

The decision by the Obama administration to reverse a Bush- era boycott of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), despite “propaganda which portrayed the council as biased and a venue for bashing Israel”, was, Pillay says, of great significance.

Key members of the 47-nation body include China, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Despite their poor records on human rights, none has ever been condemned by a council resolution, scrutinized by a fact-finding inquiry, or made the object of a special country investigator.

Pillay then praised Ireland’s vote as one of the few EU states to support the Goldstone Report and its lopsided findings favoring Hamas over Israel:

Pillay praises Ireland’s support for a recent UN resolution calling for investigations into allegations that war crimes were committed during the January conflict in Gaza. “I agree with Ireland’s reasoning that the call for investigation is a legitimate call. “If someone robs you on the street, you want an investigation, an identification of the suspect and a prosecution. Where societies have taken that route - my country’s truth and reconciliation commission, for instance - you find that there has been a management of the passions that arise from victims’ calls about injustice.” Pillay stresses the importance of the Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict - which prompted the UN resolution - because it is grounded in international law. “Whatever the justification to go to war is, you cannot use disproportionate violence and you cannot target civilians,” she says.

We at UN Watch will continue to urge the United Nations and its human rights council to return to the founding principles of Eleanor Roosevelt and Rene Cassin, and to call them out when, led by Qaddafi, Castro and Co., they veer off track. People in responsible positions should consider confronting the council’s egregious bias, and getting it to address millions of currently ignored victims, instead of shooting at the messengers.

Love of the Land: U.N. rights chief says criticism of Israel-bashing council is ‘propaganda’

Love of the Land: Ha'aretz's Ode to an 'Apartheid Road'

Ha'aretz's Ode to an 'Apartheid Road'

24 November 09

“An oud to Nablus” is a fitting title in one sense for Noam Ben-Zeev’s Nov. 17 article in Ha’aretz about a classical music concert in that Palestinian city. It suggests creative invention. Unfortunately, though, the story isn't in the fiction section, but is supposedly a news article (in the Gallery, or culture, section) presenting facts. In the writer's fabricated landscape Nablus is an “encircled city” with no theater and few performances, reached by an “exemplary apartheid road – for Jews only.” Residents of this imaginary place nevertheless overcome the obstacles of occupation to produce an enchanting Arab music festival, replete with the “friendly charm” of Arab musician Simon Shaheen.

Noam Ben-Zeev’s pseudo-poetic portrait of Nablus begins with his journey from Tel Aviv to the Palestinian city, which he describes as follows:

Before you know it, you’re on the best road between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean – Route 505, well-lit and with the highest-quality asphalt, wide shoulders and clear signage. This road cuts east through the West Bank and reaches the Jordan Valley. The fences on either side, separating it from the lands of Palestinian villages in the area, make it an exemplary apartheid road – for Jews only. And you can fly along at 140 kilometers per hour, from one Jewish settlement to the next.

Route 505 – Open to Palestinians

Route 505, which Ben-Zeev describes as “an exemplary apartheid road -- for Jews only,” is not only open to Muslim and Christian Israelis, but is also open to Palestinian traffic, a fact confirmed by Palestinian sources. For instance, Table 3 of a November 1, 2009 report issued by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), a Palestinian outfit, states that an earth mound barrier was recently removed from Haris, thereby connecting that Palestinian town south of Nablus to Route 505.

An August 2009 B’Tselem spreadsheet about freedom of movement and checkpoints in the West Bank notes which checkpoints do not permit Palestinian passage and which roads are closed to Palestinians. The chart makes clear that 505 is open to Palestinian traffic. Referring to the Tapuach (Za’tara) checkpoint in the Nablus district, B’Tselem writes:

The checkpoint separates the northern section of the West Bank from the southern section. Open around the clock. Vehicles traveling south on Routes 60 and 505 are checked. Since mid-June 2009, the checks have been random, and delays at the checkppoint [sic] have not been especially long.

Likewise, B’Tselem refers to the ‘Aqraba/Majdal Bani Fadil-Migdalim checkpoint, stating: “located on Route 505, on the turn-off to ‘Aqraba, Majdal Bani Fadil. When staffed, checks are made randomly.”

While Palestinian traffic is permitted to travel freely on Route 505 in the West Bank, it is Israeli traffic which is prohibited for a 5.5 kilometer stretch from Elkana to Kiryat Netafim.

‘Encircled Nablus’

In a related fabrication, Ben-Zeev imagines that Nablus is an “encircled city” which residents may exit and enter only on weekends. He writes:

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Ha'aretz's Ode to an 'Apartheid Road'
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