Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Israel Matzav: 'The only country with a will'

'The only country with a will'

As much as I talk like I expect an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, there's a part of me that still believes that at the last moment, the United States will step in and force Iran to halt its nuclear proliferation efforts using something less than an all-out military attack. Intellectually, with the current administration in power, that sort of thing is probably unrealistic. In that context, hearing a former State Department expert on nuclear matters refer to Israel as 'the only country with a will' when it comes to stopping Iran cannot but serve as a wakeup call.

Last week, I asked Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies here, and a former State Department expert on nuclear issues, about where he saw the difficulties converging next year.

He said sanctions by the United States and European Union affecting Iran’s imports of gasoline (the mullahs have oil, but small refining capacities) could be enacted, but he doubted their effectiveness in stopping the Iranian drive towards nukes.

If that is the case, Mr. Fitzpatrick has said “threatening military force” may be the way forward. He told me, “Iran has to know it’s a real possibility.”

This was in the context of circumstances in 2010 that appear particularly sensitive. Mr. Fitzpatrick said if Israel’s obvious red-lines were known to Iran — Iranian expulsion of U.N. nuclear inspectors from its territory or its renunciation the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, for example — the nature of other tripwires that could unleash an attack were deliberately kept unclear by the Israelis.

He believes Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium, which he now estimated as sufficient for one and a half bombs when enriched, “will be the equivalent of three or four sometime next year.”

“When is too much too much?” for the Israelis, he asked. Or, if Iran intends to stop its enrichment and possible weapons work in building a nuke at a so-called breakout level, is that “so close that the Israelis can’t wait?”

Mr. Fitzpatrick is no advocate of an Israeli or American military strike on Iran. But if Israel would attack, he said, “I think Israel’s capacity is not insignificant. If the purpose is to take out Iran’s known enrichment-related facilities, I think Israel can do that.”

A good (and unhappy) guess is that by this time next year, we’ll be wondering when that’s going to happen.

If Mr. Fitzpatrick’s doubts about new sanctions’ inconclusive bite are correct, that pretty much guarantees United States and its European friends entering a contain-and-deter-Iran mode.

But can Iran be deterred?

Probably yes when it comes to actually dropping a bomb. On the other hand, unless the United States makes very clear it won’t stand for Iran producing or having the capacity to produce a nuke, the most likely Iranian response to deterrent noises will be stitching up a shroud of ambiguity to obscure its at-the-edge-of-production capabilities.

That would provide the credulous in the West a safe place to avoid a hard decision; and, if America goes along too, effectively turn the matter over to the Israelis.

Mr. Fitzpatrick had a good phrase for describing this approach. He said it would leave things “to the only country with the will” to make up its mind.

It's a disgrace that the American government is too paralyzed to do anything. There may yet be a price to be paid by it for having contracted the Iranian file out to Israel. But we are rapidly reaching the point of no return.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: 'The only country with a will'

Love of the Land: NGO Report on Gaza: Blaming the Israeli Victims (Again)

NGO Report on Gaza: Blaming the Israeli Victims (Again)


NGO Monitor
22 December 09

A coalition of powerful political NGOs – including Amnesty-UK, Trocaire (Ireland), Finn Church Aid, Diakonia (Sweden), Oxfam, Oxfam-NOVIB (Holland), Cordaid (Holland), Christian Aid (UK) – have issued a report “Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses,” to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Gaza conflict. As in numerous earlier publications on this topic, this report reflects the primacy of advocacy and the biased agendas of organizations claiming to promote “humanitarian aid”.

1) The central thesis of the report -- “primary responsibility lies with Israel” to end the blockade -- repeats the unsupported legal claim that Gaza remains occupied, as well as the false allegation of “collective punishment.” As legal scholars note, Gaza cannot be considered occupied, and economic sanctions are not illegal. These tendentious claims were apparently made in order to condemn Israel and create fictitious obligations.

2) Similarly, these groups blame Israel for ongoing conflict, minimizing the clear responsibility of Hamas for mass terror, and for blatant incitement to violence.

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: NGO Report on Gaza: Blaming the Israeli Victims (Again)

Love of the Land: Seventy Years Ago, Palestinian Arabs Threw Away Chance to Prevent Israel's Creation; Following the Same Policies Today

Seventy Years Ago, Palestinian Arabs Threw Away Chance to Prevent Israel's Creation; Following the Same Policies Today


Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
22 December 09

The greatest opportunity ever to prevent Israel’s creation and instead make the entire land a Palestinian Arab state took place in 1939, specifically on May 17, 1939, seventy years ago.

What is truly remarkable is that the debate at that time and on that specific day was almost precisely identical to the situation on the day you’re reading this article. If you can understand these events, it is possible to comprehend why the conflict has ended this long with no end in sight.

Let’s set the scene. The British knew that another war was on the horizon with Germany and Italy ready to disrupt their control of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Fearful of Arab revolts in alliance with their fascist enemies, London was ready to give lots of concessions to them.

On the Palestine issue, the British government was so desperate that it offered an amazing deal. A single Palestine state (the British had conceded to Arab opposition over the word "federal") would be established in ten years with an Arab majority. Land sales to Jews would be prohibited in most of the country and Jewish immigration would be strictly limited. If the Arabs had agreed, Israel would never have been established. As it was, the British implemented the immigration restrictions any way, dooming hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe to horrible deaths.

But the Arabs in Palestine rejected the proposed political deal to put them in charge of the government with a timetable for turning the country over to them. They walked out of negotiations with Britain, ostensibly over the ten-year waiting period. Most importantly, they believed that their goals could be achieved more quickly and completely through a combination of an Arab uprising and an Axis military victory in the coming war.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Seventy Years Ago, Palestinian Arabs Threw Away Chance to Prevent Israel's Creation; Following the Same Policies Today

Israel Matzav: British choir and its pro-'Palestinian' conductor barred by PA

British choir and its pro-'Palestinian' conductor barred by PA

A British choir and its pro-'Palestinian' conductor have been barred from performing in 'east' Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria by the 'Palestinian Authority' because they are also performing in Israel while they are here.

The choir of Clare College, Cambridge, will be singing Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Israel Camerata Orchestra. But the singers have not, as a choir, been able to perform in East Jerusalem or Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, after a Palestinian protest against the choir's tour of Israel.

The choir has been caught in the passionate arguments over whether Israel should be boycotted.

Tim Brown says he is very disappointed. He had been hoping that the choir could precede its tour of Israel with a visit to St George's Cathedral in East Jerusalem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. They had been invited to sing in both locations by the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem.

But that was before the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign swung into action. The campaign wrote a letter, signed by more than 200 people, asking that the choir cancel its tour of Israel or risk, in their words, "appearing indifferent to Palestinian suffering".

The Palestinian Authority joined in.

According to one of those involved, the PA asked the Bishop of Jerusalem to withdraw the invitation for the choir to sing in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

...

The choir's director says his frustration is borne of what he describes as his own pro-Palestinian stance: he has taught and performed with Palestinian musicians. Mr Brown was very keen for his students to see the West Bank barrier and, as he put it, the "privations" caused by the Israeli occupation.

Betty Hunter, the general secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, says that desire to travel to the West Bank does not excuse the choir's tour of Israel. That tour, she says, is "surprising and shocking" - something which, in her words, "promotes Israel as a normal state rather than one which represses Palestinians".

But give them a 'state' and they'll stop claiming that we 'repress' the people with the highest economic growth rate in the world over the last year.

Right....


Israel Matzav: British choir and its pro-'Palestinian' conductor barred by PA

Israel Matzav: They'll go back to terror, won't they?

They'll go back to terror, won't they?

As Israel contemplates the prospect of releasing anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 terrorists in exchange for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, I'd like to go back to September 2003 and look at a suicide bombing that took place here in Jerusalem.

Let's go to the videotape.



The suicide bomber that night was Ramez Sali Abu Salim. According to the Jerusalem Post,

"In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded," the report said.

One example was the suicide attack in Cafe Hillel in the capital's German Colony neighborhood in 2003, in which seven people were killed including Dr. David Applebaum, head of Emergency Medicine at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and his daughter Nava, who was to have been married the next day.

The bomber, Ramez Sali Abu Salim, from a village near Ramallah, had been released from an Israeli prison seven months earlier. He was sent by the Hamas command in Ramallah to perpetrate the attack.

Salim was far from an isolated case. A report done this past summer by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs shows that more than half of the terrorists released from Israel jails return to terrorism.

* According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as perpetrator, planner, or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded.

* Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. According to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, from the date of the deal on January 29, 2004, until April 17, 2007, those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis.

* An investigation by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids.

In fact, Mr. Salim had been released twice from prison.

The murderer, Ramez Sali Abu Salim, from Rantis, northwest of Ramallah, had been freed from an Israeli prison in 2002. He was rearrested a few months later, but was freed again on February 20, 2003. Seven months later he was sent by the Hamas command in Ramallah to commit a terror attack in the heart of Jerusalem.

Some of you may recall that Nava Appelbaum was a classmate of my eldest daughter. When the Cafe Hillel attack happened, I was in London with that daughter on vacation. I went to an Internet cafe to check my email on the way home from synagogue the morning after the attack, saw that Nava had been murdered, and spent the rest of the day trying to prevent my daughter from finding out. In the evening, before we went to the airport, I left my daughter alone in our hotel room to go to synagogue, and she turned on the Beeb and heard Nava mentioned by name. When I came back to the hotel, my daughter was in shock. She asked if I'd heard that Nava had been murdered in a terror attack. I said that I had and that I had kept it from her, because I wanted her to at least enjoy her last day in London. She was silent the rest of the evening.

We were driven to the airport by an Israeli cousin of mine who works in London during the week. When he is in Israel, he volunteers for Magen David Adom - our equivalent of the Red Cross, which operates most of the ambulances in this country. He knew Dr. Appelbaum well because he had worked with him at Shaare Zedek (as had my daughter in her national service a couple of years earlier). My cousin told us in the car that he got a call from the scene of the bombing. The rescue workers all recognized Dr. Appelbaum but could do nothing to save him. They did try to save Nava, but were not successful.

If God forbid Israel releases hundreds of terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit, how many more Cafe Hillel's will there be? How many more David and Nava Appelbaum's HY"D (may God avenge their blood)? Is that a chance that we as a society ought to be taking? I don't think so.


Israel Matzav: They'll go back to terror, won't they?

Israel Matzav: Will China play along?

Will China play along?

The big question for the last several months has been whether Russia and China will go along with sanctioning Iran once the need to do so becomes obvious to the fools who have to make the decision.

In Paris on Monday, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said that he believes that the Russians are on board and that the Chinese will follow. But China is still resisting.

China signaled resistance to any U.S. and European push for tougher United Nations sanctions on Iran, saying talks aimed at preventing its development of nuclear weapons should be given a chance to succeed.

“We ask for more time to be given and efforts to be made to see if we can reach some sort of breakthrough,” La Yifan, China’s envoy for Security Council and political affairs at the UN, said in an interview yesterday. “The door to diplomatic efforts is not completely slammed yet. Efforts should focus on trying to find a solution to the current impasse.”

When will they stop trying to find a 'solution'? When Iran fires a nuclear weapon?


Israel Matzav: Will China play along?

Elder of Ziyon: Moonbats over Gaza

Elder of Ziyon: Moonbats over Gaza

A Soldier's Mother: A Nation of Soldiers?

A Soldier's Mother: A Nation of Soldiers?

The Torah Revolution: The Shalit alive video illusion

The Torah Revolution: The Shalit alive video illusion

Boycott Victorious... Er... Well...

Boycott Victorious... Er... Well...

The BBC tells the tale of a British Choir that set up a tour of six concerts in Israel, then tried to set some up some additional ones in the West Bank.

Nope. The Palestinians decided to boycott the choir, in spite of the fact that it's director, one Tim Brown, says he's actually on their side:

The choir's director says his frustration is borne of what he describes as his own pro-Palestinian stance: he has taught and performed with Palestinian musicians. Mr Brown was very keen for his students to see the West Bank barrier and, as he put it, the "privations" caused by the Israeli occupation. Betty Hunter, the general secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, says that desire to travel to the West Bank does not excuse the choir's tour of Israel. That tour, she says, is "surprising and shocking" - something which, in her words, "promotes Israel as a normal state rather than one which represses Palestinians".

Jeffrey Goldberg blogs on this from a position of ridicule. Mondoweiss, predictably, approves, calling the story the "boycott's latest victory". A Mondoweiss regular commenter, one "Potsherd",asks why Israel would have the singers in the first place:

Is it not a Jewish State? Is it not busily engaged in purging all aspects of Christianity and its subversive Christmas manifestations? Are its puritan zealots not making war on Santa Claus and Christmas trees, which aren’t Christian at all? How much more so must they purge performances of the music of Bach, which is flagrantly Christian, which mentions. (making me wonder why Bach and not Handel’s Messiah)

You've got to admire these folks' firm grasp on the reality they pontificate about incessantly.

Me, I'm mostly amused. Some of the score keepers seem to have lost their instructions. The purpose of the boycott, if it has one beyond merely being spiteful, is to quarantine Israel, hurt it's economy, and force it into siege. (I think these are the goals). In this particular "victory", the pro-Palestinian choir master and his charges, some of whom may agree with him, will be singing six times before Israeli audiences who may even turn out to be cultured and reasonably human, and they'll not be preforming to any Palestinians. Did I miss something?

PS. The reason, of course, being money. They'll sell far more tickets in six Israeli concerts than in two Palestinian ones. Such an unseemly consideration.

Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Ahmadinejad flips the West the bird

Ahmadinejad flips the West the bird

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scoffed at Western demands that he answer their proposal to compromise on uranium enrichment before year's end.

Iran's president on Tuesday dismissed a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration and the West for Tehran to accept a U.N.-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, and claimed his government is now "10 times stronger" than a year ago.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also accused the U.S. of fabricating a purported Iranian secret document that appears to lay out a plan for developing a critical component of an atomic bomb.

Ahmadinejad's remarks underscored Tehran's defiance in the nuclear standoff - and also sought to send a message that his government has not been weakened by the protest movement sparked by June's disputed presidential election. He spoke a day after the latest opposition protest by tens of thousands mourning a dissident cleric who died over the weekend.

...

The international community can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to thousands of supporters in the southern city of Shiraz.

Ahmadinejad dismissed the threat of sanctions, saying Iran wants talks "under just conditions where there is mutual respect."

"We told you that we are not afraid of sanctions against us, and we are not intimidated," he said, addressing the West. "If Iran wanted to make a bomb, we would be brave enough to tell you."

As the crowd cheered: "We love you, Ahmadinejad," the Iranian leader lashed out at Washington, vowing Iran will stand up against U.S. attempts to "dominate the Middle East."

Meanwhile, the Obama administration and Western diplomats warned Ahmadinejad to take the deadline seriously. Just like the last five deadlines.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Ahmadinejad flips the West the bird

Love of the Land: Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price

Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price


Nadav Shragai
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Published August 2008

(According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as a perpetrator, planner or accomplice.)

The Israeli Cabinet approved on August 17 the release of almost 200 Palestinian security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The list includes several prisoners “with blood on their hands,” who, by definition, were involved in the murder of Israelis.

According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as perpetrator, planner, or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded.

Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. According to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, from the date of the deal on January 29, 2004, until April 17, 2007, those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis.

An investigation by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids.

Another “Goodwill Gesture”

In anticipation of the return to the Middle East of ...

(Read Full Issue Brief)


Love of the Land: Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price

Love of the Land: Oxfam, Amnesty, 14 other charities call for legitimisation of Hamas, produce joint report approving language that says Gazans treated like “animals”

Oxfam, Amnesty, 14 other charities call for legitimisation of Hamas, produce joint report approving language that says Gazans treated like “animals”


Robin Shepherd
Robin Shepherd Online
22 December 09

It is time for a boycott after all. At the end of this piece you will find the names of 16 charities including Amnesty International UK and Oxfam International that have clubbed together to produce a report today about the situation in Gaza which would be laughable if it wasn’t so appalling. Go to their websites, write to their directors and, where appropriate, contact relevant government offices asking to have their charitable status removed. Really. Do it. Here are five reasons why:

1) The report calls for the Middle East Quartet (EU, UN, Russia, United States) to “begin political dialogue with all Palestinian parties”, ending what it calls “the failed policy of non-engagement”.

Sorry, but who do these charities think they are in saying that refusing to legitimise vile anti-Semitic, anti-Western terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad has “failed”? It has certainly failed Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are now more or less contained and lack international legitimacy. I think that’s a good thing. If the charities do not, they should explain themselves.

2) In similar vein, they should be asked to explain why, despite a few pro-forma references to Israel’s security and other references to rockets, their 18 page report failed to mention the words “terrorism”, “terror” or “terrorist” one single time, thus eradicating the context of Israel’s entire Gaza policy. Was this a product of ignorance, bigotry or both?

Read the rest of this entry »

Love of the Land: Oxfam, Amnesty, 14 other charities call for legitimisation of Hamas, produce joint report approving language that says Gazans treated like “animals”

Love of the Land: Dishonest Reporter Award 2009

Dishonest Reporter Award 2009

Honest Reporting
Media Critique
22 December 09

Our annual recognition of the most skewed and biased coverage of the Mideast conflict.

This year, a four-letter word dominated coverage of Israel on a near-daily basis.

Gaza.

The war -- which began at the end of December in response to increased Palestinian rocket fire -- ended on the 20th day of the year.

The media war was dizzying. A prominent Greek weekly called Jews "Christ killers." Hamas terror leaders got soapboxes in prominent US and Britishpapers. BBC Arabic hosted a wonk who justified the death of Israeli kids. Canadian and Aussiereporters had close calls with Qassams; Israelrestricted media access to Gaza in large part because of the Hamas "CNN strategy." Al-Aqsa TV writers killed off Assud the Rabbit. And when Hamas fired a rocket from a foreign press building, an Al-Arabiya journalist's delighted reaction was caught on camera for YouTube posterity.

Perhaps the most definitive example of the spin games Israel confronted in the mainstream media was from South African editor Mondli Makhanya and his pernicious portrayal of Israel:

Israel's response to the "provocation" amounted to a steroid-pumped heavyweight boxer arriving to fight an anaemic midget armed with steel-lined boxing gloves.

All that was just January.


Love of the Land: Dishonest Reporter Award 2009

Love of the Land: Shhh…Mubarak is building a wall

Shhh…Mubarak is building a wall


Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
22 December 09

For years, the Egyptians have been strongly condemning Israel for erecting the security fence in the West Bank. But now Egypt is quietly building its own wall along its border with the Gaza Strip and does not want to hear any complaints.

The Israeli barrier was built with the chief goal of halting suicide bombings and other terror activities against Israelis. The Egyptian fence, on the other hand, is being constructed to stop Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip from entering Egypt.

Many Palestinians can still understand why Israel does not want to open its border with the Gaza Strip. But the majority cannot understand why Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the rest of the Arab leaders are keeping them locked inside the tiny, overcrowded and poverty-stricken area known as the Gaza Strip.

Israel does not want to reopen its borders with the Gaza Strip and that is regrettable and painful, but also understandable. But what one cannot understand is the negative attitude of the Egyptians and the rest of the Arab regimes toward the misery of their Palestinian brothers. Mubarak and the rest of the Arab dictators should be helping the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and not choking them.

By keeping the border crossings shut and now building the metal wall along the border with the Gaza Strip, Mubarak is in fact sending the Palestinians to knock on Israel’s door for help. By now it should be clear that the Arab rulers want the Gaza Strip to remain Israel’s problem alone.

The millions of dollars that are being invested in the construction of the new wall could have built hospitals and schools and created job opportunities for the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. Half a billion dollars could even have solved the severe housing crisis in that area.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Shhh…Mubarak is building a wall

Israel Matzav: The imaginary invitation to the imaginary ambassador to the imaginary country

The imaginary invitation to the imaginary ambassador to the imaginary country

Over the weekend, the Washington Post profiled Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the couple that crashed President Obama's first state dinner. The profile includes this little tidbit toward the end (Hat Tip: Shmuel Rosner):

The Salahis continued to live large. Gregory Wooddell drove for them in the run-up to this spring's polo cup, mostly driving Michaele; he says they still owe him for several weeks' work as well as out-of-pocket expenses. "She'd take me to lunch and Starbucks," he says, and tell him that Tareq worked for the government in an important job. "A few weeks later it was, 'He's going to be appointed ambassador -- he can choose what ambassadorship he wants, and he chose ambassador to Palestine.' " A spokesman for the U.S. State Department confirms that there is no ambassador to Palestine.

For those who take the time to read the entire profile, you will find that the Salahi's share something in common with the President: They're one great big fraud.

Israel Matzav: The imaginary invitation to the imaginary ambassador to the imaginary country

Israel Matzav: Carter shlogs al cheit

Carter shlogs al cheit

In Yiddish, shlogging al cheit refers to beating one's breast and saying mea culpa (I am guilty). It's a term that's sometimes thrown about lightly, because admitting one's guilt is only the first step of five on the road to repentance. Maimonides identifies five phases: Recognizing that one has sinned, confessing the sin, leaving the sin, regretting the sin, and undertaking not to sin in the future. Confessing when one doesn't recognize that one has sinned is meaningless and does not count. Full repentance means going through all five steps and then resisting the temptation when it presents itself again.

With that in mind, the JPost reports that Jimmy Carter has apologized to the Jewish people for any stigma he may have caused Israel.

In a letter released exclusively to JTA, the former US president sent a seasonal message wishing for peace between Israel and its neighbors, and concluded: "We must recognize Israel's achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."

Only God knows what's in people's hearts and whether Carter has truly regrets what he has done to this country, let alone whether his confession is sincere and whether he will repeat his past sins in the future.

But color me skeptical.

Haaretz carries the exact same story. But don't wait for them to shlog al cheit. They know better than the rest of us.


Israel Matzav: Carter shlogs al cheit

Love of the Land: How Carter Can Get Forgiveness

How Carter Can Get Forgiveness

TS
CAMERA/Snapshots
22 December 09

Carter asks for forgiveness.jpg

Ha'aretz reports that Former President Jimmy Carter has asked American Jews for forgiveness for "stigmatizing Israel":

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has apologized to the American Jewish community for 'stigmatizing Israel' and asked for forgiveness for his actions, the JTA reported on Monday.

"We must recognize Israel's achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter wrote in a letter to the JTA.

"As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so," Carter wrote, referring to the prayer said on Yom Kippur in which Jews ask God for forgiveness for any sins.

According to the Jewish concept of repentance, words are not enough. A change ...

(Continue post)


Love of the Land: How Carter Can Get Forgiveness

Israel Matzav: Polish radio: Arbet macht frei sign was headed to Sweden

Polish radio: Arbet macht frei sign was headed to Sweden

Polish radio reported on Tuesday that the arbet macht frei (work makes you free) sign that was stolen from the Auschwitz concentration camp earlier this week was headed for Sweden.

The suspected thieves of the Arbeit Macht Frei ("Work Sets You Free") from the Auschwitz death camp in Poland planned on smuggling the metal sign on a ferry to Sweden, according to a report by Polish state radio Tuesday.

According to the report, the sign was destined for a Swedish citizen. It remains unclear whether or not the Swede was a middle man or the person who commissioned the theft. The Polish police declined comment and would not confirm or deny the report.

Maybe the Swedes want to open their own concentration camp.

By the way, according to some of the people in the group I was with last night, with the exception of Swedish President Prime Minister Reinfeldt and his Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (pictured), the rest of the ruling coalition is actually not as bad as the opposition there. The Swedish opposition is even worse than the ruling coalition.

Israel Matzav: Polish radio: Arbet macht frei sign was headed to Sweden

Israel Matzav: Adding insult to injury

Adding insult to injury

A 'Palestinian' report indicates that Hamas is demanding the release of the body of one of Gilad Shalit's abductors as part of the 'terrorists for Gilad' exchange that is likely to happen over the next few days.

The family of a Palestinian fighter killed in the operation that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit said on Monday that it wants his body to be returned in a potential prisoner exchange.

Speaking on behalf of the Farwana family, Abdul Nasser Farwana, himself a former prisoner, urged Shalits captors to demand the return of the remains of Muhammad Farwana, who was killed during the 25 June 2006 raid on a military position near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The call came amid news reports that Israel and Palestinian factions led by Hamas could be getting closer to a deal. The captors are insisting on the release of some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

Muhammad Farwana, 23, was a member of the Army of Islam, one of the factions that participated in the 2006 raid, which they dubbed Operation Scattered Illusions.

Abdul Nasser Farwana said that during the operation, his cousin was wounded, and chose to stay and cover the other militants who escaped back to Gaza with Shalit. He later died, and the Israeli government still holds the body.

He added that the family wants to recover the body and bury it according to Islamic tradition.

I'd bury the body in pigskin.

Israel Matzav: Adding insult to injury

Israel Matzav: If there were 'Palestinian elections'....

If there were 'Palestinian elections'....

If there were 'Palestinian elections' today and anyone could run, there is one man whom the 'Palestinians' would overwhelmingly vote to elect. Surprise: He's a murderer serving five consecutive life terms in an Israeli prison. His name is Marwan Barghouti.

The latest survey of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, headed by Khalil Shikaki, found that most Palestinians would not mind if Abbas retired; they think his talk of doing so is mere posturing.

Sixty-one percent of Palestinians say that Fatah and Hamas are jointly responsible for the continued split within the Palestinian polity. Reuniting the West Bank with Gaza is the Palestinians' top priority, with most saying this goal is more important than maintaining the cease-fire with Israel.

At the same time, if elections were held today, Abbas would receive the support of 54% of the Palestinian electorate compared to Ismail Haniyeh's 38%. Haniyeh's overall popularity among Gazans stands at 43% - not much lower than President Barack Obama's among Americans (49%).

But roughly 40% of eligible voters say - given a choice between Haniyeh and Abbas - they'd stay home.

What if younger blood were injected in the race? What if the man Yasser Arafat entrusted with running Fatah's terror campaign under the Tanzim brand were the moderates' standard bearer? Answer: Marwan Barghouti would take 67% of the ballots compared to 28% for Ismail Haniyeh - while participation would shoot up to 73%.

There are some Israelis - let alone Americans and Europeans - who look at those numbers and say that we ought to let Barghouti out of jail to run for President of the 'Palestinian Authority.' They are wrong. The 'Palestinians' want Barghouti because they know that unlike Abu Mazen, he would resort to violence to get what he wants from Israel. And unlike Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas, Barghouti would not make the women walk around in burkas and turn the 'Palestinian Authority' into an Islamic Caliphate.

FROM AN Israeli viewpoint, the heartbreak is that despite a massive investment of resources by the EU and US, accompanied by essential Israeli cooperation, the relatively well-off West Bankers hanker after the imprisoned Barghouti, partly because he refuses to rule out a third paroxysm of violence.

The core attitudes of West Bankers and comparatively deprived Gazans are not poles apart, with so many believing that violence pays. Economic well-being, then, does not obviate political frustration.

Tragically, Palestinian "moderates" are doing precious little to lessen the dissatisfaction of their people, because they have failed to candidly discuss the compromises necessary to achieve viable aspirations.

Why is that? I believe that there are two reasons.

First, because the 'leadership' doesn't have the popular support to tell people things they do not want to hear. In America, the public doesn't want to hear that the President is going to raise taxes, but the American political system survives that trauma when it has to. In Israel, the public doesn't want to hear that we have to go to war again, but our system survives that trauma when it has to. But the 'Palestinian' leadership is afraid what the reaction would be if it started to breach the notion that it's necessary to compromise with Israel. And whether that fear is justified or not, the 'Palestinian' leadership isn't going to take the chance to find out.

Second, the 'Palestinians' and their leadership have no incentive to either prepare their 'people' for compromise or to actually compromise because they have been taught that intransigence pays. It's been 16 years since Oslo. The 'Palestinians' have not budged one iota, while Israel has repeatedly backpedaled. Compare, for example, Yitzhak Rabin's last speech in the Knesset before he was assassinated with the positions of today's Israeli government. We have gone backward. And it has cost the 'Palestinians' nothing. If anything, the world is even more in their corner, more willing to hammer away at us, and more willing to support them financially if not militarily. So why should they compromise? And if they don't expect to have to compromise, why should they prepare their people for compromise?

I mentioned recently a quote from Nobel Prize Winning Professor Yisrael Aumann, an expert in game theory, which I saw in George Gilder's The Israel Test. Aumann says that paradoxically, the more willingness Israel shows to compromise, the more the 'Palestinians' demand and the further away from peace we get. Maybe it's time for a change? Let's start by keeping Marwan Barghouti in jail where he belongs.


Israel Matzav: If there were 'Palestinian elections'....

Israel Matzav: Shmuel Sackett responds to Yaakov Katz

Shmuel Sackett responds to Yaakov Katz

Last week, I did a post in which Yaakov Katz (Ketzeleh), the head of the National Union party, was quoted as criticizing Moshe Feiglin for facilitating Binyamin Netanyahu's becoming Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, National Union's Yaakov Katz (Ketzelah) used the occasion to attack Moshe Feiglin for his association with the Likud.

National Union chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) said Sunday that the situation now faced by residents of Judea and Samaria, against whom the IDF is preparing to take drastic action to enforce Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's building freeze, is a direct result of the actions and philosophy of Likud activist Moshe Feiglin. "This is the failure of Feiglinism," MK Katz said, adding that Feiglin, who was determined to change the Likud from within, had paved the way for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to undertake the Gaza disengagement – and was doing the same for Netanyahu.

"Feiglin helped Netanyahu get elected, and the 'good' representatives who are supporting him out of fear that the weak Prime Minister will fall, are enabling Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is fighting for his political life, to commit crimes against the Jewish people and its spirit. We should not expect anything good to grow from the detritus of the Likud," MK Katz said.

If there's been any reaction from Feiglin, I have not seen it yet.

Now, there's a reaction from Moshe Feiglin - actually from his deputy Shmuel Sackett (pictured). One of my readers who is a representative of Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) forwarded that post to Feiglin, and I got this in response.

Anyway, instead of commenting on your blog, I forwarded your blog entry to Moshe Feiglin and suggested he respond. Moshe is way too busy, but he did send me the following response from Shmuel Sackett, who personally approved of me publicizing it, as long as it's reproduced verbatim.

Here's Sackett's full reply:

Immediately after this year’s Knesset elections (just 10 months ago), President Shimon Peres met with EVERY party in the Knesset and asked them one question:

“Who, if anybody, should I give the first chance to form a government?”

The National Union met with President Peres and recommended that Bibi Netanyahu be given the chance to form a government.

Allow me to repeat that – in different words:

Ketzale and the members of his NU party: Ariel, Eldad and Ben-Ari, asked that BIBI BE THE NEXT PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL!!!

That is point #1.

Without going into all the details, EVERY media source in Israel agrees that because of what Bibi did to Feiglin, Likud LOST 10-12 SEATS IN THE KNESSET!!!

Based on that, Ketzale should be THANKING Feiglin for making the Likud WEAKER!!!!!!

That is point #2.

Before Bibi started playing around with Feiglin’s spot on the Likud list, all election polls showed that neither Hershkowitz’s “Jewish Home” party nor Ketzale’s “National Union” party would pass the minimum threshold for votes needed to get Knesset seats. When Bibi succeeded in pushing Feiglin down 16 spots on the Likud list, the public responded by giving 3 seats to “Jewish Home”, 4 seats to “National Union” and 4-5 more seats to “Yisrael Beitenu” (Lieberman’s party). These three parties need to send “Thank You Letters” to Moshe Feiglin!!!

That is point #3.

And finally, there is only ONE MAN in the world today who keeps Bibi up at night, drives up his blood pressure and makes him totally nuts. There is only ONE MAN in the world today that caused Bibi to end his family’s summer vacation in the middle in order to have an emergency meeting with his Deputy Prime Minister (Boogey Ya’alon) after that Deputy Prime Minister committed a “crime” of meeting with some of his supporters. There is only ONE MAN who forces Bibi’s hand in the Central Committee, defeats him time and again in the Likud court and grabs enormous public attention away from King Bibi all of the time. The name of that man? Well, it’s NOT Ketzale, Marzel, Eidelberg or Rabbi Melamed. It’s not even – L’havdil – Obama, Ahamadinejad, Assad or Mubarak. It’s Moshe Feiglin.

That is point #4.

Tell Ketzale that we love him dearly, respect him tremendously for all that he has done for our people and think that he is a true Jewish hero… but on THIS POINT, he is TOTALLY mistaken and 100% wrong. We need to work TOGETHER to change the leadership and that can ONLY be done within the Likud party.

Allow me to end with this last question: Every body told me that Barak Obama ran an incredible presidential campaign; Internet, YouTube, slogans like “Change” and “Hope” etc… Had he run the EXACT campaign – word for word and dollar for dollar – NOT as the Democratic candidate but as an Independent candidate – would he be president today??????

For some unknown reason, in order to become president of the USA, you have to be either Republican or Democrat. That is some kind of “unwritten rule” and will probably not change for the next 50 years. Israel works the same way. If you come from the “national camp” and want to be the Prime Minister, you MUST FIRST rise to a leadership position within Likud. This is why we are there. Ariel Sharon came from Likud and so did Olmert and Livni. Lieberman was General Manager of Likud. Like it or not, the Likud is the incubator for leadership in Israel and if you want to lead Israel – something that Moshe Feiglin truly wants to do – you MUST do it through Likud.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to respond.

With love of Israel,

Shmuel

The links within Shmuel's message are my blog posts of the events he's referring to and reflect my opinion and not his or Moshe Feiglin's. I put them in case anyone was not familiar with the incidents described.

It will be interesting to see whether I get a response from Ketzeleh's camp. I don't think points 1-4 are subject to dispute.

I asked the person who sent me Sackett's response:

I'm curious: IF Moshe and Shmuel headed a party rather than being a faction within the Likud, or if for some other reason they were in the position of having to recommend someone to Peres to form the government, what would they have done? Recommend no one?

Here's what Sackett said:

After Bibi lost to Livni in the last elections, Moshe Feiglin went on the public record and said that Bibi should NOT be the one entitled to setting up the next government.

-Shmuel

He may not have been entitled to it, but I believe we would have been worse off with Livni in charge. Livni would have gotten along better with Obama, but she would have continued on the same path that she was on under Olmert.

But yes, I will be happy to see Manhigut Yehudit take over the Likud (and I think I have mentioned before on this blog that I am a member).

Maybe next time.


Israel Matzav: Shmuel Sackett responds to Yaakov Katz

Israel Matzav: Inviting the next kidnapping

Inviting the next kidnapping

As the government gives orders to its negotiators to move ahead on a deal that will release 1500-2000 terrorists in exchange for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, the 'Palestinians' conclude that kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians is a valid strategy that yields positive results. And so, the 'Palestinians' look at a mass release of terrorists not as the end of one kidnapping, but as the beginning of the next one.

This PMW Special Report includes 50 Palestinian statements concerning the Palestinian kidnapping-for-hostage policy. The statements cover the period since the release of 1000 terrorists by Israel in exchange for a kidnapped Israeli in 2004, until the current negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit in December 2009. These Palestinian statements document that the Palestinian motivation and justification today for continued kidnappings is the direct result of the earlier prisoner releases.

Israel's release of prisoners in exchange for hostages is not seen by Palestinian society as merely the last stage of one kidnapping, but as the first stage of the next kidnapping.

...

Due to Israel's willingness to release Palestinian terrorists from jail in exchange for freeing kidnapped and imprisoned Israeli hostages, Palestinians have concluded that kidnapping-for-hostage is a valid strategy to achieve the release of additional Palestinian terrorists. This report documents that these opinions are found across the political spectrum and among the Palestinian leadership, both Fatah and Hamas.

Read the whole thing.

Who will be the next kidnapping victim?

Who will be the first victims of a terror attack carried out by one of the freed terrorists?

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak disavowed a statement by a 'senior person in the Prime Minister's office' that accused IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi of behaving like the chairman of the soldiers' parents' committee. While I can understand parents pushing for their own child's release, the government ought to have a broader view and keep the general public's interest at heart. While Ashkenazi may deem his first loyalty to be to the IDF, he's wrong. His first loyalty ought to be to the people of Israel.

As I am typing this, Israel Radio is reporting that Hamas is already drafting its victory statement. Sickening.

Reuters and the BBC Arabic service are reporting that the German intermediary is now in Gaza meeting with Hamas. It looks like this 'deal' is going to happen. What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Inviting the next kidnapping

Israel Matzav: CIA linked to 'Palestinian Authority' torture

CIA linked to 'Palestinian Authority' torture

A report in London's Guardian over the weekend says that the CIA is helping the 'Palestinian Authority' to torture Hamas prisoners.

The relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved – Preventive Security Organisation (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) – is said by some western diplomats and other officials in the region to be so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians' work.

One senior western official said: "The [Central Intelligence] Agency consider them as their property, those two Palestinian services." A diplomatic source added that US influence over the agencies was so great they could be considered "an advanced arm of the war on terror".

While the CIA and the Palestinian Authority (PA) deny the US agency controls its Palestinian counterparts, neither denies that they interact closely in the West Bank. Details of that co-operation are emerging as some human rights organisations are beginning to question whether US intelligence agencies may be turning a blind eye to abusive interrogations conducted by other countries' intelligence agencies with whom they are working. According to the Palestinian watchdog al-Haq, human rights in the West Bank and Gaza have "gravely deteriorated due to the spreading violations committed by Palestinian actors" this year.

...

The most common complaint is that detainees are severely beaten and subjected to a torture known as shabeh, during which they are shackled and forced to assume painful positions for long periods. There have also been reports of sleep deprivation, and of large numbers of detainees being crammed into small cells to prevent rest. Instead of being brought before civilian courts, almost all the detainees enter a system of military justice under which they need not be brought before a court for six months.

According to PA officials, between 400 and 500 Hamas sympathisers are held by the PSO and GI.

...

While there is no evidence that the CIA has been commissioning such mistreatment, human rights activists say it would end promptly if US pressure was brought to bear on the Palestinian authorities.

Shawan Jabarin, general director of al-Haq, said: "The Americans could stop it any time. All they would have to do is go to [prime minister] Salam Fayyad and tell him they were making it an issue.. Then they could deal with the specifics: they could tell him that detainees needed to be brought promptly before the courts."

A diplomat in the region said "at the very least" US intelligence officers were aware of the torture and not doing enough to stop it. He added: "There are a number of questions for the US administration: what is their objective, what are their rules of engagement? Do they train the GI and PSO according to the manual which was established by the previous administration, including water-boarding? Are they in control, or are they just witnessing?"

...

The CIA does not deny working with the PSO and GI in the West Bank, although it will not say what use it has made of intelligence extracted during the interrogation of Hamas supporters. But it denies turning what one official described as "a Nelson's eye to abuse".

The CIA's spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, denied it played a supervisory role over the PSO or GI. "The notion that this agency somehow runs other intelligence services … is simply wrong," he said. "The CIA … only supports, and is interested in, lawful methods that produce sound intelligence."

While the CIA should definitely not be complicit about this, I'm not sure they can stop the abuse even if they want to. Abusing political rivals is part of the 'Palestinian culture' - think about some of the stories that came out of Gaza when Hamas first took over.

There's a long way to go to tame these savages and the train hasn't even left the station yet. But hey - let's give them a 'state' anyway. What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: CIA linked to 'Palestinian Authority' torture

Israel Matzav: Will the Jews vote Obama in 2012?

Will the Jews vote Obama in 2012?

Jason Maoz argues that American Jews are likely to vote overwhelmingly for Barack Hussein Obama in 2012, just as they did in 2008.

Come November, however, Reagan actually ended up losing significant ground among Jewish voters. “Exit polls taken the day of the election,” wrote Charles Silberman in his 1985 book A Certain People, “indicated that no more than 35 percent of American Jews, and perhaps as few as 31 percent, had voted for Reagan; the Jewish vote for Mondale was put at 65-69 percent … analysis of the polls indicated that between 25 and 35 percent of the Jews who had voted for Reagan in 1980 switched to Mondale in 1984.”

It seems that Reagan’s increasingly vocal embrace of the New — specifically, the Christian — Right scared Jews more than anything said by either Jackson or Farrakhan. Nearly 80 percent of Jews had an unfavorable opinion of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the most visible face of the Christian Right (never mind that Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had presented Falwell with the Jabotinsky Prize in recognition of his strong support of the Jewish state). In fact, Silberman noted, “more Jewish voters indicated an unfavorable opinion of Falwell than of Jesse Jackson.”

The historian Stephen Whitfield elaborated on that point in 1986, writing: “The rise of the New Right has been more disturbing to Jews than the circulation within the Democratic Party of Third World sympathies that collide with Israeli interests.”

How does all this relate to Obama and Jewish support? For one thing, the Republican party’s identification with the Christian Right is immeasurably stronger today than it was 25 years ago, making it unlikely that liberal or moderate Jews will find a comfort level with the GOP anytime soon. For another, the current generation of American Jews is not nearly as supportive of Israel and Israeli policies as were their parents and grandparents — and support for Israel was the one factor that in the past might have swayed some liberal Jews to vote for a Republican.

Unfortunately, Maoz is probably correct. The only ways this could change would be if (God forbid) Iran attacks Israel (in which case Obama will have bigger problems than the Jewish vote), or if the Republicans chose someone who is Republican in name only centrist (which is unlikely given John McCain's loss in 2008).

While it's very unlikely that most 'American Israelis' will vote for Obama, the large majority of American Jewry that imbibes the Democratic party with its mothers' milk is unlikely to vote for anyone else.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Will the Jews vote Obama in 2012?

Israel Matzav: Suicide bombing coming to Britain?

Suicide bombing coming to Britain?

I wonder how many more 'misguided Muslims' like this guy are wandering around London.

A 30-year-old Albanian Muslim who wanted to see Jews killed has been convicted of terror offences after Hizbollah instruction manuals on making missiles and suicide bomb belts were found in his home.

Krena Lusha, from Derby, was jailed for seven years on Tuesday at Preston Crown Court for five counts of possessing items connected with terrorism. These included petrol, Hizbollah military instruction manuals on how to make detonators, explosives, a missile and a suicide bomber belt, and a video entitled Mobile Detonators.

On Lusha’s computer were video clips of live beheadings of hostages or prisoners, exploded US military vehicles and ideological material from organisations promoting violent jihad. He told people on a chatline that he wanted to see Jews and Americans killed.

And if any of you in the US still oppose efforts to deal with illegal immigration, please consider this:

Lusha, who entered the UK in 2000 concealed in a lorry, was sentenced to five concurrent jail sentences of seven years each and will be returned to Albania thereafter.

But he's lived in Britain for nine years. What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Suicide bombing coming to Britain?

Israel Matzav: How to beat the UK's labeling rules

How to beat the UK's labeling rules

As I have reported previously, Britain has demanded that goods from Judea, Samaria and Gaza be labeled as such, piously asserting that this is a question of consumer choice and not a boycott. I also noted a suggestion that Israel boycott British goods in return. Here's another response to the British boycott that's a bit less directly confrontational than a boycott:

On December 10, the department for the environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) published new guidance to shops and supermarkets on the labelling of produce sold in the UK that originated from Judea and Samaria. Hitherto, such goods have been labelled as “Produce of the West Bank.” Henceforth, warned DEFRA, they should be branded either as “Palestinian Produce” or “Israeli Settlement Produce.”

A spokesman for UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband wasted no time in explaining that “this is emphatically not about calling for a boycott of Israel. We believe that would do nothing to advance the peace process. We oppose any such boycott of Israel. We believe consumers should be able to choose for themselves what produce they buy.” But, he added ominously: “we have been very clear, both in public and in private, that settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace.” And in an announcement (hilariously labelled “technical advice”) quite separate from its new guidance on labelling, DEFRA’s head, Hilary Benn, warned that UK food outlets would be committing a criminal offence if they labelled produce that originated in Judea and Samaria as “produce of Israel”.

Although it is being sold as nothing more than an aid to consumer choice, this spiteful policy looks very much like a boycott invitation to me.

My recommendation to the government of Israel is to take appropriate steps to frustrate the intentions of Messrs Miliband and Benn, and to refuse absolutely to label produce from Judea and Samaria other than as originating from Israel. This could perhaps be done by re-routing produce through distribution points within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

Of course, the time to take that position would have been several years ago when Britain insisted on labeling 'West Bank' produce separately. But rolling back that mistake would not be a bad idea. There's a risk that Britain could respond by saying that they won't allow Israeli produce in at all. But if Israel has the intestinal fortitude to act, it could shut down the Gaza flower sale in response to that. A George Galloway convoy wouldn't get the flowers to the continent in time.

Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: How to beat the UK's labeling rules

Israel Matzav: Assad's gain is a loss for all of us

Assad's gain is a loss for all of us

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - a man he once accused of 'trading in blood' - on Saturday, in a stunning victory for the Syrian and a loss for the West.

In Lebanon, the Hezbollah-led “resistance camp” indeed lost the elections, but who even remembers the results by now? Hezbollah is a full partner in the unity government, it maintained its military power, and it holds a veto power – in practice if not officially.

Another step in the warming up ties between Syrian and the Lebanese anti-Syrian camp took place in recent days, after the death of Bashar’s brother, Majd Assad. Messages of condolence were pouring to Damascus, including some on behalf of al-Hariri himself. Finally, al-Hariri did what many previous PMs and presidents in Lebanon did before him – he traveled to the palace in Damascus in order to receive its blessing.

If we take into account al-Hariri’s personal circumstances, the visit constitutes true capitulation to Assad. Al-Hariri embarked on his political career immediately upon his father’s assasination while uniting his camp against the presidential palace in Damascus. He spoke out against Assad and accused him of “trading in blood” – Hariri’s political allies referred to the Syrian president as a “mafia don.”

Ever since the assassination, the al-Hariri camp was greatly expecting the international report on the killing to convict Assad. Yet just after he took power in Lebanon, Hariri now chose to travel to Damascus himself – not even send an envoy, as previous PM Fouad Siniora did. In fact, by doing so Hariri pledged allegiance to Assad and granted Syria the kosher stamp allowing it to again rule Lebanon.

All of this goes on despite Syria's housing just about every terror organization under the sun, its support for Iran, and its obdurate insistence on gaining every last inch of the Golan in return for nothing. And the dhimmis in Washington and Paris (in particular) act is if nothing has happened.

What could go wrong?

UPDATE 11:45 AM

At Contentions, Jonathan Tobin adds:

According to the New York Times, the failure of Harriri to maintain his country’s independence is due to one major difference between 2005 and 2009: “since then, the United States and the West have chosen to engage with Syria, not isolate it.” As a result, those who thought they had the West’s backing for resisting the thugs of Damascus have been forced to swallow their pride and swear loyalty to Assad in order to save their lives.

All of which means that we can chalk up another defeat for the United States that can be put at the feet of Barack Obama’s fetish for diplomacy for its own sake. Like the opposition in Iran, the pro-independence Lebanese have been left in the lurch while Washington fecklessly pursues deals with dictators who have no intention of playing ball. And why should they, given the administration’s distaste for confrontations and its inability to rally international support for action on behalf of either a nuclear-free Iran or a free Lebanon?

It is worth recalling that back in the fall of 2008, when Joe Biden and Sarah Palin met for the vice-presidential nominees’ debate, Biden committed a gaffe when he claimed that Hezbollah had already been kicked out of Lebanon. Palin didn’t pick up on this blooper, and Biden escaped the derision he deserved for a passage in which he claimed that the best solution for Lebanon was a NATO intervention (had Palin committed such a blunder, she would never have heard the end of it). Biden probably meant Syria when he said Hezbollah, and his intention was to claim that Bush’s policies had failed in Lebanon because of Hezbollah’s revival. But as much as it should be conceded that Bush failed to sufficiently follow up on the Cedar Revolution, we now see what a year of the Obama-Biden administration has achieved in the region.

Their blind belief in engagement, as well as increased pressure on Israel, has emboldened both Syria and Iran. Those wishing to see what kind of difference Obama has made in the Middle East need only regard the wince-inducing spectacle of Saad Harriri bowing to Assad. The consequences of American engagement are not a pretty sight.

Indeed.


Israel Matzav: Assad's gain is a loss for all of us
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