Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Love of the Land: Competitors try to close down new Israeli Daily

Competitors try to close down new Israeli Daily

Isi Leibler
Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem
23 December 09

Until recently, the Israeli Hebrew media was dominated by three daily newspapers. The most sophisticated daily, Haaretz, known for its far left post-Zionist agenda has a small circulation but is widely read by opinion makers.

But the market has until recently been dominated by two tabloids, Yediot Achronot and Maariv, both of which have a penchant for sensationalism.

Two years ago, a new newspaper appeared on the scene. Yisrael Hayom*. It recruited some of the best journalists, but many predicted that a paper circulated for free which based its income exclusively on advertising would not succeed. All the more so, in an environment when newspapers in Israel and throughout the rest of the world underwent difficulties as the Internet began intruding into their market and the global financial meltdown was making its impact.

But, contrary to expectations, Yisrael Hayom grew from strength to strength and has revolutionized the entire newspaper industry. Already today, it enjoys Israel’s second largest circulation and is likely to overtake the leader Yediot Achronot in the near future.

The paper was launched by US business tycoon Sheldon Adelson, one of the most generous Jewish philanthropists of our time who has distributed unprecedented amounts of money for various social causes in Israel as well as becoming the largest donor to Birthright.

The success of the newspaper is reflected in the fact that both Yediot Achronot and Maariv in desperation approached various parliamentarians beholden to them and attempted to block the newspaper by introducing legislation making it illegal for nonresidents to publish an Israeli daily newspaper.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Competitors try to close down new Israeli Daily

Love of the Land: Deficiencies of a Ba’athist State

Deficiencies of a Ba’athist State

Farid Ghadry
Farid Ghadry Blog
23 December 09

Within the Syrian opposition, there is gayety in the air. It has nothing to do with the usual ingredients one witnesses in the normal course of our business such as international support or strong unity between the different groups but rather it have to do with Assad himself and the Ba’athist propaganda in general.

Confidence is like a shot in the arm of a sick patient but over confidence is like an overdose of narcotics. That’s exactly what the Syrian dissident community discerns today: An aplomb Assad stepping on landmines oblivious to the danger because of an overdose of self-induced confidence.

From observable and consistent signals that we, in the opposition, perceive either through planted regime operatives or through hired pens writing in Blogs, we can detect nuances with a long tale to tell. Not too dissimilar from a detective expert in reading body language to discern the truth from the lies.

In the Ba’athist ideology in general, much goes wrong and very little is successful when it comes to governance. Ba’athism is 90% propaganda and 10% truth. Up until the 80’s, to many Syrians the ‘67 war with Israel was won by Syria. The regime is continuously forced to respond with lies, half-truths, and total fabrications (i.e. Amb. Imad Mustapha) just so it enamors itself into believing of its right cause and more so to confuse the public-at-large into believing that the Ba’athist ideology is a successful socio-economic experiment.

In almost scientific fashion, as one compares the Syrian propaganda with the reality or the misinformation planted by western journalists — whose task is to shore-up the useful idiots in the Middle East — one can quickly read between the lines of every issued press release, interview, and newspaper articles. Sometimes, we get it wrong when the government actually tells a truth, which is very rare considering how easy it is for the problems to pile upon a society with little resources and whose aim is to control the population very much the epicenter of what renders a country successful.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Deficiencies of a Ba’athist State

Israel Matzav: Bin Laden's family in Iran

Bin Laden's family in Iran

Well this closes the terror circle pretty neatly. Osama Bin Laden's family is hiding out in Iran.

Osama bin Laden’s closest relatives are living in a secret compound in Iran, members of the family said last night. They include a wife and children who disappeared from his Afghan camp at the time of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

There has been uncertainty about the family’s whereabouts for the past eight years, with reports that some of the children had been killed in bombings, while others had joined their father in planning terrorist attacks. However, relatives said that they found out last month that the group, including one of Osama’s wives, six of his children and 11 of his grandchildren, had been kept in a high-security compound outside Tehran.

They have been prevented from contacting the outside world while Iran has repeatedly denied that any of the relatives were living in the country.

Members of the bin Laden family are now appealing for the group to be allowed to leave Iran and described them as the “forgotten victims of 9/11”.

Victims? Give me a break....

Omar Ossama bin Laden, 29, the al-Qaeda leader’s fourth-eldest son, said he had no idea that his brothers and sisters were still alive until they called him in November. They told him how they had fled Afghanistan just before the 9/11 attacks and walked to the Iranian border. They were taken to a walled compound outside Tehran where guards said they were not allowed to leave “for their own safety”. The eldest of the children, Saad, was 20 at the time, Ossman 17, Muhammad 15, Fatma 14, Hamza 12, Iman 9, and Bakr, 7.

There had been speculation that Muhammad was second in command of al-Qaeda and that Saad also instigated and plotted terrorist attacks until he was killed about 18 months ago by an American drone. The relatives, however, said that Muhammad is still living in the compound and that Saad ran away less than a year ago in an attempt to find his mother.

A week after making contact with her brother, Iman escaped during a rare trip outside the compound and made her way to the Saudi Arabian Embassy. She is now living there while seeking permission to leave Iran.

Mr bin Laden said that his relatives live as normal a life as possible, cooking meals, watching television and reading. They are allowed out only rarely for shopping trips. As a number of families are being held in the compound some of the older siblings have been able to marry and have their own children. “The Iranian Government did not know what to do with this large group of people that nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe. For that we owe them much gratitude, and thank Iran from the depth of our heart,” he said.

So is Iran holding them or protecting them?

Most of the 9/11 victims' families probably won't feel very sorry for them. And neither do I. If they knew enough to leave before 9/11 and didn't try to warn anyone, that says it all.

Israel Matzav: Bin Laden's family in Iran

Shaping Up: Kadima Headed for Likud-Initiated Split - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Shaping Up: Kadima Headed for Likud-Initiated Split - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Matzav: Christians persecuted around the world, Christians silent

Christians persecuted around the world, Christians silent

Thursday night is Christmas, but in much of the world, and especially in much of this region, it's not likely to be much of a celebration. Christians are persecuted in many parts of the world, and especially in the Middle East. Here's Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe talking about the Christian Copts in Egypt.

On May 31, 2008, a band of Bedouin Muslims stormed Abu Fana, destroying a small church and burning the monastery’s farm. Nine monks and monastery employees were wounded, and four others were abducted. “One of the [abducted] monks had his arm and legs broken,’’ the Egyptian lawyer and human-rights activist Nagib Gabriel later testified. “The other two were tied together with ropes, suspended from a tree, and severely beaten with hoses and sticks. Afterwards, they were placed - upside down and still tied together - on the back of a donkey and shoved off. The monks were further commanded to spit on the cross and proclaim the shahada [the Muslim credo that “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet’’], beaten every time they refused, and even threatened with death.’’

Two millennia after Jesus was born in the Middle East, Christians living there often suffer greatly for their faith. Egypt is home to the oldest and largest Christian population in the region, yet the indignities heaped on them are many: They are prevented from building or repairing their churches, barred from many government positions, and treated with disdain when they seek help from the police or the courts. In the wake of the Abu Fana assault, the government arrested two Coptic brothers, who were held for 14 months and released only after the monastery agreed not to press criminal charges against those who had actually attacked the monastery.

When President Obama spoke in Cairo last June, he noted mildly that “among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith.’’ But there was nothing mild about the violence at Abu Fana, or about other recent attacks in Egypt, including the vandalizing of a Christian center in Ezbet Boshra-East in June, the torching of a Coptic church in Ezbet Basilious in July, or the looting and destruction of Christian-owned businesses in Abou Shousha and Farshoot last month.

What is most tragic about the plight of the Copts, however, is that they comprise only a fraction of the estimated 200 million Christians worldwide who face persecution because of their religion.

Hebrew University's Alex Grobman writes of the silence of Christian leaders in the face of the persecution that 'Palestinian' Christians face from their Muslim neighbors (Hat Tip: Daled Amos).

Justus Reid Weiner, an international human rights lawyer, warns that the present Christian Arab leadership is not telling the truth about the real conditions in these areas, and who is really responsible for perpetuating the anguish of Arab Christians. The “patriarchs and archbishops of Christian Arab denominations,” he says, “who are currently deceiving the international community, are self-interested people. They collaborate with the Muslim perpetrators of intimidation and violence. Against all evidence they claim that the Christians Arabs are living comfortable and prosperous lives. In fact the present situation is growing worse by the day.””2

Though these false accusations are not new, there is a danger they could change the way some of Israel’s Christian supporters view the Arab/Israeli conflict.3 That is why we need to examine what is really transpiring in these areas.

Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station in Beit-Shahur, warned that, “15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here.”4 Population increases in the West Bank have been generally flat. In 1967 there were 40,000 Christians in the area; in 2006 there were approximately 45,800.5

The cause for the concern is the Islamic success at the municipal elections, 6 and the Muslim campaign of “intimidation” to force Christians to leave their homes and relinquish their land. After the Palestinian Authority (PA) took control of Bethlehem in 1994, they altered the municipal boundaries of the city and the predominately Christian suburbs of Beit Jallah and Beit Sahour to incorporate the 30,000 Muslims residing in the nearby refugee camps of Dehaisheh, El-Ayda and El-Azeh, and thousands of residents living near the Ta’amarah Bedouin tribe. These boundary modifications created sweeping changes in the demographic balance of Bethlehem.7

At the same time, Muslims were persuaded to move from nearby Hebron to Bethlehem where large-scale Muslim housing was being planned. In 1990, Christians comprised 60 percent of the population of Bethlehem.

By 2001 they were 20 percent of the population, resulting in a significant effect on local elections. As a result, PA chairman Yasser Arafat appointed a Muslim as Governor for the Bethlehem District, and the bureaucratic, security and political apparatus was purged of Christians.8

It gets worse. Read the whole thing.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I spent much of today on a special IDF briefing for bloggers. The briefing took place in northern Israel, and we went close to both the Syrian and Lebanese borders. One of the things I'm going to discuss later - because it was only today that I began to appreciate the extent of it - is the way in which the local Arab population is intimidated into remaining silent about its plight and is forced to blame their plight on Israel for fear of making things worse - much worse. This applies to Christians as well as to minority sects within Islam. The extent to which there is no freedom in much of this region is simply being ignored in the West.

And note something else. There's only country in this region that does not discriminate against Christians. Yes, you guessed it. Israel.

Israel Matzav: Christians persecuted around the world, Christians silent

Love of the Land: Other False Headlines Remain After Guardian Correction

Other False Headlines Remain After Guardian Correction

23 December 09

As noted below, the reliably anti-Israel Guardian has, to its credit, corrected a misleading headline about Israel, which it blamed on a "serious editing error."

While this is slightly encouraging news, it hardly suggests that the British newspaper is committed to keeping the record clear of outlandishly false headlines. Still unchanged, for example, is the following series of Guardian headlines about the Palestinian "Prisoners' Document":

• "Hamas performs about-turn on Israeli state; Document recognises Israel's right to exist" (6/21/06)
• "Climbdown as Hamas agrees to Israeli state" (6/22/06)
• "Hamas takes step to recognize Israel" (6/28/06)

These headlines are not only broadly false — ever since the Guardian trumpeted Hamas's "climbdown," the terror group has continued to repeatedly and explicitly make clear it does not accept a two-state solution or Israel's right to exist — but are also patently untrue in their more specific context. The "Prisoners Document" discussed in these articles does not "recognize Israel's right to exist," and when Hamas had signed onto the Document, it did not "agree to an Israeli state." This was apparent based on the text of the document itself, and also based on contemporaneous descriptions of the document by Hamas leaders.

It's unfortunately safe to expect that, with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the newspaper we'll continue to see won't be the Guardian that corrected a distorted headline, but the Guardian that so frequently distorts the conflict, and the Guardian whose culture allows an editor to unblinkingly announce that "In Israel they murder each other a great deal" only because "they don't like their political style and what they've got to say."

Love of the Land: Other False Headlines Remain After Guardian Correction

Israel Matzav: J Street's Saudi connection

J Street's Saudi connection

Lenny Ben David finds hints of Saudi money supporting the pro-Israel pro-'peace' lobby at J Street.

Why does J Street push the Saudi initiative? Perhaps the answer lies in the new “alliance” that has been formed — the very close ties between Saudi Arabia, the Arab American Institute, and J Street.

In September 2009, J Street joined some 30 ethnic and religious groups to support Obama’s Middle East diplomatic efforts. One of the groups was the Arab American Institute, which posted on its Internet site the coalition’s statement. Included was this clause: “We support the idea of a comprehensive regional peace that builds on the Arab Peace Initiative.”

A member of J Street’s advisory board, Judith Barnett, worked on aspects of the Saudi account for Qorvis in 2004. She was also one of the first contributors to J Street’s PAC and was later joined in the PAC by Nancy Dutton, the Saudi Embassy’s Washington attorney; Lewis Elbinger, a U.S. State Department official who was based in Saudi Arabia; and Ray Close, the CIA’s station chief in Saudi Arabia for 22 years who later went to work for Saudi intelligence bosses. Close’s son Kenneth registered at the Justice Department as a foreign agent, working for Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, the author of the Saudi peace plan.

Beyond sharing support for the Saudi plan, the J Street-AAI financial and ideological ties also appear to be very tight. Richard Abdoo is a member of J Street’s finance committee with its minimum contribution of $10,000 to J Street’s PAC. James Zogby recently wrote in the Bahrain Gulf Daily, “On October 25, [2009] the Arab American Institute and J Street convened a joint meeting that brought leaders and activists from both communities together as an expression of our shared commitment to advance a just and comprehensive Middle East peace.”

J Street’s embrace of the Saudi initiative is not a surprise, considering the strong endorsement the plan received from George Soros, J Street’s purported godfather and sugar daddy.


Incredibly, the billionaire blames AIPAC for the initiative’s failure, a factor that may explain Soros’ burning desire to create a left-wing alternative to AIPAC. “Both for the sake of Israel and the United States, it is highly desirable that the Saudi peace initiative should succeed; but AIPAC stands in the way. It continues to oppose dealing with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.”

Every time you pick up a rock at J Street, there's a worm underneath. And there are a lot of rocks there.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: J Street's Saudi connection

Elder of Ziyon: Work accident!

Work accident!

Another brave Hamas freedom fighter has missed his chance at getting his virgins because he blew himself up without managing to kill any Jews.

He was killed while on a "jihad mission" in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City.

The fact that Hamas is doing "jihad missions" in crowded residential neighborhoods does not seem to be much of an issue.

Elder of Ziyon: Work accident!

Elder of Ziyon: A day with the IDF

Elder of Ziyon: A day with the IDF

Peace Now Introduces the 'Informers' Hotline' in Judea, Samaria - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Peace Now Introduces the 'Informers' Hotline' in Judea, Samaria - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Hesder Yeshiva Quits Army - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Hesder Yeshiva Quits Army - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Barak: Hesder Arrangement with Har Bracha is Over - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Barak: Hesder Arrangement with Har Bracha is Over - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

New 'Street Name' Law to Streamline Benefits, Taxes - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

New 'Street Name' Law to Streamline Benefits, Taxes - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Netanyahu Puts Decision on Shalit in Hamas%u2019 Hands - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Netanyahu Puts Decision on Shalit in Hamas%u2019 Hands - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Lies, White Lies and Statistics

Lies, White Lies and Statistics

This post is a carryover from my professional life. For whatever reason, I needed to know how many university students there are in various countries. Not that much to ask, you'd think, especially in our Google era. Indeed, finding lots of fine data for the US was easy. The rest of the world: not so easy. Would you believe, for example, that no-one in Canada knows to say how many students there are in Canada? Yep. Germany isn't much better - though India isn't bad (12.8 million students in 2005. I don't know about 2006,7,8 or 2009).

As I wandered around, increasingly frustrated, someone told me about this fellow, Clifford Adelman, who recently wrote a 59-page report about my travails. Adelman, it seems, knows all about statistics, and he spent a bit of time peering at the fog of numbers thrown up by various statistical units on five continents, and came back to tell his tale.

But Let Us Straighten Out the Core Propaganda Before We Begin
An all-too-common rhetorical convention of reports and declarations
on the status of U.S. higher education is to open with a
statement that compares our participation and degree completion
rates to those of other economically advanced countries—
and always to our disfavor. It’s a way to stir up the competitive
juices: we have to be number one—or close to it—or, it is said,
our future economic life is at risk. One can cite these reports and
statements by the dozens—no, make it hundreds.
Will it surprise anyone in the house that other countries with
advanced economies utter similar statements and claim that
the United States is ahead of them in higher education? (p.14)

Those of you who are interested only in antisemitism and related cheerful matters, need not go read Adelman's report. Those seeking some light humor for their holiday readings could do worse than to have a peek.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

RubinReports: For Obama, 2010 in the Middle East Looks More Like the Precipice of Doom Than of Achievement

For Obama, 2010 in the Middle East Looks More Like the Precipice of Doom Than of Achievement

Please subscribe, or how will you know what's happening in 2010? :)

By Barry Rubin

The year 2010 is going to be interesting. Well, all years in the Middle East are interesting; many of them are far too interesting.

For the Obama Administration, I’m going to predict, it will not be a fun year. True, the best face will be put on things. Since it is protected—perhaps next year to a lesser degree--by the media, the administration has a special advantage over its predecessors. Yet there are two huge and two potentially serious problems which it cannot solve.

The first unsolvable problem is the Arab-Israeli conflict. Last January, President Barack Obama promised a quick solution to the issue. Then he promised that an Israeli freeze of construction on settlements would lead to a diplomatic breakthrough. A few months later, he promised he’d get some Arab concessions in response to an Israeli freeze. In September he promised that final status negotiations would begin in two months.

None of these things happened.

In fact, Obama’s policy sabotaged progress. After all, if he was bashing Israel to some extent and demanding a freeze, why should the Palestinians give Israel a way out by negotiating and accept anything less than a total freeze? U.S.-Israel relations have now improved considerably and are good, but there’s no talks going on because the Palestinian Authority is saying “no.”

Remember in his Cairo speech, Obama said the Palestinian situation was “intolerable.” The Palestinians disagree with him. They know they are doing pretty well materially, the world is criticizing Israel, and they don’t have to make any concessions.

But here’s where it gets interesting: there is a very serious prospect of no direct or any serious Israel-Palestinian negotiations during all of 2010. And in late September, Israel’s ten-month freeze ends. No progress, no continued freeze.

There is literally no way out for the Obama Administration. The only route to getting talks is either to get more unilateral concessions from Israel (isn’t going to happen) or to pressure the Palestinian Authority (also isn’t going to happen). Checkmate; deadlock; no way out.

The Obama Administration is not likely to say: We were wrong. This is tougher than we thought. Nor are they probably going to put the issue on the back burner openly. Nor are they going to criticize the Palestinian Authority. So they will pretend to be working hard, sending their envoy zipping around, looking for some opening to leap into action. But isn’t this going to be pretty obviously a charade? Well, only if the media wants to say so.

Then there’s Iran. Originally, the administration was going to increase sanctions in September. That was moved back to the end of December. Now it is too late to meet that deadline. At best, we are going to see negotiations in January and maybe—maybe—increased sanctions in February. But who knows?

That’s not all. The administration keeps pretending that it has China and Russia on board for sanctions. Anyone who actually reads Chinese and Russian statements should know this is untrue. Can this be kept secret for very long in 2010? Either there will be no sanctions, ridiculously weak sanctions or sanctions without these two. Once again, there is no way out for the administration from looking like a failure.

And by the end of the year or earlier it will be clear that any sanctions applied aren’t working. The year 2010 is the make or break year for stopping Iran. Not hard to guess which it will be.

I’m not chortling over this as I’d greatly prefer the administration would be brilliantly successful in bringing peace—a good one, of course, not just any deal—and ensuring Tehran didn’t get nuclear weapons. But it’s not going to happen.

Two other issues may cause problems but are not likely to bring benefits in 2010, though they are designed to bring political dividends for when Obama is up for reelection in 2012. Iraq will be a headache if the Iranians decide, in part due to their more belligerent mood and as a response to sanctions, to escalate the violence. Syria, unhappy that the United States has not caved in to them, may also do so. This could lead to higher casualties making the troop withdrawal look either like running away or at least ineffective.

The same basic point holds for Afghanistan, where Obama’s version of the surge will be in full implementation. The Taliban might decide to make America look defeated; Pakistan isn’t going to help. Again, there could be high U.S. casualties and the appearance of failure.

Then there’s the chance that Obama’s vaunted popularity will crack. Palestinians will claim he isn’t giving them everything for nothing; Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah will try to make short work of making America look bad. What if, for example, Obama has to veto some far-out UN Security Council resolution that, for example, demands that Israel return to the 1967 borders? Maybe he’ll be able to get it watered down but that could happen.

There’s always the chance of a major terrorist attack against some American target succeeding.

In short, 2010 does not look good at all for Obama. Is there any chance of a big success in the region for him? (Your eyes dart around the room trying to think of something. Finally, you give up and give the inevitable answer.) No.

The most critical question of all is whether the administration will learn from its experience. There are a lot of mistaken conceptions to learn from:

The Palestinians aren’t desperate to make peace. Moving away from Israel doesn’t bring you any material gains and indeed makes it even harder to get progress toward peace. Arab states won’t help you. They aren’t going to lift a finger to stop Iran while demanding you do so. Engaging Iran and Syria doesn’t work. Being popular among Muslims and Arabs is a fragile thing and doesn’t get you much more than a cup of coffee when you visit the Saudi king. Apologizing makes you look weak and everyone will then take advantage of you. Shall I go on?

Usama bin Ladin says that everyone wants to bet on the strong horse. Obama’s policy makes America look like a dead horse. And, yes, Middle East dictatorships and revolutionary Islamist groups love flogging a dead horse.

Shall Obama hope that 2011 comes fast? Well, that’s the year Iran will probably get nuclear weapons.

RubinReports: For Obama, 2010 in the Middle East Looks More Like the Precipice of Doom Than of Achievement

Love of the Land: Palestinian Rockets, International Law, and the Goldstone Report

Palestinian Rockets, International Law, and the Goldstone Report

Johanna Markind
Palestinian Rocket Report
December 23, 2009

Twenty-two years ago, President Ronald Reagan cautioned that proposed extensions to "international law" would aid terrorists and endanger civilians. Today, in the aftermath of the Goldstone Report, his comments are more pertinent than ever. The Goldstone Report ignores multiple violations of international law by the Palestinian terrorist organization known as Hamas, and challenges Israel's right to defend its citizens from rocket attacks.

Hamas Violates Geneva

The Goldstone Report, a report on the Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009, was released in September 2009. It alleges that Israel violated international law in the course of defending its population from Hamas rocket attacks. The report has a great many flaws – too many to list here. For the purposes of this essay, however, the problems associated with international law begin on page 82 of the report.

Buried in the report, like a needle in a haystack, is the grudging acknowledgment of Goldstone and company that directing attacks against civilian targets, as Hamas has done with homemade rockets since, is prohibited by international law. This is, in fact, prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (article 3).

Hamas Violates Oslo

Additionally, the Goldstone report completely fails to note that the rocket attacks violate the Oslo Accords – the peace agreement that guides relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Under the Accords (Annex I, Article II), the Palestinians are obligated to "act systematically against all expressions of violence and terror." They are further obligated to "apprehend, investigate and prosecute" terrorist incidents and to prevent incitement of terrorism.

Though Hamas does not recognize Israel or its obligations under Oslo, it is still bound by them, since the Oslo Accords were signed on behalf of all the Palestinians. At a minimum, Israel should not be accused of violating Oslo (as the Goldstone report charges) without also charging Hamas for its violations, or recognizing that Israel is reacting to Hamas' violations.

Hamas Violates 1977 Protocol

The 1977 Protocol, which the Goldstone report insists is binding as part of customary international law, bars attacks directed against civilians (Articles 2, 52). It also prohibits indiscriminate attacks that have no specific military objective, or which "employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective" (Article 4). Hamas' indiscriminate rocket attacks have numbered in the thousands since 2001.

The 1977 Protocol also forbids locating military targets – such as rocket launchers – within civilian populations (Article 58). The Protocol weakens the duty of armed forces to distinguish themselves from civilians, but it does require them to do so while they are on the attack (Article 44). It also forbids feigning civilian status to kill or injure the enemy (Article 37). Moreover, both the Geneva Convention (Article 28) and the Protocol (Article 7) recognize that parties may not render military targets immune from attack by locating them within civilian populations.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Palestinian Rockets, International Law, and the Goldstone Report

Chester Chronicles - Battling Against the Islamification of the World

Chester Chronicles - Battling Against the Islamification of the World

Love of the Land: Europe Wants to Divide Jerusalem

Europe Wants to Divide Jerusalem

Soeren Kern
Hudson New York
23 December 09

The European Union on December 8 adopted a resolution that for the first time explicitly calls for Jerusalem to become the future capital of both a Palestinian state and Israel. Backing away only slightly from a more controversial Swedish proposal to officially call for the division of Jerusalem, the EU declared: “If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”

The original proposal drafted by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a well-known pro-Palestinian activist whose country currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, had called for the creation of a “State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.” Israeli officials, angry over EU efforts to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for permanent status negotiations, persuaded French diplomats to remove the offending text, as well as other references to a Palestinian state that would comprise “the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

Israel has always maintained that Jerusalem will remain its undivided capital, regardless of any future peace settlement with the Palestinians. This has been the declared policy of all Israeli governments, both left and right.

The EU statement, which comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, will be viewed by many as a European attempt to pre-empt any possible resumption of Middle East peace talks by helping the Palestinians improve their negotiating position vis-à-vis Israel.

Although the 27-member EU has limited clout as a diplomatic player in the Arab-Israel conflict, the EU is the biggest donor of financial assistance to Palestinian Authority, which has been accused of diverting the money to promote terror against Israel. The EU statement, which is predictably one-sided, could end up disincentivizing a new round of negotiations: the Palestinians may well be emboldened by the EU’s tacit acceptance of their key positions and be led to believe that if they hold out longer, the EU will support them on other core issues as well.

(Read full article)

Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group

Love of the Land: Europe Wants to Divide Jerusalem

Love of the Land: Europe's Israel Obsession

Europe's Israel Obsession

Too bad Ms. Ashton didn't visit the Jewish state before bashing it.

Wall Street Journal
22 December 09

Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland (the European Union's new chief diplomat in the likely case you don't know her) isn't exactly what one would call "experienced." Perhaps to shed her much-deserved reputation as a foreign-policy novice, she used her maiden speech in the European Parliament to fuel the Continent's No. 1 international-affairs obsession: trashing the Jewish state.

"We're deeply concerned about daily living conditions of people in Gaza," she told law makers last week. "Israel should reopen the crossings without delay."

It's rather odd, to say the least, that no sooner had Israel left Gaza in 2005, than the same people who so anxiously had called for Israel to "end the occupation" wanted it back in the picture. Even though Hamas returned Israel's peace gesture with relentless rocket attacks, Israel is nevertheless expected to establish some sort of free-trade zone with the Islamists and open its borders again to Palestinian suicide bombers.

Egypt, the Palestinians' Arab brother nation, meanwhile, can quietly build a steel wall—yes, steel—at its Gaza border without having to fear negative Western press coverage, let alone the Baroness's wrath. She has only Israel in her crosshairs, even though Jerusalem is actually still providing a lifeline to the Palestinians.

Despite all the misreporting about a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza as a result of Israel's blockade, the flow of aid support from Israel to the narrow strip is uninterrupted. In the week of Dec. 13 -Dec. 19 alone, 553 truckloads with 13,587 tons of merchandise reached Gaza from Israel, according to the Israeli foreign ministry.

The result is obvious. For an authentic look at life in Gaza, check out the photos of crowded markets filled with food, clothing and candy, published last month on the Web site of "Palestine Today," a Gaza newspaper, as first reported on these pages by Mideast analyst Tom Gross.

It is not surprising, perhaps, that the Baroness cannot summon insights into the Gaza situation. She cannot get the EU's own policy straight, either.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Europe's Israel Obsession

Love of the Land: Some Common Sense in Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Some Common Sense in Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Daniel Pipes
23 December 09

Invited recently by the newly formed Pechter Middle East Polls to ask three questions of 1,000 representative Egyptians and 1,000 urban Saudis, the Middle East Forum focused on Iran and Israel, the countries that most polarize the region. The results are illuminating.

(Technical note: Respondents were interviewed face to face in Arabic, in their own homes using a structured questionnaire during November by a credible, private, local commercial company with a solid track record. The margin of error is ±3 percent.)

Iran: In today's Middle Eastern cold war, the Islamic Republic of Iran heads the revolutionary bloc, while the governments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt head the opposing status-quo bloc. How anxious are the Saudi and Egyptian populations of the Iranian nuclear weapons buildup? Pechter Polls asked two questions for MEF: "Assuming the Iranian government continues its nuclear enrichment program, would you support an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities?" and "How about an American strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities?"

In Egypt, 17 percent support an Israeli strike and 25 percent an American one. In Saudi Arabia, the figures, respectively, are 25 and 35 percent. Backing for an Israeli strike is surprisingly strong, for an American one, roughly as I expected. These numbers confirm a just-completed review of polling data by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who found "strikingly high levels of support—especially among Saudis—for tough action against Iran's nuclear program."

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Some Common Sense in Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Love of the Land: Gaza Freedom March URGENT UPDATE

Gaza Freedom March URGENT UPDATE

December 21, 2009

Dear Supporters,

(Enjoy! Each person is free to find that which amuses them the most. However, as this is Egypt, and not Bi'ilin, rock throwing at the border police is not advised and could be fatal. It may also be ingracious to ask your host, Egypt, why they are building a security wall on the border of Gaza, which will prevent the free flow of commerce between Egypt and Gaza. Y.)

We are determined to break the siege

We all will continue to do whatever we can to make it happen

Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us yesterday that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges.

Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered-and overcome--before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.

Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and march on December 31 against the Israeli blockade. (Question? If they won't let you pass through the border with the requested supplies, does it become the Egyptian blockade?) We are continuing in the same direction.

BTW, if, with all your plans,you fail to leave Egypt, I have an alternative project just up your ally.He needs your help.

Name: Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman
Country: Egypt
Status: Jailed since 2006
Blog URL:

Egyptian embassies and missions all over the world must hear from our supporters (by phone, fax and email)** over the coming crucial days, with a clear message: Let the international delegation enter Gaza and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed. (How about Free Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman?)

Love of the Land: Gaza Freedom March URGENT UPDATE

Love of the Land: The Saudis Take a Stroll on J Street

The Saudis Take a Stroll on J Street

There are some very close ties between Saudi Arabia, the Arab American Institute, and J Street.

Lenny Ben-David
23 December 09

Talk about a tough sale. Imagine being Saudi Arabia’s public relations firm in the United States in the months after the 9/11 attacks, which were perpetrated by 19 terrorists, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. Shilling for a tarnished Saudi Arabia was the daunting task that faced Qorvis, a Washington-based PR company. The $14 million contract surely compensated.

In their 2002 contract, Qorvis promised to “draft and/or distribute talking points, press releases, fact sheets, and op-ed pieces in order to promote the [Saudi] Kingdom, its commitment to the war against terrorism, peace in the Middle East, and other issues pertinent to the Kingdom.”

Soon thereafter, a new organization appeared on the American scene, the “Alliance of Peace and Justice in the Middle East.” In April 2002, the organization ran radio spots on dozens of stations across the U.S. extolling the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by then-Crown Prince Abdullah and attacking Israel’s settlements.

According to one ad: “The [Saudis’] fair plan [would] end the senseless violence in the Mideast.” The plan involved Israel’s “withdrawal from the Palestinian land it has unjustly occupied for years. … There will be no more midnight raids and random searches, no more violence.” “Start the peace — end the occupation” is the phrase that ends the ads. It is followed by the words “paid for by the Alliance of Peace and Justice.”

Who was behind the alliance? One American Jewish activist tracked them back to a Virginia address, which just happened to be the offices of Qorvis.

Eight months later, in documents submitted to the U.S. Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Office (FARA), Qorvis began to fess up. They listed receipt of $679,000 from the Alliance of Peace and Justice for “payment for radio, television, and print ads.”

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: The Saudis Take a Stroll on J Street

Love of the Land: Nasrallah's call to psychological war

Nasrallah's call to psychological war

The Daily Star
23 December 09

The 10-day period of Ashura, in this modern age, is one in which leaders of the Shiite community have ample opportunities and means to address the general public, whether about the past, present or future. The leader of Hizbullah has used this year’s Ashura season to advocate a “psychological war” against Israel. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the effort should counter recent Israeli maneuvers aimed at convincing everyone in the region that the country’s army is invincible.

Nasrallah’s proposal reflects the best of intentions; a psychological war against Israel requires patience and planning, which Hizbullah has exhibited in its military operations over the last few decades. Hizbullah cadres have been busy training, learning and doing, and become skilled at such tasks.

However, Nasrallah’s call to psychological arms appeared to be directed at Lebanon, and not just the supporters of the resistance – if Hizbullah were about to engage in a new psy-ops initiative, odds are that Nasrallah wouldn’t be announcing it in public.

Advocating a psychological war, by Lebanon, brings us back to the issue of the country’s diplomatic-defensive initiative, and the search for tools in this national psychological war. The most important tool here is Lebanon’s Christians, and to get them on board, we must enlist their help in building the Lebanese state, and especially its political-diplomatic presence. We’ve repeatedly called for upcoming sessions of National Dialogue to focus on a diplomatic-defensive initiative, which we need if a psychological war is to have any chance of success.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Nasrallah's call to psychological war

Love of the Land: Asymmetric Warfare: Hamas and the Livni Warrant

Asymmetric Warfare: Hamas and the Livni Warrant

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens
Standpoint Magazine
22 December 09

The Times reported yesterday that Hamas is "masterminding efforts to have senior Israeli leaders arrested for alleged war crimes when the visit European countries." The recent arrest warrant issued for Tzipi Livni by a British Court is certainly tied to this, and it is no surprise that the UK is the first port of call in this latest act of Hamas asymmetric warfare.

Although Hamas were not directly involved, it seems that they have acted as key facilitators, and claim to have provided lawyers with evidence of Israeli war crimes. This has been done through a Hamas initiative founded by Ismail Haniyeh called "the central committee for documentation and prosecuting Israeli war criminals," also known as Al-Tawthiq. According to its chairman, the commission's mission is to document and gather "evidence connected with Israel war crimes, tracking war criminals and prosecuting them in international, national and local courts."

Over the years, Hamas have been exceptionally successful at waging (and winning) an antisemitic propaganda war against Israel. So successful in fact, that in this country professing support for Hamas - a proscribed Islamist terrorist group - is now considered a mainstream position, which is held by some prominent politicians and high profile thinkers. Israeli officials have not yet come to terms with the effect that Hamas asymmetric warfare in Europe has on their ability to completely neutralise the terrorist threat they face at home. This Israeli underestimation of Hamas' capabilities outside of Gaza is no better illustrated than by the almost successful attempt to have one of their leading politicians put on trial for war crimes.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Asymmetric Warfare: Hamas and the Livni Warrant

Love of the Land: The correct choice is clear

The correct choice is clear

22 December 09

I think it’s certain that Israel will agree to something like Hamas’ conditions for the release of Gilad Shalit:

After the nocturnal inner cabinet meeting ended overnight Monday, reports began emerging that the seven-member forum had reached its decision. Israel Radio cited an unnamed senior Israeli official as confirming one such report.

Former Fatah-Tanzim leader and terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences after being convicted in fatal attacks against Israelis, would be allowed to return to his West Bank home, a Palestinian close to the negotiations said. Hamas agreed that several other hard-core convicts would be deported, he said…

After more than four hours of talks, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office released a statement early Tuesday morning [today] saying only that instructions were given to the negotiating team about “the continuation of efforts to bring Gilad Schalit home safe and sound.” There was no word of a decision, further meetings or steps. The decision to continue negotiations came in lieu of any final decision by the government to agree unequivocally to Hamas’s demands.

The inner cabinet met into the night Monday in what was described by insiders as a final marathon discussion on the prisoner-swap deal that would end Schalit’s Gaza captivity.

According to sources close to the deliberations, the proposal to release some 950 Hamas gunmen and activists, some of whom have been convicted of fatal terrorist attacks, for the 23-year-old soldier was expected to gain approval by the forum, after which it would be presented to the full 30-member cabinet. — Jerusalem Post

Israel — and it really is the whole country — is facing a “Sophie’s choice“.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The correct choice is clear

Love of the Land: Assad Returns as the Strong Horse

Assad Returns as the Strong Horse

Michael J. Totten
22 December 09

As Jonathan noted yesterday, Lebanese Prime Minster Saad Hariri just spent two days with Syrian strongman Bashar Assad in Damascus, and you’d think from reading the wire reports that Lebanon and Syria had re-established normal relations after a rough patch. That’s how it’s being reported, but it’s nonsense. Hariri went to Damascus with Hezbollah’s bayonet in his back.

Assad’s regime assassinated Saad Hariri’s father, Rafik, in 2005 for just gingerly opposing Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. There is no alternate universe where Saad Hariri is OK with this or where his generically “positive” statements at a press conference were anything other than forced.

I was invited to dinner at Hariri’s house earlier this year and had a long and frank discussion about politics with him and some colleagues. I can’t quote him because the meeting was off the record, but trust me: the man is no friend of the Syrian government or Hezbollah, and it’s not just because someone in that crowd killed his father. His political party, the Future Movement, champions liberalism and capitalism, the very antithesis of what is imposed in Syria by Assad’s Arab Socialist Baath party regime and the totalitarian Velayat-e Faqih ideology enforced by the Khomeinists in Iran and in the Hezbollah-occupied regions of Lebanon.

(Read full post)

Related: The Murdered Fathers Club

Love of the Land: Assad Returns as the Strong Horse

Love of the Land: Twenty Years Later

Twenty Years Later

Before 2009 comes to an end, I wanted to point out that in this, the 20th anniversary of the reuniting of their divided city of Berlin, the Europeans want to divide our reunited city of Jerusalem

The way to do that, I figured, was to do a cartoon that "just said it"!

* * *
For a report on the current situation by Dr. Dore Gold, Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1997-99, click on Europe Seeks to Divide Jerusalem

Love of the Land: Twenty Years Later

The Real Rain Man, RIP

The Real Rain Man, RIP

Kim Peek, the real-life inspiration for the Rain Man film, has died, age 58.

He apparently made more of his life than could reasonably have been expected, and helped may others through his example. The even greater hero of the story, however, seems to have been his father, Fran Peek. Fran will be missing him sorely now.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

The Torah Revolution: On campaigning for the non vote in Eretz Israel

The Torah Revolution: On campaigning for the non vote in Eretz Israel

The Torah Revolution: "Where is the fault in this?"

The Torah Revolution: "Where is the fault in this?"

Israel Matzav: Wall Street Journal rips new EU diplomat

Wall Street Journal rips new EU diplomat

The Wall Street Journal rips Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland, the European Union's new chief diplomat, in an editorial in Wednesday's editions.

It is not surprising, perhaps, that the Baroness cannot summon insights into the Gaza situation. She cannot get the EU's own policy straight, either.

"The EU is opposed...," Ms. Ashton claimed, "to the construction of the separation barrier." Just a week earlier, though, her bosses, the 27 foreign ministers of the EU member states, declared that "the separation barrier where built on occupied land...(is) illegal under international law." That's not quite the same as the total opposition the Baroness implied, particularly given the fact that the barrier largely follows the 1949 armistice line.

The EU's new foreign-policy grandee apparently will not look beyond the legalistic objections to the barrier's trajectory to see the immense benefits it has brought to both parties. The barrier helped prevent Palestinian terrorism, thus bringing security to Israelis and Palestinians, which in turn was instrumental in paving the road for the Palestinian territories' recent economic revival. And without this return of calm and security, Israel could never be expected to make further concessions for peace.

Almost as revealing as Lady Ashton's criticism of Israel was her silence about continued Palestinian incitement to violence or Hamas's brutal rule in Gaza. While lambasting Israel's "occupation," she failed to acknowledge that it is the Palestinians' refusal to restart negotiations rather than Israeli intransigence that stands in the way of a Palestinian state.

Lady Ashton plans her first official visit to the region early next year. It's a shame that the good Baroness didn't go on such a fact-finding trip before bashing the Mideast's only true democracy.

Israel Matzav: Wall Street Journal rips new EU diplomat

Israel Matzav: Think tank simulation: Iran wins, US loses

Think tank simulation: Iran wins, US loses

Earlier this month, there was a simulation at Harvard that concluded that Iran would win the current nuclear standoff, and that the US - and Israel - would lose. Now, a simulation at a Tel Aviv think tank has come up with similar results. Israel will most likely be isolated.

"The idea was to create a situation whereby the Americans try a new, bilateral approach to Iran -- both in terms of curbing its nuclear project and finding a way of satisfying its other demands," said Landau, who sees little future for U.N. Security Council sanctions given Russian and Chinese balking.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the wargame results would be incorporated in internal strategic assessments. Such papers are not generally shared with the United States.

As it happened, the wargamers hunkered down in long-set stances: Iran entertaining negotiations while refusing to give up nuclear projects it says are peaceful; the United States talking tough but avoiding outright threats; and Israel fuming.

Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, a former chief of Israel's military intelligence who played Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, envisaged Tehran staying on its nuclear track "unless facing a threat to the survival of the regime".

"That just wasn't forthcoming from the Americans or their coalition," Zeevi-Farkash said, adding that "Obama" should have buttressed negotiations by boosting the U.S. naval deployment in the Gulf or persuading India to slash its business ties to Iran.

According to Zeevi-Farkash, Iran would be unlikely to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, preferring to use such weaponry to protect against invasion and wield regional clout. As such, a preemptive Israeli strike could spur Iran to get the bomb.

"Iran would argue that it was the victim of international aggression, and appeal for foreign understanding," he said, adding that, as Khamenei, he had kept open communications with other world powers while negotiating with the United States.

The simulation saw brief brinkmanship after the imagined Israeli sabotage at Arak. "Khamenei" responded by dispatching a Revolutionary Guards commander to Syria and Venezuela, flaunting Iranian influence near the Israeli and U.S. orbits.

To the dismay of "Netanyahu", "Obama" did not answer this with force, though he did extend security guarantees to Israel.

Eiland said the simulation pointed to an eventual U.S.-led shift to a policy of allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium and of "containment" should Iran eventually gain nuclear arms.

Israel would have to go along with its U.S. ally, Eiland said: "Israel cannot act alone here. An American-Iranian deal would divest Israel of the ability to attack Iran."

If I'm the Israeli government and I'm looking at the results of these games, it's an incentive for me to attack sooner rather than waiting to be in this impossible position.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Think tank simulation: Iran wins, US loses

Israel Matzav: Right wingers flood Peace Now 'fink line' with calls

Right wingers flood Peace Now 'fink line' with calls

Peace Now has set up a 'fink line' where people can report violations of the 'settlement freeze.' But it's been flooded with calls from Right wingers.

In a twist, right wing Israelis are turning the tables on far-left organization Peace Now. The group set up a hotline for Israelis to "fink" on residents of Judea and Samaria who build homes, in violation of the government's construction freeze. The group says on its website that the hotline will help enforce the freeze, "which is an Israeli interest."

But instead, many of the calls are from righwing Israelis – reporting on illegal Arab construction. The calls reporting the Arab violations – as well as "nonsense calls" - are taking up much of the tape on Peace Now's answering machines, leaving little room for the messages the hotline was intended for. Responding to the onslaught of "incorrect" messages, Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer said that the varied responses, consisting of reports on Arabs, curses, and even jokes, were "entertaining."


Israel Matzav: Right wingers flood Peace Now 'fink line' with calls
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