Monday, 28 December 2009

Love of the Land: Boycott Israel and British Lives Will Be Lost

Boycott Israel and British Lives Will Be Lost

Why does the UK want to distance itself from the country best positioned to help protect British troops from IEDs?

Carol Gould
28 December 09

Britain has become the world center for boycotts of Israeli goods and of academic exchange. It is rare to pass a day without an email from a supporter of the Jewish state bringing to my attention yet another boycott campaign. Whether it is grassroots campaigns to label oranges and avocados in supermarkets or universities stopping academic cross-fertilization of brainpower, the many forces at work in Britain seem never to run out of momentum.

It is therefore all the more lamentable that British soldiers are suffering losses every month in Afghanistan, yet the country does not promote good relations with Israel, the world expert on defusing IEDs (improvised explosive devices). On December 13 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited troops in Kandahar, the first British head of state to visit servicemen in a war zone since Winston Churchill in the Second World War. Brown told the media during his visit that soldiers “were discovering improvised explosive devices every two hours.”

On television in the months leading up to the prime ministerial visit to the war zone, bereaved British mothers, sisters, and widows lamented the shortage of bomb disposal experts and the apparent lack of appropriate equipment and protective gear available to their sons, brothers, and husbands. On BBC television’s Question Time on Thursday, December 10, recorded in Wootton Bassett, a town hit particularly hard by recent war losses, anguished women asked panelist Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the armed forces, for better care of the fighting men.

In the meantime Israeli bomb disposal experts are available for consultation, but if the word “Israel” so much as appears in any public discourse, those same studio audiences erupt in rage at the “apartheid” state that engages in “ethnic cleansing,” and they refuse to see the connection between Israel’s sixty-year defensive battle against terror and the war their menfolk are facing in Taliban-land.

Researching this article I came upon a compelling screed, “Countering Improvised Explosive Devices” by Colonel David Eshel of the IDF, or Israeli Defense Forces. What is intriguing is that the piece was published in the Royal Tank RegimentJournal, Volume 771, way back in March 2005.

Eshel recounts the events after cessation of initial hostilities in Iraq in 2003, when insurgent attacks began to dominate the landscape, but coalition leaders seemed uninterested in briefings on IEDs. He asserts: “It seems therefore strange, and possibly inexcusable, that the coalition forces failed to take notice of the vast combat experience that could have become willingly available from its Israeli allies, in order to at least try and reduce the heavy loss of life sustained mainly by U.S. forces from IED and suicide attacks.”

Eshel’s article makes it clear that the range and lethality of IEDs are staggering: In the early days of the Iraqi insurgency, attackers pulled out the firing pins of hand grenades and kept them from detonating by holding down the “spoon” and covering it with ducting tape. By dropping it into a canister filled with gasoline, the tape would dissolve in a few hours and cause a terrific explosion. Terrorists would place an obstruction on the road, causing vehicles to stop and investigate; the results were catastrophic.

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Love of the Land: Boycott Israel and British Lives Will Be Lost

Israel Matzav: Epic fail: Napolitano failed to get US marshalls on Amsterdam - US flights

Epic fail: Napolitano failed to get US marshalls on Amsterdam - US flights

Debbie Schlussel reports exclusively that US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano failed to get the Dutch government to consent to US air marshalls flying on planes between Amsterdam and the United States.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Epic fail: Napolitano failed to get US marshalls on Amsterdam - US flights

Israel Matzav: Obama's epiphany?

Obama's epiphany?

Max Boot seems to think that President Obama is going to have an epiphany regarding the War on Terror as a result of Delta flight 253 and Iran's rejection of his 'naive overtures.'

Unfortunately all too many people have drawn the wrong lesson from these post-9/11 successes, concluding that we are so safe that we can go back to the pre-9/11 status quo, back when we treated terrorism as a law-enforcement problem and nothing more. This has become the conventional wisdom of the mainstream, left-wing of the Democratic Party and a tiny, right-wing fringe of the Republican Party (Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan), which see the U.S. government as the biggest threat we face—not al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers.

It would be unfair to say that President Obama has bought into this worldview. To his credit, he has continued an active program of using drones and Special Forces to assassinate terrorist kingpins from Pakistan to Somalia; has ramped up our military efforts in Afghanistan; and has continued an active program of intelligence and military cooperation designed to allow states such as Yemen and the Philippines to fight their own wars on terror. Moreover, he has signed off on wider wiretapping and intelligence-gathering authority than the ACLU is comfortable with. But there are certainly some worrisome trends evident from this administration, which insists on trying Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in a civilian court, which has banned the use of all stress techniques in interrogation, and which continues releasing detainees from Guantanamo, many of whom go right back to the sorts of activities that got them interred in the first place. And let us not forget the president’s unwillingness to get tough with Iran, whose nuclear-weapons program could before long radically increase the chances of our allies’ suffering a nuclear terrorist attack.

Obama has actually been a little tougher on terrorism (and Iraq and Afghanistan) than his record as an ultra-liberal senator would have led us to expect; certainly a lot tougher than Michael Moore or his ilk would like him to be. But not perhaps as tough as the situation demands. If there is any good that comes out of the attempted bombing of the Detroit flight, or the Iranians’ rejections of his naive overtures, it is that he may finally shed some of his remaining illusions about the world and start acting more as a wartime commander in chief should.

That sounds like wishful thinking to me. If President Obama 'got it' we'd be seeing more of him in the news and less running around the golf course and the tennis courts even if it is the week between Christmas and New Year. Iran's centrifuges are continuing to spin this week, and al-Qaeda is continuing to plan and train for its next terror attack. President Obama is missing the sense of urgency that's needed to fight this war. Until he understands that sense of urgency, he hasn't shed his illusions.

Israel Matzav: Obama's epiphany?

The Torah Revolution: Ali Waked's false reporting on Ynetnews again

The Torah Revolution: Ali Waked's false reporting on Ynetnews again

Love of the Land: Hezbollah's "Lebanonization"

Hezbollah's "Lebanonization"

December 09

Manuela Paraipan: Why is the Lebanonization of Hezbollah a chimera?

Tony Badran: This is a rather timely question with the recent unveiling of Hezbollah's so-called new political manifesto.

The conventional wisdom and the dominant interpretation of this document, in the media, is that it signals the "Lebanonization" of the Islamist group and its "evolution" away from Islamist rhetoric and other maximalist positions. In many ways, this is merely a recycling of the old argument put forth by Augustus Richard Norton and others starting in the late 1990s. Both the old theory and its current reincarnation miss the mark, and in fact have been thoroughly discredited and disproved by events.

Manuela Paraipan: How so?

Tony Badran: The Lebanonization theory is an amalgam of various misreadings of Hezbollah.

It was stipulated in the late '90s that Hezbollah was merely concerned with purely Lebanese goals, namely the liberation of southern Lebanon, and that once Israel withdrew, Hezbollah would close shop. Indeed, Norton wrote in 1998 that Hezbollah was "preparing for life after resistance."

Very clearly, this has been shown to be wrong.

Hezbollah today has dissociated its armed status from an Israeli withdrawal from the disputed Shebaa Farms, and has linked it to Israel's very existence: so long as Israel exists, Hezbollah's reasoning goes, it will constitute a threat to Lebanon, a threat that can only be countered by its continued armed status. At the same time, Hezbollah’s manifesto includes the “liberation” of Jerusalem, which the organization describes as a “religious duty.” This duty carries great peril for Lebanon.

In order to support this argument of a purely Lebanese outlook for Hezbollah, its proponents went to great lengths to dissociate the group from any acts of global terrorism. One argument was that since the group had Shiite support and maintained "social networks," that somehow meant that it can no longer be dubbed a terrorist group.

(Read full interview)

Tony Badran is a research fellow with the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has the blog Across the Bay.

Love of the Land: Hezbollah's "Lebanonization"

Israel Matzav: Hamas setting up its own phone network

Hamas setting up its own phone network

In an effort to avoid the omnipotent Israelis, Hamas is setting up its own phone network.

Sources quoted by the Fatah-run PalVoice said the organization has been laying down phone network infrastructure for several months in an effort to connect Hamas members, institutions and high-ranking leaders such as Mahmoud Zahar.

"It's wired, so they just extend cables to the houses or areas they want," a Gaza IT source told The Media Line under condition of anonymity. "They're not using frequencies."

"If Hamas set up their own network they may compete with PalTel but I believe this is more a matter of information security," the source said. "If they're only wiring up a few people it's probably not for commercial purposes. It's probably more a matter of securing information over the phone."

Ihab Ghussein, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza told The Media Line he had no knowledge about a secret phone network and could not verify the report.

Mashhour Abu Dakka, the Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications and IT told The Media Line he had also read the reports and could not verify a Hamas network.

Ihab Ghussein, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza told The Media Line he had no knowledge about a secret phone network and could not verify the report.

Mashhour Abu Dakka, the Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications and IT told The Media Line he had also read the reports and could not verify a Hamas network.

There's nothing the 'Palestinian Authority' can do to stop Hamas, although they cannot set up a mobile phone network since Israel controls all the frequencies. Something tells me that Israel will manage to tap into this network anyway. Hezbullah set up a similar network in 2007.

But this reminded me of another omnipotent phone company. Let's go to the videotape.


Israel Matzav: Hamas setting up its own phone network

Love of the Land: Israel’s false friend

Israel’s false friend

Melanie Phillips
The Jewish Chronicle
22 December 09

Five years ago, anti-Israel campaigners tried to arrest the then Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz for ‘war crimes’ while he was on a visit to London.

Since then, a steady stream of senior Israeli officials have either narrowly escaped similar arrest in Britain through diplomatic immunity, or have had to cancel planned visits because such an arrest was all too likely.

In all that time, the government has sat on its hands. Only now that Tzipi Livni has had to cancel her trip to London following an attempt to arrest her over her part in Operation Cast Lead has the British government said it will change the law, probably by making the Attorney-General the gatekeeper for any such arrest attempts.

Why is it only now that the balloon has gone up? One reason is that this is the first time the Israeli government has responded with unbridled fury at Britain. But also, for British diplomats, Livni is ‘one of us’. That is because, since she is one of the most appeasement-minded politicians Israel has ever produced, it is considered an affront to try to arrest her, of all people, for her part in warfare.

‘Livni supports a two-state solution. This attempt to secure her arrest has really set alarm bells ringing,’ a horrified senior Foreign Office source reportedly told the Guardian. The unpleasant implication is that the Foreign Office cares far less about attempts to arrest Israeli politicians with more hawkish views.

This telling remark shows how the Foreign Office circles the wagons when one of its ideological soul-mates is under attack — and is wholly unable to see how the amoral and unprincipled view of the world it believes it shares with Livni may actually be contributing to the problem.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Israel’s false friend

Love of the Land: Palestinian Arab op-ed slams Hamas for Gaza war

Palestinian Arab op-ed slams Hamas for Gaza war

Elder of Ziyon
28 December 09

Palestine Press Agency has an Arabic op-ed that pulls no punches in blaming Hamas for Gaza suffering. Excerpts:

All this happened a year ago and still Hamas is reopening the wounds of the Gaza Strip. It continues to dance on wounds because Hamas appeared to have become addicted to dancing on the blood and body parts of the victims.

A year ago and is still Hamas is singing of victory, drawing a surreal picture that violates all logic and facts, Hamas still celebrating the victory!!! What kind of victory is this?? We would be the happiest people if there is a real victory against Israel, but when you follow the facts of what happened we find that Hamas was planning the disaster from the beginning. It scrapped the truce and threw a barrage of rockets and ignored all the warnings and incurred this hell and destruction and the huge number of martyrs and wounded of our people, who were left alone by Hamas to face the Israeli military machine. Afterwards Hamas emerged from the shadows to celebrate what it called the victory and danced on the remains of the martyrs and the blood of the wounded and the ruins of houses.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Palestinian Arab op-ed slams Hamas for Gaza war

Love of the Land: Gideon Levy, Year of Shame

Gideon Levy, Year of Shame

28 December 09

Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy marks the one year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead in the best way he knows how -- condemning Israel with wild exaggerations. One year ago he exaggerated the number of Palestinian civilians killed, and now he wildly inflates the number of Palestinians whose homes were destroyed ("The year of shame"), referring to the "325,000 people whose homes were destroyed."

Where does Levy get this number? According to the Al Mazen Center for Human Rights, an anti-Israel Palestinian NGO, the real number is less than a third of what Levy claims. Consider Table 23, found on page 25 of Al Mezan's report entitled "Cast Lead Offensive in Numbers," reproduced below.

Gideon Levy Year of Shame.jpg

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Gideon Levy, Year of Shame

Love of the Land: Who 'Occupies' Gaza?

Who 'Occupies' Gaza?

Honest Reporting/Backspin
28 December 09

An "expert" in international law, BBC bureau chief Jeremy Bowen, has concluded that Israel is still the legal occupier of Gaza, despite the 2005 disengagement. This statement is his own words:

But Israel, legally speaking, still has the responsibilities of an occupying power, even though it no longer has a permanent military presence in Gaza. These responsibilities include ensuring the welfare of the population, allowing the functioning of medical services, and maintaining respect for private property.

But international law isn't as clear cut as Bowen asserts. Last year, David Rivkin Jr. and Lee Casey laid out a powerful argument against the occupied status, writing in the Washington Post:

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Who 'Occupies' Gaza?

Love of the Land: Palestinian Kairos Document -- "The Tail Wagging the Dog"

Palestinian Kairos Document -- "The Tail Wagging the Dog"

27 December 09

As reported previously, a group of Palestinian Christians recently issued a document calling on churches in the United States to support the ongoing effort to isolate Israel from the community of nations by assisting in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. Some church leaders in the U.S. have endorsed the so-called "Kairos Document." One of CAMERA's correspondents in the Middle East -- a particularly close observer of the Palestinian Christian community -- warns Christians in the U.S. not to be hoodwinked by the statement, which sullys "the reputation of local Christianity."

Here is the full text of what our correspondent (who has requested anonymity) had to say:

(Read full document)

Love of the Land: Palestinian Kairos Document -- "The Tail Wagging the Dog"

Love of the Land: After the war....

After the war....

Liat Collin
My Word/JPost
26 December 09

It has been exactly a year since Israel launched what is officially known as Operation Cast Lead, but often referred to as "the war in Gaza."

At some point during the campaign, my Sabra next-door neighbor found me in the kitchen helping my son pack a care package for soldiers - part of his elementary school's war effort. "Oh, it's so sad," she sighed. "I don't think there has ever been a generation that hasn't sent packages to soldiers. I remember doing it in the Six Day War."

Until Cast Lead was launched on December 27, schoolchildren all over the country had been sending care packages to children in Sderot and other communities close to Gaza which were suffering from constant missile attacks.

A friend in Sderot, fed up with the government's policy of restraint, once quipped that she had considered lobbing the stale cakes, cookies, chocolate bars and doughnuts over the border into Gaza as ammunition. When the war finally broke out - after even Ehud Olmert's government couldn't ignore some 80 missiles a day - she felt more relief than fear.

Having spent eight years raising her children under fire, she realized war would not be worse than what had been considered peace until then. Her family was already used to living with missiles: At home, not locking the bathroom door and sleeping in the safest part of the house; when out, automatically judging the location of the closest shelter. In Sderot, they have just 15 seconds from the Color Red warning until the missile lands. It's probably the only place in the world where wearing seat belts was banned as dangerous.

IN ASHKELON, the situation was different. Although under threat, residents hadn't had to live with Kassams before.

"It was really tough," says Dr. Stephen Malnick, a longtime resident. "There are so many things we had taken for granted that we suddenly couldn't do: like going shopping and walking along the promenade on the beach. My daughter, a student at Sapir College, didn't leave the apartment for two weeks - except once: She went to a salon and had her nails manicured. She told me, 'There are some things a woman just doesn't give up on,'" he recalls.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: After the war....

Love of the Land: Professional stoners make their mark

Professional stoners make their mark

Shaikh Azizur Rahman
The National (UAE)
27 December 09

(One cannot look at the photo or read this story without a question about our local chevra, yes?)

SRINAGAR // Lugging sacks loaded with palm-sized stones, two young men hurried down an alleyway in Srinagar’s Zaina Kadal neighbourhood before slipping through a doorway into a house.

“We have got two bags loaded. All of them will fit nicely in your grip and have jagged edges, as you wanted. You will enjoy hurling them, Champion-bhai,” said one of the young visitors to the 34-year-old man who greeted them inside.

“Champion-bhai”, which roughly translates to brother champion, is renowned for his ability to hit distant targets with stones, hurled during anti-government or anti-police protests in Indian Kashmir.

But Champion-bhai is no ordinary protester. He is one of an elite band of semi-professional demonstrators in Srinigar courted by supporters of a variety of causes and paid for their services in cash or food and clothing, but who are also increasingly coming under the scrutiny of police intelligence.

“Recently, in one Friday action, I threw more than 400 stones and injured half a dozen policemen,” Champion-bhai claimed. “Demonstrators were very happy and two rich-looking men taking part in the agitation gave me 1,200 rupees (Dh95). In the evening someone sent two kilograms of mutton, a pair of jeans and one leather jacket to my home.”

According to a report in a national Hindi-language newspaper, Dainik Jagaran, in August, police in Srinagar have identified a few dozen men as “professional stone throwers” and have placed them under surveillance.

(Read full story)

Love of the Land: Professional stoners make their mark

Love of the Land: Palestinians murder rabbi, complain to US

Palestinians murder rabbi, complain to US

27 December 09


Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, z"l, teaches his kindergarten class at Shavei Shomron. Rabbi Chai was murdered by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai was shot from ambush while driving on Route 557 between the settlements of Shavei Shomron and Einav, in Samaria. He died at the scene from multiple head wounds, according to reports. Aged 40 or 45 (reports differ) and a teacher at the local school, Rabbi Chai left a wife and seven children. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a militia associated with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, took credit for the murder.

On Friday night, acting on intelligence from the Shabak [general security service], Israeli soldiers from the Duvdevan unit attempted to arrest three al-Aksa members:

Nader Raed Sukarji, a 40 year-old inhabitant of Shechem [Nablus], was arrested in 2002 and suspected of being a top Al Aksa terror group brigade operative and participant in many terror attacks. He also prepared bombs and helped establish explosives factories in Nablus. He was released from prison in January 2009…

Ghassan Abu Sharkh, 39, was imprisoned by security forces in 1990. His brother, Nayef, was the head of the Tanzim terror organization’s military wing in Nablus. Nayef facilitated several terror attacks until being killed by IDF forces in June 2004.

Anan Suleiman Mustafa Subih, 36, resident of Nablus, was an operative of the “Shuhada al-Aksa” brigade, which was involved in extensive Tanzim military operations as a cell of Tanzim in Nablus. The group was led by Nayef Abu Sharkh, until Nayef’s death. Subih worked in trafficking weapons and supplies for use in terror acts. Subih had recently been accepted to Israel’s amnesty program for Fatah gunmen. His participation in Tanzim activity was a direct violation of that agreement. — Arutz Sheva

The three refused to surrender and were shot dead by the IDF troops. A rifle found in the home of Subih was identified as having been used in the ambush.

So what is notable about this skirmish in the hundred-year old war against the Jews of Eretz Israel?

One thing was the response of the Palestinian Authority (PA),Israel’s supposed ‘peace partner’, which presently refuses to negotiate with Israel because, according to them, the settlement freeze is inadequate to meet Israel’s Roadmap obligations (the PA’s major roadmap obligation, it should be recalled, is to ‘fight terrorism’):

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Palestinians murder rabbi, complain to US

Israel Matzav: Kadima says no

Kadima says no

Unsurprisingly, Kadima has said no to joining the Netanyahu - Barak government.

The Kadima Knesset faction announced on Monday that it was rejecting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer for the party to join the government.

Kadima relayed that the decision was made by a majority of the lawmakers during the a weekly meeting in the Knesset, and that Chairwoman Tzipi Livi was in full agreement on the matter with Shaul Mofaz, her number two and a longtime rival.

During the meeting, Mofaz said: "Netanyahu's offer, as it appears today, is arrogant and unrealistic. This arrogance is not a good quality for a leader; I tell Netanyahu today what I told Livni a few days ago: Arrogance is not a substitute for leadership."

On Monday, Netanyahu said he would offer Kadima three cabinet posts should it agree to join the coalition, a day after proposing Livni bring in the party in exchange for two minister without portfolio spots.

Unfortunately, I doubt this is the end of it.

Israel Matzav: Kadima says no

Israel Matzav: Barak: Iranian reactor at Qom immune to 'regular' strike

Barak: Iranian reactor at Qom immune to 'regular' strike

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Iran's nuclear facility at Qom is immune to a 'regular' strike.

If he elaborated, it hasn't been reported in the media here. Iran's recently-revealed uranium enrichment site at Qom "has been under construction for years, and is hidden in bunkers which are immune to a regular strike," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

He also mentioned recent clashes between opposition protesters and Iranian security forces, which he called "the crushing of civilians by the regime."

"The free world isn't doing enough," he stated.

Arutz Sheva notes specifically that Barak did not mention the prospect of a nuclear strike on Qom.

But if Qom is immune to a 'regular' strike, it would seem that there could be two ways to destroy it. One would be a nuclear strike. The other would be a giant bunker buster. Too bad deployment of the giant bunker buster has been delayed to December 2010. Could Israel have developed its own Massive Ordnance Penetrator (the formal name for the giant bunker buster)? Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: Barak: Iranian reactor at Qom immune to 'regular' strike

Israel Matzav: UNIFIL finds explosives on Lebanese border

UNIFIL finds explosives on Lebanese border

AFP reports that UNIFIL has found 'large quantities' of explosives in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel.

The patrol stumbled on the explosives late Saturday after "observing suspicious movement of approximately five persons" near the town of Khiam, eight kilometres (five miles) from the border with Israel, a statement said.

The peacekeeping force said it opened an investigation into "the precise nature of the explosives and the circumstances under which it was found," noting that the find violates UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

"As the patrol approached the location, the group of unidentified persons fled the area in the cover of darkness," the statement said, adding that UNIFIL peacekeepers found at the site "a significant quantity of explosives."

"The presence of unauthorised explosives in the area constitutes a clear violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006)... and is a matter of serious concern," the statement said.

But here's the real key to this story. I'll bet you think that UNIFIL detonated the explosives in controlled explosions like a police force would do. Of course not. They turned them over to the Lebanese army.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: UNIFIL finds explosives on Lebanese border

Israel Matzav: Department of Homeland Security issues terrorist ID cards

Department of Homeland Security issues terrorist ID cards

The US Department of Homeland Security has decided to issue ID cards to terrorists (Hat Tip: Gershon D).

In the wake of the Christmas Day airline terror attempt, the Department of Homeland Security today said it was instituting a bold new series of security measures, including issuing an official "proof of terrorism" I.D. card.

"All potential terrorists must have the terrorist I.D. card in order to be barred from boarding," said Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. "If you want to get on the no-fly list you'll need a completed application and the $25 fee."

Ms. Napolitano said that while the terror suspect's father had warned the U.S. about his son weeks before the incident, the Homeland Security Dept. was tightening rules in that area as well: "In the future, it will be necessary for a terrorist's mom and dad to warn us before we take it seriously."

The Homeland Security chief said that her department would continue to crack down on the primary threat to air safety: shampoo.

Israel Matzav: Department of Homeland Security issues terrorist ID cards

Israel Matzav: German intermediary favors Hamas?

German intermediary favors Hamas?

Fox News suggests that the German mediator acting as a go-between for Hamas and the Israeli government favors the 'Palestinian' terror organization, and that may have something to do with Prime Minister Netanyahu's hesitancy to endorse the deal.

Fox News has learned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been reluctant to sign-off on an agreement presented three weeks ago, to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Netanyahu's seven senior cabinet members are divided over the proposed deal.

Among the reservations that were raised: What would an agreement like this mean for Israel, a country constantly in a state war? By releasing a thousand prisoners for one soldier, it's uncertain what the future consequences might be if Israel finds itself in a similar situation.

An Israeli source familiar with the negotiations also suggests,

"Israel is being played by the German mediator," the source said. "And he (German mediator) seems to be more favorable to Hamas possibly because of the German government's economic ties with Iran, known to be Hamas's financial and ideological backer."

JPost's Benjamin Weinthal suggests that the mediator is none other than Mr. Hezbullah.

Pro-Israel critics in Germany have long characterized Conrad's mediation track record as dubious, largely because he has won significant concessions from the Israeli government in exchange for paltry gains from Hizbullah in Lebanon. Within the BND, Germany's foreign intelligence, he has been nicknamed "Mr. Hizbullah," a coinage intended to convey praise and respect.

The Fox report in no way surprised astute critics of German-Iranian relations. The question frequently surfaces whether the German Foreign Ministry hoodwinked the Israelis in order to advance its pro-Iranian business relations agenda. But the so-called German-Israeli "special relationship" seeks to settle disputes behind closed doors. That helps to explain the stunning Fox revelation as a possible turning point in German mediation efforts in the region.

German observers argue that last year's swap was a telling example of Conrad pushing the pro-Hizbullah agenda, in which he secured the release of five Palestinian terrorists including child-murderer Samir Kuntar for the bodies of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. A bitter aftertaste was evident among pro-Israel groups who viewed the German Foreign Ministry as celebrating a deal involving dead Jews while maintaining its "good relations" with anti-Semitic regimes such as Iran who seek the destruction of Israel.

The German journalist Alex Feurherdt, writing in the leftist monthly magazine Konkret, expects Conrad to earn the accolade of "Mr. Hamas" within the BND because of his efforts to bend over backwards to please the terror group.

Conrad (not his real name) has become a national hero in Germany, and because of that the Fox story was ignored there. If Israel believes that he favors Hamas and Hezbullah, I doubt we'll see him mediating again. But that would help to explain why the price for Shalit has never gone down.

Israel Matzav: German intermediary favors Hamas?

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work: 'Palestinian Authority' pays Fatah and Hamas terrorists

Your tax dollars at work: 'Palestinian Authority' pays Fatah and Hamas terrorists

All of you in the US, Europe and Israel who throw money at the 'Palestinian Authority' will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that your money goes to a good cause: The care and feeding of Fatah and Hamas terrorists who are sentenced to long terms in Israeli jails.

The Palestinian Authority revealed on Sunday that it rewards both Hamas and Fatah terrorists with higher “salaries” for committing more serious terrorist attacks that are followed by convictions for long-term sentences in Israeli prison.

Most of the PA’s funds come from European Union countries, and the United States earlier this month, for the first time ever, included the PA in its foreign aid package with a $500 million grant. Twenty percent of the American money is earmarked for training the PA’s new army, under the guidance of American army General Keith Dayton.

A condition of the aid is that the PA recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previous agreements with Israel, including a halt to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incitement.

The PA Minister for Prisoners told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency Sunday that it pays out three million shekels ($790,000) a month for monthly stipends for prisoners and their families. The minister specifically denied a complaint that Hamas terrorists were being cut off from receiving fund.

The monthly payment amount to 1,000 shekels ($260) but rises to four times that amount, more than $1,000, to terrorists who have served more than 25 years in jail for more serious attacks on Israelis.

In addition, terrorists who are released by Israel receive another 1,200-2,000 shekels ($316-$525) a month for half a year if they were in prison for at least five years. The total payments for their time in jail and release amount to as much $10,000.

Peace anyone?Anyone think the US will call the 'Palestinians' on the carpet for this? Don't hold your breath waiting.

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work: 'Palestinian Authority' pays Fatah and Hamas terrorists

Israel Matzav: Doing airport security the Israeli way

Doing airport security the Israeli way

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, they're having a debate over whether the US should implement the security procedures used at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. Having flown out of Ben Gurion many times, I hope that I can contribute to the debate.

First, it's important to point out that security at Ben Gurion doesn't start when you get to the ticket counter (as is the case in the US) or even when you reach that interview process everyone talks about. It starts when you go through the checkpoint outside the airport. You have to go through a toll-booth like structure, roll down your window, and speak to the police officer there. The police officer is backed up by a machine-gun toting guard who stands behind him or her. Having arrived at the airport numerous times, I can tell you what they're looking for: Arabic accents. As soon as you speak to them in Israeli-accented Hebrew (or in another language which doesn't raise eyebrows), you're waved through. If they're at all suspicious, they will (presumably) notify someone at the terminal to keep an eye out for you, or even pull you over and search you on the spot.

Then you drive to the terminal. When you get out of your car and put your luggage on a handcart, there's security watching you at the door. If you look nervous, they'll ask you questions and size you up. Then you go inside, get online and start the interview process.

It’s true that passengers don’t have to take their shoes off, which a lot of passengers on U.S. flights appear to find annoying. But that’s because government security “profilers” ask extensive questions of each individual passenger until they are satisfied that a passenger does not pose a threat — making the removal of shoes quite beside the point:

They probe, as one profiling supervisor told CBS, for “anything out of the ordinary, anything that does not fit.” Their questions can seem odd or intrusive. . . . Only when the profiler is satisfied that a passenger poses no risk is he or she allowed to proceed to the check-in counter. By that point, there is no need to make him remove his shoes, or to confiscate his bottle of water.

Many passengers are fine with these practices. But as you might guess, some travelers complain that the Israeli practices are unacceptable, much too invasive, add too much delay, and are unnecessary. It’s also interesting to note that the Israelis have increased airport security in response to the Christmas attack for all flights to the United States.

Maybe I've 'gone native,' but I'm rarely asked more than a couple of questions by Ben Gurion security (yes, I packed my own bags, yes, they've been under my control, yes, I know why you're asking these questions. I live in Jerusalem).

It doesn't take any longer than it does at Boston Logan or at JFK. But there are differences that some of the commenters to that Volokh post point out. One person points out that the security screeners at Ben Gurion are much smarter and more professional, an issue I discussed at length here. They also look at your passport - the first of five times your passport is checked. Another commenter says that he thinks Ben Gurion security uses racial profiling. Of course they do. They used to be quite blatant about it, but in August 2007, they were forced to dumb it down and stop tagging Arabs' bags with different color tags than Jews' bags. No matter. They still x-ray most checked bags and if you watch closely who gets asked to open their bag after the machine it's usually not the Israeli Jews. I've been asked to open my bags to check something specific, but they've never removed all my bags' contents as commonly happens to Arab-looking and sounding travelers. So it's more subtle than it used to be, but they definitely do racial profiling. (When I first arrived here in the '90's, we often gave letters to non-Jewish business people that certified the purpose of their trip to Israel, which was found to shorten airport security time).

By the way, you can get away with arriving at the airport two hours before flight time (I do that all the time) and often with even less time regardless of what airline you are flying. But if you arrive early, the area in the picture above is the center of the shops that you find after you clear all the security and passport control.

After you finish the interview, you go to the check-in counter and check in for your flight. They check your passport and ticket and issue your boarding pass. I assume that at least some of the people who do that are trained to handle security, but in any event, there are unarmed security people wandering around the check-in lines.

After you check in, you go to the kind of security you're all used to in the US. It's not that much different except that the people doing it are far more educated than the people who do it in the US - at least in my experience. And you leave your shoes on and show your passport for the third time and your boarding pass.

Then you go to passport control and show your passport again. And there are security people hanging out there too.

Then there's a LONG walk down a ramp until you get to the open area pictured above. The gates are on four spokes coming off that open area.

How good is Israel's record? Bli ayin hara (warding off evil eyes), the last plane hijacked from Ben Gurion was the Air France flight that ended up in Entebbe in 1976. And since Israel handles its own security (at least for El Al) overseas, I don't recall any problems with those flights recently either.

The bottom line is that without racial profiling you can't run an Israeli-style security system. The US and other countries have to decide whether they want to be politically correct or physically safe. That's why Robert Spencer has it wrong:

The Transportation Security Administration has scrambled since Christmas Day to stiffen security procedures, but its effort is foredoomed: jihadis study these procedures carefully, always searching for ways to circumvent them. And such ways exist, even if every passenger were subjected to a full body cavity search - bomb ingredients can be separated and combined mid-flight, or spirited onboard in ways as yet unimagined by the most visionary TSA official.

You're wrong Robert. There is a way to stop it and it certainly won't require body cavity searches on everyone: Look for the terrorists not for their implements. Unless and until you do that, you're going to continue to have problems with the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's of the world.

Israel Matzav: Doing airport security the Israeli way

Israel Matzav: Israel building 700 new apartments in 'east' Jerusalem

Israel building 700 new apartments in 'east' Jerusalem

Israel has issued building permits for 692 apartments in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Zev, Neve Yaakov and Har Homa, all of which are across the 1949 armistice lines. These apartments are in addition to the 900 apartments that were approved last month in Gilo.

The new construction tenders parallel a building freeze on new homes on Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the freeze in order to encourage Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations on establishing the PA as an independent country, but he has flatly refused the offer.

Abbas has argued that Israel must honor President Obama’s demand that the freeze be extended to eastern Jerusalem, which the Arab world wants as the seat of a future PA state. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli diplomats and consular heads Sunday that the PA will not accept any Israeli concessions, even if it were to surrender all of eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

YNet reports that although Israel informed the US of these units in advance, a conflict between Israel on the one hand, and the US, the European Union and the 'Palestinians' on the other, may be inevitable.

The tender, which will be issued by the Housing and Construction Ministry on Monday, includes the construction of about 6,500 housing units in 54 communities, including the following disputed neighborhoods: 377 new apartments in Neve Yaakov, 117 housing units in Har Homa and 198 in Pisgat Ze'ev.

According to the officials, the US knew of the plan in advance, including the location of each housing unit. The sources refused to say, however, how the Americans responded to the Israeli construction plan in the three neighborhoods in the Jerusalem vicinity.

Senior state officials clarified that the timing of the tender was not random. According to the source, the Israeli government took advantage of the Christmas holiday, during which American and European government officials are on vacation.

The officials also mentioned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had nothing to hide. "He explicitly declated, both in the cabinet and immediately afterwards to the entire world, that the decision to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria has nothing to do with Jerusalem. Israel built in Jerusalem before the freeze and will continue to build there now."

The Prime Minister's Office said in response to Ynet's appeal, "The Americans are updated on everything that is taking place in the construction field and has diplomatic consequences. Everything is being done with complete transparency."

Anyone else think Netanyahu will quietly cave on this?

Israel Matzav: Israel building 700 new apartments in 'east' Jerusalem

Israel Matzav: Napolitano coming to Israel

Napolitano coming to Israel

US Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano will be arriving in Israel on Saturday night, presumably to see how a real security system for air transportation works.

Napolitano will meet with officials from the Public Security Ministry and visit elite Israel Police units.

On Sunday, she appeared on ABC television's This Week program to discuss the attempted terrorist attack on a US airliner over Detroit.

Napolitano said investigators did not have enough information to keep the suspect, 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, from boarding his flight to the US from Amsterdam, and that the system worked as it should have.

The father of the man accused of attempting to blow up the jetliner had told US officials in Nigeria he was concerned about his son's extreme religious views. However, Napolitano argued there was no specific information to place Mutallab on a no-fly list.

Napolitano says that within 60 to 90 minutes of the incident, all 120 flights that were in the air at time were contacted to make sure the attempted bombing did not extend beyond the flight to Detroit.

Even Homeland Security didn't have enough information to keep Mutallab off the plane (and it sounds like they did), he should at least have had his passport checked at the airport and he should at least have been searched!

Moreover, 60 to 90 minutes was about the same time it took to notify all the other planes in the air on 9/11. But 9/11 was a busy weekday, and Northwest 253 flew on Christmas day, one of the quietest days of the year. That has to make you wonder whether anything has improved since 9/11.

Profile, profile, profile. You heard it here.

Israel Matzav: Napolitano coming to Israel

Israel Matzav: Why can't the Americans get airline security straight?

Why can't the Americans get airline security straight?

The Economist rips the new 'security precautions' on US airlines and on international flights into the US:

The most ridiculous new rule prohibits passengers on US-bound international flights from leaving their seats or having anything on their laps—even a laptop or a pillow—during the final hour of flight. You're probably thinking "Wait, what?" Indeed. The New York Times elaborates:

In effect, the restrictions mean that passengers on flights of 90 minutes or less would most likely not be able to leave their seats at all, since airlines do not allow passengers to walk around the cabin while a plane is climbing to its cruising altitude.

Gulliver looks forward to the barrage of lawsuits from the first people who are forced to use the bathroom in their airplane seats. This is the absolute worst sort of security theatre: inconvenient, absurd, and, crucially, ineffective.What's to stop a terrorist from doing whatever he's going to do before the one-hour deadline? The answer is what it's always been: other passengers. That's what stopped the alleged would-be bomber, 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, on Friday. Vigilantism poses a serious barrier to any other plotters. Making passengers more reluctant to leave their seats seems counterproductive.

As security expert Bruce Schneier told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg last year (and repeated on Friday), almost every increased security measure since 9/11 has been mostly for show. "Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers."

There's a third thing that could make flying safer: Profiling. Until the US and other Western countries are willing to admit that they have to profile terrorists (read: search most male Muslims between the ages of 18-50) and take control of security for flights into and out of their own countries wherever necessary, flying will continue to be less than safe.

Look at the grossly negligent willfully negligent treatment of 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Brian Jenkins, who studies terrorism for the Rand Corporation, says there were more terror incidents (12), including thwarted plots, on U.S. soil in 2009 than in any year since 2001. The jihadists don't seem to like Americans any better because we're closing down Guantanamo.

This increasing terror tempo makes the Obama Administration's reflexive impulse to treat terrorists like routine criminal suspects all the more worrisome. It immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.

Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction. We now have to hope he cooperates voluntarily.

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, told CNN yesterday that "one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked." Yet the terrorist screening system seems to have failed in at least two crucial ways: first, in failing to revoke a visa to the U.S. that Mr. Abdulmutallab had obtained last June despite a later warning to U.S. consular officials from his own father that he was becoming radicalized and might have terror network ties; and second, in not adding him to a no-fly list from a lower-level watch list.

Those aren't problems that are going to be resolved by having people sit in their seats for the last hour of their flights. Letting people get on flights without checking their passports isn't going to be resolved by putting people in their seats for the last hour either.

Here in Israel, your passport is checked FIVE TIMES before you get on the plane:

1. You have to present your ticket and passport to security before you get near the ticket counter.

2. You have to present your ticket and passport at the ticket counter.

3. You have to present your boarding pass and passport at the security check entrance.

4. You have to present your passport at the passport control booth that's between security and the terminal.

5. You have to present your passport and boarding pass to get on the plane.

There is no way someone here could get through all those checks without showing a passport. How many times does a passport have to be presented in Amsterdam? Are there any 'redundancies' like we have here to act as security checks? Why not? That's the sort of thing that can keep a terrorist from ever boarding a flight.


I should probably establish my bona fides for being familiar with Ben Gurion Airport security to those of you who are not long-time readers. I have traveled internationally from Ben Gurion eleven times since January 1997, ten of them to the United States.

Israel Matzav: Why can't the Americans get airline security straight?

Israel Matzav: Oren downplays Obama's pressure on Israel

Oren downplays Obama's pressure on Israel

In an interview with the JPost's Herb Keinon, Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren downplayed the pressure that the United States has brought to bear on Israel.

Oren, in Israel to take part in a Foreign Ministry-sponsored conference of all the country's ambassadors and consuls-generals, said in an interview that if the Americans wanted to twist arms, "they probably could. But they don't. That's not the way they want to go about it. They want to be in a situation where both sides [Israel and the Palestinians] come back to the negotiation table of their own free will, without being coerced in any way."

While Oren said there were fundamental differences between Israel and the US on building in Jerusalem and the settlement issue, and while he said the US does make its positions known, he can't find any "physical evidence of pressure."

And this, he said, stood in contrast to previous US administrations.

For instance, he pointed out that the Reagan administration, which he characterized as a "very pro-Israel administration, an ultimate pro-Israel administration," cut off the supply of jet aircraft to Israel following the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.

"That is pressure," he said.

Likewise, he said that during the Camp David negotiations with Egypt in the 1970s, then-president Jimmy Carter "threatened to cut off aid if we didn't agree to certain positions. That is pressure."

Oren, a historian, said he came to his job with a historian's perspective.

Sorry, but the current situation is potentially worse. Reagan cut off the supply of jet aircraft after Israel had already done what needed to be done. And Carter was acting at a time when Israel had won a war four years earlier and Egypt's President Sadat was suing for peace. That's very different than the current situation where Israel is looking ahead at an existential threat. Unfortunately, there is too much that can go wrong. Israel has to look out for its own interests.

Israel Matzav: Oren downplays Obama's pressure on Israel

Israel Matzav: Has Israel made its final offer for Shalit?

Has Israel made its final offer for Shalit?

Israel may have made its last, best offer for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement during yesterday's cabinet meeting that no deal had been reached to free captive soldier Gilad Shalit - and that it wasn't clear if such a deal would be achieved - is more than just a routine report on the negotiations.

Netanyahu, who leaves tomorrow for Egypt, is also trying to reduce Hamas' expectations. Israel wants to send Hamas a message that the last offer it made via German mediator Gerhard Conrad, whose name was revealed in the German press, really is the last offer, with no extra sales or buy one get one free.

The problem, of course, is that Israel's conduct so far has not bolstered this impression. The fact that Israel has changed its negotiating position, along with the 48 dramatic hours of last week's meetings of the forum of seven senior cabinet members, gave Hamas the (false?) hope that it could extract a few more concessions.


It may be that Hamas is wrong this time in assessing the Israeli position. Netanyahu does not have unlimited ability to maneuver, and the officials involved are not just responsible for getting Shalit back, but also for security in the territories after a deal. Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin isn't going to approve just any transaction.

Hmmm. We can only hope the government is done caving in on this. There has to be some limit.

Israel Matzav: Has Israel made its final offer for Shalit?

Israel Matzav: Third intifada to target the 'Palestinian Authority'?

Third intifada to target the 'Palestinian Authority'?

The funerals of the three murderers of Rabbi Moshe Chai HY"D (may God avenge his blood) turned into one of the largest anti-'Palestinian Authority' demonstrations ever on Sunday, leaving the 'good terrorists' from Fatah warning that a third intifada is coming and that it will target the 'Palestinian Authority.'

During the funerals of the three men, all veteran members and leaders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, thousands of Palestinians chanted slogans accusing the PA of collusion with Israel and calling for an end to security coordination with Israel and the dismantling of the PA.

For several hours during the funerals, which took place in Nablus, it seemed as if the PA and not the IDF had killed the three men. It was, in the words of a local journalist, "one of the biggest anti-Palestinian Authority demonstrations" in many years.

The relationship between the PA and local Fatah activists has always been tense. Nablus and its surrounding refugee camps, especially Balata refugee camp, has long been a stronghold for disgruntled Fatah militiamen who occasionally vent their frustration against the PA leadership and security forces.

For years during the second intifada, Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, was controlled by dozens of Fatah gunmen and thugs who imposed a reign of terror on wealthy clans.

Many local families did not hide their satisfaction when IDF troops raided the city during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and killed or arrested scores of Fatah gunmen, including the infamous Ahmed Tabouk, one of the leaders of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

In the context of its efforts to restore law and order to the city, the PA offered four years ago to recruit many of the gunmen to various branches of its security forces if they agreed to lay down their weapons.

The PA also managed to persuade Israel to stop pursuing those gunmen who agreed to hand over their weapons and abandon violence.

In return, the PA took on itself the mission of holding the "pardoned" gunmen in one of its security installations for a limited time and as a first step toward granting them total freedom of movement.

Most of the Fatah gunmen who complied were added to the PA's payroll, but not all were happy with the arrangement. Some complained that the PA had broken its promise to appoint them to senior positions in its security forces, while others said that their salaries were too low. Others complained that despite their agreement to surrender their weapons and open a new page in their lives, Israeli security forces were continuing to target them.

Friends and relatives of the Fatah operatives who were killed in the recent IDF operation accused the PA of failing to fulfill its "commitments" to give them more money and good jobs. Some did not rule out the possibility that the Fatah cell that murdered Rabbi Meir Chai last week had received money from an "outside" party, such as Hizbullah or even Hamas.

Read the whole thing.

If there's going to be another intifada, I would not hold my breath waiting for the Dayton forces to put a stop to it.

Israel Matzav: Third intifada to target the 'Palestinian Authority'?
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