Friday, 18 December 2009

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Sabbath music video

For the 8th night of Chanuka, we have Shloime Daskal singing al-HaNisim (For the Miracles) and SheHeCheyanu (He Who Has Made Us Live) at Yeshiva Darchei Torah's Chanuka party earlier this week.

Let's go to the videotape.

Shabbat Shalom - Have a wonderful Shabbos everyone.

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Israel Matzav: 'Arbet macht frei' sign stolen from Auschwitz: Next stop Tehran?

'Arbet macht frei' sign stolen from Auschwitz: Next stop Tehran?

The well-known arbet macht frei (work makes you free) sign has been stolen from the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo said police believe it was stolen between 3:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday morning, when museum guards noticed that it was missing and alerted police.

Padlo also said that the iron sign, which spanned a gate at the main entrance to the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland, was removed by being unscrewed on one side and pulled off on the other.

Police have launched an intensive search. According to Padlo, there are currently no suspects but police are pursuing several theories.

The museum curator at Auschwitz said that they have a replacement sign, which they immediately put up.

As you might imagine, a lot of people here are quite upset about this.

Noah Flug chairman of The Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel and president of the International Auschwitz Committee called on the Polish police and government to "make every concerted effort to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

Flug said that the sign is "an item of both important symbolic and historical value."

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said he was "shocked" to learn of the theft of the sign, "which has come to symbolize the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. "

"While we don't yet know exactly who stole the sign, the theft of such a symbolic object is an attack on the memory of the Holocaust, and an escalation from those elements that would like to return us to darker days," he said in a statement. "I call on all enlightened forces in the world - who fight against anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and the hatred of the other, to join together to combat these trends."

Also speaking to Israel Radio, Tel Aviv-Yaffo Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor and chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, called the theft "frightening and painful." He said the sign was the one of the firmest proofs of the Holocaust, and was a huge contribution to the perpetuation of the victims' memory.

The thieves were not caught on security cameras.

Here's betting it shows up in Tehran.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: 'Arbet macht frei' sign stolen from Auschwitz: Next stop Tehran?

Israel Matzav: Congress votes 412-12 to sanction Iran. Guess who's opposed

Congress votes 412-12 to sanction Iran. Guess who's opposed

I've probably run the picture at the top of this post dozens of times in the last year. Until now, it was arguably an exaggeration. Now, it's looking less like one.

This past week, the House passed the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act by an overwhelming 412-12 vote. The 12 votes against included people like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul - people who are clearly outside the American mainstream. The sanctions will now go to the Senate - probably not until after the first of the year because the Senate is so busy trying to bring about the collapse of the American economy by implementing Obamacare/Reidcare.

When the Senate takes up the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act, we should be grateful that it no longer includes among its membership two Senators named Obama from Illinois and Clinton from New York. You see, it's quite likely that the two of them would vote against the bill.

Tehran finally came back with a counterproposal late last week, in which no uranium would leave Iranian soil. Even Hillary Clinton admits it's a nonstarter: "I don't think anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of positive response from the Iranians," the Secretary of State told reporters.

Given those remarks, we would have imagined that Mrs. Clinton would take it as good news that on Tuesday the House voted 412-12 in favor of a new round of unilateral sanctions on Iran. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act would forbid any company that does energy business with Iran from having access to U.S. markets.

Instead, last week Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg wrote to Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry urging that the Senate postpone taking up the House bill. "I am concerned that this legislation, in its current form, might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support for our efforts," wrote Mr. Steinberg.

So let's see: Iran spurns every overture from the U.S. and continues to develop WMD while abusing its neighbors. In response, the Administration, which had set a December deadline for diplomacy, now says it opposes precisely the kind of sanctions it once promised to impose if Iran didn't come clean, never mind overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. For an explanation of why Iran's behavior remains unchanged, look no further.

Here's hoping the Senate makes one small change to the bill that just passed the House. Here's hoping that the Senate makes those sanctions mandatory. From what I recall of my Constitutional Law class in law school (where I argued obsessively with my Leftist professor), treason is still a high crime or misdemeanor, i.e. an impeachable offense. Failing to take action that would defend America (let alone Israel) from an Iranian nuclear threat without endangering American lives strikes me as about as treasonous as you can get.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Congress votes 412-12 to sanction Iran. Guess who's opposed

Israel Matzav: Gaza, the Hillbilly Country of the Middle East

Gaza, the Hillbilly Country of the Middle East

What happens when you marry close relatives? You perpetuate rare genetic diseases. That's what's going on in Gaza (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

And we keep hearing that the 'Palestinians' are the smartest people in the Arab/Muslim world. Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: Gaza, the Hillbilly Country of the Middle East

Israel Matzav: Tom Friedman calls for war?

Tom Friedman calls for war?

David Hazony read that Tom Friedman article that I blogged on Thursday as a call for a conventional war and not just for a 'war of words.'

Friedman starts with the “war of ideas within Islam,” uses the American Civil War as an example, and then goes on to focus on which ideas are legitimate in the Arab-Muslim world and which are not, and on how many fatwas have been issued against al-Qaeda. As though he hadn’t just said anything shocking.

Hello? The American Civil War was not only a battle of ideas. The “ferocity” he refers to, the lingering antipathy against the North today, was not because Lincoln issued a fatwa or recruited columnists in the South over the Internet or wrote a bestselling book. There was horrific, physical destruction involved. Is he saying that Islam “needs” a moderate-Islamic General Sherman to scorch the earth of Saudi-funded madrasses? Literally?

Because if he doesn’t mean it literally, the metaphor suddenly makes no sense. Certain ideas are deemed illegitimate in the Muslim world because simply expressing them can get you killed. Violence is a crucial component in the equation — that’s what it means not to be part of the democratic world. So if moderate voices are to turn violent against the extremists — even if the violence is not literal but only in the form of condemnation, stopping their funding, pursuing a “war of ideas,” and so forth — first you need to remove the threat of literal violence and create a free environment in which ideas can be aired without fear. But for that you need a much bigger change than just calling for the voices of moderation to wake up. There’s a good reason why they’re asleep in the first place.

So, Mr. Friedman, which is it? A literal civil war, like the one America endured? Or a figurative one, which you call on others to wage, bravely and at high cost, with little hope of victory?

Friedman undoubtedly meant a war of words, but Hazony is right: A real war is the only way that anything is likely to change. Unfortunately, the Islamists are too busy murdering 'infidels' to engage in such a real war.

Israel Matzav: Tom Friedman calls for war?

Israel Matzav: The Swedes pay attention

The Swedes pay attention

I'm sure you all recall the article by Michael Fenenbock that I posted earlier this week that argued that Israel's supporters ought to target the incumbent Swedish government in the upcoming Swedish election.

That article apparently got the attention of the Swedes. On Thursday, an op-ed was published in Stockholm’s largest daily – Svenska Dagbladet (Daily Blade). A number of other Swedish media have referenced Michael’s Ynet op-ed as well. For those of you who don't read Swedish, here's an English translation by Ilya Meyer with kind permission from Per Gudmundson and Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Why Carl Bildt is Driving the Israelis Up the Wall

September 19, 2010, that’s the target. Send the best political campaign professionals in the world into Sweden’s national elections. Make Reinfeldt and Bildt pay a price.”

That’s the suggestion of political consultant Michael Fenenbock in an op-ed in Israel’s largest daily, Yedioth Ahronoth. The reason is that the EU has once again proclaimed that Jerusalem should be the capital city of a future Palestinian state, something for which rotating EU president “Reinfeldt and his Rasputin-like partner Carl Bildt” ought to be punished.

We have the means, the experience and skill to cause these guys political pain in Sweden,” writes Fenenbock, who has previously run campaigns for Ted Kennedy and others in the US.

That’s somewhat ironic. For decades now an anti-Semitic-tainted extreme Left has been mouthing off about a “pro-Israel Lobby” that is alleged to control the world’s political destiny. When finally someone turns up who claims to represent just such a lobby, it also turns out that he intends to bring down the non-socialist government. That’s going to lead to some really hard-to-reconcile internal conflicts in many quarters.

The fact, however, is that there is a tense relationship between Sweden and Israel right now. That’s on the political plane. As regards trade and cultural exchanges, on the other hand, the atmosphere has never been better.

Carl Bildt’s rather arrogant style (he recently claimed that Israel is trying to influence the EU through a policy of “divide and rule”) underscores some Israelis’ impression that Bildt did not merely convey the demands expected during his country’s EU presidency, but rather that he has taken on the task with a dedication bordering on fervour. As though he truly burns with enthusiasm to put Israel in its place.

This past autumn’s headline-making story in which this country’s biggest daily paper spread stories about Israeli organ harvesting, stories deeply rooted in anti-Jewish mythology, without being admonished by the Swedish government, has scarcely done anything to mend bridges.

In Israel, the EU’s and Sweden’s incessant demands are perceived as highly one-sided. And not without some justification.

Last week the Israeli media presented leaked details about what was probably the previous Israeli government’s proposal to the Palestinians: then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is reported to have made an offer for a future Palestinian state on 99.3% of the pre-1967 territory. As well as the partitioning of Jerusalem. The Palestinians declined. Yet again. So who exactly is being unreasonable?

The current Israeli government emerged as a response to the previous centre coalition, which received nothing in reply to its far-reaching concessions. If today we are hearing a sharp tone of voice from Prime Minister and others, it is not solely a cause of the situation we see today – it is in equal measure a response to Palestinian intransigence.

That a Swedish non-socialist government would be hostile to Israel is unthinkable. So how exactly are we to interpret Carl Bildt?

It’s that same old problem: trying to extract responsibility from the only party that has ever been shown to be capable of behaving responsibly, while never demanding responsibility from the one party that really should be shouldering it. Instead of perhaps using our immense financial aid to the Palestinians to persuade them in the appropriate direction.

The question is whether it would work. From the Israeli viewpoint, it is more convenient to bicker with Sweden, and to joke about rigging our election process, than it is to pursue an uncertain centrist policy that would require some extremely hazardous concessions. That makes Carl Bildt the Likud government’s excuse to shift its focus. And that may not have been the intention.

Michael Fenenbock adds:

For the record...


The18 has no connection to the Israeli government. The18 has no connection to any NGO’s or institutional Jewish organizations. The18 is competely independent.

Indeed, The18 has precisely the same relationship to the Israeli government as Prime Minister Reinfeldt’s government has to the Swedish newspaper “Aftonbladet.”

As Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt put it in his August 2009 refusal to condemn the Swedish newspaper for accusing Israelis of organ harvesting, “Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy.” (Associated Press, August 20, 2009)

The18 is free to act independent of any institutional, government, or NGO influence or control.

The18 Sweden

The18 Sweden does not advocate on behalf of any Swedish political party.

The18 Sweden is not tasked with persuading Swedes to vote one way or another. The18 Sweden does not endorse a candidate or party. The18 Sweden’s goal is to maintain focus on the issue of Reinfeldt and Bildt’s EU Jerusalem initiative. And its consequences for Swedes and Sweden.

To achieve that end, The18 Sweden will mount an independent public campaign.

The18 Sweden’s intention is to ask hard questions of Prime Minister Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Bildt. And to ask them in Sweden, in the context of the September elections, via a public campaign mounted from a Swedish – not a Jewish – perspective.

Questions will be asked about the consequences of Sweden’s EU Jerusalem initiative for Swedes and Sweden. The18 Sweden public campaign will be directed at a Swedish audience and delivered by Swedes.

If there are any readers in Sweden who want to be in contact with Michael, or anyone else who thinks they can help out, please drop me a note

Israel Matzav: The Swedes pay attention

Israel Matzav: Obama's geography lesson

Obama's geography lesson

The Hebrew caption reads "Where the hell is that country that keeps me busy all day long?"

Hat Tip: NR (daughter number 2, child number 4).

Israel Matzav: Obama's geography lesson

Israel Matzav: Maybe they should have bought Israeli drones

Maybe they should have bought Israeli drones

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the US has a problem with Iranian-backed terrorists intercepting the video feed from drones in Iraq.

Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."


Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

Read the whole thing.

It's funny that we have never heard stories like this from Gaza. Are the 'Palestinians' less clever than the Iraqis? I doubt it. More likely Israel's communications - like those from the Israeli-made Heron drone pictured above - are encrypted and cannot be tapped so easily. Maybe the US should buy Israeli drones or at least the Israeli drones' communications systems.


Israel Matzav: Maybe they should have bought Israeli drones

Israel Matzav: There is no peace partner

There is no peace partner

Writing in Haaretz - Haaretz! - Ari Shavit explains that there is no peace partner (Haaretz put the wrong headline on this).

The ultimate solution is not the total liberation of the Gaza Strip or a Palestinian state. It is the liberation of all of Palestine.

Haniyeh did not say so outright, but his words are clear. Hamas is demanding Ramle and Lod, Haifa and Jaffa, Abu Kabir and Sheikh Munis. It is also demanding the land on which this article was written and the land on which this article was printed - the land on which the editorial offices of Haaretz are located and the land on which the Haaretz printing plant is located. The land, the entire land. Greater Palestine.

In recent years, quite a number of experts have promised us that Hamas does not really mean it. Hamas is only playing tough, but its intentions are lofty: cease-fire, Green Line, coexistence. Live and let live. But no message conveyed by any senior Hamas member to any diplomat behind closed doors is equal in status to the message conveyed by Haniyeh to the masses. What counts is only the direct and open statement made by the Palestinian leader to his people. Palestine, all of Palestine. Every piece of Israeli land on which any Israeli citizen lives. His home, your home, our home. The land beneath our feet.

Ostensibly, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is an alternative to Hamas. Two days ago Abbas told Haaretz correspondent Avi Issacharoff that an agreement could be reached within six months. There's one small problem: Similar things were said to us when the Beilin-Abbas agreement was formulated in 1995. Similar things were said to us on the eve of Camp David 2000. Similar things were promised us when the Geneva Initiative was signed in 2003. Similar things were promised us when Israel went to Annapolis in 2007.

But every time an Israeli leader took another significant step toward Abbas, Abbas became evasive. To this day Abbas has not responded positively to the offer of 100 percent made to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert 15 months ago.

Read the whole thing.

Haaretz headlines this Hamas still wants to liberate all of 'Palestine.' But that's not the headline here. The headline here is that Haaretz is finally admitting that Fatah wants to 'liberate' all of 'Palestine' too. There is no difference between them.

Shavit goes on to insist that there must be a solution and to advocate the 'Mofaz plan' (whatever that is this week) or a second 'disengagement' (since the first one just worked out so well). But the bottom line is that there is no peace partner and as much as many Israelis hate what they term an 'occupation,' they are not going to support unilaterally abandoning our assets to either a 'moderate' or an 'extreme' terror organization.

There is no peace partner. It's time to face that reality, stop evading it, and move on with our lives. There is a solution to this impasse: Pay the 'Palestinians' to leave voluntarily. A majority of them would take advantage it.

Israel Matzav: There is no peace partner

Love of the Land: Hardliners realise Britain is a soft touch

Hardliners realise Britain is a soft touch

George Walden
17 December 09

The Tzipi Livni fiasco illustrates how slavishly this country follows hypocritical UN edicts

As a piece of legal grotesquerie, the attempted arrest of the former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has its funny side. The biggest joke lies in the role of the UN. It was the UN Human Rights Council that endorsed the report by the retired South African judge Richard Goldstone on the Gaza conflict, in which Israel as well as Hamas was accused of war crimes.

The fun lies in the membership of this august body, and guardian of all our rights. Currently those empowered to sit in judgment on the Israeli democracy include Cuba, China, Russia, Kirghizstan, Djibouti and Qatar. In a non-democracy, of course, Ms Livni would have had no bother; with no elections to dislodge her she would still be a minister, and so exempt from arrest. There must be a lesson there.

The joke gains resonance when we remember that in 2003 the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission elected a Libyan to its chair. It is of course due to Israel being surrounded by similarly backward and corrupt regimes, such as Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as to Israeli recalcitrance, that the Middle East remains in a permanent state of tension and Palestinians suffer.

So the Livni affair is a joke on democracies everywhere, though especially on us, which makes it a sombre matter. The move to get her arrested is part of the climate of creeping anti-Semitism in this country. We do not go in for the hard stuff yet, but whether it is subtly but relentlessly bent TV reporting of the Middle East conflict, or attempts in British universities to deny Israeli academics the freedom of expression notionally protected at the UN by countries such as Cuba or Libya, institutionalised anti-Semitism, assisted now by the law, is gaining ground.

Yet it would be a mistake to take too narrow a view of the business. Something in our culture and mind-set exposes us to asinine legal anomalies of this kind, and not just where Israel is concerned. While Ms Livni is absent from London, known Islamist terrorists are free to walk the streets, or to sit cosily at home filling in claims for benefits, because the law has made it impossible to convict them without endangering our sources of information.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Hardliners realise Britain is a soft touch

Love of the Land: Another Peace Process in Our Time

Another Peace Process in Our Time

Rick Richman
18 December 09

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — currently in the 60th month of his 48-month term, a declared non-candidate for re-election (in the event there is ever another Palestinian election), presently governing only half of the putative Palestinian state — has told Haaretz that a peace agreement could be reached within six months if Israel will make more pre-negotiation concessions.

Peace could be reached not only in our time but with four full months left over to complete Netanyahu’s 10-month settlement freeze. Abbas will hold the football himself.

Not even those on the Left in Israel believe in this process any more. Ari Shavit, writing in today’s Haaretz, notes that:

There’s one small problem: Similar things were said to us when the Beilin-Abbas agreement was formulated in 1995. Similar things were said to us on the eve of Camp David 2000. Similar things were promised us when the Geneva Initiative was signed in 2003. Similar things were promised us when Israel went to Annapolis in 2007.

Six months is in fact exactly what Abbas promised at the beginning of the Annapolis Process in 2007, only to reject still another Israeli offer of a state 12 months later.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Another Peace Process in Our Time

Love of the Land: Oslo - not the "occupation" is undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations

Oslo - not the "occupation" is undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations

Dr. Aaron Lerner
17 December 09

"The truth is harsh. The occupation is destroying Israel. It is undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations."

So claims Haaretz Correspondent Ari Shavit in today's edition.

I would suggest that, in retrospect, much of the activity surrounding Oslo - rather than the "occupation" - has been "undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations."

Oslo corrupted our respect for human life. Soldiers and civilians alike became no more than pawns in a game of peacemaking under the gun. And today, after sinking up to our noses in the mire of Oslo, with politicians often ultimately treating brutal murders as temporary insignificant inconveniences, we find a dramatic increase in murder, violent crime, even violence in the schoolyard.

Oslo corrupted the very top of Israel's intelligence system. Some allowed their ideology to seriously cloud their judgment as they naively thought they could sub-contract Israel's security to their Palestinian pals who they wined and dined on open expense accounts. Others, with an eye on their career track, opted to present reports and analysis that supported the "process" rather than what they really thought. And it didn't stop there. Some of these top Israelis entered into a web of business relations with their Palestinian counterparts. Money - the ultimate corrupter.

Oslo corrupted the political system, with it becoming acceptable to make bare-faced lies to the Knesset, as was the case when Shimon Peres denied the existence of his "Jerusalem Letter", and later when time and again the explicit policy choices made by the citizens was ignored after election day. But it wasn't just the lies and the vote buying. Oslo introduced brazen and open foreign interference in the Israeli democratic process with money from the European Union and other nations financing various leftist groups in Israel and even some politicians.

Oslo so corrupted respect for the democratic process that the ruling government even went so far as to use the services of the State's intelligence apparatus to undermine the standing of their political rivals and silence them rather than engage them in serious debate. To this day serious public debate is marred by the efforts to silence voices with charges of incitement and the "extremist" label.

Oslo corrupted the news media as reporters abandoned their critical "watchdog" role, opting to either distort or ignore the truth as their contribution to the "peace process".

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Oslo - not the "occupation" is undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations

Love of the Land: Annoying


I spent the past two days in Jerusalem attending the annual 2009 Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism (GFCA). There were more than 500 participants from over 50 countries. Among those taking part was Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and the Czech Republic’s Minister of Human Rights. There were also legislators, jurists, academics, and heads of many NGO's among the participants... and as near as I could determine, one cartoonist.

You can visit the GFCA website by clicking here.

Love of the Land: Annoying

RubinReports: What's Really Going on in Palestinian Politics: Springtime for Abbas

What's Really Going on in Palestinian Politics: Springtime for Abbas

[Thanks to those of you who have subscribed; please, to those of you who haven't yet done so]

By Barry Rubin

There’s a new trend worth noting in the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority (PA): a sense of satisfaction. While the Western media generally reflect the rather false-front public relations’ campaign waged by the PA—bitter, frustrated, victimized, and eager for peace—that’s not what’s really going on right now.

Mahmoud Abbas’s government has to weather some difficult politicking along the following lines:

--He has extended his own term in office indefinitely and cancelled January 2010 elections without receiving much criticism from within the PA. After all, Hamas won’t let any balloting happen in the Gaza Strip and who knows which side might win a fair vote?

--The PA has been rounding up Hamas activists and keeping security on the West Bank while—with a lot of help and some pressure from Israel—preventing cross-border attacks.

--The economy is doing well with relative prosperity on the West Bank, though this could collapse in hours if the PA let’s violence reappear.

--Abbas has contained intensive criticism from his colleagues about his being too “soft” in his dealings with President Barack Obama.

--He has worked out a way to refuse negotiations while blaming it on Israel.

--No matter what the PA does international media coverage, support from Europe, and a lack of criticism from the U.S. government seems assured.

There are plenty of things to be pleased about even though the peace process is dead, there’s no realistic prospect of a state, and Hamas looks set to govern the Gaza Strip forever.

The media angle is especially amusing. Abbas can reject Obama’s demand that negotiations resume without a single adjective of criticism while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is regularly said to be “defying” Obama because he only invoked a total freeze on non-Jerusalem construction. You can’t buy publicity like this.

But never overstate the importance of image. What’s really true—though often misunderstood in the West—is that a no war, no peace option suits the PA just fine right now. There is a question of whether hot-heads among Abbas’s colleagues, Hamas sabotage, or some accidental event will set off a new confrontation. Yet that doesn’t seem too likely in the short- to medium-run.

Finally, while Fatah and the PA can’t wean themselves—indeed, they aren’t even trying—from a basic strategy whose main goal is destroying Israel some day, that doesn’t mean they can’t get along with Israel on a current basis. Behind the scenes, things aren’t so bad.

Indeed, when Abbas speaks privately, he is likely to spend much of his time attacking Hamas and urging higher sanctions on Iran. He knows who his real enemies are, even if most Western observers take him at his (public and propagandistic) word.

RubinReports: What's Really Going on in Palestinian Politics: Springtime for Abbas

Jewish Music Banned at Holy Site - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Jewish Music Banned at Holy Site - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Petition of Hesder Yeshiva Educators in Support of R. Melamed - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Petition of Hesder Yeshiva Educators in Support of R. Melamed - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Moshe Arens: Barak's Ouster of Hesder Yeshiva Endangers Israel - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Moshe Arens: Barak's Ouster of Hesder Yeshiva Endangers Israel - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Former Minister Yitzchak Levy: Barak Went Too Far - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Former Minister Yitzchak Levy: Barak Went Too Far - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Online Anti-Semitism - Imagine if Hitler had Facebook - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Online Anti-Semitism - Imagine if Hitler had Facebook - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Police Bar Jews from Temple Mount on Chanukah - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Police Bar Jews from Temple Mount on Chanukah - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Olmert Offered Gaza Expansion for PA State - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Olmert Offered Gaza Expansion for PA State - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

A Soldier's Mother: Rockets to Roses - Israel's Answer

A Soldier's Mother: Rockets to Roses - Israel's Answer

Life in Israel: Previously unseen video from 6 Day War (video)

Previously unseen video from 6 Day War (video)

This is a video clip that was recorded on 8mm film during the Six Day War. It was recently discovered in a closet and converted to a modern day format.

Warning for those interested: Background singer is female

Life in Israel: Previously unseen video from 6 Day War (video)

Walzer on Obama on Just War Theory

Walzer on Obama on Just War Theory

Michael Walzer listened to Obama's Oslo speech through the important filter of Just War theory, on which Walzer is probably the world's most important expert.

I haven't yet found the time to read Obama's speech (or watch it on Youtube). Still, Walzer is an important writer, Obama is the powerful man, so listening to the one on the other won't be a waste of your time.

h/t Normblog.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Human Rights Against International Law

Human Rights Against International Law

Still mulling over that B'tselem tour to Hebron.

Oren, the B'tselem guide, was very careful to talk about human rights, not politics. At one point he even refused to respond to a question about how the situation in Hebron might be resolved: that's politics, he said. As I wrote already, this wasn't very convincing since he seemed unfazed by the limitations on Israelis in the Palestinian part of Hebron. Yet upon reflection, the problem is deeper.

International law is an expression of the wish to have all nations operate within common limitations. Thus it deals with what countries are allowed to do and what not. Some will tell you they aren't allowed to transfer citizens into occupied territories, since in WWII the Nazis deported people in all sorts of directions so the international community recognized this as an evil to be prevented. You might ask how that is relevant to Israeli citizens moving of their free volition to places they recognize from their daily readings of the Bible or Talmud, or in the case of Hebron, to a town that had a Jewish community until as recently at 39 years earlier, and the response you'd get might not satisfy you. But that's not the bone I want to gnaw on right now.

International law may have something to say about settlers living in Hebron. It has nothing to say about the rights of individuals visiting there to worship, studying there, or even living there. As the champions of human rights will tell you incessantly, human rights are inherent. They don't stem from this political situation, those conditions, or that ethnic identity of victims. The right of a child to life is greater than the politics of who the child is, where she lives, or what the adults around her are doing. That's the whole point of human rights. It's why the ghastly Goldstone Report could overlook almost the entire context of its investigation and focus on the slivers of reality it was interested in: the human rights of the civilians of Gaza. It's why Oren of B'tselem could overlook the entire context of what he showed us in Hebron, and say that how the situation came to be isn't his business, he's interested in the rights of the (Palestinian) townsfolk.

OK. For the sake of the argument, let's take the human rights perspective. Back in 2000-2004 people were getting killed in Hebron. People on both sides, including civilians on both sides. In order to put a stop to that most extreme of all violations of human rights, the IDF put in place a regime that violates minor human rights, yet preserves major ones. It creates inconveniences and saves lives. Without those measures the lives of the settlers were endangered, and their inherent rights were being severely violated.

Whether the settlers are permitted to be there or not under international law is immaterial to the matter of their inherent human rights.

Somehow I don't think most human rights activists see it that way. What does that tell us about them?
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

A New Destiny for Mankind?

A New Destiny for Mankind?

Climate Change is not my main topic, but from time to time I allow it to intrude here, always to say the same thing: That pouring gook into the air can't be a good thing, especially when the gook needs to be bought from the Saudis and Ilk; and that the way to stop pouring the gook is to invent better alternatives. Alternatives that people will use because they're better and cheaper, both, so that at the end of the move people and their world will all be better off.

The strident part of the climate-change doomsayers don't see it that way, however. The folks I sometimes poke fun at as the Church of Climate Change don't wish us to move forward. They wish us to move backwards: stop flying airplanes, stop eating food that grew or lived further than down the road, sit in the dark - and also, since they've got very bad consciences - the rich world needs to transfer enormous sums of money to the poor. The poor, you see, had great lives until the White Man came along and ruined it all, a crime for which he must now pay.

And of course, the believers in this will themselves be the clergy and power-brokers in this latter day caricature of a religion.

Lest you think I'm inventing any of this, read George Monboit's column from Copenhagen yesterday: "This is bigger than climate change. It is a battle to redefine humanity It's hard for a species used to ever-expanding frontiers, but survival depends on accepting we live within limits."

Humanity is no longer split between conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives, though both sides are informed by the older politics. Today the battle lines are drawn between expanders and restrainers; those who believe that there should be no impediments and those who believe that we must live within limits. The vicious battles we have seen so far between greens and climate change deniers, road safety campaigners and speed freaks, real grassroots groups and corporate-sponsored astroturfers are just the beginning. This war will become much uglier as people kick against the limits that decency demands.

He elaborated in a followup comment:


That is a reactionary position. It says inequalities must stand. The poor shall remain poor and the rich rich.

Perhaps then you could explain why I call for redistribution.

The battle is precisely between those who wish to defend the poorest and weakest people from exploitation and those who wish to rip their lives apart in the pursuit of profit. Is that really so hard to understand, if you don't bend your mind to misunderstanding it?

Monboit is an important journalist. He's a scientist with a PhD and an author. He's not just some bleary-eyed graduate student who hasn't yet confronted the grown up world, nor an elderly blogger who never did. He's more radical than many in his camp, true, but many of them admire him for it. He also dislikes Israel and works at a newspaper that detests Zionism, and this conflation of themes may or may not be a coincidence. Rather not, I think, but that's a topic for a rainier day.

Interestingly, the Economist published a thoughtful rejoinder to Monboiot, five days before his column:

Today “The Leopard” is best-known for a single line: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” It is a fine line, but it is also one that can easily be misinterpreted. Today’s European leaders talk about things changing, but in ways designed to appeal, all too often, to the side of Europe that is old, tired and anxious. Buzzwords of the moment include a “Europe that protects” (a phrase recently used by both President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany). It is a horribly defeatist slogan. What about a Europe that makes its citizens strong, or one that equips them to compete? Europeans can live off their inherited wealth for a bit longer, and many still lead largely enviable lives. There is much that is fine and even noble about Europe, including its ambitions to reduce social inequalities. But Europe’s rivals are young and hungry. The old continent should resist the allure of a genteel surrender.

Ultimately, the Monboits of this world aren't important; human nature is stronger, if not in Europe then in Asia. Yet before the defeatists fade comfortably away, let's remind ourselves that one of the most noble things about humans is that they insist on striving.

Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Olmert's Offer

Olmert's Offer

Olmert and Abbas, back in the days they were both prime ministers, met someting like 35 times (a lot). Their final meeting was on September 16th 2008, when Olmert made Abbas a proposal, and Abbas never returned. Ever since then further details have been seeping out. Yesterday Haaretz carried an interview with Abbas in which he confirmed much of what Olmert has been saying.

"The next day, we started talking about maps. Olmert showed me one map and I brought back one of ours. He showed me a new map and I brought back a map of ours. And so it went. We agreed that 1.9 percent would be with you and Olmert demanded 6.5 percent. It was a negotiation, we didn't complete it. As a shopper enters a store, that's how we held the talks."

Abbas also admits, in a back-handed sort of way, that the talks somehow stopped:

According to Abbas, a few days before Operation Cast Lead, he told then-U.S. president George W. Bush that despite extensive American efforts, the talks had not been completed. "He asked me if it would be all right if on January 3 we sent [chief negotiator] Saeb Erekat, and Israel would send an envoy to complete the talks. But a few days before the departure for Washington, Saeb called Shalom [Turgeman, Olmert's political adviser] and said the situation did not allow it. Everything got stuck."

Neat, isn't that? In mid-December ("a few days before Operation Cast Lead") Abbas confirmed to George Bush that the talks had stopped. Bush tried to restart them, but the Gaza operation interfered. Note, however, that what the Gaza operation interfered with was not the negotiations but rather an attempt by the American president to re-start them. Interventions by American presidents are usually acts of last resort, so the negotiations must have been very stuck well before Gaza - as Olmert has been saying all along, and Abbas now confirms.

Today Haaretz has an article about what parts of Israel Olmert offered to swap in return for the 6.5% of the West Bank he wished to retain:

According to the map proposed by Olmert, which is being made public here for the first time, the future border between Israel and the Gaza Strip would be adjacent to kibbutzim and moshavim such as Be'eri, Kissufim and Nir Oz, whose fields would be given to the Palestinians. Olmert also proposed giving land to a future Palestinian state in the Beit She'an Valley near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi; in the Judean Hills near Nataf and Mevo Betar; and in the area of Lachish and of the Yatir Forest. Together, the areas would have involved the transfer of 327 square kilometers of territory from within the Green Line.

The parts of the West Bank Israel was not going to retain, meaning settlements that would have been dismantled, included famous, large settlements:

The implementation of the Olmert plan would require the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers and the removal of hallmarks of the West Bank settlement enterprise such as Ofra, Beit El, Elon Moreh and Kiryat Arba, as well as the Jewish community in Hebron itself.

Hebron. Remember what I wrote yesterday?

The New York Times yesterday speculated, based upon excellent Israeli sources, that Netanyahu may be seriously considering to adopt positions similar to those of Olmert.

The deal didn't happen last year, and I don't see how it will happen next year, either. Yet it's important to document what was offered and to understand what happened. As this blog often records, the world is full of malicious ignoramusi who prattle endlessly about all the things Israel does wrong, and how its real agenda is to expand, control the Palestinians or get rid of them, and endless variations of this theme. These people cannot be reasoned with, but their audiences do need to be reminded again and again of the facts.

Update: Here's Haaretz' version of the Olmert's map.
Originally postrd by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

ESSER AGAROTH - Judeo-Christian Values?

Esser Agaroth - Judeo-Christian Values?

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