Sunday, 6 December 2009

Israel Matzav: Is it real or is it bravado?

Is it real or is it bravado?

Prime Minister Netanyahu asked everyone to observe the 'settlement freeze,' but promised that when it's over, there will be more building.

"Even if Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) will come in another eight months with the message 'Peace Now,' we will start building as before. The cabinet's decision has a deadline," said Netanyahu in the weekly cabinet meeting.

While I hope and pray that's true, I fear that it's not. Do you really believe that if Abu Bluff comes to the table the day before the ten months expire, Obama won't demand that they be extended?

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Is it real or is it bravado?

Israel Matzav: Just another trick?

Just another trick?

A poll of 'Palestinian' Arabs shows that 93.5%(!) of them believe that the 'settlement freeze' is just another trick by Israel.

According to the poll, conducted on Ma'an's website, 93.5% of PA Arabs believe that the freeze is just an attempt by Israel to "fool" the rest of the world, but that building in Judea and Samaria will continue as usual.

Try telling that to all the Israeli Jews who now cannot even get caravans (mobile homes) in which to live in Judea and Samaria.

Israel Matzav: Just another trick?

Israel Matzav: Shalit examined by doctors?

Shalit examined by doctors?

In Hamas' continuing misinformation drive to ensure that Gilad Shalit remains in the news, several Arab media outlets reported this weekend that Shalit was examined by French doctors last week.

A French medical crew, comprised of four doctors, entered the Gaza Strip last week and examined kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, several reliable media outlets reported Sunday. This was the first time a foreign element visited the captive.

According to the BBC network in Arabic and the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper, the crew entered Gaza last Sunday with German mediator Ernst Uhrlau.

Arutz Sheva adds:

A report in the Arabic language Al-hayat newspaper Sunday morning claims that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has been examined by a team of French doctors. The doctors supposedly visited Shalit at the secret location where he is being held by Hamas terrorists last week. The paper did not report on the results of the examination.

And of course, the French doctors would never ever dream of violating the doctor-patient confidentiality by disclosing to anyone who might rescue Shalit where he is being held (not that it matters - Israel knows anyway).

Later on Sunday, both Hamas and Egypt denied that Shalit had been examined at all. But Haaretz added this little tidbit to that report:

Israel Air Force drones flew above Gaza while the doctors were visiting Shalit, the paper said. The German mediator had reportedly pledged to Hamas that Israel would not strike the abducted soldier's hiding place or try to rescue him, despite the fact that the Israel Defense Forces was monitoring the doctors' visit.

The paper further reported that Shalit is being held at a location that is booby-trapped and from which he has no chance of being rescued alive. According to Al-Hayyat, the checkup was another confidence-building measure in order to advance the developing deal to secure the soldier's freedom.

I cannot believe that the IDF is incapable of getting him out. The word here is that the Shalit family insisted that they not try.

Israel Matzav: Shalit examined by doctors?

Israel Matzav: Harvard simulation: US won't stop Iran

Harvard simulation: US won't stop Iran

A simulation conducted at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government over the weekend predicts that the US will not stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and will instead beg Iran not to use them.

A simulation conducted at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government over the weekend predicts that the United States will fail in its efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and will, for lack of other options, attempt to convince Iran not to use those weapons. The simulation further predicts that a serious crisis will break out between Israel and the U.S., as Washington pressures Jerusalem not to take any defensive action against Iran's weapon, while Israel insists on its right to self defense.

You don't have to be a genius to make those predictions....

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Harvard simulation: US won't stop Iran

Israel Matzav: The receiving line

The receiving line

Heh. (Hat Tip: Danielle K).

Israel Matzav: The receiving line

Israel Matzav: Obama may lead the US to isolationism

Obama may lead the US to isolationism

In Friday's JPost, Amotz Asael slammed President Obama's naivete and expressed the fear that it will lead the United States to isolationism (Hat Tip: Paul Mirengoff).

Middle Israelis hoped at the time to learn that Obama had reached early understandings with local leaders; that Israel would announce some concessions in the morning and Washington's Arab allies would announce others in the evening. It turned out there was no such preparation with either side, because for this president oration was not a way to announce plans, it was the plan itself. Now all understood that just like he wasn't asking Americans to sacrifice anything economically, Obama also wasn't asking much from the rest of the world (except Israel.)

THE DIPLOMATIC cost of all this is exorbitant. Governments across the world are losing respect for the US. Turkey, which once didn't lift a finger without America's approval, is openly waltzing into the sunset with Syria and Iran. Iran has made a mockery of Obama's dialogue gesture. China has made a joke of Obama personally, when it censored his very plea that Beijing ease censorship. Saudi Arabia has ignored Washington's pleas to deliver a peace gesture. And finally, in a natural extension of all this accelerating disparagement, Hugo Chavez publicly backed Iran's nuclear adventurism with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alongside him in Venezuela - a three-hour flight from Miami.

All of them, from Chavez to Kim, are humiliating America because they have concluded that the decade that began with the 9/11 attacks and later saw a meltdown in Wall Street and now a military entanglement in Afghanistan is about to end with America as dwarfed as Russia was last decade.

Where, then, is all this leading?

Eventually, when the deficit and the dollar sink even deeper while unemployment and interest rates rise that much higher, Americans will understand that action must be painful, swift and immediate. That is when, with or without Obama, they will set the world aside and focus on nothing but economic rehabilitation. The US will cut defense spending deeply, possibly retrieving the entire mini-armies it has in Japan and Germany. Afghanistan, like Iraq and Vietnam before it, will be quit, and all foreign aid programs will be discontinued.

A neo-isolationist Washington will effectively tell the world to try to run its affairs alone, just for several years, during which the US will be geopolitically closed for economic renovations.

The good news is that if this actually happens, Israel will discover that it can live without US aid, and will emerge stronger and more independent (which is ironic because Israel is the only country from which the US is making demands that is listening to them).

The bad news is that the last time the US went isolationist was the 1930's and we all know what happened at the end of that decade.

Here's hoping that Obama is replaced in 2012 and that there's still time to save the America's economy and world standing without such drastic steps.

Israel Matzav: Obama may lead the US to isolationism

Israel Matzav: The Chabadtzker and the police dog

The Chabadtzker and the police dog

This is way off topic, but it's a good story for a relatively quiet Sunday (Hat Tip: Pillageidiot via Soccer Dad via Twitter).

The menorah was lighted and Hebrew prayers chanted, while the officer watched from a distance with his dog. He figured he would let it all go down and then move in when the ceremony was done. The dog sat at attention, watching the ceremony with a peculiar expression on its face, a look of intense interest. When the ceremony was over, the officer approached the Hasidic rabbi.

“I’m Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police,” he said. “This is Miky, our security dog. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Miky, pronounced Mikey, is in a Diaspora of his own. He was born in an animal shelter in Holland and shipped as a puppy to Israel, where he was trained by the Israeli Defense Forces to sniff out explosives. Then one day, Miky got a plane ticket to America. Rather than spend the standard $20,000 on a bomb dog, the Helena Police Department had shopped around and discovered that it could import a surplus bomb dog from the Israeli forces for the price of the flight. So Miky came to his new home in Helena, to join the police force.

The problem, the officer explained, was that Miky had been trained entirely in Hebrew.

When Officer Fosket got Miky, he was handed a list of a dozen Hebrew commands and expressions, like “Hi’ sha’ er” (stay!), Ch’pess (search!), and “Kelev tov” (good doggy). He made flashcards and tried practicing with Miky. But poor Miky didn’t respond.

Officer Fosket (who is not Jewish) suspected he wasn’t pronouncing the words properly. He tried a Hebrew instructional audio-book from the local library, but no luck. The dog didn’t always understand what he was being ordered to do. Or maybe Miky was just using his owner’s bad pronunciation as an excuse to ignore him. Either way, the policeman needed a rabbi.

And now he had found one. They worked through a few pronunciations, and the rabbi, Chaim Bruk, is now on call to work with Miky and his owner as needed. Officer Fosket has since learned to pronounce the tricky Israeli “ch” sound, and Miky has become a new star on the police force. The two were even brought in by the Secret Service to work a recent presidential visit.

So all is well in the Jewish community here because the Hasidic rabbi is helping the Montana cop speak Hebrew to his dog. It is good news all around. The officer keeps the Capitol safe, and the Hebrew pooch is feeling more at home hearing his native tongue.

But the big winner is the rabbi, a recent arrival from Brooklyn who is working hard (against tough odds) to bring his Lubavitch movement to Montana. He has been scouring the state for anyone who can speak Hebrew, and is elated to have found a German shepherd he can talk to.

And no, that's not Miky at the top, but if anyone is in Montana and sends a picture of Mikey, I'll post it.

Israel Matzav: The Chabadtzker and the police dog

Israel Matzav: SNL lampoons the Obumbler

Israel Matzav: SNL lampoons the Obumbler

Israel Matzav: The man who snuck IN to Auschwitz

The man who snuck IN to Auschwitz

This is an awesome story of a British POW from a nearby prison camp who traded places with a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz, and managed to get the Jew cigarettes, chocolate and a letter from his sister in England.

The Jewish prisoner survived the war, but never saw his benefactor again. But you will see both of them if you read the story and watch the videotapes embedded on the page.

Israel Matzav: The man who snuck IN to Auschwitz

Israel Matzav: Economic crisis spurs aliya

Economic crisis spurs aliya

The Wall Street Journal reports that the economic crisis in the US has prompted a lot of people to make aliya (immigrate to Israel).

After years of a brain drain from the region, and despite the lack of a peace settlement, by the end of this month about 4,000 North American Jews will have immigrated to Israel this year, an increase of 33% over 2008 and the most in one year since 1973, according to Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that oversees and assists with immigration to Israel from North America.

Immigrants to Israel often have a longstanding desire to move, but the economic crisis has pushed them to make the jump this year, said Danny Oberman, executive vice president of Israel operations for Nefesh B'Nefesh. "The economy has a lot to do with it," Mr. Oberman said.


Zumi Brody immigrated to Israel with his wife and four young children in August. Mr. Brody, a vice president of a bank, said he had to sell his home in St. Louis for less than what he paid for it to make the move, but paying at least $10,000 per child to attend Jewish day school would have been burdensome. In Israel, his children can attend a state-funded school and still learn Hebrew and Jewish studies.

The increase in immigration from America also shows a change in the image and economy of Israel. The country is in the process of entering the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has been upgraded from a developing to a developed economy, said Glenn Yago, an economist at the Milken Institute in Jerusalem.

This wave of American immigration suggests that Israel is shifting "from its primary, historical role as a refuge of last resort to a human- and financial-capital destination of first resort," Mr. Yago said.

I wonder if there are still ideologues (as Mrs. Carl and I were) making aliya these days.

It's long been the case that people made aliya from North America (and Europe, albeit mostly from England in those days) as something other than a refuge of last resort. I have no doubt that the economy is pushing people to come, and it is true that the recession here (for most of us anyway) has not been as deep here as it has been in the US. But it has always been true that the two major expenses of raising Jewish children (Jewish education and health care) are much less expensive here in the case of education and much more attainable here in both cases. So why are people suddenly making aliya now to save on their kids' tuition?

I should add that somehow the Journal didn't hear that Nefesh b'Nefesh makes nice loans to help people make aliya. They weren't around in my day.

Israel Matzav: Economic crisis spurs aliya

Israel Matzav: Blame ElBaradei for Iran's nuclear program

Blame ElBaradei for Iran's nuclear program

If you're looking for someone to blame for Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons, outgoing IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei would be a fair choice.

ElBaradei's conduct regarding Iraq's non-existent nuclear weapons brought him a great deal of international prestige. He became a popular speaker in important forums around the world, and in 2005 he and the agency received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to curtail nuclear proliferation.

The prize, as people who knew him observed, went to his head and made him haughty, arrogant and self-righteous. But that's when things began to go downhill.

"He started to behave as if he knew better than anyone else and could not make a mistake," one of the senior officials in the agency complained. But it was after winning the prize that his career reached a nadir that stained his earlier achievements. While it could be argued that ElBaradei hardly had any control over North Korea's unstable and defiant nuclear program, the poor management of the crisis with Iran has to be attributed largely to him - the Egyptian diplomat is responsible for his organization's placatory approach toward the Iranian nuclear program. For almost a decade, starting in 1992, the agency inspectors did not notice that Iran had a secret nuclear program that violated its international commitments. Even when the agency had the information, in 2002 (to a considerable degree thanks to American, British, German and Israeli intelligence), ElBaradei ignored it and made every possible effort to undermine its reliability.

He intervened repeatedly to distort his inspectors' reports on Iran's nuclear sites, and he made sure that the IAEA's periodic reports about Iran would be camouflaged in diplomatic gibberish. Time and again they repeated the phrase that "no proof was found" that Iran's nuclear program had military aspects, even though they were blatantly obvious. ElBaradei was opposed to sanctioning Iran, not to mention military action, and repeatedly attempted to conduct a dialogue with Tehran in order to reach a compromise.

It is not clear whether his backing for Iran stemmed from his origin - as some Israeli Atomic Energy Commission officials and others believe; from his legal background and careful phrasing; or from a naive belief in international diplomacy and dialogue at any price, while consistently rejecting the military option. Maybe it was all these factors. Whatever the case may be, his conduct toward Iran raised the ire of George W. Bush's administration, which sought to have him replaced.

ElBaradei's relationship with Israel, which he visited twice, was tense. To the chagrin of the international agency, he repeatedly called for a nuclear-free Middle East, which was interpreted as targeting Israel. His animosity toward Israel found special expression after the attack in September 2007 on Syria's nuclear facility. He ensured that Israel's name be mentioned in the IAEA reports about the Syrian nuclear plan, even though this was not necessary. And he added a paragraph stating that Israel had carried out the attack, even though it had never officially admitted doing so.

Given his conduct toward Iran and his attitude toward Israel, some in Israel even considered trying to defame him by presenting him as an Iranian collaborator.

I don't believe that Iraq's nuclear program was 'non-existent,' but that is neither here nor there. It is clear that ElBaradei has (or had) a soft spot for Iran and Syria - witness his repeated references to them as 'brothers,' which were inappropriate given his position.

ElBaradei deserves to end his career in ignominy for his inaction on Iran. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen unless Iran actually succeeds in deploying a nuclear weapon.

Israel Matzav: Blame ElBaradei for Iran's nuclear program

Israel Matzav: Another Leftist that needs to be replaced in Israel's foreign service

Another Leftist that needs to be replaced in Israel's foreign service

I started reading this article and within two paragraphs came to the conclusion that it had to have been penned by someone from Israel's delusional left. It was. The problem is that the writer is Israel's consul general in San Francisco.

Considering the fundamental points of agreement between us, it is frustrating that for the better part of a year we have not managed to sit down and move forward toward peace:

-- We both believe that Israel and a Palestinian state should live alongside each other in peace, security and economic well-being.

-- We both understand that the best future for our children requires that we make painful concessions to accommodate each other's essential national aims.

-- Israel and the Palestinian Authority both face the emergence of radical regimes in our region - Hamas, Hezbollah and a nuclear-ascendant Iran - none of whom wish either of us well.

Our mutual interest requires that we be deeply engaged in achieving peace, and yet instead we are deeply disengaged.

Perhaps it's his distance from Jerusalem that gives him such delusions, but it is important to point out that the 'Palestinians' do not believe that we should live alongside each other in peace, security and economic well-being; that the 'Palestinians' do not understand the necessity for 'painful concessions,' and we keep ensuring that they will never understand it by going ahead with the farce of a 'peace process' in which we concede and they demand that we concede more; and that the 'Palestinians' believe that Hamas has emerged because Fatah was too crooked and not radical enough, and that the solution to those problems is to be more honest and more radical.

Tor goes on to say that we want to make the 'Palestinians' part of the World's first electronic car grid. Is that what the 'Palestinians' really want? If we believe that, we are fools.

Read the whole thing.

I have discussed the infestation of Israel's foreign service corps with Leftists on many occasions, most recently here and here. And yes, he's a Livni holdover.

Israel Matzav: Another Leftist that needs to be replaced in Israel's foreign service

Israel Matzav: Rocky road ahead in Lebanon

Rocky road ahead in Lebanon

Jonathan Spyer provides a realistic analysis of what's likely to happen in Lebanon.

Hezbollah's new manifesto condemns the United States as the "root of all terror," and a "danger that threatens the whole world." The document also reiterates the call for the destruction of Israel, describing the need to "liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa" as a "religious duty" for all Muslims. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that these sentiments are intended for the printed page only. Indeed, recent visitors to Lebanon speak of a high, almost delusional state of morale among circles affiliated with Hezbollah. In the closed world around the movement, it is sincerely believed that the next war between Israel and Hezbollah will be part of a greater conflict in which Israel will be destroyed.

The true balance of power is rather different, of course. And as Hezbollah slowly swallows other elements of the Lebanese system, the conclusion being reached in Israel is that any differentiation between the movement and the nest it has taken over is increasingly artificial - and will not be maintained in a future conflict.

The history of the region shows that anti-Western ideological waves can indeed eventually be accommodated and dealt with pragmatically - but this cannot be achieved at the moment of their rise. The examples of pan-Arabism and Palestinian nationalism suggest that only following military defeat and socioeconomic failure are flexibility and pragmatism likely to make an appearance. Political Islam has not yet reached this stage. Current events in Lebanon show its local Shi'ite manifestation to be in a state of rude health. It is brushing aside local foes, marching through the institutions, as tactically agile as it is strategically deluded. Yet its latest manifesto suggests that it remains the prisoner of its ideological perceptions. The recent history of the Middle East, meanwhile, indicates that gaps between reality and perception tend to be decided - eventually - in favor of the former.

Yes, but only if the good guys win the war. And to do that, the West (including the United States and Israel) will first have to acknowledge that Lebanon is Hezbullah, that Hezbullah is Lebanon and that Hezbullah is a 100% terror organization that is not divided into a 'political wing' and a 'military wing.' What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Rocky road ahead in Lebanon

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' continue to try

'Palestinians' continue to try

Yes, the 'Palestinians' continue to try... to commit terror attacks.

On Thursday, two attacks were foiled by troops near the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

Thursday's operations saw IDF forces locate and disarm two explosive devices near the settlement. A third device was found near Beit Omer, along with a set of IDF uniforms supposedly meant to be used as a disguise.

Soldiers patrolling neat Beit El located the two devices – one weighing 11lbs and the other at six – on a road marked for security forces' use only. Both devices were detonated by military sappers.

Earlier, a two-pound explosive device was found near Beit Omer, just south of Gush Etzion. It too was detonated by military sappers.

But the 'Palestinians' are ready to 'take control.' Just ask Keith Dayton.

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' continue to try

Israel Matzav: Russia blocks quartet statement on 'settlement freeze'

Russia blocks quartet statement on 'settlement freeze'

An attempt by the United States to forge an agreement on a statement of support for the 'settlement freeze' by the 'quartet' was foiled by Russia.

Clinton proposed that the Quartet issue a joint statement of support for the Israeli decision to freeze construction. The other participants agreed and decided to let officials from each side formulate the announcement.


The proposed version called for the resumption of negotiations without preconditions so that an agreement could be reached which "would fulfill the Palestinian goal of establishing an independent, viable state, based on the 1967 borders, agreed upon exchanges [of territory], and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect the developments [which occurred on the ground] and which fulfill the Israeli security requirements."

The Russians argued that they did not agree with stating that Israel will be a Jewish State, and that the borders will be altered on the basis of "developments" on the ground, namely Israeli annexation of the large settlement blocks.

The Russians stressed that such formulation of the Quartet's text predetermines the results of the negotiations.

Anyone still wonder why the 'Palestinians' believe that they can get whatever they want in 'negotiations' and won't give anything?

Better press that 're-set button' again.

Israel Matzav: Russia blocks quartet statement on 'settlement freeze'

Israel Matzav: Switzerland's Libya problem

Switzerland's Libya problem

This story has very little to do with Israel, but I'm posting it because it shows the foolishness of the West in continuing to grovel before the feet of the 8th century dictators who rule the Arab Muslim world.

Libya's Muamar Gadhafi's dictatorship has sentenced two Swiss businessmen to 16 months in prison for a minor immigration law violation which is likely revenge for last Sunday's vote in Switzerland to ban new minarets from mosques. The saga of the two businessmen shows how the West allows itself to be manipulated by the Arab Muslim countries.

Max Goeldi and Rachid Hamdani’s misfortunes began in July last year when Gaddafi’s son, Hannibal, and his pregnant daughter-in-law were arrested in a Geneva hotel and charged with beating their servants. The Gaddafis spent two nights in custody before they flew home.

Reprisals followed. Libya cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew $5 billion from Swiss banks and cut Swissair flights to Tripoli. It also arrested Mr Goeldi, director of an engineering company, and Mr Hamdani, who worked for a construction firm, for breaching immigration laws. Expatriates in Libya say that they might have been guilty of a minor infringement, but that was merely a pretext.

The two were released after ten days, but barred from leaving the country. Mr Goeldi took refuge in the Swiss Embassy for more than a year. In August President Merz of Switzerland flew to Tripoli to make a grovelling apology, but the Libyans still refused to let the businessmen leave. They tricked Mr Goeldi into leaving the embassy by saying that he had to have a hospital check-up before flying home.

None of this has anything to do with justice, of course. The two servants dropped their case against Hannibal Gaddafi after the regime paid them compensation. The Libyans planned to release Mr Goeldi and Mr Hamdani after President Merz’s apology, but changed their mind when a Swiss paper published a photograph of Hannibal Gaddafi in police custody. The businessmen were tried in absentia, with no lawyers or foreign journalists present.

Read the whole thing.

Unfortunately, the author draws the wrong conclusion - expressing 'understanding' for his own government's release of the Lockerbie bomber when instead the World should be outraged and should turn Libya into a pariah state.

On the other hand, I can't help but feel a bit of satisfaction at the Swiss getting their comeuppance.

Will this mean that Western Europe will suddenly wake up to the menace posed by Muslim immigration? Don't hold your breath.

Israel Matzav: Switzerland's Libya problem

Israel Matzav: Berman's Iran sanctions resolution on front burner

Berman's Iran sanctions resolution on front burner

Representative Howard Berman (D-Cal) plans to bring his bill imposing extensive new sanctions against Iran to a vote before the end of the year. Berman's bill has been on hold since May to give the Obama administration's attempt to 'engage' Iran time to work. The bill has 339 co-sponsors.

The legislation seeks to cut supplies of refined petroleum products, especially gasoline, into Iran as a means of convincing that regime to end its nuclear weapons programs. Additional sanctions would be imposed on foreign exchange, banking and property transactions, including any organization that does business with the Central Bank of Iran.

“I intend to pass the bill by the end of this year,” Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told POLITICO. His bill has 339 co-sponsors in the House, and it might be taken up under a parliamentary process that allows quick approval of widely supported legislation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) told fellow Democrats on Thursday morning that the bill would be brought to the floor within two weeks, according to Democratic aides. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee passed similar legislation at the end of October, although it is unclear if and when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring that bill up for a vote.

Let's hope that this is just the start of greater Congressional involvement in American foreign policy. The White House has made a total mess of foreign policy from Day One of this administration.

Israel Matzav: Berman's Iran sanctions resolution on front burner

Israel Matzav: Iran's nuclear bomb testing facility

Iran's nuclear bomb testing facility

This is from an article about an atomic bomb testing facility that has been set up on the Iran-Turkmenistan border to detect any attempt by Iran to test a nuclear weapon.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization built seismic station PS44 near Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, a “few kilometers” from the Central Asian country’s southern border with Iran, the Vienna-based group said yesterday in a statement on its Web site. The site adds to the group’s 337 stations worldwide designed to detect seismic activity and atmospheric radiation caused by nuclear explosions.

UN inspectors received intelligence material that included Iranian designs for a 400-meter (1,312-foot) deep shaft that could be used for testing a nuclear bomb, the world body’s International Atomic Energy Agency said in May 2008. The documents also showed plans for a control station 10 kilometers from the unidentified blast site, along with diagnostic equipment to monitor an explosion.

I don't recall seeing that report about the 400-meter deep shaft. There aren't many 'civilian' uses for that, are there?

Israel Matzav: Iran's nuclear bomb testing facility

Love of the Land: Re: What the Palestinians Really Want

Re: What the Palestinians Really Want

Evelyn Gordon
06 December 09

In his post on Friday, Rick correctly identified the myth that has foiled every peace-making effort for decades: namely, that the Palestinians actually want a state.

To understand just how untenable this myth is, it’s worth comparing Palestinian behavior with that of the Jews in 1947. The UN Partition Plan proposed that year gave the Jewish state only 12 percent of the territory originally allotted to it under the 1922 League of Nations Mandate, and only 56 percent of what remained after Britain tore away 78 percent of the original territory to create Transjordan (today’s Jordan). Moreover, it excluded Jerusalem, the focus of Jewish national and religious longing throughout 2,000 years of exile. And its borders were completely indefensible, as the plan’s map shows.

Nevertheless, the pre-state Jewish leadership accepted it. Why? Because two years after the Holocaust — which not only proved the dangers of not having a state, but left hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors as stateless refugees in desperate need of a home — this leadership believed any state, even one so badly flawed, was better than none. Only a state could resettle the survivors and allow them to rebuild their lives; only a state could make “never again” a reality rather than an empty slogan.

The Palestinians, according to their own universally accepted narrative, are in a similar situation today. For 42 years, according to this narrative, millions of them have lived under brutal occupation. For 61 years, millions more have lived in squalid refugee camps, with no hope and no future. Only statehood can end these evils.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Re: What the Palestinians Really Want

Love of the Land: Iran…and Political Hallucination!

Iran…and Political Hallucination!

TY Stephen E Hughes for graphic

Tariq Alhomayed
Asharq Al-Awsat
06 December 09

In one of his speeches in Isfahan, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that the attacks launched by America and it’s military allies over the past few years on some countries in the [Middle East] region are based on religious grounds and that “their motive for carrying out these attacks that they did not make public is that they know that there will come a day when a man descended from Prophet Mohammed, may peace be upon him, will appear in this region and he will eliminate all the wrong-doers in the world. The Iranian nation will be among the supporters of this divine man.” Ahmadinejad continued and confirmed that “Iran has the documents to prove this.” And of course that’s not all; Ahmadinejad added, “The first task for Iranian officials is to build [up] Iran and their second task is represented in preparing to enter the administration of world affairs.”

Is there a better example of political hallucination? The question here is that if talk such as this works on the supporters of the Iranian regime and its president, how can Tehran’s ideas and political projects be marketed in the Arab world? [How was it sold to] some of the cultural and political elites, especially those that engage in politics and particularly Arab nationalists who used to describe some Arab regimes as backward? How have they i.e. some nationalists today become theorists of the Iranian hallucinations?

(Full article)

Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. Mr. Alhomayed has an acclaimed and distinguished career as a Journalist and has held many key positions in the field.

Love of the Land: Iran…and Political Hallucination!

Love of the Land: Barack and Hassan concur, the US is waning

Barack and Hassan concur, the US is waning

Michael Young
04 December 09

Barack Obama and Hassan Nasrallah agree the US is on the decline. (NOW Lebanon)

It’s not often that Barack Obama and Hassan Nasrallah agree, but both made important speeches this week, and both appeared to concur that American power was on the decline.

Of course Obama didn’t quite put it that way. Instead, he merely implied the growing sense of American difficulty, the fact that the United States was “passing through a time of great trial,” which he made more palatable by sandwiching it between words of encouragement and resolve. His speech to West Point cadets on Tuesday was an effort to explain to his countrymen why it was important to send an additional 30,000 or so troops to Afghanistan. But what remained, despite the soaring rhetoric toward the end of the president’s speech, was the terrible burden all this placed on an America much gloomier than it was decades ago.

Obama chose to highlight domestic American rifts, when he remarked that “years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort.” He drew attention to America’s economic travails by noting that “[i]n the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can’t simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.”

As for the American enterprise in Afghanistan, the centerpiece of Obama’s speech was that he would actually start withdrawing American soldiers by July 2011. No, the United States would not bankroll an Afghan nation-building project, because (and here the president sounded more like a shopkeeper than a purveyor of global domination) such a scheme “sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost.”

Obama has always prided himself on being a realistic assessor of American limitations. However, listening to Hassan Nasrallah gloat at the weakness of the United States, you had to wonder if the US president misses the point. Power and success are in many respects fruits of perception. Just look at Nasrallah himself, who persuaded many a fool that the hecatomb of 2006 was a divine victory for Lebanon. Modesty in the exercise of foreign policy is a bad idea, particularly for the leader of the world’s most powerful country, whose destabilization, whether we like it or not, only destabilizes the global political and economic order

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Barack and Hassan concur, the US is waning

Love of the Land: The freeze

The freeze
04 December 09

Some thoughts about the settlement freeze:

  1. It’s 100% clear that the freeze will not cause the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ‘come to the table’. They have already said that it is insufficient because it doesn’t include Jerusalem, doesn’t include construction already under way, etc.
  2. However, once the principle is accepted that Israeli concessions without reciprocity from the Palestinians or other Arab nations are appropriate, pressure will increase for Israel to take the next step, and the next…
  3. I don’t know if Obama Administration officials realized thedegree and depth of opposition that Israel’s government would face from residents of Judea and Samaria. If they did, the imposition of the pointless freeze is a deliberate attempt to produce civil strife within the state of Israel — an act of aggression as blatant and more dangerous than a Qassam rocket. If they didn’t understand, why didn’t Netanyahu tell them?
  4. If the freeze won’t bring negotiations closer — and anyway we know negotiations with the hard-line PA today would be fruitless — and it will create strife in Israel, is there any good it could do? Only improve the administration’s image in the Arab world. But even this won’t happen, because the Arabs see the ‘incomplete’ freeze as Obama being soft on Israel.
  5. As I have written before, Judea and Samaria are not ‘Palestinian land’. They are at most ‘disputed territory’. So a building freeze that affects Jews and not Arabs is discriminatory.
  6. The Roadmap calls for a settlement freeze as part of Phase I. It also calls for the Palestinians to stop incitement of hatred and terrorism against Israel, and for them to “[begin] sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.” Only after Phase I is complete can there be movement to Phases II and III. Perhaps it’s time to ask why the PA hasn’t met its responsibilities?
  7. The justification for the freeze is that construction in the territories ‘prejudges’ the final outcome. But the freeze suggests an acceptance of the Palestinian demand for “every centimeter” of the area occupied by Jordan in 1949, something that even the Obama administration has opposed.

Love of the Land: The freeze

Love of the Land: Who loses the Iran game

Who loses the Iran game

David Ignatius
Op-Ed Washington Post
06 December 09

(Simulation games have a distinct advantage that mistakes do not carry real life consequences. However, they can give insight to where the parties stand.)

How will the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program evolve during the next year? If a simulation game played at Harvard last week is any guide, the situation won't look pretty: Iran will be closer to having the bomb, and America will fail to obtain tough U.N. sanctions; diplomatic relations with Russia, China and Europe will be strained; and Israel will be threatening unilateral military action.

My scorecard had Team Iran as the winner and Team America as the loser. The U.S. team -- unable to stop the Iranian nuclear program and unwilling to go to war -- concluded the game by embracing a strategy of containment and deterrence. The Iranian team wound up with Russia and China as its diplomatic protectors. And the Israeli team ended in a sharp break with Washington.

Mind you, this was just an exercise. But it revealed some important real-life dynamics -- and the inability of any diplomatic strategy, so far, to stop the Iranian nuclear push.

The simulation was organized by Graham Allison, the head of the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. It was animated by the key players:Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state, as President Obama; and Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. They agreed to let me use their names in this summary.

The gamers framed their strategies realistically: Obama's America wants to avoid war, which means restraining Israel; Iran wants to continue its nuclear program, even as it dickers over a deal to enrich uranium outside its borders, such as the one floated in Geneva in October; Israel doesn't trust America to stop Iran and is looking for help from the Gulf Arab countries and Europe.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Who loses the Iran game

Love of the Land: Who's afraid of NGO Monitor?

Who's afraid of NGO Monitor?

Naftali Balanson
Right of Reply/JPost
02 December 09

The primary role of civil society is to "give voice" to ordinary citizens and ensure that government officials hear from those most affected by their decisions. The ability of citizens to inform public policy is the hallmark of any democracy, including Israel. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can be at the vanguard of democracy and pluralism, promoting the values of free and open debate.

Therefore, it was striking that some of the most prominent Israeli NGOs boycotted the December 1st Knesset conference on "Foreign Government Funding for NGO Political Activity in Israel." The agenda included the political, diplomatic and legal issues raised by the phenomenon of NGOs which receive tens of millions of shekels from foreign governments, often without the knowledge of the Israeli government and public. Legislative proposals were also considered.

Minister Michael Eitan and MK Zeev Elkin invited officials from Israeli NGOs to speak at the conference, in order to include representation from groups that would be affected by future legislation. B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Right in Israel (ACRI), and Adalah receive millions in European government support. These NGOs have a vested interest in making their voices heard, and they were given an open platform.

But they refused to attend. Instead, NGOs and their allies initiated a campaign to delegitimize the conference and silence its organizers. They pressed MKs like Daniel Ben-Simon to cancel participation in the event, and wrote angry op-eds in The Jerusalem Post (David Newman) and Ha'aretz (Didi Remez). Reflecting the pervasive secrecy and lack of full disclosure, Remez did not reveal that he works for Ben-Or Communications. In this role, he has a direct and personal interest in many of the organizations he was defending: the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bimkom, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), and Yesh Din.

These over-the-top reactions and silencing of critics reflect the "democracy deficit" and secretive nature of human rights NGOs in general. This trend is more pronounced among Israeli groups that rely heavily on foreign government funding.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Who's afraid of NGO Monitor?

Love of the Land: Forgetting the Two-State Solution

Forgetting the Two-State Solution

Joseph Klein
04 December 09

Ever since 1977, the United Nations has sponsored the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” to mark November 29th, the date in 1947 when the UN General Assembly approved its partition resolution. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called November 29th a “day of mourning and a day of grief.” It takes place every year at UN headquarters in New York and at the UN Offices at Geneva and Vienna and elsewhere. This year it was observed on November 30th since the 29th was a Sunday.

In honor of this year’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a special “Message” stating that sixty-two years ago, “the General Assembly, resolution 181, put forth a vision of two States.” He said that the “State of Israel exists” but the “State of Palestine does not.”

I asked the Secretary General’s spokesperson at the press briefing at UN headquarters on that day if Ban Ki-moon has a position on whether the two-state solution should include specific protection of Israel as a Jewish state. After all, the whole purpose of establishing the state of Israel in the first place was to create a Jewish homeland where Jews would no longer be a persecuted minority who were told that they do not belong in the country in which they happened to reside. The international community at the time passed the partition resolution knowing full well that its vision of two states included a Jewish state living side by side with a Palestinian state. But the Arab states rejected the UN partition resolution – the original two-state solution. The Jewish state accepted it.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Forgetting the Two-State Solution

Love of the Land: Prolonging the deadlock

Prolonging the deadlock

Elie Fawaz
04 December 09

Since the May liberation of 2000, the Lebanese have pondered the fate of Hezbollah’s weapons, as many people thought that, with the goal of the weapons having been achieved, the party lost the justification for its military presence inside Lebanon.

However, to the surprise of those who believed as such, it became apparent in the party’s literature that Hezbollah did not want to hand over its weapons to the state. The party gradually transformed the mission behind its weapons from that of liberation, to that of resistance, to deterrence, with arms to defend arms, making their weapons sacrosanct whereby debate on the issue was unacceptable. The Resistance, according to its theorists, became “not an armed group which wants to liberate a strip of land nor an instrument of circumstance, the role of which ends when [its] pretext ends.”

The role of the party and its weapons was manifested first with the occupation of downtown Beirut, taken over after destructive aggression by Israel in 2006—against the whole of Lebanon—and then with the party’s continual obstruction of the works of the Council of Ministers and the government; its prevention of a new president from being elected; and subsequently its invasion of west Beirut, bringing us to Qatar where obstruction [of power] came to be imposed by an obscure clause within the Doha Agreement.

This dispute between the state and Hezbollah erupted into the open after the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri and the subsequent withdrawal of Syria—a country which until then had been balancing the fragile coexistence between the two—from Lebanon.

Clearly today, Hezbollah, via its alliances on the one hand and the force of its weapons to impose its viewpoints on the other, is trying to bring back the coexistence between the state of and the Resistance as it had existed until then.

However, in the absence of Syrian control and the security and intelligence apparatuses that accompanied it, is it possible to combine the two contradictory concepts of the state and the Resistance without the danger of slipping into civil war?

How is it possible to reconcile a state which assumes that “the people are the source of power and the bearers of [its] sovereignty” with a party which finds its origins in the Iranian theory of the Wilayat al-Faqih – a theory which claims that this post “is based on the direct law of God; not the people” and that orders which come from the Wali al-Faqih, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, are to be considered binding law; or rather they are given precedence over any other law or constitution were those ever to contradict the supreme leader.

How do we reconcile a state which deems among its prerogatives to be decisions of war and peace with a party which purports that the Wali al-Faqih is “the one who has the authority to make decisions of war and peace?”

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Prolonging the deadlock

Love of the Land: An Impossible Choice

An Impossible Choice

A soldier's mother tries to decide what Israel should do about the Shalit exchange. It is an inhuman dilemma, one only barbarians could create.

Paula R. Stern
06 December 09

There is a debate going on in Israel now - two sides, each in agony.

There are those who say Gilad Shalit has been in captivity too long. We have to do all, we owe all, to bring him home. Hamas has gotten away with violating international law by denying Israel and his parents their basic right of contact with their son. For more than three years, Hamas has refused to allow international representatives such as the Red Cross, to confirm he is well treated, safe, healthy. Unimaginable agonies, unbearable torture.

His parents have lived with all of this, traveling the world, begging them to listen, to do something for this boy who grew into a man without them. He was 19 when he was taken, as my Elie was 19 when he entered the army. Today, Gilad is 23-years-old...his parents have missed so much in those years. It is enough.

There are those who say that leaving Gilad in captivity breaks all that we hold dear.
don't leave a soldier behind; morale will fall among incoming troops if they can't believe their country will do all to bring them home.

All this, in varying degrees, might be true. That is one side of this great divide. They will agree to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, their identity and crimes almost unimportant, for the one son that Hamas holds. Yes, they smile sadly, the numbers are absurd, but what can we do? We can't leave Gilad there; would you leave Gilad if he were your son? Look now, in the mirror and answer that question for yourself. If it was your son, could you, would you, leave him there?

On the other side of this great divide, are those who say that though they want Gilad home, it cannot be at any price. We must think with our heads and not our hearts. These 1,000 - beyond the absurdity of the equation - are murderers, terrorists - convicted security prisoners who were not strolling on the beach when they were taken into custody. Some murdered and the blood of their victims thrills them. They yearn for more, promise there will be more.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: An Impossible Choice

Love of the Land: CiF Watch Exposes the Tooth Fairy of the Naqab

CiF Watch Exposes the Tooth Fairy of the Naqab

Tamar Sternthal
06 December 09


Google map showing 15 minute drive from Qasr al-Sir to Dimona, courtesy of CiF Watch

CiF Watch blog (which monitors the Comment Is Free section of the Guardian) has ripped apart Ben White's Dec. 3 article about Israel's allegedly racist, discriminatory policy of shuttering mother-baby clinics in unrecognized Bedouin villages.

In addition to pointing out that White ignores his own source (Ynet) which show that closures have also hit Jewish communities in the south, CiF Watch's blogger concludes:

Imagine my surprise (I joke) when I found that once again, trading on the ignorance of the average CiF reader, and their laziness when it comes to actually researching the facts instead of uncritically accepting the fairy-stories the stable of Israel-hating regulars (and this tooth-fairy in particular) feed them, it turns out that the “unrecognized village” is, as I demonstrated above, but a 15 minute trip on a paved highway (#25) to the center of Dimona. . . .

Ok – so it looks like despite the tooth fairy’s article, the mother in the “Arab Bedouin unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser in the Naqab (Negev)” could quite easily get the same medical care as the non-Bedouin

(You must read the CiF Watch post for an explanation of the Tooth Fairy reference.)

Love of the Land: CiF Watch Exposes the Tooth Fairy of the Naqab

Love of the Land: Why All the Excuses for Palestinian Intransigence Don’t Make Sense

Why All the Excuses for Palestinian Intransigence Don’t Make Sense

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
05 December 09

The Arab-Israeli, or Israel-Palestinian, conflict is the most misrepresented subject in the entire world. The most basic facts are often distorted and the most fantastical of narratives provided, even in college classrooms, about what has actually happened.

On the most single important issue in this framework—why isn’t there peace, who wants and doesn’t want peace, and how can peace be achieved—there is a common set of arguments against Israel. It goes like this:

How can the Palestinians make peace when they are suffering so much and when Israel builds settlements, or Israeli leaders make statements saying they want to keep some of the territory or won’t give up east Jerusalem, or do a variety of other things? The idea that the Palestinians don’t year for peace, are eagerly trying to make some kind of agreement, but are only stopped by Israeli intransigence seems completely self-evident to the point that any challenge of this idea is ridiculed, ignored, or treated as some kind of dishonest manipulation.

People think that when they've made these points it constitutes some kind of devastating, unanswerable rebuttal proving why there is no peace and why Israel is responsible. In fact, these statements are all either long outdated or simply beside the point.

In addition, many of the things said are factually wrong. Israel has neither constructed new settlements nor expanded their boundaries for fifteen years. But for the moment let’s leave aside the factual issues. It is easy to show that these claims are inaccurate but either ears are shut or the columns of the publications are closed to such responses.

Still, nothing could be simpler than to answer these claims.

Here’s the answer:

If the Palestinians are so miserable, they feel their situation intolerable, and want to get rid of settlements, they have and have had a very simple solution. Drum roll, please:

Make peace as fast as possible in a way that settles almost all their ostensible claims.

Yet they have refused to do so on numerous occasions going back for decades. In fact, this is the thirtieth anniversary of the Egypt-Israel agreement at Camp David which first opened the door to a Palestinian state. Then there was the Reagan plan and U.S.-PLO dialogue of the 1980s, followed by the peace process of the 1990s, the Camp David 2 and President Bill Clinton offers of 2000, and most recently the offer of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (who was absolutely desperate for a deal in order to save his political career) and most recently the Israeli cabinet’s peace plan in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly agrees to accept a Palestinian state.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Why All the Excuses for Palestinian Intransigence Don’t Make Sense

Olmert Offered, the Palestinians Took a Trip

Olmert Offered, the Palestinians Took a Trip

The Australian last week published a long interview with Ehud Olmert. It conatins the most detailled description I've seen or heard of, of his offer to Abu Mazen of 16th September 2008:

"On the 16th of September, 2008, I presented him (Abbas) with a comprehensive plan. It was based on the following principles.

One, there would be a territorial solution to the conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders with minor modifications on both sides. Israel will claim part of the West Bank where there have been demographic changes over the last 40 years."

This approach by Olmert would have allowed Israel to keep the biggest Jewish settlement blocks which are mainly now suburbs of Jerusalem, but would certainly have entailed other settlers having to leave Palestinian territory and relocate to Israel.

In total, Olmert says, this would have involved Israel claiming about 6.4 per cent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank: "It might be a fraction more, it might be a fraction less, but in total it would be about 6.4 per cent. Israel would claim all the Jewish areas of Jerusalem. All the lands that before 1967 were buffer zones between the two populations would have been split in half. In return there would be a swap of land (to the Palestinians) from Israel as it existed before 1967.

"I showed Abu Mazen how this would work to maintain the contiguity of the Palestinian state. I also proposed a safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza. It would have been a tunnel fully controlled by the Palestinians but not under Palestinian sovereignty, otherwise it would have cut the state of Israel in two.

"No 2 was the issue of Jerusalem. This was a very sensitive, very painful, soul-searching process. While I firmly believed that historically, and emotionally, Jerusalem was always the capital of the Jewish people, I was ready that the city should be shared. Jewish neighbourhoods would be under Jewish sovereignty, Arab neighbourhoods would be under Palestinian sovereignty, so it could be the capital of a Palestinian state.

"Then there was the question of the holy basin within Jerusalem, the sites that are holy to Jews and Muslims, but not only to them, to Christians as well. I would never agree to an exclusive Muslim sovereignty over areas that are religiously important to Jews and Christians. So there would be an area of no sovereignty, which would be jointly administered by five nations, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian state, Israel and the United States.

"Third was the issue of Palestinian refugees." This issue has often been a seeming deal-breaker. The Palestinians insist that all Palestinians who left Israel - at or near the time of its founding - and all their spouses and descendants, should be able to return to live in Israel proper. This could be more than a million people. Olmert, like other Israeli prime ministers, could never agree to this: "I think Abu Mazen understood there was no chance Israel would become the homeland of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian state was to be the homeland of the Palestinian people. So the question was how the claimed attachment of the Palestinian refugees to their original places could be recognised without bringing them in. I told him I would never agree to a right of return. Instead, we would agree on a humanitarian basis to accept a certain number every year for five years, on the basis that this would be the end of conflict and the end of claims. I said to him 1000 per year. I think the Americans were entirely with me.

"In addition, we talked about creating an international fund that would compensate Palestinians for their suffering. I was the first Israeli prime minister to speak of Palestinian suffering and to say that we are not indifferent to that suffering.

"And four, there were security issues." Olmert says he showed Abbas a map, which embodied all these plans. Abbas wanted to take the map away. Olmert agreed, so long as they both signed the map. It was, from Olmert's point of view, a final offer, not a basis for future negotiation. But Abbas could not commit. Instead, he said he would come with experts the next day.

"He (Abbas) promised me the next day his adviser would come. But the next day Saeb Erekat rang my adviser and said we forgot we are going to Amman today, let's make it next week. I never saw him again."

To the best of my knowledge, Abu Mazen has publicly admitted the essentials of this version, when he admitted regretting not accepting it before Netanyahu was elected. That's not as good as having the documents themselves in the public domain for universal perusal, but that, obviously, can't happen at this stage, not while the negotiations are still unresolved.

Or after 50 years, when the archives open. Whichever comes first.

(h/t soccerdad, last week).

Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

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