Thursday, 10 December 2009

Chief Rabbi to Knesset: Take Supreme Court Out of Kashrut - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Chief Rabbi to Knesset: Take Supreme Court Out of Kashrut - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Benefits to be Partially Restored to Isolated Settlements, Arabs - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Benefits to be Partially Restored to Isolated Settlements, Arabs - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Gov't Opposes Bill Enforcing Loyalty to Party Platforms - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Gov't Opposes Bill Enforcing Loyalty to Party Platforms - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Rabbi Agrees to Meet With Top Brass - Conditionally - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Rabbi Agrees to Meet With Top Brass - Conditionally - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

US: Peace Process in Cul-de-Sac but not a Dead End - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

US: Peace Process in Cul-de-Sac but not a Dead End - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Matzav: Referendum law passes key vote in Knesset

Referendum law passes key vote in Knesset

On Wednesday, the Knesset passed a law requiring a referendum for any territorial concessions in the Golan Heights or in Jerusalem. The vote was 68-22.

The referendum bill stipulates that any withdrawal from east Jerusalem, the Golan or another area which under Israeli sovereignty would first have to be approved by the majority of the Israeli public.

The vote crossed coalition-opposition lines, with over one-third of Kadima MKs supporting the bill, but with the majority of Labor ministers conspicuously absent from the vote.

Despite voicing reservations shortly before the vote, Labor party chairman Ehud Barak voted in favor of the controversial bill.

"The bill isn't necessary for two reasons: first, it imposes additional constraints on the prime minister and those responsible for negotiations with Syria, which are important to Israel," he told the Knesset plenum during a discussion on the proposed law. "A law like this also gives a bad impression to the world, as though Israel does not want peace."

The second reason, continued Barak, is that "a referendum is a complicated constitutional matter, which stands to block progress."

Opposition and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni voted against the bill, saying that the people of Israel could not make decisions in place of the government they themselves had elected.

The referendum has not been passed into law yet. It passed a first reading in the previous Knesset and then it was suspended because of the elections. What Wednesday's vote did was to get it back on the agenda. Now it has to pass second and third readings. Still, the fact that it passed so overwhelmingly is a good sign.

As to Barak's comments, the bill shows that Israelis insist on controlling their own destiny and will make sure politicians like Barak won't give them a bad deal for an illusory 'peace' as he tried to do in 2000.

As to Livni's comments, when we can elect the Knesset directly, we can discuss whether it can make existential decisions for us. Nothing the Knesset has done in the last 20 years justifies entrusting it with those decisions. At least we won't sell our country for a Mitsubishi like some Knesset members did.

Israel Matzav: Referendum law passes key vote in Knesset

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

Here's the Miami Boys Choir singing Galeh - Reveal the honor of Your reign over us soon!

Let's go to the videotape.



Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Democrats in Israel in denial over Obama

Israel Matzav: Democrats in Israel in denial over Obama

Israel Matzav: The 'Palestinian' Peace Now

The 'Palestinian' Peace Now

Khaled Abu Toameh wonders when the 'Palestinian' Peace Now will emerge.

The Palestinian leadership’s actions and words have sent the following message to its constituents: Any person who thinks about normalization or coexistence with the Jewish state will be severely punished.

By cracking down on the Palestinians who are working for normalization and coexistence with Israel, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have prevented the emergence of a real peace camp among Palestinians. Has anyone ever heard of an authentic and serious “Palestinian Peace Now” movement in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip?

Where are all the American, European and local non-governmental organizations that are supposed to use US and EU taxpayers’ money to promote peace, moderation and coexistence?

Read the whole thing.

You can probably guess the answer.

Israel Matzav: The 'Palestinian' Peace Now

Israel Matzav: Iran accuses the UN of espionage

Iran accuses the UN of espionage

Paranoia has gripped Iran.

An Iranian nuclear official says the purpose of a UN warning station set up in Turkmenistan near the border with Iran is "espionage."

The UN announced last week the new nuclear warning station, one of dozens such observatories worldwide that monitor for seismic activity and radioactivity.The station, just miles from the Iranian border, can detect extremely weak blasts and even shock waves from nuclear experiments.

Heh.

Israel Matzav: Iran accuses the UN of espionage

Israel Matzav: You don't say....

You don't say....

Prime Minister Netanyahu on the 'Palestinians' negotiating style:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the cabinet discussion, "It seems as though the Palestinians have adopted a strategy of rejecting negotiations with Israel in order to avoid grappling with demands made by Israel and the international community that necessitate concessions be made. However, this is a mistake. There will be no true resolution without direct negotiations with Israel."

The 'Palestinians' have never negotiated in the past - they have only demanded. The strategy seems to work for them. Why should they change now?


Israel Matzav: You don't say....

Israel Matzav: Sweden carrying out a radical anti-Israel campaign

Sweden carrying out a radical anti-Israel campaign

Israel's former ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel says that Sweden has been exploiting its Presidency of the European Union to wage a radical campaign against Israel.

He said that Sweden as well as the entire EU has been funding left-wing groups to campaign against Israel, including funds for anarchists who travel to Israel to demonstrate on behalf of Arabs.

Despite Europe’s fear of the Muslim flooding of Europe, the EU countries prefer to stand by the side of Arabs, Mazel added. “Fifty-seven percent of Swiss citizens recently voted in a referendum to ban minarets from Muslim mosques, but when it comes to Israel, they continue to be anti-Semitic.

“Leftists are a dominating force and determine public opinion. If you look closely at the European protests against Israel, you won’t see PA flags. Instead, there are flags of leftists, and that also is the nature of the media. From the standpoint of Europeans, the United States and Israel are evil, but they have a hard time starting up with the Americans, so they pick on Israel.”

Mazel is best-known for destroying a Stockholm 'art' display in 2004 (pictured above) that celebrated an Israeli-Arab lawyer who blew herself up in a Haifa restaurant, murdering 19 patrons, many of whom were Arabs.

The Europeans seem to have a death wish, don't they?


Israel Matzav: Sweden carrying out a radical anti-Israel campaign

Israel Matzav: Egyptian human rights group rips Obama

Egyptian human rights group rips Obama

An Egyptian human rights group has ripped American President Barack Obama for abandoning human rights in the Arab world.

In a report chronicling the human rights records of 12 Arab countries, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies accused the Obama administration of not taking a clear stand for Middle East reforms.

''The single most worrying sign for the future of the Arab region is the widespread impunity and flagrant lack of accountability that persists,'' according to the report. ''President Barack Obama avoided taking a clear stance on human rights issues in the Arab region.''

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he could not comment specifically on the report's findings because he hadn't seen it, but he denied that the Obama administration has abandoned the quest for improved human rights in the Arab world and elsewhere.

''We continue to sustain a significant human rights dialogue. It's a dimension of virtually every contact that we have with representatives of countries in the region and around the world ... Human rights is vitally important to the United States,'' he said.

The report also said political and social protests remained targets for repression.

It's been clear to anyone who watches this region that President Obama has sacrificed human rights on the altar of 'engagement.' He is willing to see torture and repression in countries throughout this region in order to 'engage' with their corrupt leaders. And you thought the Democratic party was the party of the common man, didn't you? John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson are rolling over in their graves.

Israel Matzav: Egyptian human rights group rips Obama

Israel Matzav: Iran rejects US proposal for Turkish mediation

Iran rejects US proposal for Turkish mediation

Iran has rejected an American proposal that would have had Turkey mediate discussions over its nuclear weapons program.

A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry responded to the proposals by saying the Iranian stance on the nuclear issue was quite clear and that there was, therefore, no need for a third party to step in and mediate.

"We have clearly expressed our view on the nuclear issue," Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran. "We don't think our transparent view needs to be interpreted by other countries."

His comments came one day after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met US President Barak Obama at the White House. Obama said he thought Ankara could be an "important player" in persuading Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

Erdogan said his country was willing to mediate between Iran and the West, but that is clearly not what Tehran wants.

"Many countries have an interest in mediating, including Turkey, but Iran's need for civil nuclear technology is clear and its stance irrevocable," the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman added.

It's time for the Obumbler to stop making fawning proposals like this one. It's time for him to understand that the answer is "no" and to act accordingly. Why can't he take "no" for an answer?

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Iran rejects US proposal for Turkish mediation

Israel Matzav: US Congressman calls for investigation into Galloway group's fundraising

US Congressman calls for investigation into Galloway group's fundraising

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Representative Brad Sherman (D-Cal) has asked the Attorney General to investigate whether George Galloway's (pictured) Viva Palestina raised money for Hamas on American college campuses last year.

In a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) urged a probe into Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian aid convoy led by British lawmaker George Galloway that brought medical supplies to Gaza last July.

Both the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Anti-Defamation League in recent months have urged Holder to investigate reports about the convoy's links to Hamas.

The groups made their requests after Galloway and other Viva Palestina USA members appeared and reportedly raised funds at some college campuses in the spring and summer.

"Clearly, people and organizations in the United States cannot be allowed to solicit funds for foreign terrorist organizations," Sherman wrote in his letter to Holder.

"That such solicitation is occurring during the middle of the day at a public university is truly frightening," he said, referring to the University of California, Irvine.

Read the whole thing.

Anyone think they weren't raising money for Hamas?


Israel Matzav: US Congressman calls for investigation into Galloway group's fundraising

Israel Matzav: IDF steps in for the 'Dayton forces'

IDF steps in for the 'Dayton forces'

Much has been made of the 'Dayton forces' - the American-trained 'Palestinian' police army that is 'keeping order' in Judea and Samaria. The pride and joy of the Dayton forces is Shchem (Nablus). But on Tuesday night, the IDF had to be called in to conduct a counter-terror operation that the Dayton forces were unwilling or unable to carry out.

The IDF returned to Shechem and carried out a major counterterrorist maneuver that the Palestinian Authority’s fledgling army, trained by U.S. military officers, was supposed to have been responsible for. The Tuesday night counterterrorist operation nabbed an Islamic Jihad operative wanted for several years for planning two suicide attacks and for attacking soldiers.

The suspect, Zalach Mahmad Zalach Buchari, was responsible for planning a suicide bombing in the Tel Aviv central bus station in January 2002, in which 28 people were wounded. A second suicide attack was foiled by security forces at the last minute. He also planned to abduct soldiers and has been hiding in Shechem for seven years.

According to its agreements with Israel, the PA is responsible for eliminating the terrorist infrastructure in Shechem, as well as other large Arab cities in Judea and Samaria. The IDF action Tuesday night bore out frequent military officers’ statements that the success of the PA forces in maintaining law and order is dependent on the IDF.

They have warned that if the IDF were to totally abandon the area, terrorists would regain the upper hand. "We see progress, but we won't give them full control of the cities. They're not capable of fighting Hamas and Islamic Jihad," a senior IDF officer, coordinating between General Keith Dayton and the PA, recently told TIME magazine.

No, they're not capable of fighting Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Whether they'd be willing to do so without the IDF present is a separate issue. What I hope is clear to all of you is that without the IDF's continuing presence in Judea and Samaria, neither the 'security fence' nor the 'Dayton forces' would be enough to keep the terrorists out.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: IDF steps in for the 'Dayton forces'

Israel Matzav: The risks of the 'terrorists for Gilad' trade

The risks of the 'terrorists for Gilad' trade

The New York Times notes with some surprise the 'Israeli consensus' that would trade more than 1,000 terrorists for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit.

The negotiations for the release of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, seized more than three years ago in a raid into southern Israel by Hamas and other militant groups, are entering a crucial stage through German and Egyptian mediation. While the details of the talks are hidden here behind military censorship, the outlines are widely known.

They have raised surprisingly little controversy given the risks of future seizures of Israelis and attacks at the hands of those freed and the equally serious risk of raising the fortunes of Hamas. Although Israel has spent decades trying to build a reputation as a tough self-sacrificing society that spurns negotiations with terrorists, polls show a strong majority in favor of the trade.

“To us it seems reasonable although it is totally not,” said Tal Goren, who produced and directed a documentary on the Shalit family called “Family in Captivity.” “It is emotional, not logical.”

...

Levi Weiman-Kelman, an American-born rabbi who has been here for 30 years and presides over Congregation Kol Haneshama in Jerusalem, said the focus could be traced back to Genesis 14, when Abraham’s nephew Lot was captured in war and the biblical patriarch gathered up a huge posse to rescue him.

“The whole Jewish obsession of ‘pidyon shvuyim,’ rescuing captives, is based on that,” he said. “In the Middle Ages, some Jewish communities went bankrupt when faced with piracy and the need to rescue people.”

The problem is that it has become politically incorrect here to say that the price for Shalit is too high. But it is. Kelman's synagogue is in one of the few remaining liberal bastions in Jerusalem, and anyone with some knowledge of Jewish history can poke holes in his arguments quite easily. Allow me: In Genesis 14, Abraham did not pay ransom for Lot. He took his army and went to rescue him. The same Israelis who object to paying ransom for Shalit in the form of 1,000 or more terrorists would be the first to advocate for the IDF going in to rescue him.

As to the idea of pidyon shvuyim, please allow me - again - to remind you of the case of the Maharam of Rothenburg, who would not allow his community to ransom him, died in prison, and was not brought to burial for several years after his death because of his instructions that the community not ransom him.

Israelis have a strong streak of redeeming captives, but in this case the specifics are based on a corruption of the Jewish precedents and on an underestimation of the potential threat that we all face from the release of terrorists.

“There will be a massive release of all the greatest murderers in the last and present century,” lamented Rami Igra, former director of the Prisoner of War department of the Mossad intelligence agency, in an opinion article in the conservative newspaper Israel Hayom. “This is shameless and bottomless surrender to Hamas’s demands. It’s true that all of us, as citizens of the State of Israel, have an obligation to each other and particularly to the soldiers we sent into battle, but this obligation must have a rational basis and should not lead to suicide.”

But others say that the risk from those expected to be released is exaggerated for two reasons. First, the combination of Israeli and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank is keeping a lid on violence. And second, the prisoners are part of a political organization with which Israel is trying to make peace.

“These people, although they are murderers, do it for a political cause and even if they don’t represent a country they are being sent by a military organization that is our rival and one day will make peace with us,” Mr. Liel, the former diplomat, said. “They are not regular criminals. We know that sooner or later when we have a peace deal they will be released.”

Liel - a former director general of Israel's foreign ministry - is a member in good standing of Israel's moonbat Left. But more importantly, he's wrong on the substance. When the 'Palestinians' started the 'second intifada' in 2000, there was also a 'combination of Israeli and 'Palestinian' security forces in the 'West Bank.'' In fact, one of the first attacks the 'Palestinians' carried out was the murder of an Israeli soldier on patrol by his 'Palestinian' partner. And while the terrorists may be part of a political organization with which Israel is trying to make peace - as Liel so gently tries to sterilize them - that will not stop them from returning to terror. In fact, all the historical precedents indicate that most of the terrorists will return to terror.

Liel also ignores the fact that it is Hamas - which is not Israel's 'peace partner' - which is carrying out this 'trade,' and not the 'good terrorists' from Fatah. Not only does that make it even more likely that the released terrorists will return to terror, it also means that Fatah is likely to be weakened by this 'trade.'

The media have done all they can here to suppress the truth about any potential exchange for Shalit. They have not published (or have been forced not to publish) many of the details about the negotiations, including the names and numbers of terrorists to be released. While Israelis may support an exchange in the abstract, once the names get out (which will be too late), I believe that most Israelis will be horrified. And the word on the street here is that the reason that the IDF has not tried to rescue Shalit in the last three years is that the family has insisted that it not do so. They'd rather trade 1,000 terrorists. They don't live in a big city which is likely to be targeted by future terror attacks planned and executed by those terrorists.

The picture at the top is of the last major suicide bombing in Jerusalem - the 19 bus on January 29, 2004. Eleven Israelis were murdered in that bombing, including one I knew. Releasing another 1,000 or more terrorists makes it much more likely that - God forbid - we will have more suicide bombings here soon.


Israel Matzav: The risks of the 'terrorists for Gilad' trade

Israel Matzav: Republican Mormon Senator writes Chanuka song

Israel Matzav: Republican Mormon Senator writes Chanuka song

Israel Matzav: Cheney: The problem with Barack Obama

Israel Matzav: Cheney: The problem with Barack Obama

Israel Matzav: How to get through airport security in the US

How to get through airport security in the US

In what's being described as a 'massive security breach,' ABC News reports that the Transportation Security Administration has placed its operating procedures online, essentially providing a "how to" manual for terrorists to board planes in the United States (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

The most sensitive parts of the 93-page Standard Operating Procedures were apparently redacted in a way that computer savvy individuals easily overcame.

The document shows sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials which experts say would make it easy for terrorists to duplicate.

The improperly redacted areas indicate that only 20 percent of checked bags are to be hand searched for explosives and reveal in detail the limitations of x-ray screening machines.

This fits right in with TSA's 'strategy' of closely searching 80-year old grandmas while letting 25-year old Muslim men pass through security without an extra search to avoid profiling.

When you arrive at a European airport from the US and connect to an El Al flight to Israel, they still require you to go down to the tarmac, claim your baggage, open it, and confirm to them that nothing has been opened, added, or moved out of place. While that in itself would not deter a suicide bomber, the El Al security people also watch your comportment while you're doing it and are trained to detect people who are excessively nervous. They also likely watch certain people more closely. Profiling....

During one such plane change in Rome last year, we asked what happened if someone's luggage doesn't make the connection in time. We were told that the luggage is held there and that it is then run through a slow-scanning x-ray machine and put on the next day's flight. We asked why they don't just scan all the bags. El Al told us that they would need 24 hours to do that.

Is that where American air transport is heading? Check your bags 24 hours in advance so that every bag can be scanned? It might be if the TSA keeps disclosing secrets. And it would certainly be a lot more secure. But it would make today's payments for extra bags look quite convenient by comparison.

By the way, the trip from which I just returned is the first time in a long time that I can recall not finding one of those little notes from TSA saying that my bags had been searched. I also did not return to Israel on El Al (and had not planned to even before my little change in plans).

Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: How to get through airport security in the US

Israel Matzav: Tell me he was being sarcastic

Tell me he was being sarcastic

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday's vote by European Union foreign ministers:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that he was pleased with the EU's decision mot to accept the Swedish proposal to declare eastern Jerusalem the capital of a nonexistent Palestinian state.

Lieberman said that Israel appreciates the efforts of the countries that worked to hammer out a final version of the resolution and prevented an adoption of radical Arab positions, which would have further hurt chances to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

And what the European foreign ministers adopted wasn't a 'radical Arab position' and won't 'hurt chances to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority'? Actually, they might not hurt chances of restarting negotiations, since the 'Palestinians' don't want to negotiate (without scare quotes) anyway.

The picture at the top is a colorized image of the Mandelbaum Gate, which was the crossing point between 'east' and 'west' Jerusalem between 1948-67. You can find out more about it (and find other images from Israel in the 1960's) here.

Israel Matzav: Tell me he was being sarcastic

Israel Matzav: Freedom of religion, Israeli style: Father and daughter arrested on suspicion of trying to pray

Freedom of religion, Israeli style: Father and daughter arrested on suspicion of trying to pray

I've mentioned before that I don't go to the Temple Mount because my rabbi doesn't allow it. But this is unbelievable.

Jerusalem police detained a Jewish father and daughter in on suspicion the two tried to prey pray in the Temple Mount complex, in violation of the law. The two were taken in for investigation.

I fixed the English a little bit.

How can you arrest someone on 'suspicion of trying to pray'? What are the elements of the 'crime'? If I make a blessing quietly to myself, does that violate the law? And even if I make the blessing out loud in an unobtrusive matter, what's wrong with that? Why are we acting like dhimmis?


Israel Matzav: Freedom of religion, Israeli style: Father and daughter arrested on suspicion of trying to pray

Israel Matzav: Obama's real problem

Obama's real problem

Noah Pollak points out, correctly in my view, that from the Obama administration's perspective, the problem isn't Iran: It's Israel.

The president is perfectly capable of muddling through the nuclearization of Iran. What would create huge problems is an Israeli strike. Obama would have to use the military to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. The “Arab street,” which he has worked so hard to befriend, would burn him in effigy from Algiers to Islamabad. The Zionist-Crusader axis would be denounced around the world. “Optics” are very important to Obama, quite more so than substance, and he would look as though he had completely lost control of the Middle East (which would be true). And once again, the world would descend into the kind of brutal struggle for power that is not supposed to happen during the Obama Era.

Yes, this is the real problem — the Israelis and their dangerous, rigid feelings of insecurity. So in my estimation, expect to see a major effort by the administration to keep the Israelis, not the Iranians, in check. It’s the logical thing to do.

Will Netanyahu stand up to that effort and do what needs to be done? Until the 'settlement freeze,' I would have answered "yes" to that question. Now I'm answering "maybe."

But in the long run, Israel cannot survive with a nuclear Iran, and there will be a lot of pressure within Israel on Netanyahu not to let it happen.

Israel Matzav: Obama's real problem

Israel Matzav: Guess who's boycotting Switzerland

Guess who's boycotting Switzerland

This is rich. The Kingdom of Darkness, which confiscates bibles, crucifixes and Stars of David from tourists, is boycotting Switzerland over its ban on new minarets.

A number of religious figures in Saudi Arabia called to boycott Switzerland and withdraw all Muslim deposits from bank accounts in the country in protest against the Swiss referendum that banned building new minarets.

The UAE-based newspaper al-Bayan reported that religious moderator Khaled al-Shamrani called for afar-reaching boycott on all good and products originating in Switzerland. He also called upon Muslims to avoid traveling to the country. Religious figure Ahmed al-Hassan called wealthy Muslims to withdraw their deposits from Swiss banks.

Phyllis Chesler points out that Arab Muslim countries don't allow churches or synagogues to be built at all (and in most cases do not allow Jews to become citizens), which make the Saudis hypocritical to put it mildly. She says that it's time to demand reciprocity.

The Islamic world does not allow new synagogues or churches to be built. Either at all — or without great difficulty. (Yes, certain Muslim countries may now “restore” synagogues as museums. There are no or very few Jews left and the synagogues are not fully functioning places of worship.) Further: Muslim fundamentalists currently persecute, torture, and murder those Christians who dare remain in the Middle East, and they kidnap, forcibly convert, and “marry” their very young daughters.

It is time to demand — or at least to expect — reciprocity. Otherwise, we are really being racist in having one (higher) standard for Westerners and another (much lower) standard for the barbarians.

Granted: The West is not as barbaric and intolerant as the Islamic world; we do not willingly wish to become intolerant. Yet, tolerating the intolerant is unwise, or as the Jewish sages tell us: Being kind to the cruel results in cruelty to the kind.

Thus, if there can be no churches or synagogues built in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. — then why should the Swiss or the Europeans allow new, blockbuster size mosques, and sound-splitting loudspeakers emanating from minarets?

Why indeed?

By the way, Saudi Arabia is not the only Muslim country that confiscates religious artifacts from tourists: So does 'secular' Jordan.

Israel Matzav: Guess who's boycotting Switzerland

Israel Matzav: Giving meaning to an empty gesture

Giving meaning to an empty gesture

President Me Me Me is scheduled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo next week for his 2008 campaign speeches (it can't be for anything else - he was President for twelve days before the nominations had to be in). Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Emanuelle Ottolenghi has an interesting suggestion for turning this empty gesture from the Nobel prize committee into a meaningful one:

One of the transformative figures that precede him on the laureates' roster has been the victim of an unprecedented outrage. The 2003 Nobel Prize laureate and Iran's foremost human rights advocate, Shirin Ebadi, was recently robbed of her medal, alongside several other prizes (including the French Legion d'honneur) by order of Tehran's Revolutionary Court. The Islamic Republic of Iran raided her husband's bank safe and seized all their valuables. Her bank account was also frozen and her pension suspended. The regime claims she owes $410,000 in unpaid taxes—but this is clearly a baseless allegation and another brazen attempt by Tehran to silence one of its most outspoken and effective critics. Her human rights center in Tehran was shut down recently and three of her colleagues have been arrested. She still has her personal freedom—but only because she has not returned to Iran yet. One can expect to see her jailed upon return. Her plight is the plight of Iran—a country whose tyrannical regime Mr. Obama has unsuccessfully tried to engage since taking office last January.

President Obama is the leader of the free world—though his tepid support for Iran's beleaguered pro-democracy movement may suggest he is uncomfortable with this role. Ms. Ebadi is the symbol of defiance against a liberticidal regime, which, to use the President's own words, represents a "common challenge of the 21st century," and one which the president still must confront. They have the Nobel Prize in common. Let it be a way to bridge the gap between the president's ill-fated efforts to engage Ms. Ebadi's oppressors, and America's historic commitment to liberty abroad. And let it be a way to turn the Nobel Prize Committee's choice into a powerful message in the service of peace—for the best way to promote peace is to champion freedom.

The president's engagement strategy with the Islamic Republic has so far yielded little progress on Iran's nuclear program, but offered much cover to Iran's regime. Clearly, internal repression is not Mr. Obama's fault—but his premature award and his pledge to use it as an encouragement to future worthy endeavours offer him an opportunity, after past equivocations, to let Iranians know where he truly stands on the critical issue of their freedom. In Oslo, as the president accepts the award, he should donate his medal to Ms. Ebadi and invite her to the White House for the hand-over. Mr. Obama has already said that the money award of $1.4 million attached to the prize will go to charitable causes. In Oslo, he should similarly direct the Nobel Prize Committee to use the sum to pay Md. Ebadi's trumped up fines—and hopefully spend the rest on Iran-related human rights causes.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Obama to do this - after all, what's in it for him personally? But it's a nice idea.


Israel Matzav: Giving meaning to an empty gesture

Israel Matzav: Iran fears rapprochement with the US?

Iran fears rapprochement with the US?

Here's an interesting perspective from one of the blogs in London's Daily Telegraph:

Iran's rulers fear rapprochement with the United States far more than conflict, since they derive part of their legitimacy from their rampant anti-Americanism. Washington's unconditional offer of talks therefore undermines efforts to maintain domestic consensus. If the prospect of Israeli bombers flying towards nuclear targets inside Iran might alleviate internal pressure on Tehran's embattled leadership, far worse for the future of the regime would be the sound of Air Force One starting its descent into Imam Khomeini International airport.

Maybe. Unlike most of the Arab world, Iran had contested elections until this past election (which was contested but which had fraudulent results published). In fact, you may even recall that in the days leading up to June's election, the political debate in Iran was quite open.

Israeli jets heading toward Iran might unify the country - it's no secret that the Iranian opposition is also in favor of Iran's nuclear program, and is probably also interested in attacking Israel. But it's less clear that Obama's fawning efforts at rapprochement are endangering the regime.

In any event, from Israel's perspective, when the time comes to take action against Iran's nuclear weapons program, whether that action unifies Ahmadinejad and his opponents is irrelevant. We cannot be left facing a nuclear-armed Iran with Moussavi in charge either.


Israel Matzav: Iran fears rapprochement with the US?

Israel Matzav: J Street endorses Berman's Iran sanctions bill

J Street endorses Berman's Iran sanctions bill

In a mildly surprising move, J Street has endorsed Representative Howard Berman's (D-Cal) bill to impose sanctions against Iran.

As a correspondent notes, with negotiations failing to get serious, the daylight on Iran seems to be dimming a bit even between AIPAC and the Jewish left:

“J Street has consistently supported President Obama in his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically and to resolve issues relating to its nuclear program through negotiations,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s Executive Director. “However, in the face of Iran’s continued defiance of the international community and its rejection of the most recent diplomatic offer on nuclear enrichment, we believe the time has come to pass the Iran sanctions legislation currently pending in the House of Representatives.

Some people on the Left feel that J Street is caving in to the organized Jewish community, but Shmuel Rosner argues that this is actually consistent with what J Street said all along.

Here's the interview I did with Ben Ami quite a long time ago - an interview in which he had promised to do exactly what J Street was doing today:

Serious diplomatic engagement should include direct high-level negotiations with Iran to address all issues of mutual concern, covering, in addition to the nuclear issue, an end to Iranian opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace process and to its support to groups using violence against the US and Israel in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon. Most important, the diplomatic track would need to offer Iran "carrots" - positive incentives for moving down this path in addition to the implicit "sticks" should the talks fail.

We all share the goal of avoiding - if possible - a nuclear-armed Iran. However, should the diplomatic offensive fail, the US could then pursue a policy of smarter and more effective containment coupled with strong, multilateral sanctions. First of all, a real attempt at diplomacy would put the US in a much better position to rally the international community to endorse and enforce a tough regimen of sanctions and other containment measures against Iran.

So - "engagement" failed, and J Street is now supporting more sanctions. Even unilateral sanctions.

Maybe. But it took J Street way too long to acknowledge that 'engagement' failed (although not as long as the Obama administration, which is still trying to avoid admitting the obvious), and the reference to "a policy of smarter and more effective containment" tells me that like the Obama administration, J Street is not willing to support a serious military option - even as a stick to back up sanctions - and will support no military measures designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Like the American side in this past weekend's 'simulation,' J Street's goal is to avoid war at all costs, including the cost of a nuclear-armed Iran that will only - God forbid - lead to a worse war (including a nuclear attack) later.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: J Street endorses Berman's Iran sanctions bill

Love of the Land: There is No Peaceful Solution to Terrorism

There is No Peaceful Solution to Terrorism

Daniel Greenfield
Sultan Knish
08 December 09

It has become fashionable in modern circles to believe that terrorism is the cry of the oppressed, that bombs on buses are the voice of the disempowered and that beheaded schoolteachers are the response of a people deprived of their human rights. They are of course wrong.


Terrorism is nothing more strategic atrocity, a horror show meant to shock and repulse, to weaken morale and bring about negotiations. Which is precisely what diplomats and peace activists willingly provide them. Their notion of a "peaceful solution" invariably ends with the butchers in charge and everyone else on the run. The result may indeed be a peaceful solution, insofar as anyone who disagrees has been executed or fled into exile, and a reign of terror insures that no one disturbs the peace.

The liberal premise is that terrorists are themselves victims who act violently only because they lack any alternative recourse. And yet when given a chance to rule, terrorists invariably demonstrate that they are not monsters because they are oppressed, but that they are oppressed because they are monsters. Communist terror on behalf of the oppressed peasants and workers before the Revolution, was nothing compared to the horrors that were unleashed under the USSR. Nazi violence on behalf of a dispossessed Germany proved to be forgettable compared to the genocide they unleashed as the ruling party. Palestinian Arab terror before the Oslo Accords seems almost simple in comparison to their reinvention of Suicide Bombings after the agreements granting them autonomous territory inside Israel.

From Shiite terror in Iran to the Taliban in Afghanistan. From Latin American Marxists to the Brown Shirts of Berlin to Mugabe and the Viet Cong -- empowered terrorists are not peaceful terrorists. A brutal thug before a treaty is no different than the same brutal thug after the treaty. The only difference is how much power he has.

There is no peaceful solution to terrorism, because terrorism is not a peaceful act. The only way to defend against force is with greater and smarter force. To try and make peace with terrorists is to reward their tactics and insure that they will be repeated over and over again. You cannot defeat terrorism by making peace with it. You can only bare your own throat to the knife.

That is a lesson that Israel has been demonstrating for 17 years during which every treaty, each agreement and concession has been met with greater and deadlier outbursts of violence and terrorism. Israeli concessions on Ramallah, led to suicide bombings in Tel Aviv. The forced evacuation of Jews from Gaza led to rockets raining down on Israeli villages. The willingness to negotiate after all this has turned Jerusalem into a war zone. If Israel agrees to the latest US-EU plan to divide Jerusalem-- the war will move on to the Galilee and the Negev. The apartments in Jerusalem that were once used for target practice by Jordanian snipers occupying half the city, will in turn be used for the same purpose again by Fatah and Hamas terrorists. But one thing is certain, the violence will grow and continue.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: There is No Peaceful Solution to Terrorism

Love of the Land: Which is Googled More: Israel or Darfur?

Which is Googled More: Israel or Darfur?

FreeMiddleEast.com
09 December 09

The UN and the media’s Obsessesive Compulsive Israel Disorder (OCID), is apparently affecting what we are all interested in.


Using the Google Trends service, it’s easy to compare the popularity of different search terms over time. For example, you can compare the popularity of Coke vs Pepsi or Mac vs. Windows. What do you think would happen if we compared “israel” to “darfur”, “iran”, “iraq” and “aids”?


israel.darfur.iran.iraq.aids.png


In the last twelve months of world-wide googling, Iran received 60% of the attention that Israel did, Iraq 40%, and AIDS little more than half.


Over the last few years 300,000 people have been killed in Sudan, yet last year Darfur was a mere 4%!



Love of the Land: Which is Googled More: Israel or Darfur?

Love of the Land: The tuxedoed pirate

The tuxedoed pirate


Assad's claim of legitimacy is brute force, used to hijack millions of Syrians

Farid Ghadry
Israel Opinion/Ynet
09 December 09

There are hundreds of reasons why democratic Israel is eager to have peace with its neighbors. All packaged for one purpose: To provide security for Israelis, the majority of which have reached a new trigger point in their struggle for normalcy, far more lethal than the one Israel reached in its war against Hezbollah and Hamas.

Concurrently, there are hundreds of reasons for the authoritarian Assad regime in Syria to freeze and cultivate the status quo with its neighbors. All packaged, as well, for the purpose of maintaining instability in the region that ultimately benefits Syria's failed experiment of its Ba'ath ideology. Passing the hat, through extortion, has so far worked well for the Assads and their control of Syria.

Unlike the sincerity of Anwar Sadat of Egypt backed by a dynastic history, or the pragmatism of King Hussein of Jordan backed by direct lineage to the Prophet Mohammad, Assad's claim of legitimacy is his own brute force. As such, Israel will always tango alone when it comes to peace with the fabricated Assads because their seed, lacking the depth of Sadat and King Hussein, is identified more with pirates than Kings and Pharohs.

But the reality in dealing with the Syrian regime differs from the perception the world has of the pirates in Damascus. In summation, most kings and pharohs pay attention to the needs of their own people and build for their prosperity, but all pirates pilfer and ravage to redress their own inferiority.

That, of course, does not mean that noble countries like France or Turkey should not play their part in the promotion of peace between Syria and Israel. But in doing so, both countries must be aware of the risks involved. Israel may come to the table ready for peace but Assad will come to the table searching for an advantage to continue the journey of his pirate-like DNA. Peace is neither in his heart nor on his mind.

Why should he abandon the policy of terror that will diminish the capabilities he, with the other pirates in Tehran, have been constructing so carefully since the 70s to give them commanding height of the region?

(Continue reading)

Love of the Land: The tuxedoed pirate

Love of the Land: Freedom of the Press, at War

Freedom of the Press, at War


Yaacov Lozowick
Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations
09 December 09

Iman Al Hams was killed in Rafah on October 5th, 2004. She was 13 at the time. For her and for her family the rest of the story will never make things better.

For a lot of other people, however, the circumstances of her death were very important: Was she repeatedly shot in cold blood, or was her death the result of a tragic mistake in a complicated war? Was it the story of a callous Israeli officer, or perhaps of a general atmosphere of contempt towards Palestinian lives?

There was no lack of people willing to tell the facts as they were convinced of them.
Here, for example, you can read the Guardian's Chris McGreal investigation: he not only knew that Iman had been repeatedly shot in cold blood, but that the IDF would probably not seriously investigate the case, because they almost never do. Six months later, Iman was the poster figure for Ronnie Kasril and Victoria Brittain's call for a boycott against Israel, also in the Guardian. Wikipedia has lots of links to the story, here.

So clear cut did the story seem to be, so obviously bad, that the mainstream Israeli media joined the Guardian and its ilk in describing it. True, the agenda of such a prime-time investigative television program
Uvda (Fact!), anchored by Ilana Dayan, a Doctor of Law by training and one of Israel's most respected journalists, was not that Israel is a fascist colonial monster, but rather that the potential rot of war was seeping into the IDF. Still, hers was a powerful voice of condemnation.

Then the story began to unravel. Some of the most damning testimony had come from the officer's subordinates; they eventually admitted they hadn't been accurate. The officer was eventually indicted on some minor charges, then exonerated in court. He then sued Ilana Dayan, the main purveyor of the damning narrative.

Yesterday the court gave a resounding decision in his favor, awarding him NIS300,000 in damages.
Amos Harel, reporting in Haaretz, openly admits he doesn't like the court's decision:

Sohlberg's 131-page ruling will become a landmark decision in the history of journalism in Israel, due to the case's extensive publicity and Dayan's prominence. It will also be remembered because Sohlberg, considered a specialist in libel suits and strict when it comes to the media, went too far in dealing not only with the facts of the program, but also going into great detail about the editing process. (For the purposes of proper disclosure, it should be noted that I have been interviewed by Dayan on the radio and on television, and two of my reports on the affair are quoted in the ruling.)

Harel's column alludes to fundamental questions about how journalists cast their tales, and the liberties they sometimes take in editing the materials they have so as to be compelling.

(Continue reading)

Related: Judge rules against "Fact" TV show


Love of the Land: Freedom of the Press, at War

Love of the Land: More Detail on Olmert's Offer

More Detail on Olmert's Offer


SNAPSHOTS: A CAMERA blog
08 December 09

First there was Mahmoud Abbas's acknowledgment that Ehud Olmert offered him a state (and more). Then came Olmert's more-detailed description of the offer. And still, as with Ehud Barak's earlier peace offer, Olmert's rebuffed attempt to make peace with the Palestinians is all-to-often ignored by those casting Israel as being responsible for the conflict because the Palestinians don't have a state.

Now, a Channel 2 (Israel) report cited in the Jerusalem Post purports to give the most detailed description yet of Olmert's offer, making it harder than ever to ignore the responsibility of Palestinian leaders for the continued statelessness of their people:

During Olmert's tenure, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni offered to establish a Palestinian state on 92.7 percent of the territories conquered in the Six Day War. The map presented to Palestinian negotiators did not include the Jordan Valley as part of the State of Israel. The settlement of Ariel would remain part of Israel, but the stretch of land ensuring its contiguity with the rest of the country would be very narrow, Channel 10 reported.

In return for 7.3% that Israel would annex, it would offer the Palestinians 3% in land swaps.

According to a Channel 10 analyst, there were already decisions on what land would be swapped in return to retaining settlement blocs. Israel would cede 100 square kilometers near the Gaza Strip, 13 in the Tirat Zvi area, 10 near Nataf, half a square kilometer near Mevo Beitar, 7.4 near Lachish, 3.2 near Sumeria, 42 near Yatir and 151 in the Judean Desert.

The Palestinians, according to the report, have for the first time ever presented the Israeli team with their own maps. The Palestinians were willing forego only 1.9% of the Judea and Samaria territories, but they were willing to accept that Gush Etziyon, Modi'in and several other settlement remain in Israeli hands.

In Jerusalem, the Palestinians were willing to accept the neighborhoods of Ramot, Ramot Alon, Ramat Shlomo, Pisgat Ze'ev, Neve Ya'akov, Ma'alot Dafna, French Hill and Gilo, the southern neighborhood which has recently become a sticking point not with the Palestinians but with the United States after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would build several hundred new housing units there.

However, according to the report, the Palestinians themselves have agreed to forego areas where they now demand Israel implement a complete halt to construction.

Olmert reportedly offered the PA an even more generous offer than Livni, offering that Israel annex only 6.5% and swap 5.8% of lands, so the Palestinian state would constitute 99.3$ of the 1967 territories.

He additionally offered that five Arab states would be involved in governing Jerusalem, which would be divided based on its demographics.

The Palestinians rejected the offer.



Love of the Land: More Detail on Olmert's Offer

Love of the Land: Suicide isn’t an option

Suicide isn’t an option


FresnoZionism.org
08 December 09

Sometimes I find myself writing about Palestinian demands and Israeli responses in connection with plans for a ‘peace agreement’ which will bring about a ‘two-state solution’. I’ll say “how dare they insist on this or that” or “any agreement must include… blah, blah”.


This is a waste of time. The ‘two-state solution’ exists only in the minds of those who do not understand the actual players in this game, or the mouths of those (like the Swedes) who see it as a way to weaken Israel. No Palestinian with the power to influence a decision wants a peaceful two-state solution or an end to the conflict — what they want is to gain an advantage in the long-term struggle with Israel.


My head is spinning from the doubletalk of the Europeans or the Obama administration, for example, in which they give lip service to Israel’s security while demanding that Israel sacrifice it to escalating Arab demands, and the doubletalk from Israel in which its leaders pretend to believe that peace is possible while trying to avoid giving up too much for nothing.

So could we please forget about Oslo, the Roadmap and all of the forty-two quintillion ’solutions’ that have been proposed, all of which are premised on the idea that the Palestinian Arabs want to end the conflict if we can just find terms that they would accept. They don’t.


(Continue reading)


Love of the Land: Suicide isn’t an option

Love of the Land: Judge Rules Against "Fact" TV Show

Judge Rules Against "Fact" TV Show


Yael Dayan, of "Uvdah" ("Fact"), likely to appeal

CAMERA/Snapshots
09 December 09

Ha'aretz reports an important development in the story of Captian R, an Israeli soldier accused (and later cleared) of having "confirmed the kill" of a Palestinian girl in 2004:

Captain R., now Major R., won a legal victory yesterday. Not just a victory - a knockout. It was the culmination of an affair that began in the fall of 2004, when R., then a company commander in the Givati Brigade, became embroiled in the death of Palestinian teenage girl, Ayman al-Hams, in Rafah - an incident that became known as the "confirmed kill affair."

Just over a year later, R. was completely exonerated by a military tribunal, after his lawyers dismantled the military prosecution's case, highlighting serious shortcomings in the way the prosecution, and particularly the military police investigators, had conducted themselves.

Yesterday marked another milestone in the affair, after R. won his libel suit against investigative journalist Ilana Dayan for her presentation of the incident on her Channel 2 show "Fact."

Jerusalem District Court Judge Noam Sohlberg also awarded R. NIS 300,000 in damages.

Sohlberg's 131-page ruling will become a landmark decision in the history of journalism in Israel, due to the case's extensive publicity and Dayan's prominence.




Love of the Land: Judge Rules Against "Fact" TV Show

Love of the Land: EU foreign ministers airbrush terrorism out of lopsided resolution on Jerusalem, Gaza and peace

EU foreign ministers airbrush terrorism out of lopsided resolution on Jerusalem, Gaza and peace


Robin Shepherd
RobinShepherdonline.com
08 December 09

I suppose it is to be welcomed that EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today passed what amounts to only a watered down version of the initial proposal being pressed for by Sweden, the country which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.


So given that the ministers rejected plans to offer recognition to a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, we might perhaps be grateful for small mercies. Nonetheless, the resolution that was in fact passed still demonstrates an almost complete inability to understand Israel’s predicament in the Middle East while continuing to peddle distortions about what is really going on that can only serve as an obstacle to peace. The complete absence of any reference to terrorism or Hamas is simply extraordinary.


Here is the text of the resolution followed by my brief comments after each of the 12 articles of which it is constituted:

Read the rest of this entry »

Love of the Land: EU foreign ministers airbrush terrorism out of lopsided resolution on Jerusalem, Gaza and peace

Love of the Land: Phased Plan Enshrined on UN-Hosted Website

Phased Plan Enshrined on UN-Hosted Website


FreeMiddleEast.com
December 09

Chapter One, Article One, Paragraph One of the UN Charter states the chief purpose of thePOM.Palestine.UN.jpgUnited Nations:


To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;


The word “peace” is mentioned no less than five times in the opening paragraph alone! It should come as a surprise that only a few clicks away on the official website of the Palestinian Observer to the UN, hosted at www.un.int, the official site for member states, you can find the full text of the PLO Phased Plan. It is a document which advocates “armed struggle” and a “combatant national authority”, diametrically opposed to the UN charter.


The Palestine Liberation Organization will employ all means, and first and foremost armed struggle, to liberate Palestinian territory and to establish the independent combatant national authority for the people over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated.


For the full text please visit Palestine’s UN web area.


Love of the Land: Phased Plan Enshrined on UN-Hosted Website
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