Thursday, 3 December 2009

Israel Matzav: Dear Americans, Welcome to my world

Dear Americans, Welcome to my world

I've been saying for a couple of years now that it's just a matter of time before my American friends are subject to the same kind of searches before they enter a shopping mall, a movie theater or a public library that we get here in Israel. In an address to the American - Israel Friendship League in New York earlier this week, Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano all but confirmed that those days are coming. The United States has home grown terrorists.

Addressing the American Israel Friendship League in New York, Napolitano said a string of recent domestic arrests should "remove any remaining comfort that some might have had from the notion that if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight them here," rebutting an argument advanced on several occasions by former president George W. Bush.

"The fact is that home-based terrorism is here. And like violent extremism abroad, it is now part of the threat picture that we must confront," Napolitano said. "Individuals sympathetic to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, as well as those inspired by their ideology, are present in the U.S., and would like to attack the homeland or plot overseas attacks against our interests abroad."

Napolitano cited the case of Najibullah Zazi, a Denver airport shuttle driver arrested in September after allegedly training with al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

Zazi allegedly tested homemade bombs, styled after those used in the 2004 Madrid transit bombings, before driving cross-country to New York from Denver. He faces charges of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.


A U.S. counterterrorism official called Zazi "the first concrete case" since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks of al-Qaeda sending operatives to prepare an attack inside the country. Although intelligence analysts had long identified such a threat, they had begun questioning their assumption, the official said. "The surprising thing is Zazi is the first," the official said, calling Zazi's contacts with core al-Qaeda leaders "at most one step removed."

We're all in this together. It's us against the terrorists. Maybe this will be good for aliya anyway. If you're going to have to live like you're under siege all the time, you may as well at least do it in Israel.

Israel Matzav: Dear Americans, Welcome to my world

Israel Matzav: No more blank checks for Iran's Green revolution#links#links

No more blank checks for Iran's Green revolution

One of the reasons that the Ahmadinejad - Khameni regime has not purged its enemies in Iran over the last six months is that Ayatollah Khameni fears the man pictured in the top left of this post: Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi is a consummate insider in Iran, and is no less ruthless than Ahamdinejad and Khameni.

While a purge to uproot supporters of Mir Hussein Moussavi, Ahmadinejad’s main challenger in the June 12 election, could restore a semblance of stability, it might also damage the regime’s viability. For as much as they portray Moussavi as a sore loser and a saboteur trying to destabilize the Iranian state, he is a regime insider, with supporters throughout the religious and educational establishments and within Iran’s most dangerous programs.

Moussavi’s background is at odds with his new reformist stance. He pretends to have been out of politics for 20 years, returning now as an Iranian Cincinnatus to save the country from the “irrational and superstitious” Ahmadinejad. This is an affectation. Moussavi has retained his regime credentials and connections while carefully avoiding the entanglements of daily politics. For the last 20 years, he has been a member of the powerful Expediency Council, an unelected body designed to prevent the Iranian parliament from exercising any real power, though he has chosen not to attend its meetings. Like Hashemi Rafsanjani, the hardy perennial of Iranian politics, Moussavi represents the “deep state,” a network of personal, family, and professional relationships that cuts across Iran’s institutions. Unlike Rafsanjani, Moussavi has avoided conspicuous corruption.

During the election campaign, Moussavi ran on his record as a competent economic manager during the Iran-Iraq war. This dull technocratic persona masked a prime ministership from 1981 to 1989 characterized by repression. The human-rights abuses of the Moussavi era relegate Ahmadinejad’s to historical footnotes. Religious and ethnic minorities suffered particularly harsh treatment; for example, more than 200 Baha’is were executed, all Baha’i organizations were declared to be criminal in August 1983, three-quarters of Iran’s remaining Jews fled the country, and thousands were killed in a “counterinsurgency” campaign in Iran’s Kurdish regions. The cultural scene was devastated by a “cultural revolution” in which the regime violently seized control of universities, “Islamized” courses, informally barred all Baha’is from universities, threw academics out of their jobs, banned books, and rejoiced in the flight of dissident intellectuals. Indeed, Moussavi still sits on the Supreme Council for the Cultural Revolution, another membership he retains but doesn’t use. His record worries dissidents and democrats. Yet it’s precisely that bleak past that makes Moussavi a greater challenge to the state than former president Mohammad Khatami, who had once been the national librarian.

Read the whole thing.

This article confirms that having Mousavi as President would be very little improvement over Ahmadinejad.

In a post on Thursday, I argued that it is too late for regime change to stop Iran's drive toward nuclear weapons. It's actually worse than that. The kind of regime change that is currently in the offing will accelerate or at least maintain that drive - possibly even with the same goals. The world has to confront Iran's nuclear program on the assumption that we will be dealing with nothing better than Ahmadinejad and Khameni.

Over the course of the last six months, we have been urged to support the Green revolution in Iran. Watching the brutal crackdown on the streets of Iran, it's very difficult not to support them. But every time anyone has raised the question of Mousavi not being any improvement over Ahmadinejad, we are brushed off with assertions that his record should be ignored, that Mousavi is just a tool for a better change to come, that the idea is to get rid of Ahmadinejad and Khameni, because anyone would be better than they are, and a host of other excuses.

While I would be thrilled to see Ahamdinejad and Khameni deposed, the questions need to be asked and answers need to be given: Who would replace them? What sort of government would the replacement set up? What would the human rights situation be in a post-Khomenist Iran? How would Iran's existing disagreements with the 'international community' - particularly regarding its nuclear weapons program - be resolved by that replacement government? Iran is still the world's fourth largest oil producer and given Iran's oil production, having a nuclear capability cannot be explained away as simply a matter of national pride. Blank checks just don't cut it anymore. It's time to start answering the questions.

Israel Matzav: No more blank checks for Iran's Green revolution

Israel Matzav: Iran's global crackdown

Iran's global crackdown

Boy am I glad I'm not Iranian.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Ahmadinejad regime has taken to harassing Iranian dissidents abroad - even those with no official position - using emails, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

In recent months, Iran has been conducting a campaign of harassing and intimidating members of its diaspora world-wide -- not just prominent dissidents -- who criticize the regime, according to former Iranian lawmakers and former members of Iran's elite security force, the Revolutionary Guard, with knowledge of the program.

Part of the effort involves tracking the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity of Iranians around the world, and identifying them at opposition protests abroad, these people say.

Interviews with roughly 90 ordinary Iranians abroad -- college students, housewives, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople -- in New York, London, Dubai, Sweden, Los Angeles and other places indicate that people who criticize Iran's regime online or in public demonstrations are facing threats intended to silence them.

Although it wasn't possible to independently verify their claims, interviewees provided consistently similar descriptions of harassment techniques world-wide. Most asked that their full names not be published.


Five interviewees who traveled to Iran in recent months said they were forced by police at Tehran's airport to log in to their Facebook accounts. Several reported having their passports confiscated because of harsh criticism they had posted online about the way the Iranian government had handled its controversial elections earlier this year.

Before this past summer, "If anyone asked me, 'Does the government threaten Iranians abroad or their families at home,' I would say, 'Not at all,'" says Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer inside Iran. "But now the cases are too many to count. Every day I get phone calls and visits from people who are being harassed and threatened" because of relatives' activities abroad.


An Iranian engineer in his 30s who lives in a German-speaking area of Europe, and who attended protests there this year, described having his passport, cellphone and laptop confiscated when he later traveled to Tehran. He said he was called in for questioning several times, blindfolded, kicked and physically abused, and asked to hand over his email and Facebook passwords.

Interrogators showed him images of himself participating in protests in Europe, he said, and pressed him to identify other people in the images.

"I was very scared. My knees were trembling the whole time and I kept thinking, 'How did this happen to me?'" he said recently. "I only went to a few demonstrations, and I don't even live in Iran."

He said he was told he was guilty of charges including attending antiregime protests abroad, participating in online activities on Facebook and Twitter that harmed Iran's national security and leaving comments on opposition Web sites. He said he was given a choice: Face trial in Iran, or sign a document promising to act as an informant in Europe.

He says he signed the paper, took his passport and left Iran after a month. He says he has received follow-up emails and phone calls but hasn't responded to them.

Read the whole thing. And don't hold your breath waiting for the spineless Western governments to do anything about this.

Israel Matzav: Iran's global crackdown

Israel Matzav: Britain 'open' to contacts with Hezbullah

Britain 'open' to contacts with Hezbullah

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Lebanon's English language Daily Star that his country is 'open' to contacts with Hezbullah.

Britain is willing to step-up contact with Hizbullah as they begin to play a bigger role in Lebanon’s government, Foreign Secretary David Miliband told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview. Miliband told the paper this week he believed “carefully considered contact with Hizbullah’s politicians, including its MPs, will best advance our objective of the group rejecting violence to play a constructive role in Lebanese politics.”

He said that the UK government was only interested in serious dialogue with members who “value the political process, not those that seek to undermine it,” and reiterated its firm opposition to those in Hizbullah supporting terrorism.

Miliband is basing his assertion on an imaginary distinction between Hezbullah's 'military wing' and its 'political wing.' But there is no difference between the two. This is what Hezbullah's number 2, Naim Qassem told the Los Angeles Times in April.

Neither Qassem nor Washington [no longer true regarding Washington - see below. CiJ] distinguish between the Shiite militant group's political wing, which has members serving in the Lebanese Cabinet and parliament, and its military wing, preparing for the next round of battle against Israel. "Hezbollah has a single leadership," said the 57-year-old cleric in a rare interview with an American reporter recently.

"All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership," he said. "The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel."

When you combine this with US Secretary of State Clinton's apparent acceptance of the military wing v. political wing distinction last week, you end up with a most disturbing trend.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Britain 'open' to contacts with Hezbullah

Israel Matzav: Argentinean prosecutor warns of growing terror network in Latin America

Argentinean prosecutor warns of growing terror network in Latin America

Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who prosecuted the bombing of the 1994 suicide bombing of the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, warns that Iran is rapidly setting up shop all over South America.

He said that Iran, particularly through Lebanese proxy Hizbullah, has a growing presence in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, using techniques it honed in Argentina before the country took measures to counter Teheran following the AMIA bombing.

He described sham operations involving taxi drivers, who conducted surveillance without arousing suspicion; fake medical school students, who could stay in the country for many years without raising eyebrows; and business fronts that helped funnel cash to operatives.

Meanwhile, the Iranians cultivated ties at the local mosques to search for people who could be radicalized.

Now, he said, Argentina is considered a "hostile environment" for Iran, but the Iranian terrorist groups are finding fertile ground in other countries.

"The stronger element that happens today is the complicity of the government," said Nisman, pointing to the networks Iran develops through its embassies. "We know that Chavez allows Hizbullah to come in."

But the Obama administration continues to coddle the likes of Hugo Chavez, the Castro brothers, Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega and Manuel Zelaya (who is apparently now finally out of the way). What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Argentinean prosecutor warns of growing terror network in Latin America

Israel Matzav: British anti-Semite caught on camera

British anti-Semite caught on camera

And as far as we can tell, he's not even a Muslim.... But if you've ever spent any time in London, this ought to make your blood boil.

On 1st December 2009, there was a pro-Israel rally outside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign 'Christmas concert' at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church on Tuesday December 1st, starting at 6pm.

The carol concert featured Caryl Churchill, author of the antisemitic play Seven Jewish Children, which demonises Israel and suggests that Israeli parents teach their children to hate Arabs.

The leader of the Church, Vicar Simon Perry disgracefully buys into the PSCs propaganda. He supports the event and believes people here would endorse the PSC. He supports a boycott of Israeli goods and fails to see anything antisemitic about Seven Jewish Children.

Those protesting did so because the event was organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, whose agenda goes far beyond working for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. The PSC supports the terrorist organisation Hamas whose Charter seeks the genocide of Jews and the destruction of Israel. The PSC was responsible for the appallingly biased TUC Congress statement on Israel which demonised that country.

David Gifford, Chief Executive, Council for Christians and Jews says this church is politicising the Christmas message. A Christmas carol service should be about the message of Christmas and by politicising that, it misses the point.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Hawkeye).

Israel Matzav: British anti-Semite caught on camera

Israel Matzav: France has 'strong reservations' about Swedish proposal on Jerusalem

France has 'strong reservations' about Swedish proposal on Jerusalem

In an interview that will appear in Friday's JPost, French ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot said that his country has 'several strong reservations' to a Swedish proposal that would have the European Union recognize 'east' Jerusalem as the 'Palestinian' capital.

Bigot, in an interview that will appear in full in Friday's Post, said that France expressed its reservations on the text for two reasons.

"First, it should take into account the positive move of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu regarding the partial freeze on settlement construction. We should welcome such a move even if it does not meet all our expectations," he said.

"And secondly, we consider that we want to promote the re-launching of the peace process. These should be the two issues that should mainly be dealt within the statement."


According to Bigot, "several" of the EU states had "a series of remarks and observations" on the Swedish proposal.

"I'm pretty sure that the text that will be agreed by next Tuesday will be different from the text proposed by Sweden last Friday," he said.

Bigot, asked what France or the EU could do to push Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiations, said: "We are not going to pressure someone in a delicate position. It is not about pressure. To the contrary, we can give him some help, guarantees, reassure him and look at the framework of the negotiations." [I guess it's okay to pressure Netanyahu because he's not in a delicate position. CiJ]

As to what kind of help might be offered, Bigot hinted at the possibility of EU forces in the West Bank.

"The EU has said several times we are willing to provide security guarantees," he said.

"If there is any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and if they are interested and willing [to go] in that direction, the EU has said repeatedly we are willing to provide security guarantees in the West Bank - that would help both the Israelis and the Palestinians." [Like they did in Gaza? CiJ]

Asked if that meant EU troops on the West Bank border or patrolling in Nablus, Bigot said, "How it will work depends on the agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and what they are looking for.

"There are several options between a minimalist observation mission, to a maximalist NATO force. This really depends on the two parties. We are not going to impose on them something. It is up to them, basically."

I can't wait to see what they do on Tuesday.....

Israel Matzav: France has 'strong reservations' about Swedish proposal on Jerusalem

Israel Matzav: Another crack in the 'settlement freeze'

Another crack in the 'settlement freeze'

Here's another crack in the 'settlement freeze.'

During a meeting with Haredi religious Minister Yakov Leitzman, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly told the latter that, in light of the lack of housing for the Haredi public, he would re-consider the freeze on construction in Haredi cities located in Yesha.


I was in town on Thursday afternoon and I saw signs for a mass protest against the 'freeze' in Paris Square (the Prime Minister's official residence) in Jerusalem next Wednesday night. Buses from all over the country as usual.


Here's another crack:

In another effort to placate angry settlement leaders, Barak vowed on Wednesday to restore mayors' power to approve minor renovation projects such as enclosing balconies or building pergolas over a porch - powers they had initially lost under last week's cabinet decision on a settlement freeze.

Barak made the promise at a meeting with settlement mayors following a day of clashes throughout the West Bank between settlers and the inspectors enforcing the freeze.

Israel Matzav: Another crack in the 'settlement freeze'

Israel Matzav: The 'West Bank's 'good reality'

The 'West Bank's 'good reality'

You may recall that back in May, 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen told the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl that the 'Palestinians' were in no rush to accept Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer of 'statehood' on 97% of the 'West Bank' (with extra territory from 1949 armistice line Israel making up the other 3%) because the 'Palestinians' enjoy a 'good reality.'

In Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Tom Gross updates us about that 'good reality.' It's worth reading the whole thing. But here's Tom's bottom line.

In June, the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl related how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told him why he had turned down Ehud Olmert's offer last year to create a Palestinian state on 97% of the West Bank (with 3% of pre-1967 Israeli land being added to make up the shortfall). "In the West Bank we have a good reality," Abbas told Diehl. "The people are living a normal life," he added in a rare moment of candor to a Western journalist.

Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went further in explaining to me why there is no rush to declare statehood, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren't ready to do so by themselves yet.

The truth is that an independent Palestine is now quietly being built, with Israeli assistance. So long as the Obama administration and European politicians don't clumsily meddle as they have in the past and make unrealistic demands for the process to be completed more quickly than it can be, I am confident the outcome will be a positive one. (The last time an American president—Bill Clinton in 2000—tried to hurry things along unrealistically, it merely resulted in blowing up in everybody's faces—literally—and set back hopes for peace by some years.)

Israelis and Palestinians may never agree on borders that will satisfy everyone. But that doesn't mean they won't live in peace. Not all Germans and French agree who should control Alsace Lorraine. Poles and Russians, Slovenes and Croats, Britons and Irish, and peoples all over the world, have border disputes. But that doesn't keep them from coexisting with one another. Nor—so long as partisan journalists and human rights groups don't mislead Western politicians into making bad decisions—will it prevent Israelis and Palestinians from doing so.

So who says the status quo is a bad thing?

Read it all.

Israel Matzav: The 'West Bank's 'good reality'

Israel Matzav: Nasrallah meets Hamas reps to discuss Shalit

Nasrallah meets Hamas reps to discuss Shalit

Lebanon's al-Manar television reports that Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with three representatives of Hamas on Wednesday. Although al-Manar did not say what was discussed at the meeting, Israel's Channel 10 reports that Hamas was seeking Hezbullah's advice on the 'terrorists for Gilad' negotiations.

According to TV network, Hamas' most senior foreign affairs official, Osama Hamdan, participated in the meeting. Senior Hamas representatives Mohammed Nasser and Mounir Said also reportedly took part in the talks.

Citing a statement released by Hezbollah, Al-Manar said: "The meeting was an opportunity to review the international and regional situation in light of the confusion the U.S. administration is experiencing in its approach to the crises arising from its aggressive policies in our Arab and Islamic region, particularly its blatant bias and full coverage of the Israeli stances and practices against the Palestinian people, their rights and interests."

The network said both sides also expressed satisfaction with the formation of Lebanon's new government, in which Hezbollah is a partner, and stressed the importance of renewing a Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue.

I'm sure the Obami will be thrilled to hear about its 'blatant bias' in Israel's favor.

What could go wrong? Why weren't there any helicopters or fighter jets near that meeting?

Israel Matzav: Nasrallah meets Hamas reps to discuss Shalit

Israel Matzav: Who's the liar?

Who's the liar?

Prime Minister Netanyahu denied on Wednesday that he had agreed to the 'settlement freeze' because the Obama administration wore him down.

The Prime Minister's Office has denied reports that he said that the decision to freeze Jewish construction in Yesha came after the Americans wore him down.

The Prime Minister's Office stated that "the claims made by the YNET website have no basis and were never said by him. They are lies, plain and simple."

I hope and believe that Bibi is lying about this. He doesn't want to get into hot water with Obama as happened when he allegedly called Rahm Emanuel a kapo. If the 'settlement freeze' was his own initiative, he has no place being Prime Minister. That's not to say that Bibi should not have displayed a little more backbone in resisting the 'freeze.'

Israel Matzav: Who's the liar?

Israel Matzav: Too late for regime change in Iran?

Too late for regime change in Iran?

In Wednesday's Washington Post, Michael Gerson argues that the Obama administration should try supporting Iran's revolutionaries as a means of countering that country's nuclear threat.

Iran's theocracy has become a military junta with a veneer of religion. There are fatigues beneath the robes. On the nuclear issue, the main question is: Does this regime believe that nuclear weapons will help ensure its survival? There is every reason to believe that it does. As the disorders since June revealed the regime's vulnerability, it has sped up its nuclear program. Drained of legitimacy and fearing a color revolution, Iran's military government seems to believe that the bomb will confer influence and permanence. It is not an irrational calculation.

In this light, Obama's policy of setting deadlines for cooperation that are violated with impunity, and continually extending the hand of engagement after it is slapped again and again, is both weak and irrelevant. But the alternatives are not easy or obvious. The crippling economic isolation of Iran is worth trying, again. But it would require a number of unreliable nations to sacrifice large economic interests in Iran -- something they have been unwilling to do before. Direct military options are uncertain and opposed by the military itself. It is difficult to imagine Obama, the Great Deliberator, taking actions that George W. Bush concluded were too risky.

But the security implications of a nuclear Iran could be greater than failure in Afghanistan. Iran is an unstable revolutionary power with global ambitions and terrorist ties. Nuclear proliferation does not get more dangerous than this.

There is, however, an untried option. So far, President Obama has seemed to view Iran's ongoing democratic uprising as a pesky obstacle to engagement. The administration has reduced funding for human rights programs in Iran and looked the other way as exiled opponents of the Iranian regime have been attacked within Iraq.

In addition to serious economic and military pressure, Obama could try the strategy the Iranian regime most fears: supporting, overtly and covertly, the democratic resistance against military rule. Not out of idealism, but realism. It would be a source of leverage on the Iranian regime, at a time when American leverage is limited. And it might hasten the return of civilian control in Iran, so that America would actually have a negotiating partner.

Unfortunately, this won't work for two reasons. First, there's not enough time. Iran is too close to attaining its goal and the revolutionaries are too far from attaining theirs for it to have an effect. Obama has missed the boat on supporting the revolutionaries (more about that here).

But nearly as important is the fact that Iran's opposition is as strongly in favor of continuing its nuclear quest as the current government. Moussavi, the opposition leader, helped to drive Iran's rejection of the P - 5+1 proposal to ship its uranium out of the country. And Moussavi has continued to criticize Ahmadinejad for 'giving away' Iran's 'nuclear rights.'

Getting behind Iran's revolution might have helped if it had been done immediately in June. It's too late for that now.

Israel Matzav: Too late for regime change in Iran?

Israel Matzav: Iran: We'll enrich our own uranium

Iran: We'll enrich our own uranium

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad told his countrymen on Wednesday that Iran is finished negotiating with the West over its nuclear program and that it would enrich its own uranium to 20% rather than sending it out of the country as had been proposed by the P - 5+1.

"I declare here that with the grace of God, the Iranian nation will produce 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel and anything it needs itself," Ahmadinejad told a cheering crowd of thousands in the central city Isfahan.


David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, which has tracked Iran for signs of covert proliferation, said that Iran could be producing 20 percent uranium "within months" after adjusting its present enrichment program.

The real concern, said Albright, is that such a move would put Iran well on the way to making weapons grade uranium - material enriched to levels above 90 percent.

While the process of moving from the present level of enrichment to producing 20 percent enriched uranium would take months, the next stage - enriching to weapons grade - could be done "within a couple of weeks," said Albright.

"They're 90 percent on the way" to being able to make weapons-grade uranium "if they make 20 percent," he said.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration still doesn't get it.

What could go wrong?
Israel Matzav: Iran: We'll enrich our own uranium

Israel Matzav: Breaking: Bus explosion in Damascus

Breaking: Bus explosion in Damascus

There has been an explosion in a bus crowded with Iranian pilgrims near a Shiite shrine in a Damascus suburb this morning. Anywhere from five to twelve people have been killed depending on which report you believe. This is from MSNBC:

"Body parts are still scattered around the bus," one of the witnesses told Reuters. Several more people were wounded in the explosion in the Sayyeda Zainab area in Damascus.

Syrian security forces deployed in the area, a popular destination for Shiites from Iran and Lebanon, and were investigating the blast.

The bomb attack took place as Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, was visiting Damascus for meetings with Syrian officials.

Coincidence? Maybe.

He was not known to be at the shrine, but the blast may serve as a message to Iran by Syrians opposed to the increasing domination of Iranian Shiites in the suburb, known as Sayyeda Zainab. The attack, which eyewitnesses said was carried with rockets, occurred near Khomeini Hospital, named after the late Iranian Islamist dictator Ayatollah Khomeini. Witnesses said the hospital sustained serious damage.

Details are sparse due to Syria’s tight lid on media in the country. Syrian media have not reported any news of the explosion.


Israel Matzav: Breaking: Bus explosion in Damascus

Israel Matzav: Lebanon endorses Hezbullah's 'right' to bear arms

Lebanon endorses Hezbullah's 'right' to bear arms

Repeat after me: "Lebanon is Hezbullah. Hezbullah is Lebanon." Do you want proof? Consider this: The Lebanese government has decided to give Hezbullah the 'right' to bear arms and to keep its militias functioning.

One of the key concepts of a government is that it has a monopoly over the right to bear arms. If anyone outside the government bears arms then either the government is not functioning or that group is actually running the show. Take your pick, but the result is the same: Lebanon = Hezbullah.

When there's another war with Hezbullah Lebanon and you see Sa'ad Hariri pulling a Fouad Saniora and crying (literally) to his fellow Arabs and to the media, don't feel sorry for him. Here's why:

All 30 cabinet ministers voted Wednesday to approve the policy statement that endorses Hizbullah's right to keep its weapons. Five ministers from the pro-Western majority expressed "reservations" over the clause addressing Hizbullah, but did not vote against it.

The policy statement - which lays out the government's goals for the next four years - illustrates how the government is loath to take any strong action against Hizbullah for fear of sparking a crisis. The group has virtual veto power over the government's moves, most analysts believe, because sectarian violence could follow if it pulls out.

Sa'ad Hariri is backed by the United States, which didn't have the guts to make Syria and Iran butt out. Just like Fouad Saniora was backed by the US government. But in the next war there should be no doubt: Israel should hit Lebanese infrastructure on Day One.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Lebanon endorses Hezbullah's 'right' to bear arms

Israel Matzav: Why foreign funding of Israeli NGO's is different

Israel Matzav: Why foreign funding of Israeli NGO's is different

Israel Matzav: The Something about Islam

The Something about Islam

Hugh Fitzgerald argues that Western Europeans are discovering Something about Islam, and when they finish discovering it, they will support Israel.

Things became very bleak for Israel in Western Europe. But now things are changing, and they are not changing because of anything the Israelis have done. They remain as inept as ever in the proper presentation of their own history, their own claims, their own rights, their own case. No, what has changed is that, over the last thirty years, the political and media elites of the countries of Western Europe allowed into their midst, into the midst of their countries, and their by-now long-suffering peoples, far too many, even millions, of Muslims. The behavior of those Muslims makes clear that behind that behavior is something else, a Total Belief-System, that is not susceptible of change, and that rests on the idea, inculcated by Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, that between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and Infidel, a state of permanent war, though not always of open warfare, must and does exist. And the texts of Islam, the tenets of Islam, are coming into view -- slowly but surely. The behavior of Muslims themselves is by now obviously more threatening and intransigent than the behavior of any of the other many immigrant groups that have arrived in Western Europe.

They are most threatening, it seems, in those very countries, Denmark and the Netherlands, which have elevated Tolerance practically to the level of state religions. And since it is not the Chinese, not the Hindus, not the sub-Saharan but Christian black Africans, not the Filipinos or the South Americans, but always and everywhere the Muslims who are the cause of such trouble and anxiety, and since they are the cause of such trouble and anxiety for non-Muslims not in one, or two, or five countries of Western Europe, but absolutely everywhere that they go, that they live, in numbers large enough -- 2 or 5 will apparently do -- it has become clear that there is Something About Islam. It is that very Something that many inhabitants of Western Europe can no longer pretend does not exist. They are now determined to find out just exactly what that Something is.

As soon as the peoples of Western Europe come to realize what Islam is all about -- and they are being forced to realize, for the Muslims in their midst are doing the forcing -- they will, slowly, come to understand not the non-existent "plight" of the non-existent "Palestinian people." They will change, and change in favor of Israel. They will come to realize that, as they become aware of what is truly happening in their own countries. Those countries are now faced from within with what is a quite-unnecessary danger, that of Muslim populations that cannot, save at the edges, among the least-Muslim of Muslims, integrate, and that believe they have not only have a right but a duty to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam. That goal will be, is being, pursued by all means. Those means include, in addition to terrorism and its ever-present threat, such means as the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest (discussed openly among Muslims, and sometimes even, as by Boumediene at the U.N. in 1974, and Qaddafy a few years ago, Arab or other Muslim rulers). That goal requires the slow or rapid undoing of the political and legal institutions of Infidel nation-states, the undoing of social arrangements and understandings, the undoing of the very freedoms, and solicitousness for the individual, that characterize advanced Western democracies, and are regarded as the accomplishment of many centuries of thought.

And as they begin to better comprehend Islam, those Europeans will, necessarily, begin to realize as well that the war against Israel has no end and is unsusceptible of a "solution." For the Arab and Muslim claim, or the Arab Muslim claim, is not to be met, nor assuaged, by any reduction in Israel's size. Already absurdly tiny, Israel is now, in its current borders (including the "West Bank," which is the name the Jordanians gave to those parts of Judea and Samaria, part of the Mandate for Palestine that was always intended to be included in the tiny territory allocated for the Jewish National Home by the League of Nations), existing in a state of permanent peril that no other state must endure. For any of those other states to lecture or hector Israel on why it should surrender more territory, is both cruel and absurd. Once Islam is grasped, both that cruelty, and that absurdity, of such pressures and demands on Israel, will be clear.

I wish I could share Hugh's optimism that Israel might actually garner support from Western Europe. But the World's oldest hatred doesn't have a rational basis and it's not likely to go away that easily. To remind you all, the World was supposed to stop hating us once we had a Jewish state, because then we wouldn't just be a minority everyplace else. That didn't work out too well either.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: The Something about Islam

Israel Matzav: Iranian arms dealer secretly extradited to the US in '07

Iranian arms dealer secretly extradited to the US in '07

An Iranian arms dealer was arrested in Eastern Europe and secretly extradited to the United States in 2007 according to a report that appeared on Wednesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Iranian has been quietly jailed in a Philadelphia-area prison for nearly two years - the case sealed from public view - as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have scoured his laptop to pursue hundreds of leads about Iran's covert effort to acquire American military gear, law-enforcement sources said.

"This guy was very prolific - there were five or six years' worth of records related to Iranian procurement on the seized laptop," an official said. "His only customer was and always has been the Iranian government."


The charges against Ardebili, a former Iranian government procurement official, are likely to include a count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which essentially prohibits arms and other sales to Iran. He also likely faces money-laundering and conspiracy charges.


U.S. officials said the Ardebili case was unusual because it involved the arrest of an arms dealer living in Iran and working almost exclusively for the Iranian government. The case is rarer still, the officials said, because it involves the successful extradition of an Iranian citizen from a third country to the United States.

Law-enforcement sources said that the undercover ICE agents in Philadelphia made first contact with Ardebili in 2004 over the Internet, and that he began to request a wide variety of military gear, including night-vision equipment and missile parts.

In October 2007, the ICE agents lured Ardebili to an Eastern European country with the promise of buying gyroscopes and radar components. The law-enforcement sources declined to name the European nation involved, but another source confirmed that it was Georgia and that the sting operation took place in the capital of Tbilisi.

The ICE agents, posing as shady U.S. arms salesmen, captured their negotiations with Ardebili on videotape, officials said, and he was arrested by Georgian police on Oct. 2, 2007. Prosecutors in Wilmington won his extradition to the United States from Georgia in January 2008.

To pursue the leads from Ardebili's laptop, U.S. authorities kept the case under wraps in Wilmington for nearly two years. But in recent months the Iranian government and associated groups had begun to make public but cryptic statements about Ardebili.


Israel Matzav: Iranian arms dealer secretly extradited to the US in '07

Israel Matzav: Shalit in Egypt?

Shalit in Egypt?

The Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida reported on Thursday that kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit has been moved to Egypt and that the 'terrorists for Gilad' exchange is underway.

The newspaper quoted sources as saying that Shalit has been taken to a secret and secure location in the country, accompanied by Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas' military wing and senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar.

Israel and Hamas have yet to comment on the report.

While this could be true, it does not mean that the deal is a done deal.

Arab media reports have said Hamas is likely to present additional conditions for the agreement, which Israel has already agreed to in principle.

The main remaining dispute, said the reports, is over a few senior prisoners who are described as "symbols of the Palestinian struggle." It seems Hamas has concluded it will be difficult to convince Israel to free the senior Hamas leaders.

Therefore, Hamas will likely focus its demands on two prisoners not from Hamas: Marwan Bargouti of Fatah, and the secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Saadat. One option is that Israel may release them and ban them from the West Bank, reported the Al-Arabiya network.

The final negotiations center on which senior prisoners Israel will release.

As some of you may recall, I reported earlier this week that Fatah Tanzim chief Marwan Barghouti is going to be given the right to decide whether he will stay in jail or be exiled. It's being reported on Thursday morning that Barghouti has decided he'd rather stay in jail than be exiled.

"Marwan is going nowhere; he wants to return to his home and family in Palestine," said his wife, Fadwa Barghouti.

She said that neither she nor her husband would agree to his deportation.

His friends in Ramallah said they were unaware of any Israeli offer to deport Barghouti, along with dozens of prisoners whom Hamas was demanding in return for Schalit's release.


Issa Qaraqi, the Palestinian Authority minister for prisoners' affairs, who met recently with Barghouti, said that the top Fatah operative was opposed to the idea of living in exile.

Qaraqi said Israel was insisting on the deportation of Barghouti and 11 other prominent prisoners, including Ahmad Sa'adat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Meanwhile, the 'good terrorists' from Fatah are pushing for Barghouti to be released before the Hamas terrorists so that they and not Hamas get credit for his release. Israelis are denying Barghouti will be released at all.

By the way, at the end of that last article, there's a claim that Israel totally failed to find out where Shalit is being held and that is why it is being humiliated with a 'prisoner exchange.' The word here is that's rubbish. Israel has known all along where Shalit was being held but at the insistence of the Shalit family - which feared an outcome like Nachshon Wachsman HY"D (may God avenge his blood) - the IDF did not undertake a rescue mission.


Hamas is denying that Shalit has been transferred to Egypt.

Israel Matzav: Shalit in Egypt?

DoubleTapper: IDF Uniforms

IDF Uniforms

IDF Uniforms have changed over the years.

The basic uniform seen in this first picture (IDF Servicemen 1, 2, and 3) is the basic dress uniform worn by IDF Land Forces today.

The IDF Women's headgear has been replaced by the same beret worn by men.

The suspender rig, Foreign Legion Cap, Officer's Billed Service Cap, Mens' Tunic and Shirt, and IDF Women's Khaki colored Uniform have all been retired.
Servicemen in the IDF Land Forces now wear a simple dress uniform consisting of a Long Sleeve 2 pocket Shirt, 3 pocket button fly Trousers, and Paratroop Style Black or Brown Boots.

Berets are now worn on the left shoulder under the epaulett daily and on the head only for ceremonial purposes. There are many Beret colors issued to IDF Servicemen and Women. Paratroops are isued a maroon beret, Golani brown, Givati purple, Kfir Camouflage, Combat Engineers gray, IDF Naval and Air force personnel also have berets. Light blue for the IDF Air Corps and Black for the IDF Naval Forces.

The service uniform for all IDF Land Forces personnel is olive green; naval and air force uniforms are beige.

IDF Women's dress parallels the men's but may substitute a skirt for the trousers, and a blouse (tunic) for the shirt.

Some corps or units have small variations in their uniforms - for instance, military policemen wear a white belt and police hat, Naval personnel have dress whites for parades.

Similarly, while most IDF soldiers are issued black leather boots, some units issue brown leather boots for historical reasons- the paratroopers, Nahal and Kfir brigades, as well as some SF units. Women are also issued sandals.

I'll try and post how the different insignia and patches are worn later.

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions.

DoubleTapper: IDF Uniforms

Antisemite with Glasses

Antisemite with Glasses

CiFWatch has a link to a short film made recently in London, in which one John Sullivan, antisemite, tells some young Jews in London why Jews are so repulsive.

If I find the time I'll write about the Betselem tour to Hebron I joined yesterday, which was quite interesting. Part of the interest was in the group of young European students and aspiring journalists, some of whom resembled this fellow though in a different context. Uninformed Europeans who know more about all the evil motivations of the Jews than the Jews know about themselves.

In the meantime, as I never tire of pointing out, note how this Sullivan antisemite looks like any normal bloke, doesn't have horns, would probably be a perfectly normal fellow if you were discussing anything else with him, and inevitably tells us that some of his best friends are Jews.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Dealing With Missiles

Dealing With Missiles

Some twenty years after it finally became obvious that the Arabs - Palestinians and others - had decided the best way to combat Israel is by killing civilians at home and in their towns, the IDF is finally writing a doctrine of dealing with it.

On the other hand, I'll bet there aren't any other countries anywhere that have thought the issues through and tried to devise a method to deal with them.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Climate Church Indulgencies

Climate Church Indulgencies

From time to time I write about the global warming thing, so if you've been with me for a while, you'll have noticed that I don't have an opinion one way or the other about if it's really happening, and if so if it's man-made, since I've never made the effort to study the matter. On the other hand, ever since the early 1970s - that's many long years before anyone thought the world was heating up - it has been my consistent opinion that churning gazillions of tons of junk into the atmosphere can't be a good idea; the fact that the main beneficiaries are the Saudis is an additional reason not to like the setup.

I've also been consistent in saying that the solution should be forward looking, not backward looking. Don't turn off all the lights, kill all cars and shut down the airports; rather, find cleaner, cheaper ways tap energy and apply it. (If someone would figure out how to replace airplanes with "Beam me over, Scottie", I'd be most appreciative).

Today's Guardian has an article about one James Hanson, who seems to be the fellow who invented the whole subject of global warming. As you might expect from a scientist, he's got no patience for the politicians:

Hansen is also fiercely critical of Barack Obama – and even Al Gore, who won a Nobel peace prize for his efforts to get the world to act on climate change – saying politicians have failed to meet what he regards as the moral challenge of our age. In Hansen's view, dealing with climate change allows no room for the compromises that rule the world of elected politics. "This is analagous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill," he said. "On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can't say let's reduce slavery, let's find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%."

This black and white unworldliness, a fierce focus on one issue to the detriment of all others that face mankind, may well be what enabled Hansen to succeed in his crusade. It also underlines why cynical, compromising politicians may be more appealing types than fanatic scientists. Further on in the interview, however, he makes a startling point about cap-and-trade:

He is scathing of that approach. "This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what's happening," he said. "We've got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets]."

The Economist, which I read regularly, is a staunch advocate of cap-and-trade. To me it has always seemed pure humbug. Rather than investing trillions in developing better technologies, it suggests a fiendishly complicated and nontransparent system in which the trillions move endlessly through banks, copiously shedding commissions as they go, and at the end of the process a polluting factory in, say, Germany, pays some fellow in Indonesia not to cut down trees. The polluter still pollutes, and the trees are nice. How have we moved forward?

Apparently Hanson agrees. Who'd have thunk.

Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

HONEST REPORTING - Stop the Spread of the Swedish Blood Libel

Stop the Spread of the Swedish Blood Libel

The false accusations of organ harvesting continue to spread.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet's August 2009 story (translated into English in full here) accusing the IDF of harvesting Palestinian organs caused an uproar. Donald Bostrom, the author of the offensive piece, duly demonstrated his utter lack of any basic journalistic standards when he said: "But whether it's true or not - I have no idea, I have no clue." On top of this, the story was further undermined as one of the Palestinian families interviewed said they never told any reporter that their son was missing organs.

With the credibility of the story in tatters one might have expected the outrageous accusations to have a limited shelf life or to disappear altogether. However, the Swedish blood libel is a textbook case study of how what starts as an article published in a language read by few from a country of limited international influence can turn into a poison that spreads much wider.

As Ha'aretz reports:

Stories appearing on several Ukrainian Web sites claim Israel has brought around some 25,000 Ukrainian children into the country over the past two years in order to harvest their organs. ...

Vyacheslav Gudin told the estimated 300 attendees of the Kiev conference a detailed story about a Ukrainian man's fruitless search for 15 children who had been adopted in Israel. The children, Gudin said, had clearly been taken by Israeli medical centers, where they were used for "spare parts." Gudin said it was essential that all Ukrainians be made aware of the genocide Israel was perpetrating. ...

Many Ukrainian Web sites covered the speeches without putting them into context. In response to a request by the country's Jewish community Ukraine's police force is investigating ZUBR, one of the Web sites that reported the speeches.

Wild conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism are a stock-in-trade of much of the Arab press. So it's not surprising that Palestinian Media Watch documents:

The Palestinian Authority libel that Israel deliberately harvests organs from dead Palestinians has caught on in the Arab world. Last month Egyptian authorities temporarily denied Israeli doctors entry into Egypt to participate in a medical conference. The head of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate explained that this was because they "participated in torture" of Palestinians and because they "are also guilty of stealing the organs of Palestinian prisoners."

The following are the remarks by the head of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate as reported in the PA daily, Al-Ayyam:

"The head of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, Dr. Hamdi Al-Sayed, said yesterday that the decisions of the [Egyptian] medical associations were based on a rejection of relations with Israeli doctors, since they took part in grave abuses against the Palestinian people. He stated, in press releases in Cairo, that the Egyptian Medical Syndicate views any type of normalization with the Israeli occupation as a crime.

In response to the Israeli doctors' protest over Egyptian authorities not issuing them permits to enter Egypt for a medical conference, he said: 'We have no regard or respect for the Israeli doctors because the medical community has condemned them due to their participation in the torture of Palestinian prisoners.' He added: 'The Israeli Medical Association has acknowledged having participated in torture, noting that it had done so with the aim of protecting Israeli citizens.' He stated that the Israeli doctors are also guilty of stealing the organs of Palestinian prisoners, and that 'such people will not be permitted to take part in our medical activities." [Al-Ayyam, Nov. 27, 2009]

PMW documents many more examples of the Palestinian organ theft libel here.


Over the years, HonestReporting has confronted a number of false or exaggerated libels perpetrated against Israel. Some of the worst can be viewed on our interactive Big Lies presentation. Perhaps we cannot prevent the spread of such poison through the Internet and beyond. But it is still incumbent upon us to act as a bulwark and to ensure that the truth and an antidote to the poison appears online to counter the lies.

Such falsehoods take on a life of their own on Internet message boards. Some media outlets save their comments for perpetuity. Sometimes, a comment or post on a message board may even become a valid source through a search engine such as Google or Yahoo.

A look at one example of this may be an indicator of the long-term consequences of the Swedish blood libel.

In a November 2008 story on the confirmation of uranium traces at a Syrian site bombed by Israel in September 2007, the discussion on CNN's message board invariably turned to accusations that Israel was responsible for the uranium.

One commenter posts from an article by Robert Fisk in The Independent from October 2006 that claimed that Israel had used uranium bombs during the 2006 Lebanon conflict. He then asks: "Israel used it [uranium] in Lebanon why should any one be surprised that Israel used it in Syria too."

Likewise, a message board at The Scotsman on the same story included identical quotes from Fisk's libel:

However, the original story by Fisk was thoroughly debunked by HonestReporting after a United Nations agency found the uranium charges to be false. The Independent refused to issue a correction or apology and so this libel is regurgitated on forums such as CNN's with no way to disprove it other than HonestReporting's own rebuttals.

We fear that the Swedish blood libel will be a similar story.

Aftonbladet and The Independent deserve to know the consequences of their irresponsible and fraudulent reporting. Please send your considered comments to Aftonbladet's Editor-in-Chief Jan Helin - - and to The Independent's News Desk - - asking them to take responsibility for the false rumors that they have spread and to publish the necessary retractions.

HonestReporting. com

RubinReports: Explaining Russian and Chinese Policy: From Communists to Super-Capitalist Merchants

Explaining Russian and Chinese Policy: From Communists to Super-Capitalist Merchants

[Please subscribe]

By Barry Rubin
China is very much motivated toward development rather than ideology or geopolitical ambition. It wants to get along with everyone as much as possible and make lots of money. (Quite a change from the days of the Little Red Book and the Cultural Revolution!). So they are ready to sell arms to everyone. They are all over Africa especially doing deals with anyone who can pay.

To get cash, the Chinese will do anything. For example, they have allowed secret flights from North Korea to Iran carrying weapons and nuclear technology. When U.S. forces arrived in Iraq, they found that China had sold Saddam advanced anti-aircraft guns.

They believe they have two big vulnerabilities. One is fear of being isolated, as happened during much of the Cold War. Whenever anyone speaks of sanctions and pressures, the Chinese think: What if this would be used against us some day. So they tend to be against such things everywhere (Yugoslavia, Iran). Since they want to make money selling to these countries that's another reason to reject sanctions (and cheat when possible on them).

The even bigger vulnerability is China's vast need for oil and gas. They don' want to alienate any of the suppliers and they don't like the idea of a crisis disrupting the supply. So they like trading with Israel because it has useful hi-tech and other such products and with the Arabs to buy oil and gas, and sell items to them.

Finally, they are very much against all the climate control proposals because these would hurt them and slow down their development. (And they can, after all, say: you in the West became rich through pollution and now you want to force us to give up advancing as fast as we can?)

Russia is quite different in political terms but also is desperate for money. Its current regime has lots of ambitions and a big chip on its shoulder. Whether it’s true or not, they are angry that the West—and especially the United States—didn’t do more to help them after Communism. They also feel as if they are weak and way behind. When I was in Moscow I saw shops from every Western country selling luxury goods but nothing indigenously Russian. Putin wants to make Russia a great power, to regain parts of the Soviet empire and to have influence over much of the rest of the former USSR and satellite states.

In particular, Putin and the regime want to sabotage U.S. policy. They are more openly contemptuous of President Obama than virtually any other country in the world (and that includes Iran). In Europe, they want to keep the U.S. and NATO over the areas they formerly control. Russian companies are buying up resources in those countries wherever they can. Russia has attacked Georgia and is menacing a lot of other ex-victims, who are scared and doubtful they can depend on the United States right now.

In the Middle East, Russia views Iran as a friend (I thought of saying ally but that’s too strong). Iran has not supported Islamists in Russia which is very important for Moscow. It also supports Russia’s ally, Christian Armenia, even though it is fighting Muslim Azerbaijan. Moscow, like China, is after money, too, and Iran buys weapons both for itself and for its own Syrian ally.

Like China, Russia wants to have good relations with both Arab states and Israel. They don’t want to see Arab-Israeli wars. But they will pursue their own interests even if it means, for example, that Russia sells arms to Syria (paid for by Iran) which Syria turns over to Hizballah. The Russians don’t care. But so far they’ve recognized that selling advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran—which Israel sees as making even more difficult any future attack on Iranian nuclear facilities—is a red line for Israel.

Russia has opposed sanctions on Iran because they would cost it both money and Moscow's good current relationship with Iran.. Both countries would like to see a diplomatic solution, though not necessarily one that would stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. In a recent statement a Russian diplomatic source has said that the country will join any consensus on sanctions. This may or may not signal some policy change. But clearly Russia even if it did go along with something new, the Russian government would set the level of new sanctions lower as the price for its participation and might not observe them even then.

One can argue that these policies are shortsighted; that spreading radical Islamism will hit Russia and China as well; and that resulting regional stability will hurt even their economic interests. Those are good arguments but are not persuading Russian and Chinese leaders.

In short, while things have greatly improved since the Cold War, neither Russia nor China supports Western policy in the Middle East. President Obama is not going to change these realities.

RubinReports: Explaining Russian and Chinese Policy: From Communists to Super-Capitalist Merchants


By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah reading: Gen. 32.4-36.43. Haftara: Obadiah 1.1-21 (Optional substitution: Hosea 11.7-12.12).


At the end of the previous parshah, VAYEITZEI, we saw Jacob at MOUNT Gil'ad in his final encounter with Laban, who represents the evil husk in its spiritual manifestation, fake CHESSED-kindness. At Mount Gil'ad, Jacob made a "treaty" with Laban demarcating the boundaries which they and their descendants were to observe: these are the boundaries that neither good nor evil may overstep in the unfolding drama of human history. In prevailing over Laban, Jacob demonstrated that he had made a complete acquisition of Abraham's quality of CHESSED. As discussed in connection with previous parshahs, it was Abraham who went to the MOUNTAIN, and thus Jacob's "treaty" with Laban was struck at MOUNT Gil'ad.

In the present parshah, VAYISHLACH, we see Jacob struggling with the evil husk in its material manifestation, the "fallen" GEVUROS, worldly power and strength, as embodied in Esau, man of the FIELD. Thus at the beginning of the parshah, Jacob, who is about to enter the Promised Land, sends emissaries ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the FIELD of Edom (Gen. 32:4).

Esau was called the "man of the field" (Gen. 25:27), having received the trait of GEVURAH, power and strength, from Isaac, who, as the embodiment of holy GEVURAH, self-discipline, "went out to the field" (Gen. 24:63). However, the aspect of GEVURAH which Esau received from Isaac was the excess, unholy aspect: Esau's "field" was the wild outdoors. Thus later on, the Torah writes: "And if IN THE FIELD the man finds the engaged girl and the man takes hold of her and lies with her, that man that lay with her shall die, he alone... for as a man rises up against his neighbor and murders him, so is this matter" (Deut. 22:25). This FIELD of rape and murder is the field of idolatrous slaughter: "the sacrifices that they slaughter on the face of the FIELD... their sacrifices to the GOAT-demons (SE'IRIM) that they lust after them..." (Leviticus 17:5-7). According to the Rabbis, on the day when Esau came in "from the field" (Gen. 25:29) and sold his birth-right to Jacob, Esau was "tired" from the three cardinal sins of idolatry, sexual immorality and murder.

In order for Jacob to complete his acquisition of the birth-right and enter and acquire the Promised Land, he had to demonstrate that together with the CHESSED he had inherited from his grandfather Abraham, he had also made a complete acquisition of the trait of holy GEVURAH embodied in his father Isaac. Jacob demonstrated this in his struggle with Esau, where he prevailed through applying his consummate wisdom and humility. Thus we find in our parshah that Jacob also made a treaty of boundaries and separation with Esau. This boundary will prevail "... until I will come to my lord to Seir" (Gen. 33:14) -- "And when will he go? In the days of Mashiach, as it says, And the saviors will go up on Mount Zion to judge the house of Esau" (Ovadiah 1:21, in our haftara, see Rashi on Gen. 33:14). A substantial portion of our parshah is devoted to Esau, including the concluding section, which traces all the generations of Esau, including Amalek (Gen. 36:12) the historical counterfeit of Israel, and Rome (Gen. 36:43, "Magdiel", see Rashi ad loc.).

Jacob was first characterized as "a dweller of tents" (Gen. 25:27) -- the "tent" of Abraham (CHESSED) and the "tent" of Isaac (GEVURAH). "Planting" tents in a field turns the FIELD into a place of residence. Jacob's mission was to join and synthesize the holy traits of his fathers and teachers, CHESSED and GEVURAH, in order to build TIFERES, truth, beauty and balance. This is the HOUSE, the House of Jacob -- the HOUSE, family and people of Israel, and also the archetypal, model physical HOUSE that is to serve to guide all mankind to return to G-d, the "House of Prayer for all the Nations", the "HOME" of G-d: the HOLY TEMPLE. In the course of our parshah, we see Jacob busy building houses. He travels to Succos, "TABERNACLES" -- temporary homes. There Jacob built himself a HOUSE while making booths for his livestock.

Jacob then came "COMPLETE" to SheCheM (Gen. 33:18). The Hebrew word for "complete" is ShaLeM -- made up of the letters Shin, signifying fire, GEVUROS, Mem signifying water, CHASADIM, and the transcendent center-column Lamed, that shoots upwards exactly like the Vav on top of the Kaf from which the Lamed is formed. SheKheM signifies SHAFEL, the lowly material world, KOCHAVIM, the stars and constellations that direct what happens here, and the MALACHIM, the angels or the spiritual forces which "drive" the stars and planets (Likutey Moharan I:9). In Shechem, Jacob "acquired the lot of the FIELD in which he PLANTED HIS TENT..." (Gen. 33:17-19). Finally, at the climax of our parshah, "And Jacob said to his HOUSE and to all that were with him, remove the strange gods that are in you and purify yourselves and change your garments. And let us arise and go up to the HOUSE of G-d..." (Gen. 35:2-3). And then the House of Jacob was complete: "And the sons of Jacob were twelve" (Gen. 35:22).

Jacob could only succeed in building this HOUSE, the House of Israel and its center HOUSE, the Holy Temple, after having won a complete victory over Esau, representing ASIYAH, the world of material action, with its many traps and dangers. When the Temple stands, order prevails, and atonement is brought to Israel and the world through sending the SEIR-goat of atonement away to die in the wilderness (Lev. 16:21-22).

* * *


Esau came against Jacob with the implacable envy and enmity of the serpent towards Adam, for "he will stamp on you on the head and you will bite him at the heel (AKEV)" (Gen. 3:15). Even when Esau kissed, he really came to bite (see Baal HaTurim on "and he kissed him" Gen. 33:4 -- "in gematria, 'and he came to bite him'"). Jacob, YaAKOV, was so named because he "gripped the heel (AKEV)" of Esau (Gen. 25:26). This was how Jacob reclaimed Adam's greatness, the REISHIS, "head" or "birth-right", thereby stamping on and crushing the serpent's head.

Esau came with 400 men, the legions of death. 400 corresponds to the Hebrew letter Tav, last letter of the Aleph Beis, the ultimate in multiplicity. 400 signifies a complete array of numbers -- 10 x 10 -- on all four sides: number, measurement and limitation everywhere. This multiplicity stands counter to G-d's unity, represented by Jacob and his twelve sons (the twelve constellations and twelve hours, time and space), arranged in order in a square (= perfect balance) around the House, the Sanctuary, the BAYIS (from BereishYS), which ends in the letter TAV. The House of Jacob comes to overcome death, MAVES, which also ends with the letter TAV. For "her feet go down to death" (Proverbs 5:5) -- plurality, the worship of many gods.

Esau's GEVURAH was BRAWN, the power of physical force. ("I have abundance" Gen. 33:9). But Jacob overcame Esau's brawn through BRAIN, ROSH, ("kopf"), the wisdom gained from Jacob's synthesis: this is the TIFERES-DAAS center-column, the faculty of "putting things together" (CHOCHMAH and BINAH, CHESSED and GEVURAH). This is achieved through GIVE AND TAKE. Thus Jacob is the ultimate in humility: "I am too SMALL for all Your kindnesses" (Gen. 32:11). "Say they belong to YOUR SERVANT Jacob, a gift sent to MY LORD Esau" (ibid. v. 19). "And he PROSTRATED to the ground seven times until he approached his brother..." (33:3).

For Jacob is Ya-AKOV, the one who grasps the heel, and "the HEEL (AKEV) of humility is FEAR OF G-D" (Proverbs 22:4) -- "how AWESOME is this Place" (Gen. 28:17). The fear of G-d is the "beginning" of wisdom, the REISHIS, the birth-right (the Hebrew letters of the word REISHIS include the letters of the word YA-RE, "he is in awe"). For "the BEGINNING of wisdom, CHOCHMAH, is FEAR OF G-D" (Psalms 111:10) and "what wisdom made her crown, humility made the sandle on her heel (AKEV)" (Midrash).

Jacob knows that this world is but the heel of an entire system of worlds, and this is what gives him his mastery over this world. He is able to use this world to serve G-d by configuring and ordering the world properly. Jacob understands that there has to be give and take with Esau. He understands that Esau has chosen This World. Jacob thus "bribes" Esau with the "goat for Azazel", the gift of material wealth, which Jacob, as the source of all blessings, has the power to draw down and channel to the world.

The abundant gifts of livestock that Jacob sends to Esau contain a message. Rashi on Gen. 32:15 brings a midrash showing how the varying ratio of males to females among the different kinds of live-stock alludes to the appropriate ONAH or time of conjugal union for people in different walks of life (see Rashi there). In other words, the same Jacob who sent messages to Isaac in the "lentil soup" is now teaching the sexually wild Esau a lesson in how to tame and direct animal lust for the sake of good breeding. In this way, Jacob's material "gift" to Esau brings order and rectification to the world of ASIYAH.

Jacob offers peace and gifts (CHESED), but he is prepared for war to the very end (GEVURAH). Yet in his humility, Jacob knows that all the gifts and all the might of ASIYAH will not prevail against Esau without the help of G-d. "He prepared himself for three things: for a gift, for PRAYER and for war" (Rashi on Gen. 32:9). Prayer is at the center, in between CHESSED (gifts) and GEVURAH (war). "And Jacob said: G-d of my father Abraham and G-d of my father Isaac...." (Gen. 32:10).

Jacob struggled with Esau's root -- his SAR ("guardian angel") -- and it was his success against the angel that enabled him to prevail over Esau himself. Jacob's success was WIN/WIN, for even Esau gained what he really wanted: the material glory of this world. While Esau takes the material wealth, Jacob struggles to find the inner "face", the roots and inner meaning of the wealth and glory of this world. Thus Jacob calls the place of his struggle with the angel PENI-EL, "for I saw G-d FACE TO FACE" (Gen. 32:31). Yet in order for the world to continue to exist after we uncover the inner face, there has to be give and take. Jacob gets injured "in the leg" -- HOD. In this world, KULO OMER KAVOD, "everything cries out glory". In the very outcry of worldly glory, G-d's glory becomes concealed! As a result, Jacob's children -- "the legs" -- "do not eat from the slipped tendon" (GID HANASHEH). The Children of Israel are unable to eat all the material blessings of this world because of the blemished glory. In this world the glory is taken by Esau, for if Jacob's glory, the glory of Israel, were fully revealed, there would be no free will.

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The integrity of the House -- the family -- of Jacob depends upon family PURITY, observance of the laws of sexual decency and restraint. "Shall our sister be treated like a prostitute?" (Gen. 34:31). Moral purity is the very foundation of the Covenant of Abraham, which is sealed in the flesh of the male Children of Israel on the organ of procreation, indicating the need to restrain animal lust and elevate it in the service of G-d in order to breed righteous children to "guard the way of HaShem" (Gen. 18:19).

The rape of Dinah was a violation of this integrity by Shechem the son of Hamor (= donkey, physical animality) the Chivi (Chivia in Aramaic is "serpent" see Targum on Gen. 3:1). Shechem is the opposite of Joseph "the Tzaddik", the archetype of sexual discipline, who restrains himself with Potiphar's wife and eventually receives SheKheM (the three worlds, the lowly world, that of the stars and that of the angels, as discussed above) as well as -- according to the midrash -- marrying Dinah's daughter = Osnath.

Dinah's urge to go out and about "to see the daughters of the land" (a trait unbefitting the daughter of Jacob) exposed her to danger in a world that was still untamed. Abraham and Isaac had both faced trials because of the fallen morality of the Egyptians and the Philistines. Now Jacob's own daughter is raped by Shechem the Hittite, descendant of the accursed Canaan, son of Ham.

According to Torah law, Dinah, as a PENUYAH, "unmarried", was not forbidden to Shechem. What was forbidden was the manner in which he "saw her... and he TOOK her and lay with her": Shechem kidnapped Dinah. His crime was the violation of the Noachide Law against stealing, which prohibits the unlawful taking not only of goods but of people. The crime of the men of Shechem who were sitting "in the gate of their city" (Gen. 34:20) -- i.e. they were the judges of the city -- was that they watched this violation of Noachide law and did nothing.

In the words of Rambam (Maimonides) Laws of Kings 9:14: "In what way are they (the Children of Noah) commanded with regard to the rule of law? They are obliged to establish judges and magistrates in every region to judge cases relating to the other six commandments, and to warn the population. And any of the Children of Noah who violates one of these seven commandments is to be killed by the sword. AND FOR THIS REASON THE RULERS OF SHECHEM WERE LIABLE TO EXECUTION, for Shechem STOLE and they saw and they knew and they did not bring him to justice..."

The zeal of Levy and Shimon in perpetrating justice did not escape Jacob's censure, both in our parshah (Gen. 34:30) and in his blessings to his sons before his death (Gen. 49:5, "Shimon and Levi are brothers, weapons of might are their swords... Accursed is their anger... I will divide them among Jacob and scatter them among Israel...") Zeal is necessary yet dangerous. It is controlled when the zealots are divided and scattered. Levi was "scattered" by having to go around to all the farms to collect the Levitical tithes. This honorable scattering was the reward for the zeal showed by the tribe later on, at the time of the sin of the golden calf. However, Shimon's zeal was not so pure, and led to excess, as when the Zimri, Prince of the tribe of Shimon, took Kozbi the Midianite and challenged Moses. (Zimri was killed by Pinchas, son of Aaron from the tribe of Levi, exemplar of Holy Zeal). To rectify the challenge to Moses by the Prince of the House of Shimon, members of the tribe of Shimon were "scattered" by having to become scribes and teachers of Moses' Torah (see Rashi on Gen. 49:7).

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The significance of the section of the parshah describing Jacob's "pilgrimage" with his family to Beth El, the HOUSE of G-d, has been discussed above. At Beth El, Jacob's acquisition of the birthright and the Promised Land was sealed, and he attained his name of greatness -- Israel -- from the mouth of G-d.

The House of Jacob was completed by the birth of Benjamin, who was the only one of Jacob's twelve sons to be born in the Land of Israel and who founded the tribe that was to contribute the first king of Israel, Saul, who was "head and shoulders above all the men of Israel" in his outstanding modesty and righteousness. Shamai, the Mishnaic Tanna and Av Beis Din ("father of the court") in the time of Hillel the Elder, was a descendant of King Saul, while Hillel, who was the Nasi or Prince (and as such, the highest in rank) was a descendant of King David. Thus the MACHLOKES (controversy) throughout the SHAS (6 orders of Mishneh), between BEIS SHAMAI and BEIS HILLEL is bound up with the struggle between Judah (son of Leah) and Benjamin (son of Rachel). This struggle is resolved through the process of clarifying the halachah, which practically always follows the opinion of Beis Hillel.

Conflict and its resolution is the theme of all the remaining parshiyos in the book of Genesis from next week (VAYESHEV) until the end of Genesis (VAYECHI). This is the story of the rectification of the world, which comes about through Mashiach son of David (who is from the tribe of Judah, son of Leah) and Mashiach son of Joseph (son of Rachel). In order to clear the way for the story of rectification, namely the story of Joseph and his brothers (in which the bond between Judah and Benjamin plays a central part), the Torah concludes our parshah of VAYISHLACH with an account of the generations of Esau. The theme of sexual immorality recurs in this account, for several of Esau's children and grandchildren were MAMZERIM (bastards -- see Rashi on Gen. 36:2 and 36:12 etc.)

This account ends with the account of the Seven Kings who ruled over Edom -- and died -- before there was a king in Israel. It is well known that these Seven Kings allude to the seven "fallen" Sefiros of the World of TOHU (devastation), while the last-mentioned king -- the eighth, of whom it does not say "and he died" -- is Hadar = Abraham, father of the World of Rectification.

This throws light on the meaning of Rashi's first comment on next week's parshah (on Gen. 37:1): "After the Torah writes for you the dwellings of Esau and his generations in brief, since they were not sufficiently important to tell in detail... the Torah now comes to the dwellings of Jacob and his generations at length and all the cycles (GILGULIM) of causes, for they are important before G-d... It can be compared to a jewel that fell in the sand. A person feels through and sieves all the sand until he finds the jewel. And when he finds the jewel, he throws away the pebbles and takes the jewel."

Shabbat Shalom!

Avraham Yehushua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel

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